ATB: A Turkey Ends Holiday Hoops WeekPosted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2010
The Lede. ‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve (Christmas Adam, so they say), and all through the land, not a creature was shooting. Well, that’s not completely true. Actually, it’s not true at all, as the week of Holiday Hoops finished strong tonight. There were several good games, some excellent performances and even an ugly incident in Oahu for our enjoyment this evening. The schedule reduces to nearly nothing the next few days — four games in Cancun on Friday, four games in Honolulu on Saturday, two random games on Sunday — and that’s fine. Christmas is for spending quality time with our friends and families, so as much as we’ll miss it, things will be a bit light around here as well over the weekend. Of course, if anything major happens, we’ll be there to comment and analyze it. Short of that, though — from everyone at RTC, have a very Merry Christmas, folks!
Your Watercooler Moment. Players Go All Knucklehead in the Stands. Mississippi State won its game at the Diamond Head Classic yesterday against San Diego, but it was a later incident between teammates Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey that captured all the headlines. As the two sat in the stands prior to the Utah-Hawaii game, they got into a fracas that was of course caught on tape for the world to see. Regardless of who was at fault in this incident, is there any doubt that MSU’s recruitment and retention of Sidney has resulted in much more trouble than he’s worth? This was his second incident in the last week, and the prevailing meme is that there’s no way Rick Stansbury can now keep him on the Bulldog team. With images still somewhat fresh in mind of the Malice in the Palace where fans and players went after each other, this is reminiscent and disastrous footage for the MSU program. Heads will roll on this, we’d have to imagine.
Don’t stop, make it pop. DJ, blow my speakers up. Memphis lost the game, but they won the damn highlight reel, that’s for sure. Hey, Mr. DJ.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Discipline Over Raw Talent. No disrespect to the excellent players populating the rosters of Georgetown and Washington State, but their opponents tonight (Memphis and Baylor, respectively) have more players on their teams that make the NBA scouts drool uncontrollably. Klay Thompson and Austin Freeman are considered nice players, but it’s guys like LaceDarius Dunn, Perry Jones, Will Barton and Joe Jackson who have the greater upside. Score one (actually, two) tonight for the teams that actually know how to play the game, as the Hoyas and Cougars repeatedly used their experience to fool the teams still figuring it out. Both shot 57% from the field while holding their opponents in the 30% range, and proved to us that Georgetown is every bit as good as its top ten ranking and Wazzu should probably be a co-favorite along with a few others in the Pac-10 this season.
- Did Scotty Hopson Save Tennessee’s Season? His layup with a few seconds left gave the Vols a one-point lead and a hard-fought win over Belmont tonight that meant UT would not end up losing its fourth game in a row (Oakland, Charlotte, and USC were the others). We all know that basketball is a mental game and if you’re in a fragile state, you’ve already given up a huge advantage. Bruce Pearl’s team NEEDED this win, even against a team like Belmont, just to prove to themselves that they could do it again. It won’t be long now until the schedule toughens up considerably and Pearl goes on hiatus, so Hopson may have saved this listing ship with his final play tonight (we’ll be nice and not discuss his single rebound, zero assist night).
- America’s Darling, Northern Iowa. Don’t look now, but last year’s NCAA Tournament darling, Northern Iowa, appears to be putting the pieces together after significant personnel losses to make another run at the MVC title and another NCAA appearance. Tonight’s six-point win over New Mexico on a neutral floor was impressive, and the best part is that their star Kwadzo Ahelegbe had his season-low in scoring (four points on 2-13 shooting) but burgeoning sophomore stars Anthony James and Jake Koch picked up the slack for him (23/4 and 16/7, respectively). Don’t be surprised if UNI goes on another roll in the Valley this year.
- Michigan’s Darius Morris. The revelation known as Darius Morris has dropped ten or more dimes in three of the Wolverines’ last five games. Combine that with 26 points tonight against Bryant and a season average of 15.8 PPG, and what you have is one of the most improved players in America and the primary reason that John Beilein has surprised everyone with how much better UM seems to be after losing his best players from last season.
- Virginia Tech Avoids Trap Game Loss. Things haven’t gone well for the Hokies this year, and today’s news that Dorenzo Hudson and Cadarian Raines would be out for the rest of the season with injuries could have easily derailed the team’s mood tonight as it walked into a trap game in Rochester versus St. Bonaventure. Even though it took overtime to do so, Virginia Tech got the win and appear to have avoided the deathly free fall that the Hokies could have slipped into after consecutive losses to UNLV, Purdue and Virginia earlier this month.
- Rodney McGruder Should Chip a Tooth More Often. Only a couple of days after suffering a chipped tooth that required two days of emergency root canal (wow, we really like this guy now) and a capping procedure, McGruder stepped up in the absence of teammates Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly by hitting seven treys in tonight’s K-State win over UMKC. McGruder ended the game with 24/7, which makes us wonder if the star-in-the-making sophomore guard shouldn’t be getting more shots than Pullen!
- Tulsa’s Hurricane Explosion. We always knew that Tulsa’s Justin Hurtt could score the ball, but in his last three games including tonight’s win over Texas-San Antonio, he’s blowing up. With 33 points this evening, he’s now gone three straight games with 30+, a feat he had achieved only one time previously in his four-year career. Clearly the Golden Hurricane has decided that its best chance to win games lies in leaning heavily on the 6’4 guard’s talents, because his aggressiveness and production are well beyond what they were earlier this season (he’s averaging 22 attempts per game in the last three contests, twice as many as in his first nine games).
- Frank Martin’s Faux-a Culpa. From tonight’s presser: “”I was wrong for the way I dealt with the press conference the other day. It’s not your guys’ fault that our players got in trouble. It’s not your guys’ fault that we lost. It’s my fault. What I don’t appreciate is when I ask you to respect something on my behalf, when I give you guys every media interview you ask for, and I give you every answer you ever want, is for that, whatever I ask, to be disrespected.” WRONG. It’s the media’s obligation and duty to ask those questions, Frank; nobody is dissing you and you should accept that as part of the job and grow up a little bit in the process. Some apology, eh?
- Indiana Away From Bloomington. We thought IU might have been turning the corner a little bit a couple of weeks ago the way that the Hoosiers had competed with Boston College and Kentucky in early December games, but if Tom Crean is ever to get past the “up-and-coming” characterization, he can’t go 0-2 in neutral court games versus Northern Iowa and Colorado. UNI is showing signs of coming together, as mentioned above, but the Buffs have definitely struggled this season and IU won’t get many good chances for away wins in the Big Ten season (which starts next week).
- UCLA’s Tyler Lamb at the Line. If you guys can figure out this UCLA team, let us know. The Bruins escaped with a head-scratching skin-of-their-teeth win tonight 74-73 against UC Irvine, but the freshman Lamb did his best to give it away. Despite a good overall night of play with six points, five assists and four rebounds, he stepped to the line with 6.2 seconds remaining and bricked both foul shots. He’s now 50% on the season, and we’d recommend taking him off the floor in future tight game situations.
Tweet of the Night. Nunes is an Absolute Magician came up with this jewel of a dig at the NCAA’s use of selective jurisprudence tonight.