04.09.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2008

More declarations of independence from the shackles of college today…

  • West Virginia’s superhero Joe Alexander will test his draft status but will not sign with an agent
  • Syracuse forward Donte Greene (18/7) will also make himself available for the draft
  • Texas A&M’s DeAndre Jordan, who averaged all of 8/6 this year – but hey, you can’t teach size goes the saying, and he’s a legit 7’0 – will also test the waters to see where he stands
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Trent Johnson to LSU

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2008

Gotta say, we’re a little shocked by this one

It had to be the money.  Otherwise, why would Trent Johnson, a west coast guy who had rebuilt Stanford basketball into a top program in the west take a job in the south at a football school with only lukewarm support for roundball?


Johnson May Find Things a Little Different in Baton Rouge

And what about LSU – they were reportedly looking at Anthony Grant or Travis Ford, two of the hotter young program-builders around.  Hiring Trent Johnson seems to come a little out of left field, but it undoubtedly will be the ship upon which new AD Joe Alleva will raise his sail.

As for Stanford, can Monty get out of his contract with Cal this quickly?  Will they now target someone such as Grant or Ford?  Do they look internally?   

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It’s Never Too Early For a Poll

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

Some of the way-too-early preseason 08-09 polls are coming out, so we’ll do our best to update them on this post as they become available.

  • CNNSI – Luke Winn takes his best shot at projecting next season – he has UNC #1
  • San Francisco Chronicle – has UNC #1 even w/o Tyler Hansbrough
  • The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has Texas (assuming Augustin returns) as #1 – shocker
  • Another UNC choice (Rivals) – will next year’s Carolina team learn to play defense?
  • San Jose Mercury-News has another UNC #1 selection – why is everyone sleeping on Georgetown?
  • ESPN – Andy Katz has the Horns at #1 in his rendition.
  • Vitale’s top five – shockingly, Carolina is #1!!
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Love & Collison Declare for the Draft

Posted by nvr1983 on April 8th, 2008

It looks like Ben Howland is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to return to the Final 4 for the fourth consecutive year. On Wednesday, Kevin Love and Darren Collison will announce that they are declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with agents, which means they would be ineligible to return to the Bruins next year (barring the NCAA stepping in). Early reports also indicate that Russell Westbrook, who is projected to go higher than either Love or Collison, is going to declare soon.

Unlike many of the others players who declare early and soon realize they aren’t valued as highly as they thought (looking at you Mr. Caracter), all 3 of these guys are going to be lottery picks or close to it. Barring an unforseen injury, I can’t see any of these guys returning even before they hire their agents.

On the bright side, Bruin fans won’t have to spend thousands of dollars in 2009 travelling to the Final 4 just to see their team get trounced.

Update (04.09) – Mrs. Love is saying that no decision has been made on her son’s future plans.  Darren Collison also denied that he was leaving school early.  Looks like the LA Times may have jumped the gun on this one. 

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Post-Championship Fast Breaks (04.08.08)

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

A few more drops of residual knowledge in the wake of Super Mario’s bomb…

  • Where does 2008 KU rank among this decade’s champions?  We’d put them higher than seventh but lower than fourth. 
  • Brandon Rush is going pro, according to Yahoo Sports.  What an amazing silver lining for Rush and KU after he blew out his knee during NBA workouts last spring.   
  • As a mirror question to the one floated about One Shining Moment below, is there anyone alive who actually likes Billy Packer?
  • More blowback on Roy’s Kansas decal last night.  And here
  • Arizona’s Chase Budinger will test the waters of the NBA Draft, joining teammate Jerryd Bayless from last week. 
  • In a bit of a surprise, Florida’s Marreese Speights (14/8) will also test the waters of the draft.
  • When does that two-year rule start again?  LSU’s Anthony Randolph will also be testing the waters.
  • After not playing in the entire 07-08 season due to an injury, Alabama’s Ronald Steele is also putting his name into the draft. 
  • While not official at this point, reports are indicating that Kansas St.’s Bill Walker will also declare for the draft soon. 
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One Shining Moment

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

We were going to save this for our season and tourney wrapup posting, but why wait if it’s already available?  Is there anyone in America who hates 1SM?  Anyone at all?  Not us, we’re just asking…  Enjoy.

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Reflections on Monday Night

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

So we’ve had some time to ruminate on last night’s proceedings in San Antonio, and we keep circling back to the same conclusion. This was a great college basketball game, but it wasn’t a classically great game in the sense that both teams played exceptionally well and the better team won at the end (think the punch-counterpunch of 92 Duke-Kentucky). No, this game represented for us the maxim of: the team that chokes least is the team that wins. This is to take nothing away from Kansas, who made nearly every play (but one on the missed FT rebound that Memphis stole) in the final two minutes to give themselves a sliver of a chance to win, and once they had that chance in OT, they put the game away like champions do.

Chalmers the Hero

Chalmers the Hero (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

No, we’re referring to the 6-7 minutes prior to those final two, when Kansas was still leading the game by three at the 9-minute mark and Bill Self inexplicably decided to go box-and-one on Chris Douglas-Roberts despite the fact that CDR only had two points in the second half. By the same token, Derrick Rose also had only two points in the second half and was struggling to find openings in the KU defense. We all know what came next. The box-and-one opened up driving lanes and shooting spots for Derrick Rose, who then proceeded to score 12 of the next 14 Memphis points as he found the groove facilitated by the switch in Kansas defense. The next thing you know there were less than three minutes remaining and KU was down nine, looked as tight as a drum and had turned the ball over seemingly every trip down the floor. This was Memphis’ game to lose. Check our liveblog for our feelings at this point in the game – we said, “2:22 – Rose’s ridiculous shot was only a two, but somehow we knew that it was going in when he shot it. Wow, Rush babied that one when he should have dunked it. This team is TIGHT right now. We’re not sure they have enough left to make one more run.”

And with under two minutes, things changed for Kansas. Darrell Arthur threw in an 18-footer that he normally wouldn’t take or make, and then the key play of the comeback occurred – Kansas stole the ball off the inbounds and instead of driving in and taking a contested layup attempt, they kicked it out to Sherron Collins for a dagger three. Those two plays were the most offense KU had enjoyed in the last eight minutes of the game. And suddenly, KU was only down four and it seemed as if their confidence was back.

But the Memphis choke hadn’t begun yet. Both teams traded FTs, and then with 1:15 remaining CDR (71%) missed the first of three consecutive foul shots. All badly. Kansas’ Sherron Collins made a terrible decision to go 1-on-3 against the Memphis bigs after one of those misses, but it didn’t matter because CDR couldn’t convert on the line anyway. The one that really surprised us the most was Derrick Rose missing the first of two FTs with only ten seconds left. For a moment we were thinking this could be Darius Washington, Jr., time again, but he did convert the second and KU came screaming upcourt.

Calipari Sees It Slipping Away (RICH SUGG/Kansas City Star)

Bilas, Digger and Vitale were going on and on about how Calipari should have called timeout after the Rose FT and given his troops some direction as to whether to foul (Memphis had two TOs left). In the postgame comments, Calipari made a dubious claim (see 0:21 to 0:34) that they tried to foul Sherron Collins when he was falling down out of control, but replays show clearly that the Memphis defenders were trying very hard to keep from fouling there. We tend to agree that the coaches should foul in those situations, but it’s more fun for the viewing public when they don’t. At any rate, it’s obvious that Calipari and his team were shellshocked by being two minutes from a national championship and really had no clue as to what they should be doing at that point. When Chalmers shot dropped to tie the game (and Dozier’s 50 footer missed), we would have given whatever odds you wanted on Memphis at that point. There was no way they were coming back from that collapse. Actually, in recent history the collapse reminds us a little of the UNC-Georgetown regional final game in last year’s tournament. There was simply no way that UNC was coming back in the OT after gacking up that lead in the final few minutes.

KU – 2008 National Champions (SHANE KEYSER/Kansas City Star)

So it was a great championship game, probably the best since that 1997 OT game between Arizona and Kentucky (which also featured some choking by UK’s Nazr Mohammed at the foul line). And Mario Chalmers deserves all the accolades he shall receive for stepping into that pressure-filled three pointer like a champion and knocking it down. Congrats to the Jayhawks.

Now about that Bill Self to Oklahoma St. thing…

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One reason to bask in the glow of last night’s collapse

Posted by nvr1983 on April 8th, 2008

Normally I am not one to enjoy seeing another team’s fans suffer unless they are a rival in which case I will taunt them mercilessly. However, I did not have a rooting interest (spiritual or financial) in last night’s game so part of me felt bad for Memphis as they choked away the game and the title. I just uncovered something that makes their collapse a little more enjoyable.


Just knowing that Justin Timberlake had to sit through the last 2 minutes of regulation and the inevitable loss in OT will make the replays much more enjoyable for me since he’s already run through Britney Spears (pre-KFed), Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, and Alyssa Milano not to mention countless other girls we haven’t heard about. At least we know that last night he experienced the same empty feeling that all of us have experienced at one time or the other. So what now, Timberlake?

Oh yeah.

Well he has that. . .

Well, at least he had to suffer until he got back to that. . .

Editor’s Note: We are aware there are better pics of Miss Biel online, but we try to keep a family-friendly blog here so you’ll have to use Google Images for that stuff.

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Perspectives on an Epic Title Game

Posted by nvr1983 on April 8th, 2008

I provided my instant (revised) analysis very early this morning and rtmsf will be providing his a little later today. I thought I would provide you with some of the thoughts of various other sportswriters.

At the Alamo, this was one to remember: Bob Ryan, who most of you may know from his frequent appearances on ESPN, offers his thoughts on the game and the Kansas team, which may get lost in all the talk about missed FTs and Chalmers huge shot.

It takes more than talent: Stewart Mandel on one of the biggest title game collapses ever.

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: RTC’s most well-known fan (and SI writer/CBS college basketball studio analyst) Seth Davis provides a short Q&A in between the game and his early-morning wakeup call to be on Mike & Mike.

Chalmers, Kansas get One Shining Moment: Pat Forde on the defining moment of the tournament (with apologies to the Davidson fans).

Calipari: We let national title ‘slip out of our hands’: Andy Katz with one of the million columns on how Memphis let the title slip away.

Chalmers’s Effort on Both Ends Keys Jayhawks’ Win: Camille Powell credits Mario Chalmers’s play on both ends for the title, which most writers missed because everybody has focused so much on his 3 with 2.1 secs left.

Plenty of Twists, One Final Turn: John Feinstein, author of the famous “Season on the Brink”, offers his perspective on the title game.

Without Collins, there are no Chalmers heroics: Dana O’Neil credits Sherron Collins with keying the Jayhawks’ win on Monday night.

Self should ignore the dollars and stay at Kansas: Gene Wojciechowski implores Bill Self not to leave Kansas for Oklahoma State and Boone Pickens’s money.

Sharp Defense Gives Jayhawks Edge in Matchup of Top Guards: Joe LaPointe argues that it was defense that led Kansas to victory. We agree although the missed Memphis FTs didn’t hurt. . .

A Dominant Half by Rose Falls Short by One Shot: Thayer Evans breaks down Derrick Rose’s performance that was one shot (either Chalmers’s 3 or a made FT by either Rose or Chris Douglas-Roberts) away from being named MOP.

Mario’s Miracle: Kansas Is The Champ: Luke Winn breaks down the Jayhawks’ comeback/Tigers’ collapse and Chalmers’s huge shot.

Rock Chalk, Champions: Grant Wahl offers his extensive analysis of the Jayhawks victory. This is probably the most thorough piece we have seen on the championship game so far.

What is the Best Shot in NCAA Tournament History?: SI’s Andy Gray offers his take on the top 5 shots in NCAA tournament history. We’d be interested to hear where you think Chalmers’s shot ranks.

NCAA Championship Grades: It seems fitting to end our link post with title game grades (courtesy of Bill Trocchi) for the student-athletes.

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Maybe Roy Doesn’t Give a Sh!t After All

Posted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2008

What is it with Roy’s sartorial choices this weekend? About seven minutes into tonight’s championship game, CBS indulged us with a shot of ol’ cryin’ Roy sitting in the stands wearing a black shirt emblazoned with a clearly noticeable decal of a Kansas Jayhawk on the front of it.

Let’s repeat this for clarity. The coach at North Carolina was sitting in public wearing a Kansas Jayhawks shirt and rooting for KU at the sport’s biggest event a mere two days after his team was folded, spindled and mutilated by said Jayhawks team.

Has Roy gone completely insane?

It’s obvious to everyone that Roy would privately root for his former employer, but such a public display of affection surely pushes all sensible and acceptable boundaries of decorum for a coach. Right? As Bo Schembechler said when he fired Bill Frieder in 1989 for his dalliance with Arizona St., a “Michigan man is going to coach Michigan.” While Roy isn’t halfway out the door the same way that Frieder was, you have to wonder how Carolina AD Dick Baddour feels about this affront to the Carolina brand.

And what about his players who likely will be having nightmares for the next six months of Jayhawk blue running through, over and around them en route to grasping their hopes and dreams of a title shot away from them. Do they not see a problem with Roy’s behavior here?

Carolina Nation was atwitter over this tonight. The message boards on Inside Carolina had filled fourteen pages with posts about Roy’s seeming lack of discretion. Here’s some of the better quotes from their fans on the matter:

  • And there it is!!!!! wow that is absolutely shameful!!!!! Roy if you want to go back to KU…dont let the door hit ya…way to stand by your kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • If this is true, this is very (and I mean VERY) disappointing to me as a Carolina alum and diehard fan. Again, if true, Roy needs to get his head out of the past and show where his true loyalty lies. He is the head coach at UNC. If I were a player, I would be heartbroken right now knowing that my coach is cheering for (or at least lending moral support to) the team that humiliated my team in the Final Four.
  • I don’t question his loyalty to us. But I question his judgment. For someone who is so sensitive, this is a major oversight.
  • Let’s face it people. Roy needs to be more discreet in his choices. Go to the game, even sit in the KU section. But honor the pain of your current team of Don’t wear the Jayhawk sticker and heaven’s sake, pass up the TV opportunity. It’s unseemly.

We haven’t yet corroborated this, but we also heard that John Thompson (the dad) called out Roy for this decision during his broadcast of the game on Westwood One.

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