Early Entries: Who has been hit hardest?

Posted by rtmsf on April 29th, 2007

NBA Draft

With the early entry deadline now behind us, we got to thinking about what schools and conferences have been hit the hardest over the years in terms of losing guys early to the NBA draft. We already know, for example, that Florida is set to lose four underclassmen one year early (Noah, Horford, Green and Brewer), and that North Carolina may be preseason #1 next year thanks to its good fortune in keeping Lawson, Ellington and Hansbrough around for another year. We reviewed the early entry lists from 1976, the first year after the NBA eliminated its “hardship” application process, to 2007, and here is what we found:

Note: conference stats include all teams currently within that conference (e.g., Texas & Kansas includes stats from both the Big 12 and Big 8 eras).

Early Entries by Univ 1976-2007

Who has been hit the hardest? From our view the ACC and SEC have taken the brunt of early entry punishment over the past thirty years. Six SEC schools – LSU, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, and Arkansas – have lost a combined 54 players to the NBA over the years – nearly ten per team. North Carolina, Duke, Maryland and Georgia Tech have been similarly afflicted, having lost 38 players early to the NBA over the same period. Read the rest of this entry »

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SEC Diversity Redux

Posted by rtmsf on April 27th, 2007

Apparently Gary Parrish hit a sore spot with many SEC fans based on the reaction he received to his article on CBS Sportsline earlier this week. As we stated in our response to his article, not all of the criticism he received is without merit.

Parrish wrote a follow-up article today, which in our opinion, states the essential point that he should have made in the first incarnation. Namely, although it is unfortunate and a bit peculiar that three black coaches left SEC schools (whether willingly or unwillingly) in the past two years, it is not due to racism per se that these coaches are no longer with their schools. In other words, it is not their blackness alone that got these coaches in trouble, for these and other SEC schools have had successful black coaches in the past; it is their blackness in combination with a prevailing perception of not meeting the high expectations of the fans as head coach. As he put it simply, “minority coaches operate on a shorter leash.”

John Brady OR Stan Heath ??

There is merit to this argument, and we wish Parrish had made it more clearly in the first article. There are valid concerns as to why a coaching clown like John Brady at LSU can continue with legitimate employment after ten years of mostly disappointing seasons. Or how a squirrelly little man such as Dave Odom can continue cashing SC’s checks after one NCAA appearance in six years (unless your goal as an SEC program is to win NIT championships, as he’s very accomplished at that). We have absolutely no doubt that black coaches at these schools would have been gone long before these gents. As we noted in our initial response, we’re still not past the point where “diversity” in the SEC amounts to much more than blondes and redheads. However, it must be stated that a very successful black coach at any SEC school – in football or basketball – would be warmly embraced by its fans despite the racial component.

Dave Odom OR Tubby Smith ??

As a final point, let’s also throw out another possible confounding factor in the cases of Tubby Smith and Stan Heath. We’ll leave Rod Barnes out of this discussion, because even Parrish concedes that his record at Ole Miss was lacking. Could part of the reason that Smith and Heath felt so much heat in comparison to coaches like Brady, Gottfried and Odom has something to do with how basketball is treated at those particular schools, rather than attributing all of it to race? Everyone knows that the expectations at UK are through the roof every season. Arkansas, while at heart a football school, could also fairly be described as a basketball school as well. Their fans have supported the hardwood Hawgs dating back to Eddie Sutton’s days there in the 1970s, and they’ve been to multiple Final Fours and won a championship in 1994.

Contrast that with LSU, Alabama and South Carolina, where football is absolutely and undoubtedly king. Basketball is by most fans still considered a stepbrother to the gridiron – sure, the fans want to see the program do “well,” but well is defined in the context of making the NCAAs fairly often, and maybe winning a game or two the years you get there. Those kinds of expectations get football coaches like Dennis Franchione , Gerry DiNardo and Mike Shula fired quickly (and they’re all white!). The level of expectations for basketball at these schools are far from what you see at UK, Arkansas, and as of now, Florida in the SEC. Perhaps this issue trumps all else when it comes to dealing with fan expectations at these particular schools.

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04.27.06 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 27th, 2007

  • As we approach the early entry deadline on Sunday, Kansas forward Brandon Rush and Marquette guard Dominic James both announced they are officially going pro, but neither will sign with an agent.
  • Put it on the Titanium AMEX: John Beilein agrees to pay WVU $1.5M buyout (where’d that extra mill go?) for leaving Morgantown before his contract term expired.
  • 7’3 center Hasheem Thabeet is returning to UConn for his sophomore season.
  • Someone buy Billy Gillispie an iPhone instead… NCAA formally bans text messaging of recruits.
  • Don’t the girls all get prettier at closing time? Luke Winn discusses how Patrick Patterson seems to enjoy the attention of being the last “top” player signed in the Class of 2007.
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04.25.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2007

  • Guess none of these guys got the memo that this is the deepest draft in years…
    • Georgia Tech’s Javaris Crittenton going pro but will not hire an agent.
    • Despite early reports to the contrary, Brandon Rush is still undecided about leaving Kansas for the NBA. His frontcourt teammate, Darrell Arthur, is apparently staying for his sophomore year.
    • Clemson’s James Mays also will test the waters.
    • Who are these guys? Texas A&M’s Joseph Jones also declares.
    • This is a hoax, right? 7’3 Jason Bennett of Kansas St., who averaged 1.9 ppg last year, is going pro.
  • Finally, some sanity. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute & Darren Collison announced they were both returning to UCLA next season.
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Who says Bruce Weber can’t recruit?

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2007

In the somehow-this-missed-us category, there were two separate articles over the weekend about an unsigned Class of 2007 prospect who otherwise would be fighting for recognition with all the other mid-major wannabes.  This player is a little different, though, as he just happens to be the eldest son of Basketball Messiah, aka Michael Jordan.  Jeffrey Jordan is a 6’1 guard from Deerfield (IL) Loyola Academy, who if you listen to the experts’ opinions, is the kind of player who takes his Valparaiso scholarship offer and considers himself lucky.   

Jeffrey Jordan

Nevertheless, it isn’t exactly normal that your dad hosts an annual all-star game at MSG involving the nation’s top prospects – the Jordan Classic – where you are one of the invitees.  Unless your name is Saul Smith we haven’t seen this level of nepotism since Jim Harrick, Jr., was giving exams at Georgia.  Honestly, we wish no ill will on the kid – he’s undoubtedly worked hard for everything he’s got.  And after all, recruiting maestro Bruce Weber clearly sees something in him, offering him “preferred walk-on” status at Illinois next year, whatever that means.

But don’t take our word for it, check out the MJ-esque hops here.   

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04.24.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 24th, 2007

  • Another 1-and-done: Georgia Tech’s Thaddeus Young is going pro, but will not sign with an agent.
  • Matta needs to recruit another Thad Five – is Jamar Butler going League too?
  • UCLA wasn’t counting on this. First Afflalo, now Darren Collison reportedly will declare for the NBA draft.
  • Is anyone staying in school? Sean Singletary is also testing the waters.
  • And finally, the WAC’s leading scorer last year, Utah St.’s Jaycee Carroll also declared for the draft today.
  • At least someone is staying in college this year – Reginald Delk is transferring to Louisville. His brother, Richard, is also transferring but has not yet announced a destination.
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SEC Diversity = Blondes and Redheads?

Posted by rtmsf on April 24th, 2007

One of the most amusing anecdotes in a book about Greek life in the South called “Pledged” goes something like this:

State U. is a pretty liberal, relatively tol­erant school and when one sister at State U. was asked if there was diversity in the [sorority] house, she responded: “Oh sure, we’re di­verse, we have blonde, red and a lot of brown-haired girls. I think we also have a Spanish girl.”

Sorority Girls

As anyone who has ever lived there recognizes, racism in the South is a lingering unspeakable that infests itself into nearly every situation (good and bad) whether you want it to or not. College athletics is no different, and in fact, team sports push the issues to the fore in ways that they otherwise would never be. Life in the modern SEC has fostered a peculiar “working relationship” between blacks and whites in that environment. The largely black football and basketball teams are expected to perform on the field and court, while the largely white coaching staffs are expected to harness the athletic talents of the players with discipline and structure, which will result in wins for the program and money in the university coffers. Some have gone so far as to conclude that what goes on in Tuscaloosa, Fayetteville, Athens and the like every fall and spring is nothing more than a modern-day plantation society.

To that end, as Gary Parrish points out in a recent CBS Sportsline article – with Tubby Smith’s recent departure from UK and the firings of Stan Heath (Arkansas) and Rod Barnes (Ole Miss) in the last two years – the SEC has taken a step backwards in terms of its head coaching diversity. He blames this “trend” on little more than racism shrouded in performance expectations. And while there is always some racial politics to any decision about hiring/firing of coaches in the South, a trend may not always be what it seems without appropriate context. Read the rest of this entry »

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Please Let This Happen…

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2007

Word out of Missouri is that Rick Majerus met with St. Louis University officials on Saturday night about the possibility of his taking the head coaching job there next season. SLU abruptly fired its coach Brad Soderberg several weeks ago, despite leading the Billikens to their first twenty-win season since 1998.

A simple Google search reveals that there are eleven Mobil three-star hotels in the St. Louis area, and over 13,000 restaurants within easy driving distance of St. Louis University, including dozens of steakhouses. Mmmm… midwestern beef. Majerus should feel right at home there, so long as the room service keeps the brats hot. An overlooked St. Louis perk is that one of the nation’s best hospitals, Washington University, also makes its home there. This is important for when Majerus inevitably decides to have his next coronary.

Having Majerus back amongst the coaching ranks is good for the game and the city of St. Louis. He’s a very likeable guy who consistently gets his teams to overachieve. Plus, we’re tired of hearing him say the word “offense” as “oaf-fense” from November to March. But mostly we’re just pleased as punch because Majerus and the Billiken have a strong likeness that we can enjoy for the duration of his contract.

billikenrick majerus

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04.23.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2007

  • OSU’s Thad Three (Greg Oden, Michael Conley, Jr., Daequan Cook) are going pro – Conley & Cook will not sign with Dad, er, an agent.
  • Chris Lofton is staying at Tennessee for his senior season.  This decision undoubtedly pushes UT into the SEC frontrunner position for next year.   
  • Nevada’s Marcellus Kemp and Ramon Sessions are set to test the NBA waters, but only Kemp is projected as a first round pick (in 2008). 
  • Brandan Wright is expected to declare for the NBA today.  Don’t despair Carolina fans, Deon Thompson is probably a better long-term fit for the Heels. 
  • Iowa’s second-leading scorer Tyler Smith appears to be transferring to Tennessee, and could possibly play in 2007-08 based upon a family hardship waiver. 
  • Luke Winn has a nice piece today on five new coaches with immediate expectations at their new schools (Turgeon – Wichita St., Martin – Kansas St., Pelphrey – Arkansas, Gillispie – Kentucky, Huggins – WVU).   
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Who knew Florida International was an NBA breeding ground?

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2007

One of our spring rituals when the NBA playoffs arrive is to analyze the makeup of the teams through the lens of what colleges and conferences the key contributors passed through on their way to the L (assuming they went to college at all). There is talent on every team in the NBA, but it takes more than stockpiled talent to ensure success – experience, competent role players, solid team chemistry, and coaching all come into play. This exercise shows us where the best of the best in basketball are coming from. Are the big conferences over- or underrepresented – and if so, which ones? Which schools are consistently putting talent on the top NBA teams – who is missing? What about the foreign player invasion of the past decade – how is that playing out? To answer these questions and more, we’ll examine both the key contributors and the starters of each playoff team, to see if anything in the results surprises us.

blackboard

The methodology used ensures that we only assessed key contributors on each playoff team. First, we only considered players who averaged at least ten minutes per game this season, figuring that a benchwarmer like Paul Shirley hasn’t contributed much toward the team’s on-court success. Second, each player must have played in at least half of his team’s games (if he was traded during the season, the games with the previous team were included as well). Finally, with respect to selecting starters, we only considered those who were projected to start for their teams during the playoffs (sorry Wiz duo Agent Zero and Caron Butler). This process left us with 168 key contributors and 80 starters spread over sixteen teams. Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Playoffs – Varsity Conference

Posted by rtmsf on April 20th, 2007

 NBA Western Conf Logo

(1) Dallas vs. (8) Golden State

Nellie’s baaaack.  This is probably the most interesting 1 vs. 8 matchup in many years.  Why?  For one, the Warriors have simply owned the Mavs over the last two seasons, winning five in a row between the clubs – and no other team beat Dallas twice this year.  Secondly, they’re hot, winning nine of their last ten, and finishing the season on a 16-5 run, no doubt sparked by the midseason trades of the Bonehead Brother and Troy Murphy, allowing the Warriors to play Nellie’s preferred smallball style.   Still, the Mavs have great players up and down their lineup, and didn’t win 67 games as a fluke.   Due to both teams looking to push the ball, this should be a tremendously entertaining series, but the Mavs’ experience will be the ultimate difference.  Make no mistake, though, they will get a scare here. 

The Pick – Dallas rides Nowitzki to a closeout win at home in Game 7.  Mavs in seven.   

(2) Phoenix vs. (7) LA Lakers

Over/Under on Kobe 50s?  1.5.  See, this is why we love the Varsity.  Another juicy matchup.  Since Kobe has decided that the only way LA has a chance to win games is by going medieval on his opponents, watching just to see the Mamba pursue Jordan’s record 63 vs. the Celtics is worth the time.  We also love the subplot of Raja Bell firmly implanting himself in Kobe’s head (and shorts) – perhaps this will be the year that Kobe remembers “that kid.”  Even so, despite last year’s close series until Kobe decided to “set up his teammates,” the two teams are further apart this time around.  Phoenix has Stoudemire back patrolling the middle, and the Lakers have regressed at key non-Kobe positions (particularly Smush Parker and Lamar Odom).  Phil Jackson will have to find a new Zen mantra in order to inspire enough confidence into those guys to beat the Suns this year.  Not gonna happen.         

The Pick – Kobe as The Man?  Zero playoff series wins in two seasons – make it three this time around.  Suns in five.   

Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Playoffs – JV Conference

Posted by rtmsf on April 19th, 2007

 NBA Playoffs Logo

We at Rush the Court don’t really get why so many college hoops fans do not appreciate the NBA playoffs, which features unquestionably the highest level of basketball played in the world.  Sure, the school spirit and passion of the fans isn’t the same, and the endless regular season often renders some players joyless and methodical.  But the playoffs are a different story.  The players defend better, fight through screens harder, and the very best of the bunch – Bird, Magic, Isiah, Jordan, Hakeem, Duncan, Shaq – rise to the occasion time and time again.  With the young guard of Wade, Lebron, Melo, Bosh and D. Howard ready to take the game to a higher plane for its generation, we find it compelling drama again this spring. 

The JV (Eastern, in common parlance) Conference has been so mediocre for so many years that it took us a while to remember when it was truly competitive with the West.  The last time you could say that the East was marginally on par with the West was 1999, immediately prior to the ascent of the Lakers (Phil Jackson arrived on the scene in 2000) and commensurate with the slow and steady descent of the mid-late 90s stalwarts Knicks, Heat, Pacers and Bulls (not so slowly or steadily).  In that lockout-shortened year, the West had five thirty-win teams, while the East had four – although their Finals representative was the 8th seeded and 27-win Knicks, perhaps already belying the weakness among the top eastern teams.  The very next season, in 2000, the West had six fifty-win teams, while the East only managed three.  Over the course of the next five years, arguably only one eastern team (Philadelphia in 2001; New Jersey in 2002-03; and Detroit in 2004-05) would have broken into the top six of the West.  Since Shaq came to Miami in 2005, the Heat along with the Pistons can be considered elite.  No other team in the East deserves that consideration.        

So here are the picks for the JV Conference: 

Read the rest of this entry »

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