The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Abdul Gaddy

Posted by jstevrtc on August 27th, 2010

Rush The Court presents the inaugural edition of One on One: an Interview Series, which we hope to publish weekly on Friday mornings throughout the year.  If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

As Abdul Gaddy heads into his second season under head coach Lorenzo Romar at the University of Washington, he has a lot to prove. Ranked as the second-best point guard prospect in the class of 2009 (behind the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, John Wall), Gaddy had a disappointing freshman season, averaging just four points and two assists per game despite starting in each of his team’s final 27 games. Romar said that as the season wore on, he noticed that Gaddy’s confidence dipped, and a big question on the minds of many college basketball fans is when will we see that calm, cool and confident Gaddy who earned such lofty appraisals in his high school and AAU days.  Andrew Murawa, a contributor here at Rush The Court as well as our Pac-10 and Mountain West correspondent, talked with Gaddy earlier this week, and we asked him about the recruiting process, his freshman season, and what to expect from the 2010-11 version of the Huskies.

Rush The Court: When you came out of high school you were regarded as the second-best point guard prospect in the country behind John Wall. Did you pay a lot of attention to those recruiting rankings when you were in high school?

Abdul Gaddy: At the beginning, no. But, as I became the second-best point guard and all that, I kind of did pay attention. I thought it was a great honor for me, so I kind of got into it and thought it was pretty fun, just to see all the rankings, so I kind of got into it a little bit.

Gaddy's confidence was low for most of last season, but he recovered late, settled into college life, and his team won 14 of their last 17.

RTC: You played at events like the McDonald’s All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classic and the Boost Mobile Elite 24 at Rucker Park, where you got to play with and against some of those same guys in those recruiting rankings. What was that like?

AG: It was fun to play against those guys, the top-ranked guys in my class. They were all stout competition. They brought out my competitive nature. Having fun, playing the game of basketball against them, just to see how I measured up against them, was great. It was a good measuring stick for myself to see where I was at and how much better I needed to get.

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Summer School in the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 27th, 2010

Around The Big 12:

  • One Foot Out The Door: The big news in the Big 12 is that it’s no longer the Big 12.  This season will be the final season with the Big 12 as we know it.  Nebraska departs for the Big Ten and Colorado will eventually make the jump to the Pac-10, either in 2011 or 2012.  Either way, the transformation in the conference has major implications as far as basketball is concerned, as the unbalanced schedule that has existed since the league’s inception goes away, and a new 18-game conference slate could become the norm.  In an ideal world, no more excuses – everybody plays everybody at home and on the road from here on out.
  • New Coaches: Two teams in the conference will have new head coaches in 2010. Colorado lost Jeff Bzdelik to Wake Forest and his self-described dream job.  The timing couldn’t have been worse for Colorado, as the program seemed to be gaining some traction, and any time there is a lack of stability, it can hurt a program.  In terms of the hire itself, Tad Boyle from Northern Colorado doesn’t necessarily have the name recognition, but he was able to keep all the current pieces in place for Colorado and in the short term, that’s very important.  Things at Iowa State didn’t necessarily shake out quite as well.  The Cyclones are bringing back “The Mayor,” Fred Hoiberg, who has an extremely limited coaching resume, but tremendous amount of clout with the Iowa State faithful.  The program lost the top two players from a year ago and then some.  With the new start and a fresh face on the bench, it’s a full-blown rebuilding job awaiting an Ames legend.
  • Diaper Dandies: The Big 12 has made a name for itself as a league that can reload. This year is no exception; around the league, a host of high-profile recruits join various programs, ensuring the viability of the league as a basketball power for the future.  Perry Jones at Baylor, Josh Selby at Kansas, Tony Mitchell at Missouri and both Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph at Texas join each respective program as big-time national recruits. The only problem right now is that both Tiger and Jayhawk fans are awaiting eligibility news related to their blue chip talents.
  • An I-70 Battle: Three teams situated on or very close to Interstate 70 look poised to battle for the conference title.  In years past, the gripe from the Big 12 South has always been the competitively unbalanced schedule and the built-in advantage that it provided Kansas in winning the conference.  In 2010, three North teams in Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri all appear to be legitimate contenders for the conference crown.  Mike Anderson and Frank Martin have done a tremendous job in recruiting players to their respective programs, developing talent and getting the buy-in that it takes to step onto the national stage.  Both appear to be inching ever closer to Bill Self and the Jayhawks and the three-way “rivalry” will no doubt play a major role in who wins the Big 12.

With or without Josh Selby, Kansas is ready to defend its string of six consecutive regular season conference titles.

Power Rankings:

  1. Kansas: When you lose three starters, the common belief is that you will take a step back.  With Kansas however, the cupboard is far from bare.  The Jayhawks were easily one of the deepest teams in the country a year ago and while losing Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich certainly isn’t an easy pill to swallow, Kansas returns a Big 12 POY candidate in Marcus Morris, depth and talent at every position, and they add one of the top recruits in the country in McDonald’s All-American Josh Selby, who as of this writing, has yet to be cleared to play. Two players who could prove critical to success in 2010 are Markieff Morris and Tyshawn Taylor. Both have enjoyed success off and on in their careers thus far, but neither has found the consistency or leadership on the court that’s necessary to be viewed as a leader.  With the turnover in the program, the opportunity is there for one or both to make that leap.
  2. Kansas State: The Wildcats return a good amount of talent from their Elite Eight team of a year ago.  Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly could easily represent the best inside-outside combination in the league. But the biggest reason to not doubt Kansas State is their coach, Frank Martin. A hire that was highly criticized when it was made, Martin’s move to the head job in Manhattan has proven to be a great one. His teams play an extremely hard, tough, physical brand of basketball, and as a coach, he’s found a way to put together a team that buys into that style.  The biggest question mark will be finding a way to replace Denis Clemente, arguably the most athletic player in the Big 12 a year ago.  Martin will look to sophomores Rodney McGruder and Wally Judge to step up and provide support for the Wildcats as they battle for the conference title
  3. Missouri: Mike Anderson has stocked up on quality depth and added the top recruiting class in the conference to boot.  While the eligibility of blue-chip talent Tony Mitchell remains a question mark, the Tigers have made another major addition on the interior in the top ranked junior college forward, Ricardo Ratliffe. The biggest thing the Tigers will have to replace is leadership.  The departures of seniors J.T. Tiller, Keith Ramsey and Zaire Taylor aren’t major blows in terms of production, but they are in terms of leadership.  All three were part of the initial transition from the Quin Snyder era to Anderson and all three were in the top four in minutes played a year ago.  The talent in Columbia is there for a Big 12 run, the question is who will lead them? Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 08.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2010

We’re going to try something new today, and you’ll likely never see it again… but it’s August, and we’re absolutely frothing at the mouth over some of the schedules coming out three months from now, so we’re sure you’ll forgive us.

  1. We’ve laid off this story, but we’re glad to see former Alabama forward Mikhail Torrance off the ventilator and in stable condition after a reported heart attack last weekend.
  2. This story by Golden Grizzlies Gameplan focuses on several returning players including Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen, Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Wake Forest’s Tony Woods as players who haven’t quite lived up to potential yet.  Mmmm… potential.
  3. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber believes in his Illini.
  4. Who has been more successful in the last 30+ years of college basketball — Florida or Wake Forest?  These questions and many others will be answered in Basketball Reference’s countdown of the top 31 programs in the last 31 years of college hoops.  Honestly, the fact that this is even in question begs huge questions about this analysis.  Maybe they should put the name “Harvard” in front of it.
  5. C’mon DeCourcy, you’re better than that — where’s our TSN preview mag in the RTC mailbox?  For those of you who also didn’t receive the copy, here’s their important info… bold to go with the Spartans over Duke.

TSN Top-25

  1. Michigan State
  2. Duke
  3. Purdue
  4. Kansas
  5. Ohio State
  6. Kansas State
  7. Syracuse
  8. Kentucky
  9. North Carolina
  10. Pittsburgh
  11. Villanova
  12. Memphis
  13. Missouri
  14. Gonzaga
  15. Illinois
  16. Baylor
  17. Georgetown
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Butler
  20. Florida
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. Tennessee
  23. Washington
  24. Wichita State
  25. Florida State

TSN All-American teams:

First team

  • Kyle Singler, Duke
  • Marcus Morris, Kansas
  • Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU
  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

Second team

  • Durrell Summers, Michigan State
  • Malcolm Delaney, Virginia tech
  • Kris Joseph, Syracuse
  • Kyrie Irving, Duke
  • Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Third team

  • LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
  • Enes Kantor, Kentucky
  • Nolan Smith, Duke
  • JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
  • Elias Harris, Gonzaga
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Summer School in the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 26th, 2010

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Around The America East:

  • A Carousel for Two: Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz jumped ship after his program took a sharp decline following a 2008 run to the AE title; he will join Penn as an assistant coach. Taking the reins is former Hartford assistant John Gallagher…who served last season as a Penn assistant.
  • Just a Fling: Binghamton‘s All-America East performer Greer Wright filed for a transfer waiver and flirted with the idea of attending Connecticut or Cincinnati before deciding to return to Binghamton for his senior season.
  • The Departed: Binghamton was less fortunate with last season’s AE Rookie of the Year, Dylan Talley, who decided to take his services elsewhere. Other notable transfers are Vermont’s All-Defensive team player Garvey Young and UMBC leading scorer Chauncey Gilliam, who packed his bags for Akron.
  • Big Haul: After having only three players left on Boston University‘s roster at the end of last season’s AE runner-up finish, second-year head coach Patrick Chambers hauled in a seven-man recruiting class to surround the league’s premier player, John Holland.
  • Break Out the Vegemite: Coach Will Brown and his Albany Great Danes have welcomed freshman Luke Devlin from Australia to campus. The 6’8 Aussie has three-point range and should quickly become a favorite among a fan base eager for something to cheer about.
  • Catching On With the Clippers: Vermont standout Marqus Blakely received a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the LA Clippers and has angled himself towards a spot on the roster.

Star swingman John Holland is a powerful weapon for BU, but will he be able to power the Terriers into the Big Dance?

Power Rankings:

  1. Boston University: The Terriers’ hopes revolve around two-time all-conference star John Holland, the heir apparent to the AE POY title. An NCAA trip is hardly guaranteed – an exodus of senior guards leaves BU with only three returning players (none of whom are guards) and many question marks. The loss of Corey Lowe especially hurts; the four-year starter carried the Terriers to last year’s title game when teams cued in on Holland, the league leader in scoring. During the AE tournament, Holland was held to an eFG of 38% and 10.3 PPG, well below his season averages of 52% and 19.9, respectively. Alongside Holland, BU returns 2009 AE ROY Jake O’Brien, who can score in volume, and hard-nosed center Jeff Pelage, who is a banger inside. Former Marquette swingman Patrick Hazel should make his presence felt immediately, but the most pressing question is which of the four incoming freshman and two transfer guards will land the role of primary ball handler.
  2. Maine: Maine’s defense propelled them to a surprising 11-5 conference record last year, but the Black Bears were promptly upset by New Hampshire in the first round of the conference tournament. Despite the setback, they are well-positioned to build on last year’s success. They graduated Junior Bernal, an all-league defender, but the core of their lineup returns. Central to the offense is all-league guard Gerald McLemore, the league leader in three-point field goals. Last season, the offense exhibited a tendency to stall if opponents could take McLemore’s shot away (as UNH did in the tournament). Help could be on the way for the offense in the form of juco transfer Raheem Singleton, a point guard whose game and appearance is eerily reminiscent of former Pittsburgh floor general Levance Fields. Maine fans are also excited about incoming forward Alasdair Fraser, who has had a stellar summer playing for Scotland in the European under-18 championships, and could form a formidable frontcourt alongside Sean McNally.
  3. Stony Brook: Stony Brook won the conference regular season title, but will have to defend that title without conference POY Muhammed El-Amin, who graduated in the spring. What was a very effective supporting cast will be forced into a starring role. The identity of the team will likely flow from Tommy Brenton, the best defensive big man in the league at only 6’5.  Brenton personifies hustle and is a rebounding machine – he averaged nearly ten boards per game last season. The x-factor for the Seawolves is speedy guard Chris Martin. He was one of the best in the nation in drawing fouls and should continue to frustrate opposing guards, especially if he can improve his jump shot (44% from the floor last year). The emergence of Martin is essential to keeping the defense from focusing on marksman Bryan Dougher, who led the AE in three-point shooting percentage. Read the rest of this entry »
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LeBron Runs With The Hurricanes

Posted by jstevrtc on August 26th, 2010

Celebrities of all types have always been associated with college basketball. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen the likes of President Obama playing pickup at North Carolina and taking in a game at Georgetown; Michael Jordan’s been known to practice with the Tar Heels every so often; Ashley Judd considers herself Kentucky Fan #1, and last season John Calipari had the likes of Magic Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, and Drake showing up at Rupp Arena. Calipari’s association with LeBron James specifically ticked some people off. There are certainly more examples, and whether they admit it or not, coaches with such connections like it when musicians, actors, or athletes bring a little celebrity juice to their programs.

LeBron will probably make a few appearances at Miami's Convocation Center.

That last one, though, may have now found a new crew with which to play. The AP reported earlier today that James joined in some “informal scrimmaging” with the Miami Hurricanes, some of whom hadn’t been notified that he was coming, let alone bringing along the likes of fellow Heat members Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, and Patrick Beverley, and Chris Paul from the Hornets. According to the AP report (via ESPN.com), NBA players who live in Florida often work out with the team, but this was James’ first visit to “The U.” LeBron’s assessment via Twitter: “Just left ‘The U’ hooping with the team….Great runs! Needed that.”

Messrs. Williams, Thompson, and Calipari — it’s your move. Who’s got Clooney’s number?

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Morning Five: 08.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 26th, 2010

  1. Yes, USC is expensive (almost $50k per year).  Ex-Dookie, ex-Wildcat Taylor King found that out the hard way when he realized just how much his family would need to pay out-of-pocket to transfer to Southern Cal for one more year of eligibility in 2011-12.   Instead, he’ll play at NAIA Concordia in nearby Irvine, perhaps a much nicer locale but not exactly on the standard tour of most NBA scouts.  We wish him well, nevertheless.
  2. “All indications are that the [BYU] Cougars will remain in the MWC,” according to the Denver Post.  There has been no formal word yet, and BYU officially has until next week (Sept. 1) to decide whether it’s coming or going in the league, but with the WAC blowing up after the Cougs’ initial inquiry, the decision comes down ultimately to whether the LDS elders think that BYU football can sustain itself as an independent.  It would be a bold move, but not one without some credibility; still, it says here that BYU (for now) sticks with the Mountain West.
  3. Matt Snyder has an interesting piece at Fanhouse ripping the John Beilein hire at Michigan after a dismal performance in Belgium (they play basketball there?) that he thinks portends a miserable hoops season in Ann Arbor.  He’s probably right about the dismal upcoming season, but we’re not ready to give up on Beilein as a head coach.  His WVU teams in the later years in Morgantown played a style of basketball that was very difficult to prepare for, but it took him several years to develop such hidden jewels as Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey in order to get to that point.  Given that Michigan had gone over a decade (!!!) between NCAA Tournaments prior to Beilein’s 2009 second round appearance, we’re willing to let him have more time to build his program.  As for UM fans — we’re not as sure.
  4. Morehead State was placed on a two-year probation by the NCAA yesterday, but the sanctions will affect scholarships and not impact postseason play for the school.  This is a good thing, as the Eagles return one of the better mid-major players in America in senior Kenneth Faried, a 6’8 forward who won the Ohio Valley Conference POY and DPOY awards last year while dropping 17/13 per night en route to 25 double-doubles.  If Murray State drops the ball in the OVC, Morehead will likely be there in 2010-11 to pick up the slack, and we hate to see when great players are punished for something they had no involvement in.
  5. Yes, even 7 am isn’t too early for the west coasters to roll out of bed on Saturday mornings to check in with College Gameday this coming season.  As our very own Zach Hayes broke down the 2010-11 Gameday slate, it’s good to know that the weekly festivities will begin an hour earlier on ESPNU at 10 am ET before heading over to the big daddy channel (ESPN) at 11 am.  Then, as ZH said, fourteen straight hours of the manna known as winter hoops.  Prepare yourselves: it’s coming sooner than you think.
http://www.msueagles.com/news/2010/8/25/GEN_0825100228.aspx
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Summer School in the Big West

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 25th, 2010

Steve Coulter is the RTC correspondent for the Big West Conference.

Around The Big West:

  • Turner In At UC-Irvine: The college coaching carousel is not something that is unfamiliar when the offseason rolls around. The Big West Conference, like a majority of Division I men’s basketball conferences, endured a coaching change this past offseason when Russell Turner left his job as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors to take the job at UC Irvine in April. It will be Turner’s first tenure as a head coach at any level, though he has collegiate experience at Stanford and Wake Forest, where he worked with All-Americans Josh Childress and Tim Duncan, respectively. He replaces Pat Douglass after the Anteaters went 14-18 and finished near the bottom of the conference last season. Douglass had a 13-year tenure with UCI and left the school as the Anteaters’ all-time winningest coach with 197 victories.
  • LBSU’s Recruiting Class Gets Props: Scout, Inc.’s Michael LaPlante gave a B- grade to the Long Beach State 49ers’ recruiting class. The 49ers were the only team from the Big West on LaPlante’s list of 12 schools from non-power conferences, which included higher-profile mid-majors such as New Mexico and Dayton. The 49ers were able to get on the list due to the fact that they are bringing in six new faces to fuel what was already a sprouting program under head coach Dan Monson. The list of recruits is split in half between high school recruits and junior college transfers. Highly-touted shooting guard Jacob Thomas will pair with transfer guards Corey Jackson and Khalid Gerard to join what is already a young and athletic backcourt. The 49ers were also able to add Edis Dervisevic, who spent the past two seasons at Western Texas College. Monson chose the 6’8 forward for his shooting ability (48.3% from three-point range in the past two seasons) and his knack for passing the ball.  All six players seem to be ready to play now, but may have to sit behind a talented 49ers roster, which includes T.J Robinson and Casper Ware.
  • Byrd Returns to Pacific After Woliczko Resigns: While at Pacific as an assistant coach, Calvin Byrd played a key role in the school collecting many wins, and now the man that helped set a school record of 27 victories in 2004-05 will return to the same post to help guide a veteran Tiger club that has several seniors looking to break that very record.  In his five years away from Pacific, Byrd rendered his services to Loyola Marymount and the University of San Francisco. His hiring occurred almost two months after Tigers assistant Aaron Woliczko resigned from his job to take the head coaching position at Montana Tech.
  • Early Dap For Johnson: The awards keep piling for Orlando Johnson. After leading UC Santa Barbara to the 2010 NCAA tournament, the junior forward was honored as the Big West Player of the Year in addition to being the Big West Tournament Most Valuable Player. Johnson has garnered some preseason attention, and we’ll see if he earns it come springtime. According to Rivals.com, Johnson was selected as one of five players to make up the Mid-Major All-America Team for 2010-11.  The selection comes a year after the 6’5 Johnson scored 18 points per game, while snaring 5.4 rebounds per contest. Even more impressive was that Johnson became a leader on an extremely young Gauchos squad that started four sophomores in their 2009-10 campaign.

Orlando Johnson is Ready to Explode in 2010-11

Power Rankings

  1. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos: Although trampled by Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Gauchos seem poised to make another run at the conference’s regular season and postseason championships, which will mean another NCAA berth. They have a pretty complete starting lineup heading into the 2010-11 season. In terms of additions and subtractions, the Gauchos are a team that can’t be really evaluated only because this is a team that is mostly the same from last season. However, they did lose guard James Powell, who was their third-leading scorer in 2009-10. The team landed a transfer, New Mexico’s Nate Garth, who could help them in future seasons, but is ineligible in 2010-11. Also transferring is Colorado forward Keegan Hornbuckle, who will spend the upcoming year on the bench. Despite the new players, the Gauchos shouldn’t need to look forward with their aspirations. The duo of James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson is one of the best the conference has seen in the past decade as both players enter their junior seasons. The time to win games and build the program’s reputation is now, which means both Johnson and Nunnally, who averaged 18 and 14.7 points per game last season, respectively, have a rare responsibility this upcoming year — put Santa Barbara and the Big West Conference on the national map. It is possible for the Gauchos, as they have the experience to play deep into March and again represent the Big West in the NCAA Tournament. However, they will have to ward off Long Beach State and Pacific, who will look to throw off the defending champs.
    Projected 2010-2011 record: 23-8 (13-3).
  2. Long Beach State 49ers: The 49ers are in contention for a Big West crown this season. They bring back a pair of star forwards in Eugene Phelps and T.J Robinson, while only losing a few seniors, most notably Stephan Gilling, who averaged 9.4 points per game last season. Also returning are guards Casper Ware, Larry Anderson and Greg Plater, who make up what could be considered to be the best backcourt trio in the conference. Add in prized recruit Jacob Thomas, a lengthy shooter from Columbia Heights, Minnesota, who turned down Wisconsin and Minnesota to play for head coach Dan Monson, and the 49ers have at least six players who can average nine or more points again. The team will get tested early and often, as they have already scheduled themselves for two tournaments early in the year. Big matchups include games versus Clemson, Washington, Utah State, St. Mary’s and Arizona State, which make the 49ers’ nonconference schedule arguably the toughest in the Big West. However, they do have the talent to pull an upset over a power conference team like Washington on November 30, which would build momentum heading into a big matchup against St. Mary’s in the first round of the John R. Wooden Classic on December 18.
    Projected 2010-2011 record: 21-10 (12-4).
  3. Pacific Tigers: No team in the Big West can sleep on Pacific. They return five of their six top leading scorers from last season and have not only the depth but the size to out play any team in the league. Although they aren’t the best offensive team in the conference, the combination of Demetece Young, Terrell Smith, Pat Eveland and Sam Willard give the Tigers a threat that will be tough to defend. Willard is as good as any post player in the conference and the duo of Smith and Young will be tough for anyone to contain in the open court. The addition of freshman Khalil Kelley, a 6’8 forward from Rancho Cucamonga, California, gives the team even more versatility and some raw talent to work with. Some other key offseason addition include Andrew Brock, a point guard who transferred from Creighton after his freshman season, and shooting guard Spencer Llewellyn, who averaged 26.7 points per game last season playing in Australia. Giving the Tigers even more depth is sophomore guard Allen Huddleston, who averaged 5.5 points per game last season despite playing under 15 minutes per contest.
    Projected 2010-2011 record: 21-13 (10-6)
    Read the rest of this entry »
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ESPN College Gameday Schedule Announced

Posted by zhayes9 on August 25th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

If you didn’t know, January, February and March mornings in the Northeast are cold. Very cold, often times extremely cold. That’s where 14 consecutive hours of college basketball on Saturday comes in handy. Throw on the coat, make the customary Dunkin Donuts coffee run and plop down on the couch for a full hour of fans shouting and screaming over Hubert Davis defending the eye test to determine NCAA bids. The football version is special in itself, but the hoops edition of College Gameday warms the heart of yours truly on those frigid Saturday mornings. Today, the 2011 slate was announced with the same Gameday crew visiting eight sites, the kickoff featuring a men’s-women’s doubleheader in Knoxville. If anything, these schedules trickling out continue to give us hope that mid-November isn’t all that far off in the distance.

The Gang is Back For Another Season of Gameday

Here’s the Gameday schedule (all times ET):

  • January 15- Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (men’s)- 12 PM, Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (women’s)- 8 PM
  • January 22- Michigan State @ Purdue- 9 PM
  • January 29- Kansas State @ Kansas- 7 PM
  • February 5- Kentucky @ Florida- 9 PM
  • February 12- Pittsburgh @ Villanova- 9 PM
  • February 19- Illinois @ Michigan State- 9 PM
  • February 26- Duke @ Virginia Tech- 9 PM
  • March 3- Texas @ Baylor- 9 PM

Some quick thoughts on the schedule:

  • As they did last season, ESPN did a fantastic job identifying the teams projected to contend for a national championship and featuring their most challenging games on the schedule. In my opinion, Pittsburgh and Villanova will be the top two teams in the Big East. The same applies to Kentucky and Florida in the SEC. Kansas State and their top ten caliber squad visiting Kansas should be their toughest road test. Duke has only a handful of games this season where they have a legitimate chance to lose- the trip to Virginia Tech is one of them. Duke, Michigan State, Purdue, Kansas State, Villanova, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Kentucky and Florida could all be in the preseason top ten. Exciting stuff.
  • The best game honor goes to the January 22 contest between Michigan State and Purdue in West Lafayette. This was the most obvious Gameday selection from the moment Robbie Hummel and Kalin Lucas were forced to return for their senior seasons. For the third straight fall, the debate for best team in the Big Ten- Spartans or Boilermakers- is a heated and tight one. Winner of this game gets an early leg up on their stiffest competition.
  • The women’s selection is also no surprise given that ESPN opted to visit Storrs for a Connecticut women’s game last year. They threw a bit of a curveball with the men’s/women’s doubleheader, but it’s a creative concept that I’m absolutely in favor of.
  • A potential stinker on the slate is Illinois visiting East Lansing to take on Michigan State. Illinois is a talented team led by Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale, but there’s doubt whether the Illini have enough ammo to stick within 10-15 points of a loaded Spartan squad. Would Ohio State have been a better matchup? I think so. The Buckeyes are one team I felt were snubbed.
  • One final note that caught my eye was no Pac-10 game featured. They usually throw that conference a bone and I expected Washington to make an appearance in one of their more difficult road games at Arizona or UCLA. Instead, Gameday opted for two contests involving SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 teams. No argument from me.
  • I did expect the Gameday crew to make a trip to Hinkle and give Butler a primetime stage following their run to the national title game. The ratings for a team like Detroit, Wright State or Valparaiso at 9 PM on ESPN just wouldn’t have been there, though. A Mountain West duel (BYU at San Diego State), given the strength of that conference, would have been welcomed, but ESPN doesn’t have the TV rights for that conference.
  • If you’re wondering why Duke-UNC is nowhere to be found, CBS stole ESPN’s thunder and will broadcast that game in Chapel Hill in primetime.
  • The best part? Another year of halfcourt heaves.  And those are always fun.
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Harvard Study: No Discernible Advantage to Fouling While Up Three

Posted by rtmsf on August 25th, 2010

One of the coolest sporting trends of the last decade in sports has been the increasing usage of statistical analysis to make determinations about the games that we love and follow.  While Bill James, Nate Silver and others have done yeoman’s work in popularizing the use of these metrics, they’ve mostly focused on the professional side of sports (and political polling, in Silver’s case).  One notable exception, Ken Pomeroy’s site of college basketball tempo-free statistics, has been invaluable in how we all understand and evaluate the game, helping to debunk common myths while also alerting us to teams and players under the radar of the national consciousness.  Another up-and-coming group that is showing it wants to enter the fray by analyzing some of the big questions in the game is the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, who just two weeks ago presented us with the most unlikely finish of the 2009-10 season, a random game between Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge.

Luckily the HSAC is a Little Better Than This (artist: B. Shabad)

Well, the HSAC is back, and today’s release is even better.  Addressing the widespread end-of-game question among announcers and pundits over whether a winning team should foul in late-game situations when up three points, the HSAC makes a rather curious finding.  It seems that over the past decade or so, there has been a slow but steady increase in the so-called conventional wisdom that fouling in those situations is the right play — the thinking being that the odds of the opponent making the first free throw, missing the second, and still securing the rebound and making another shot in a short period of time are very low.   That part is true.  The odds are low.  But what is equally low from a statistical standpoint are the odds of a strategy of simply playing defense and hoping you get the stop.  From the article:

In the 2009-2010 season, I found 443 instances where a team held the ball down three points during their last possession of a period (either the end of the 2nd half or an overtime period). In 391 of those cases, the team leading did not foul. In 52 cases, the team chose to foul. [...]  Of the 52 teams that committed a foul, six lost the game for a winning percentage of 88.46%. Of the 391 teams that did not foul, 33 lost the game for a winning percentage of 91.56%.  Both a two sample t test of proportion and a Chi-squared test fail to reject the null hypothesis that there is a difference in winning percentage between the two strategies. In this sample, teams that did not foul won slightly more often.  For the less statistically inclined, this means that there is no significant difference between the two strategies. [emphasis added]

A few additional comments on this finding.

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Morning Five: 08.25.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 25th, 2010

  1. Despite a unanimous (16-0) vote by league coaches to dump the double-bye format for the four top seeds, the Big East decided yesterday to not make the change to the Big East Tournament as league officials and ADs felt uncomfortable with the change for a number of reasons including financial and logistical  considerations.   Last year three of the four double-bye teams (Syracuse, Villanova and Pittsburgh) lost their initial tournament games, so coaches were pushing for a traditional sixteen-team bracket in part so that they can load up on some easy wins prior to playing the tougher teams in the later rounds, and in part so that everyone could plan on the same start date.  Won’t happen, at least not this coming year.
  2. Gary Parrish has a good read on former summer basketball camp organizer Sonny Vaccaro, the Godfather of AAU basketball, who has been out of the game the last three summers but apparently has the pieces in place to make another run at world domination of elite schoolboy prospects, just like the good old days.
  3. We mentioned last week the possibility that class of 2011 top twenty prospect DeAndre Daniels may attempt to move up his entrance into college by a year, Scottie Wilbekin-style, but he has made the decision to attend prep school next year and will graduate with his class.  He originally committed to Texas, but has re-opened his recruitment, with Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee and the Longhorns on his current list.
  4. We found this interesting nugget in an article about something completely different (Jenn Brown’s possible beer ad career), but did you know that the average age of ESPN’s college basketball-watching audience is 48 (!!!) years old?!?!?  For some reason, this is a lot higher than the NBA audience (39), and a year older than that of college football (47).  For some reason, we’re stunned by this — maybe we’ve just been deluded by the much-younger internet audience, but wow.
  5. We hope to have a post on this up later today, but both Scout and Rivals have updated their post-summer recruiting rankings.  Their previous lists both had 6’6 wing Michael Gilchrist from Elizabeth, NJ, as the top player in the class of 2011, but both services have downgraded him coming out of the summer as a result of concerns over his shooting touch.  The new #1s?  Austin Rivers (Rivals) and Anthony Davis (Scout).  Let the debates commence.
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September 15th Will Be “Mike Krzyzewski Day”

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2010

The past two years have been very good for Mike Krzyzewski. In addition to taking Duke back to the top of the college basketball world last April, he also led Team USA back to the top of the international basketball world (not that there was any doubt as long as we brought the “A team”) in Beijing. An inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, he has won almost every title (four NCAA championships, 12 ACC championships in both the regular season and conference tournament, and an Olympic gold medal) and received almost every award (three Naismith College Cach of the Year Awards, two Basketball Times National Coach of the Year Awards, a NABC National Coach of the Year Award, and five ACC Coach of the Year Awards) that he could be expected to win.

K: Best in the Business

To add to that, earlier today the city of Chicago announced that it would make this September 15th into “Mike Krzyzewski Day” (over/under on misspelled signs and posters: 130) on the same day that he will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award. [Ed. Note: We aren't expecting Chicago great and Duke-hater Michael Jordan to be in attendance.] Coach K, a native of Chicago, graduated from Archbishop Weber High School before matriculating to the Army where he played under a fairly decent coach named Bob Knight. A solid but unspectacular guard at Army, he served in the Army for three years and coached at a prep school for two years before joining Knight as an assistant at Indiana where he left just before the 1975-76 season (the last undefeated Division I team) to take over as the head coach at Army. Although he compiled a 73-59 record at Army, he went 9-17 in his last season before getting an offer from Duke to become their head coach (a classic case of failing upwards). His first three years at Duke were not much more successful as after a merely mediocre rookie campaign he went a combined 21-34 over his second and third seasons. At that point many critics suspected Krzyzewski’s days in Durham were numbered, but little did they know that the freshman class that season (Johnny DawkinsMark AlarieDavid Henderson, and Jay Bilas) would wind up being one of the greatest classes in the school’s history. After that group made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in their sophomore and junior campaigns they took off as seniors in what is widely considered one of the finest seasons in college basketball history. That group entered the championship game with a 37-2 record against a Denny Crum-led Louisville team before falling by three points to freshman sensation “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and the Cardinals.

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Summer School in the Pac-10

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 24th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences.

Around the Pac-10:

  • Down Times: Last season was clearly one of the low points in Pac-10 basketball history. It took a late-season run out of Washington to ensure two NCAA Tournament bids from the conference, with California earning the other after a strong but somewhat disappointing season. The conference had just one player (the Huskies’ Quincy Pondexter) picked in the first round of the NBA Draft, and just two players picked overall (with Stanford’s Landry Fields somewhat surprisingly being drafted by the Knicks, much to the chagrin of New York fans in attendance, with the 39th pick). The two total players drafted were the lowest total for the league since 1986.
  • Returning Fire: Despite the lack of players picked in the NBA Draft, just nine of the league’s top 20 scorers from last year return, although Rihard Kuksiks is still uncertain whether he will return for his senior season at Arizona State. Likewise, just 11 of the league’s top 20 rebounders return.
  • Fresh Blood: But not to worry, plenty of excellent new talent is headed the Pac-10’s way. Or not. Actually, out of Scout’s Top 100 list, just ten players (and just four out of the top 50) committed to Pac-10 institutions, with the highest ranked player, Washington’s Terrence Ross, checking in at #26. According to ESPNU’s projections, the outlook is slightly rosier, with the Pac-10 accounting for 12 of the top 100 players, five of the top 50, and UCLA’s Josh Smith checking in at #20. Either way, while there is some new talent, it is not of the caliber of the other BCS conferences. There was some intrigue here, however, as Enes Kanter (Scout #3 overall recruit, ESPNU #25) originally verbally committed to Washington before backing out and heading to Kentucky. Additional salt in the wound came when Washington’s top recruit, Terrence Jones (ESPU #9 overall, Scout #8) announced at a press conference that he would be committing to Washington, but then failed to sign a letter of intent and wound up changing his mind and committing to Kentucky as well, giving Husky fans an entirely new Cal to dislike.
  • Head Honchos: While a lot of familiar players have moved on, there is consistency in the hot seat for all but one team: Oregon ended the Ernie Kent era and will welcome new head coach Dana Altman, formerly of Creighton. While Altman wasn’t the sexy hire that Pat Kilkenny and Phil Knight wanted to start the new era in Oregon basketball, he is an excellent coach who will likely have the sleeping giant in Eugene back in the thick of things in the Pac-10 very quickly.
  • Home Cooking: The coaching change isn’t the only big news in Eugene, as the Ducks will break in a new arena this season, when the brand-new gleaming Matthew Knight Arena (named after Knight’s son who died prematurely in a scuba-diving accident) replaces the venerable old McArthur Court in January. The Ducks had planned to kick off the Pac-10 season in the new venue, but the move-in date has been pushed back for a variety of reasons.

Newcomer Terrence Ross will look to keep Washington atop the Pac-10.

Power Rankings:

  1. Washington: The Huskies lose last year’s lone Pac-10 NBA first rounder in Quincy Pondexter, but just about everyone else of consequence returns. Pint-sized point Isaiah Thomas (no, not the suspiciously crazy one who ran the Knicks into the ground) leads the way in a talented backcourt, with energetic pace-setter Venoy Overton back for another season of annoying opposing guards. Also keep your eye on sophomore Abdul Gaddy, who was at one time considered the second-best point guard in the ’09 high school class. He struggled as a 17-year-old freshman, but Lorenzo Romar will certainly give him plenty of chances to earn more playing time this season. Up front, senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning will need to take a big step forward as the frontcourt scoring threat for this squad, with Tyreese Breshers and Darnell Gant doing the dirty work in the paint. Additionally, Romar welcomes three freshmen, including Terrence Ross to add some more talent to the backcourt and 7’0 juco transfer Aziz Ndiaye to add size, if not a polished offensive game, to a relatively small frontcourt. Senior Justin Holliday and junior Scott Suggs will add depth at the wings. The Huskies suffered from lapses in concentration last season, but an additional year of experience for a veteran roster should fix that problem.
  2. Arizona: The Wildcats are on their way back from their struggles at the end of legend Lute Olson’s regime. But while I’ll nab them as my number two team here, this is not a Wildcat team that is going to make any McKale denizens forget the 1988 or 1997 teams – this ranking is more of an indication of the conference’s weakness. However, sophomore forward Derrick Williams is the conference’s fourth leading returning scorer and second-leading returning rebounder and an absolute beast in the paint. Senior Jamelle Horne will start alongside Williams, and he’ll be called on to improve on the nine points and six rebounds he provided nightly last season. Shooting guard Kyle Fogg displayed some nice offensive punch last season, and he’ll be asked for even more, but the most pressure will be felt by sophomore point Lamont “MoMo” Jones, who will be tasked with taking over for departed fixture Nic Wise. The development of frontcourt sophomores Solomon Hill and Kyryl Natyazhko and incoming freshman guards Daniel Bejarano and Jordin Mayes will be important for team depth. This is still an undersized team, which hurts them a bit on the boards and on defense, two areas where they will need to improve from last season.
  3. UCLA: While the 2009-10 season was a nightmare for the Bruins, the cupboard is not completely empty in Westwood. There are a lot of unanswered questions here, however, and the biggest one is at the point. Malcolm Lee got plenty of time there last season, but he is more ideally suited to play on the wing, and if all goes well for the Bruins, that’s where he’ll be this season. With the Jerime Anderson era justifiably considered a failure to this point, Ben Howland has brought in juco transfer Lazeric Jones to man the point, with any positive contributions that Anderson might provide just being bonus. Sophomore Tyler Honeycutt is a skilled ball handler and passer at the three, so he’ll be around to add an additional guard when necessary. Up front, Reeves Nelson was perhaps the biggest bright spot for UCLA in his freshman season, when he averaged 11 points and six rebounds a night in just over 20 minutes per game. He’ll need to keep out of foul trouble to gain additional minutes, and he’ll need to improve his horrid free throw shooting as well, but he looks ready for a big leap forward, especially considering he’ll be joined by UCLA’s big (and I do mean big, once listed at 320, now working towards approaching 270) freshman Josh Smith, a skilled and soft-handed center. Freshman wing Tyler Lamb will also get some early run. But the fact is, there is plenty of talent here, and if the Bruins get nothing more than a caretaker at the point, Howland will win games in a weak Pac-10 with this team. Read the rest of this entry »
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