Big Ten Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 30th, 2012

  1. Thursday night was going to be the end of the road no matter what for Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers certainly didn’t want to see their season come to an end this way: Stanford 75, Minnesota 51 in the NIT Championship in New York. Minnesota had 22 turnovers, didn’t have a player score more than 12 points (Rodney Williams), and missed 16 of its last 19 shots of the first half as Stanford began to take control. The future is bright for Tubby Smith and Co. — particularly if Trevor Mbakwe returns next season — and perhaps a brutal loss like this to end the year could serve as a jump-off point for next.
  2. One season comes to end for Minnesota, and a new chapter begins for Illinois. The Fighting Illini finally got around to hiring and introducing a new head coach on Thursday with a press conference to welcome former Ohio coach John Groce. He was brought to Champaign with a five-year contract worth $1.4 million annually after spending the last four seasons in Athens. The expectations are high at Illinois, and Groce knows it. He will be charged with recruiting Chicago heavily, and bringing Illinois back to the Big Ten forefront.
  3. Of the many people skeptical of the Groce hiring and how it all went down over the last few weeks, Jon Greenberg of is not one of them. Greenberg admits that Groce was not the Illini’s first choice but Illinois fans will be pleased to have him once Groce settles in. Greenberg writes: “At 40, Groce is the perfect coach to take over the University of Illinois. He’s young, hungry and aggressive. He recruits point guards and gives them the keys to his offense. His teams play fast, shooting 3s and causing turnovers.”
  4. Back  to Minnesota, which was in the position to win a postseason title on Thursday but may not have a chance at winning the big one — the NCAA Tournament — unless the athletic department makes some major moves. NIT chairman C.M. Newton, who also hired Tubby Smith at Kentucky and watched him win a title there, said Minnesota’s facilities are not on par with Ohio State, Michigan State, or other teams that can compete annually for national championships. “He’s not had the chance at Minnesota yet,” Newton told the Pioneer Press. “They’re going to have to make some decisions facilitywise in order for him to do that, in my opinion. They’re behind Michigan State and Ohio State and others.”
  5. Alex Dragicevich, who spent the last two seasons at Notre Dame, wasn’t a fit for Northwestern during the recruiting process. Now that he is looking to transfer, could things be different the second time around? The Chicago Tribune‘s Teddy Greenstein reports that there appears to be mutual interest between the two parties, and things could evolve over the next few weeks. He averaged 20.9 minutes and 6.6 points per game last season with the Fighting Irish.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 30th, 2012

  1. Wilmington Star News: Yet again we’ve got good and bad news out of Chapel Hill. Let’s start with the good: Kendall Marshall won the Bob Cousy Award for the country’s top point guard. It’s tough to argue with the pick, as Marshall’s ACC-record 351 assists helped lead the Tar Heels to the ACC regular season title before the team crumbled in his absence in the Elite Eight. Marshall continues the recent streak of North Carolina point guards to win the award, following the likes of Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina’s roster next season will have at least five players missing from this year’s team, as Marshall, John Henson and Harrison Barnes all announced their intentions of entering the NBA Draft (factor in Tyler Zeller and Justin Watts graduating to get to five). Assuming the Tar Heels keep James Michael McAdoo, they’ll still have a solid interior presence and a wealth of perimeter players to go next to Marcus Paige, who will likely run the point with Dexter Strickland. Still, don’t underestimate the magnitude of losing four All-ACC guys (and Caulton Tudor — the writer of this article — should know, as he had all four on his first team).
  3. From The Rumble Seat: First, how old will Miami be next year if everyone comes back? Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson will be 22, while Kenny Kadji will be 24. Wow. I think the author touches on a pretty important point for Georgia Tech‘s conference success next year in wondering about the unbalanced schedule. If the Yellow Jackets get shots at the bottom tier of the conference (which should be better), they’ll be closer to the middle of the pack. However, unless someone really picks up the scoring load, it’s tough to project them outside of the bottom four.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Matt Bracken sat down with Mark Turgeon’s first Maryland recruit Seth Allen. Allen is a combo guard out of Virginia who hopes to contribute right away in Maryland’s backcourt by helping Terrell Stoglin with the scoring and Pe’Shon Howard with running point. The Terrapins could certainly use another consistent scoring threat (though I’d keep my eyes on Nick Faust to gain some confidence), so it will be interesting to watch Allen whose senior year was tough to evaluate because of nagging injuries.
  5. The first edition of Jeff Goodman’s transfer list is out with eight ACC names so far: Nate Hicks (sophomore, Georgia Tech), Glen Rice Jr. (junior, Georgia Tech), KT Harrell (sophomore, Virginia), Allan Chaney (freshman, Virginia Tech), JT Thompson (senior, Virginia Tech), Tony Chennault (sophomore, Wake Forest), Carson Desrosiers (sophomore, Wake Forest) and Anthony Fields (freshman, Wake Forest). I’m sure there will be more to come.

EXTRA: Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle does a great job in this article on Jon Scheyer coming back to the United States looking for a chance at the NBA. Scheyer got hurt during summer league after going undrafted following his senior season (the buzz was he would sign with the Miami Heat), so he went to play in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Scheyer received limited playing time, which ultimately led to his return to the US (rumors also surfaced about Scheyer being forced to complete Israel’s mandated military service, but he did not comment on that). I think Scheyer will get invited to the NBA’s summer league.

EXTRA EXTRA: Apparently, Tyler Hansbrough‘s nose is still attracting Duke elbows even in the NBA. Last weekend Mike Dunleavy elbowed Hansbrough in the face, breaking his nose and facial bone.

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Big East Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 30th, 2012

  1. When it rains it pours for a Connecticut program that remains in flux, primarily due to the impending NCAA tournament ban faced by the Huskies next year due to a sub-standard Academic Progress Rate (APR) score.  Well, Jim Calhoun and company may be facing the death nail now that the Big East has ruled it will follow suit and keep Connecticut out of next year’s Big East Tournament should the NCAA ban hold up under appeal.  Big East spokesman John Paquette, while in New Orleans for the Final Four, said that Big East Presidents met on March 7 to discuss the matter and came to a “conceptual agreement”.  Prior that declaration the Big East had no official position on a team’s conference tournament status should it be banned from NCAA tournament play.  In fact, the new rule goes against past precedent as Syracuse was allowed to play in the 1993 Big East tournament despite not being allowed to plan in the NCAA Tournament.  There is no official time table with regard to a ruling on Connecticut’s APR ban appeal, but it could come as late as July because of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance’s (CAP) meeting schedule.
  2. We noted here yesterday that CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman tweeted that three Providence players: sophomores Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye along with red shirt junior Bilal Dixon were looking to transfer, noting that Giplaye and Dixon were “definitely” gone, while Coleman “could” be.  In response to Goodman’s claim, a post out of Providence quoted head coach Ed Cooley as saying, “the report out there is not true as far as I’m concerned.”  Cooley did confirm that Dixon, who is in his fourth year and graduating, will not be with the Friars next year.  As for Coleman and Giplaye, Cooley said he met with each of his players on Tuesday and there was no mention from Coleman, Giplaye or anyone else about transferring.  Despite Cooley’s comments, rumors remain strong that both players will, in fact, be leaving.  Not all of this is new information. Dixon’s status was leaked about midway through the season and it was sealed when Providence conducted senior night festivities in his honor at their last home game.  After the game Dixon addressed the crowd, saying that he will miss Providence.  As part of that mid-season buzz, both Dixon and Giplaye were said to be transferring to Towson where former Providence assistant, Pat Skerry, is the head coach. Wagner has also been mentioned as a destination for Dixon, who is a New Jersey native.
  3. There were no reported fights between Louisville and Kentucky fans yesterday in dialysis centers, beauty parlors, hardware stores  or any of the usual venues of conflict so we are going to stretch this Providence transfer story into a buy none, get two free special this morning.  As noted in the report referenced and linked above, Gerard Coleman and Ron Giplaye were teammates with AAU powerhouse BABC.  BABC, of course was also the home of some guy named Nerlens Noel who you may have heard of.  Noel was recently the subject of a controversial New York Times piece that, in part, focused on his relationship with Chris Driscoll.  Driscoll was a Providence assistant under former head coach Keno Davis who rose to that level more than in part due to his involvement and connections with BABC.  Driscoll, who is believed to still have an advisory relationship with Noel, was depicted in the article as using less than honorable tactics to secure players and climb the ladder.  It is not known if Driscoll continues to have a relationship with Giplaye or Coleman but the piece speculated that he could be the source.  Interestingly, should Giplaye and Coleman transfer that would run the total to three BABC alums looking to leave Big East schools, as they would join former Connecticut big man Alex Oriakhi in looking for new homes.
  4. It appears Louisville head coach Rick Pitino will have to put his Hall of Fame dream on hold for at least another year.  Pitino was a finalist for induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame but, according to an report, was informed yesterday that he was not selected.  Pitino, who was reportedly and understandably disappointed about the news, is preparing for his sixth Final Four with a record three different schools (Providence and Kentucky were the others). While we are sure Pitino would have loved to get the nod this year, it is just a matter of time before he gains induction.
  5. We have kept you posted on the recruitment of Chris Obekpa, a 6’9” center in the class of 2012 that is highly coveted among Big East schools. Oregon has emerged as a late contender in the sweepstakes and Obekpa will take an official visit to Eugene before making his decision.  Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Providence, and St. John’s appear to be the finalists along with Oregon, but other schools remain in the mix.   Obekpa has officially visited Cincinnati, DePaul and St. John’s, while paying unofficials to Connecticut and Providence on the same day.  His teammate at New York’s Our Savior New American (OSNA), Felix Balamou, recently gave a verbal commitment to Steve Lavin and St. John’s which prompted talk of a package deal but OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch remains steadfast that Obekpa and Balamou’s decisions are mutually exclusive of one another. Obekpa will be playing in the All-American Championship, an all-star showcase event, on Sunday in New Orleans.
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Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2012

  1. After getting passed over by some other coaches they were pursuing Illinois introduced John Groce as their head coach yesterday. Groce, who compiled a record of 85-56 in four season at Ohio, led his team to the Sweet Sixteen this year. While he may not be the marquee name that some Illinois fans hoped for he does have some credentials that should make them more comfortable. In addition to having knocked off three power conference teams in his two tournaments (Georgetown, Michigan, and South Florida; ok, South Florida is a stretch), Groce also worked under Thad Matta (someone he will see a lot in his new job) at Butler and Xavier. So at least Groce should not be intimidated by the coaches on the opposing sideline.
  2. Illinois fans were probably concerned that losing Bruce Weber would affect their recruiting, but Jabari Parker, the school’s biggest target, says he is still interested in Illinois. The more interesting thing to us is how his high school coach is inserting himself into the picture. Although he appears to be a successful coach in his own right doing this at the same time you have the #1 recruit in the country will raise some eyebrows particularly with some of the unique package deals we have seen in the past few years.
  3. Yesterday, Danny Manning was announced as the the next head coach at Tulsa although the press conference will not be held until next week for reasons that we will get into. As we mentioned yesterday, this seems like it has the potential to be an excellent hire particularly with Manning’s reputation in that part of the country and the years he has spent as an assistant at the dominant program in the area. Of course, that’s the long-term effect. The near-term effect might not be so good. As you may remember, Manning’s current team, Kansas, is sort of occupied this weekend. With Manning (an assistant coach) and Barry Hinson (director of basketball operations) taking new jobs as head coaches in the past few days, you would think that they might be a little distracted from the task at hand. Bill Self says that should not be an issue, but if the Jayhawks come out flat there may be rumblings in Lawrence.
  4. Yesterday was an interesting day in Chapel Hill as Kendall Marshall won the Cousy Award as the top point guard in the nation. Oh, and there was that little thing about three players–Marshall, John Henson, and Harrison Barnes–declaring for the NBA Draft. As we mentioned yesterday, this group will have an interesting legacy. As individuals they could all be spectacular at times, but didn’t seem to put it together at key moments although Marshall cannot be faulted for his scaphoid fracture. All three are first round picks and potentially lottery picks (Marshall is the only one we question out of the three) so nobody will fault them for leaving early, but North Carolina fans could be in for some growing pains next season while the new group gets settled in.
  5. It is pretty rare for a high level school official to get into a controversy on Twitter, but Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis managed to do so when he sent a response on Twitter to Trey Burke. The Michigan freshman, who is considering putting his name in the NBA Draft, made a comment about all the people trying to give him advice on his life so Hollis responded by telling him to follow his heart and mind and seek out people that he trusts rather than having others come to him, which is sort of amusing because Hollis was coming to him with that advice. Anyways, it created a mini-controversy about questions of attempted recruitment, which was quickly refuted. Hopefully Hollis learned his lesson and also will learn to lenient to athletes for minor transgressions, which could come up as he is the chairman of the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet and will join the NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee later this year.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.29.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 29th, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.


  • The play of sophomore forward Terrence Jones has been scrutinized all season. John Calipari notes that he realizes something that most fans do not and that is “Terrence Jones wants to please me in the worst way.”
  • John Calipari has his fair share of critics, but what Deron Snyder of The Washington Times points out is that Calipari is often criticized for winning within the rules.
  • Anthony Davis has deserved a lot of attention during his standout freshman season, but the forward has not let any of the attention make him cocky.
  • Darius Miller was replaced in Kentucky’s starting lineup by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the beginning of the season, but that demotion did not do anything to change Miller’s attitude. Kentucky’s lone senior has emerged as its unquestioned leader.

Ohio State

  • Sophomore point guard Aaron Craft has gotten a lot of attention for his defensive prowess, but he has also been the Buckeyes’ seasoned leader on the offensive end of the court.
  • Jared Sullinger has been the face of the Ohio State program for the past two seasons and the sophomore forward has undeniably fit that role well.
  • Sophomore guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., played his way onto the All-East Region team due to a very impressive four-game stretch. If Smith can produce like he has thus far in the NCAA Tournament, he will serve as a great complement to Sullinger and forward Deshaun Thomas.
  • Thad Matta is hoping to enjoy the Final Four moment while he can, but the Buckeyes head coach knows that enjoyment will come to an end when it is time to go to work on Kansas.
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Analyzing the Illinois and Tulsa Coaching Hires – Exciting New Fits

Posted by EJacoby on March 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

More coaching vacancies continue to get filled across the country, as it became official on Thursday that Ohio head coach John Groce was hired for Illinois’ coaching vacancy and Kansas assistant Danny Manning agreed to become the new head coach at Tulsa. The Illini coaching search had been a major news story of the past few weeks, but Tulsa’s job had also been open for quite some time since earlier this month. Both hires come as somewhat of a surprise and make for exciting new eras for the Fighting Illini and Golden Hurricane programs. Here’s a look at how each coach might fit in.


Groce Parlayed a Sweet Sixteen Trip Into a Big Ten Job (credit: Chicago Tribune)

Bruce Weber experienced a tragic downfall at Illinois during this past season that included ugly performances by the team during Big Ten play and painful press conferences filled with admissions of poor coaching tactics. What started off as a perfect fit for Weber, a man who brought the Illini to the National Championship game in his second season, never developed into a comfortable pairing. Weber was unable to bring in the top recruits that the previous Bill Self regime had (whose players were the ones that Weber coached to the Final Four), and even when some big names eventually came to the program, Weber never developed their talents as expected. As a result, a program that has brought in a total of nine RSCI top-80 recruits since 2009 just completed a terribly disappointing 17-15 campaign, and Weber is long gone.

Bringing in Groce certainly is not the big name that some people were expecting when this job became free. CBS and Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis both stated that Illinois is a top 10 coaching job, and some other media members echoed that belief. But perhaps the job has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, as several top candidates decided to pass up on the opportunity to stay at their current mid-major programs, including Shaka Smart of VCU and Brad Stevens at Butler. It took Ohio’s magical run to the Sweet Sixteen before Groce came into the picture, and while he may not have been the school’s first target, he should be a great fit in Champaign.

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Carolina Trio of Underclassmen Going Pro — UNC Looks Forward

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2012

It’s been assumed for a while now, but the news became official Thursday afternoon. North Carolina’s trio of star underclassmen — John Henson, Harrison Barnes, and Kendall Marshall — will enter this year’s NBA Draft. The press release on the UNC website does not mention any of the group ‘testing the waters’ with a possibility of return, but the quotes therein are highly suggestive that we will not see any of them back in a Tar Heel uniform again.

This Trio of UNC Stars Will Move On to the NBA

Barnes has been considered a high lottery pick since high school, and despite a sophomore season where he failed to meet expectations as a preseason All-America candidate, his stock as a smooth-shooting wing has not appeared to drop much, if at all (DraftExpress has him at #7 overall; at #5). Henson’s junior season may have helped him a little, as he cut down on his turnovers and showed an improved offensive game while remaining a defensive and rebounding force inside the paint (#16/#8). Marshall is perhaps the player with the most to gain by entering the draft this summer — his outputs improved from his freshman to sophomore year, but he should probably strike while the iron is hot while scouts are enamored with his superb passing and floor leadership abilities (and before they pick apart his offensive game too much) (#13/#14). All three should safely be mid- to high-first round selections in June.

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RTC Final Four Podcast

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2012

It’s Final Four week in College Basketball Land and it wouldn’t be right of us to not have an entire full RTC Podcast of opinions, analysis, and generalized rambling about all kinds of nonsense. So here goes nothing. Zach Hayes re-joins us to analyze the quartet of Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State, as well as to break down the RTC All-America team, the National Player of the Year race and our Coach of the Year. It was fun to record; here’s hoping it’s half as interesting to listen to it.

RTC Final Four Podcast

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2011-12 Rush the Court All-America Teams

Posted by zhayes9 on March 29th, 2012

If there’s one thing to take away from this year’s Rush the Court All-America team, it’s that none of us are as smart as we think.

Back in November, our voters were on the same page as the majority of national writers, pegging Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Jordan Taylor, Terrence Jones and Tu Holloway for our preseason All-America first team. Only Sullinger followed that up with a spot on the postseason squad. As for our Ashton Gibbs-John Jenkins-Jeremy Lamb-Perry Jones-Tyler Zeller second team, only Zeller lived up to the billing. Nostradamus is not walking through that door.

Rather than discussing players who failed to match those high hopes, let’s delve into the players who exceeded or met expectations. After tallying the votes and discarding any hanging chads, here are our postseason 2011-12 RTC All-Americans:

Note: voters took conference and NCAA Tournament results into consideration.

Anthony Davis edged out Thomas Robinson for player of the year

First Team All-America

Anthony Davis, Kentucky (RTC National Player of the Year)– A near-unanimous player of the year selection, Davis made more of an impact on the defensive end of the floor than any other contender for the award. His 4.6 blocks per game doesn’t adequately account for how many shots he altered, turnovers he caused and general fear he struck in the minds of opponents. Causing havoc on defense is one thing, but Davis also showed off a rapidly improving post-up and face-up repertoire, displaying incredible offensive versatility in an efficient manner. Davis picked his spots well on a loaded Kentucky team, shooting 67% from inside the arc, grabbing 10 rebounds per game and shooting 71% from the charity stripe. From overlooked recruit to McDonald’s All-American to Final Four to Player of the Year frontrunner and soon the number one overall pick, it’s been quite the magical ride for Davis.

Thomas Robinson, Kansas- After coming off the bench behind the Morris twins last season, Robinson was pegged as the popular pick to break out in a big way in 2011-12. Robinson delivered on those predictions and more, averaging 17.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and shooting 51% from inside the arc. Robinson, who was asked to carry the load for a Jayhawks squad ravaged by early entry and graduation, quickly emerged as the premier low-post scorer in America. Robinson is flush with gifted athleticism, an NBA veteran’s body and unstoppable post moves. For a player who overcame indescribable adversity a season ago, any neutral observer during this year’s Final Four could do a lot worse than root for Robinson.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.29.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 29th, 2012

  1. Washington State continued its season on Wednesday night with the second of a three-game series with Pittsburgh for the championship of the CBI Tournament. With the Cougars winning game one on Monday night, they had a chance to sew up the title, but fell at the Petersen Events Center by four, forcing game three on Friday night. Once again, the Cougs had to go without junior forward Brock Motum, who is out with a sprained ankle, but Reggie Moore led the way in trying to cover for his absence. Moore had 18 points and was instrumental in keeping WSU in the game in the second half, getting to the line repeatedly. Still, the Panthers, playing without a star of their own, as Ashton Gibbs sat out with his own ankle injury, did a good job of limiting any type of second option for the Cougs, including Abe Lodwick, who had been steady in the last two games without Motum. The status for both Motum and Gibbs for Friday night’s game remains unclear at this point.
  2. Stanford plays in the final of the NIT tonight, and regardless of what happens in that game against Minnesota, this has already been an important March for the Cardinal program. They’ve won six of their seven games in the month (although their loss in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal to California killed their NCAA dreams) and have earned the right to continue getting extra game action, extra practices and extra confidence, so much so that Stanford could be among the favorites at the top of the conference for next season.
  3. There was a shakeup in the Arizona State athletic department on Wednesday, as Lisa Love is out as athletic director and Steve Patterson, who was previously the chief operating officer of the athletic department, is in. Under Love, both the ASU football and basketball programs have struggled, and given that she was responsible for the hiring of the head coaches who have run those programs since she was brought on board in 2005, her firing is not unexpected.
  4. The McDonald’s All-America game was Wednesday night, and Shabazz Muhammad, currently very much on the radar of the UCLA program, had a big night, scoring 21 points and earning the game’s Most Valuable Player award. Still, Muhammad’s holding out until April 11 to announce his final decision, but he has reportedly narrowed his field down to the Bruins, Duke and Kentucky, with his hometown school, UNLV, dropped. Elsewhere at the McDonald’s game, Arizona commitments Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley did the dirty work in the all-star game, combining to score 14 points and grab 12 rebounds, while UCLA signee Kyle Anderson went for 13 points, eight assists and eight boards.
  5. Lastly, the Oregon State season may be over, ending short of its goal of an NCAA Tournament bid and of a modified goal of a run to the CBI championship, but all things considered, it could be a stepping stone year for the Beavers from conference also-ran to legitimate contender. If guard Jared Cunningham decides to forgo the NBA Draft and return to Corvallis, the Beavs will only lose Kevin McShane, who averaged just eight minutes per game, while bringing in three freshmen and adding the services of redshirt freshman Daniel Gomis, who missed the year with a broken leg.
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