Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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This Week in the A-10

By CCT Staff | December 29, 2008

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Ahmad Nivins (Sr.), Saint Joseph’s.
Nivins was a monster this past week, averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds per game in a 1-1 effort for the Hawks.  Against Cornell, Nivins turned in the best performance of any A-10 player during the seven-day frame, scoring 26 and grabbing 16 rebounds.  He added another 15 points in the Hawks close loss to Siena.  The senior from Hawk Hill shot a remarkable 16-of-20 over the two games, an 80% clip.  Nivins now has six double-doubles on the season.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Andrew Nicholson (Fr.) St. Bonaventure; Aaron Jackson (Sr.) Duquesne

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

GAME OF THE WEEK:  December 23, 2008.  Fordham 60, New Hampshire 56

No, it wasn’t a battle of two traditional powers, but Fordham and New Hampshire gave the fans at Rose Hill Gym a very entertaining contest… and one in which the home fans saw many positives.  Fordham was able to record their second win of the season, and did so by making key plays down the stretch.  Both Chris Bethel and Jio Fontan converted clutch baskets and free throws in the final minute, flipping a one point deficit into a Rams win.  “That was a gutsy win tonight,” said Fordham head coach Dereck Whittenburg. “It took us a while to get going after coming back from a 12-day layoff but I think we showed signs of what we’re capable of doing tonight.”

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Big East play has officially begun! For each and every team in this conference, you can essentially throw out their non-conference games because they are guaranteed at least seven games against top 25 teams (or eight, can someone please explain to me how West Virginia is not one of the top 25 teams in the country?). Get hot at the right time, reel off five or six straight wins during the right part of your schedule, and you can thrust yourself directly onto the bubble.

Granted, that is MUCH more easily said than done. As you will see, every team in this conference has a run where they will play four or five top 25 teams in the span of two weeks. Because it was a slow week (thanks Santa, but you did get me Fifa ’09 so you’re not all bad) and more than a few teams didn’t play, I am going to be giving you what I like to call “Running the Gauntlet” (patent pending), which is the string of three or four or five (or sometimes even nine) games which you will only see in happening in the Big East.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Darryl “Truck” Bryant, West Virginia

Statistically speaking, Truck had far from the best week in the conference, even on his own team. In the Mountaineers’ only game (a blowout of Ohio State) Truck finished with 11 points and 2 dimes. But it is more than his performance, it is the importance of his play to this West Virginia team. It looks like there is a real possibility that Joe Mazzulla will be out for the season, meaning that Truck is basically the only PG Bob Huggins has on his roster right now. West Virginia does not need Truck to carry this team. In fact, they are probably better when he is blending in more than standing out, so to speak. What they need from him is tough defense, ball control, and the ability to make a big shot or big play when WVU needs it. He did that perfectly against Ohio State. The Mountaineers did not play all that well against the Buckeyes, but in the second half when they were pulling away, Truck was in the middle of everything. He had a couple tough finishes on drives to the basket, he scored a few times on a fast break, and on a team that struggles to move the ball at times, he orchestrated a beautifully run offense (especially in the second half) against a pretty good OSU zone. You want a good comparison for this kid? Think Levance Fields as a freshman.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Georgetown

The Hoyas played just one game this week. It just so happened that game was a win over UConn, the #2 team in the country. The Hoyas thoroughly dominated the Huskies throughout. If there was a word that defined the Hoyas performance, it was execution. JT3 had the perfect game plan against UConn. His Hoyas controlled the pace of the game by running through their offensive sets, then exploiting any UConn break down defensively. And when they attacked, they scored just about every time, especially down the stretch. UConn just couldn’t get any stops. If it wasn’t a back door cut, it was an open jump shot or a drive to the rim, which resulted in either a lay-up or a trip to the foul line (the Hoyas hit their last 18 free throws in the second half). Last week I told you I was finally coming to terms with the fact that Greg Monroe was not going to be a star just yet. Well, against UConn, Monroe proved why he had so much hype coming out of high school. He knocked down two threes, but was able to put the ball on the floor and go by Hasheem Thabeet when the big fella came out to guard him. He made three gorgeous back door passes, two of which came off the dribble. He blocked shots, and even ripped AJ Price at half court, which led to an and-1 lay-up. The most impressive part about Monroe right now is that he does all of this within the Georgetown system. The Hoyas still have some depth problems (the only starter that didn’t play 35 minutes against the Huskies was Monroe, and he was in foul trouble during the second half), but if guys like Jason Clark, Omar Wattad (side note: I think the best sign I have seen this year came at the Georgetown-Memphis game when some fan held up “Let’s Get Wattaded”), Julian Vaughn, and Henry Sims can provide anywhere between 8-15 minutes a game each, the Hoyas should be ok because of the pace they play at.

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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

Same song, just the second verse now.

This was another tough week for Conference USA basketball as the league desperately tries to find respect in non-conference play.

If we were to stop non-conference play today and commence CUSA play, I’d practically guarantee that this league would only get one bid to the NCAA tournament. But there are a few more opportunities for the teams in this league to prove themselves.

1.)    Let’s Get the Bad News Out of the Way: There were a few losses that were just very tough to swallow in the league. While they have a decent business school SUNY-Binghamton isn’t known for being a basketball powerhouse. You wouldn’t know it though by the way the Bearcats went on the road and beat Tulane 74-73. There will be a heated battle between the Green Wave and SMU for worst team in CUSA.  Really there’s no shame in losing to a top 10 caliber team like Wake Forest. But ECU didn’t just lose, they got hammered 95-54 by the Demon Deacons. But the real embarrassment came this past Sunday when the Pirates lost 63-55 to mighty Coastal Carolina. To put that loss in perspective CCU has losses to Presbyterian, Savannah State, North Carolina A&T and Coker. I wouldn’t call it embarrassing, but Houston needed a non-conference win against Iowa State if it wanted to call itself a contender for the NCAA tournament. The Cougars allowed ISU’s Larry Brackins to have a career day of 38 points and 14 rebounds, as the Cyclones won 71-67.

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ATB: Eve of New Years Eve Upsets

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

afterbuzzer1You’ll forgive us if tonight’s ATB is very quick, but we were traveling this evening and got to the RTC Eastern Compound a little later than expected.

A Pair of Upsets. Of course, the big news tonight were the upsets of #4 Oklahoma and #9 Purdue at the hands of unranked Arkansas and Illinois, respectively.

  • Illinois 71, Purdue 67 (OT). The Big 10 is looking stronger and stronger now that the likes of Minnesota, Ohio St., Michigan and Illinois are all approaching conference season with respectable resumes.  Illinois laid waste to Missouri last week, but tonight they laid claim to further legitimacy with an upset of the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena, breaking Purdue’s 16-game winning streak there.  How are they doing it?  A Bruce Weber staple – defense.  The Illini have the ninth most efficient defensive team in America, and they held Purdue to 38% shooting and stars E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel to a mere 24 pts tonight.  Brand new guard Alex Legion contributed 12/5 off the bench for the Illini.
  • Arkansas 96, Oklahoma 88. We’re not sure what to make of this game, but Arkansas is now sitting at 10-1 after running out to a dominating 25-point lead over a top five team who arguably has the best player in the country on its roster.  That player, Blake Griffin, had 21/13 in this game, but he was outplayed by the Razorback combination of Michael Washington (24/11) and Marcus Monk (12/6) in a game that OU coach Jeff Capel described as one where “talent matters.”   Oklahoma made a huge second-half comeback, pulling within 4 pts a couple of times behind Willie Warren’s 35 pts and seven threes, but Arkansas was able to hang on for the biggest upset win of John Pelphrey’s two years in Fayetteville.

Other Scores of Very Quick Intrigue.

  • Houston 80, Massachusetts 54. My, how long ago that UMass victory at Kansas seems.
  • Coppin St. 59, George Washington 53. A one-win MEAC team defeating a 6-5 A10 team is a major upset.  Way to go, GW.
  • Bethune-Cookman 55, Savannah St. 29. What a weird score, and Savannah St. was at home!
  • Vermont 84, Colorado 59. The Big 12 school in Boulder is singlehandedly trying to destroy the cred of its conference in Hawaii.
  • Wake Forest 83, Radford 61. The Deacs woke up in the mid-second half to outscore Radford 36-13 the rest of the way.
  • Syracuse 100, Seton Hall 76. Andy Rautins dropped seven threes as the Orange rolled in their first Big East game this year.
  • Butler 72, UAB 68. UAB really should be a good team, but they simply have no depth, which is why Butler rallied from 11 down at halftime to win this one.
  • Dayton 66, George Mason 62. Another second-half comeback by a midwestern mid-major home team.
  • Clemson 98, South Carolina 87. Is Clemson for real this year?  It’s still tough to say for certain, but this win (along with @ Illinois) makes us think there might just be some legitimacy here.
  • San Diego 64, Mississippi St. 61 (OT). It’s probably too little, too late, for the Toreros as an at-large this year.
  • Southern Miss 78, Ole Miss 59. Ok, so the SEC West wasn’t perfect tonight.
  • BYU 74, Tulsa 68. This was a classic trap game on the road for the Cougars, and they passed, with a top ten ACC team (Wake) coming to Provo on Saturday.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST). There are several good games, including an ESPN NYE marathon that RTC previewed here.   So while you’re planning on how you’ll blow last week’s paycheck on overpriced bottle service in a club where you don’t even belong, watch some games!

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (12-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (10-1) (2)
  3. Texas A&M (11-1) (3)
  4. Texas (10-2) (4)
  5. Missouri (10-2)  (5)
  6. Kansas (8-3) (6)
  7. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  8. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (9)
  9. Texas Tech (9-4) (7)
  10. Iowa St. (8-4) (11)
  11. Nebraska (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (7-3) (12)

A very bad week for the Big 12.  With about a week left in non-conference play, the cream of the crop is starting to shake out.   Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. did not play this week.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas (1-0 this week)—Texas rebounded after the loss to Michigan St. to take it out on another Big 10 team in the Wisconsin Badgers to get a nice road win.   The news in Texas is that former Florida guard Jai Lucas has chosen to transfer to Texas and will join the Longhorns.  It is still to be determined whether he needs to sit out a full year and become eligible for the 2nd half of next season or if he will be able to play right away.  I can’t see how he could be eligible for the beginning of next season, but stranger things have happened.

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When Will NJIT Win a Game?

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent of the MAAC and NEC Conferences.

njit-logo

NEWARK, NJ – Sunday afternoon brought a venture to this city to catch NJIT and Wagner in a non-conference meeting. The NJIT campus is located downtown walking distance from Rutgers-Newark and UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey). Outside the NJIT Fleisher Center is an inscription ‘The edge is knowledge’.

NJIT entered the game 0-11 and in the midst of a 44-game losing streak. While the basketball team is struggling to find their way in Division I, the inscription bears a reminder to visitors, this is one of the nation’s elite technological and research institutions. A virtual ’heavyweight’ in academia.  The modest sized crowd is into the contest and cheering the homestanding Highlanders. Winless, yet the effort is there. Defensively they get after it. Every time a run seems to be building or going their way the Highlanders miss a shot or lose the ball. Coach Jim Engles roams the sideline, intense and enthusiastic.

At the half they trail 34-22. The second half starts well for NJIT. They chip away at the lead and gradually draw even with 10 minutes to play. A free throw puts NJIT up one with just under nine minutes left. Wagner answers with two unanswered baskets and never looks back. With a minute to go the Wagner lead is double digits. There is a loose ball and an NJIT player dives across the floor in pursuit. In defeat, nothing is left in reserve. Wagner eventually closes out the 68-58 victory.  “Only a coach can understand the marvelous job Jim (Engles) is doing,” praised Wagner mentor Mike Deane. “They will win a few games this year. Guaranteed. I’m just glad they didn’t get a win against us.”

In the hallway Engles reviews the stat sheet that shows NJIT had four players in double figures led by Jheryl Wilson’s 16 points. Another thing crosses his mind. “We gave up rebounds off their (Wagner) missed free throws a few times down the stretch,” Engles notes. “Those are extra possessions we are giving them.” Engles notes the losing is tough but day to day the players come to the gym, resilient and eager to learn and get better. “Hey, teams are challenging us,” Engles adds. “They are getting after us and that’s the way I want it.” Upbeat despite the loss, Engles and his team will be back to work to prepare for Lehigh on New Year’s Eve. “”This is the first step,” Engles adds, “in a long process.” The loss to Wagner put the Highlanders at 0-12. The won-lost record unfairly does not measure heart and commitment.

(ed. note – here is NJIT’s remaining schedule and accompanying percentage chance of winning each game, according to kenpom.com. That Maryland-Eastern Shore game can’t come soon enough…)

kenpom.com

table credit: kenpom.com

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Set Your Tivos: New Year’s Eve Spectacular

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2008

I’ll be honest with you. This doesn’t even come close to Super Saturday from a couple weekends ago, but it’s certainly better than watching all the specials about how your retirement account fell apart this year or some mediocre college football teams play in a meaningless bowl games that nobody has ever heard of. It certainly should be enough to distract Big Ten fans away from their teams getting blown out in the bowl games. In any event it will get the rest of you ready for Dick Clark at midnight. . .

http://www.museum.tv/
Credit: http://www.museum.tv/

Noon ET
#15 Michigan State at #21 Minnesota on the Big Ten Network: Both teams are riding high after impressive victories on Super Saturday. The Spartans (9-2) have rebounded from a slow start including a blowout loss to UNC (doesn’t seem that bad any more. . .ok losing by 35 in a virtual home game is really bad) to reel off 5 straight wins including a win against Texas on the 20th. Meanwhile, Minnesota (12-0) has been playing consistently good basketball–quality wins over Virginia and an overrated Louisville team–all year despite coming into the season with modest expectations from the media. While the Spartans are more of a known quantity with a number of marquee players, the Gophers are more of an unknown as their soft early season schedule (only Louisville was a RPI top 100) is the reason they are 12-0 yet only ranked #21 in the country. The key to this game will likely be Spartan sophomore PG Kalin Lucas who comes into the game boasting a better than 6.5:1 assist to turnover ratio. If he continues to play at that level, Tubby Smith will have a tough time matching Tom Izzo and the Spartans.

2 PM ET
#3 Pittsburgh at Rutgers on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: The Panthers are heavy favorites in this game, but we’ll be more interested in how the Scarlet Knights are performing in the middle of the toughest 3 game stretch in college basketball history (#1 UNC then #3 Pitt then current #2 UConn in the same week). Jamie Dixon should have his guys ready for this game after UConn’s loss to Georgetown a couple night earlier, but you never know with college kids particularly ones who probably went home for the holidays and spent time around people who praised them even more than what they normally hear at school. This is definitely an “upset alert” game, but we think the UConn loss should be enough to keep Levance Fields and the Panthers on their toes.

- Wisconsin at #24 Michigan on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: At first glance this would appear to be a mismatch with the Badgers being unranked and the Wolverines receiving a lot of attention from the media this year, but this game should be very close. Most of you know about the Wolverines (10-2) with losses to Duke (avenged) and Maryland, but the Badgers (9-3) come in with a pretty strong resume too–a blowout loss against UConn along with 2 close losses to Marquette and Texas (by a combined 8 points). Despite their strong starts, both teams still have work to do if they want to guarantee themselves a ticket to the NCAA tournament. As usual the Badgers come in without a true superstar, but have a very balanced attack with 5 players averaging between 7.8 and 12.6 PPG. The Wolverines rely on their stars–Manny Harris (19.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 5.1 APG) and DeShawn Sims (17.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG). I figure the Wolverine fans (and Manny Harris) should be enough to put their team over the top in the Big Ten opener.

4 PM ET
– Iowa at #23 Ohio State on the Big Ten Network: Unfortunately we don’t think we will be seeing Mr. Trillion (Mark Titus) make an on-court appearance because this also figures to be a close game. The Hawkeyes (10-3) haven’t been world-beaters, but they should put up a pretty good fight if Anthony Tucker can rebound from his recent suspension and play up to his early-season form. The Buckeyes looked absolutely awful in their last game a 76-48 loss to West Virginia, which dropped them 10 spots in the polls. If the Buckeyes expect to rebound and contend for a Big Ten title, which they have the potential to do, they will need freshman B.J. Mullens to start playing like the big-time recruit he was out of high school. At the very least, Thad Matta needs Mullens to start playing like the 7-footer that he reportedly is. Seriously, 4.0 RPG in 17.7 minutes per game against mediocre competition isn’t going to cut it for someone who has been hyped as a potential lottery pick. If Mullens can raise his game, he and Evan Turner should be enough to make them contenders for the Big Ten title.

6 PM ET
– UNLV at #18 Louisville on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: I would use an “upset alert” on this one, but with the way Rick Pitino’s boys have been playing this year they haven’t played well enough for me to consider another loss an upset. Louisville has the talent to blow out UNLV, but to date they haven’t shown the ability to translate that talent into performance this season. UNLV certainly hasn’t been playing great this year, but their pressing defense has started to pay dividends recently with a big win over Arizona. Normally a team as talented as Louisville shouldn’t have trouble with a trapping defense of the level of UNLV’s (saw it on Christmas Eve on a replay of the Southern Utah game on Mountain TV–don’t ask), but it might just be enough pressure to rattle a team that appears to be as mentally weak as Louisville. My prediction: Let’s just say I have a strong suspicion that Rick will be giving another long speech after this one.

8 PM ET
#17 Gonzaga at Utah on CBS College Sports: As much as I would like to make this a game about 2 teams (sorry Utah), this game is really all about Gonzaga. The Bulldogs, who were ranked 4th in the nation a couple weeks ago, have lost 3 of 4. We’re willing to let the loss to UConn go (we called it the “Game of the Year (to date)” at the time, but neither team has done much lately to help with that claim), but losses to Arizona and Portland State have basically knocked Gonzaga out of contention for a #1 seed this year. However, Mark Few still has a chance at a #2 seed and spot in the West Region if Jeremy Pargo, Matt Bouldin, and company can get back in gear.

10 PM ET

-#1 UNC at Nevada on ESPN2. This is a true road test for the Heels, but it looked better on paper a month ago than it probably will be tonight.  The Wolfpack, with Luke Babbit, Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields, appeared to be ready to compete for another WAC championship and an NCAA bid coming into the season, but they have been nothing short of a disappointment so far, losing to pretty much every good team they’ve played.  Still, there is talent here, and if UNC is looking ahead to hanging out in the seedy casinos afterwards, Nevada could use their homecourt advantage to make a game of this one.  It’s worth keeping an eye on as you lift your glass to toast the new year in the east.

www.squaremeal.co.uk

Credit: www.squaremeal.co.uk

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Escape from Detroit

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2008

You may have heard things haven’t been going too well in Detroit lately. The city that has been trashed by countless writers including RTC’s very own rtmsf. While the Wolverine basketball team has turned it around this year including a big win at Crisler Arena, the Motor City has been hit by hard times. Their NFL team set a new benchmark for futility, their college football team lost to Toledo and that was only a harbinger of things to come, their MLB team finished last in its division, and their NBA team is no longer a contender. And then there is the impending economic depression that will hit Detroit if the Big 3 collapse, which they will even if the government continues to recklessly throw money at them as long as they continue with their flawed business model.

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
Credit: Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

There is some good news for the residents of Detroit. [Ice hockey is not a sport so don’t even bother telling us about the Red Wings.] In a brilliant PR move, the University of Detroit has decided to make tickets for their New Year’s Day game against Youngstown State free. If you’re in the Detroit area on New Year’s Day, we want to tell you how sorry we are recommend you check out the “Free for All” at Calihan Hall (1:05 PM tip). In addition to the free tickets, spectators also get free non-alcoholic Bloody Marys and complimentary aspirin or ibuprofen for the hangover from some more potent drinks the night before. To be honest, this isn’t the most attractive match-up on paper (3-8 Youngstown State at 4-7 University of Detroit), but we believe that it is important to reiterate that it is FREE. According to our rudimentary math skills, it’s pretty hard to beat that value proposition (at least in ratio form).

While the University of Detroit is probably most well-known as the only successful stint of Dick Vitale’s coaching career (78-30 with a 21-game win streak that ESPN uses to justify his role as the most well-known promoter of our beloved sport), the Titans have been perennial contenders for the Horizon League title and had 4 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1997-98 and 2000-01. The Titans program also produced NBA stars Dave DeBusschere and Spencer Haywood.

http://www.cineastentreff.de

Credit: http://www.cineastentreff.de

While I hope that the Detroit basketball program reaps some rewards from this PR move, I am more intrigued by the idea of a grassroots campaign to get people into college basketball at a level that is more pure than what ESPN and CBS feed down our throats from Midnight Madness until One Shining Moment. If more colleges try this model, they can start to pull in families and get a younger generation of fans who actually root for their local team rather than just what they see on SportsCenter or what some rapper is wearing on BET. If they do that, college basketball can start to fight its way back into the national conscience, which is a place we all know it belongs.

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Rush The Court on… Rushing The Court

Posted by jstevrtc on December 30th, 2008

John Stevens is a featured columnist for RTC.  His columns appear on Tuesdays throughout the season.

In college basketball terms, the arrival of January means that it’s time to, as Zack de la Rocha said, “rally ‘round the family.”

Wearing red -- is Zack a Louisville or Davidson fan?

Wearing red — is Zack a Louisville or Davidson fan?

(Photo credit:  stereogum.com)

Ah, yes…it’s time for conference play.

The importance of conference play doesn’t have to be explained to anyone reading a college basketball blog.  My personal favorite aspect of conference play is that any given team’s biggest rival is often found in their conference, but within a conference, you can make any game a rivalry game.  The ACC, for example, doesn’t necessarily have to be defined by the Duke-UNC hatred.  Sure, that’s the biggest ACC example but I guarantee you that Wake Forest and Clemson can find enough reasons in their history to hate each other, and when it’s time to play, those reasons will definitely be remembered.  It doesn’t matter if you’re from a BCS conference, mid-major, or bottom-dweller.  Take two teams from any conference in the land, put them in a gym, and it’s like putting two young blonde up-and-coming Hollywood starlets in front of a camera.  The competition is fierce and ruthless.  They can always find a reason to scratch each other’s eyes out.

It seems to have abated in the past couple of seasons, perhaps due to tighter security, more restraint among fans (I doubt that one), whatever; but floor-rushing has been a practice that college basketball fans have made their very own through the years.  Yeah, I know fans often take over the field after a big college football win but it’s just not the same.  Most fans storming a college football field have one goal in mind, and that’s bum-rushing the goal posts, or to be near the goal posts as they are upended.  These days, football stadiums have the “retractable” goal posts that can be intentionally lowered by event staff if they are threatened.  College basketball has no such equivalent.  Plus, at a football game, it’s several THOUSAND students/fans against, at most, a few hundred security guards who aren’t about to (except for a few documented extreme cases) resort to any real physical force to keep the storm from happening.  Look at a basketball arena when there’s a pending rush; there are true stare-downs happening between fans and security.  None of us here at Rush The Court would ever advocate putting anyone in real danger in the name of a floor-rush, but the point is – it’s just harder to take over a basketball court.  And watch it when it happens; it’s much more dramatic than that of a football game.  In a football stadium, for the most part, there is an initial rush of fans and then the rest come slowly funneling out, and the whole of the field is almost never even covered.  On a basketball court, it looks almost viral.  The fans absorb the playing surface within seconds.  It’s just cooler.

This is not the type of Rush were talking about.

This is not the type of Rush we’re talking about.

(Photo credit:  mediabistro.com)

The question is begged, then.  When is it appropriate?  Since this site is called Rush The Court it only seems sensible that we have an opinion on this, and it only seems sensible that we force that opinion on others in the manner of any self-appointed authority.  In this case, however, I feel that the definitive work on the subject was written by ESPN.com’s Pat Forde in the beginning of this article from 2006.  It’s a great set of provisions, and there’s almost nothing I’d change about it except to add Kansas to the list of schools that have at least three national titles (not the case at the time of the original article), and therefore put them under Forde’s Old Money Principle.  Here’s a quick summary of Forde’s rules:

I. Old Money Principle. If your program has 3 or more titles, you should never rush a court.  The only allowable exceptions apply ONLY if your team has fallen on hard times AND 1) you beat a #1-ranked and/or undefeated opponent at least halfway through the year, 2) you defeat a top-5 team at the buzzer with a shot measuring 25 feet or more, 3) you’re hammered and can’t recall how many titles your program has or your opponent’s rank, or 4) you see Ashley Judd in the stands and you’re taking the shortest route to her.  Rush The Court (and probably Pat Forde) understands – but advises even MORE caution – if there is some overlap between items 3 and 4, there.

II. Upper-Middle-Class Principle. If your program has multiple national titles you may only rush the court if you defeat one of the above leviathans and only with a buzzer-beater.  Exceptions:  if your titles predate Texas Western’s title (1966), you can rush if you beat a top-5 team (Ancient History Exception), or if your titles came before the 3-pointer was introduced, you can only rush after a “dramatic win over a top-ranked team.” (Semi-ancient History Exception)

III. Middle Class Principle. If your major-conference program has had SOME basketball chops and “takes itself seriously,” then you can only rush after defeating a top-5; beating a truly hated, unbeaten, in-conference rival; ending a period of extended futility/frustration against a rival; or clinching a conference championship.

IV. Lower Class Principle. If you play in a mid-major or low-major conference and you beat a BCS conference team, you may rush.  Exceptions are Gonzaga, Memphis, or “any other school whose program is [bigger] than its conference profile.”

V. Bottom Feeder Principle. A case of true gigantic discrepancy between programs; Forde cites an example of South Dakota State beating Wisconsin as being a permitted rush.

So far this year we are aware of two major examples where a court has been rushed.  Using the Forde Protocol, we will evaluate them now.

Case 1:  #4 Duke at Michigan, 6 December 2008.

Michigan does not qualify for evaluation by rules I and II because they only have that 1989 national title (note that rule II necessitates “multiple” titles), but without question is subject to rule III (Middle Class Principle).  Because they defeated a top-5 opponent, we feel that Michigan’s exuberance was not in excess, and the rush was warranted.  Michigan’s 12/6/08 rush is approved.

Case 2:  Arkansas at Missouri State, 22 November 2008.

Missouri State is a Missouri Valley Conference team, currently ranked 8th in conference RPI at RealTimeRPI.com, only two spots below the SEC.  It certainly qualifies as at least a mid-major conference and therefore puts Missouri State subject to evaluation under rule IV (Lower Class) even though I think the names of these Principles might need adjusting.  We know Arkansas’ status as an SEC school, so in this regard, Missouri State’s enthusiasm was in no way overdone, and therefore Missouri State’s 11/22/08 rush is approved.

Another reason I like the Forde Protocol is that not only does it leave just enough room for discussion in some areas, but it also respects the importance of conference play in that it does not leave much room for the approval of a court-rush on a non-conference opponent.  But as much as I think Syracuse should be feared this year (especially now that Devendorf has been reinstated), I HAVE to show you this video of a court rush from last season that would NEVER have been approved by the Forde Protocol or even the most liberal criteria…

This happened on February 16, 2008.  It was a normal conference game against Georgetown, ranked #8 at the time, a team who already had four losses.  And this was a ‘Cuse team that would go on to win 21 games.  Given the chance, we would have stomped that court-rushing into a whimpering, bloody submission.  This brings up another important aspect about taking over the floor – if you do it, despite the fact that you just won a game, are you not acknowledging that you are somehow subordinate to the team you’re rushing?  This should definitely keep teams in the major conferences from rushing the court except in the most extreme circumstances.  I have friends on both sides of the Duke-UNC rivalry who say that they would NEVER consider rushing the court after a win over the other side because they want to show that it just “isn’t a big deal” to beat the other program.  Even if Georgetown were ranked 5th in the game referenced above and therefore Syracuse’s court rush should have been approved by rule III, if you’re a Syracuse fan, would you want to send that message to Georgetowners?  Keep in mind, the Forde Protocol isn’t there to tell you WHEN to rush…only when it is permitted.  You don’t HAVE to do it.  Upon further review, perhaps rule II should include teams that have won at least a single national title.

This is the time of year when we’re more likely to see fans and students come down out of the stands in celebration, because the teams they support are fighting against their family members and the emotions run high.  So enjoy conference play, and if you decide to rush your home court after a big victory in the next few months, be ready, because we’ll be watching — and more than ready to pass judgment.

(All videos:  www.youtube.com.  And if those first two don’t already make you fired up for March, then you have problems I can’t fix.  –JS)

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ATB: Reintroducing Hoya Paranoia

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2008

afterbuzzerGame of the Night. Georgetown 74, Connecticut 63. The Big East is going to be two tons of fun this season, with game after good game coming at us over the course of the next two-plus months.  It all began tonight, and the result confirmed two of our inclinations that we had about both of these teams but hadn’t been able to prove just yet.  First, UConn is only a national title contender when Hasheem Thabeet as an offensive force shows up to play – otherwise, they’re just another nice top twenty team.  In the Huskies’ four games against ranked opponents, Thabeet has been held under double-figures in points and rebounds three times (exception: 19 pts/14 rebs against Miami (FL)).  He put up a pathetic four points on four shots tonight.  Credit to the Georgetown defense for minimizing Thabeet’s touches in the paint, but UConn simply must get their senior big man the ball more often to maximize their potential this year.  Second, Georgetown’s starting five is as good as anyone in the country, and if they can stay healthy (a big “if” given the wear and tear they’ll take during the Big East regular season), then the Hoyas will once again be knocking on the door of the Final Four.  All five starters can score the ball, shoot a high percentage from the field AND the line, rebound and play hard-nosed defense.  The x-factor is freshman center Greg Monroe, who showed signs tonight of becoming a dominant low-post presence in addition to a guy who can draw the defense out to the three-point line (2-2) for JT3’s team.  If he develops into a consistent threat by February, then the Big East may once again be hearing Hoya Paranoia.  The problem will be if Georgetown starts to wear down later in the season, as only guards Jason Clark and Omar Wattad have been given significant time to spell the starters.  As for this particular game, Georgetown was simply the tougher, smarter, more confident team in the first five minutes as they ran out to an 18-3 lead, and those five minutes were the difference in the game.  UConn several times got the margin within one possession, but each time Georgetown would answer with a big three or dunk.  It’ll be very interesting to see how the Hoyas show their maturity this weekend against Pittsburgh at home.

Wayne Chism Injured. Tennessee 89, Louisiana-Lafayette 62.  Normally we wouldn’t give this sort of game a special mention, but on a relatively light night, a potentially serious injury involving one of the best players on the SEC’s only really good team is worth highlighting.  Tennessee forward Wayne Chism landed hard on his back after blocking a shot in a game where he had already tallied 18/15.  He was taken off the court in a neck brace and stretcher (see below), but according to Andy Katz, Bruce Pearl texted him later to say that Chism will be ok.  That’s certainly good news for Vol fans, who will be facing tough games with Kansas, Gonzaga and Kentucky in the next two-plus weeks.

Saul Young/GoVolsXtra.com

Photo Credit: Saul Young/GoVolsXtra.com

Big Five Matchup. Villanova 62, Temple 45. Nobody seems to think that Nova is very good, but they continue to dominate the rest of their Philadelphia city rivals, winning 18 of their last 19 matchups among their Big Five counterparts.  Temple has fallen apart since its Dionte Christmas explosion a few weeks ago vs. Tennessee, now losing three in a row to Kansas, Long Beach St., and now Villanova.  There would be no Xmas theatrics tonight, as Nova held him to 4-19 shooting and 13 points.  VU was down by eight in the early second half until Temple went the next 11.5 minutes without a field goal, with Corey Fisher blowing up from three (4-4) to put the Wildcats on his back to take the lead and put Temple in the rearview mirror.  So how good is this Villanova team?   We’ll find out soon enough, with a road trip to Marquette and Louisville visiting Philly in the next two weeks.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Baylor 79, Portland St. 66. No repeat tonight for Portland St. after shocking Gonzaga last week, mostly because Zag giant-killer Jeremiah Dominquez was completely shut down (1-9 for 2 pts) after dropping 25 in last week’s upset.  Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn came off the bench for 22/6.
  • Arizona 71, Weber St. 65. Nic Wise scored 23 pts as the Cats played without Jordan Hill, who was nursing a leg injury.
  • Memphis 60, Cincinnati 45. Tyreke Evans had 14/10/8 assts (and 7 tos) in a game where Cincy couldn’t very well throw it in the ocean (26%) when they weren’t throwing it to Memphis (20 tos).
  • Davidson 79, Charleston 75. A late 10-0 run by Charleston drew the Cougars within two of Davidson in this SoCon matchup, but Stephen Curry hit one of two FTs and Andrew Goudeleck’s three caromed off to preserve Davidson’s 38th consecutive victory within the conference.  Curry had 29/9/7 assts on 11-25 shooting.
  • Buffalo 62, Colorado 60. Buffalo might be a team to watch in the MAC after giving UConn all it wanted a while back and now beating a Big 12 team at a neutral site (Hawaii).

On Tap Tuesday (all times EST). The most intriguing matchup is in the Big 10, where we’ll get to see how legit Illinois is, but we’re also interested in how Clemson, Oklahoma and BYU handle relatively tough road tests.  Butler-UAB and Dayton-GMU are also good mid-major games.

  • Florida v. Stetson (ESPN FC & 360) – 1pm
  • Houston v. UMass – 2pm
  • Syracuse v. Seton Hall (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
  • Butler v. UAB – 7pm
  • Dayton v. George Mason – 7pm
  • Illinois v. Purdue (ESPN2) – 7pm
  • Clemson @ South Carolina (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
  • Kansas St. v. Wagner (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Southern Miss v. Ole Miss – 8pm
  • Oklahoma @ Arkansas (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • BYU @ Tulsa – 8pm
  • New Mexico St. v. New Mexico (ESPN FC & 360) – 9pm
  • Mississippi St. v. San Diego (ESPN FC & 360) – 9pm
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Checking in on the… Missouri Valley

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings  (Conference Record)(Last Week Rank)

  1. Creighton (11-2)(1-0) (2)
  2. Illinois St. (12-0) (1-0)(1)
  3. Evansville (9-2) (1-0) (4)
  4. Drake (9-4) (0-1) (3)
  5. Bradley (7-5) (1-0) (7)
  6. Northern Iowa (6-6) (0-1)(6)
  7. Missouri St. (7-5) (0-1) (5)
  8. Wichita St. (6-6) (0-1)  (8)
  9. Southern Illinois (5-7) (0-1) (9)
  10. Indiana St. (3-9) (1-0) (10)

Happy Holidays and welcome to a look at the MVC as conference play started.  Valley play started this past Sunday with a full slate of games.  As conference season goes on, there will be a bit of a different format.  Teams that are making an impact on the conference and college basketball in general will be discussed as some teams start to fall off the map.  But to kick off the conference season here is what is going on opening night.

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Checking in on the… NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.

NEWARK, NJ – The Northeast Conference Co-Players of the Week were James Feldeine and Jeremy Chappell. Feldiene, a junior guard for Quinnipiac,  averaged 27.5 ppg, 8 boards and 5 assists in a spectacularly well rounded week. Quinnipiac went 1-1 during that stretch.  Chappell, a senior guard for Robert Morris and one of the NEC’s elite, averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds over a three game stretch that saw the Colonials take road games against Lafayette and Central Michigan. The latter was played at the Detroit Pistons home at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

Rookie of the Week was Central Connecticut freshman Bobby Ptacek. The  6-3 guard had career highs of 20 points 6 rebounds in the Blue Devils’ win over Princeton.

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