10.08.09 Fast BreaksPosted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2009
Like the first trickles of a flash flood, the verbal barrage about our beloved sport really started picking up this week. There’s a lot more previewing, interviewing, writing, talking and salivating going on around the college hoops blogosphere. Let’s take a look at some of the items that are catching our interest…
Dissecting Duke’s Recruiting. Gary Parrish wrote an interesting article last week about Duke’s recruiting over the past five seasons and we had to comment on it because it fairly accurately depicts what the substantive problem with Duke has been in the postseason (i.e., away from CIS). We’re on record as saying that Duke hasn’t had a true game-changing stud since Luol Deng graced the gothic campus with his presence for one season in 2003-04. This is not to say that Duke has been without very good players during that time. Shelden Williams, JJ Redick and Gerald Henderson all come to mind as great collegians. But none of those players, and certainly none of the laundry list that Parrish mentions as some of K’s other ‘top’ recruits (McBob, Singler, etc.), are the kinds of elite NBA-level talent that gets teams through the regionals and into the Final Four. There are of course notable exceptions (George Mason in 2006 is the most obvious), but this is Duke, and Duke is always taking a team’s best shot. They’re going to be very well coached, but Coach K and his staff know that well-coached moderate talent will lose out to elite talent more often than not. This is why when Parrish says that Duke needs to secure commitments from Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving in order to compete with UNC, Kansas and now Kentucky on the national stage again, he’s right. The Jon Scheyers of the world are great to have on your team, and will win you a lot of games over four years; but they’re not the players who can carry a team through rough spots en route to the Final Four. If you don’t believe us, check out who was the MOP of the 2004 Atlanta Regional, leading the team in scoring in both regional games and literally saving the team on more than one occasion with clutch buckets (hint: it wasn’t the more celebrated upperclassmen). Box scores here and here. If Duke is serious about getting back to the big stage again before Coach K retires, he needs players like Barnes and Irving to get it done. Fundamentally, Duke fans probably realize this, which is why each of these visits makes for tense moments in Durham.
Midnight Madness. So we’re only eight days away from the start of basketball practice, and thankfully the NCAA closed the loophole that meant we were having these things all month of October, like last year. But ESPNU will be back with coverage from 9pm to 1am EDT next Friday, with a simulcast from 8:30-9pm EST on ESPN. There will be coverage from nine schools this year, including Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog, Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness, UNC’s Late Night With Roy, and several others (Michigan St., Duke, Washington, Georgetown, UConn and North Dakota St.). RTC will hopefully provide live coverage in some fashion, but we’re still working out what that will be. Make sure to check back early next week for more details.
Prodigious Previews, Batman. From Goodman, the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC and Big East. From Parrish, his final Top 25 (and 1) and his preseason all-americans. Some players getting early-season pub are Gani Lawal, Isaiah Thomas, Alex Stepheson, Lance Stephenson, and the entire Mississippi St. frontline. Mike DeCourcy answers five questions about his season preview.
Quick Hits. Patrick Patterson: his junior year at UK will be his last. Kevin Laue: great to see things working out for him at Manhattan (RTC flashback). Contract Extensions: Ed DeChellis at Penn St. and Louis Orr at Bowling Green (Parrish calls BS on these). Zach Spiker: the new head Cadet at Army. James Keefe: UCLA F injured shoulder, out 4-6 weeks. Len Elmore: has UNC, Michigan St., Kansas and Michigan in his F4. Binghamton: Nancy Zimpher was listening to us after all. CAA: silver anniversary team. Seth Davis: an interesting read on overworked college officials. Chris Taft: remember him? Rivals Team Recruiting Rankings: early list for 2010 is out.