Big Ten M5: 10.31.12 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on October 31st, 2012

  1. Ohio State is ranked No. 4 in the preseason AP poll, so it’s no surprise that the Buckeyes are a popular draw this season. Student season tickets sold out in five minutes, which, under a new system, is even faster than they went last year. However, some students are apparently upset with how quickly the tickets were sold and the system under which they’re sold. One girl, who wasn’t planning on buying tickets anyway, was mad because, if she wanted tickets, she might not have been able to get them. Really. However, one student had a good point that OSU could look into expanding its student section considering the heavy demand for tickets. The OSU athletic department said it will take a look at what the actual student attendance is at games and could consider a change in the size of the student section in the coming years if it necessitates.
  2. Most people are ranking Indiana, Michigan and Ohio State as the Big Ten’s best teams, but as ESPN.com argues, don’t forget about Michigan State. Many years, this Spartans team would be considered one of the top teams in the conference, but not in a league this stacked. MSU certainly has the talent to compete with the best in the Big Ten, despite its loss of Draymond Green — Derrick Nix and Keith Appling will be the leaders of the team, while Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson will add talented experience. Just because MSU isn’t considered a favorite in the preseason polls doesn’t mean the Spartans are a step below the perceived front-runners. If everyone works well together — and that’s typical under Tom Izzo — expect another great year in East Lansing.
  3. As you’ve probably heard, there are a number of “secret scrimmages” happening this week in college basketball — you can get the full list here — and a lot of the games are actually better than many of the non-conference real games we’ll be seeing next month. North Carolina-Georgetown? Xavier-West Virginia? Sign me up! The only problem: We aren’t allowed to watch them. One such top match-up between two NCAA Tournament contenders is Iowa vs. Creighton. The two played on Sunday, and while coaches are strongly discouraged from talking about the stats or score of the game, it was likely a good tune-up for the challenges this year’s schedule will bring. By playing a top squad rather than a cupcake, the Hawkeyes got an early test without it counting against the record. That experience could be very valuable once the tougher non-conference games come around.
  4. Michigan’s Crisler Arena got a facelift this offseason, and wow, does it look nice. You can check out all of the photos the Wolverine athletic department posted here. The arena looks very sleek and modern, especially in the entranceway. The concessions and the team store also look very nice. However, this isn’t a completely new arena and the school is pushing to hold onto the memory of the arena before the renovation, including using some of the old court as part of the walls. You can also check out the construction that went into the renovation in that photo slideshow — it’s well worth a few minutes of your time.
  5. This is an old nugget, but Tim Miles turned into the star of Big Ten Media Day thanks to his social media presence. The Nebraska coach was even trending worldwide on Twitter, which has to be the first time anything relating to Nebraska basketball was ever that popular. In all seriousness, Miles’ social media abilities — he has over 30,000 Twitter followers — has been important for the Cornhuskers and will continue to be important for a program trying to gain relevancy in a competitive landscape. According to the article, Miles tweeted at halftime of an NCAA Tournament game last year, and as a follower of his, I’ve seen his tweets range from his experiences at Oklahoma City Thunder games to wishing “Tom Osbourne” (actually spelled “Osborne”) well in retirement. At Big Ten Media Day, he tweeted a picture from the podium of his press conference. Miles sure knows how to connect with fans, and that will be good for a program trying to build a more consistent hoops following.
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SEC M5: Halloween Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 31st, 2012

  1. That, my friends, is the sound of basketball. The squeak of tennis shoes, the bounce of the ball, and the whistle of the referee suggests that exhibition games have officially begun, with the newest member of the SEC — the Missouri Tigers — up first. Former Auburn Tiger Earnest Ross made quite the impression on his new team and new coach in their blowout win over Northwest Missouri State on Monday.“He can shoot for a guy his size, and, with his physique, you wouldn’t know that he could have that kind of touch,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “He can shoot the ball. He’s worked really hard at it too.” Ross averaged 13.1 points and an impressive 6.6 rebounds per game for Auburn in 2010-11. He finished Mizzou’s exhibition with 22 points on six three-pointers. With guard Mike Dixon currently suspended by Haith, Ross will have a nice opportunity to showcase his skills.
  2. South Carolina is hobbling through the preseason with only a fraction of its full roster. Four members of the team miss its exhibition action against Kentucky Wesleyan last night because of injury. Sophomore forward Carlton Geathers (knee), sophomore guard Damien Leonard (broken nose), senior guard LaShay Page (hamstring), and freshman forward Mindaugas Kacinas (ankle) were on the sidelines last night, and it showed as the Gamecocks barely snuck past the D-II team, 68-67. Frank Martin will need a healthy team to run the gauntlet of SEC play, but a light non-conference schedule allows for USC to ease into this season with a new coach and new system. Page, a transfer from Southern Miss, scored 11.6 points per game last year for the Golden Eagles, and could be an impact player for Martin.
  3. Speaking of LaShay Page, Martin sees a lot of potential and leadership for the 6’2″ guard in his first year in a South Carolina uniform. “I can’t place the responsibility of leadership on someone who doesn’t want that job,” Martin said. “He’s kind of evolved into that himself.” Page is confident he can make the transition to the SEC and become a leader for Martin’s club. “It’s different players, a different staff, but the same me,” he said. “My leadership, leading the younger guys. I really look forward to that.” In addition to leadership, Martin and the Gamecocks need scoring. Leading scorer Malik Cooke departed from Columbia, taking over 12 points per game with him. Page will need to step into that role for South Carolina to be competitive.
  4. The love-fest for Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein continues. And what is Halloween without a little scare, so want to know a frightening thought? Cauley-Stein is the least hyped freshmen of all Cal’s newcomers. The part of his game that has coaches and critics raving is his hustle. After a 14-point, 12-rebound, and five-block performance in the Blue-White scrimmage, Cauley-Stein talked about his game and coach John Calipari’s philosophy on effort. “He preaches every day once he sees you take one play off you are coming out, because obviously you are tired and are not going hard enough,” he said. “He keeps saying at the game you will only be able to play three minutes and you are coming out. He says that to everybody because everybody will be tired. So once we get out of the grind of things and you get in your mind that you can go harder than a few minutes, that is when your game will escalate.” It is clear that Cauley-Stein has worked his way into the rotation for the early part of this season, and it is equally certain that effort and hustle on both ends of the floor will be the attribute that keeps him there.
  5. A lot of debate has gone into who will start in the backcourt for Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators. And for that matter, there was a question of how many guards would start out on the floor. For now, Donovan has an answer, settling into a three-guard lineup with senior Mike Rosario joining  point guard Scottie Wilbekin and Kenny Boynton. “Mike has done a good job,” Donovan said. “I think, as far as my trust level for him on the court, it’s growing and growing because he’s taking care of his responsibilities.” Rosario did not always make great decisions with a turnover rate of 16.7 percent in 2011-12, creating some of the trust issues that Donovan spoke about. The 6’3″ guard should also be charged with accounting for lost rebounding produced by NBA draft pick, Bradley Beal. Beal grabbed 6.7 rebounds per game last season from the wing spot.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

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ACC M5: 10.31.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2012

  1. The Dagger: Someone get Luke Loucks a job as a broadcaster. ACC Network, I’m looking at you. Jeff Eisenberg recently sat down with Loucks, who played point guard last season for ACC champion Florida State, and he absolutely kills it with his ACC preview — if this was off the cuff that’s even more impressive. He predicted a big leap out of James Michael McAdoo, though stuck with his own Florida State to win the conference. Loucks also said he would play for Coach K if he could play under any coach (other than Leonard Hamilton of course).
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It’s safe to say Mark Bradley is not impressed by the current state of Georgia Tech‘s athletic program. Bradley points out that the biggest problem facing Georgia Tech right now is generating excitement around the program, so athletic director Dan Radakovich’s successor should really focus on selling the program instead of just being a “money man.” While Bradley criticizes the Yellow Jacket program as a whole, he clearly places significant blame on Radakovich for his role in the growing irrelevance of its athletics. Who Georgia Tech picks to replace Radakovich will be very important going forward if Brian Gregory wants to get his basketball program back on track.
  3. BC Interruption: Boston College named sophomore Dennis Clifford the captain of the basketball team. The Eagles don’t have very much of an upperclassman presence (with only Danny Rubin and senior-transfer Andrew Van Nest), so it makes sense the team elected a sophomore. The Eagles’ choice should plant a seed in people’s minds that the 7’0″ center may take a big step forward his second season. Unrelatedly, Boston College still had practice despite Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy blowing through Chestnut Hill.
  4. State of the UState of the U caught up with Kenny Kadji, one of the the surprising Hurricane performers from last season. Kadji has apparently lost 20 pounds, which he hopes will help him become more of an athlete. This is especially important considering his frontcourt-mate Reggie Johnson may be many things (including a great back-to-the-basket guy), but he cannot run the floor well. Kadji pointed to Johnson and Julian Gamble as the two most impressive Hurricanes so far in practice.
  5. GoDuke.com: Duke is going modern with its stat-keeping, as now all their player stats will be kept and updated in real time on their respective iPads. The automation allows managers and assistant coaches to keep track of Duke’s player efficiency rating (PER) and update it live so that players get instant feedback after practice and the coaching and support staff can focus on the other parts of their jobs. Sports is one place people generally don’t think much about technology (well, apart from the production of events), but technology is making things like Duke’s PER easier to monitor, and arguably, gives the players better information on how to improve.
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Big East M5: Halloween Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 31st, 2012

  1. Roundball guru Ken Pomeroy released his preseason rankings of all 347 Division I teams yesterday, which contained some surprising implications for the Big East. Most notably, Pomeroy went against the grain in ranking Syracuse ahead of Louisville and ranking Pittsburgh in the top 25 (#4 in the Big East behind Notre Dame). The disparity between the perception of Louisville as a sure fire top-three team and the Cardinals’ #8 national ranking in Pomeroy’s system does emphasize a glaring question mark surrounding Rick Pitino’s squad: How will this team generate substantially more offense than it did a year ago? The Cards’ had the worst adjusted offense ranking of any team in Pomeroy’s preseason top 24. While Louisville fans anticipate greater efficiency in 2012-13 for good reason, the offense remains a major question mark until guys like lauded sophomore Wayne Blackshear and George Mason transfer Luke Hancock demonstrate an ability to score at a consistent clip.
  2. Speaking of Louisville, the big news out of the Derby City yesterday was that Athletic Director Tom Jurich inked a five-year contract extension with Rick Pitino that will keep him at the school through 2021-22. If Pitino ends up fulfilling his contract, he’ll be 70 before he steps down as Denny Crum’s successor, and Louisville will have had only two head coaches in fifty years. This newfound commitment is quiet a departure from Pitino’s attitude last offseason, when he essentially set the stage for a 2017 retirement (a Final Four can have that effect on a body). Nonetheless, Jeff Goodman points out that the indecisive Pitino likely hasn’t changed his mind for the last time.
  3. Sports Illustrated released its Big East primer yesterday, ranking Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh at the top of the league, respectively, and naming Peyton Siva its conference MVP. The piece paints a bleak portrait of Kevin Ollie’s job security as he prepares to scramble in the undifferentiated middle of the Big East pack. It also points out that prior to last season, Jamie Dixon’s Pittsburgh teams had never finished outside of the top 54 nationally in defensive efficiency. Last season, Pitt dipped to #151 “thanks in large part to slipping from 19th to 229th in two-point defense,” and everyone saw the consequences. The arrival of Stephen Adams and Trey Zeigler will undoubtedly help, but they won’t instantly cure Pitt’s defensive woes.
  4. If you’re curious to read some impressions from Cincinnati’s first exhibition game on Monday, Bearcats Blog filed a thorough assessment of the good and the bad from UC’s 80-60 victory over Grand Valley State (MI). It seems UC’s dismal free throw shooting didn’t leave with Yancy Gates; the squad that finished #302 nationally in free throw percentage last year returned to its old form by shooting a collective 18-28 (64%) on Monday. Bearcats Blog cites poor rebounding as the biggest misgiving heading into this season, which was certainly validated after Cincinnati gave up 12 offensive rebounds to Grand Valley State. Nevertheless, very few first exhibition games are pretty, and Cincinnati managed to win by a deceptively comfortable margin. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Justin Jackson post a huge double-double against Bellarmine next Monday and make me eat my words.
  5. Yesterday, Bovada released its national title odds for the upcoming season. Five Big East teams appeared in the top 25 most heavily favored teams: Louisville (17/2), Syracuse (20/1), Georgetown (40/1), Cincinnati (50/1), and Pittsburgh (50/1). Interestingly Notre Dame (75/1), which has appeared in the top three of many preseason conference rankings, is the 8th most likely Big East team to win it all according to Bovada. Oddsmakers seem to be placing an emphasis on recent tournament performance: Kentucky is the most heavily favored team in the field despite losing most of last year’s talent, while Notre Dame’s tournament track record seems to have blemished its reputation in Vegas.
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Morning Five: Halloween Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2012

  1. Today is the last day of the 10th month of the year, so that means it’s time to dust off your Mike Krzyzewski wig, grab your Jim Boeheim spectacles, and throw on your Bob Huggins track suit to head out into the sinister world of All Hallows’ Eve for tricks and treats. It also means, quite obviously, that tomorrow — the , not nearly as fun All Saint’s Day — is the first day of November, and that month is when we finally stop messing around and get down to the business of for-real college basketball again. Exhibition games and secret scrimmages are coming fast and furious right now, with Opening Night (live from Germany?) only nine days away now.
  2. Here’s a treat for your Halloween morn. For anyone who considers himself a student of the game-behind-the-game world of advanced metrics, Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday released his preseason rankings of all 347 Division I basketball teams. Much like Dan Hanner’s efficiency-driven rankings that we discussed in this space yesterday, Pomeroy throws some combination of returning talent plus incoming talent into the sausage maker to determine what comes out the other end (he explains his methodology here). He quite clearly states that he recognizes the weaknesses in his system at this point of the year, so he also wrote an article explaining the various outliers — teams that might appear too high (Kentucky, Ohio State, Wisconsin, etc.) or too low (NC State, Maryland, etc.) — in his initial rankings. Perhaps the biggest outlier left unexplained in the piece is Lousville — #8 in Pomeroy but #1 or #2 in most other human polls — it’s clear that his model isn’t ready to entrust the Cardinal offense with such rarefied status just yet (he ranks it #34 nationally in offensive efficiency).
  3. While on the subject of the Cards, how about some news about college basketball’s ultimate coaching trickster, Rick Pitino? The Louisville head coach has hinted at retirement for a number of years before backing off of that sentiment recently, but news Tuesday revealed that Pitino has agreed to a five-year contract extension that will ostensibly keep him on the sidelines of the school through the 2021-22 season. Can you imagine that the wandering-eye coach whom none other than Sports Illustrated once called ‘itinerant’ because of his frequent career moves is not only entering his 11th full season in the River City, but could potentially stay there for another nine years after that? In our mind’s eye, we’ll always associate Pitino as the Boy Wonder who resurrected Kentucky from the depths of probation, but he was only in Lexington for eight seasons before alighting to the riches of the NBA. It says here that Pitino will not rest until he gets another national title so that he can permanently disassociate from his rivals down the road in Lexington — this extension gives him at least 10 more shots at it.
  4. Here’s a treat to fans everywhere tired of the seemingly endless cat-and-mouse game between coaches performing illicit activities and the NCAA’s attempts to catch them. On Tuesday, despite hell or high water, one of Mark Emmert’s key initiatives was unanimously passed by the NCAA Board of Directors — the sweeping changes to the NCAA’s enforcement and punishment structure that will go into effect on August 1, 2013, are designed to hit programs and coaches directly where it hurts — by hurting their prestige and their bank accounts. Details are too numerous to list here, but the essential premise to the changes mimics a captain-of-the-ship liability theory. A head coach will be presumed to know (or should know) what’s going on in his program, and simply sticking his head in the sand and only popping up for practices and media appearances will not be enough to protect his skin or that of his program if illicit activity (boosters, impermissible benefits, academic fraud, etc.) is happening. On paper, this sounds great — but coaches will find the gray areas and the loopholes in short order, so strong enforcement techniques are absolutely essential to this initiative’s long-term success.
  5. Finally, let’s end the month with everyone’s favorite college basketball bogeyman. We mentioned a while back that Duke has implemented iPads into its practice and training protocols by loading up playbooks, scouting report information, video footage, and a number of other relevant items on each player’s device. The school on Tuesday announced that it had taken the next step in its data automation by contracting with a company that will provide each player with his individual PER (player efficiency rating) score immediately after each practice and game. Why does this matter? Well, one of the basic tenets of active learning is to provide immediate and direct feedback in real-time — while coaches can see a lot of things, they’re going to still miss quite a bit as 10 active bodies fly around the court. This mechanism, if it works as anticipated, will allow players to know precisely the areas where they did or did not excel immediately after leaving the court. Over time, the argument goes, their efficiency should improve, which begs the question for Pomeroy and Hanner, is there a bias for schools trying to teach for the so-called test? Good grief, Charlie Brown. Happy Halloween, everyone.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington State Cougars

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington State Cougars.

Strengths: This category starts and ends with senior forward Brock Motum. The Australian lefty led the Pac-12 in scoring in 2011-12 and took home the title of most improved player in the conference, but it will be interesting to see how he performs without the team’s best guard to draw some attention on the perimeter. Motum was able to handle just about any big man in league play last year, taking opponents both inside and out. He became famous for some incredible, off-balance jumpers, reminiscent of Dirk Nowitzki with some of his shots. With the dismissal of Reggie Moore, Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge will start the year at combo guard. Big things are expected of the former Jayhawk, who may just be the best shooter Washington State can put on the roster.

Weaknesses: Behind Motum and Woolridge, it’s tough to look at the Cougars and point out a guy that oozes confidence. Sure, guys like DaVonté Lacy and D.J. Shelton are solid athletes, but it’s going to be a long year when you’re counting on them for big-time production. Ken Bone does have some interesting newcomers to play around with, but what roles they fit into and how much they can immediately contribute will be tough to figure out. Gillette Junior College transfer James Hunter looks to be a banger that will start the year at power forward, but the Cougs are awfully thin after that for someone who can bang on the glass. Shelton and Hunter better not be on the bench at the same time, because things could get ugly down there for Wazzu.

James Hunter (15) Will Have To Avoid The Bench In 2012-13 For The Cougars To Have A Rebounding Presence In The Post (credit: Gillette College)

Non-Conference Tests: The Cougars will face four stiff non-conference tests this season, three of which will all come in a row away from home in late November. Washington State will travel to Malibu to face Pepperdine on November 16, and while the Waves might struggle this season, not many teams venture into Firestone Fieldhouse and come out with an easy win. Just three days later the Cougars will go into the Sprint Center and play a top 5 Kansas squad in front of what will be a 99% Jayhawk-friendly crowd. Less than 24 hours later they’ll play on the same court against either Saint Louis or Texas A&M, two teams that are at least NIT locks this season. Finally, the Cougs get a three game reprieve before having to take on in-state rival Gonzaga on December 5 in Pullman.

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Big Ten Team Previews: Ohio State Buckeyes

Posted by KTrahan on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Big Ten microsite will be rolling out the featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Where We Left Off: Last season, Ohio State got off to an impressive start, beating No. 8 Florida in the second game of the season and blowing out No. 4 Duke by 22 points in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. However, a Jared Sullinger injury brought the Buckeyes back to earth in Lawrence, Kansas, and they dealt with some periodic inconsistency in the Big Ten. However, OSU still made a run in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Cincinnati and Syracuse en route to a Final Four loss against that same Kansas team. The Buckeyes lost Sullinger and William Buford, but return a number of returning solid players, putting them in position for yet another deep NCAA Tournament run.

Thad Matta Has Gotten to the Point of Annual Final Four Expectations in Columbus

Positives: The biggest positive on Ohio State is how much talent the Buckeyes return. You know you’re a good team when you can bury top recruits on the bench and still have one of the best teams in the country. Junior forward DeShaun Thomas is a favorite to become this season’s breakout player of the year and OSU also returns top junior point guard and defensive dynamo Aaron Craft. The Buckeyes also have a lot of talent in junior guard Lenzelle Smith, Jr., who was somewhat inconsistent last year, but showed his potential at times. Add in sophomore forward Sam Thompson and sophomore center Amir Williams, and this could still be the most talented lineup in the Big Ten. If OSU can put things together by the end of the season, this will be a very dangerous team in March again.

Negatives: What this Ohio State team has in talent, it lacks in experience. Craft is experienced at his position by now, and while Thomas brings a lot of hype, he wasn’t a superstar last year. Then there are Smith and Thompson, who were at best inconsistent last season, and center Amir Williams, who is also talented but barely played last year. The story is the same on the bench, with players like LaQuinton Ross and Shannon Scott, both highly-touted recruits who have yet to prove themselves on a college floor. This team is full of talent but short on experience, and in college basketball, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #8 Connecticut

Posted by mlemaire on October 30th, 2012

Few new coaches in the country will have a more difficult job this season than new Connecticut head honcho Kevin Ollie. Not only does Ollie has the unenviable task of following the most popular and successful coach in the program’s history, but he also has to find a way to overcome the departure of some of the team’s most talented and productive players and he has to find a way to motivate his team because previous academic issues forced the NCAA to bar his team from the Big East and NCAA Tournament. Oh and did we mention that Ollie is on a one-year contract and will be under heavy scrutiny all season as the athletic department decides whether to keep him around or chase a bigger name? Needless to say, Ollie has his work cut out for him. The good news is that Ollie’s staff is chock-full of former Division I head coaches and there is still plenty of talent leftover from last season’s tumultuous run. Depth will become a problem and struggles could turn into a freefall without any postseason to play for, but there are certainly enough pieces in place to at least give Huskies’ fans a glimmer of hope heading into a new era of UConn basketball.

2011-12 Record: 20-14, 8-10

2011-12 Postseason: NCAA Tournament Second Round, lost to Iowa State 77-64.

Point Guard Shabazz Napier Is The Unquestion Leader Of One Of The Conference’s Youngest Teams.

Schedule

Ollie’s career on the bench will start with a bang when the Huskies kick off the college basketball season by playing a very talented Michigan State team on board on active aircraft carrier, and the rest of the non-conference slate won’t be much easier. Last year’s America East champion, Vermont, lies in wait immediately following the opener and the Paradise Jam Tournament with a first game against Wake Forest follows that. Don’t forget about the Jimmy V Classic where they will square off with a very talented North Carolina State squad.

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Catching Up With All 54 of Your Favorite Pac-12 Players In The NBA

Posted by AMurawa on October 30th, 2012

The NBA tips off its regular season tonight, which for most college basketball fans means little more than just another sign that the season is imminent. But it is always nice to keep an eye on former college players that we grew to know and love way back when. With that in mind, we’ll take a quick spin around the Pac-12 and briefly touch on what can be expected of each of their 54 former players currently on NBA rosters. We’ll group these guys by their former schools, starting with UCLA, who has 12 alums playing in the league, down to Washington State, whose sole representative is Klay Thompson, and Oregon State, whose Jared Cunningham debuts this season. And then, once college hoops tips off in a little more than a week’s time, you can forget all about these guys again until April.

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love

After Forming A Dynamic Duo In Westwood, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love Are Now Among The NBA’s Best.

UCLA (12)

  • Arron Afflalo (Orlando) – Back when Afflalo was playing for the Bruins, you saw his future NBA self pretty clearly – a professional, hard-nosed defender with the ability to score on the perimeter. With five years of experience behind him and his best NBA season directly in the rear-view mirror (15.2 PPG in 33 minutes per night with Denver), Afflalo landed in Orlando as part of the deal that sent Dwight Howard to Tinseltown.
  • Trevor Ariza (Washington) – He was awful as a Bruin, but he’s made quite a career for himself in the NBA. A key factor on the Lakers’ 2009 title team, Ariza has bounced around since he left for a big free agent contract, proving himself more of a role player than a go-to scorer.
  • Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers) – After spending a couple years with the Lakers, Barnes heads down the hall to the Clippers locker room, where he’ll be expected to play a big part early while Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill recover from injury.
  • Darren Collison (Dallas) – After striking out in their bid to sign free agent Deron Williams, the Mavericks settled on Collison as their backup plan at the point, trading their backup center Ian Mahinmi to Indiana for the former Bruin. Collison has been solid in his three years in the league, but lost the starting job with the Pacers last season. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Team Previews: Florida State Seminoles

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Florida State Seminoles.

Leonard Hamilton and his team knocked off Duke and North Carolina to become the first ACC champion from somewhere off of Tobacco Road since Maryland in 2004. Hamilton’s team used experience, physical defense and drive to push through the ACC Tournament before falling in a brutal game to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Still, the Seminoles’ triumph earned Hamilton the credibility where it’s time to start accepting his teams as conference contenders — especially when star guard Michael Snaer is at the helm.

Luke Loucks is gone, but Michael Snaer is ready to build on a dream season (Reuters)

This isn’t to say picking Florida State to finish near the top of the league again is a no-brainer; on the contrary, the Seminoles lost six players to graduation, including three starters. Among those leaving were Luke Loucks, the veteran point guard who played the cool foil to Snaer much of last year, and Bernard James, whose shot-blocking and tough defense anchored one of the best defenses in the country.

Newcomers

Five freshmen and a junior college transfer join the Seminoles this season, headlined by Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon. Brandon, a consensus four-star 6’7″ wing out of Greensboro, North Carolina, looks to be a paradigmatic Hamilton player: He’s very long, athletic and is ready to focus on defense. Thomas was also a consensus four-star recruit and is known as a slasher; he’ll be backing up Florida State’s very talented backcourt this season. His playing time will probably directly correlate to how his defense stacks up with Ian Miller. Devon Bookert and junior college transfer Robert Gilchrist also join the Seminoles, though look for their impact to be somewhat down the road. Bookert is an offensive-minded point guard out of Alaska, and Gilchrist is a skinny forward with terrific length and athleticism. Finally, there are the seven footers Michael Ojo and Boris Bojanovsky. Ojo and Bojanovsky are both very raw, but the Seminoles will need an eraser at the center of Hamilton’s defense, and one or both may play significant time if they can fit that role.

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Our Robot Overlords Like Duke More Than Their Humanoid Counterparts

Posted by KCarpenter on October 30th, 2012

In the past couple days, the wizards of college basketball statistics have waved their wands and conjured up some preseason predictions for ACC teams. Of course, describing the process as magic is a great dis-service to these fine folks. Instead of engaging in arcane processes only explained in a cryptic language, these bold souls have happily popped open the hood on their future predicting machines and offered to show us what exactly they did. Ken Pomeroy gladly explains his methodology on his website, while Dan Hanner lays out the logic and mechanisms behind his predictive system at Basketball Prospectus. So, with a theoretical understanding of what these two are doing, we can now look at the predictive rankings from Pomeroy and Hanner and see how these predictions differ from the results predicted by the ACC’s coaches and the ACC media.

Messrs. Pomeroy and Hanner in the Lab…

The calculated predictions do differ from the polls in some significant ways, notably both Hanner and Pomeroy’s system favor Duke to be the best team in the conference, while the coaches and media favor NC State. The reasons for this are fairly obvious and have everything to do with how excited people get over highly-touted freshmen.  While both of the calculated systems take into consideration new players, both systems take a fairly reasoned and cautious view of their impact. So while the conference’s coaches and reporters might be swept up in Rodney Purvis Mania,  the computers are more measured in their optimism. With that taken into consideration, it’s easy to see how such systems would favor Duke, a team that was very good last year and lost relatively little compared to other league contenders like North Carolina and Florida State.

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Who’s Got Next? Andrew Wiggins Reclassifies to 2013; Indiana Lands Troy Williams…

Posted by CLykins on October 30th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Andrew Wiggins Reclassifies into Class of 2013

It’s official. After many months of rampant speculation regarding the consensus No. 1 prospect in the nation, Andrew Wiggins is reclassifying into the class of 2013. A native of Canada and a student at Huntington Prep High School (West Virginia), he will assume his rightful spot at the top of the national rankings in the 2013 class. Confirmed by Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford, Wiggins and his family announced on Thursday after a decision had been reached. “It just happened,” Fulford said. “Andrew didn’t even know for sure until a little earlier today when his parents got him word. He was waiting on his parents. That was the real wait with it. It was just a family decision.”

Consensus No. 1 Prospect Andrew Wiggins Makes Move to 2013 Official

With the decision, which has been a work in progress for months, Wiggins’ move will make the class of 2013 one of the more impressive top-to-bottom classes in recent memory. The 6’7″ small forward is coming off an outstanding summer with his most notable performances coming while playing at the Nike EYBL with CIA Bounce AAU and at the LeBron James Skills Academy. After those two important events, he received high praise as the clear-cut No. 1 high school prospect in the land.

When scouting his overall game, he has the complete package on the basketball court. He is an explosive athlete with tremendous size on the wing. He can hurt you in a variety of ways with his shooting ability, whether it’s from the mid-range or from deep. One of the more impressive traits of Wiggins’ game is how he can effortlessly get to the rim and consistently finish under contact. While using that great size, he is also a ferocious rebounder. His ball-handling is one of his best traits and he excels in an up-tempo environment. Regarding any specific weakness to his game, his shooting touch could be a little more refined. Also, he has a work ethic that has been in question at times, as he sometimes seems “bored” during game. Developing a work ethic to match that of some of the best basketball players at the college and professional levels will separate him from his peers.

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