After the Buzzer: Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed…Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2011
Tonight’s Lede. Year the Fifth. Welcome back for another year of late-night — or overnight, depending on where you are — coverage of the nightly events in college basketball. When we started this feature at the beginning of the 2007-08 season, this was pretty much the only place you could find comprehensive national coverage of the sport posted as soon as possible after the games had ended. Now, everybody does it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we don’t mind — in fact, it only makes us better. We assume you’re familiar with what this post is about, but each weeknight when there are games of national significance going on, we’ll be here with the After the Buzzer wrapup. On weekends, we’ll put together an overview on Sunday nights that will cover the previous couple of days of games. The intent here, mind you, isn’t to bore anybody with game recaps. We hate those probably more than you do. Rather, we try to mine the universe of nightly games to ferret out the most interesting information in terms of what people are (and will be) talking about the next morning. As with anything we do here, feel free to contact us with ideas for improvement or, really, anything else. We’re always listening.
Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Lays Waste to Morehouse College. Even though it was opening night for six schools Monday in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the game people will be talking about Tuesday morning didn’t even count on anyone’s record. And it’s a good thing, because the NCAA may have had to award John Calipari’s team two or three victories while remanding a completely overmatched Morehouse College down to Division III, or IV, or V, or whatever basketball purgatory teams that lose by 85 points end up. You read that correctly — the final score in last night’s exhibition game between UK and the D-II school better known for notable alumni such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee was 125-40. We won’t cover all the ridiculous stats in this space (The Dagger has you covered for that), but at one point late in the first half the Wildcats finished off a 29-0 run to put their lead at 63-6. It only grew from there, eventually peaking at an 89-point lead that caused the nation’s #1 recruit in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, to profess his awe. Does it mean anything to lambaste a D-II team by so many points? Probably not. But in just viewing some of the highlights from tonight’s victory, it is abundantly clear that the stable of long, lean athletes that Calipari has at his disposal this season is unmatched in college basketball. At a glance, the Wildcats looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder out there.
Three Dollops of Hoopsurdity.
- A Hopeful Family. Everyone is no doubt now familiar with the interesting name of one of St. John’s new star recruits, God’s Gift Achiuwa. But the names of his brothers and sisters helps to give a little perspective. We learned during tonight’s broadcast that the transfer has five brothers and sisters with equally hopeful names: sisters Peace and Grace; brothers Promise, Precious and God’s Will.
- Kyle Fogg’s Summer School. During the Arizona-Valpo game tonight, commentator Miles Simon reported that senior guard Kyle Fogg’s shooting regimen during summer school was borderline ridiculous — he attempted a total of 39,132 shots, making 26,414 (67.5%). If you presume ten weeks of summer school, that averages out to over 500 shots per day, or, in other words, a healthy dose of ice and ibuprofen for his shooting arm. Hey, maybe it worked — Fogg shot 6-8 tonight and tallied 16 points in the Arizona win over Valparaiso.
- He Coached Until 1972, Not 1922. Is it too difficult to ask ESPN to find a stock photograph of former Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp that is in color? Come on, surely someone in Lexington has a full color photograph of the guy, right? It’s not like this was Dr. James Naismith coaching at the turn of the century. If it’s too much trouble to make the call, they could just use the Google machine to find this one, or this one, or even this one.
Tonight’s Quick Hits…
- Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed. The CvC Classic serves to raise awareness and dollars to fight cancer, and tonight’s games were particularly well-suited for this campaign. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin spent his team’s first game at his home (texting the announcers, apparently) as he continues to recover from prostate cancer surgery, while new Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew is dealing with cancer diagnoses in both of his parents, Homer and Janet. Whew.
- Arizona’s Vaunted Freshmen. The two players we were most interested in seeing tonight were Arizona’s Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson, and while Turner struggled in a starting role (1-6 FG), Johnson (14/6/3 assts) appeared completely at ease with his first game as a Wildcat. The surprise player of the group, though, was forward Angelo Chol, a player whose activity and hustle we already love (6/6/4 stls/5 fouls). Arizona is going to have some struggles this season as roles are defined among all the role players, but if we know anything about Sean Miller, he will definitely find a way to make it work.
- Johnnies Come Lately. We have no idea if Steve Lavin can do so, but if he can harness the talents and abilities of a group of newcomers with diverse skill sets and make SJU into a serviceable team, he’ll probably win Big East Coach of the Year. It’s not that he doesn’t have talent; it’s that he has a team where nearly everyone on the team was somewhere else last season. We were impressed from what we saw from all three of Nurideen Lindsey (19/4 assts/5 stls), Moe Harkless (17/8/4 assts) and God’s Gift Achiuwa (17/9), but this is the kind of team that as a fan would absolutely scare the hell out of me every night out.
- Welcome Back, Arnett. Mississippi State’s hopes to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season rest not only on the skill and focus of center Renardo Sidney but also on the talented Moultrie, a transfer from UTEP. His debut tonight against Eastern Kentucky was impressive, going for 13/10 with two assists and two rejections playing on the opposite block as Sidney (who did not play well, with 9/3 and four turnovers). A Moultrie playing like this is the difference between MSU as an NCAA bid contender versus an also-ran.
- Bryce Drew’s Debut. Aside from his wardrobe choice, it was good. His team did not seem at all intimidated by a visit to the McKale Center and stayed steady enough to go into the half down only two points. A second half run where Arizona used its superior quickness to speed up the game proved fatal for the Crusaders’ hopes for an upset, but all things considered, we found Valpo to be a much more impressive mid-major on this night than Tony Shaver’s W&M.
… and Misses.
- Early Season Sloppiness. This is what happens when we start playing games a mere 24 days after practice begins. Tonight’s three games resulted in a combined 82 turnovers with the Arizona-Valpo game topping out at 33. The sole exception among the six teams was St. John’s, who managed only four miscues against William & Mary, although that was probably more a function of the Tribe’s conservative defense than anything else.
- Renardo Sidney. New attitude this year? Hard to tell, and depending on what you read, Sidney was either a victim of a zone defense tonight or failed to once again give a consistent effort. Sidney ended up with only 9/3 in 23 minutes of action, leading his head coach Rick Stansbury to say that the Bulldogs still “need more” from him. Sounds awfully similar to a refrain we’ve only heard a few dozen times about this guy.
- Bryce Drew’s Light Blue Blazer. Really not sure what the young coach was thinking in his first official game on the sidelines, but his choice of a light blue blazer was rather hideous. Check the photo here to see it for yourself.
- William & Mary’s Offense. The three-ball is the great equalizer, but it’s probably not a good idea to make it the dominant portion of your offense. W&M took 48 shots last night, and 32 of those (67%) were from behind the arc. Although they hit 11 of their attempts, most of those makes came in the first half. Once SJU sped the Tribe up with a fullcourt press, the Red Storm ran out on a 22-5 run and effectively put the game away.
Tweet of the Night. Rivals’ Brett Dawson put Kentucky’s decimation of Morehouse College into perspective (although his fast break points appear off).
RTC Live. The first RTC Live of the new season took place in Queens at Carnesecca Arena tonight.
St. John’s 74, William & Mary 59. St. John’s started slowly, but rallied back with a furious defensive effort in the second half for a 74-59 victory over William & Mary. “I think in the first half guys came out a little tight,” said Nurideen Lindsey afterwards. Things opened up in the second half, though, as Lindsey shot 7-7 in the half and the press started to wear down the Tribe, leading to easy baskets. In the end St. John’s forced 21 turnovers for 28 points. St. John’s also outscored the smaller William & Mary 44-10 in the paint. Most of that came from the drives of Lindsey (19 points) and the post game of God’sgift Achiuwa (17 points) and Moe Harkless (17 points). The Tribe were led by star forward Quinn McDowell who scored 20 points. For the young Red Storm, who played without head coach Steve Lavin on the bench as he recovers from prostate cancer, there are still some things to work on. Free throws are a particular concern, as St. John’s shot only 12-25 from the line. But of course there will be things to go back to, that’s what happens when a rotation consists of six guys that just played their first NCAA Division I game and one senior. St. John’s has a long way to go, but the building blocks are definitely there for a successful season.