New NCAA Penalty Enforcement: Any Impact on ACC Programs?

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

It’s no secret the ACC has more than a few outstanding NCAA issues right now:

  • There’s Miami and renegade booster Nevin Shapiro who allegedly ran wild, taking recruits to strip clubs, throwing private parties on his yacht and generally supplying impermissible benefits wherever possible.
  • There’s North Carolina and its academic fraud situation that grows by the week, as the Raleigh News & Observer and Dan Kane weed through the evidence alongside an internal audit (that should soon release its findings to the public).
  • And there’s Duke’s Lance Thomas and his $100,000 jewelry purchase during the team’s national championship season in 2010.

Nevin Shapiro’s Alleged Violations At Miami Are Still Unresolved (credit: David Adame / AP)

This isn’t to say all three ACC cases will be affected by the new guidelines the NCAA hopes will deter cheating by holding head coaches more accountable. Essentially the NCAA got tired of head coaches skating by on violations while letting their assistant coaches fall on the sword. Now head coaches will be presumed guilty until they provide tangible evidence that they made every attempt to run their program within NCAA rules. A skeptic would say that this just means head coaches will create a second email account, using the first to promote NCAA compliance and the second to monitor the seedy happenings in recruiting. The true cynic probably thinks this is already the case.

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Ivy League

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 30th, 2012

Michael James is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League. You can also find his musings on Twitter at @mrjames2006 and @ivybball.

Top Storylines

  • Pencil, Not Ink: In the Ivy Summer School piece, one of the top storylines was devoted to the important roster changes that had occurred since the final whistle blew in March. Looking back, that blurb was merely foreshadowing. In early September, the Harvard cheating scandal broke, and shortly after, four names dropped off the Crimson’s published roster, including All-Ivy seniors Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey. Around the same time, forward Dockery Walker disappeared from the Brown roster, as he will miss the season with a knee injury – a huge blow considering All-Ivy caliber forward Andrew McCarthy already left the team prior to what would have been his senior season. Princeton’s already threadbare backcourt took a hit when Jimmy Sherburne decided to take the season off to recover from a shoulder injury. Dartmouth, a team that needs as much talent as it can find, dropped its third-leading scorer R.J. Griffin from its roster before what would have been his senior season. Finally, Meiko Lyles fell off the Columbia roster earlier this month then returned to it a few days later, an important development after Noruwa Agho decided not to use his fifth year of eligibility to return to the squad for the upcoming season. Final rosters have been posted for a while now, but thus far, the term “final” has merely been a suggestion.

Curry & Casey Became Household Names For the Wrong Reasons This Fall

  • GOV 1310: Introduction To Chaos: The novelty of seeing Ivy basketball plastered all over popular publications and seeing air time on SportsCenter has long since passed, as the 2010 Cornell squad, Tommy Amaker-led Harvard teams and Linsanity have afforded the league publicity far beyond what a normal one-bid conference could expect. For the first time since the initial media explosion, though, the breaking story would hardly paint Harvard or the Ivy League in a positive light. Roughly 125 students were being investigated for cheating on a take-home exam in Government 1310: Introduction to Congress. Among the accused were a few Harvard basketball players, including two of the league’s best – Curry and Casey. While the story elicited editorial commentary of both a supportive and condemning nature, from a basketball perspective, the subsequent withdrawals of both student-athletes turned the Ivy race upside down. Curry was the lone returning point guard on the team, and Casey’s presence in the frontcourt was supposed to ease the pain of losing former Ivy Player of the Year Keith Wright. Now, with 10 freshmen and sophomores and just five juniors and seniors combined, the Crimson has become one of the league’s least experienced squads.
  • Live Streaming, But On Cable: For the first time since the Ivy deal with YES expired after the 2007-08 season, the league has a national media partner for men’s basketball. In renewing its Ivy football rights this past spring, NBC Sports Network also agreed to pick up as many as 10 basketball games per year, putting the league in almost 80 million homes nationally. In its inaugural season, the channel formerly known as Versus nabbed the maximum number of allotted games with three non-conference contests and seven Ivy showdowns. Including the Harvard-Yale game on February 23, which NBC sublicensed to CBS Sports Network, the package will provide the league with one game on national television every week but one from December 28 to the end of the season. Ivy squads are also scheduled to appear on the ESPN family of networks 11 times (five of those on ESPN3), the Pac-12 network twice and the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Net once each.
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Three Coaches in New Positions Ready To Take Off Running

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 30th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

Coaching changes are powerful developments. They can ignite struggling programs, send promising ones on a downward spiral, and have drastic implications (both good and bad) for the administrators who made them. Sometimes, a regime change preserves a middling trajectory established by the previous coach, in which case another switch is likely forthcoming. Otherwise, why hire a new coach in the first place? In any case, this offseason brought few radical coaching changes. That’s mostly because there weren’t many significant changes to be made – Illinois, Kansas State, LSU and South Carolina headlined the list. The average college basketball fan will find little intrigue in that selection. It doesn’t exactly project “excitement” or “allure.” Even so, the hires made are no doubt transformative endeavors for the programs that occasioned them. They wanted a change of direction, found a coach who shared that vision, matched vacancy with proscribed fit – and voila! Some of these new faces in new places will have a better chance of succeeding right away, and thus validating their new position. Missouri’s Frank Haith, one of the most widely criticized hires in years, personified the seamless transition. He made it work from the moment he arrived in Columbia. The next question is who has the best chance to do that this season. Trying to decipher which coaches can succeed right away requires keen insight, situational knowledge and a bit of guesswork. Because most changes are made to improve the previous coach’s way of running things, most new guys don’t inherit the best situations. Instead, they are hired to improve from the flaws of the previous regime. Anyway, in the interest of sparing you from a more drawn-out coaching hire lecture, here are three coaches poised to thrive in their new stomping grounds.

Ohio: Jim Christian
Previous job: TCU
Replacing: John Groce
 

The Bobcats are set to continue their recent success under Christian, who has plenty of experience in the MAC (photo credit: US Presswire).

Over the past half decade and change, we’ve come to know Ohio as the sporadic NCAA Tournament outfit you absolutely dread seeing your favorite team matched up with in a first-round setting. In 2010, they took down three-seed Georgetown. Last season, the Bobcats raised their Giant Killer profile to a whole new level, beating four-seed Michigan and 12-seed South Florida before dropping an overtime decision in the Sweet Sixteen to one-seed North Carolina. That’s the kind of run that puts your program on the map,  and puts your coach squarely on the wish list of hiring programs across the country. It granted John Groce a move up the conference coaching ladder, into the rugged Big Ten, where he’ll attempt to use his up-tempo offense and Chicago recruiting ties to pump some life into a downward-trending Illinois. Losing Groce hurts, but his replacement is no less capable of continuing the Bobcats’ recent Tournament success. On its face, the hiring of Jim Christian is nothing to get excited about. A ho-hum four-year tenure at TCU preceded his newest position, where he compiled a 38-58 record and failed to generate the type of fundamental culture shift required to lift the Horned Frogs out of their current state. As credentials go, his tenure in Fort Worth hardly inspires confidence. But if you look beyond his recent history in the Mountain West, and delve into the breadth of his college hoops coaching career, the move to bring in Christian makes absolute sense.

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #10 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#10 – Where End of an Era Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Pac-12 M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 30th, 2012

  1. Oregon opened up its exhibition slate last night, and unlike Washington, the Ducks won rather easily in a 102-75 decision over Concordia. After Concordia opened up the game with a 9-2 run thanks to a couple of threes, the Ducks took care of business in large thanks to the new guys. From what I was able to see (the game was streamed live on the Pac-12 website), the most impressive newbie of the bunch was Dominic Artis, who led the way with 17 points. He dished out some flashy passes and absolutely crossed up a couple of Concordia defenders. He was also able to knock down some perimeter jumpers, hitting three of his four three-point attempts. Damyean Dotson recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while another freshman, Willie Moore, scored 15 points. It’s only the preseason and it was a non-Division-I opponent, but Duck fans can come away from that game with some reason to be excited for the future even if this year doesn’t figure to be a banner one for Dana Altman and company.
  2. The Associated Press preseason All-America Team was released yesterday, and probably to the surprise of nobody, no one from the Pac-12 made the list. Instead, comprising the team were Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Crieghton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Michigan’s Trey Burke (yes, there were six players named because McCollum and Burke received the same number of votes). The one Pac-12 guy who an argument could be made that he deserves preseason All-America honors from a talent perspective is UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, but, considering his eligibility questions, there was no way Muhammad was going to garner this recognition. There has only been one freshman to be named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press (Harrison Barnes in 2010), and given how that worked out, there might not be another one for a while. The last Pac-12 player to make the AP preseason All-America Team was Darren Collison back in 2008.
  3. Continuing along with its preseason lists, CBS Sports released its top 30 breakout players for 2012-13 yesterday. Two Pac-12 guys found their way on there –Washington’s Scott Suggs (No. 17) and USC’s J.T. Terrell (No. 21), while former Sun Devil-turned-South Florida Bull Victor Rudd checked in at #20. We here at the Rush The Court Pac-12 Microsite tackled this topic on October 19 and not one of us picked Suggs or Terrell to be the top breakout guy in the conference. While both are worthy choices, surely Aziz N’Diaye, Dewayne Dedmon, Nick Johnson, Roberto Nelson and Dwight Powell are deserving of the same sort of recognition. Of course, there are only 30 players on this list and there are more than 30 conferences, so quite a few leagues are feeling more snubbed than the Pac-12 today.
  4. Jon Rothstein took a trip to the Galen Center to watch USC practice and came away highly impressed with the Trojans. Predicting the Trojans will finish in the top-half of the Pac-12 standings, Rothstein is particularly in admiration of the depth USC has thanks to all the transfers who are finally eligible to suit up for Kevin O’Neill. One player who might not be eligible is Omar Oraby, and Rothstein notes that O’Neill said he expects to hear from the NCAA this week with regards to the 7’2’’ transfer from Rice (he is applying for an NCAA hardship waiver to play immediately after transferring in September). If he can play this year, Rothstein writes that O’Neill’s plan will be to play both him and Dewayne Dedmon together in the starting lineup, giving the Trojans two seven-footers on the court at the same time. As far as the rest of the rotation, he expects Jio FontanJ.T. Terrell and Dedmon to start, with the other two spots up for grabs if Oraby isn’t able to play. With such a new-look roster, it’s almost easy to forget that the Trojans were a six-win team in 2011-12 and won only one conference game in perhaps the weakest Pac-12 of recent memory. An article like this will surely have Trojan fans salivating for the beginning of the season.
  5. A bit of unfortunate news out of the Pacific Northwest, as former Oregon State player Daniel Deane has been arrested for a marijuana-related incident… for the third time this year. All three of his arrests have revolved around the transportation of marijuana. Luckily, his jail stint shouldn’t be a long one, as Harney County Jail (where Deane is being held) suggests he will be released on November 7. Deane was a hard-nosed player on the court, one who could be counted on for hustle plays. It’s regrettable that he would commit the same offense three times in a year, but hopefully he will be able to learn from this arrest and at the very least keep his stash at home.
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Big 12 M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 30th, 2012

  1. Jamari Traylor has Kevin Young’s broken bones in his hand to thank for his starting spot in Kansas’ first exhibition game, but he’ll use it as an opportunity to show his coach how valuable he may be during the 2012-13 season. Traylor often gets lost in the shuffle behind other KU freshmen like Ben McLemore and the veteran core of Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, but he could play a major role on this team after a redshirt season a year ago. The early scouting report on Traylor is that he’s a monster inside and the kind of guy who will do anything and everything to tip a ball, grab a rebound, or make a hustle play. Young won’t be out long with his injury, but we’ve got a feeling Traylor will earn himself plenty of playing time this season regardless.
  2. Kansas State has a lot of returning experience, but according to head coach Bruce Weber, that doesn’t necessarily equate to great leadership. Yet. He’s still searching for that bona fide leader, the kind of guy who can rally the troops and fight his way through adversity. Luckily, Weber has a couple of promising point guards in Angel Rodriguez and Will Spradling, as well as three seniors. Rodney McGruder is the best player on the team but he’s not the most vocal guy, whereas Jordan Henriquez — one of the league’s best defensive big men — could probably talk all day if you let him. It’s silly to worry too much from an outside perspective, though. Weber’s a good coach, this is a good team, and these guys will figure something out. By the end of the year, this won’t be a discussion anymore.
  3. Oklahoma held its media day on Monday, and the players seem to be approaching this season with a completely different attitude. After tumbling in Big 12 play a year ago, the Sooners return a lot of individually talented parts but must find a way to bring everything together under Lon Kruger. It all starts with point guard Sam Grooms, the Big 12’s leading returning assists man. He says he’s already noticing how the added depth has helped the team, thanks to Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye and a very good group of freshmen. Forward Romero Osby may have said it best: “It’s a new feel.”
  4. A couple more news and notes from the Sooners’ media day: freshman C.J. Cole and junior college transfer D.J. Bennett will both redshirt this season, according to Lon Kruger — maybe that’s a testament to the depth Grooms talked about. Later in that article, there’s also an interesting tidbit involving a former Sooner named Blake Griffin. Perhaps you remember him. Apparently, Griffin’s first dunk after surgery back in September was over OU freshman Buddy Hield. “You can’t stop anybody like Blake Griffin,” he says.
  5. We’ll have a Texas Tech preview coming your way later today, but we may as well direct you to CBS Sports‘ preview of the Red Raiders as well. There’s no harm in providing a variety of opinions, and this write-up gives a decent overview of what to expect from this program in shambles. No matter who’s writing the preview — CBS, RTC, or any other outlet — it’s hard to argue with the fact that head coach Chris Walker has quite a task ahead of him. This particular writer predicts Texas Tech to finish winless in the Big 12. That’s a bit much, but you get the point. It’ll be a long year.
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Big Ten M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 30th, 2012

  1. College basketball has a lot of diverse talent across the nation among its various conferences, regardless of their size and popularity. Especially with so many good mid-major programs receiving positive coverage over the years, there are few consensus agreements among the media. In this partisan environment, Indiana’s Cody Zeller has been selected for the preseason All-America team by all of the AP voters except for one. The near-unanimous pick is a rarity in today’s competitive hoops’ landscape. The sophomore forward received 64 votes and two other Big Ten players were selected as well – Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Burke tied for the fifth slot with Lehigh’s C.J.McCollum. Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan make up the rest of this year’s preseason All-America team.
  2. After injuries to Mike Breusewitz and Josh Gasser, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan understands that he has some holes in his lineup. But Ryan seems optimistic and realizes that the next player in line will step up and fill the void. Sports Illustrated explains that Ryan,  after 41 years in the coaching business, doesn’t get “alarmed” or “nervous” when thinking about replacing experienced players on his squad. Brueusewitz will be back in a few weeks but Gasser will miss the entire season due to an ACL injury. The Wisconsin assistant coaches speak highly of redshirt freshman guard George Marshall, who took advantage of last season by practicing and learning from All-American guard Jordan Taylor. Ryan mentions that he prefers “well-blended” teams that don’t specifically focus on a single player to carry the load on either end of the court. Tough to disagree with a philosophy that has resulted in consistent success in Madison, but Marshall and Traevon Jackson will need to get up to speed quickly during the non-conference season after Gasser’s loss.
  3. Another coach who is very optimistic about his young team’s chances to make the NCAA tournament is Iowa’s Fran McCaffery. He is challenging his younger players to bring Iowa basketball back to relevance at the national stage after several years of mediocrity. He strongly believes that the loss of Matt Gatens’ production will be filled by junior wing Roy Devin Marble (11.5 PPG). Marble is described as “incredibly cerebral” and is expected to take the leap to the next level this season. Iowa hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2006 and with a young core of Aaron White, Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell, the fans are hopeful with their expectations. Sophomore Aaron White averaged 11 PPG in just 24 MPG and his production should increase as he appears to be one of the primary scoring options now in the wake of Gatens’ departure.
  4. There have been several changes in the Illinois athletic department over the last two years. Long time athletic director Ron Guenther left the program so Mike Thomas was hired to revive Illinois athletics. Thomas then replaced both the football and the basketball coaches within a span of 12 months (which doesn’t happen very often in major programs). Football head coach Tim Beckman is off to a rough start in Champaign as his team is off to a 2-6 start, but John Groce’s performance will be under review as the basketball season tips off in two weeks. The Daily Illini discusses the pressure on Groce as he takes over a program that arguably is in the “rebuilding phase.” The overall energy level within the program is very high with Groce’s arrival but his coaching abilities will be immediately scrutinized during the non-conference season. Without a true big man in the post like Meyers Leonard, expectations are not very high but that doesn’t necessarily give Groce too much of a cushion if the losses begin to pile up during the first two months.
  5. Speaking of rebuilding, Purdue’s Matt Painter has several new faces in West Lafayette. None of the “Baby Boilers” are around anymore, but Painter has been in this situation after the departures of Carl Landry and David Teague at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Even though Purdue has a young freshman core of center A.J. Hammons and guard Ronnie Johnson, D.J.Byrd doesn’t want this year’s team to be considered “Baby Boilers II.” Robbie Hummel’s class was a special one and this squad will need to form its own identity. Byrd (8.9 PPG) and Terone Johnson (9.2 PPG) will provide  great leadership but the jury is still out on such a young squad with nine freshmen and sophomores. Ronnie Johnson is expected to take over the point guard position after Lewis Jackson’s departure.
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SEC M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 30th, 2012

  1. 2013 Missouri point guard recruit Travis Jorgenson de-commited over the weekend. “I just think that he wanted to open it back up because he wasn’t comfortable signing right away,” his summer coach L.J. Goolsby told Rivals.com. “It’s nothing against Missouri, he loves Missouri, he grew up there. He committed so early that he wanted to go through the process and be sure that he made the right decision.” Missouri already holds a commitment from another point guard in the  2013 class, Wesley Clark. There could be a mass exodus in the Tiger backcourt after this season, so Frank Haith may need as many guards as he can accumulate to feel comfortable with the depth chart.
  2. Speaking of Missouri’s backcourt depth, Haith suspended starting guard Mike Dixon and freshman Dominique Bull indefinitely for what he is calling a violation of team rules. While Dixon had struggled academically, Haith refused to go into depth on the reasoning of the suspension. He also wouldn’t commit to a timetable on a possible return. “The time frame will also depend on the player and their response to adversity,” said Haith. “It’s more about the everyday choices we make and the cumulative impact it has on the ability to be good stewards on the Mizzou brand.” Dixon is expected to start for the Tigers alongside preseason All-American Phil Pressey. In his absence, transfer Keion Bell will see extended minutes.
  3. On Monday, we ran through Coach John Calipari’s practice report observations, and now we get his opinion on the Wildcats’ intra-squad scrimmage. Just as in practice, Calipari continues to experiment with different lineups and using off guard Archie Goodwin at the point position. Goodwin is excelling with the ball in his hands, possibly insinuating that the speedy freshman could be the leading scorer for the Wildcats this season. Calipari has been impressed with Goodwin’s ability to score with his quick first step and ability to create off the dribble. The 6’3″ guard scored 16 points in a 20-minute scrimmage yesterday after impressing with a game high 32 points in the Blue/White scrimmage last week.
  4. Tennessee played in one of the well publicized “secret scrimmages” against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets this past weekend, coming away with a 20+ point victory. Cuonzo Martin left the game with an observation that even my wife could pick up on after watching a couple of minutes of UT. “We have to get the ball to Jarnell,” Martin said. “He can’t get the ball enough. We have to overload and let the offense play through him. Really, he can’t get enough touches. We’ve got to get it to him.” Jarnell is of course, Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee’s 6’7″ power forward who is ready for a breakout year in the post. Stokes played in just 17 games for the Vols last season but looked incredibly polished even after missing the first half of the year because he was still in high school. If only Martin can figure out a strategy to get him the ball.
  5. After forward Cody Larson made the decision to leave the Florida Gators to focus on his academics and personal life, Billy Donovan extended an opportunity to welcome Larson back to the team. “If there’s anyone who knows about changing his mind, it’s me,” said Donovan, poking fun at his own indecision regarding an offer from the Orlando Magic in 2007. “I think right now for Cody if he legitimately felt like you know what, a week, two weeks from now, I miss this, I made a huge mistake, we’re not bringing anyone in right now, he could come back to our team.” Larson had his scholarship revoked by Donovan last spring, but his 6’9″ frame would provide the Gators with a much needed commodity — size. While he was not a major contributor last season, Donovan could use more depth in the low post knowing center Patric Young’s affinity for fouling.

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: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 30th, 2012

  1. Streaking The LawnStreaking The Lawn did it big to kick off basketball season. And I mean big. The Virginia blog released 30 articles yesterday including using statistics to predict wins, comprehensive player profiles, exclusive (satirical) “interviews” with Bennett, and much more. Seriously, go check it out. It’s a little intimidating, though I highly suggest reading the statistical analysis (part 2) on the BENNETT system, where an attempt is made to figure out how many games this Bennett-coached team will win based on his previous seasons.
  2. Soaring To Glory: It probably surprises you that Boston College lost seven players from last year’s team of mostly newcomers. But two transfers and several senior walk-ons and graduate transfers led to a high perceived roster turnover for the Eagles. The good news is that the core of the team is totally intact minus Matt Humphrey (whose inefficiency hurt the team as much as his points helped it) and John Cahill, who i staying on as a graduate assistant. There are no seniors on this year’s team.
  3. Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State is ranked in the Top 25 in both major preseason polls for the first time in school history. The Seminoles also have a shot to become the first school not named Duke or North Carolina since Wake Forest in 1995 and 1996 to win back-to-back ACC titles. Those Wake Forest teams featured a couple of future NBA players like Randolph Childress (in 1995) and Rusty LaRue. Oh and they had a sophomore and junior named Tim Duncan. Maryland was the only other school with a chance to break the Tobacco Road streak, winning the ACC title in 2004 but falling short in 2005 (losing in the first round).
  4. The Dagger: Jeff Eisenberg took a look at the ACC’s most interesting non-conference games. If this doesn’t get you excited about basketball season, I don’t know what will. The ACC-Big 10 Challenge features a lot of great match-ups, especially among the top conference teams; Duke and Maryland both get shots at Kentucky on neutral floors; and Florida State will take on in-state rival Florida. Other than the juicy storyline of Tony Bennett returning to the Kohl Center where he coached under his father Dick Bennett (who also mentored Bo Ryan), I’ll probably miss Virginia at Wisconsin.
  5. The State: Clemson settled on Dan Radakovich as its new athletic director, following the news that Terry Don Phillips will retire this year (he will remain at Clemson through June 30, though). Radakovich is no stranger to the ACC, having worked at Georgia Tech for six years, but his tenure is marred by the scandal that led to the school vacating several football victories, including the ACC championship, for using an ineligible player.
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Big East M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 30th, 2012

  1. Mike DeCourcy at The Sporting News released his comprehensive Big East preview yesterday. DeCourcy selected Louisville as the league’s top team and Peyton Siva as MVP. Where he strayed from the preseason consensus was in ranking St. John’s last in the conference and heaping praise on South Florida point guard Anthony Collins, who made TSN’s All-Big East team and, DeCourcy argues, single-handedly saved Stan Heath’s job last season. He also contends that Mick Cronin isn’t getting enough credit, calling his Cincinnati tenure “one of the most impressive coaching achievements of the past decade.” The highlight of the guide might be this farewell to Notre Dame: “There’s almost no way to get to South Bend easily, almost nowhere to eat, almost nowhere nice to stay, almost no chance to beat the Irish at home.”
  2. Yesterday’s Hartford Courant ran a great piece on Kevin Ollie’s newly promoted Assistant Head Coach, Glen Miller, and the circuitous route that led him back to coach in Storrs. Judging from quotes from Ollie’s right-hand man, the coaching transition at UConn has been pretty painless this offseason: “Kevin is not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re all cut from the same cloth as Coach [Calhoun]. We understand how this program became successful and how it can continue to be successful.” The story offers a rare depiction of the kind of personal adversity a lot of coaches endure in order to seize a great opportunity. In the first year after Miller left Penn to rejoin Calhoun’s staff in 2010, he spent most of his free time driving the nine-hour round trip to visit his family in Pennsylvania and tend to the storm-damaged home they were desperately trying to rent out. Miller’s description of his recruiting trip to Northeastern in the early ‘80s is also worth a read if you enjoy anecdotes about Jim Calhoun’s laconic, Ron Swanson-esque personality.
  3. In other Big East-related human-interest pieces, Mark Story from The Lexington Herald-Leader sheds some light onto Elisha Justice’s decision to transfer from Louisville to NAIA program Pikeville (KY). At the time, the move had been a head-scratcher to Louisville fans: while Justice may have been buried in the depth chart this year, he had repeatedly articulated an interest in coaching after college and an enthusiasm for learning under Rick Pitino. But as the Herald story reveals, Justice’s primary motivation was a yearning to be closer to his grandfather, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. The former Kentucky Mr. Basketball has come to terms with the fact that he may have turned his back on an opportunity to win a national title this year: “I came home for my family, to spend as much time with them as I can, while I can,” he says. “Whatever happens at Louisville [this season], I’ll never regret that.”
  4. In light of potentially nightmarish post-Sandy travel conditions, St. John’s announced that its season opening exhibition game against Sonoma State has been postponed from Thursday to Saturday night. Elsewhere in Big East country, Villanova and UConn both rescheduled or cancelled practice activities today, as their campuses were shut down by the hurricane. Basketball obviously takes a backseat under these sobering circumstances, but it will be interesting to see if the storm adversely affects the play of any Big East teams in its path as they open exhibition play this week.
  5. Two Big East programs remain in the running for elite power forward prospect Tyler Roberson, who yesterday announced he had trimmed his list to Syracuse, Villanova, and Kansas. The news might be most encouraging for Villanova fans because his visit to their Midnight Madness last weekend was apparently persuasive enough to lead Roberson to cancel his impending trip to Kentucky: “Although I was only at Villanova for a day I felt at home and knew after the visit that I didn’t need to take my last visit.” The 6’8 New Jersey four-star plans to commit in the next couple of weeks according to Adam Zagoria.

 

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Morning Five: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

  1. The AP on Monday released its All-America squad and there were no surprises with this year’s group. Indiana’s Cody Zeller received all but one vote (64) for the first team (queue the Gary Parrish outrage article), while mid-major stalwarts Doug McDermott (62), Isaiah Canaan (43) and CJ McCollum (16) joined fellow Big Ten stars DeShaun Thomas (26) and Trey Burke (16) on the squad. There are six players on this year’s team because McCollum and Burke tied for the last spot — not because the AP has, like many conferences, forgotten how to count. Keep this and all preseason All-America lists in the proper context, though — of the five players chosen to last year’s preseason team, only Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger ended up on both the preseason and postseason first team. Three others — Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, UNC’s Harrison Barnes, and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor — finished as Honorable Mention postseason winners, while Kentucky’s Terrence Jones didn’t even earn that distinction. The two season-long NPOY candidates from last year — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — were among the others receiving votes in last year’s preseason list. Caveat emptor.
  2. Tis the season for preseason rankings, selections, lists, and all sorts of fun but ultimately meaningless analysis. Still, until the first games tip off just over 10 days from now, this is all we’ve got. Basketball ProspectusDan Hanner has produced his preseason analysis of all 345 Division I teams, and as he notes, some of the results of his model may well surprise you. For example, the model loves UCLA and all of its incoming talent but isn’t nearly as high on Louisville and all of its returning talent. It seems to think that the Big 12 conference race is going to be one for the ages with eight teams at .500 or better, but it’s not buying into the hype that NC State is ready to overtake one of its rivals to win the ACC. If you’re a numbers geek who gets off on efficiency analytics, it will be interesting to do a cross-tabbed comparison between Hanner’s preseason rankings and the Ken Pomeroy preseason rankings which are due to release sometime later this week.
  3. For non-stat geeks, there’s always the controversial RPI, which despite its myriad shortcomings, remains the “organizational tool” of choice for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Building off of SI.com writer Luke Winn’s previous work examining several power conference schools gaming the RPI by playing (and beating) good mid-majors in the non-conference slate, TSN’s Ryan Fagan takes the next step and reviews a number of mid-major programs that have figured out the best way to prepare a team in terms of both the RPI and its corresponding mental toughness is to play those kinds of games, often on the road in places like Lawrence, Durham or Pittsburgh. He mentions that Davidson, Lehigh, Detroit, Belmont, UNC Asheville and Long Beach State (what else is new?) have all taken this tack with their non-conference scheduling this season. We’re certainly not complaining — these are some of the best games of the November and December months of the schedule.
  4. Iowa State’s transfer project keeps right on truckin’, with the weekend news that USC point guard Maurice Jones has matriculated there and will become eligible in the 2013-14 season. While Fred Hoiberg has picked up another talented piece for his backcourt — Jones did everything but serve fajitas to the fans in the Galen Center last year — there is a degree of oddness about his departure from the Trojan program. According to a September statement released by the school, Jones was declared academically ineligible at USC and would be forced to miss the season as a result. Jones disputes this characterization, stating unequivocally that he “just got suspended from the school for a year, but it wasn’t because of my grades. […] It was something that happened at the school. I can’t really say what it was, but it wasn’t my grades.” It would seem somewhat unusual for a school to suspend a player for a different reason while using academic issues as a cover story, so we’re not sure what exactly is going on with this one — what we do know is that Iowa State has picked up a talented waterbug of a player who should seamlessly move into a starting role to replace Korie Lucious (another transfer) next season.
  5. With Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky all populating the preseason top five lists, this is as good a time as any to make sure that you’re regularly reading the WDRB.com College Basketball Notebook from Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich. Based in Louisville, the duo is perfectly situated to report on many of the anecdotes, rumors and tidbits that come out of this basketball-crazed Fertile Crescent on a daily basis. In this week’s version, for example, Crawford and Bozich discuss the numerous suitors for Andrew Wiggins, Tom Crean’s threat to use his bench productively, Calipari’s naysaying about his latest batch of fabulous freshmen, and Pitino’s verbal merengue around his contract extension with the Cardinals. Trust us,  you’ll learn something new every time you stop by — make it part of you weekly reading.
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Honorary Pac-12 Members For 2012-13

Posted by AMurawa on October 29th, 2012

There are seven teams from other conferences across the country that will have three different Pac-12 teams on their schedule this year. While fans of Pac-12 schools will likely be rooting against these seven teams in those games against conference foes, whenever these schools face other teams from other conferences, it will be in the best interest of the league as a whole to have these seven teams win as much as possible. We all know the RPI may be a flawed metric, but it is a metric that the selection committee uses in one form or another to help select and slot teams in the bracket come March. And how the RPI is determined is quite simple: It takes into account your team’s winning percentage, the winning percentage of your opponents, and one step further, the winning percentage of your opponents’ opponents. In other words, even if your school isn’t playing one of these teams this season, since your team will be playing against three Pac-12 opponents of these schools, your RPI will get a boost if these teams win. So, without further ado, below we will list and give a brief rundown of the seven Division I teams with three Pac-12 teams on their schedule.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (RPI: #302) – Last season, the Golden Lions started out by losing 19 of their first 21 games on their way to an 11-22 year. The sad thing is that was an improvement over 2010-11, when they lost their first 14 games and finished 7-24. There are some extenuating circumstances, however. For instance, two years ago their first 12 games – all non-conference games – were on the road, with seven games against teams from the top seven conferences in the nation. Last year was slightly better, with only nine games on their non-conference slate as true road games (the other four were neutral-site games). This year, though, head coach George Ivory is back to getting his team killed in the non-conference slate. Not only will UAPB play at Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon, but they’ll also make soul-crushing trips to San Diego State and Michigan State. But hey, give credit to Ivory for at least scheduling a trip to Hawai’i  to take part in the Rainbow Classic there. This team will have earned its preemptive vacation by the time its non-conference slate is done. The good news is that the Golden Lions have a pair of talented returning starters and a couple veterans coming back from medical redshirts. But let’s face facts. If UAPB comes out of its non-conference schedule with something like a 3-8 record, that will be an astoundingly good result. The Pac-12 will need this squad to clean up in the SWAC in order to get any benefit from having them on the schedule.

George Ivory, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

UAPB’s Head Coach George Ivory Is Not Adverse To Getting His Team Killed In the Non-Conference Schedule

Cal State Northridge (RPI: #324) – If anyone outside of the San Fernando Valley knows anything about the Matadors, it likely has to do with the fact that they were banned from NCAA Tournament eligibility last season due to poor academic performance. But, that’s in the past now, and CSUN used last year’s lost season to develop a bunch of youngsters. Between last year’s Big West freshman of the year, Stephen Hicks, classmate Stephen Maxwell, and sophomore point Josh Greene, the Matadors return the three most efficient high-use offensive players from last year’s squad. Throw in incoming freshmen Landon Drew (brother of UCLA point guard Larry Drew II) and Brandon Perry and this a young and talented squad. And, even better for Pac-12 schools, they have a manageable schedule. Their visits to UCLA, Arizona State and Utah comprise three of their four toughest games on the schedule and their non-conference slate is loaded with winnable games for them, including a trio of non-Division I opponents. But, the real test for CSUN will be how it can do in conference play this year, with the usual favorite, Long Beach State, being challenged by Cal State Fullerton and newcomer Hawai’i. But, if everything comes together, an upper-division finish in the Big West is not out of the question.

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