Pac-12 Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on May 25th, 2012

  1. Money was a big story in the Pac-12 this week. First and foremost, USA Today unveiled an estimate of the worth of the Pac-12 television deals this week. Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm that has done multimedia rights valuations for other schools and conferences figures that all told, between the conference’s deals with ESPN and Fox and their ready-to-launch Pac-12 Network, each school in the conference should expect upwards of $30 million a year over the life of their 12-year agreement. About $21 million per school is guaranteed by the deal with ESPN and Fox, with the remainder of the total based on the success of the new conference networks. While the Big Ten Network generated $79.2 million worth of profit in 2011, they have to split those profits with Fox, their partner in that venture, while the Pac-12 will own their network outright.
  2. Based on that kind of income, it is easy to see why Larry Scott earned almost $1.9 million in salary and bonuses in his first full year as Pac-12 commissioner. That figure makes Scott the highest paid conference commissioner in the land and means that he earned more than three times the compensation of previous Pac-12 commissioner Tom Hansen in his final full year. Given the wonders that Scott has done with the Pac-12’s finances, image and future prospects, I would guess that most Pac-12 fans see this as money well spent for the conference.
  3. Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has hired a lawyer and intends to sue Sports Illustrated and writer George Dohrmann for $10 million, claiming the article published by the magazine in March was guilty of defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that many of the stories in the article about Nelson were either false or drastically overstated. The lawsuit includes statements from 18 current or former players at UCLA that refute anecdotes in the article. For instance, former Bruin player Tyler Honeycutt states that the memorable tale of Nelson urinating on his clothes and bed was completely false, while recent UCLA graduate Tyler Trapani refutes the story about Nelson stepping on his chest during a practice drill. Bruin transfer and recent New Mexico big man Drew Gordon denies the claim that Nelson gave Gordon a black eye during a fight (and even denies ever having a fight with Nelson), while Alex Schrempf claims that the story that Nelson purposely in injured him by intentionally hacking him from behind is false as well. Seems like this is about the get very, very interesting as Dorhmann and SI attempt to defend themselves against this lawsuit.
  4. Washington State’s coaching staff is back at full strength again, as head coach Ken Bone hired Ray Lopes to take Jeff Hironaka’s spot on the bench. Hironaka was reassigned (read: demoted) to director of player development , and Lopes, who was most recently an assistant at Idaho, will fill his spot. Lopes is no stranger to Pullman, having coached under Kelvin Sampson on the Palouse in 1993-94, before following Sampson to Oklahoma before winding up as a head coach at Fresno State for a three-year stint. However, at both of those stops, Lopes ran afoul of the NCAA, first getting mixed up in the impermissible phone call saga with Sampson at Oklahoma, then continuing the practice in Fresno, eventually winding up with a three-year show-cause penalty for 457 impermissible phone calls while at Fresno State.
  5. Finally, after plenty of speculation that this would come to pass, Colorado redshirt sophomore point guard Shannon Sharpe will be transferring out of the program in order to play closer to his home in southern California. Sharpe’s career at Colorado goes down as a disappointment, after injuring his knee in his first practice with the Buffaloes. All told, he scored 99 points in just a hair over 600 minutes in his career in Boulder. He will have a year of eligibility remaining when he plays again at a lower-tier school (Big West schools like Cal State Fullerton or UC Irvine or perhaps Loyola Marymount or Pepperdine of the WCC would look like good landing spots where he could make an impact), although there is a possibility that he could apply for a waiver on having to sit out a year since both of his parents died of heart failure while he was in high school and he is returning home to take care of the family home.
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SEC Weekly Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 25th, 2012

  1. The biggest splash this week in the SEC again came from the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats and its scheduling choices. First, some group of stuffy faculty members chastised John Calipari’s decision to move toward more neutral site games. So what does Calipari do? He announced that UK has added Baylor to its schedule in a Rupp Arena game in 2012-13, but the Cats will travel to play the Bears in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14. Now that’s an “experience.” But it’s not about playing Baylor. This move, as is seemingly everything Calipari does, is a strategic move to advance his program. First, four members of the 2013 high school class play in Texas, and all four are considering Kentucky. This is in part a recruiting move to gain an edge on his competitors. But first and foremost, Cowboys Stadium just happens to also be the host site for the 2014 Final Four. Calipari wants a practice run in the venue where his Cats hope to cut down the nets again in two years. That’s what scheduling huge neutral site games are all about — giving his squad a simulation of the biggest stage possible to prepare them for when the time comes.
  2. While Kentucky is adding Baylor to its schedule, another SEC school is calling off its match-up with the Bears. Mississippi State and Baylor have agreed to cancel the two remaining games on their contract. New Bulldogs coach Rick Ray realizes he has a rebuilding year ahead of him. “We play in the toughest tournament known to mankind out at Maui and then we come back from that and our next game is Baylor,” Ray said. “We open up our season at Troy. Our schedule — if I had my say so, we wouldn’t have that type of a schedule. So, that’s a concern.” Mississippi State was set to host Baylor this season in Starkville, but would have been required to travel to Waco in 2013 to return the favor. The decision to cancel was mutual.
  3. Yahoo Sports published a list of the top newcomers gracing the SEC with their presence next season, and a couple of Kentucky Wildcats were joined by a new member of the Missouri Tigers at the top of the list. Shouldn’t all of Missouri’s team be up for inclusion? Regardless, senior center Alex Oriakhi, a transfer from Connecticut, joins Kentucky freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel as the players most likely to make an impact next season. From the article: “Noel is a defensive difference-maker. While he lacks bulk, he is athletic and already has advanced shot-blocking skills. His offense is raw, but his defense and rebounding make up for that.” Hey, that sounds familiar. Here’s what the site said last year at this time about Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis: “His shot-blocking and rebounding ability make him a game-changer defensively. His offensive skill set is good and continues to improve.” Not a bad person to be compared to at this stage in his career.
  4. Arkansas added juco forward Coty Clarke to its roster earlier this week. Clarke averaged 14.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game with Birmingham (AL) Lawson State Community College last season. Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson is excited about the addition. “Coty is excited about being a Razorback and that excites me,” Anderson said. “He is an athletic forward who can impact on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. Coty has a blue collar mentality which is needed on this team. He is an excellent fit for the ‘Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.’” Depth is an important issue for this year’s Arkansas team, as injuries impacted how far Anderson could go down the bench last year.
  5. Our very own Rush the Court profiled a couple of former SEC players in our NBA Draft Profiles. Vanderbilt senior Festus Ezeli is viewed as a late first round pick in the mold of current Houston Rockets center Samuel Dalembert. RTC compared him to the big man, saying, “Ezeli has a similar skill set as a defense-first center with ideal size who can protect the rim. Dalembert, though, transitioned from a raw prospect to a 10-year NBA veteran who has averaged 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a strong career thanks to the ability to adapt to the speed of the NBA game.” Kentucky senior Darius Miller is hoping to get picked up in the second round and RTC says he has at least has the look of an NBA player. “While his three-point percentage dropped from the blistering 44.3% he shot as a junior to a merely good 37.6% as a senior, he’s shown NBA range and a willingness to step into the right shot when needed. Throw in the fact that at 6’8” and 235 pounds he’s got the frame to handle the big boys at the next level, and Miller looks the part of an NBA wing.” Good luck to both of the seniors as well as the rest of the SEC athletes hoping to be selected.
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Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2012

  1. It wouldn’t be the Morning Five without a John Calipari mention, as the sport’s biggest newsmaker spins the media like a top with his almost-daily appearances, interviews, and social media missives. Yesterday on his website the Kentucky head coach wrote that his new scheduling strategy — pushing for more neutral site appearances against marquee opponents — will result in a one-year hiatus in the Kentucky-North Carolina series, but the home-and-home battle between two of the best programs in the country will return in 2013-14. The purpose of this move according to Calipari is to alternate years where the Wildcats will have to travel to Chapel Hill and Louisville, meaning that UK will play at least one tough non-conference road game each year. The Wildcats have also picked up a home/neutral series with Baylor starting next season that will allow them to play in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14, the site of that year’s Final Four. Perhaps most interestingly, though, is that Calipari says that he’s in negotiations with Duke to begin an annual rotating neutral site game that he says would be on the same weekend each year and become “THE GAME” to watch. We certainly can’t argue with that.
  2.  What we can argue with was a curious comment that Calipari made in his post explaining why he’s so gung ho on scheduling future neutral site games in football stadiums: “I’m convinced we would have won the title two seasons ago if we would have played in a dome during the regular season. Our guys weren’t prepared for it.” At first blush, this sounds reasonable on its face. But closer examination suggests that the head coach is tailoring the facts of his argument to justify what he wants. First of all, the Wildcats lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight in Syracuse in 2010, which means of course that they had to win a Sweet Sixteen game in the Carrier Dome two days prior — on the same floor, in the same dome, only against a different team (Cornell). Did John Wall and company forget what they’d learned about playing in a dome environment just 48 hours before the loss to WVU? Next, the 2012 team that just won the national championship in the Superdome didn’t play in a dome environment at all in this year’s regular season or in the SEC Tournament. Still, without that ‘necessary’ experience, the Wildcats successively rolled through Indiana, Baylor, Louisville and Kansas to win it all. All in domes. If Calipari wants to play the lack of experience card to forgive the failure of the 2010 Wildcats, he probably should be looking at the ridiculously soft schedule that his Wildcats ran through on its way to a 35-3 record that year. When both teams matched up in the Elite Eight, the Mountaineers were by far the best team UK had faced all season. Kentucky’s lack of experience in playing good teams was the problem; it wasn’t that they hadn’t played in a dome. [Ed. Note: It is unclear which team Calipari was referring to, but the 2010 team was a far superior team if he was talking about winning a national championship.]
  3. From a coach spewing nonsense to players doing likewise… Deadspin published a really interesting piece on Thursday examining in great detail documents from the cottage industry of companies who are tasked with monitoring college athletes’ social networking accounts. The article describes how it works: First, the schools get access to each player’s account through a special tracking mechanism that scans their pages regularly. Then, “once the computers gather all that data, the firms’ software searches it for trigger words and reports back to coaches and athletic department functionaries. This happens in near real-time.” It wouldn’t be Deadspin-worthy unless the examples were equal parts hilarious and horrifying, so we’d just suggest you set aside a few minutes of your time and get over there to poke around. Of particular interest is one company’s documentation and definition of many of the most common trigger words and phrases that could get players in trouble. Let’s just end this by saying that if you’re over 30 years old, you’re probably going to learn a few new slang words or acronyms to test on your buddies during the long weekend.
  4. More conference realignment! And it doesn’t involve yet another rumor about Florida State, Clemson or Miami. No, UT-Arlington, a Southland school who is (we’re not kidding) joining the WAC on July 1, will spend one year in that league before movin’ on up to the Sun Belt, effective next summer. You read that correctly — in a span of 366 days (from June 30, 2012 to July 1, 2013), UT-Arlington will be a member of three different conferences. At the mid-major level, it’s just short of impossible to keep up with who is heading where, but we think that the Sun Belt will also pick up Georgia State and Texas State to replace the losses of FIU, Denver, and North Texas to the WAC and Conference USA. Whether the WAC survives all of this re-shuffling remains to be seen.
  5. A couple of head coaching positions at the mid-major level were filled on Thursday, with Rider and Binghamton inextricably connected through the transition. Binghamton hired Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey to take over for Mark Macon, a former star player at Temple who was unable to dig out of the morass left by his predecessor, Kevin Broadus. Rider acted quickly to fill the vacuum, promoting assistant coach Kevin Baggett to the helm for purposes of continuity. Rider has averaged 18.5 wins per season in the six years that Baggett was an assistant for Dempsey, so it makes sense that the administration wants to keep the momentum moving forward.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Will Barton

Posted by nvr1983 on May 24th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Will Barton

School: Memphis

Height/Weight: 6’6” / 175 lbs.

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Early Second Round

Barton Can Score, But How Will He Translate In The NBA

Overview: Although his Memphis Tigers were very much an up-and-down team during his two years playing for Josh Pastner, Barton made tremendous individual strides during his time there. The Tigers earned bids to two NCAA Tournaments, but many would claim that Memphis underachieved especially when analyzing their high preseason ranking both years. As for Barton though, he certainly pulled his weight as a sophomore elevating himself to one of the premier shooting guards in the country. As a freshman, there was little doubt of Barton’s sheer ability and natural talent, but he struggled with his decision making on the offensive end. He settled for contested shots rather than creating his own off the dribble—being able to create your own shot is an absolute must at the next level—and his shooting percentage was an unimpressive 43% (26.5% from three) as a result. More disconcerting was averaging just a shade over two free throw attempts per game. Over the summer months, however, Barton became a much more polished player on the offensive end, and it showed. Using his quick first step to penetrate the line, Barton’s shooting percentage and three-point percentage rose by nearly 10 percent, and he was getting to the line much more frequently (over five attempts per game). His fluidity and smooth game on offense is a joy to watch—some would call him “slippery” with the ball as he has a knack to get to the basket—and his basketball IQ has really grown since his days at Brewster Academy. While Barton won’t be a lottery pick like his fellow Brewster alum Thomas Robinson will be, he does have an outside shot to be a first rounder assuming he performs well in workouts leading up to the NBA Draft.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 05.24.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on May 24th, 2012

  1. It’s going to be a very important summer for Iowa, a team that has the potential to be one of the best teams in the conference if the Hawkeyes can shore up their defense. Fran McCafferys group had as much scoring potential with a young core of players as anyone in the Big Ten, but the worst scoring defense in the conference kept them in the middle of the pack last season. The growth of  Eric May (coming off a back injury) and Melsahn Basabe (a member of the Big Ten All-Freshman team two seasons ago) will be crucial to the team’s success.
  2. Nebraska needs all the help it can get in the difficult Big Ten under newly-hired coach Tim Miles, and its seems to have gotten a boost with the transfer of Terran Petteway. Formerly of Texas Tech, the 6’6″, 185-pounder is the third player to join the program in the last month after Deverell Biggs (first-team junior college All-American) and Sergej Vucetic (a 7’0″, 235-pound center and native of Serbia) joined the mix. Miles told the Omaha World Herald that Petteway is a “very dynamic player.”
  3. Michigan got Trey Burke back for at least another season, so now John Beilein is looking for ways to bench him. Beilein tried to get Burke as many breathers as he could last year, but really couldn’t afford to do it as much as he would have liked. He says he’s going to give it another shot this season, and is willing to give freshmen considerable minutes in order to do so.
  4. With all four participating schools at the forefront of the college basketball scene, the Crossroads Classic basketball event in Indiana has been extended through 2014. The event includes Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame and takes place in mid-December at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Butler beat Purdue and Indiana beat Notre Dame in last year’s event. Indiana, figured to be one of the top teams in the country this year, will play Butler this upcoming season, while the Boilers will meet the Irish.
  5. Good news: The television network that allows all of us to catch practically every Big Ten basketball game is doing well, which means more of the status quo moving forward. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,  the Big Ten Network enjoyed $242 million in revenue for 2011 (figure courtesy SNL Kagan). That accounts for a 46% growth since the network’s first full year in 2008, and it means that the league is in a catbird seat when it comes to conference revenues.
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Morning Five: 05.24.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 24th, 2012

  1. You may have heard that a group (Coalition of Intercollegiate Athletics) issued a statement criticizing John Calipari for his recent actions and statement regarding Kentucky‘s scheduling. The group, which is composed of 59 faculty members from FBS schools, says that Kentucky’s desire to play neutral site games is “the type of warning sign we would expect to see on the path toward a full professional model.” Most writers who have already written about this statement have, in our opinion, correctly ripped the COIA for their self-righteous tone, which is mildly amusing with all of the other bad things going on in college athletics and they decide to focus on this. One thing that we are still having trouble understanding is why those same writers continue to rip Calipari for his decision to essentially put the Kentucky-Indiana series on hold because of his desire for neutral site games. Numerous writers have penned columns saying that Calipari should submit to Indiana’s wishes in order to continue the series to do what is right for college basketball. Calipari’s job isn’t to make college basketball overall better it is do what is best for his players and his program. If he decides to do something that is not “in the best interest” of college basketball and it does not break any rules, we could care less about how he schedules and think that any criticisms of him for doing so come off as self-righteous.
  2. If you thought that the conference realignment rumor mill could not get any more ridiculous yesterday may have raised the bar as reports surfaced that Florida State, Clemson, and Miami were exploring a move to the Big 12. Those reports were based on a statement made by TCU‘s athletic director, but were subsequently squelched by the same person who said that he was only making a statement that the rumor mill indicated those schools were interested in moving. Outside of FSU, we had not heard of any potential moves so basically he was the driving force of the majority of that rumor. Of course, with all of the strange moves we have seen during the last few years nothing would surprise us at this point.
  3. The report that Reeves Nelson was suing Sports Illustrated for its  story earlier this year about UCLA did not really come as much of a surprise to us given what was reported about him and how litigious our society has become. The story, which was written to show how chaotic the UCLA program had become, featured several stories about Nelson including one where he urinated on a teammate’s bed. The lawsuit states that the reported events were not adequately investigated and is asking for $10 million in damages. We doubt that Nelson will get that much, but Tyler Honeycutt the supposed victim of the aforementioned incident claims that it never happened so the case may be a little more interesting than it appears at first glance.
  4. Ohio State plans to give 500 of its student-athletes iPads this coming school year as part of a new digital initiative the school is undertaking with a plan to give all 1,110 athletes the devices within the next two years. The iPads will be pre-loaded with materials already given to the student athletes and will have Wi-Fi capability. We applaud the effort to try to give the student-athletes something educational in addition to their scholarships, which we assume many of these individuals are already getting, but we know that this will become the subject of quite a few jokes for rival schools given the tendency of some old Buckeyes for trading in things for tattoos.
  5. Many Kansas State fans are probably interested to see what Bruce Weber can do to replace Frank Martin. There may be some question about Weber’s ability to coach, but there should not be any question of his ability to lure in assistant coaches after the stunt that one of his new assistant coaches pulled this past week. Newly hired assistant Chester Frazier, whom you may remember from his days at Illinois playing under Weber and getting a little too physical with Eric Gordon, was playing for a German professional basketball team until he got a call from Weber inviting him to join the Kansas State staff, which Frazier jumped at. And we literally mean jumped at as he abandoned the team he was playing for in the middle of their league playoffs. While we are sure that some Kansas State fans appreciate the dedication we imagine that he will have a tough time selling his future players on sticking with the team after he has done something like this.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Festus Ezeli

Posted by EJacoby on May 23rd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Festus Ezeli

School: Vanderbilt

Height/Weight: 6’11” / 255 lbs.

NBA Position: Center

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round/Early Second Round

Festus Ezeli Will Give an NBA Team a Strong Interior Force (US Presswire/J. Brown)

Overview: Festus Ezeli brings a lot to the table besides having the best name of any available prospect. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, Ezeli is a physical specimen who stands out immediately as usually the strongest player on the floor. His wide body allows him to carve out space on the low blocks to make simple moves in the post. But most impressive is his ability to defend the rim with his prototypical size and wingspan (7’4”) for a center. Unfortunately, Ezeli suffered a knee sprain at the start of his senior year that forced him to miss 10 games and seemed to hamper him throughout the entire season. His lack of elite athleticism was already a concern and remains an issue after he struggled to recover from injury. As a result, he averaged just 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds as a senior, a far cry from the numbers that we expected after a breakout junior year. He also has poor floor awareness in the post, leading to an atrocious 0.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. His 2.0 blocks per game in 23.2 minutes, though, shows that he maintained his strongest asset as a shot-blocking force. Because of the overall unproductive senior campaign, Ezeli may be dropping on the center totem pole behind guys like Fab Melo and Andrew Nicholson, both players he was arguably ahead of prior to injury. This could make him a strong value at the end of the first round or in the early second round for a team in need of some size and strength defensively.

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 05.23.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on May 23rd, 2012

  1. It’s been a bizarre off-season for Billy Gillispie and Texas Tech. After a disastrous last-place finish in 2011-12 during Gillispie’s first season, the Red Raiders have now lost six players to transfer. The latest player to depart, Kevin Wagner, is heading to a community college. Seriously. It’s interesting to note that Texas Tech’s main contributors are staying aboard, though. Gillispie has signed nine freshmen for 2012-13, and he’ll have leading scorer Jordan Tolbert and point guard Ty Nurse returning. Losing six players in the span of only a few months is never good publicity, but Gillispie may be able to survive this situation.
  2. Patrick Beilein never played in the Big 12, but West Virginia‘s basketball program is a part of this conference now. So it’s important for us to point out that Beilein, the son of former WVU coach John Beilein, is the new head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan. The former sharpshooter with the Mountaineers helped his team to an Elite Eight in 2005 under his father’s methodical and perimeter-oriented style of play, and something tells us the West Virginia Wesleyan players might be learning how to A) play a 1-3-1 zone and B) how to light up the scoreboard from beyond the arc. But that’s just a hunch.
  3. Lon Kruger has jumped from job to job his entire career, so he’s probably used to being the bad guy. After all, the current Oklahoma coach is now with his sixth college program and also enjoyed a stint in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks. But after his most recent departure from UNLV, it sounds as though the Vegas people still appreciate him. Kruger can still be found in Las Vegas with his family during the off-season, and the tone of the article paints a picture of peace — not animosity. If only every coaching change could run this smoothly.
  4. In many ways, CBS has become indistinguishable from the game of college basketball. It represents everything about it: the NCAA Tournament, the Madness, the emotion, the drama. Now, Big 12 fans will get to see a few more games on the CBS Sports network after it reached a recent new deal with ESPN. At the very least, we’ll get to hear that catchy CBS jingle a few more times in 2012-13.
  5. And in your realignment news of the day, Clemson‘s athletic director is trying to do some damage control about reports his school will bolt from the ACC for the Big 12. Right now, officials at both Clemson and Florida State are being careful not to make any missteps, and they’re trying to stress that all of these realignment rumors are just that — rumors. We’ve heard this before, that’s for sure. At least we know what to expect after two years of the Realignment Apocalypse.
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Home Sweet Home: A Look Back At Home Court Advantage in the SEC

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 23rd, 2012

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats ended its traditional rivalry with Indiana this offseason because of squabbles over where the game would be played in future years. But as a whole, the SEC should strive to play at home if it is seeking victories. That is the goal, after all? While Kentucky’s stated goal is to prepare itself for the NCAA Tournament while playing in large neutral site arenas to simulate the experience of the Big Dance, the Wildcats and the rest of the SEC did very well in the comforts of home during the 2011-12 season. The NCAA released 2011-12 men’s basketball attendance numbers a couple of weeks ago, and the SEC was amongst the leaders. All twelve SEC teams finished in the  top 100 of men’s Division I attendance. Below is how each SEC team ranked in terms of overall attendance:

NCAA 2011-12 Rank

School

Venue

1

Kentucky

Rupp Arena

7

Tennessee

Thompson Boling Arena

18

Vanderbilt

Memorial Gymnasium

23

Arkansas

Bud Walton Arena

27

Alabama

Coleman Coliseum

37

Florida

Stephen C. O’Connell Center

45

South Carolina

Colonial Life Arena

50

Louisiana State

Pete Maravich Assembly Center

60

Mississippi State

Humphrey Coliseum

74

Georgia

Stegeman Coliseum

81

Auburn

Auburn Arena

91

Ole Miss

Tad Smith Coliseum

But as we all know, size matters, and some venues are larger than others. I broke each attendance figure down into the percentage of capacity filled over the course of the season:

School

2011-12 attendance

Venue capacity

Percentage

Kentucky

23,721

23,500

100.94%

Tennessee

16,543

21,678

76%

Vanderbilt

13,698

14,316

95%

Arkansas

13,096

19,368

67%

Alabama

12,484

15,383

81%

Florida

10,434

11,548

90%

South Carolina

8,868

18,000

49%

Louisiana State

8,661

13,215

65%

Mississippi State

8,019

10,575

75%

Georgia

7,079

10,523

67%

Auburn

6,502

9,121

71%

Ole Miss

5,770

9,061

63%

Some notes thus far:

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Morning Five: 05.23.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 23rd, 2012

  1. With the ongoing changes to the landscape of college athletics it is often difficult to remember who is headed where and which conferences have ended up as the winners and losers in realignment. As usual, Luke Winn has proposed a solution by looking at how each conference’s overall strength has changed with the moves using data from KenPom. We can already see a certain segment of our readers beginning to twitch with that last sentence. As you would expect the biggest loser out of the major conferences is the Big East. Of course, there will be certain segments (probably the same ones that were already twitching) that will continue to believe that the overall strength of the conferences will not change even with all the movement.
  2. Speaking of the Big East, do you remember that conference tournament that was held at Madison Square Garden and was one of the highlights of March? Yeah, not so much any more. Despite getting significantly weaker, there are some individuals in the Big East who are looking to expand its conference tournament to 18 teams. Outside of the logistical nightmare of trying to hold the Big East Tournament over six days in Madison Square Garden there is the even bigger nightmare of watching what could be the early-round play-in games for a significantly weakened conference. As it is some of the early-round games are sparsely attended by fans of schools who know their teams are mediocre at best. Can you imagine what it would look like with the worst Big East teams in those same spots? Yeah, we don’t want to either.
  3. After a disastrous past few season Binghamton will be looking to head in a different direction as they are set to name Rider coach Tommy Dempsey as their next head coach. Dempsey, who grew up near Binghmaton, compiled a 119-105 record in seven seasons at Rider, which would be a big step up from the 23-70 that Mark Macon posted in three seasons at Binghamton including 2-29 last season. It is worth noting that despite his respectable overall record Dempsey has never taken Rider to the NCAA Tournament and last season his team had its fewest wins (13) since he took over since he took over as interim coach.
  4. After last season’s Crosstown Shootout brawl, which we detailed from the scene, pundits from across the country weighed in on how the administrations from the two schools should handle the rivalry going forward. Yesterday, they revealed one part of their reaction–moving the game to a neutral site–and judging from the response we have heard the public does not appear to be buying into the move. Personally, we don’t understand this move. Outside of the symbolism of playing on a neutral court it seems like a pointless action since the same players will be on the court regardless of where they are and the same fans will be in the stands. If people want to act like idiots, they will do so regardless of which arena they are playing in.
  5. We may not be fans of the decision to make the Crosstown Shootout a neutral site rivalry, but we are fans of the Crossroads Classic, which is held in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Classic, which was started last year to pair the premier programs in the state of Indiana–Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame, and Purdue–against each other, has been extended for at least two more years. As we have stated before we are big fans of these type of match-ups and advocated for more in our Big Four State Tournament series last year. For some states like North Carolina where the premier programs are all located in the same conference it is not a major issues, but there are plenty of other states, which we identified where it would be a big boost to all the teams involved and more importantly would generate more interest in college basketball.
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Big Ten Season Wrap-Up: Iowa

Posted by jnowak on May 22nd, 2012

Let’s not be fooled by the Matt Gatens Show we all witnessed  at the end of the season. (Though, give credit where credit is due — he was fantastic.) This is a talented young club that is on the rise and has the potential to give some conference teams fits in the near future, given their fast-paced style of basketball in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten. But as good as this team was on the offensive end (third in the conference) it was even more dismal on the defensive end (last place). That discrepancy must improve for Iowa to have a shot at becoming a contender in the conference. Let’s take a look back at the year that was:

Matt Gatens was one of the Big Ten's best players down the stretch. (Andy Lyons, Getty Images)

  • In a nutshell: Fran McCaffery‘s run-and-gun style of offense is really starting to take shape in Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes averaged 73 PPG, third only behind Ohio State and Indiana. It helped that the Hawkeyes led the conference in steals, but the wins didn’t add up in spite of the offense due to the dismal defense (allowing 72.5 PPG). Gatens, who worked his way onto the All-Big Ten Third Team thanks to his team-best 15.7 PPG and late-season spurt, did all he could. He got some help from promising sophomores Melsahn Basabe and Roy Devyn Marble, who are sure to be key pieces in the future.
  • Overachievement: The Big Ten had absolutely no shortage of impact freshmen (see Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Branden Dawson, et al) but Aaron White was a somewhat unexpected yet consistent force for Iowa. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a newcomer and, in a few more years, could definitely show Big Ten Player of the Year-type talent. He was rated by Rivals as just a three-star recruit out of high school, but showed his big-game mettle by scoring 47 points in Iowa’s two NIT games. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kevin Jones

Posted by EJacoby on May 22nd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Kevin Jones

School: West Virginia

Height/Weight: 6’8” / 250 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward / Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: End First Round / Early Second Round

Kevin Jones is a Fiery Competitor That Had a Great Career at West Virginia (Getty Images/J. McIsaac)

Overview: Kevin Jones enjoyed a decorated four-year career at West Virginia that included a run to the Final Four as a sophomore and ended with a phenomenal senior season in terms of productivity. This past year, Jones led the Big East in scoring (19.9 PPG) and rebounding (10.9 RPG) while shooting over 50% from the field and committing just 1.3 turnovers per game. He was one of the most productive forwards in the country and helped his draft stock tremendously. Jones remains a bit of a ‘tweener’ without a set position and is limited athletically in terms of explosiveness, but he has a strong upper body and an impressive wingspan (7’4”) that allows him to get easy buckets in the paint. Combine that with a relentless motor for loose balls and you’ve got a player willing to do all the dirty work on offense. He’s also expanded his range all the way to the three-point line and has gained confidence in the outside shot. Jones still has much work to do defensively, where he averaged just 1.0 blocks and 0.7 steals in 38 minutes per game, but his length and work ethic should allow him to hold his own at the next level on that end. Jones is the typical senior with limited ‘upside’ that will get him overlooked by some teams, but his tremendous productivity last season certainly opened eyes to his potential to be a contributor in the NBA.

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