What To Make of the Big 12′s Big Monday Schedule

Posted by dnspewak on July 27th, 2012

Nine games. That’s all we know right now with regards to the 2012-13 Big 12 hoops schedule — nine games, all part of ESPN’s legendary Big Monday presentation. The four-letter network released the Big Monday schedule this week, meaning we now have five months to let the anticipation build. Want to feel a little giddy during the slow summer months? Take a look at the schedule below and imagine the possibilities: Bob Huggins returning to the one city in the world that cannot stand him, a Week One showdown between the league’s top dogs, and a prime time game at revitalized Iowa State.

Huggins Heads Back to K-State on Big Monday

Before we break down the schedule on a game-by-game basis, there are two noticeable absences from Big Monday this year. First, there’s no TCU. Not a major surprise, but it’s a sign the program clearly still has some work to do to gain relevance in the Big 12. Big Monday also won’t carry the Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. It makes perfect sense, of course. Oklahoma hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2008-09, when Jeff Capel and Blake Griffin led the Sooners to the Elite Eight. And Oklahoma State lost 18 games a year ago and hasn’t danced the past two seasons. Plus, according to preseason projections — often a terrible barometer to use, by the way —  there won’t be many critics or even coaches within the league willing to choose either team to finish near the top of the league. So yes, it’s understandable that ESPN would not give a Big Monday slot to a Bedlam game. Perhaps both games will get prime Saturday slots. Who knows? Still, there’s a magic to Big Monday, and a rivalry as sacred as Bedlam deserves that magic. So that’s our plea to ESPN: give Bedlam a Big Monday slot, and give it to them every year. With that rant out of the way, here’s a look at all nine games:

  • January 14, Baylor at Kansas: A year ago, an undefeated Baylor team had a chance to make a statement to the Big 12 during a road trip to Lawrence. Win that game and Scott Drew’s program would have arrived. Predictably, the Bears crumbled under the wrath of Allen Fieldhouse. They fell behind immediately. Thomas Robinson wowed the crowd with one of his inhuman, highlight-reel dunks. It got ugly, and from there, Kansas never looked back. This game could represent a similar opportunity for Baylor to change the dynamics of the Big 12 race in 2013. It’s a lot of pressure to put on one game, but even in July, it’s obvious to see the importance of this first Big Monday game. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.27.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on July 27th, 2012

  1. Tubby Smith will remain a Golden Gopher until the end of 2016-17 season. Smith received a contract extension but did not get a raise, as his salary will remain the same at $1.75 million per season. Smith believes that the new deal signals to potential recruits about his intention to stay in Minneapolis which should help recruiting over the next couple of seasons. The Gophers finished 23-15 last season, which was Smith’s most successful season in terms of wins during his five years in the Big Ten. Now, Minnesota just needs a little bit of luck and health on its side as Trevor Mbakwe returns for his final season along with guards Andre Hollins (8.7 PPG) and Julian Welch (9.5 PPG). Smith’s teams have been plagued with injuries over the last couple seasons, but a healthy roster should result in a successful conference season and an NCAA bid.
  2. Earlier this week, the NCAA slammed Penn State with what some experts have referred to as the “death penalty” of sanctions. The football program has been penalized $60 million and will not be eligible for the postseason over the next four years, but the Penn State athletic department including the basketball program will also be affected by these sanctions. This is just another wrinkle that head coach Pat Chambers must deal with as he builds a basketball program that has generally been at the bottom of the conference. Chambers is an energetic coach and remains positive about the program, especially on the recruiting trail despite all of the penalties. “It’s about time that the basketball team helped the football team for a change,” he recently said. Returning guard Tim Frazier will be an integral part of next season to set the tone both on and off the court for the Penn State program during the ongoing turmoil on campus.
  3. The second winningest coach in college hoops history, Bobby Knight, will be honored by a Big Ten school — but it will be at Ohio State, not Indiana, where he receive his accolades, as OSU will induct Knight into its Athletics Hall of Fame. Knight is an Ohio State alumnus who graduated in 1962 with a degree in history. Even though his original roots go back to Columbus, he obviously has a much stronger connection with Indiana where he won three national titles and raised the Hoosier program to elite status. Knight hasn’t embraced his past with the Hoosiers after his firing in 2000, but nonetheless, the man is a true B1G icon, even if his recognition has come from Ohio State first.
  4. Speaking of Ohio State, remember when Jared Sullinger‘s back was red-flagged by NBA medics and his draft stock was immediately impacted? Sullinger dropped to the #22 pick in the draft after he was considered a consensus lottery pick for much of his first two years in college. By way of an update on his progress, he was quite productive during the NBA summer league in Las Vegas by averaging a solid 11.2 PPG and 8.2 RPG. The Celtics’ coaching staff has been impressed by his dedication to rebounding and his work ethic ought to result in some decent playing time next season, especially if head coach Doc Rivers wants to limit Kevin Garnett’s minutes during the regular season.
  5. While Sullinger’s stock dropped in the draft, the Big Ten produced a lottery pick when former Illinois center Meyers Leonard was drafted by Portland last month. Leonard lived up to the hype during summer league play and has received good recognition as one of the more impressive rookies in Vegas. Unlike Sullinger, Leonard climbed up the draft boards during workouts and fortunately was given a clean bill of health which helped seal the deal for Portland. He may not have the offensive moves to contribute immediately but he certainly has the physique and work ethic to help the Trail Blazers on the defensive end during his first season in the NBA.
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Morning Five: 07.27.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 27th, 2012

  1. The academic scandal at North Carolina does not appear to be going away anytime soon as a faculty panel has called for an outside review of the academic fraud scandal. A group of three professors released an internal report that found 54 courses in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that essentially had little or no oversight and were not up to the academic rigor that you would expect from a college-level course. UNC says the investigation does not need to involve the NCAA because there were some non-athletes (read, very, very few) in the courses, which would allow the school to deny preferential treatment to athletes although anybody with any sense could notice a very strong pattern.
  2. Yesterday, ESPN released the brackets for many of its early season tournaments yesterday and to be quite frank they are for the most part they are uninspiring. A year after having a ridiculous field the Maui Invitational is much less impressive boasting only a few teams that we would be interested in watching. Conversely, the Legends Classic, which has traditionally been much weaker than some of its peer tournaments, has an excellent field including two teams — Indiana and UCLA — that are both legitimate NCAA title contenders.
  3. While on the subject of Indiana, some sad news out of Hoosier Nation as former IU guard Neil Reed, the player who arguably was the primary impetus for Bob Knight’s ouster in Bloomington, died at the tender age of 36 of a heart attack. Some of our younger readers may not remember the story well, but Reed was a hotshot young player in the mid-1990s when Knight notoriously grabbed him by the neck during an Indiana practice in 1997. In the era before ubiquitous camera phones and Youtube, someone later produced a video of the incident (shown here), which became Exhibit A of Knight’s longstanding and reported bullying ways with his players. Then-IU president Myles Brand placed Knight on a zero tolerance policy soon after the video’s release in 2000 (by that time, Reed had moved on to a flameout career at Southern Miss), and within a year of that, he was fired in the wake of a separate incident physical altercation involving another IU student. We always thought that Reed’s situation at Indiana may have been an issue of wrong player/wrong program, but we certainly wish his family and friends nothing but our condolences in this surprising turn of events. For a compelling story about Reed’s time interning at ESPN Magazine during graduate school, check out this piece — it’s a stark and somewhat humbling reminder that everyone has a story behind “their story.”
  4. Las Vegas may be known for the bright lights and glamour, but as Jeff Goodman points out sometimes what happens in Vegas during the July recruiting period stays in Vegas as many of the events are very poorly attended. As Goodman points out there are plenty of college coaches in Las Vegas at this time of the year, but most of them are focused in on a couple of events and often times only on a couple of key players staying to check out those games and then leaving. For more marginal recruits it can be a frustrating experience, but one that they undertake with the goal of earning a Division I basketball scholarship. One wonders if it wouldn’t be better for schools to send a secondary coach–an assistant or even a video coordinator–to some of these smaller events on the off-chance that they catch potential prospect who would probably be delighted to have any school not just the blue-bloods talking to them.
  5. Get used to hearing some of the same voices we’ve gotten used to hearing call basketball games on the various ESPN platforms over the years. In a group announcement, ESPN play-by-play stalwarts Mark Jones, Sean McDonough, Brad Nessler, Dave Pasch, Joe Tessitore and Bob Wischusen all received multi-year contract extensions this week. All but Tessitore has a regular gig involving college hoops, and certainly McDonough and Nessler have become standards within the industry. By the same token, one of the most recognizable college basketball play-by-play men, Jim Nantz, has been chosen to receive the NABC’s Court of Honor Award for this year. The award is given to someone who “has roots in college basketball, values those roots, and has gone on to distinguish himself in his profession, exhibiting the highest standards of leadership.” Aside from his ridiculous championship game colloquialisms (“Simon Says… Championship”), we’ve always enjoyed listening to Nantz’s commentary — 27 straight Final Fours is a rather impressive achievement.
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Colorado Week: Breaking Down The Schedule

Posted by AMurawa on July 26th, 2012

While Colorado has not released an official schedule yet, they’ve released a tentative schedule with times still to be announced and dates to be finalized. Today we’ll take a quick look at their slate and figure out which games we’re most excited about.

Early-Season Tournament: After kicking things off with Wofford on November 9, the Buffaloes head to South Carolina for the Charleston Classic, an ESPN-sponsored tournament whose field this year features maybe four interesting teams. The bracket was just announced this morning and CU will open with Dayton, giving them a chance to score a solid, potentially resume-boosting win in the opening round. If things play true to form in the rest of the bracket, Colorado could get a chance at Baylor in the semifinal there, with Murray State potentially waiting in the championship game. All told, the way the bracket lays out, the Buffaloes have a chance to score three really good wins in Charleston. Of course, the flip side of that is that if the drop their opener with Dayton, they could be relegated to playing teams like Boston College and Auburn in their final two games, matchups that will do no good come March. That Dayton game will be a seriously important game for the Buffs to win.

Toughest Non-conference Game: While their early-season trip to Charleston could give them a couple good challenges, by far their toughest non-conference test will be their trip to Lawrence on December 8 to face Kansas. While Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are gone, the Jayhawks return Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson from last year’s Final Four team, while adding a strong 2012 freshman class and gaining the services of a couple highly regarded youngsters who were ineligible last year. Roberson and the rest of the young Colorado frontline will get a serious challenge from Withey, freshman Perry Ellis and company, but it is possible the Buffs will have the advantage in the backcourt. But, as always, regardless of who will be wearing the KU uniforms, the trip to Allen Fieldhouse alone makes it a tough trip.

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Colorado Week: What To Expect

Posted by AMurawa on July 26th, 2012

We’ve gone through the Colorado roster, we’ve told you about the returnees and the newcomers, we’ve gone through the schedule, but let’s put it all together today: What does the 2012-13 season hold for the Buffaloes? Just how good will returnees like Andre Roberson, Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker be, and which of the newcomers will emerge as major contributors? And most importantly, can these Buffs match and improve upon last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance? Let’s break out that old crystal ball again and see what it says.

Askia Booker, Colorado

Booker’s Propensity For Getting Up Shots, Paired With The Possibility Of More Minutes, Could See Him Lead The Buffs In Scoring (Patrick Ghidossi, BuffaloSportsNews)

CU’s Leading ScorerAskia Booker. I’m going to go out on a limb here and go with Booker. Roberson would seem to be the obvious choice, but I think Booker’s minutes will nearly equal Roberson’s next season, and lord knows that Booker likes to shoot the ball on a regular basis. With Carlon Brown no longer around to eat into Booker’s helping of offensive looks, we’re going to project that the sophomore guard finds double-digit field goal attempts on a nightly basis, gets to the line six or seven times a night and winds up averaging 15 points or so, a smidge above Roberson.

CU’s MVPAndre Roberson. Okay, watch Roberson blow up, average 20/12 this season and make the above prediction look laughable. There is little question that Roberson is the best player on the Colorado team, and if head coach Tad Boyle had his way, I’m guessing Roberson would be the one winding up with the bulk of the shot attempts. But, regardless of whether that plays out or not, Roberson’s highly efficient offensive game, his dominance on the glass, and his defensive prowess mean that whether or not he leads the team in scoring, he’ll still have the biggest impact on the team’s overall success.

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 07.26.2012 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on July 26th, 2012

  1. Rejoice! New Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this week it’s unlikely the league will expand in the near future. Of course, in these testy times of the Realignment Apocalypse, words don’t mean a whole lot. For all we know, Notre Dame and Louisville have already signed contracts to join the league. These things change swiftly and without notice. But for now, we’ll take Bowlsby at his word. The Big 12 is a league with, uh, 10 teams, and it’s not changing any time soon. For basketball purposes, that at least preserves balanced scheduling and a true regular season champion, since every team will play home-and-homes with all other nine teams in the conference.
  2. Darrell Williams was never a household name during his short stint at Oklahoma State, but he is now after a jury convicted him of rape and sexual battery earlier this week. The conviction ends after more than a year of the legal process. Back in February 2011, head coach Travis Ford suspended Williams in light of allegations from two women that Williams had groped and violated them at a party (the incident in question happened in December 2010). The defense argued the two women could have misidentified Williams because there were several other players at the party wearing the same warmup gear, and it called the prosecution out for a lack of physical evidence. That didn’t convince the jury, though, and sentencing is now set for August. As the legal process dragged on, Williams seemed to become further and further detached from the Oklahoma State basketball program, but do not underestimate the effect of this conviction on the team. Consider this: Ford actually had to testify in this trial, and he testified in support of his former player. Several teammates were there when the jury read the verdict, too. This has to be a traumatizing outcome to some extent.
  3. In better news, Kansas learned freshman Milton Doyle will be eligible for the 2012-13 season. The 6’4” guard out of Chicago originally committed to play for native Chicagoan Isiah Thomas at Florida International, but Doyle opted for Bill Self’s program when Thomas was fired. According to ESPN, Thomas actually recommended Doyle to Self. Doyle was a bit under the radar as a recruit because he missed his entire junior year of high school with an injury, but he could eventually grow into a contributor given time. Thomas said Doyle’s so good, in fact, that he could have transformed FIU had he played there.
  4. Basketball season must be fairly close, because ESPN’s rolling out its Summer Shootaround series this month. On Tuesday, it unveiled a look at the Big 12 by breaking down each team’s best and worst-case scenario, ranking the top five storylines of the summer and previewing each team’s most important player. Wait a few months and we’ll do the exact same thing (in even more depth!), or follow our very own Summer Update series to keep up with the off-season nuggets. Still, ESPN provides an organized, this-is-what-you-need-to-know series of quick-hitters for you to get all caught up in the Big 12 Conference.
  5. As a part of that Big 12 coverage, Andy Katz spoke with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg about his recruiting strategy and the state of his program. Hoiberg, who garnered a lot of attention after bringing in an unprecedented four Division I transfers a year ago, will once again welcome transfers Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah) in their first seasons of eligibility. Unlike last year, though, Hoiberg will mix a few impressive freshmen with his veteran transfers. Hoiberg spoke highly of hyper-athletic forward Georges Niang, for example. But the most interesting comment came at the end of Katz’ article: “We had great chemistry together and it showed later in the year. That being said, we want freshmen in this program. We have an enthusiastic group and we’ve got great kids and players in this program for the next four years.” So there you have it. Fred Hoiberg’s a traditional recruiter who saw an opportunity to take transfers and went for it. Nothing wrong with that, we supposed. It worked, after all.
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SEC Transition Basketball: Mississippi Rebels

Posted by Brian Joyce on July 26th, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: Mississippi.

State of the Program

Coach Andy Kennedy has led Ole Miss to the NIT in five of his first six seasons as head coach, but has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament while in Oxford. Under Kennedy, the Rebs have never done better than 9-7 in conference play, and 2011-12 was more of the same. There were several low points including a 30-point loss to Marquette and a 26-point home loss to Vanderbilt. After an 8-8 conference record saddled with mid- to late-season losses of two of its most talented players — the dismissal of guard Dundrecous Nelson for marijuana charges and the suspension (and eventual departure) of guard Jelan Kendrick for being, well, his true self — Ole Miss might be ready for a fresh start. But could this be the year that the Rebs take the next step and get into the Big Dance?

Murphy Holloway will be key in the middle for the Rebels this season. (AP Photo/B. Newman)

There is certainly enough talent in Oxford for Ole Miss to get over the hump. Kennedy returns three double figure scorers in all. Guard Jarvis Summers and wing Nick Williams bring back a lot of experience in the backcourt while seniors Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner return to form one of the best front lines in the conference. Kennedy welcomes six newcomers to the fold next season, but Holloway knows the secret to how the Rebels will advance. “I think we have a lot of pieces that can help us soon, but I think it’ll be more of our returning players that already get it,” Holloway said. “We kinda got it at the end of the season last year and what you have to do to win. There’s no way around it, this is what you got to do.”

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Semifinal #2

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 26th, 2012

Our last semifinal pits two seed Adam Butler (Pachoops) up against the fourth seed, Connor Pelton. Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

Adam Butler

  • Head Coach – Ralph Miller, Oregon State
  • Guard – Damon Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Guard – Mike Bibby, Arizona
  • Guard – Michael Dickerson, Arizona
  • Guard – Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Forward – Sean Elliott, Arizona
  • Forward – Ed O’Bannon, UCLA
  • Forward – Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California
  • Forward – Chris Mills, Arizona
  • Center – Todd MacCulloch, Washington
  • Center – Bison Dele, Arizona

Adam’s Take:

Oh, pardon me! I was still chuckling at Connor’s lineup. Allow me to explain.

Indeed, a team centered by Steve Johnson is a formidable one. Anyone who shoots 75% from the floor for a season must be taken seriously. Conversely, anyone who looks like Sideshow Bob should not. That’s Robin Lopez. Besides, Todd MacCulloch just set the high score on The Simpsons: Pinball in Springfield at six different Canadian bars, and somewhere a piece of Lopez dies.

Moving our way out of the deep frontcourt we can look at the forwards on Team Pelton. I’m inclined to dismiss Jon Brockman because hustle only counts in real basketball. In fantasy drafts, hustle is just cute. Which is why I suppose Klay Thompson gets a fantasy nod because numbers count in fantasy ball and softness is cute. Please, Chris Mills just sneezed to block a Thompson jumper. I of course have love for Richard Jefferson, but if you’re a forward from Arizona and your name isn’t Elliott, you’re still not going to win this one. The fourth opposing forward’s name is Kiki, in which I rest my case.

Guard play, as you noticed, is Team PacHoops’ strength and not Team Pelton’s. Sure, there’s some talent, but no rings. I thought college hoops was all about solid guard play. You’re telling me none of these guys could garner one championship? Wait, wait, between these four guards they mustered at best a Sweet Sixteen? Woof (not for you, IT). Reggie and Chauncey appeared in the NCAA Tournament just once each? Does Spike Lee know this? None of that sounds fun. Fun sounds more like never missing an NCAA Tournament and winning it all. That’s who I like on my team. Got ‘em.

At the helm, Ralph Miller Court sits inside of Gill Coliseum. I can give that and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s indisputably the most badass possible thing to have a coliseum with your name on it. But look, I know you saw Batman Begins and if you didn’t, well, you’re missing out. Point being, Bruce Wayne didn’t just become Batman. He needed mentorship to become the fearless defender of Gotham he would become. Enter Ra’s Al Ghul, the sensei who salvages Wayne from a Chinese prison. Protégé, meet mentor. But the relationship goes sour and the two part ways; Wayne to his seemingly playboy life, Al Ghul to what appeared to be his death (theme?). Alas, the end of the film gives us Al Ghul’s villainous return to Gotham and Batman’s heroic and final takedown of the mentor. In the ultimate flipping of the script, Al Ghul and all his wisdom and skill is no match for the noble monster he created.

So, what the hell am I getting at? I’m saying that if the greatest hero (or certainly superhero trilogy) of our time could defeat his mentor, so too can Ralph Miller and defeat his Oregon State predecessor, Slats Gill. Miller won more games and was twice National Coach of the Year. Goodness I love me some Ws.

Have I made a stretch here? Perhaps. But you also just got to read college hoops and Batman so you’re welcome. Vote PacHoops.

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Morning Five: 07.26.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 26th, 2012

  1. The hits keep on coming for Mississippi State. A day after losing Jacoby Davis to a torn ACL, it was announced incoming freshman guard Craig Sword was arrested over the weekend by university police for having a BB gun in his on-campus dorm room. We are not sure what the conditions were that led university police to search Sword’s dorm room, but it is worth pointing out that because it was a BB gun and not a traditional gun it will not fall under the school’s firearm policy and instead will apparently be handled within the athletic department. Still after all the nonsense the program has been through in the past few years they could do without these kind of events occurring.
  2. In another sign that the college basketball season is not too far away, ESPN released its Big 12 Big Monday schedule yesterday. Outside of the usual interesting match-ups, most of which revolve around perennial champion Kansas, the marquee games for us involve West Virginia, which will be joining the conference with the most interesting game potentially being Bob Huggins‘ return to Kansas State, the school he left after just one season to take over at his current position. Of course the one thing that significantly lessens the magnitude of that game is the departure of former Huggins assistant Frank Martin from Manhattan. The Big East Big Monday schedule should be out relatively soon and should feature some interesting match-ups involving two schools–Syracuse and Pittsburgh–that are leaving the conference.
  3. While most of the college basketball world focused on Connecticut‘s attempt to become eligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament after being denied due to a low APR score, it turns out that another school–California State University-Bakersfield–managed to improve their APR score enough to become eligible for postseason play next season. Interestingly, the improvement does not appear to have come from the students in the classroom, but instead from the administrators at the school, who initially submitted the incorrect data to the NCAA leaving the school with an APR score below 900 before realizing their mistake and submitting the correct score (going from 879 to 910), which the NCAA eventually accepted. If you are wondering why this is a big deal (outside of the amusement of a program nearly being declared ineligible due to a mistake by their administration and not their players) it is because of the ridiculous growth of a postseason tournaments that allowed a 16-14 Roadrunner team to make the postseason where it lost in the first round of the College Invitational Tournament.
  4. Most teams take summer trips to develop chemistry and introduce the players to parts of the world that they might not otherwise see. The players at Georgia State will get a little more than that this summer as they will head to South Africa to take part in the Samaritan’s Feet campaign that their coach Ron Hunter has become the face of in the last few years. While there the players and coaching staff will help distribute shoes to children who would otherwise go barefoot. We are not sure what their itinerary is, but we hope that these type of trips are not limited by the NCAA rules on team overseas travel.
  5. We already knew that Ohio State would be the featured team in this year’s Carrier Classic with its men’s and women’s teams playing, but we didn’t know where until yesterday’s announcement that the Buckeyes would be taking on Marquette and Notre Dame respectively on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina. Even though this year’s edition will lack the marquee appeal of last year’s game featuring early season title favorite North Carolina and the always solid Michigan State as well as the presence of Barack Obama it should feature a potential national title contender in the Buckeyes.
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Colorado Week: One-On-One With Shane Harris-Tunks

Posted by AMurawa on July 25th, 2012

Shane Harris-Tunks came to Colorado in the same 2009 recruiting class that featured 2011 NBA Lottery Pick Alec Burks – and, he was actually more highly regarded than Burks. A true center from Australia, Harris-Tunks got his feet wet as a freshman earning double-digit minutes and earning a handful of starts. But, just prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, he tore his ACL in his left knee and missed the year. He came back last season and again played a part in the CU rotation, but now with big man Austin Dufault lost to graduation, Harris-Tunks has a chance to earn a bigger role for the Buffs. However, he’ll have to fight off incoming freshmen like Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson for time in the frontcourt. Rush the Court’s Andrew Murawa talked with him yesterday about his time in Boulder and his hopes for the upcoming season.

Andrew Murawa: Let’s start from the beginning. Coming from Australia, how did Colorado wind up with you on their radar and what convinced you that it was the college for you?

Shane Harris-Tunks: I played a lot of international basketball, so I played against a few American teams overseas with the junior Australian team so that went a long way towards getting me on their radar. And then, I guess out of all the schools that recruited me, I came and visited Boulder and loved it. And I was really impressed by the coaching staff that was here at this time [Jeff Bzdelik’s staff], so I wound up signing here at Colorado.

Shane Harris-Tunks, Colorado

With His ACL Injury Now In The Rearview Mirror, Shane Harris-Tunks Could Be In Line For A Bigger Role (Jake Schoellkopf/AP Photo)

AM: That was the previous staff that recruited you.

SHT: Yeah.

AM: How was the transition between coaching staffs?

HST: It was very smooth. The current coaching staff is very good. I have absolutely no complaints about them. I was obviously nervous about it as it was going on. Being from Australia, I’m not all that familiar with the college system, so when that started happening I wasn’t sure where I stood and how that was going to affect me. But once I figured all of that out, it was fine and it has been a really good transition. Coach Boyle has been great for the program.

AM: After getting some solid playing time as a freshman, you tore your ACL just prior to the 2010-11 season. How disappointing was that and what was the recovery process like?

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Big Ten Summer Check In: Northwestern Wildcats

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on July 25th, 2012

The Northwestern Wildcats play their home games at the Welsh-Ryan Arena which is located about 10 miles north of Wrigley Field — home of the “lovable losers,” the Chicago Cubs. Over the last two seasons, Wildcats and Cubs fans have something in common: Both fan bases are used to the phrase, “there is always next year.” The Cubs have not been to the World Series in over six decades and Northwestern hasn’t received a bid to the NCAA Tournament in 74 years. Despite being competitive for three seasons runnin, the Wildcats have not been able to seal the deal during key stretches of February and March, and as a result have left their fans second guessing several key possessions or officiating decisions at the end of the season.

John Shurna’s graduation creates huge holes for the Wildcats next season.

Evaluating Last Year: Last season stung the Northwestern fan base more than ever before because they had their chances, especially at home. Bill Carmody’s crew lost three games at home by fewer than four points — to Illinois, Purdue and Ohio State. Their two losses to Michigan might have singlehandedly cost them a bid to the NCAA Tourney. During both of games against Michigan, the Wolverines came from behind to tie the game in regulation and hammered the Wildcats during the overtime period. On February 21, the Wildcats were 16-10 with five games remaining in the conference season. Three of those games were at home and included tough but winnable games against Michigan and Ohio State. But an overtime loss to Michigan and a two-point loss to Ohio State essentially popped their bubble as they finished the season 18-12. The phrase “control your destiny” might be cliché in the world of sports, but the Wildcats had their shot over the final several games but couldn’t take advantage, which resulted in an NIT bid and a second round loss to Washington to finish the season at 19-14.

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Colorado Week: Six-Man Recruiting Class Bolsters Solid Set Of Returnees

Posted by AMurawa on July 25th, 2012

On the heels of last year’s surprisingly good recruiting class, head coach Tad Boyle landed a huge six-man class this season, signing three terrific home-state talents, while also stealing a couple more players from out of the Los Angeles area and landing an intriguing talent from Michigan. The six of these guys are all over the place in terms of their positions and their strengths, making this an incredibly balanced recruiting class that should be able to step in and immediately contribute. We’ll break all six of them down below, roughly in the order of the contributions we expect from them.

Josh Scott, Freshman, Power Forward, 6’10” 215 lbs, Lewis-Palmer High School, Monument, CO – Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball in Colorado, Scott led his high school team to the state 4A championship while averaging 28.5 points per game (best in the state), 11 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. He’s a super athlete with good fundamentals and a good feel for the game. A four-man with some of the offensive skills of a three, he can score in the post with jump hooks from either side, or can face up his man and take him off the dribble in short bursts. Like most freshmen, he needs to get stronger and he could stand to improve his jump shot, but just on his combination of athleticism and basketball IQ alone, he should be ready to play a big role right out of the gate. He should be in line for some of the minutes left behind by Austin Dufault, and could even help Andre Roberson man the front line while guarding the other team’s center. He’s got the skill set that could make him a future NBA player and all accounts are, he’s got the hard-working commitment to go with those skills.

Josh Scott, Colorado

The Reigning Gatorade Player Of The Year in Colorado High School Basketball, Josh Scott Could Step Right Into A Major Role Up Front For The Buffaloes (Eric Bellamy, ESPNHS)

Xavier Johnson, Freshman, Combo Forward, 6’6” 220 lbs, Mater Dei High School, Santa Ana, CA – Johnson is one of two players who played high school ball at Southern California power Mater Dei. Over his four years at the school, he helped his team compile a sterling 129-9 record, including state championships in each of his final two seasons. As a senior, he averaged 18.1 points and 9.2 rebounds and won the CIF Player of the Year honors. And he is, in short, a beast, with dunks over Shabazz Muhammad and Austin Rivers studding his resume. He’s got a body that is ready to step in an immediately take the pounding of a 30-plus game schedule and CU coaches have raved about his competitiveness, his maturity, and his willingness to learn. And, he’ll need to learn, because while athletically he is ready to go, he’s still needs to dial in his offensive game. Nevertheless, he’ll likely step directly into a major role immediately for the Buffs, spending most of his time at the three, but displaying the toughness that allows him to spend time as an undersized four.

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