Checking in on… the Big South

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010

Mark Bryant, Coordinator of New Media for the Big South Conference and writer of Big South SHOUT, is an RTC correspondent.  [ed. note: this post was written prior to the Nov. 26-28 games]

A Look Back

  • V = 5: For the first time in modern era play, VMI has opened its season 5-0.  While none of these victories have been great shockers or eye-openers, it remains an attention-grabbing start—the best opening run in the Big South this year.  That jumpstart will be tested with a road trip to West Virginia.
  • Hello, There!: The Big South has had a few surprises in store early this season:  UNC Asheville won at Auburn in overtime (70-69), Winthrop defeated Wake Forest in Winston-Salem as part of the NIT Tip-Off (83-74), Presbyterian College downed Princeton (69-67), and two members have taken down Charlotte — Gardner-Webb in the opener (78-70) and Coastal Carolina in double overtime (79-75).  Radford hopes that trend continues—the Highlanders have Charlotte next.
  • Feasting on Home Cooking: Admittedly, the schedule-making is a little tilted at the start of the season, generally with tougher opponents on the road or at neutral sites in tournaments, as opposed to mostly (but not completely) softer opposition at home.  That said, how about this: the Big South is undefeated at home so far this season (19-0) …nice start.

Power Rankings

  1. Coastal Carolina (5-2 / 0-0)…  Okay, so the Chanticleers opened with two giant wins over small colleges, which doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but let’s get a look at the second week.  CCU had a four-game week at the Charleston Classic, dropping games to the host, College of Charleston, and to Big East power Georgetown, before bouncing back with two victories—including a 2OT thriller over Charlotte in what was the team’s fourth game in six days.  The early lessons of resilience should serve the Chants well as the year progresses.  And while plenty of eyes are on Chad Gray and Kierre Greenwood, junior guard Desmond Holloway asserted himself this week by averaging 20 points per game in that tough four-game stretch.
  2. VMI (5-0 / 0-0)…  I was not going to elevate the Keydets to this spot without a little more weight behind those victories, but upon further reflection, VMI is out to the best start of anybody in the conference—AND they’ve got that running, gunning offense rolling right out of the gate.  So for the moment, let’s not take anything away from the fact that VMI has done what it wants so far.  Once again VMI will bid for the nation’s best scoring average–the Keydets are averaging over 90 points per game so far, and they have led all teams in scoring for each of the last four years.  Through five games, VMI’s Stan Okoye and Keith Gabriel each average better than 20 points per game to help power that engine.
  3. UNC Asheville (2-2 / 0-0)…  Coach Eddie Biedenbach may have the right combination working for him right now, as the Bulldogs have demonstrated their talents early on this season: D.J. Cunningham is among league leaders in rebounds and blocks, J.P. Primm is the Big South steals leader, and Matt Dickey is near the top in scoring.  Only VMI is scoring more per game this year, and Asheville’s come-from-behind effort to force and win overtime at Auburn shows the grit that goes with the skill.  Watch this team carefully.
  4. Winthrop (2-3 / 0-0)…  Call this pick the benefit of the doubt, but coach Randy Peele’s Eagles know how to “grind it out” (Peele’s favorite phrase), and they already boast a win over an ACC team on its own floor this season.  While Wake Forest may not be as well-armed this season, that’s still nothing to sneeze at, and Winthrop will do what it always does: frustrate opponents and make every game a fight to the finish.
  5. High Point (2-2 / 0-0)…  The Panthers have had an unremarkable beginning to the year, but they also get some credit for having Preseason Player of the Year Nick Barbour, who can be a difference-maker on any night.  HPU opened with two home wins against lesser teams and two road losses to more credible opponents.  The good news for upcoming games: two home conference contests.  The bad news: NO home games from December 5 – January 12.
  6. Gardner-Webb (3-2 / 0-0)… The Runnin’ Bulldogs have come out on the positive side so far under first-year coach Chris Holtmann.  Like High Point, they have two home victories against small schools and two road losses—in this case, both at major programs (Florida State and Michigan).  The tipping point for GWU this year is winning a game they would likely have lost a year ago: the opener at Charlotte.
  7. Presbyterian College (2-4 / 0-0)…  So will the real PC please stand up?  Is this the team that got blown out at Vanderbilt (88-47) or the one that hung with Kansas State before getting caught at the end (76-67)?  The one that beat Eastern Kentucky and Princeton in close games, or the one that got handled by Bucknell and James Madison?  That’s the problem here—the bottom few teams in the Big South all have questions.  Unfortunately for the Blue Hose, even if they’re the Jekyll and not the Hyde here, they still won’t be able to play any postseason games as they continue their transition to Division I play.
  8. Liberty (2-4 / 0-0)…  The Flames have the same familiar pattern: home wins they should have, and road losses that were probably expected.  Liberty has shown the ability to bounce back from aggressive scheduling losses before, so let’s not drop them to the bottom just for falling to the likes of Notre Dame, Texas Tech, and South Florida.
  9. Radford (2-2 / 0-0)…  Same early issues for the Highlanders as most of their peers: expected home wins and road losses, and that’s how this season has begun.  This team will not get its due until it makes it clear that they’ve found a way to plug that (literally) big hole left behind by the departure of center Art Parakhouski.  The lack of RU presence near the tops of most league leader boards right now shows that they may still be looking.
  10. Charleston Southern (2-3 / 0-0)…  It seems painful to drop the Buccaneers to the bottom, but someone has to hold this spot.  CSU has a lot of talented players and a good mix of experience (Jamarco Warren) and youth (Jeremy Sexton, Sheldon Strickland)—plus they certainly can beat anybody if the threes are falling, because this team can bomb with the best of them.  All that said, the Bucs have not been able to wow anyone in the early going—consider this rank a challenge for the team to pick itself up for a run up the list.

A Look Ahead

While there are a number of games across the conference for the Thanksgiving weekend, the real deal for the upcoming weeks is the first glimpse of conference play.  The way the season is structured, the Big South has two early December games as part of the schedule for most teams.  Given the tilt toward home teams so far, here’s where the squads will be for those two games on the December 2nd and 4th.

  • HOME: High Point, Liberty, Radford, VMI, Coastal Carolina (12/4 only)
  • ROAD: Gardner-Webb, PC, Asheville, Winthrop, CSU (12/4 only)

All those games will help shape early perception of the Big South race, but one game that has me intrigued is the contrasting style in the Winthrop at VMI clash: will VMI be able to push its desired pace and continue its early season roll or will Winthrop be able to get in the way, slow things down and “grind out” another win?  That’s among the early answers the December conference games will offer—should be a fun sequence of games.

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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010

Greg Waddell is the RTC correspondent or the Ohio Valley Conference.  [ed note: this post was written prior to the weekend games of Nov. 26-28]

A Look Back

  • Kenneth Faried proved why he’s the Number 1 player in the OVC and probably an NBA lottery pick over a two-game Morehead State road trip. Facing off against two Top 10 teams in Florida and Ohio State, Faried put on a clinic as the 6’8 forward  notched 20 points and pulled down 18 rebounds against the Gators and recorded 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes on 5-7 shooting from the field. Faried is the real deal and OVC fans should enjoy him while he’s here.
  • Murray State has stumbled out of the gates, struggling to find an identity while trying to mesh a talented backcourt with an inexperienced frontcourt. The lack of production in the post has put a burden on the Racer guards thus far as teams have been able to pressure the perimeter and force Murray State to shoot the three. If the Racers hope to have success this season, Ivan Aska and Jeffrey McClain must step up their game in the post and high flying wing Ed Daniel must begin to assert himself in the scorebooks. All in all the Racers have the talent to repeat their success of a season ago but continue to be their own worst enemy. The game against Morehead State will get a whole lot juicier if Billy Kennedy can’t find a way to right the ship before December 4.

Power Rankings

  1. Murray State (3-1): Things haven’t gone quite as Billy Kennedy expected this early in the season but that’s okay with the Racers’ head man as his team heads west for the 76 Classic. Yet, they were able to notch a 55-52 win against Stanford in a semi-road environment. Still reigning as the class of the conference, things are looking up in Murray, Kentucky, as guard play has been the backbone of the team again this season. One cause for concern, though, is the lack of inside presence the Racers have shown thus far. The inability of the big men to establish themselves has hampered the backcourt slightly. There’s too much talent waiting in the wings though to dent their momentum too much though as sophomore sensation Isaiah Canaan leads the charge for the team this season, notching 11.7 points per game while senior Isacc Miles has been on the mend with a bum knee.
  2. Morehead State (2-3): The boys in blue put on a show for OVC fans in their last two games provided a chance for Morehead golden boy Kenneth Faried to put on a show against perennial powers Ohio State and Florida is back to back contests.  The Eagles has a little more success against the No. 10 Gators, pushing Billy Donovan’s squad to the wire before falling 61-55 as Faried notched 20 points and 18 boards. Faried found a fan in Donovan who gushed about the forward’s potential. “That’s Dennis Rodman all over again,” Donovan said. “If I was an NBA general manager I’d be taking him with my pick. That’s what a next-level guy looks like.” Faried is averaging 17.2 points per game on the season and adding 12.8 boards per game.
  3. Austin Peay (2-3): Although their record is not quite as good as No. 4 Eastern Kentucky, the Govs have played a tougher schedule to this point, knocking off quality opponents in St. Louis and Chattanooga and narrowly falling to Lipscomb and Southern Illinois. The only glaring blight comes from a 87-65 beatdown at the hands of Purdue, but the Boilermakers are the No. 8 team in the country so that can’t be held too much against Austin Peay. Transfer Tyshawn Edmonson from St. Johns has been a bright spot, averaging 17. 4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game for his hometown team while John Terry and Anthony Campbell average 12.8 and 12 points, respectively.
  4. Eastern Kentucky (3-3): Despite sporting a .500 record, the Colonels could have fallen further in the power rankings as they have yet to play anyone worth mentioning. They do however have some depth to brag about as four players average more than 10 points a game with Preseason All –OVC player Justin Stommes just behind at nine a contest. Had Stommes been available in all the team’s games (he did not play in the first three) EKU could be 5-1. Spencer Perrin averages 11.3 points per game with Willie Cruz closely behind at 10. 8
  5. Tennessee Tech (0-2): The Golden Eagles could have ranked higher with their two losses coming against potential tournament teams in NC State and East Tennessee State, but with no wins it’s hard to know how good Tennessee Tech can be at this point. Alfred Jones leads the way with 10.5 points and five boards per game with Kevin Murphy chipping in 10 and 6.5. UGA transfer Zac Swansey has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 assists per game, including a 13 point performance against the Wolfpack in the season opener.
  6. Eastern Illinois (1-3): The Panthers pose the same problem as most of their OVC contemporaries as little competitive basketball has been played to this point. With three bad losses, it’s hard to rank Eastern Illinois any higher but the talent to go deep in the conference still remains. Tyler Laser is the bright spot for EIU again tossing in 13 points per game while Jeremy Granger adds 12.6 points and 3.6 assists per game.
  7. Jacksonville State (1-3): Same story, different team.  Plagued by a lack of star power, the Gamecocks continue to toil at the bottom of the OVC standings with little hope of climbing out of the cellar as little help looms on the horizon. One bright spot has been Nick Murphy whose 18 points and seven boards a game pace JSU. The Gamecock’s lone win of the year comes against West Alabama. Enough said.
  8. UT-Martin (2-3): A surprising start to the season has helped the Skyhawks as they rank in the top half of the league at this point in wins, but a lack of talent keeps them muddled in the cellar of the conference. Reuben Clayton has been a big time player for Martin this season, averaging 19.8 points and nearly seven rebounds a game. Mike Liabo is adding 12.2 points and 3.2 boards a game for team whose biggest claims to fame come in losses against LSU and No. 15 Memphis.
  9. Tennessee State (1-4): Notching only one win this season, against small Fisk University at that, the Tigers have little to celebrate at this point. The bright spot for TSU comes in the form of a trio of talented scorers in Kenny Moore, Patrick Miller, and Robert Covington. Moore is averaging 14.8 points a game while Miller and Covington check in right behind him at 13.4 and 12.8 respectively. The Tigers can lay claim to a loss to a quality teams in Mississippi State (75-65) but a slaughter at the hands of St. Louis (78-50) shows inconsistency in the early going.
  10. Southeast Missouri State (0-4): You know things are bad when all you have to brag about are losses but the Redhawks did play SEC foe Arkansas tough when they pushed John Pelphrey’s squad to the wire in a 66-56 thriller. Leon Powell and Nick Niemczyk are the only bright spots for SEMO – Powell checks in averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds while Niemczyk has posted 13.8 points per game.
  11. SIU-Edwardsville (1-3): The bad got worse for the Cougars when the team’s leading scorer from last season, Mark Yelovich, went down in the team’s opening game, and will miss the rest of the season. The team has rebounded somewhat though as two players in Corey Wickware and Nikola Bundalo are averaging 14. 8 and 14.4 points a game, respectively.

A Look Ahead

Holiday tournaments are underway and the OVC teams are getting their fair share, with participants in the 76 Classic, Chicago Invitational and Global Sports Roundball Classic. The biggest chances for some national attention come against the Big Ten. Friday, SIU-Edwardsville will face struggling Iowa, and on Sunday, Tennessee Tech squares off against Michigan State. The OVC gets to conference play in a hurry — Morehead State and UT-Martin meet in Morehead on December 2.

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Stanford’s Jeremy Green Collapses After Victory Over DePaul

Posted by jstevrtc on November 28th, 2010

From RTC Correspondent Andrew Murawa:

Stanford guard Jeremy Green collapsed Sunday on his way from the court to the locker room following his team’s 81-74 overtime victory over DePaul at the 76 Classic in Anaheim.

Green appeared to having trouble catching his breath and lost his balance before being supported by teammates and eventually lay on the ground, where he was in obvious distress. He was attended to by Stanford medical personnel in the tunnel between the court and the locker room while the paramedics were called. Green was eventually transported to the hospital via ambulance, Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins confirms. There is no further immediate update from Stanford representatives.

Green played 39 minutes in the Cardinal game on Sunday, scoring a game high 19 points in helping the Cardinal avoid an 0-3 weekend in Anaheim. We’ll have more details on Green’s condition as events warrant.

UPDATE (6:32 PM ET): Source at Stanford says Green is in stable condition at the hospital and is expected to travel home with the team tonight. While leaving the court following the game, Green had complained of stomach pain and dizziness apparently related to exhaustion.

 

 

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Set Your Tivo: 11.28.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 28th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Sunday is the last day of all hoops, all the time. We have some good championship games and a great in-state battle later this evening but it’s back to reality tomorrow. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

Old Spice Classic Fifth Place Game: #24 Temple vs. Texas A&M – 11 am on ESPNU (***)

Neither team has to be happy with their position in this tournament. Texas A&M probably feels they should have beaten Boston College in the first round and would have been playing for third at worst. On the other hand Temple, the co-favorite along with Wisconsin in this field, has been very disappointing. The Owls suffered an inexplicable loss to rebuilding California on Thursday but did get by Georgia in their second outing. The story for Temple has been the struggle of point guard Juan Fernandez. He is shooting just 5-23 (22%) overall and 1-12 (8%) from three in this tournament. Moreover, Fernandez is averaging only 2.5 assists here and has a 0.71 assist to turnover ratio for these two games. This is a guy who shot 43% last year and had an A/T ratio of 1.85. Fernandez is such a play maker that when you lock him up, Temple goes south. The action in this game centers on the forwards, Lavoy Allen for Temple and Khris Middleton for A&M. Middleton has averaged 19.5 in two games at Disney while Allen is a steady low block presence for the Owls. The Aggies average more rebounds than Temple but Fran Dunphy’s team does a nice job on the defensive glass. Texas A&M is #2 in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage so this area will be one to watch. It’s an early start so expect a little rust offensively in a close game that should be in the 50’s or low 60’s.

Old Spice Classic Championship Game: #25 Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame – 7 pm on ESPN2 (***)

This is your classic battle between two teams that play almost completely opposite styles. Wisconsin emphasizes discipline and efficiency on offense and plays strong defense under Bo Ryan. Notre Dame likes to shoot the three and capitalize offensively, not paying as much attention to the other facet of basketball. Both teams rank in the top 15 in offensive efficiency but the real contrast is on defense. The Irish, #87 in defensive efficiency, gave up 155 points in the two games prior to a strong defensive effort against California in the semifinals, holding the Bears to an astounding five first half points and 44 for the game. Offense has been at a premium in this tournament and you’d figure that trend will continue in this game today. Jon Leuer has been rock solid for Wisconsin however, leading the Badgers at 18 PPG on the season and 17 per game at the Old Spice. Wisconsin did break out of their mini-shooting slump against BC, hitting 26-57 (46%) from the floor. Neither team forces many turnovers and both take good care of the ball so this figures to be a clean, well played game. Notre Dame could use a good rebounding effort from Tyrone Nash and Tim Abromaitis, while freshman point guard Eric Atkins has to hold his own against Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. This is going to be a good game and should be close throughout. Wisconsin has to be favored though and should take home the Old Spice title.

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RTC Live: 76 Classic Finals

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2010


Games #46-#47.  It’s been a long week of feast, but we’ll wrap it up in Anaheim with the consolation game and the finals of the 76 Classic.

Coming into Feast Week, UNLV and Virginia Tech had to be the favorites to advance to the 76 Classic Championship game, and when it tips off at 6 PM PST, those are the two teams who will be fighting it out for the title. While Virginia Tech had to finish strong in their semifinal matchup with Oklahoma State to move on, UNLV has advanced through Tulsa and Murray State with solid workmanlike efforts. Both squads will rely on their strong backcourts and defensive pressure, with the matchups between the Running Rebels’ Oscar Bellfield and Tre’Von Willis and the Hokies’ Dorenzo Hudson and Malcolm Delaney definitely worth keeping an eye on, but it may be the performance of some talented and skilled front court players, namely UNLV’s Chace Stanback and Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen, that will decide the outcome. We hope you’ll come and join us for what should be a very entertaining matchup in the championship, but you’re welcome to show up early too, as we’ll be keeping an eye on the third-place game between Oklahoma State and Murray State, with both teams hoping to avoid a second loss on the weekend, beginning around 3 PM PST.

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RTC Live: Creighton @ Northwestern

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2010

Game #48.  Mid-major power Creighton heads to the Chicag0 area to take on Northwestern, a team trying to load up on quality wins early.

Get out the Thanksgiving leftovers one more time and have a feast with more hoops.  There is a great matchup on Sunday night between the Creighton Bluejays and the Northwestern Wildcats.  Both teams could be NCAA contenders this season with many projections having them in the NCAA’s “First Four” expanded tournament.  Creighton is sitting at 4-1, their only loss coming to Iowa State on a three pointer that should not have counted, while Northwestern is sitting at 3-0 and haven’t played a game in over a week after their defeat of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  They have their own distractions with more Kevin Coble drama. Join us live at Ryan-Welsh arena Sunday evening for the 7:30 match up. Whether you get the Big 10 Network or not,  get the sights and sounds of the game that the cameras do not pick up as we will be there courtside.  Follow along or leave your comments.  Either way, it should be a competitive and entertaining evening.

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Around The Blogosphere: 11.28.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2010

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Top 25 Games

  • Richmond 65, #8 Purdue 54: “Perhaps my rage from the loss this afternoon played into this or maybe I was having flashbacks to the Minny game last spring in the BT tourney…Whatever the case is, I haven’t been this angry while watching Purdue sports in a few years. LewJack, Smooge and Barlow combined defensively to make Richmond’s Anderson look like Allen Iverson…back in 2000. At the same time, JJ, Bade, Byrd and Carroll made Justin Harper look like Dwight Howard.” (Boiled Sports)
  • #11 Georgetown 87, UNC-Asheville 72: “Breaking news. Austin Freeman is fantastic. He scored 32 points on 11-15 shooting, tying a Georgetown record with 7 made three pointers. The Hoyas defeated UNC Asheville 87-72, avoiding a Thanksgiving hangover in Washington, DC on Saturday.” (Casual Hoya)
  • #17 Texas 62, Rice 59: “For the second straight year, dispatching of the Rice Owls didn’t come easily to Texas. Last year, the Texas Longhorns pulled away late for a comfortable double-digit victory in Houston. Today, only a clanked three-pointer prevented the match-up from heading to overtime.” (Burnt Orange Nation)

Other Games of Interest

  • UTEP 65, Michigan 56: “Michigan had played surprisingly well in their first four games but they finally hit the wall. Playing in their second game in as many days, the Wolverines were beaten in almost every phase of the game. After the Syracuse loss I wrote that Michigan would probably have a handful of plays they wanted back, today they probably only have a handful of plays that they wanted to keep.” (UM Hoops)

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Is The NCAA Taking On American Soldiers?

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2010

The media and fans have criticized the NCAA for years for the sheer ridiculousness of some of its rules and how it applies those rules. While everyone is aware of the NCAA’s decisions on players reportedly receiving payments before school like Enes Kanter or Josh Selby, and while in school like O.J. Mayo or Reggie Bush, there are also grey areas such as when recruits come as part of a package deal like that in which Michael Beasley was reportedly involved. Much has been made of the NCAA’s perceived uneven application of those rules and the glacial pace at which they have enforced them. The latest application of those rules that led Duquesne‘s men’s basketball program to report itself to the NCAA, however, should make even the NCAA’s staunchest defender cringe. 

So what exactly did Duquesne do that led it to turn itself into the NCAA? Donate shoes to American soldiers, according to Duquesne. Ok, maybe it is a little more complex than that. Technically, they donated shoes to a foundation run by Bob Starkman, the coach at Broward Community College, who then sent them to US troops in Afghanistan. So even though the shoes were sent to the US troops because they were sent to Starkman, a junior college coach, they were interpreted as a gift to Starkman, which would be a secondary NCAA violation. Here is the official statement from Duquesne via athletic director Greg Amodio: 

In an attempt to support our troops in Afghanistan through a program conducted by Bob Starkmann [sic], head basketball coach at Broward CC, the Duquesne University men’s basketball staff inadvertently violated an NCAA bylaw that prevents Division I institutions from sending athletic apparel/equipment directly to a junior-college coaching staff. Therefore, the Duquesne University athletic department has submitted a letter to the NCAA outlining the circumstances associated with this secondary violation. 

Seems like a straightforward case of the NCAA being ridiculously anal, right? It turns out the case might not be that simple. 

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RTC Live: Marquette @ Milwaukee

Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2010

Game #45.  It’s a crosstown rivalry between Brew City schools and RTC Live is happy to visit Milwaukee for the first time.

This Saturday night, Marquette and Milwaukee will meet for the 38th time for an 8 p.m. showdown at U.S. Cellular Arena. And in all 37 previous encounters between these city-sharing rivals, Marquette has emerged victorious. This year’s edition comes with a new wrinkle, though: for the first time in the series, Milwaukee is the home team. With a large blue and gold contingent expected at the Cell, a raucous atmosphere is certainly expected. It’s been a rocky start to the season for Rob Jeter’s Milwaukee Panthers. They embarked on a wild road swing to begin the campaign, salvaging a 1-2 record in a four-team event in Portland. A convincing road win over Niagara and a gutty 65-63 triumph over Northern Iowa followed, but the Panthers fell to 3-3 with a disappointing home defeat the hands of Western Michigan on Tuesday. Milwaukee relies primarily on talented big man Anthony Hill and sharpshooting wing Tone Boyle for their scoring, but the efficiency of junior college transfer Kaylon Williams at the point is vital to an upset tonight. With MU missing big men Joe Fulce and Davonte Gardner, Hill could have an easier time operating in the post. Marquette began their season with four home wins before heading to Kansas City for the CBE Classic. The Golden Eagles hung with mighty #1 Duke before falling short to the Blue Devils and followed that up with a 66-63 loss to #18 Gonzaga. Marquette is led by versatile forward Jimmy Butler (22/6 vs. Duke and Gonzaga), but it’s the three-point shooting of Darius Johnson-Odom (20% this year) that must heat up for Buzz Williams’ squad. Keep an eye on whether Milwaukee employs a zone to stop Marquette’s dribble penetration, the strategy Gonzaga employed to slow down the Golden Eagles guards on Tuesday. Join us tonight for RTC Live from Marquette at Milwaukee to see if the Golden Eagles can claim their 38th straight win over the Panthers.

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The Other 26: Week Two

Posted by jstevrtc on November 27th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

We are getting into the thick of the things as teams are now well into their non-conference slate. While many small-conference schools take their lumps at the hands of larger-conference opponents as often happens at this time of year, other are emerging as legitimate contenders within the world of the “Other 26.” At this point in most seasons the Maui Invitational controls much of the discussion within college basketball circles, and this year has been no different. The tournament encompasses some of the nation’s best teams, and for about a week the focal point of college basketball is the Lahaina Civic Center. Suited more for an AAU championship game than a premiere college basketball venue, the Civic Center witnessed one of the most dominating performances in the history of the Invitational. Averaging 30 points, missing only two of 28 free throws, and guiding the young Huskies to the title is the mark of a champion, and Kemba Walker did all of those. Walker’s first heroics of the Invitational came against Wichita State, who so nearly thwarted Connecticut’s chances at winning the Invitational on the first day. In the process, however, the Shockers garnered my full admiration in how they competed with some of the top teams in America. In the end, Kemba Walker and Connecticut prevailed, but Wichita State was heard and will continue to make noise throughout the year.

What team impressed the most?

Following a tough season-opening loss to Georgetown by three points, Old Dominion has run off four straight victories. Their wins were hardly against cupcake opponents either as two came against Clemson and Xavier (it should be known that both the Tigers and Musketeers have both fallen only to Old Dominion). It is a grave task for any opponent to combat the Monarchs’ attack as no one ODU player is far and away the most significant contributor. Frank Hassell is the team’s leader from a statistical perspective as he averages nearly a double-double and is an extremely efficient offensive player, shooting better than 60% from the field. Blaine Taylor, ODU’s coach, is the mastermind behind this balanced attack. Check out these numbers: six players are averaging between 5.5 and 8.8 shots a game, and seven players average between 4.2 and 12.6 points a game. While not a flashy team by any means, Old Dominion plays a true team game — a truce recipe for success come March.

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RTC Live: Legends Classic Finals

Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2010

Games #43-#44. Back in AC for an ACC/Big East Challenge of a different sort.

The Legends semifinals produced two terrific games as Syracuse and Georgia Tech won two very closely fought contest. They will compete for the Legends Classic championship at 7:30 tonight at the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. Fab Melo may be a work in progress, but Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, and Baye Keita are feeling very good after beating Michigan 53-50, and are ready to go. The young Orange backcourt will have to beat the veteran trio of Brian Oliver, Iman Shumpert and Mfon Udofia. For Georgia Tech, freshman Danny Miller gave the Jackets just enough in their 71-61 win over UTEP, but he will have to do better against Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph.

Michigan and UTEP get a second chance at redemption as they clash for third place at 5:30 today. UTEP’s Julyan Stone and Randy Culpepper talked about leadership in the postgame press conference. Against the inexperienced charges of Coach John Beilein they will get a chance to show they get it. Coach Beilein said playing the next day is better than spending days looking at film and practicing for the next game. Michigan versus UTEP barely 24 hours after the semi-inal tip-off will test Beilein’s theory. Join us at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the consolation game and finals of the Legends Classic.

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Around The Blogosphere: 11.27.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2010

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Top 25 Games

  • Tennessee 78, #6 Villanova 68: “I was going to use the word “upset” in the headline, but I’m not sure that this was. We could also talk about how this team didn’t allow distractions to get in their way, but that’s nothing new with our basketball program. The story here is that the Vols are once again a team to be reckoned with – not later in the year once we’ve matured, but right here, right now.” (Rocky Top Talk)
  • #8 Purdue 79, Southern Illinois 60: “Unusually-frigid 30 degree temperatures (pssst- that’s sarcasm), and fantastic Black Friday sale prices kept the Purdue alums in Chicago away from the Sears Center this evening…but poor attendance and a small-time feel of the Chicago Invitational didn’t stop Matty’s boys from opening a can…at least for a half. And those who did brave the barely-freezing temps to see their Boilers play, got to see Smooge get silly.” (Boiled Sports)
  • #12 Syracuse 53, Michigan 50: “The good news is that the Orange are now 5-0 and played for the Legends Classic championship. They’ll be lining up against Georgia Tech (4-1) on Sunday. GT topped UTEP 71-61 in the semis. The Jackets also feature the progeny of a former NBA star (Glen Rice, Jr.). For the Orange, they might keep winning but sooner or later this act is going to catch up with them. Georgia Tech might not be a great team but they’re good enough to catch Syracuse napping if they come in with another performance like tonight.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)

Other Games of Interest

  • Virginia Tech 56, Oklahoma State 51: Taking a look at the Hokies close victory over the Cowboys. (Tech Hoops)
  • Maryland 76, Elon 57: “Adrian Bowie won’t get enough talk, but he had an amazing statline: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, no turnovers. He made the couple of boneheaded plays he usually makes – like lowering his head and barreling into a forced layup – but they weren’t as bad as normal and he was very, very good outside of those couple of plays.” (Testudo Times)
  • VCU 89, UCLA 85: “After UCLA showed some positive signs in Wednesday’s loss to #7 Villanova, the Bruins took a step backwards in their execution this afternoon. Despite sloppy play and a surplus of turnovers, the Bruins displayed a measure of resolve and the ability to keep themselves in a game despite many flaws.” (Bruins Nation)
  • Indiana 100, Northwestern State 66: “Whatever the future holds, this team’s near past has shown sizable signs of improvement on both sides of the ball. There’s reason for optimism, regardless of the opponents’ skill level. Yes folks, it’s true: There’s not only optimism from Crean’s recent/stellar in-state recruiting run, but optimism also because of how IU has taken care of business on the court in the early goings of 2010-11. Just know better competition lies ahead.” (Inside the Hall)

News/Analysis

  • If you will allow me to retort: UConn is one of the best teams in the country: “If you want a team that mirrors this year’s Michigan team, the answer isn’t UConn, the answer is any one of Fasulo’s four examples, because they, like Michigan, played no one before getting exposed. In the course of three days, UConn collected more high-quality wins than those four teams did combined. This is a long season, and I’m the Huskies will lose games during it. However, UConn showed in Maui that they are the real deal. Through five games the Huskies have played as tough a schedule as anyone and looked better in each successive game. This team is the real deal, write them off at your own peril.” (The UConn Blog)
  • Kentucky Basketball: Post-Thanksgiving Review Of The Connecticut Game: “In the end, this provides a “teachable moment” to the Wildcats, which I expect Coach Cal to use to its fullest advantage.  A loss is a loss, but you have to try to make the most of them and hope you don’t have to do it too often.  I am not a believer in the “good loss” theory, so you’ll forgive me if I reject that outright.  A loss is always bad, period.  Don’t bother to argue, because this is my story and I’m sticking to it.  Save it for those who are persuadable.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: NIT Tip-Off Tennessee Post Game: “For the second straight year the Big East finished in a runner-up position int the Pre-Season NIT at Madison Square Garden. Tennessee defeated Villanova 78-68, in what was, a very defensive oriented contest.” (Villanova by the Numbers)
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