Official Word: “The Squid” to UK…

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2009

(h/t to L4B for Calipari’s new nickname… but, um, will it stick?)

John Calipari Headed to LexingtonOfficially.  What does this hire by Kentucky (at a reported $5M+ per year) do?  It makes the Wildcat program nationally relevant again.  Instantly.  With a single stroke of the pen (still pending), every major recruit from 9th to 11th grade (and several in the 12th) who has visions of wearing a hideous suit to meet David Stern on Draft Day suddenly has Kentucky back on their radar screens.  At the McD’s game practice today, Xavier Henry has already made it clear that his recruitment is open “to everybody and anybody.”  Another Memphis commitment, DeMarcus Cousins, may feel the same way, and who knows where this leaves John Wall (a strong Memphis lean)?  With arguably the strongest recruiter this side of Roy Williams and Ben Howland vacuuming up numerous kids with serious dreams of the L, and the commitment to resources that a school like UK brings to basketball, is there any doubt whatsoever that The Squid will have the Cats hunting for Final Fours again very soon?  The pressure to win and win big will be gargantuan, but Calipari is one of the few coaches with enough ego to handle it. 

Coach, this is Jeff from down in Hyden.  Now, about the team’s free throws…


Domino, Motha____ers!  And like Doughboy so eloquently stated in BnTH, the dominoes are already falling elsewhere.  Georgia reportedly offered over $2M per year to Missouri’s Mike Anderson (although others dispute that) to take over the chronically underachieving Bulldog program, but now there is chatter that Anderson might have an interest in the newly-opened Memphis positionUpdate: Anderson is staying at Mizzou for a payday nearly doubling his annual salary.  Some other names being thrown around for the Memphis job are Tony Barbee from UTEP (former Calipari assistant) and even former Arkansas Razorback coach Nolan Richardson, who regularly mined the playgrounds of Memphis for his stellar 40MoH teams.  Whoever takes over this job, a top 20 destination, will be without the services of Tyreke Evans, who also announced his decision to go pro today

The Other Ego in Kentucky.  Louisville figures to be impacted heavily by the arrival of Calipari at Kentucky, if for no other reason than to escalate a rivalry between coaches that goes back to the early 90s and into the NBA (Celtics vs. Nets).  Can you believe that two titans of ego coaching such as Pitino and Calipari – both hot-blooded Italians – will be battling for bragging rights in the same basketball-nutty state?  Still, if you believe in rumors that won’t die, there is speculation that Rick Pitino is a legitimate candidate for the open Arizona job, vacated by Lute Olson and seat-warmed by Russ Pennell this year.  Seth Davis wrote today that he doesn’t believe this rumor for a second, and neither do we, but we could definitely see the other name mentioned for this job, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, getting into the mix down in the desert. 

Final Question.  It’s not like Billy Gillipie was completely shamed out of Lexington, although it certainly played out so.  Still, the guy has a relatively strong coaching resume, and unlike some other epic failures at regal programs (Matt Doherty at UNC; Steve Lavin at UCLA), he’s proven that he can build a program and recruit players to fill those spots.  So where will Billy Clyde end up?  You have to figure that he’ll be back in coaching next year, and if you saw his interview on ESPN with Jimmy Dykes yesterday, it was painfully apparent that he’s angling for another position with the ‘aw shucks’ persona.  Just so long as he doesn’t have to give any advice, cuz, you know, he’s not an advice-giver. 

Dykes: Do you think not signing a 30-page contract is gonna affect what you feel is fair to you at this point?

Gillispie: Oh, I have no idea. I mean, I think it’s all gonna work out fine, and I’ve never been involved with too many things that didn’t.

Dykes: What advice would you give to John Calipari if the deal goes down?

Gillispie: I’m not an advice-giver. I heard a long time ago, “The worst advice is bad advice … or giving advice.” And so, I don’t really have a whole lot of advice.

Share this story

Tony Bennett Found His Heart in… Charlottesville?

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2009

Ben of Dear Old UVa stopped by today to give his takes on their brand spanking new head coaching hire, Tony Bennett.

Now that everyone’s gotten over the initial shock of Bennett’s surprise  – to say the least – hire.   Virginia need to know what to expect from a Tony Bennett-coached team.  Well, there’s good and there’s bad.


The Good

Under Bennett, the Washington State Cougars were an excellent basketball team.   A very underrated, excellent team.

Many media pundits laud Bennett for his defense.  They’re right too.  WSU allowed 55.4 points per game this year, one of the fewest in the Pac-10.  Also, WSU finished in the top 20 in terms of defense efficiency each of the three years.  They were either first or second in the Pac-10 in defensive efficiency.

The man clearly knows how to coach defense.  His teams were well-organized and gritty.  I know the Pac-10 gets a reputation as being soft, but last year it was one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA and Bennett’s WSU helped make it that way.  They don’t make you turn it over, just force you to take bad shots.

In two years, Bennett had two 26 win seasons.  The Cougars were a 3-seed in 2007 and 4-seed in 2008. They were bounced by UNC pretty soundly last year in the Sweet Sixteen.

This year wasn’t an NCAA tournament year, but there’s no reason – given a few bounces here or there – that it couldn’t have been.  The Cougars lost close games to UCLA, USC, and Washington, all of which were NCAA tournament teams.

So, in three years, Tony Bennett has compiled a fairly impressive record for an unknown program.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Bracket First Round Results: Best Team of the Modern Era (1985-2008)

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2009

Welcome back.  The RTC Braintrust got together tonight and hammered out our 32 first round winners for the RTC Modern Bracket, one step closer to picking the team that we believe is the very best squad of the last quarter-century.

A reminder: we used resume/body of work to select and seed our 64 finalists, but that criterion now takes a step back to how we think teams would perform in head-to-head matchups.  So if your favorite team won a title but had a relatively weak inside game, don’t be surprised if a runner-up or at-large from another year with superb inside play knocks you out of the bracket.  Yes, we’re looking at you, Illinois fans.

Quick analysis of the numbers: fourteen of our 24 national champions survived the first round, but only eight of our runners-up made it through their first game.  Ten of our sixteen at-large teams also survived.

And now, the updated bracket through the first round of matchups, with brief explanations of how we analyzed each game below.


Instant Analysis

#1 Duke 1992 def. #16 Indiana 2002 – Coach K’s best team picked apart the Cinderella Hoosiers while the two Hills – Thomas and Grant – made life miserable for Jared Jeffries.

#8 Arizona 1988 def. #9 Maryland 2002 –   In a very close contest, Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott got it done from the perimeter despite Juan Dixon’s heroics to keep Maryland in the game.

#12 Arizona 1998 def. #5 Kansas 2008 – Upset Alert!  The defending champs led by Mike Bibby, Miles Simon and Michael Dickerson, took care of a Kansas team that could not bottle up the Arizona guards (think 2.5 Derrick Roses).

#13 St. John’s 1985 def. #4 Arkansas 1994 – Arkansas didn’t want to face a team with a superb PG in this matchup, and they faced one of the best of his generation in Mark Jackson.  Jackson continually hit Chris Mullin and Walter Berry for open looks to pull off the upset over the national champion Hawgs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC on the Dan Levy Podcast

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2009

I took part in my first interview last night as part of Dan Levy’s podcast. I refuse to say that I was on (the name of his show) not that there’s anything wrong with it. You can hear my segment on Dan’s website (also available on iTunes). Dan runs a great show even if he did call us out in a segment the same day he added us on Facebook. My segment is about 1/4th way through the show. It’s the part where they are talking about college basketball if you couldn’t figure that out.

A couple things that I wanted to clarify that I screwed up during the interview:

  • In the deluge of questions he threw at me I mistakenly thought he was asking which school I would pick, but he was asking which coach I would pick.
  • If I had to pick a coach for my imaginary (I hope) kid to play for, I’d go with Roy Williams or Coach K. Like I said during the segment, I think Roy has moved ahead of Coach K in recent years (I left Coach K out of my current top 5 even if he would be in the all-time top 5), but it’s tough to turn down a legend. I am not sure that Coach K’s coaching ability has decreased as much as his ability to recruit and evaluate talent. I think it’s more of the latter so I wouldn’t mind picking him as a coach.
  • As much as I respect Jim Calhoun and John Calipari as pure basketball coaches I’d have a hard time selecting them. My issue with Calhoun is this whole recruiting fiasco. My issue with Calipari is that I’m not sure where he’s going to be next year. Sure Roy turned his back on his kids at Kansas after he told the world that he wouldn’t, but I can’t imagine him doing that in Chapel Hill. Or could he?

I’d like to thank Dan for giving me the opportunity to be on his show and would love to be back any time he needs someone to talk about college hoops or anything else for that matter. If anybody else needs us for interviews, contact me at

Share this story

Early Entries 2009 Part 1

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2009

While most of the nation has been fixated on the Final 4 and the circus going on in Lexington, which is probably over (for now), several players have decided to enter the NBA Draft. Here’s the list:

  • DaJuan Summers (Georgetown, junior)–#47 in Chad Ford’s Top 100/#47 in the DraftExpress Top 100
  • Nick Calathes (Florida, sophomore)–#38 in Chad Ford’s Top 100/#73 in the DraftExpress Top 100
  • Patrick Christopher (California, junior)–Unranked
  • Brandon Costner (NC State, junior)–Unranked
  • Greivis Vasquez (Maryland, junior)–#55 in Chad Ford’s Top 100/#78 in the DraftExpress Top 100
  • B.J. Mullens (Ohio State, freshman)–#21 in Chad Ford’s Top 100/#15 in the DraftExpress Top 100


Summers is the only one who appears to be in the process of selecting an agent, but don’t expect to see Mullens back in Columbus next year as he did not even register for spring classes accordging to some reports.

Share this story

Calipari to Kentucky

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2009

After a weekend full of speculation about who would replace Billy Gillispie as the next head coach at Kentucky it looks like we finally have our answer in the form of John Calipari. Our sources had been mentioning Calipari as a potential replacement for Gillispie as early as a week ago, but that was obviously delayed by the fact that his Memphis team was still playing in the NCAA tournament. Fortunately, for the administration at Kentucky, even after last year’s title game collapse against Kansas, Calipari still didn’t think it was worthwhile having his team work on free throws and as a result they were bounced by Missouri in the Sweet 16 (their lack of defense against Missouri didn’t help their cause either).


Although the details of the deal have not been released yet, it would be safe to assume that Calipari is at around the $3 million/year figure that our source was saying it would take to lure him away from Memphis (9pm update: ESPN is now reporting the offer is 8 yrs/$35M). In addition, Kentucky will have also have to come up with the money to compensate for the $5 million bonus Calipari would have collected had he finished his contract at Memphis, which ran through the 2012-13 season at $2.5 million/year. (Break open those checkbooks Wildcat boosters!).

What might be even bigger than the physical switch of Calipari for Gillispie on the sidelines is the potential chain reaction this could have on the Memphis/Kentucky recruiting classes and Tyreke Evans. Going into today, Kentucky only had one 5-star (Daniel Orton) and one 4-star (Jon Hood) recruit who had signed a letter of intent to play in Lexington. With the addition of Calipari, the Wildcats would almost certainly get DeMarcus Cousins (the #2 overall recruit) who has committed to Memphis, but did not sign a letter of intent, and potentially Xavier Henry (the #3 overall recruit) who signed a letter of intent at Memphis, but could petition the NCAA for a release (4-star recruit Nolan Dennis has stated that he has an agreement with Memphis that he will be released from his letter of intent if Calipari leaves). In addition, they would suddenly be in the running for John Wall (the #1 overall recruit) who has not committed to a school yet, but is said to be very high on Memphis Calipari. Adding 2 of those 3 to a Kentucky lineup that leaned heavily on Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks this year would almost certainly make the Wildcats go from a NIT participant to Final 4 favorites. If Calipari were able to pull off a miracle and get Henry released from his letter and bring all three with him to Kentucky to go with Patterson, Meeks, and Orton, the Wildcats would suddenly emerge as the prohibitive favorites and the fans in Lexington might start having visions of the 1996 Kentucky team running through their heads for the next six months.

What would happen to Memphis? Disaster. Tyreke Evans, who has seen his NBA draft stock rebound after slipping during his difficult adjustment to the college game, would most likely head to the NBA leaving the Tigers without a true star for the first time in years (Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson are both seniors). Losing such a great recruiting class (one of the best since the Chris Webber-led “Fab 5”) would be a crushing blow to a program that has risen up from playing in Conference USA to become one of the premier programs in the nation in the past 5-10 years. The next question for Memphis is who will replace Calipari on the sideline. Current reports indicate that Calpari is pushing for his long-time assistant Tony Barbee to be named as his successor, but it’s likely that the Memphis AD will look to lure big-names such as Mike Anderson or Tim Floyd to what has become one fo the premier coaching destinations in the country.

Share this story

RTC Bracket: Best Team of the Modern Era (1985-2008)

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2009

We’ve been sitting on this idea for some time now, and we figured that the relatively quiet week prior to the 2009 Final Four would be the best time to unveil it for your vetting, review and diligence.  So the plan is this: each weekday we’ll advance one round until we get to a Modern Era Final Four on Friday.  On Sunday following the F4, we’ll release our two finalists and the Modern Era champion will be crowned on this year’s Championship Monday.

Let’s get down to it with our criteria for selection of the 64 teams:

  • We selected the 24 national champions (noted in black).
  • Next, we selected the 24 national runners-up (noted in blue-gray)
  • Finally, we selected the 16 best at-large teams of the last 24 years (noted in red).

You’re undoubtedly wondering how we chose the last group of sixteen at-large teams, and that’s a fair question.  There was no single measure (such as making the F4) that guaranteed inclusion to or exclusion from our at-large field, but we considered each team’s body of work in a particular season when doing so.  Criteria such as overall record, conference record, AP poll ranking, NCAA seed, postseason success, general reputation at the time, and team history were included.  Similar to selecting and seeding the field every year, the last few teams looked largely the same on paper and in our memories.  Some of them will without question inspire debate, but that’s ok, because the point of this entire exercise is to do so.

The same is true for how we seeded each team in the field.  As much as possible, we tried to stay away from the Team A would beat Team B analysis (that’s next!), focusing mostly on the team’s full body of work.  Of course, comparing teams between eras and even years is nearly impossible in many cases, so there’s a fair amount of subjectiveness that went into the seed placements.  Bear with us on that.  Additionally, as much as possible, we tried to avoid early-round matchups between the same school and teams from the same season, while still keeping a reasonable amount of competitive balance among the regions.

Enough chatter, here’s our Modern Era bracket.  Please leave us comments below telling us your choices for the first round winners.  We won’t guarantee that we’ll listen, but you’ll likely know something about these matchups that we don’t.  Feel free, and we’ll be back tomorrow with the next round!

Update: here are the First Round results.


Overall Top Four Seeds:  Duke 1992, Kentucky 1996, UNLV 1990, UConn 1999

Last Four At-Larges: UNC 2008, St. John’s 1985, Georgetown 1989, Kansas 2002

First Four Left Out: UCLA 2008, Arkansas 1991, Michigan St. 2001, St. Joseph’s 2004

Breakdown by School (total, at-large):

  • Duke (8, 1)
  • Kansas (7, 3)
  • North Carolina (5, 3)
  • Arizona (4, 2)
  • Kentucky (4, 1)
  • Florida (3, 0)
  • Indiana (3, 1)
  • Michigan (3, 0)
  • Syracuse (3, 0)
  • UNLV (3, 2)
  • Arkansas (2, 0)
  • Connecticut (2, 0)
  • Georgetown (2, 1)
  • UCLA (2, 0)
  • Georgia Tech (1, 0)
  • Illinois (1, 0)
  • Louisville (1, 0)
  • Maryland (1, 0)
  • Massachusetts (1, 1)
  • Memphis (1, 0)
  • Michigan St. (1, 0)
  • Ohio St. (1, 0)
  • Oklahoma (1, 0)
  • Seton Hall (1, 0)
  • St. John’s (1, 1)
  • Utah (1, 0)
  • Villanova (1, 0)

Be sure to check back on Tuesday morning for the First Round results of the RTC Modern Era bracket.

Share this story

Seth Curry to Duke

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2009

When we mentioned that Liberty freshman star Seth Curry was transferring we listed our choices for his potential destination. We thought that Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State made the most sense if he wanted to stay close to home and in the ACC like his coach suggested he wanted to do.



It turns out that we were wrong. ESPN just reported that Seth Curry has decided to go to Duke. We thought that they had too many stars and that he would want to avoid a program like Duke or UNC that would be loaded with talent. Seth must have watched the Villanova massacre and decided that he could help out Coach K more than we originially expected. Could this transfer be the thing that turns Duke back into the Duke of 1991-2002? With John Wall reportedly visting Durham this week, we may soon have our answer.

Update: Apparently, Duke did such a great job hosting Seth that he didn’t even bother checking out many of the other schools on his list.

Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: Elite 8 Day Two

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2009

dynamiteAfter last night’s fantastic games (especially the VillanovaPittsburgh game last night–probably the best game I have ever been to), we are hoping that today’s match-ups can equal what we saw last night. One of the more interesting things from the coverage last night (other than the fact that CBS cut to their regularly scheduled programming soon after the game was over according to reports that I have heard) is how little publicity ESPN and other media entities are giving the Scottie Reynolds mad dash to win the game. I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this since I was at the game and out for a couple hours after the game ended.

Anyways, here’s your schedule for today:

  • 2:20 PM: #2 Michigan State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 5:05 PM: #2 Oklahoma vs. #1 UNC

Even though the late game is getting a lot of the hype for the Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough massacre match-up, I think the early game might be a better game. I think people are giving Louisville too much credit for destroying a very mediocre Arizona team and Kalin Lucas will do a much better job navigating the Cardinals pressure than any point guard they have faced this year.

Let me know what your thought in the comment section and I’ll be back a little after 2 PM to get things started.

2:15 PM: What happened to the guy posing with Magic Johnson? It looks like he got into a bar fight, but he looks like he’s pushing 70.

2:20 PM: Interesting fact regarding the coaching match-up today: Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have never coached against each other.

2:22 PM: How crazy would Gus Johnson have been if he was calling the game in Boston last night? I’m pretty sure he would still be yelling today.

2:25 PM: Slow start for both teams (2 points combined in the first 3:30). I’m guessing this is just a bit of nerves. Hopefully the level of play will pick up.

2:30 PM: “Everywhere he (Pitino) goes success follows” – Gus Johnson. The residents of Boston would beg to differ.

2:43 PM: The teams still seem to be feeling each other out and the game seems to lack a real flow to it. Midway through the first half the teams are on pace to scored 92 points combined (a game after Louisville scored 103 points by themselves). How long the Spartans can maintain this pace before they need to go to their relatively inexperienced reserves?

2:50 PM: One thing to keep your eye on if the game is close late: free throw shooting. I harped on it last night after the Pitt-Nova game, but the Cardinals shoot an atrocious 64.4% as a team while the Spartans shoot 69.6% as a team. In fact, that may actually understate the difference in free throw shooting between the two teams. Louisville only has one starter who shoots over 67% from the line (Edgar Sosa at 74.2%) while Michigan State has 2 starters  who shoot 80% or better from the line (Kalin Lucas and Goran Suton) in addition to a key reserve (Chris Allen).

3:00 PM: I just stumbled across this article from 2 days ago where Rick Pitino says that the responsibility of watching over a basketball program rests on the coach’s shoulders. He says they aren’t directed at anybody in particular, but if Louisville makes it to Detroit Jim Calhoun might want to speak to Pitino outside. . .

3:08 PM: Great feed there by Edgar Sosa. This game is really starting to pick up. Could we have a repeat of yesterday? I think this could be another great game, but I have my doubts about UNC-Oklahoma. I have a feeling that the Tar Heels could run away with that game.

3:11 PM: Michigan State goes into half leading by 3. Izzo has to be thrilled that his team adjusted to the Cardinals’ pressure so quickly now he just has to hope their legs hold up.

3:15 PM: Scott, I think Pitino will make a few adjustments and the Cardinals will probably come out of halftime with the pressure cranked up to 11. If Michigan State can weather that storm and keep it within 5 points midway through the 2nd half they should be fine. The one interesting thing about the lack of respect Louisville has gotten this year is that I don’t think they will feel the pressure that the typical #1 overall seed would in this situation. I mean obviously there is some pressure trailing at halftime of an Elite 8 game, but I don’t think they will have the typical pressure of expectations that a #1 overall seed would have.

3:30 PM: BS, I’m sure you’ll get your wish (at least the dunking on part, but probably not the broken collarbone stuff). As for questioning the hatred of Hansbrough, it’s definitely out there. I think the reason Eric Devendorf was at another level is that he’s a lot more demonstrative and there was the accusation and suspension for striking a female student even if the charges were later dropped. I’m sure if you go to Durham, NC you will find quite a bit of hatred of Hansbrough. To be honest though, when I spoke with Hansbrough earlier this year he seemed to be a nice enough guy even if he seemed a little too intense almost an hour after the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Villanova and Pittsburgh put the madness back in March Madness

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2009

After nearly 10 days of college basketball critics bemoaning the lack of excitement in this year’s edition of March Madness, two of the Big East’s best teams answered all of those critics by submitting an all-time classic. After one of the strangest 10 seconds you will ever see, Scottie Reynolds made an end-to-end run that might replace the Danny Ainge and Tyus Edney versions on NCAA Tournament highlight reels from now on as this was on a much bigger stage with a trip to the Final 4 on the line. Even with Reynolds miracle, Pittsburgh still had its shot, but a 75-foot desperation heave by Levance Fields was off-target and the Villanova fans which filled TD BankNorth had their biggest moment since 1985 when Rollie Massimino, who attended the games in Boston, guided the Wildcats to their only national championship.

It was a game that showed off everything that the Big East was this year: tough, physical, surprisingly high-scoring, and always entertaining. The Wildcats came out of the gates strong and held a 22-12 lead with 9:27 left before the #1 seeded Panthers joined the fight. Relying on its three stars (DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Fields), Jamie Dixon‘s squad cut the lead to 2 with an 8-0 spurt in 1:09. From that point forward, the two team traded punches like world-class heavyweights (back when being a heavyweight actually meant something) as neither team was able to stretch their lead beyond 5 points. Villanova relied on a balanced attack (Dwayne Anderson with 17 points, Reynolds with 15 points, Dante Cunningham with 14 points, and Shane Clark with 11 points) while Pittsburgh relied heavily on its two 1st team All-Big East performers (Young with 28 points and 7 rebounds and Blair with 20 points ant 10 rebounds) to keep it in the game.

A tight game throughout. . .

A tight game throughout. . .

After trading haymakers for nearly 37 minutes without either team achieving any separation, Pittsburgh appeared to have a chance to do so coming out of a Villanova timeout with a 4-point lead and the ball out of bounds with 3:05 left.  Instead, that’s just when the madness started. Jermaine Dixon, who had hit a tough jumper just moments earlier  (with a shot that was reminiscent of one that his brother Maryland star Juan Dixon used to hit not too many years ago) to give the Panthers the lead, had the ball stolen from him and in an attempt to recover fouled Dwyane Anderson for the conventional 3-point play. A Sam Young turnover and a Corey Fisher lay-up later, the Wildcats had the lead with 2:16 left, but Fields hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers the lead back. The Wildcats showed their mettle by scoring the next 5 points to take a 4-point lead with 47 seconds left. As he has done all night long, Young provided the answer for the Panthers with a clutch 3-pointer (“Onions!” as Bill Raftery would say) with 40 seconds left to cut the lead back to 1. A pair of Fisher free throws and a Reggie Redding free throw allowed the Wildcats to stretch the lead back to 4 with 20 seconds left.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story