RTC Top 25: Week Two Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 30th, 2015

Feast Week brought chaos. A lot of chaos. Six RTC25 teams lost twice and several more experienced one setback. Amid the chaos, previously unranked Syracuse and previously-#22 Xavier were able to grab several impressive victories and show they will be forces to reckon with for the balance of the season. The Orange were the surprise champions of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament after earning wins over Charlotte, #24 Connecticut and #18 Texas A&M. Jim Boeheim’s unit was led to the title by the stellar play of seniors Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije along with the emergence of freshmen Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon. Xavier was equally as impressive in taking home the AdvoCare Invitational crown. The Musketeers notched victories over Alabama and USC before blowing out Dayton in the tournament’s title game, and the relative balance of Chris Mack’s lineup was on display all weekend. After very impressive Feast Week performances, it will be intriguing to watch whether the Orange and Musketeers can keep the good vibes rolling through the non-conference portion of the season. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty is after the jump.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 4.01.33 PM

Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

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Ben Simmons’ Debut Season Is Becoming Special

Posted by William Ezekowitz on November 30th, 2015

The Ben Simmons bandwagon is filling up quickly. The LSU freshman came into the season hyped as the next big prospect to go one-and-done and first overall in the NBA Draft, joining an illustrious group of NBA stars (and Anthony Bennett) in the process. But his double-take-inducing statistics and the raw athleticism exhibited in the first five games have led many to ask if he can be even more than that.

Ben Simmons May Be Working On One Of The All-Time Great Freshman Seasons (Photo: Getty)

Ben Simmons May Already Be Working on an All-Time Great Freshman Season. (Getty)

Simmons’ season has been so incredible through two weeks that we feel the need to examine where he fits amongst the best freshmen in the modern era of college basketball. If we were to be measured and retrospective, we would take a deep breath and say that he’s only played five games, three of which were against the likes of McNeese State, Kennesaw State and South Alabama. But that reasoned perspective is somewhat antithetical to sports media and the blogosphere in general, so let’s overreact and see how the superstar rookie fares against some of his historical comparisons. We will start with the one-and-done era, which began in 2006.

Keep in mind that Simmons, at the time of this writing, is averaging 16.2 points, 14.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.

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Great Alaska Shootout a Dying Breed of Holiday Tournaments

Posted by Kenny Ocker on November 27th, 2015

The school-managed exempt tournament is going extinct. The proliferation of corporate-owned events, including those put on by ESPN, have made sure of that. But out on the Last Frontier, the last holdout is conducting its last event on its own: The Great Alaska Shootout, organized and hosted by the University of Alaska-Anchorage, goes until Saturday, with its champion being the final team to win the tournament before Basketball Travelers takes over as managers next season.

The Great Alaska Shootout Produced One of the Best Moments for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, in 1998. (AP)

The Great Alaska Shootout Produced One of the Best Moments for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, in 1998. (AP)

The 50-plus-year-old tradition of exempt tournaments started when schools off the U.S. mainland needed to have an incentive before teams would schedule visits, and for a long time it stayed on an island floating off the coast of the NCAA landscape. But when eccentric Louisianan Bob Rachal took over the UAA men’s basketball program during its inaugural year in the NCAA’s Division II in 1977-78 – donning a tuxedo and top hat in his first game on the sidelines – he found that metaphorical island and used it to his advantage.

“He wanted something that could make a splash, something that could get the program on the map, so he dug around in the NCAA bylaws and he found out that you could host basically free games held under the exemption for any teams playing in Alaska or Hawaii at that point,” Seawolves sports information director Nate Sagan said. Well, not quite free, but close enough: A tournament of up to four games could count as one game against the NCAA’s limit of contests per season.

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Giving Thanks: Setting the Table for the Rest of the Season

Posted by Shane McNichol on November 26th, 2015

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by a significant margin. From the moment I wake up to the moment I slide into a food-induced coma at the end of the night, I have a wide smile on my face. My relationship with college basketball is much the same. It’s my favorite sport by a comparable margin and I certainly find my share of smiles throughout the season. The two are unquestionably intertwined, with Turkey Day acting as an unofficial turning point of the season. Everything prior feels like two boxers dancing and feeling each other out, but once Thanksgiving comes and goes, the real haymakers start to be thrown.


And a Happy Thanksgiving to All…

Even if that may be well and good, I want to mash them together even further. If notable college basketball teams were the dishes on your Thanksgiving table, what would you eat? What would you pass along? What would you hoard all for yourself?

Turkey – Wisconsin

The bird may be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner, but even that status can’t outweigh the connotation of its name. If we’re calling someone the “turkey” of the young season, it’s not a compliment. And that distinction goes to the Badgers. Losing the likes of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker wasn’t supposed to be easy, but count me among the masses who though Bo Ryan, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes would be able to steady the ship in the wake of their run to the National Championship game last season.

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The RTC Podcast: Feast Week Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2015

As we head into what is certain to be a very happy holiday weekend, the guys wanted to get a Feast Week podcast in the books before things got too crazy. Little did they know that the great state of Nebraska would leave its indelible footprint on this week’s RTC Podcast. Spreading holiday cheer from Lincoln to North Platte! Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts and Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) once again joins, as the group goes through some of their early season tournament takes and looks ahead to the rest of the week. Oh, and this.

Five-oh Makes an Appearance on This Week's RTC Podcast!

Five-oh Makes an Appearance on This Week’s RTC Podcast!

Make sure to add us to your iTunes subscription list so it will automatically download to your listening device each week. The full rundown is below!

  • 0:00-8:27 – Champions Classic Review
  • 8:27-15:17 – True Home Games vs. Neutral Sites
  • 15:07-21:14 – Early Season Takeaways
  • 21:14-25:51 – Battle 4 Atlantis
  • 25:51-30:21 – Other Early Tournaments/Randy Gets Arrested
  • 30:21-35:57 – Player of the Year Discussion
  • 35:57-39:17 What We Are Thankful For/Wrap

CBE Hall Of Fame Classic: Reactions From Night Two

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 25th, 2015

Brian Goodman is the lead Big 12 correspondent for Rush The Court. He’s in Kansas City this week for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. You can follow Brian on Twitter @BSGoodman or the RTC Big 12 Twitter account @b12hoops.

The CBE Hall Of Fame Classic wrapped in Kansas City on Tuesday night, with North Carolina overcoming a hot night from Kansas State to take the title by a score of 80-70. In the consolation round, Northwestern withstood a second half Missouri run to topple the Tigers 67-62.

  • North Carolina’s late run deflates Kansas State. The Tar Heels and Wildcats traded jabs for most of the night, with Kansas State pulling ahead for a prolonged stretch in the second half. In the closing minutes, however, North Carolina reeled off a 21-3 run to put Bruce Weber’s team away. It was a collective effort down the stretch for North Carolina, but one specific play turned the tide in the Tar Heels’ favor. Coming out of a media timeout with a touch under four minutes left, Roy Williams drew up a baseline out-of-bounds designed play for Joel Berry, who found himself open thanks to a pair of screens to bury a three-pointer off a pass from Brice Johnson. The Tar Heels were soft on offense for the better part of 35 minutes, allowing Kansas State to keep up on the glass and get some steals, but they tightened their game up when it mattered most and showed some toughness to close things out.
Down the stretch, Kennedy Meeks and UNC had just enough to hold off hometown Kansas State. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Down the stretch, Kennedy Meeks and UNC had just enough to hold off hometown Kansas State. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Kamau Stokes puts on a show as the young Wildcats put a scare into UNC. We talked yesterday about Dean Wade‘s great effort on the blocks on Monday, but it was a different Kansas State newcomer who grabbed the attention of everyone in the Sprint Center last night. Stokes came into Tuesday’s final shooting a paltry 3-of-14 from distance on the season, but caught fire against North Carolina with a 6-of-8 effort from distance. With each passing bucket, Stokes grew more confident, firing up the crowd and his teammates. Stokes’ hot stretch even drew a double-team from the Tar Heels at one point. His night was made even more unexpected by the fact that he required an extra year at prep school just to get a Division-I scholarship offer. It’s just unfortunate that the rest of the Wildcats shot just 36 percent from the floor and couldn’t buy a stop late in the game. Tonight served as a reminder that even though Bruce Weber has a young team full of guys that want to play for him, it’s still going to be a process. Stokes will continue to get opportunities as Weber figures out his rotation, but while we wouldn’t expect him to be this hot regularly, even decent three-point shooting would be a big lift to Kansas State as it retools.

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Feast Week Previews: Atlantis, Advocare, Wooden

Posted by Andy Gripshover on November 25th, 2015

Three more Feast Week events begin play on Wednesday or Thursday. As we did with Feast Week events already underway — like Puerto Rico and Charleston, as well as Maui, Legends, CBE and Cancun — let’s take a look at each tournament’s favorite, dark horse, team(s) with the most on the line, and a key storyline and player to watch.

Battle 4 Atlantis

Kyle Wiltjer Leads Gonzaga to the Bahamas (USA Today)

Kyle Wiltjer Leads Gonzaga To The Bahamas (USA Today)

  • Favorite: Gonzaga. This is not a vintage Atlantis field like those of 2012 or last year. The Zags are barely inside the top 10 and completely untested through two games, but the only other team in the field who made the NCAA tournament last year was Texas, who is starting over with Shaka Smart and already lost a game in Shanghai to the Zags’ quarterfinal opponent, Washington. Gonzaga has easily proven the most of any of the eight teams in Atlantis and deserve to be considered the favorite.
  • Darkhorse: UConn. The Huskies are a dark horse in a tournament? That arrangement has worked out well once or twice. Last year, UConn only scored 70 or more points seven times the entire season. This year, the Huskies feature a more balanced roster with transfers Sterling Gibbs (Seton Hall) and Shonn Miller (Cornell) joining highly regarded freshman Jalen Adams and former Ryan Boatright sidekicks Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis. So far, this new cast of players has scored more effectively than last year’s team, producing 80 points or more in each of their three wins, including a 100 spot against Maine in the season opener.
  • Most on the line: Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M. The Orange have struggled to score at times this season but draw a young, depleted Charlotte squad in the quarterfinals; a win in that game likely earns them two chances at resume-building wins. The Lone Star State showdown is a quarterfinal matchup featuring teams who were near but on opposite sides of the cut-line for the field of 68 last year. Smart won’t endear himself to locals and those ever-important Texas boosters if the Longhorns drop an early decision to hated rival A&M.
  • Storyline: Who is this year’s 2011 Harvard/2013 Villanova? That upstart Crimson team shocked everyone in winning the initial Battle 4 Atlantis, launching a 26-5 season and the first of five straight Tournament appearances. The Wildcats stunned second ranked Kansas in the 2013 semifinals before knocking off another ranked team in Iowa in the final, propelling the Cats to a 29-5 campaign. Could the Orange or Huskies use the next few days to make a similar journey onto the national radar? Can Shaka conjure up his old tournament tricks to kickstart his Texas tenure?

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Who’s Got Next? Meeting Kentucky’s Next Vaunted Recruiting Class

Posted by Sean Moran on November 24th, 2015


Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Kentucky took down Duke 74-63 in last Tuesday’s Champions Classic and now it has surged ahead of the Blue Devils in the race for the top recruiting class in 2016 as well. Adding two five-star recruits in the span of a week (and three in the span of a month) will usually do that. It started on November 12, when 6’3” point guard De’Aron Fox committed to John Calipari’s program. It continued last week, when 6’8” Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and 6’3” shooting guard Malik Monk followed Fox’s lead with commitments of their own.

Surprise, surprise - John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

Surprise, surprise – John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

So what is Kentucky getting in these three commitments? Fox will look to follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Brandon Knight, two of the many five-star point guards that Calipari has brought to Lexington during his tenure. He is a three-year veteran of the Nike EYBL, having first played on the Houston Hoops AAU squad as a rising sophomore with Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre and Justin Jackson. Despite playing with older competition, Fox was usually somewhat of an afterthought in a loaded class of point guards. Even Kentucky originally prioritized Derryck Thornton (before he reclassified) and Kobi Simmons over Fox. However, this was before Fox put together a sensational summer and established himself at the front of the pack in a class that includes Dennis Smith, Frank Jackson (Duke commitment), Lonzo Ball and Simmons. The left-handed Fox is a menacing defensive presence who can lock down guards with his quick feet and fast hands. His primary weakness revolves around outside shooting, but he is a capable shooter off the dribble and is plenty explosive around the rim. While Fox was not always a priority for Kentucky, the Wildcats might have ended up with the best point guard in the class. Read the rest of this entry »

CBE Hall of Fame Classic: Reactions From Night One

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2015

Brian Goodman is the lead Big 12 correspondent for Rush The Court. He’s in Kansas City this week for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. You can follow Brian on Twitter @BSGoodman or the RTC Big 12 Twitter account @Big12Hoops.

The CBE Hall Of Fame Classic tipped off in Kansas City on Monday night, with Kansas State walloping Missouri in the opener and North Carolina taking care of Northwestern in the nightcap. Here are the most important takeaways from each team’s performance last evening.

Bruce Weber's crew had a good night in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Bruce Weber’s crew had a good night in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Dean Wade steps up inside for Kansas State. Post production on both ends of the court was a massive struggle for Kansas State a year ago, but it’s been a different story this year thanks to Bruce Weber‘s most important newcomer. Wade overwhelmed Missouri’s undersized lineup all night long, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds to register his first career double-double. The 6’10 freshman doesn’t yet have a ton of polish around the rim, but he showed impressive range all the way out to the three-point line and made all six of his free throws. Weber was very pleased with his big man’s play on Monday, telling media after the game that his rookie “responded against probably bigger, more athletic guys than we had played in the previous games.” Wade faces his biggest test of his young career today (7:00 PM PT, ESPN2) when he’ll go up against North Carolina’s formidable back line of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson.
  • Missouri has an all-around rough night. After last weekend’s gritty loss to Xavier, Missouri was only able to keep up with Kansas State for the first 10 minutes of the game. From that point, the Wildcats clamped down defensively and the wheels just fell off for the Tigers. Kim Anderson’s team was aggressive and played hard, particularly on one occasion where freshman Terrence Phillips leaped out of bounds to save a loose ball, but its execution otherwise couldn’t have been much worse. Missouri’s lack of size made things easy for Kansas State on the interior, and an ice-cold 4-of-18 night from three-point range did little to reduce the gap. This is an important year for the second-year head coach, who is not only working for an athletic director who didn’t hire him, but is also surrounded by SEC coaches who are far more accomplished. Monday night’s game was an opportunity to build on a solid effort against Xavier but the Tigers fell hard instead.

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RTC Top 25: Week One Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 24th, 2015

The first week of the college basketball season was unquestionably highlighted by four of the RTC Preseason Top 10 suffering defeats. It all started last Monday when #9 Virginia went into a hostile road environment at George Washington and left with a 73-68 setback. Tuesday’s Champions Classic then saw #7 Duke fall to #1 Kentucky, 74-63, and #4 Kansas unable to hold off Denzel Valentine’s heroic performance en route to a 79-73 loss. Finally, #11 North Carolina — sans senior point guard Marcus Paige — stumbled on the road at Northern Iowa, 71-67. While it is way too early for any of these squads to panic, expect these highly-ranked preseason teams to ensure one loss does not spiral into multiple defeats. On the other hand, it will also be surprising if Feast Week fails to provide a few more surprising results. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty is after the jump.

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Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

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Morning Five: 11.24.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 24th, 2015


  1. Normally people go to Maui to relax (or take four months of paternity leave), but for Kansas the trip has been a lot more interesting and mostly for stuff that has been happening off the court. The big news is the lack of news from the NCAA about Cheick Diallo, which has led Kansas to take the somewhat surprising approach of publicly criticizing the NCAA. This wouldn’t be the first time that a school has criticized the NCAA, but they usually do it by feeding media sources who do the school’s dirty work for them. The other news was the decision to suspend Brannen Greene for six games after complaining about playing time. Fans and some media might make a big deal out of this, but we doubt it will have a significant impact in the long-term as long as Greene comes back with his head on straight although it does raise some questions about their leadership when an upperclassman does something like that.
  2. Wichita State will likely be without senior point guard Fred VanVleet for this week’s Advocare Invitational in Orlando as he tries to recover from a hamstring injury. VanVleet, who has been limited this season by a series of injuries, is expected to be back for the team’s game against Saint Louis on December 5. With the Shockers senior leadership in VanVleet and Ron Baker we don’t think this will be an issue of making the NCAA Tournament, but losses at this point in the season could have a pretty big impact on what type of seed they receive on Selection Sunday.
  3. On Friday, the 10th class was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. While Charlie Scott was assigned the role of “headliner” of the class by many media sources the others in the class aren’t too shabby either with the list of inductees including John Havlicek, Quinn Buckner, Rolando Blackman, and Lou Henson. The event, which is held annually as part of the CBE Classic in Kansas City, typically goes under the radar, which is unfortunate because it would be a great way to teach fans about the history of the game. The other problem (and probably the bigger one) is the fact that the Naismith Hall of Fame gets the majority of the attention making the college basketball one a second-tier version.
  4. In the grand scheme of things it was a meaningless game (even for this college basketball season), but last night’s marquee game was the national premier of Ben Simmons. While Simmons and LSU lost to Marquette the big takeaway from the night was that Simmons is probably already the best player in the country and it might not matter because of the rest of his team and the interesting strategy they sometimes employ. Simmons had 21 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists, but the thing that will end up being the most talked about part of the game was his decision to pass twice in the waning seconds including the last pass of the game that forced Jalyn Patterson to take an extremely difficult three when a two would have won the game. We aren’t sure how many more marquee games we will see Simmons play in college, but we are sure there will be plenty of hyperbole and the accompanying over-the-top analysis this season.
  5. We have read a lot about the injury risks athletes are exposed to, but we have not read much in traditional media about the health risks that coaches face. As Brendan Prunty points out many college basketball coaches suffer from vocal cord trauma–the result of constant yelling. Many of you have noticed some of the short-term changes with the raspy voices of coaches that seem to appear fairly early in the season (something that has become a bit of a joke at this point), but as Prunty notes the consequences can be more severe.

Feast Week Previews: Maui, Legends, CBE & Cancun Tourneys

Posted by Andrew Gripshover on November 23rd, 2015

There are talented tournament fields everywhere this Feast Week. The Gulf Coast Showcase has a relatively strong mid-major field headlined by Murray State, Duquesne (which absolutely BLASTED Penn State on Friday) and Texas Southern. Four capable teams — Clemson, UMass (already a winner over Harvard), Creighton and Rutgers — will tussle in another four-team field in Vegas. Looking further ahead, Atlantis tips off on Wednesday before a handful of other events kick off on Thanksgiving Day and beyond. As we did with Puerto Rico and Charleston last week, here’s a look at the event favorite, a dark horse, and the teams who have the most on the line this week. We’ll also highlight a player and a storyline to watch.

Maui Invitational

Despite some early season struggles, Bill Self and Kansas are still the clear favorite in Maui. (Getty)

Despite some early struggles, Bill Self and Kansas are still the clear favorite in Maui. (Getty)

  • Favorite: Kansas. Even with no Cheick Diallo or Brannen Greene for the week and the second half collapse to Michigan State in Chicago notwithstanding, the Jayhawks are still the clear favorite in Maui as the only top 10 team in this tournament. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor are seniors. Frank Mason and Wayne Selden are juniors. This is an experienced team that might be going on its last ride together. As usual, there’s chatter about this being the year the Big 12 title streak is broken. Winning the Maui title would probably pump the brakes on that notion, at least for the time being.
  • Darkhorse: UCLA. In terms of talent and potential, the Bruins are a clear sleeper. Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford, Tony Parker  you could easily see a team with talented pieces like these upsetting a still-not-quite-right Kansas in the semifinal and then taking out Indiana or Vanderbilt the next night. Of course, they’re flaky enough that they could brick the last Maui quarter to UNLV, especially after that whole Monmouth thing.

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