Analyzing Lindy’s and Sporting News’ Preseason Top 10 Rankings

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 30th, 2013

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

College football’s season kickoff Thursday night offered another small reminder that Division I’s basketball brethren aren’t too far away from getting things started themselves. People have begun analyzing and prognosticating how the upcoming season – expected to be one of college hoops’ best in the past decade – will shake out, which teams will win which leagues, who can compete for a national championship, which likely one-and-done freshmen will leave the most memorable imprints on the game. All of this stuff is fun and exciting and at the same time frustratingly titillating, and the rush of emotional anticipation will resonate even more acutely as we move closer to November. Two notable preseason rankings were unveiled this week, and while there will be many of the same rolled out over the next two months, the relative dearth of interesting college hoops news this week was just the invitation I needed to dissect the contents of a pair of speculative team orderings.

Pushing Louisville down to 7th was a big oversight by Lindy’s (Getty Images)

The two rankings come courtesy of Sporting News and Lindy’s. Nothing about either list was particularly surprising or puzzling, with the inexplicable exception of one certain defending national champion being excluded from one of the top 5s (more on this below). There isn’t too much to dig into here, but if it means discussing the best teams entering college basketball this season in a totally speculative context, I’m not going to say no. If there is a fun aspect to the college basketball offseason, it is this: criticizing other people’s rankings.

  • Talking point No. 1, undoubtedly, is Louisville’s shocking No. 7 ranking on Lindy’s top 10 list. Not only are the Cardinals expected, in many corners, to compete for a national championship, they bring back the core of the team that won the national championship last season. What compelled the college hoops hive minds at Lindy’s to push the Cardinals down six spots from their championship perch, I can’t possibly begin to explain. Save for the loss of shot-blocking center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville is just as deep and talented as it was last season. Protecting the rim could be an issue, especially if 6’8″ forward Montrezl Harrell doesn’t morph into the formidable post defender Rick Pitino needs to make his high-pressure defense flourish, but the Cardinals should again rank among the nation’s top five or so defenses; return one of the most talented backcourts in the country, including Ken Pomeroy’s 2012-13 Player of the Year, Russ Smith; and have the added motivation of – and this almost sounds insane, considering where UL finished up last April – trying to dethrone Kentucky from its preseason national championship front-runner status. That rivalry is vicious and impassioned and highly entertaining in any season. Imagine what it will be like this year, with a reloaded Cardinals team and UK welcoming in the most highly rated recruiting class since the Fab Five. The Bluegrass rivalry tangent misses the point, sure, but whatever measure you wish to use to vet Louisville’s preseason merits, a No. 7 ranking seems drastically low. Maybe it was a typo (ed. note: European sevens sometimes look like US ones.)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Like many other college basketball sites we have talked quite a bit about Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to commit to Southern Methodist and how it could affect their recruiting forward. One thing that most writers glossed over, but Mike DeCourcy goes in-depth about is Emmanuel’s brother, John Michael, and how he could have a huge impact on the program even if he does not fill up the box score. While we remain surprised that Emmanuel turned down Kentucky and many other top-tier programs to come to SMU, the fact that he would enroll at a school to play with his brother (and a Hall of Fame coach) should not be that shocking. Having said that we will wait until Emmanuel actually matriculates before we are ready to officially put him in SMU’s column.
  2. In the wake of the NCAA laying down the hammer on Johnny Manziel, several media members and a few anonymous coaches/administrators have taken shots at the NCAA, but few individuals have as much reason to criticize the NCAA as former Miami guard Dequan Jones. You may remember Jones as the Miami player who was forced to sit out 11 games of his senior year after the NCAA took Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro’s word that a Miami assistant had asked for $10,000 to get Jones to commit to Miami before the NCAA finally backed down when they could not find any evidence against him (other than the word of Shapiro). As you can imagine Jones was less than thrilled with how the NCAA handled their investigation of Manziel in comparison to how his was handled. We suspect that Jones is not alone among athletes who have previously been targeted by the NCAA and walked away with much larger penalties that what Manziel incurred.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the new Midnight Madness, but there is still some movement within the coaching ranks. Normally the hiring of an assistant coach at a mid (or low)-major would not merit a mention here, but the announcement that former Boston College coach Al Skinner had been added as an assistant on the Bryant staff intrigued us. Gary Williams might remain the most well-known (and successful coach) to grace the Chestnut Hill sidelines, but it is Skinner who remains the all-time winningest coach in school history. Obviously Skinner left under circumstances that can best be described as less than ideal, but if this current stint at Bryant works out for him he could soon be in the running for some fairly prominent coaching vacancies.
  4. It has been a precipitous fall for Anrio Adams. After enrolling at Kansas (arguably the most successful program in the country in recent years) Adams found himself stuck behind Ben McLemore before a series of unfortunate tweets led to Adams’ departure/dismissal from the team. From there Adams wound up at Ohio (a solid, but not elite program). Now after his decision to leave Ohio after just two months to pursue options at the junior college level we have to wonder where he is headed next. Although Adams was probably never headed for the NBA this is not the ideal trajectory for a player who was once a 4-star recruit. We do not know Adams’ motivation for leaving Ohio, but at this rate we do not expect to see Adams playing a meaningful role at the Division I level any time soon.
  5. After a hot streak picking up transfers it appears that at least one of USC‘s transfers–Ari Stewart–will not be playing for the Trojans this season as the former Wake Forest transfer reportedly failed to qualify academically. Stewart, who sat out the 2011-12 as a transfer redshirt, averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans and would have helped the Trojans on the inside this season. Unfortunately for Stewart he already used his redshirt year when he transferred meaning that his college career is over. Thankfully for Andy Enfield he will have VCU transfer D.J. Haley available this season to take some of the minutes that Stewart likely would have had.
Share this story

ESPN, College Sports Programming Face Uncertain Future

Posted by BHayes on August 29th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

If you love college athletics, you have little choice but to love ESPN. The “Worldwide Leader” has long dominated the broadcasting of college athletic events, especially in the two sports that matter most – football and basketball. Earlier in the week, the New York Times released a three-part series of investigative reports that examined the central role ESPN has played in the rise of college sports programming. Many of their discoveries pertaining to the past, present, and future states of the industry fall very much outside the scope of common knowledge, and we came to find out that university athletic officials are actually not all that that different from fans when it comes to ESPN. The network’s value to the world of college athletics is so prodigious, and their monopolizing grasp sufficiently expansive, that whether they like it or not, conference representatives and university athletic departments have been forced to embrace and cater to the network and their needs. Just like us, there is no alternative: They must love ESPN. But in this age of ever-evolving broadcast media possibilities, where cable networks are suddenly finding themselves on perilous footing, the question of the day is whether ESPN will be able to maintain that firm grip on the college sports programming market moving forward.

Jay Bilas Is Just One Of The Many ESPN Personalities We Have Come To Know Well Over The Years; What Is The Network's Future When It Comes To College Sports Programming?

Jay Bilas Is Just One Of The Many ESPN Personalities We Have Come To Know Well Over The Years; What Is The Network’s Future When It Comes To College Sports Programming? (Getty Images)

Through the 1990s and early 2000s, ESPN built a swath of broadcasting rights to football and basketball games in most of the major conferences. They had no real competition in the space, and were able to get away with accumulating rights for more games than they had time to broadcast. This sort of “warehousing” did not sit well with conference and university athletic officials, who naturally sought maximum television exposure for their conferences and teams. But with no other key players in the marketplace, they had no other option but to stick with the all-powerful ESPN. A 2004 Justice Department investigation into the practice of warehousing prompted the creation of ESPNU as an accommodation to some of those complaints, but while other networks have attempted to beef up their college sports programming volume – Fox, CBS, NBC most notable among them – ESPN still maintains a stranglehold strong enough to force schools to accede to their every demand.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

No Dante Exum in 2013-14? College Hoops Won’t Suffer Too Much

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 29th, 2013

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

In the immediate aftermath of the Miami Heat’s thrilling seven-game victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, college and professional basketball fans alike directed their focus not at the player draft looming one week ahead, but at the 2014 draft – the one expected to be populated by the most talented recruiting class, featuring one of the most talented players, of the past decade. Speculation of various teams “tanking” was abundant and widespread. General managers assumed futuristic, pick-stacking, salary-shedding free agency strategies. “Wig-out for [Andrew] Wiggins” entered the lexicon. Everyone wanted to get in on the talent bounty waiting in the 2014 draft lottery. Rightfully so. By now, the biggest prospects basically roll off the tongue as a reflex: Kansas’ Wiggins, Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, among others. But there’s one name you might not be quite as familiar with. That name is Dante Exum, an Australian-born 6’6″, 188-pound slasher who had scouts swooning after stealing the show at the FIBA U-19 World Championships in the Czech Republic this summer (along with a standout performance at the Nike Hoop Summit), where he averaged 18 points per game, just under four assists, and dropped 33 points against a formidable team from Spain.

Even in a loaded 2014 draft class, Exum should be a lottery pick if he declares (Getty Images).

The NBA Draft chatter intensified, and Exum’s lottery bona fides soon hardened into a national scouting consensus, leaving little doubt he would join Wiggins and Randle and the like in upper reaches of the first round next June. Earlier this summer, ESPN.com draft insider Chad Ford ranked Exum third on his list of “Top 100 Draft Prospects” for 2014. The only lingering question about Exum, who is on track to finish his high school course work in October, making him eligible to enroll in any American university at the end of the fall semester, was whether he would bring his hyperbolically mythologized land-down-under skills to the Division I ranks for a few months before entering the draft. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman answered that question on Tuesday:

“Schools have been saying I can start in early December and play this season,” Exum told ESPN. “But if college is the option, I’ll stay in Australia, do workouts with the national team and then go to college next August. Playing this season in college is not an option.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. It’s not very often that a piece of random news floors us, but the revelation that former Washington State, Iowa and USC head coach George Raveling has in his possession a copy of one of Martin Luther King’s original “I Have a Dream” speeches is nothing short of astonishing. CBS News reported on Tuesday that the 76-year old coach and media personality — then an assistant coach at Villanova — was one of the volunteer security marshals standing on the Mall near King 50 years ago when he delivered his rousing speech, and that King handed him a copy of it as he stepped off the podium. One expert on genuine historical documents estimated that Raveling’s copy could be worth as much as $20-25 million on the open market, given that King’s most famous speech was given at the height of the civil rights movement. It is sometimes so beautifully strange how life intersects with itself.
  2. And on that note, we move to eligibility issues. The NCAA ruled Wednesday on the case of former Louisville and Florida International forward Rakeem Buckles, a fifth-year senior who had applied for a transfer waiver (based on FIU’s postseason ban) to play at Minnesota this season. If his appeal is denied, Buckles will be forced into a precarious situation where if he stays at Minnesota he risks gambling that the NCAA will allow him a sixth year of eligibility in 2014-15 (no slam dunk), or he will have to return to FIU this season to play in a no-win situation there. For Minnesota, a team facing a significant rebuilding project inside after losing most of its frontcourt talent, Buckles was expected to help man the interior for new head coach Richard Pitino. Now all he can do is cross his fingers and hope for the best.
  3. We mentioned the Lindy’s top 10 rankings in yesterday’s M5, and that created a bit of a firestorm on Twitter as a result. But the truth is that in today’s college basketball environment there are no teams in any year that don’t come in with weaknesses. The most experienced teams are short on talent; and the most talented teams are short on experience. As a result, your preseason top 10 might look a good bit different than ours, and even splitting the difference, there’s a better than reasonable chance that both of us will be completely wrong. The Sporting News yesterday released its 16 regional magazine covers, in the process also unveiling its preseason top 10, and needless to say, there were fewer surprises than with Lindy’s. Mike DeCourcy took time to break down each team’s glaring weakness, and as we’ve said before, even using the dreaded slideshow format, he gives great analysis that makes it worth the click-throughs. Although we’re still not sold on North Carolina, fellas, just for the record.
  4. One of the teams we do believe in next season is Duke, and it goes without saying that Mike Krzyzewski will mold his personnel into a tightly-knit unit that maximizes the talent it can put on the floor. One of K’s all-time great point guards — and there have been several — was Bobby Hurley, and as the standard by which most of the others are measured, he is about to begin his first season as a Division I head coach at the University of Buffalo. ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil writes that Hurley the head coach is truthfully in no hurry to get his young charges started on their first season with him at the helm — in fact, he wants as much time as possible to set goals and expectations. Of course, there’s no telling whether the superb floor game and team leadership that Hurley possessed in spades at Duke can effectively translate to players two decades later who have barely heard of him, but if there’s any of the brand-new coaches we’d be willing on betting on, it would probably be this one. The guy has always been a winner.
  5. Where is Canada? We feel like there’s a South Park reference in that question somewhere, but that didn’t stop Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker from doing an ad lib Jaywalking-style Q&A with his teammates about all things above the border. It’s more cute than clever, but we will give it up for the #goodjobgoodeffort of somehow bringing Ryan Gosling into the mix.  But that’s enough from us, enjoy your Thursday, the starting date of the college football season, and feel free to start it off with the video.

Share this story

2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Syracuse Orange

Posted by BHayes on August 28th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

In many ways, the 2013-14 season looks to be business as usual at Syracuse. The roster is deep and talented, expectations are sky-high, and Jim Boeheim is manning the sidelines for the Orange. But you can rest assured that there will have never been a Syracuse basketball season like this one. The day is finally here – the Orange, charter members of the Big East conference, are now officially ACC constituents. Heading south with them are former Big East brethren Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The addition of these three formidable basketball programs makes the ACC, at least on paper, the toughest hoops conference in the land.

Jim Boeheim And CJ Fair Are Looking Forward To Syracuse's First Year In The ACC

Jim Boeheim And C.J. Fair Are Looking Forward To Syracuse’s First Year In the ACC

  • Team Outlook: Duke will undoubtedly be eager to remind the newbies that the ACC is its conference to rule, but Syracuse should be as poised as any foe to upend the Blue Devils. The Orange frontcourt is loaded, with junior and all-Big East second teamer C.J. Fair (14.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG) leading the charge. Surrounding Fair up front is a trio of high-upside sophomores. Rakeem Christmas (5.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG), DaJuan Coleman (4.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG), and Jerami Grant (3.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG) are all expected to see an uptick in production in year two, but of the three, it is Grant who has the best chance to quickly transform himself from role player into star. Junior Baye Keita (8.6 block percentage) will also see minutes up front, while Duke transfer Michael Gbinije and freshman B.J. Johnson will battle to find time in this crowded frontcourt. Not surprisingly, given the remarkable depth up front, the question marks for Jim Boeheim and the Orange all appear in the backcourt. Gone are Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, leaving Trevor Cooney as the sole backcourt returnee who saw any time a year ago. The sophomore is an engaged and capable defender, but will be expected to shoot the ball better from the outside this time around (he was just 27% from three as a freshman). He may also be tasked with handling some backup point guard duties, as there is no obvious reserve for presumptive starter Tyler Ennis. Ennis, a freshman from Ontario, California, may be the most important player on the Orange roster. With said deficit of ball-handlers, the consensus top-25 recruit will have the rock in his hands a whole lot, and what he does with it will go a long ways towards determining the fate of this Syracuse season. With all the talent around him he does not need to be nearly as dynamic as MCW was a year ago, but with few other options around, he most certainly has to play a solid floor game for the Orange to begin to tap their full potential. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.28.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 28th, 2013

morning5

  1. With the college football season kicking off Thursday night, the New York Times has used this week to closely examine the power and ubiquity that ESPN has enjoyed as the voice of American sports for the better part of two generations. Part Three of Remote Control: Inside the Power of ESPN was published on Tuesday, and the core theme of the piece is that ESPN has remained on the offensive in an effort to retain its relative hegemony among US sports fans. But with Fox Sports 1 already launched and a growing but powerful minority of people seeking to cut the cord from bundled cable television (and major Internet companies seeking to serve them), the World Wide Leader is facing legitimate assaults on its business model for perhaps the first time in its history. Here’s the most key takeaway from the piece, in our opinion: “Of the network’s nearly 100 million households, an average of just 1.36 million viewers watched in prime time during the second quarter of this year.” A model where 100 percent of subscribers pay $5.54 each for the use and enjoyment of 1.36 percent of the pool does not seem sustainable for perpetuity. It’s going to be very, very interesting to see how Google, Apple and the others spend the next few years working around this problem.
  2. Mark your calendar. Yesterday was exactly 45 days from the Friday that we traditionally associate with Midnight Madness (October 11), and 73 days from the opening night of the 2013-14 regular season (November 9). Why do these random passages of time matter? Because yesterday was also the day that the first glossy preseason magazine – Lindy’sreleased its preseason Top 10 in hopes of building up some drama before its press release on September 10 (guess what, it worked). The magazine’s choice of Michigan State for #1 was reasonable if not a bit contrarian (most publications are likely to go with Kentucky or Louisville), but the odd choice to drop the defending national champion Louisville down as far as #7 in the poll was a real eye-opener. ESPN.com‘s Myron Medcalf called the selection “ridiculous… nonsense,” and we can’t disagree with him on that point; no more of an authority than last season’s team leader, Peyton Siva, went on record with Jeff Goodman on Tuesday and legitimately believes that next year’s Cardinals should be “better” than his title-winning group. You hear that a lot from recently-graduated players who have experienced a lot of their own success, but a top 10 preseason list that left out Arizona (and some say Syracuse) might be setting itself up for substantial criticism. Still, if Lindy’s is right, that Champions Classic this year looks even more dynamite!
  3. One of the schools in Lindy’s top 10 is Florida, ranked at #8 in their preseason poll. With the amount of talent that Billy Donovan is both retaining and bringing into Gainesville, it’s entirely reasonable to place the Gators in the top 10 for next season. However, it appears that they will need to survive the first semester without one of its most-hyped newcomers, as elite forward Chris Walker has run out of time to finish coursework needed to enroll in school this term. The lanky forward will presumably now have plenty of hours available to get eligible by the time winter break hits, and as The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg writes, he theoretically could still be in Florida’s lineup for its December 17 game against Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic. With so much on the line — both in terms of plain old fun not to mention any professional aspirations — it always amazes us when someone can’t do enough simple school work to earn his eligibility. Still, we don’t mean to try to walk in another man’s shoes, but for his own sake as well as the game of college basketball, we hope he finds his path to Gainesville sometime in the next four months.
  4. Did you know that the NCAA, a non-profit institution in name only of course, has what it calls a “quasi-endowment?” And were you aware that this quasi-endowment along with an “operating reserve” is worth a reported $527 million after a three-year run where the fund earned a robust 10.8 percent? According to Bloomberg News, the NCAA has in fact been building this “rainy day” fund since 2004, attempting to cover itself in case of a future catastrophic drop in revenue. You might as well call it the Ed O’Bannon Fund at this point, as the credit rating agency Moody’s recently lowered the NCAA’s grade to “negative,” citing the O’Bannon case as well as risk from rules improprieties as primary factors affecting its rating. The NCAA uses all but four percent of its annual revenue by passing it along to its member conferences, schools and operating expenses of its 89 national championships, but it is a little-known fact that the organization has a half-billion in investments sitting in the virtual vault out in Indy.
  5. Let’s end this one with a strong interview from SI.com‘s Andy Glockner, who spent some time recently conversing with USA Today‘s longtime statistical guru, Jeff Sagarin. In a two-part series called Verbatim, Glockner explores how Sagarin came to develop his incredibly robust system for rating and comparing teams across many different sports. As a reader who grew up studying the Sagarin ratings as printed on the back page of the Sports section of USAT, this interview was fascinating stuff, but fair warning, if you’re not really into the numbers behind sports — and really, we’re talking probabilities here — then it might not be for you. Nevertheless, here’s part one and part two. Enjoy, you might just learn a few things.
Share this story

A Familiar Narrative: Xavier Rathan-Mayes of Florida State Snagged By Academic Issues

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 27th, 2013

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

Academic eligibility issues among high-level college basketball recruits are not a novel development. They are varied and wide-raging, stretching across the national prep landscape, from Dallas to New Hampshire to  and everywhere in between. Players leaving so-called “diploma mills,” schools devised to graduate high-level prospects by any means necessary to meet minimum eligibility requirements at the next level, often see their transitions to Division I interrupted once the NCAA looks into their shoddy academic credentials. Top 10 Florida signee Chris Walker is a recent high-profile example. Ben McLemore is another famous case. The accounts of academic negligence in high school coming back to bite players in college – whether by partial qualifier rulings or outright ineligibility – are too numerous to document in one post. Monday brought news of another highly-ranked recruit losing his college eligibility after not receiving academic clearance from the NCAA: Florida State recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the No. 7-ranked shooting guard and No. 30-ranked player in the 2014 class, according to Rivals. Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton broke the news Monday afternoon.

Losing Rathan-Mayes is a huge blow for FSU (Getty Images).

“Following a review by the NCAA Eligibility Center, it was determined that some of the coursework Xavier completed during his high school enrollment could not be used to satisfy NCAA Division I initial-eligibility requirements,” the school released in a statement. “The NCAA has allowed Xavier to enroll immediately at Florida State and receive athletics scholarship. However, he will not be permitted to practice or compete during the first year of enrollment.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Evaluating Big Ten’s Sophomore Class of 2013-14: LaQuinton Ross

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on August 27th, 2013

Deepak is a columnist for the RTC Big Ten microsite. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

With less than three months left until the college season tips off, we at the RTC Big Ten Microsite are here to get you excited about the stars who are returning next season and ready to take on the responsibility of leading their teams to conference glory. Over the next few weeks, we plan to evaluate a number of key Big Ten sophomores who will have an impact on their team’s performance throughout the season. Today, we focus on Ohio State forward LaQuinton Ross.

(Note: We included Ross as part of the sophomore discussion even though he is officially listed as a junior because he barely played more than 30 minutes during his first season in Columbus due to academic issues.) 

Laquinton Ross (right) will fill up the stat sheet next season.

LaQuinton Ross (right) will fill up the stat sheet next season.

We live in a college hoops era where scouts determine if a player will have an immediate offensive impact on a team based purely on his physical attributes. LaQuinton Ross’ playing time last season was a conundrum to many pro scouts because a lean 6’8’’ forward who can shoot effectively from long range should average more than 17 MPG during Big Ten play. Yet, Thad Matta didn’t use Ross for much of the season because he preferred the experience and maturity of Shannon Scott and the defensive intensity of Sam Thompson over Ross’ obvious offensive firepower. Next season, however, should be an altogether different story because, without Deshaun Thomas in the Buckeyes’ lineup, Matta will need to depend on someone who can score with relative ease, and Ross should be able to fulfill that role. Let’s evaluate the parts of Ross’ game that will determine if he can become one of the primary weapons for the Buckeyes next season.

What did we learn from last year?

We learned that the incoming hype about Ross’ offensive game was legitimate. Despite his sporadic minutes, he averaged 8.3 PPG and shot 39% from beyond the arc last season. It was already a well-known fact that he could score, but we also witnessed during the NCAA Tournament that he can do so with ease against excellent competition. If he were allowed more minutes, he has the talent to approach an average of 18-20 PPG during the Big Ten season. So why didn’t he get more playing time? Because he also proved to be a defensive liability, and — this is the Big Ten, after all — Matta realized that he couldn’t afford to give up easy buckets on the defensive end just so he could use Ross to score. Last year’s Buckeyes relied on stalwart defense to succeed and with the NBA draftee Thomas picking up most of the scoring burden, Ross wasn’t going to get consistent playing time until he regularly covered his defensive assignments. Still, his talent was too much for Matta to ignore during the postseason and Ross took advantage of his meaningful minutes to average 18 PPG over the Buckeyes’ last three games against Iowa State, Arizona and Wichita State.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. At this point it seems like the NCAA is just trolling us (ok, we passed that point long ago). The latest outrage is over the NCAA giving Pe’Shon Howard a hardship waiver enabling him to play at USC this season as the result of his grandmother battling an undisclosed form of cancer. Now very few people would raise strenuous objection to the NCAA’s waiver (ok, maybe those who feel that the NCAA hands them out too freely), but this comes at a particularly bad time as it was just last week that news came out the NCAA had denied another player a waiver after both his father and brother died last winter (see point #2). As for the actual on-court ramifications it is a big pick-up for Andy Enfield and will move Howard from a probable back-up at Maryland to a likely starter to USC.
  2. If you had any question about the impact of Emmanuel Mudiay commitment to Southern Methodist, which Chris Johnson covered yesterday in his post, look no further than the report by Jeff Goodman that Myles Turner was now considering going to SMU too. Turner, who emerged as a top-ten prospect during the summer, had cut his list to eight school as of earlier this month and at the time SMU was not on the list. Now it appears that Turner is planning on taking an official visit to the school. We are not sure if anything will come of this or if it is merely one high school star looking at a school that one of his friends from the AAU circuit opted to go to, but this type of attention can only boost SMU’s reputation among recruits and the school will have to hope that it can continue beyond this year.
  3. Most of our attention regarding the eligibility of incoming freshmen guards in the state of Florida has been focused on Gainesville where the fate of Chris Walker remains in limbo, but it turns out that Florida State is the first school in Florida to feel the brunt of the NCAA Clearinghouse this season as incoming guard and consensus top-50 recruit Xavier Rathan-Meyes was declared ineligible for the coming season after his file was reviewed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. According to reports the issue stems from the NCAA’s concerns with a year of his credits from Christian Faith Center in North Carolina. Rathan-Meyes will be allowed to enroll at FSU this year under his athletic scholarship and the school hopes to have him eligible for the 2014-15 season.
  4. Over the past few years TV deals for conferences and more significantly schools have become a topic of intense focus, but one area that has largely ignored was how schools that do not even generate headlines with their TV deals can benefit. The New York Times took an interesting look at how Louisville has benefited from its relationship with ESPN. As the article notes the school has had to make many sacrifices including playing many weekday college football games that at one time were considered a major negative for the program, but now have become a protected national stage for the program (both football and overall) to shine and make generate revenue for the school that goes well beyond that night’s gross sales. This obviously raises questions as to what will happen as Fox Sports 1 and other competitors enter the landscape and threaten to poach schools away from ESPN and how ESPN will respond, but we will leave that for another day.
  5. It would not have helped Syracuse’s APR if such a metric existed at the time, but it is nice to see that Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman is returning to school to finish the requisite coursework to graduate even if it is 23 years after he left the school to go to the NBA. For our younger readers who may not remember, Coleman actually did stay at Syracuse for four years before he was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Despite spending four years at Syracuse, Coleman is still 12 credits short of getting his degree and is supposedly set to graduate this coming spring based on his schedule although he will be taking his course online, which gives him a little more leeway in terms of when he will finish.
Share this story

Five More Additions to ESPN’s College Basketball Bucket List

Posted by BHayes on August 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Last week ESPN released a “college bucket list”: a compilation of must-see stops in the world of college athletics. Naturally, the bulk of the list consisted of requisite college football and basketball experiences. The hoops portion contains visits to a number of storied hardwoods — Cameron Indoor, Allen Fieldhouse, and Rupp Arena, among others. We certainly can’t find any issue with any of ESPN’s 10 listed selections, but to round out the list, we can think of a few more pilgrimages that college basketball fans simply have to make in their lifetimes. Consider these five the appetizers to go along with the entrees that ESPN already listed.

Vegas in March is Like Nothing Else

Vegas in March is Like Nothing Else

Spend the First Weekend Of NCAA Tournament At a Vegas Sports Book (Las Vegas, NV) – It’s a marriage made in heaven: the most exciting, frenzied weekend of American sport paired with a manic city loaded with the most prime of sports viewing stations – a Las Vegas sports book. It may sound strange, but gambling is entirely optional for this Vegas trip. No place better captures the emotional pendulum of the NCAA Tournament’s first weekend than a packed sports book, and every college hoops fan – even those not inclined to wagering money on the games – should take in March’s first dose of Madness from Sin City at least once.

Attend a Game at the Kennel (Spokane, WA) – The Cinderella phenomenon has long been a crucial piece of college basketball lore, and no program is more synonymous with the role than the Gonzaga Bulldogs. As “mid-major” schools like Butler, Creighton, and VCU continue to cultivate programs that look built to last, it’s important to remember that it was the Zags who first drafted the blueprint. They are “America’s Team” to some but Spokane’s team to all, and the rabid support of their school and city has quickly made the Kennel one of the most feared home courts in all the land. Don’t be fooled — if you make the trip out to Eastern Washington you will not find the tradition of a Kentucky or a Kansas waiting there for you. But what you will find is a city, a program, and a team that, in the most populist of senses, embodies what college basketball is all about.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The RTC Interview Series: One on One with Brandon Miller

Posted by WCarey on August 26th, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Brandon Miller is a man who knows Butler basketball. As a point guard for the Bulldogs from 2000-03, he started 97 consecutive games and helped lead the team to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2003 NCAA Tournament – the program’s first such appearance since 1962. After his playing career concluded, Miller began a coaching career on the staffs at Xavier (2003-04), Ohio State (2006-07 and 2008-11), Butler (2007-08), and Illinois (2012-13). What is interesting about each stop in Miller’s assistant coaching career is that every head coach that he worked under – Thad Matta, Brad Stevens, and John Groce – has ties to Butler as an assistant and/or head coach. Following the 2012-13 season, Miller decided to return to Butler to serve on Stevens’ staff. Then, on July 3, Butler and the college basketball world in general were thrown for a loop when Stevens announced that he would leave Butler to take the head coaching job with the Boston Celtics. Butler athletic director Barry Collier acted fast over the holiday weekend, and on July 6, he named the newly-hired Miller as Stevens’ successor. After speaking with new USC coach Andy Enfield and new UCLA coach Steve Alford in the past couple of weeks, RTC correspondent Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) recently had the pleasure of speaking to new Butler coach Brandon Miller (@BUCoachMiller) about his playing days at Butler, his coaching career to this point, Butler’s recent summer trip to Australia, and the coach’s outlook on the future of Butler basketball.

RTC: You took the Butler job under unique circumstances. You had just arrived back at the school in April expecting to serve on Brad Stevens’ staff, but three months later, Stevens was off to the Boston Celtics and you were now the head coach at Butler. How has that transition gone and what excites you about being back at Butler  – now as the leader of the program?

The Bulldogs moved quickly to hire Miller. Navigating their conference jump won't be quite as simple (AP).

The Bulldogs Moved Quickly to Hire Miller to Its Top Hoops Post. (AP).

Brandon Miller: To answer the second question first, I think it is always special to be able to coach at a place where you have played. To not only play here, but to have a terrific experience here, is what makes it truly special. Having been an assistant coach here before, it made even more sense to come back to a program that really fits me. It is a program I believe in. It is a program I believe has done it the right way. The program parallels the values I have and what I want to do as a head coach. In terms of the transition, it has been terrific. I have had a ton of fun. Getting to coach our guys, getting out on the recruiting trail four days after I became head coach, and getting to practice with the current team for 10 days before we headed off to Australia has been a lot of fun. I think our players and our staff would agree that we have a lot of fun in a short amount of time.

RTC: A lot is made about “The Butler Way” and the small-town feel of the program. How would you personally articulate “The Butler Way” and what do you think makes the program so unique?

Miller: I think anytime you talk about the Butler Way, you are talking about getting the right people on the bus. It starts with the people and that is university-wide, whether it is the administration, the faculty, everyone in the athletic department, the coaches, and the players. It is about getting the right people on the bus who are going to do things the right way. There is high-character people that you work with every single day and there are high-character players that you coach. The Butler Way is a value-based basketball program – you talk about humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness – things that we not only talk about, but try to live by each day. Those have been our values for awhile – they have stayed the values through every transition, as our foundation has stayed the same. Some would even argue that it has grown stronger. The bottom line is that when those things happen, you just learn to do the right thing. That is something that we continue to talk about and continue to live. We work on those things as coaches every single day that we have our guys.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story