Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Some early-season notes from the only league without scholarships or a conference tournament:

Cornell might be the class of the Ivy League, but Penn, a perennial power (save for last year), has been getting most of the early attention, thanks to a not-so-terrible loss to No. 1 North Carolina to open the season followed by a nationally televised game against Philadelphia rival Drexel during ESPN’s college hoops marathon.

Full disclosure: I’m a Penn graduate and a big college hoops fan, so I made it over to Drexel for the game dubbed as the “Battle of 33rd Street.” Amazingly, the 10 a.m. start time wasn’t even the weirdest part of the game. Or that Drexel had banners in the arena listing its flag football champions. Or that at one point Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell hollered “That’s terrible” at the refs about 23 times in succession (actually, anyone that’s seen Fast Eddie at a Penn game will tell you that’s not weird at all; the Penn grad takes his sports – and his yelling – seriously).

No, the weirdest part was probably that the game marked the first time Penn played at Drexel in a series that dates all the way back to the 1920-21 season (which you might say makes sense considering Penn’s home, the Palestra, is considered college basketball’s most historic gym). Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said the home court edge made a big difference and he was probably right as the Dragons held on for a 66-64 win in a game that featured too many fouls, too few made free throws and probably one too many “tell the professor I really am sick” jokes.

There were some positives for Penn – such as former-spare-parts-turned-valuable-seniors Brennan Votel and Kevin Egee combining for 35 points. And the Quakers fought back from a big hole and had a chance to tie it in the final seconds. But it should be obvious from those who watched the game that this young Penn team, which starts three sophomores and a freshman, needs to make significant improvements if it hopes to unseat Cornell as Ivy champs.

One more quick note on Penn: Of all the things in college basketball that are easy to predict, a freshman point guard from the Ivy League struggling in his first college game against the No. 1 team in the country probably falls somewhere between Dickie V gyrating and Digger Phelps gratuitously holding a highlighter to his tie. And sure enough, Penn freshman point guard Zack Rosen had a rough debut, getting shut out by the Tar Heels in 28 minutes. But Quaker fans should take heart that the heralded recruit who passed up schools such as Rutgers, Iowa State, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Gonzaga to come to Penn will only get better. Much better.

Cornell posted a nice win over Loyola Md. in the consolation of the NIT Tip-off (The NIT has consolations?) but the AP didn’t seem to notice as not one Cornell player, basket, spurt, play, band member, coach or fan was even mentioned. But I guess that’s what happens when the opposing coach goes to sit in the stands for part of the game.

The Big Red lost their first NIT game to St. John’s, but some early speed bumps should be expected as the team is currently without sharpshooter Adam Gore (ACL) and point guard Louis Dale (hamstring), the reigning Ivy Player of the Year. Dale may be back soon, but Gore is out until at least January, which might make the road to a repeat a little trickier.

–I heard something weird happened during Princeton’s first game, so I checked the student newspaper’s account of the game. And yes, the rumors are true! Princeton has a “flashy” point guard. At first, his flashiness “puzzled” the fans who were used to the “Princeton basketball of old – constant motion, backdoor screens and layups, defeating opponents by wearing them down and catching them off the guard.” But soon, they grew to appreciate the new “modern and conventional” style of basketball. Could this be the end of backdoor cuts as we know it? Don’t they realize that’s how they beat UCLA in one of the all-time great tourney upsets?  What’s next to go – set shots?? I’m not sure if a world without Princeton backdoor cuts is a world I want to live in. (By the way, the Tigers lost their first two games, but already appear to be far better than the 07-08 team that was one of the worst offensive teams in the country.)

–I thought the departure of Barack Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson would hurt Brown on the recruiting front, and it very well might. But the Bears gave rookie head coach Jessie Agel a good win when they knocked off Patriot League power Holy Cross, less than a week after narrowly losing to a Rhode Island team that almost took out Duke. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s brother had a rough debut at Oregon State, losing to Howard, 47-45. Interestingly enough, Howard is coached by longtime Penn assistant Gil Jackson, so this game had a lot of league connections (probably why the two teams combined for less than 100 points). Perhaps even more interesting, the AP reports “a couple dozen” fans “swarmed” the court after the game. Hope they had good security there.

–From Seton Hill to Michigan, Tommy Amaker has always been known as a good recruiter, if not the smartest game coach. But Amaker’s first recruiting class at Harvard has drawn allegations of unethical behavior, some of which came to light when the Crimson’s prized recruit, Frank Ben-Eze, ended up enrolling at Davidson after committing to Harvard because of scrutiny over diminished academic standards. Still, Amaker’s first class looks mighty good. With three newcomers starting (Oliver McNally, Max Kenyi, Keith Wright), the Crimson opened the season with an 80-69 win over New Hampshire on Wednesday . If these guys can pass poly sci, Harvard may be set up for a run at the program’s first Ivy title.

–Andy Katz may think Yale can win the Ivy League, but the Bulldogs followed a fairly impressive 8-point loss to Stanford with a not-so-impressive 31-point loss to Vermont. (Yes, non-conference losses can be impressive if you’re in the Ivy League.) Yale should still be in the top half of the league, but first it needs to find a way to replace the shooting touch of the graduated Eric Flato.

Dartmouth joins Penn, Princeton and Yale with an 0-2 record, losing to Army and Providence to start the year. But the Big Green’s best player Alex Barnett already has 46 points in those two games.

–Finally, rounding out the Ancient Eight, Columbia is 1-1 after beating New York City rival Fordham and losing to the Big East’s Seton Hall. My favorite player, K.J. Matsui, the first native Japanese player to play Division I basketball, is off to a slow start to his senior year, shooting just 2-of-16 from the field.

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Checking in on the… Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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Ryan Pravato of CollegeFastBreak is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Summit League Digest  (NOV.21)

The first 10 days or so of the college basketball season has been refreshingly cosmic. My penchant has always been my college hoops fandom. It’s an impulse that will not die.

It’s like Rasheed Wallace snapping “Ball Don’t Lie” after an errant free throw.

It’s, you know, automatic.

Summit League Headlines

  • Two days before Oakland’s opener at Cleveland St., star guard/forward Derick Nelson injured his foot. He’ll be out until late Decemberish.  A huge blow to not only Oakland, but also to the dozens of participants who selected Derick in their fantasy mid major only college basketball draft.
  • IUPUI senior guard Gary Patterson (12.9 ppg last season) has missed the team’s first 3 games because of a broken left hand he suffered in late October.
  • 0-9. The Summit League’s record versus other DI teams before Oakland’s overtime win @ Oregon on November 17th. And it wasn’t as if Summit League teams were playing perennial powerhouses like UCLA or UNC every game. Some of these losses were against Kennesaw State (yes, they’re DI), San Jose State, Northern Illinois, Cleveland State and Northeastern. UMKC even lost to first year DI team North Dakota. So technically that’s a 0-10 DI record prior to the Oakland win.

The Breakdown

Oral Roberts (1-1) So far in 2 games of action only Robert Jarvis is averaging double figures in points. Jarvis is also averaging 5.5 rebounds as well. Don’t expect that to continue.

  • Key upcoming games: Nov. 30 @ Mizzou, Conference opener Dec. 4 @ North Dakota State

UMKC (1-2) 5 days after losing to DI newbie North Dakota, the Kangaroos beat Wichita State on the road by 3. Sophomore guard Reggie Hamilton is averaging 15.3 ppg.

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 30 @ Florida

IUPUI (1-2) 3 point loss at Indiana on the 18th. 6’5 freshman Alex Young is leading the squad in scoring with 15.7 so far. Good young nucleus needs veteran Gary Patterson back to seriously contend.

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 29 @ Western Michigan

IPFW (0-2) The Mastodons have played Xavier and Michigan State thus far and actually had a second half lead against the Spartans before succumbing to their freakish athleticism. Sophomore guard Ben Botts is the only player averaging double figures.

  • Key upcoming game: Conference opener Dec. 4 @ Southern Utah ( first of 7 straight road games)

North Dakota State (1-0) The Bison doubled up NAIA school Mayville State 128-64 on the 18th–7 players scored in double figures. Star guard Ben Woodside scored 28 in just 16 minutes.

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 29 @ Minnesota

Oakland (1-1) Upset Oregon on the road (17th) in overtime with the help of a phenomenal 32 point performance by junior point guard Johnathon Jones. Even more impressive was the fact that Jones only made one three pointer.

  • Key upcoming games: Nov. 23 @ Iowa, Nov. 25th @ Kansas State.

Western Illinois (1-2) Senior guard David Dubois is averaging 20.3 ppg. He was named to the 100 Club Classic All-Tournament Team.

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 28 @ Coastal Carolina.

South Dakota State (1-2) Sophomore guard Clint Sargent is averaging 17.3 ppg and 8.3 rebs/gm. He’s 10 for 20 from downtown thus far.

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 29 @ Central Florida.

Centenary (1-2) 6’1 senior guard Nick Stallings scored 31 in a Nov. 20th win against Troy. Guards Chase Adams and Gary Redus II are playing well early on too.

  • Key upcoming game: Conference opener Nov. 4 @ South Dakota State

Southern Utah (1-1) The Thunderbirds gave the Florida Gators a decent game on the 20th in a 14 point loss. Junior guard Davis Baker had 23 points and 8 rebounds. 6’10 senior John Clifford struggled mightily (fouled out, scored just 5). John wishes Southern Utah could play the likes of DII Mesa State more often (scored 24).

  • Key upcoming game: Nov. 29 @ Boise State.

The Summit League is what it is. The guard dominated league will pull off a few solid upsets in the coming weeks against those big school beasts, but along the way there will be plenty of blowouts, some camel spider cringe worthy.

I digress.

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Checking in on the… Southern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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Andrew Baker from Mid Major Review is the RTC correspondent for the Southern and Atlantic Sun Conferences.

Early Season Musings

The beginning of the season has been a normal one for the Southern Conference.  The SoCon isn’t doing too well out of conference against Division I opposition.  Ten of the conferences 15 wins have come against non D-I opponents.  This stat makes it real difficult to foresee any chance of the SoCon seeing a second bid.  Since it is so early in the season, we will go over the three teams that we spoke in depth about in our SoCon Preview.

The leaders with three victories are the College of Charleston Cougars.  Charleston finished 3rd in their own Charleston Classic last weekend with their lone defeat coming against a good Temple team.  Through two games they are being led by sophomore guard Andrew Goudelock at 17.5 PPG with senior forwards Dustin Scott and Jermaine Johnson contributing 10.5 PPG.  The Cougars played Charleston Southern and picked up a 10-point win over the Pirates 93-83 last night.  The Cougars have a game against MEAC  member South Carolina State on Monday before playing South Carolina in a week’s time.  It should be a dandy.

Even with the loss the other night to Oklahoma, the Davidson Wildcats and Stephen Curry are looking pretty good.  After ripping Guilford and James Madison, the Wildcats played competitively against the Sooners before succumbing 82-78 on Tuesday night.  Curry dropped 44 points against the Sooners, scoring well over half of his team’s output.  There is no doubt that Curry is the heart and soul, going 12-29 from the field and 14-14 from the free throw line against OU.  Only one other Wildcat managed to score in double digits.  The Wildcats did a wonderful job of taking care of the ball by only committing 5 turnovers in the game.  The Cats go from Oklahoma to the return game of last seasons Bracketbusters against Winthrop tonight.  In the next two weeks they will continue their quest to beat the big boys against North Carolina State and West Virginia.  Davidson should be able to stay competitive against any team if Curry continues to drop 37.5 PPG.

Appalachian State had an interesting opening week.  In their first game they dropped a high scoring affair to UNC-Wilmington 108-101.  Then Wednesday night they played an absolute barnburner against Charlotte.  The 49ers took ASU to double overtime at home in Boone before the Mountaineers finally topped UNCC 87-84 over 50 minutes of basketball.  It’s still early, but because of the two high scoring games they have been in, App State has six players averaging in double figures.  Donald Sims and Kellen Brand are leading them at this very early point in the season.  The real problem for the Mounts has been turnovers.  In the two games against UNC-Wilmington and Charlotte they had 27 and 22 turnovers, respectively.  It could be a real long season for App State if they can’t find someone to take care of the ball.  We will see if the Mounts are improving on Saturday when they visit Niagara.  A week from then they will host Campbell before beginning their two December conference games.

It’s still early for the Southern Conference, but if they ever expect to get that second bid into the NCAA Tournament they have to start scheduling more difficult opposition and then have to beat that opposition.  As was stated before, 66% of their current win total is against non-Division I opponents.  This is not a good way to impress anyone, especially the NCAA tourney committee when it comes time to perhaps award a second bid to Davidson, should they fall in the conference tournament.  It could be the snub that will be talked about for a long time.

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Checking in on the… SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC conferences.

In case you hadn’t heard, the SWAC is probably the worst Division I conference in America. March Madness usually equates to regional sadness for their conference champion, as a season of hard work, long bus trips and endless hours of practice culminates with the 64th overall seed in the national tournament.

But don’t let that stop you from keeping up with SWAC and its member schools. After all, you’ll impress your friends come March when you give them five keys North Carolina better watch out for in their opening-round tournament game.

THIS WEEK

The SWAC is a combined 1-19 thus far. The sole win was a Prairie View A&M victory over Champion Baptist College, a powerhouse independent who earned third place in the 2007 Association of Christian College Athletics championship. As for notable power conference opponents who rolled over SWAC competition and cut the check, UCLA, Arizona State, Oklahoma, LSU and Colorado are just a few.

WHAT’S HELPING

  • Seven out of the ten SWAC teams are averaging more than four made three-pointers per game. If that trend continues, you can look for the SWAC to be more than a cakewalk in the national tournament.
  • Seven teams are also defending the perimeter well, allowing less than 40 percent from the arc. They may give up a lot in the paint, but SWAC teams are proving athletic and energetic at the guard and small forward positions.

WHATS HURTING

  • Jackson State as a team is averaging better than 81 percent from the free throw line. The next best charity stripe team percentage is 65 percent. Ouch.
  • Two teams in the SWAC have played at least four games so far. Prairie View’s average margin of defeat is a single point, while 2007 SWAC champion Mississippi Valley State is losing by an average of 29 points per game. Talk about disparity.

WHATS NEXT?

Here are a few of the upcoming key match-ups for SWAC teams. And by key match-ups, we mean guaranteed games that will seem degrading at the final buzzer, but will go along way in  preparation for regular season competition.

  • Jackson State @ Texas A&M – Friday, Nov. 21 – It’s likely you haven’t heard of Grant Maxey, but if you want to see a potential 2010 free agent steal, this is the guy you want to watch. Tough in the paint, reliable on the perimeter, and a solid defender, Maxey is likely a Player of the Year candidate in the SWAC. In his opening game against LSU, he tallied 13 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes of work. More impressively, he only collected two fouls on the night.
  • Alabama A&M @ Alabama – Tuesday, Dec. 2 – Bulldog freshman forward Casey Cantey is one to watch in this game. On a roster with heavy production from its guards, the Demopolis, AL, native finished his debut with 11 points and eight rebounds. At 6’5″, he can likely be the Bulldogs most versatile defender and a great second scoring option to junior guard Trant Simpson, who scored 23 in the season opener against Oakwood College.
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Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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Rick Henderson of The Owl’s Nest is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

No Sweep for Trio

The talented trio of newcomer Head Coaches John Brady, Mike Jarvis, and Ken McDonald fared differently in first contests with thier programs.  Mike Jarvis (Florida Atlantic) gained his first victory as the Owls defeated Monmouth to open the season, while John Brady (Arkansas State) and Ken McDonald (Western Kentucky) dropped contests to  Houston and Ole Miss, respectively.

UNO Happy to be Back “Home”

New Orleans will take the court this season in a quite impressive Lake Front Arena now that rennovations are complete from the heavy damage that was caused by Hurricane Katrina.  “This is something that has us up to date with the rest of the top college basketball programs,” said Head Coach Joe Pasternack.

Middle Tennessee Pegged by SI.com

Sports Illustrated has the Blue Raiders ranked amongst the Top 10 mid-major powers in a recent article, where they enjoy the company of Gonzaga, Creighton, and Davidson.  “Five returning starters have chances to make early statements with games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee,” said Bill Trocchi of The Mid Major Report.

Carlos Monroe, Steven Moore out Indefinitely

Mike Jarvis’ roster experienced a set back recently when Florida Atlantic announced that All-SBC and potential player of the year power foward Carlos Monroe would not be eligible to begin regular season play.  The ruling stems from a spring semester academic issue.  University administration is working diligently to restore his eligibility.

University of Arkansas-Little Rock sharpshooter Steven Moore has been suspended indefinitely due to conduct detrimental to the team.  This is a blow for the Trojans given the fact that Smith drained 42 three pointers; an impressive 43.3%, and third best in the Sun Belt last season.

Busy Early Signing Period for The Belt

November 12th marked the first day of the early signing period, and SBC programs wasted no time landing some talented newcomers.  Middle Tennessee inked five, Florida Atlantic three, and Western Kentucky, who is believed to have the top class, signed three as well.  “The recent success of Sun Belt teams in the postseason is certainly helping the Conference as a whole in recruiting”, said said Jerry Myer, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.

Recent Results

Sun Belt Conference teams are doing fairly well (11-10, .524%) so far against non-conference competition. Teams have taken on the likes of mid-major and major powers including Pepperdine, N.C. State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Houston, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Preaseason All-SBC North Texas point guard Josh White had an impressive 23 points in an 100-88 loss at Oklahoma State on Monday, while Florida Atlantic guard Paul Graham scored a game high 23 in the Owls’ loss to Arizona.

Upcoming Games of Note

Middle Tennessee will host the Tennessee Volunteers, currently ranked 14th nationally, this Friday, November 21st, in Murfreesboro.  The game is scheduled to air live on College Sports Southeast (CSS) beginning at 7:00 CST.

Florida Atlantic, just off two games in the desert against Arizona and Santa Clara, will take on Davidson and Stephen Curry on Monday, November 24th.

The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky will take on a very talented Louisville squad Sunday, November 30th at 2:00PM EST in Louisville.

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Checking In With… RTC Correspondents

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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We at Rush the Court are pleased and honored to introduce you to our stable of world-class hoopologists, who will be serving you up tasty weekly servings of creamy nougat involving each of the 31 Division I conferences.  Each of our correspondents endured a vetting and due diligence process that would make Sarah Palin blush, and as a result, we’re here to offer you some of the most knowledgeable minds in the blogosphere for each of these conferences.  You’ve met each of these writers before with our 2008-09 Season Primers, but you’ll be seeing them a lot more often beginning this weekend, so let’s get comfortable with their names and schedules for the rest of the season.

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Sundays through Thursdays will be high-major days at RTC. The thirteen leagues that typically send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament will be covered by our correspondents during the bulk of the week.  Each league will have a new post on its scheduled day throughout the season.  Let’s meet them.

Sundays Beginning 11.23.08

Mondays Beginning 11.24.08

Tuesdays Beginning 11.25.08

Wednesdays Beginning 11.26.08

Thursdays Beginning 11.27.08

Fridays will be mid-major day at RTC.  There are eighteen D1 leagues that we qualify as typical one-bid leagues (the ‘mid-majors’).  These correspondents will report on their leagues every two weeks, resulting in an alternate-Friday schedule for each league, half of the group each week.  Let’s meet these bloggers as well.

Every Other Friday Beginning 11.21.08

Every other Friday Beginning 11.28.08

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ATB: Is Michigan Back?

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

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Game of the Night. Michigan 55, UCLA 52. Remember our stat from last week about Ben Howland’s UCLA teams going 1-2 on the eastern seaboard in his five seasons there?  After tonight’s semifinal matchup with Michigan, make that 1-3.  It’s true that his teams don’t seem to play well back east, but there’s more to it than that.  One of the few  coherent things that Vitale said during tonight’s game was that we all had rated UCLA based on Ben Howland and his ridiculous freshman class rather than the current experience and skills of players he is actually putting on the court.  There’s some validity to that, and it showed tonight. UCLA will end up being a good team, but they have serious offensive flaws in their frontcourt (6-17 tonight).  Even though they defended and rebounded well (holding Michigan to 43% from the field), in close games they have to depend on their playmakers Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday to produce points because their frontcourt players simply aren’t reliable in that role (yet).  And what about John Beilein’s Michigan team?  The backdoor cut by Deshawn Sims (18/5) that led to the dunk effectively ending the game was classic Beilein.  Manny Harris also contributed 15/5/4 assts, but the key takeaway here is that Michigan is 3-0 and is showing signs of putting together a good season regardless of what happens tomorrow night vs. Duke (who will likely kill Michigan).  The victory tonight over UCLA was the program’s biggest in twelve seasons (#1 Duke in 1997).  It is absolutely incomprehensible to us that a program with the prestige and resources of the University of Michigan hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1998.  With John Beilein’s system already beginning to bear fruit in Y2 of his rebuild, it won’t be long before we see the Wolverines playing in the March again.  (Yes, we realize that former coach Tommy Amaker played deep into March several times… in the NIT.)  For more detail on the partisan side of things, check the UM Hoops and Bruins Nation writeups.

Tale of Two Halves.

  • Duke 83, S. Illinois 58. The other half of the CvC semifinals was a decent game for twenty minutes until Duke’s Gerald Henderson woke up and delivered his best performance of the year (see below) in the form of several timely threes and nasty dunks, and the rest of his teammates stopped throwing the ball to SIU (17 first half TOs).  A few things struck us in this game:  first, Duke had 17 turnovers in the first half and still went into halftime with a 6-pt lead.  How?  SIU head coach Chris Lowery had the answer – The Blue Devils spent the final nine minutes of the half parading to the free-throw line, where they had just as many tries (19) as field-goal attempts. “That killed us,” Lowery said. “We felt we had a good game plan going in, we just didn’t expect to be in that kind of foul trouble.” – stop us if you’ve heard this before.  Duke shot 47 FTs to SIU’s 19.  Maybe this is explained by SIU’s tendency to foul, right?  Nah.  In their first two games this season, they’ve allowed 49 total free throws.  In two games.  Next, Duke’s defense continues to be as good as ever.  The Devils held SIU to 35% from the field, and only two Salukis made it into double figures.  Third, Duke’s presumptive center, Brian Zoubek, will never be confused with Bill Walton, but he doesn’t have to be.  What he needs to be, though, is merely serviceable.  Tonight he was – 10/6 in 19 minutes was one of the best games of his Duke career.  Duke will play the upstart Michigan Wolverines tomorrow night for the CvC Championship.  Final comment on this game: Bob Knight’s first shot at commentator was a good effort.  His coaching insights are invaluable to students of the game (esp. when he says something like “Duke has only gotten 1 of their last 5 possible points.”), but his demeanor is a little more boring than his role as studio analyst.  Perhaps he’ll get a little more animated as he grows into this position.

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  • Seton Hall 63, USC 61. This also doubles as the Upset of the Night, but we wanted to use both of these screen grabs showing the tale of two halves.  Rough night for the Pac-10, losing to two unranked teams, but USC under Tim Floyd has made a habit of these early losses. to unranked teams  Seton Hall worked its way back from a late first-half 15-pt deficit when USC seemed to fall asleep (see below).  Daniel Hackett missed a three at the buzzer which went along with his otherwise miserable shooting game (0-7), while Taj Gibson had 19/18 in a losing effort.  The Hall was led by John Garcia’s 11/18, and at 3-0 might be an early surprise out of the Big East.

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Puerto Rico Tipoff. Xavier will meet Virginia Tech and Memphis will play Seton Hall on Friday in the semifinals of the PR Tipoff.

  • Memphis 83, UT-Chattanooga 71. Memphis opened the Puerto Rico Tipoff with a late first-half surge to put UTC away.  UM shot 52%, led by Doneal Mack’s 19 and Shawn Taggart’s 16/11, but they once again really struggled from long range (Mack hit 5-9, but the rest of the team was 1-14 from three).  UTC was led by Stephen McDowell’s 27 pts.
  • Xavier 75, Missouri 71. The Muskies came back from a seven-pt deficit with seven minutes to go in the game behind Terrell Holloway’s perfect game (10-10) from the line.  DeMarre Carroll led Mizzou with 17 pts.  Xavier severely outrebounded Missouri in this game 39-24.
  • Virginia Tech 74, Fairfield 57. AD Vassallo had 24/4 in his home ‘state’ and Jeff Allen 18/8 as the Hokies rolled over Fairfield by shooting 56% for the game.

Ridiculous Score of the Year. Texas Tech 167, East Central 116. Apparently Pat Knight decided to beef up his schedule this year with a high school team – what, Riverdale or Poly was already booked?  But seriously, a 77-pt first half followed by a NINETY-point second half?  The Red Raiders shot 59% while putting an absurd TEN players into double figures tonight.  We definitely feel bad for TT freshman guard Tyree Graham, who was the only player of fourteen who did not score for the Red Raiders tonight (0-5 in 18 mins).

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Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Florida 64, S. Utah 50. It took 39:37 for Florida to hit a three to keep its streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer (546) alive.  The Gators went 1-16 from three, but 22-34 otherwise and managed to stay just enough ahead of S. Utah to avoid an upset possibility.
  • Illinois 69, Vanderbilt 63. Another home loss for an SEC team.  Illinois shook off a poor shooting night by hitting its threes (10-19) and FTs (11-11) and capitalized on a late 7-0 run to beat Vandy in Memorial Gymnasium, no small task.  Good night for the Big Ten.
  • Ohio St. 70, Delaware St. 42. We only show this score because we couldn’t believe that the OSU court was doubling as a volleyball court (see below).  We know OSU can afford to not do this, so what gives?  It looks terrible.  Oh, and BJ Mullens had 7/3 in his debut.

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On Tap Friday (all times EST):

  • Xavier v. Virginia Tech (ESPNU) – 1:30pm  (Puerto Rico Tipoff)
  • Miami (FL) (-7) v. Southern Miss – 3pm  (Paradise Jam)
  • S. Illinois v. UCLA (ESPN2) – 5pm (CvC)
  • USC v. UT-Chattanooga (ESPNU) – 5pm  (Puerto Rico Tipoff)
  • San Diego (-6) v. Valparaiso – 5:30pm  (Paradise Jam)
  • Ole Miss (-2) v. Utah – 6:30pm
  • Duke v. Michigan (ESPN2) – 7pm (CvC)
  • Syracuse v. Oakland – 7pm
  • Memphis v. Seton Hall (ESPNU) – 7pm (Puerto Rico Tipoff)
  • Pittsburgh (-21) v. Akron (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
  • Davidson v. Winthrop – 7pm
  • Connecticut (-16) v. Lasalle – 8pm
  • Maryland v. Vermont – 8pm
  • Tennessee (-10) @ Middle Tennessee St. – 8pm
  • Notre Dame (-21.5) @ Loyola Marymount – 10pm
  • UNC (-17.5) @ UC Santa Barbara (ESPNU) – 10pm
  • Wisconsin (-16) v. Iona – 10:30pm  (Paradise Jam)
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Jimmy Patsos: Shades of Ricky Byrdsong

Posted by rtmsf on November 20th, 2008

Amidst the rancor of all the games last night, we missed what might have been the most bizarre incident of the evening, and quite possibly, the new season.  During Loyola (MD)’s game with Cornell, Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos got into a dispute with referee John Gaffney and earned himself a tech.  Later in the game, Patsos claimed that he was attempting to avoid a second technical foul when the following occurred.  From the AP report:

Gaffney then “yelled at me and my assistants,” Patsos said.  Patsos had no idea how to react.  “I didn’t want to get tossed out. I had my hands up in the surrender position,” he said.  Patsos said video of the scene shows Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan in the stands, placing his hands on his head in astonishment. Seconds later, Patsos climbed about two rows into the seats to sit behind Boylan and ask for some advice.  “I didn’t want to hurt the school or the program, but at that point I really didn’t know what to do,” Patsos said.

jimmy-patsosPhoto Credit:  examiner.com

Didn’t know what to do?  This may be way out on a limb, but how about… continuing to coach your team without regard to the referee?  You said that you didn’t want to get thrown out, but weren’t you effectively throwing yourself out with this maneuver?  Patsos eventually came back down from the stands and sat with his team on the bench, but he let his assistant continue to call the plays.  Apparently, this was just one of several bizarre decisions that Patsos made during the game (according to Jeff Goodman).  Cornell, incidentally, won the game 82-72.

We old-timers immediately recalled when then-Northwestern coach Ricky Byrdsong pulled a similar stunt in a 1994 game with Minnesota.  This led to a 12-day, four game absence for Byrdsong (and persistent questions about his sanity prior to his death in 1999) and we wonder if Patsos is heading down the same path in dealing with the stresses of coaching.  To his credit, he’s rebuilt the Loyola (MD) program from a 1-27 disaster in the year prior to his arrival to three consecutive winning seasons.  We just hope that this incident was an isolated one and not a signal that larger issues are facing Patsos than simply how to beat a zone press.

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ATB: Hey Tom Izzo, What’s a Mastodon?

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2008

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News & Notes. One piece of news worth reporting tonight.  The NCAA denied USC transfer Alex Stepheson’s (from UNC) request to waive the requirement that he sit out this season.  He petitioned to the NCAA based on the poor health of his father (similar to Tyler Smith at Tennessee last year), but the powers-that-be decided against him.  This is a fairly big loss to Tim Floyd’s Trojans, but could we get some clarity and transparency from the NCAA on how these decisions are made?

Game of the Night. Kent St. 76, St. Louis 74 (OT). Tonight we check in on our good friend and epicurean Rick Majerus at St. Louis.  Last we saw Majerus he was busily putting together some of the ugliest games in college basketball history.  We hoped better for one of the seemingly nicest guys in the game this season.  So far, we’re not sure things are working out much better.  The Billikens scored 48 pts in a win against Missouri-St. Louis in their opener, but KSU’s Al Fisher ensured that Majerus’ team wouldn’t reach 2-0.  Fisher scored 16 of his team’s 17 pts in the overtime period, including the game winner with 2.1 seconds remaining.  He finished with 35/5 stls.

Upset of the Night. Mercer 78, Auburn 74. Are there any good teams in the SEC other than Tennessee?  Granted, we didn’t expect much from Auburn this year, but for the second time in four days, Mercer has gone into an SEC gym in Alabama and pulled off a win (Mercer 72, Alabama 69).  At this point, Mercer could lay a reasonable claim to being the best team in the SEC West.  The difference in this game?  Mercer outrebounded Auburn 36 to 18.  Yep, you read that right.  An A-Sun team with a front line that goes 6’6, 6’6, and 6’8 absolutely WHIPPED an SEC team on the boards.  Heart, much?

Near-Upset of the NightMichigan St. 70, IPFW 59. With 10:47 left in the second half, the score was IPFW 45-44 (what is it with Indiana and these infernal acronym schools???).  A 13-0 MSU run over the next five minutes salted away the game for the Spartans.  Somehow IPFW convinced Izzo to come to their place, and he almost seriously regretted it tonight. Raymar Morgan (22/6) led the way for MSU, who did not shoot the ball well (43% FG; 27% 3FG), and didn’t really defend all that well either (IPFW shot 46%).  Props to  former Hoosier Dane Fife’s team for throwing a mild scare into a top ten team.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Wake Forest 120, UNC-Wilmington 88. Well, we know Wake can score (214 pts in two games).  But can they defend (allowed 48% tonight)?  Jeff Teague had 31, James Johnson 25, and AFA 11/12/5 assts in a blowout win.
  • Villanova 77, Niagara 62. Scottie Reynolds shook off a poor shooting night (4-14) by making almost all of his FTs (9-10) to help Villanova hold off a team that just wouldn’t go away.  Corey Fisher added 15/6.
  • Butler 64, Ball St. 55. Butler’s Matt Howard contributed 15/6 in a typical home win for the Bulldogs, who are holding opponents to 35% shooting so far this season.

On Tap Thursday (all times EST). Sigh… another bunch of games we can’t wach b/c they’re on the U.

  • Virginia Tech (-10.5) v. Fairfield (ESPNU) – 11am (PR Tipoff)
  • Xavier (-4) v. Missouri (ESPNU) – 1pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Memphis (-21.5) v. UT-Chattanooga – 4:30pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Duke (-12.5) v. S. Illinois (ESPN2 & 360) – 7pm (CvC)
  • USC (-8) v.  Seton Hall (ESPNU) – 7pm (PR Tipoff)
  • Florida v. S. Utah (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Oklahoma St. (-7.5) v. Tulsa (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Vanderbilt (-5) v. Illinois (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • UCLA (-11) v. Michigan (ESPN2 & 360) – 9pm (CvC)
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11.19.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2008

The news is piling up again, so let’s knock one of these out quickly today…

  • The injury bug continues to strike the nation’s #1 UNC Tarheels.  Tyler Zeller broke his wrist in a breakaway foul near the end of last night’s game vs. Kentucky (see below video) and will likely be out for the remainder of the season.

 

  • Here are your 2012-16 F4 sites, in order: New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston.  The dirty south is the place to be, sayeth the NCAA.
  • Caught this in a brief mention – did you know that former NBA guard David Wesley is now the equipment manager at Baylor?  Apparently he’s finishing his degree there and is using his time to help out the team.  We think that’s just awesome. 
  • It would be shameful if UAB lost out on its best recruit, um, EVER, because they won’t promise to release DeMarcus Cousins if his presumptive coach, Mike Davis, leaves the program.  Get some stones, UAB.   
  • Everyone’s favorite sideline reporter Erin Andrews gives her top college basketball venues in an interview.  She also mentions that she would have liked to have attended UCLA, USC or Texas had she not gone to Florida.  Interesting.
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ATB: Memo to Arizona Players – Time and Score, Gents

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2008

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As usual, we’ll start with some news from today…

  • The nation’s #1 shooting guard, Xavier Henry, announced to the world on Sportscenter during the 24HoCH that he will attend Memphis next season.  His brother, CJ Henry, is already a Tiger.  This is very good news to Calipari, who watched his team clank three after three last night (2-19) in their game against UMass, because Henry’s range easily extends out to 22 feet.  Additionally, it shows that for elite guard prospects, Memphis has become the NBA stopover de rigeur.
  • The 2012-16 Final Fours will be chosen from these ten locations tomorrow: Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix, San Antonio and St. Louis.  North Texas?  Is that supposed to mean Amarillo?  Texarkana?  Paris?
  • Finally, this guy over at USA Today has nothing on our John Stevens liveblog of the 24HoCH.
  • Oh, and Steve Lavin changed his haircut.

Game of the Night. UNC 77, Kentucky 58.  It wasn’t the GOTN in terms of play on the court, but it was definitely the game with the most attention (as it should be, given the historical importance of the two programs).  What was striking was just how overmatched Kentucky looked against Carolina’s defense.  Every pass was an exercise in precariousness, as UK often simply looked as if they were trying to hang onto the possession rather than actually running a play to score the ball.  UNC forced 17 turnovers in the first half, 28 for the game, and it honestly felt like more than that.  Part of the blame is on Kentucky’s huge gaping achilles heel – the lack of a competent point guard – but UNC clearly had a gameplan to cover those passing lanes and keep the ball away from UK’s only consistent scoring threat, Patrick Patterson.  Patterson ended up with 19/11, but that was mostly in the second half after the game was well in hand.  You may ask why we thought a game that was largely played in a 12-18 point range was ‘well in hand,’ but it was patently obvious to anyone watching that UK simply couldn’t put together enough good offensive possessions to make a serious run against the Tarheels.  Thing is, we didn’t feel that Carolina was all that great offensively.  They shot only 41% from the field, led by Deon Thompson’s 20/9, but their offense wasn’t as fluid as we would have expected from a team returning so many pieces.  Of course, we realize two starters are out injured, one of whom you may have heard of before.  When Carolina gets to full strength again, bad news for the rest of the ACC and the nation – Roy may indeed have his best team since his 2005 national champs.  For some further thoughts, check here for the UNC viewpoint and here for the Kentucky one.

Upset of the Night. UAB 72, Arizona 71. Very mild upset, but beating Arizona at home still qualifies.  An extremely entertaining game, it had one of the more bizarre endings you’ll ever see.  Is Russ Pennell already on the hot seat at Arizona?  A few more unconscionable mental lapses by his players in late-game situations and he will be.  UAB had blown a 14-pt second-half lead when Arizona rebounded a FT miss and put it back in to tie the game with 0:27 left.  That’s when freshman Kyle Fogg inexpicably decided to foul a UAB player!  Keep in mind that the game was TIED.  Clearly he had forgotten that minor fact.  So a timeout ensues and then UAB predictably goes to the line and misses the front end of the 1-and-1.  Arizona misses a contested shot, UAB gets the rebound, and this time, Jamelle Horne (a sophomore) chases down Paul Delaney III and INTENTIONALLY FOULS him at 0.8 seconds as he’s running upcourt.  AGAIN, THE GAME IS STILL TIED.  Delaney hits one free throw and effectively finishes a game that should have been going to overtime.  Are the Arizona players this dumb or is Pennell not telling them to keep the score in mind while they’re playing??? (be sure to check John Stevens’ liveblog comments on this here)  Chase Budinger played solidly, leading Arizona with 27/5, while Jordan Hill came off the bench for 13/22.  UAB’s Robert Vaden had 20, including four of their thirteen threes, in the winning effort.  UAB now moves on to MSG to play Oklahoma next Wednesday night.

NIT Action.

  • Oklahoma 82, Davidson 78. How ridiculous is Steph Curry?  He had an off night (12-29 FGs) and he still dropped 44 on a good Sooners defense designed exclusively to contain him.  Does anyone not enjoy watching this kid play?  Just as soon as he throws up a tired, forced jumper that goes wide left by three feet, he’ll turn right around and drop a 25-footer right in someone’s grill.  This seems to be the Davidson MO – play major conference teams tough on the road in Nov/Dec, then beat them at neutral sites in March.  As for Oklahoma, the Griffin boys combined for 41/27, but really we just have one question – what’s going on with Blake Griffin’s eyes?  He looks more crosseyed than Stuart Scott at a Carolina sorority party, but his game doesn’t seem affected by it.  OU actually had a 21-pt lead with 12:53 remaining, but they were able to hold on largely because of great foul shooting (26-31).  Oklahoma will bring the Griffin dunking show to MSG next week, where they will play UAB.

blake-griffin-screen-shot

  • Purdue 78, Loyola (IL) 46. All you really need to know about this game is that it was 40-14 at halftime.  We’re sure Loyola was content to leave the NIT with its upset over Georgia in tow, but Purdue is a really good team.  E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummell led the way with 14 and 13 pts, respectively, but it was a solid team effort from the Boilers, placing five guys in double figures.  Purdue will play BC on Wednesday night.
  • Boston College 82, St. John’s 70. The Johnnies won’t get two more games at “home” in MSG next week, after losing to BC, who we are officially adopting as one of our surprise teams in the ACC this season.  The addition of Vermont transfer Joe Trapani (19/4/3 blks) has really improved this team, which already had an all-conference performer in Tyrese Rice (28/5/9 assts).

Midnight in the Garden of Memphis and Moraga. Ok, actually 11pm tipoffs locally in both places, but the ESPN 24HoCH kicked off last night with two entertaining games, and not one BCS school was involved!  Check JS’ liveblog of these games, but these were our thoughts.

  • St. Mary’s 99, Fresno St. 85. In a last-minute moment of clarity, we actually threw caution to the wind and drove over to this game last night.  God, how great would it be to go back to college??  Patty Mills was typically awesome, but his show-stopping speed didn’t come through live as much as we thought it would.  He was still money, though, going for 27/5/6 assts with 19 of those points coming in the first 17 minutes of the game.  St. Mary’s played well, but they were never able to completey finish off Fresno – their defense and shot selection looked a little suspect at times.  Diamon Simpson didn’t have his best game, but he still ended up with a dub-dub (10/10) and a couple of nasty blocks in the interior.  St. Mary’s will be heard from this season.  The play of the day week month year decade century millenium epoch occurred halfway through the first half, when Fresno’s Paul George (25/10) took one hard dribble from the right wing and seemingly cocked his arm back into the 1980s before throwing a hellacious dunk over everyone on earth.  Seriously, the entire arena breathlessly gasped for air after that throwdown.  We’ve attended hundreds of games in our life – mostly college, but some pro – and that dunk ranks in the top three we’ve ever seen in person – it was utterly superbulous.

  • Memphis 90, UMass 68. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  The bricks thrown up in the first ten minutes of this game rivaled anything we’d seen in a while (see shot chart below – bricks are in red font).  Maybe it was the combined 7-43 (16%) three-point shooting that put us in a bad mood, but we got so fed up with this game that it inspired us to make the drive to Moraga instead of watching the second half.  Things heated up in half two, at least for Memphis, who were led by Antonio Anderson’s 15/12/5 assts.  The Tigers began pulling away from UMass on the basis of continued poor shooting by UMass, and eventually Memphis’ athleticism and size put down the Minutemen.  It says something about Memphis in that they were able to win so convincingly despite only shooting 39% for the game, only hitting two threes and getting outrebounded.

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Other Games of Interest.

  • Georgia 61, E. Michigan 60. Dennis Felton saves his job for another day.  The Dawgs were down by as many as 11 pts in the mid-second half before rallying to nip the Eagles
  • Baylor 90, Centenary 55. Baylor hit an absurd 64% in a romp over Centenary.  JS in the liveblog had a lot of good things to say about the Bears.
  • USC 73, New Mexico St. 60. Taj Gibson had 22/10/5 blks to lead the Trojans to a 2-0 star.  Demar DeRozan had a disappointing night with 7/6.
  • Ole Miss 89, South Alabama 71. Ole Miss rallied from the bad news that it had lost its best defender today (Eniel Polynice) by pulling away from South Alabama, led by David Huertas’ 27 pts.
  • San Diego 65, Nevada 51. USD’s Rob Jones led the way with 23/5 on 10-12 shooting, and teammate Gyno Pomare had 12 pts in his first game back.  Nevada freshman Luke Babbitt had 20/12 in his debut.
  • Indiana 60, IUPUI 57. For what it’s worth, Tom Crean has already earned his salary by going 2-0 this year.
  • Gonzaga 80, Idaho 46. We swear we saw a score on the bottom line that said Gonzaga 17, Idaho 1.  Things did not improve.
  • Tennessee 91, UT-Martin 64. We were excited to see Lester Hudson in this one, but UT held him in check (20/4/5 assts on 7-22 shooting).  Backup center Brian Williams dropped 21/12 on the visitors.
  • Syracuse 76, Richmond 71. It took everything Syracuse had to avoid the upset at home, but starting backcourt Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf combined for 49/6/7 assts in the game, which was tight throughout.
  • Texas 76, Tulane 51. Damion James with 16/8 as Texas rolled, holding Tulane to 31% shooting and putting five players into double figures.
  • Arizona St. 59, San Diego St. 52. Tough loss for SDSU, as they led much of this game behind Kyle Spain’s 17 pts.  ASU’s James Harden had 18/5 as he keyed his team to a late 18-8 run to win the game.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST).

  • Wake Forest (-18) v. UNC-Wilmington – 7pm
  • Villanova (-19) v. Niagara (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Butler (-15) v. Ball St. – 7pm
  • Michigan St. @ IPFW – 7pm
  • Auburn v. Mercer – 8pm
  • UIC (-5.5) v. N. Iowa (ESPN FC & 360) - 8pm
  • Alabama v. Florida A&M (ESPN FC & 360) – 9pm

 

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Pete Newell: A Basketball Legend

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2008

We felt bad giving such short shrift to Pete Newell yesterday in our ATB wrapup, so we wanted to take an opportunity to give our condolences to the Newell family and also educate young readers on just how influential a figure Coach Newell was in this game.  The vast majority of Newell’s career was before our time as well, but his sphere of influence reaches down through the decades to this very day.  Every time a young big man utilizes a drop step or seals his defender in the post, Newell’s innovations and techniques are showing their relevance and timelessness.

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Consider some of the interesting facts and highlights of this man’s career:

  • Like the founder of the game, Dr. James Naismith, Newell was Canadian by birth.
  • He won an NIT championship at University of San Francisco in 1949, when that tournament meant something.  He developed and instituted a successful zone-pressing defense at USF that was widely copied over the years.
  • He won four straight Pac-8 titles at Cal in the late 1950s (neat stat: the last eight times Newell faced legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, he was 8-0 against the Wizard of Westwood), culminating in trips to the championship game in 1959 and 1960, the former year of which he won the NCAA title against Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati.  In 1960, the Bears lost to John Havlicek/Jerry Lucas’ Ohio St. team, who employed a defense that Newell had taught OSU coach Fred Taylor the previous year.   It’s widely known that Newell’s Cal teams were vastly inferior in talent to their F4 opponents, which belies Newell’s ability as a teacher who can get the most from his players.
  • He was the NCAA COY in 1960 and also led the US Men’s National Team to the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Rome, making him one of only three coaches to have won an NIT, NCAA and Olympic titles (Bob Knight and Dean Smith are the others).
  • To reduce the stress and demands of coaching on his body, he retired from Cal in 1960 (at a mere age of 44) with a 234-123 (.655) lifetime record.  He spent the next 16 years working as an AD at Cal, then as an NBA scout and later as a GM for the Lakers.
  • In 1976, he opened his Pete Newell Big Man Camp, which sought to provide training in footwork and fundamentals for professionals entering the NBA and others seeking to improve their post game.  The camp was free, and it worked with such notable HOFers (and future HOFers) as Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Shaquille O’Neal (who said, “he’s the best teacher there is”).
  • He was elected to the HOF himself in 1979, and his legacy is that coaches and players alike believe his contributions to the game to be at the highest possible level.  Bob Knight in particular has stated on the record that Newell had more influence on college basketball than any other person in history.

Since we never met Pete Newell, it would be an injustice for us to describe him, so we’ll leave you with a few of the better pieces we’ve found about his life and career in basketball.  RIP, Pete.

  • Ric Bucher from ESPN the Magazine writes about his visit to Newell’s camp in Hawaii a few years ago.
  • Newell’s biographer relates a great story about trying to get John Wooden to admit that Newell flat-out had his number in the late 1950s.
  • The LA Times questions whether UCLA would have become UCLA had Newell continued coaching through the 1960s.
  • Deadspin’s Rick Chandler had the privilege of learning techniques under Coach Newell.
  • Pete’s adopted hometown paper has a nice writeup on his life and influence.
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