AAC M5: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on October 31st, 2013


  1. The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, suspended Memphis freshman Kuran Iverson for the Tigers’ first regular season game against in-state foe Austin Peay for playing basketball in two different cities this summer. Iverson, a Hartford, Connecticut native, played summer league games in both Memphis (the Bluff City Classic) and Waterbury, Connecticut (the Hartford Pro Am). The NCAA limits players to one team in one league during the summer, and Memphis self-reported the violation. “He assumed he could (play in the Hartford summer league) because it was in his backyard, in his neighborhood, and he grew up watching the league” Memphis coach Josh Pastner told the Commerical-Appeal. “He didn’t think anything would be against it.” Iverson can play in preseason exhibitions and scrimmages, will sit against Austin Peay (ranked #283 in the country by Ken Pomeroy) and will return for a road trip to Oklahoma State, who Pomeroy ranks #4. The timing is convenient for the Tigers, who shouldn’t have much trouble with Austin Peay, but will need all the help they can get against Marcus Smart and the Cowboys.
  2. Speaking of Memphis preseason games, coach Josh Pastner said he is trying to focus on defensive pressure ahead of this weekend’s “secret” scrimmage against Baylor. The Tigers’ defense has improved each year under Pastner; in 2009-2010, his first season, the team ranked #163 in Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Defense at 101.2 (which roughly translates to allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions against the average D-1 offense). The team rose to #60 in the ranking in 2010-2011 (96.4), #16 in 2011-2012 (91.6) and #13 last season (90.0). The defense played the crucial role in Pastner’s first NCAA tournament victory, when the Tigers snagged nine steals and limited St. Mary’s to 33% shooting. Maintaining a stout defense this season (Pomeroy projects the Tigers to rank #15 at 92.5) will be particularly crucial with the step up in competition to the American.
  3. A year ago, Connecticut had only thing left to play for: “Pride,” junior guard Ryan Boatright said to USA Today. “Pride and proving the world wrong.” Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun had just retired in the face of the Huskies’ ineligibility for the NCAA tournament due to academics. Kevin Ollie was named the interim coach, “but I looked at it like I had a lifetime deal,” Ollie, a former Connecticut point guard, told USA Today. “I look that way at every aspect of my life, everything. That’s how I want my players to look at things. Sometimes you’ve got to believe in the dark. You don’t know the outcome, but you just keep believing in one another.” Playing for pride, and believing in one another, carried Connecticut to a 20-win season and now has them ranked #19 in the preseason coaches poll. Ollie got a new contract, and now finds himself as one of brightest young coaching stars in the game. Once Louisville leaves of the ACC, Connecticut will be the clear face of the league, and Ollie’s early success has them well poised to for that role.
  4. The major obstacle to Connecticut’s success this year certainly appears to be its thin frontcourt, and Wednesday’s easy exhibition win over Southern Connecticut State can’t be too comforting on that issue. The Huskies were outrebounded by their Division II foes 48-43, and managed only five offensive rebounds compared to SCSU’s 18. “I wasn’t happy with the rebounding effort, and they’ll understand that when we get back Friday,” Kevin Ollie said after the game, but singled out sophomore Phil Nolan for praise. “He as six rebounds in 11 minutes, that’s pretty damn good. If he does that, he’ll play.” For his part, Nolan said the rebounding would improve. “We’ll get back in the lab and work on rebounding, and you’ll see improvement next time,” Nolan said, adding that “People say we have a small team, but you look at it, we’re pretty big. We can do a lot of things.” The American promises to be a perimeter-oriented league, but the Huskies must improve their rebounding (they ranked #278 in offensive rebounding percentage and #319 in defensive rebounding percentage last year, according to Pomeroy) if they want to live up to their lofty preseason ranking.
  5. Temple coach Fran Dunphy has been a head coach in college for 24 years – with 15 NCAA tournament trips – but thinks this year might be his toughest yet. “I think this is as challenged as I’ve been as a basketball coach,” Dunphy told CBSSports.com. “It should be a very interesting experience for us this year to see where we wind up. There’s a lot of unknowns and a lot of apprehension at this point.” That’s reasonable, as the Owls find themselves in a new league with many new faces in their team photo. The team lost five seniors off a squad that won 24 games, including one in the tournament. Those five combined to average 52.9 points per game while the team averaged 72.8. Dunphy’s first team at Temple finished 12-18; the next six (also the last six) have each won 21 games and made the NCAA tournament, so it’s tough to count him out. But facing a tough non-conference slate and a stronger league, it seems highly unlikely that Temple will be dancing in March.
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Morning Five: 10.31.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 31st, 2013


  1. Many times interviews with players tend to be essentially fluff PR pieces so we have to commend Andy Katz for his excellent interview with controversial Ole Miss star Marshall Henderson. Henderson’s exploits both on and off the court have been well-documented, but it was interesting to see him be so open about his missteps publicly. Henderson will have to sit out three games this season (season opener then the team’s first two SEC games), but otherwise appears to have avoided any more significant punishment. Hopefully, Henderson can stay focused enough to have a long basketball career whether it is in the NBA or abroad.
  2. Maryland was dealt a significant setback when it was announced that starting point guard Seth Allen had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will be out 8-10 weeks. The injury, which occurred at the end of Tuesday’s practice, will lead the Terrapins to shift Dez Wells to the point guard position and should create issues for the team during Allen’s absence particularly with their opener coming a little over a week against a Connecticut team that boasts one of the best backcourts in the country. Allen should be back in time for the majority of the team’s ACC schedule so the Terrapins still have some hope of recovering from what is a poorly-timed injury.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned that Kansas would be without Naadir Tharpe for their opener due to the discovery that he had played in a summer league game. It turns out he was not the only one as the NCAA suspended Kuran Iverson for Memphis’ opener for playing in an unauthorized summer league game too. Iverson’s situation is a little different than Tharpe’s in that he had not played a season before committing the violation (playing a summer league game near his home and near his college) that he self-reported. He will be forced to sit out the team’s season opener against Austin Peay, but will be able to play in the team’s second game of the season, which will be a much stiffer test against Oklahoma State
  4. The beginning of this season already promised to be a rough one for Billy Donovan with his Florida team with multiple players out with injuries, Scottie Wilbekin potentially missing games due to a suspension, and Chris Walker still in academic limbo. Unfortunately things just got tougher as sophomore guard Michael Frazier will be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis. The combinations of injuries/illnesses and suspensions will likely force the Gators to start freshman Kasey Hill and sophomore DeVon Walker at the guard positions for the season opener against North Florida before they go on the road to take on Wisconsin on November 12.
  5. Billy Donovan did get some good news yesterday as 5-star forward Devin Robinson committed to play at Florida. The addition is particularly big for the Gators as Robinson (a Virginia native) is their first out-of-state 5-star recruit since 2011 (Bradley Beal) and only their second since 2004 (Corey Brewer). In the end (we are assuming this is the end of Robinson’s recruitment although we might be speaking too early), Florida beat out Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State for Robinson’s services. Robinson will join two other top-50 recruits (Brandone Francis and Chris Chiozza) to comprise what is shaping up to be a very impressive class of 2014 for Florida. With Florida’s high turnover coming after this season (four players are seniors including three interior players) Robinson should expect to see playing time fairly early.
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Pac-12 Team Preview: Stanford Cardinal

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on October 30th, 2013

We continue unveiling our team-by-team breakdowns, in roughly the reverse order of where we expect these teams to finish in the conference standings.

Stanford Cardinal

Strengths. Experience and depth. Oh, and a lot of talent. This Cardinal roster is littered with upperclassmen, with seniors Dwight Powell, Aaron Bright and Josh Huestis expected be in a starting lineup joined by a couple of juniors in Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown. More upperclassmen are among the names of  the guys in competition to contribute off the bench – John Gage, Stefan Nastic, Robbie Lemons. And if there are still some holes left after listing those guys – and there definitely are – the freshmen and sophomores on this club are generally highly regarded players who are expected to be able to fill roles around the stars on this team; prospects like Grant Verhoeven, Rosco Allen, Christian Sanders, Elliott Bullock, and twin guards Marcus and Malcolm Allen.

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Stanford Basketball Has Enough Talented Veteran Depth To Return To The NCAA Tournament (Steve Solis / PRPhotos.com)

Weaknesses. There’s all that veteran talent, but the most this group has accomplished in their time on The Farm is an NIT title a couple years back. And while that was a genuine accomplishment for a program coming back from the ashes left in the wake of Trent Johnson’s departure, last year the Cardinal failed to improve upon it. The blame for the lack of success comes down on the head of one man: head coach Johnny Dawkins. He’s assembled plenty of talent in Palo Alto, but now is the time for his group to put it all together. A lot of that will have to do with finding a coherent rotation. Last year, 12 different players on this team played in more than 20 games and averaged more than five minutes per game; nine of them averaged more than 10 minutes per contest. Ideally, we’d like to see Dawkins find his eight-man rotation and, depending on the circumstance or the opponent, rotate a ninth guy in there as needed. But these players need to know their roles, and even if it means some of the guys on the bench wind up wearing a redshirt or seeing a year of eligibility go down the tubes, that may be better in the long run for the ultimate goals of the program.

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Seth Allen’s Injury Unsettles Maryland’s Point Guard Situation

Posted by Lathan Wells on October 30th, 2013

In head coach Mark Turgeon’s time with the Maryland Terrapins (he’s now in his third season there), he’s never been blessed with a true point guard. He inherited the shoot-first Terrell Stoglin, and then made do with Pe’Shon Howard at the point last year, another player more interested in trying to create his own offense than running the ball club. Once Howard departed via transfer for USC this offseason, Turgeon was all set to turn over the reins to promising sophomore Seth Allen.


Allen’s injury casts doubt on Maryland’s PG position early (credit: CBSSports)

Allen earned valuable playing time backing up Howard at the point while also playing on the wing at times last season, and ended up as the team’s fourth-highest scorer and assist man. However, just like his predecessors, Allen also seemed more comfortable playing off the ball. This offseason was geared towards helping him improve on his ability to initiate the offense, with word from Terrapins camp saying he’d improved drastically in that area. With the season now looming, it appeared that Turgeon would turn to the reliable Allen at season’s outset while preparing to bring freshman Roddy Peters along slowly, eventually installing him as the orchestrator of his offense.

That approach was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday, when it was announced that Allen had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will be sidelined for eight to 10 weeks. Turgeon emphasized that Allen had enjoyed a great preseason, saying, “He was playing at a very high level throughout the summer and fall and was poised to have an excellent start to the season.” Now, with the sophomore sidelined until at least the first of the new year, Peters will have to step into an important role very early.

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Where 2013-14 Happens: Reason #15 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2013


Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.

#15 – Where You Hate To See This Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-12, and 2012-13 preseasons.

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SEC Optimism: Best Case Scenarios in the “West”

Posted by Greg Mitchell on October 30th, 2013

Optimism. It’s what makes this an exciting time of year. You may have an idea what lies ahead for your team, but you don’t know for sure. Surprises happen. A freshman proves that the recruiting services were wrong, an underachieving group of seniors plays with new urgency, or the third-year coach’s offensive system finally clicks. In honor of this cliched “everyone has the same record” feeling, let’s take a glass half-full look at the 14 teams of the SEC. Here’s why each SEC “West” team will exceed their expectations in 2013-14.

To take a look at the SEC “East” teams’ best-case scenarios, click here.


The Expectation: Middle of the pack SEC + NCAA Tournament bubble

Why They’ll Exceed It: Many feel that Julius Randle winning SEC Player of the Year is a foregone conclusion. Trevor Releford challenges this idea in becoming one of the top scorers in the country. As the returning SEC assists leader, he adds to this total by also setting up Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper, both of whom become more reliable perimeter shooters. Seven-footer’ Carl Engstrom shows no ill effects from his torn knee ligaments, and uses his size to create match-up problems on both ends. Forward Nick Jacobs builds on his improved play at the end of last season, and fills the rebounding void created by Moussa Gueye’s transfer. Anthony Grant rides his star point guard off the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament.

Trevor Releford is the active SEC leader in points, assists and steals.

Trevor Releford is the active SEC leader in points, assists and steals.


The Expectation: Bottom tier SEC + no NCAA Tournament

Why They’ll Exceed It: Yes, a three-win team replacing its leading scorer and best player (Frankie Sullivan) can exceed expectations. Virginia Tech transfer K.T. Harrell will be a big reason why. He was a 42 percent three-point shooter during his freshman year, and he recaptures his magic. Chris Denson provides a slashing counterpart and Tony Barbee finds himself with an offensively versatile backcourt. Freshman Tahj Shamsid-Deen grabs the point guard position and makes it all work. Change is inevitable with nine newcomers. Seven-foot freshman Ronald Delph and Brinas Griciunas join incumbent seven-footer Asauhn Dixon-Tatum to create a giant rotation other teams simply don’t have. Auburn fights its way to a .500 SEC record.


The Expectation: Middle of the pack SEC + NCAA Tournament bubble

Why They’ll Exceed It: Mike Anderson has elite talent in the form of freshmen forwards Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley. The duo join Coty Clarke to form a shot-blocking unit that can cover for aggressive defense by Razorback guards. This leads to steals and turnovers that fuel Anderson’s up-tempo system. Upperclassmen Mardracus Wade, Rashad Madden, Kikko Haydar and Rickey Scott improve as their collective eligibility ticks away. Even if none takes a giant step forward, they all play well enough to become the effective wave of players Anderson needs to pressure opposing guards. A reliable distributor must be found, and either Madden or Wade, the top two assist percentage returnees, grab that role. Arkansas finally wins a handful of road games, and Anderson returns to the NCAA Tournament with his high-pressure system in full gear.

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Big Ten Coaches on the Not-So-Hot Seat, Part II

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on October 30th, 2013

Yesterday, we examined why John Groce, Tom Crean and Fran McCaffery are currently not in danger of losing their jobs. Today, we continue our examination of the conference’s coaching landscape.  Specifically, we’ll explain why we expect the head men at Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue to be here next year.  Here’s our take:

Matt Painter's past success, and his very large contract, are among the reasons he'll be in the Big Ten for a while.

Matt Painter’s past successes, and his very large contract, are among the reasons why he’ll be in the Big Ten for a while.

Richard Pitino (Minnesota): This is Pitino’s first year as a head coach in the Big Ten and second year as the head coach of anything. He spent one year at Florida International before accepting the job at Minnesota, but while at FIU, Pitino led the Panthers to their best conference record in school history. He seemed on the way to turning around a program that had won only 26 of 65 games under NBA legend Isiah Thomas.  In April, he got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a chance to compete with the best in the business in the Big Ten. So he accepted and now is set to go through the ultimate learning experience as he coaches against the likes of Izzo, Matta and Ryan every week. Pitino will get the years of learning on the job he needs to try to build something special.  Minnesota wouldn’t make this type of hire without knowing it’ll be marathon and not a sprint. He’s obviously fine right now.

Tim Miles (Nebraska): I wrote a post last week detailing the situation at Nebraska. In short, Miles has been given state-of-the-art facilities and the resources to secure top-tier assistant coaches that can deliver talented recruits.  And while boosters will expect to see a return on the money they invested, they’re realistic about the task at hand and know it won’t happen overnight. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cornhuskers fare in this, Miles’ second year. If they are able to show noticeable improvement, he and his assistants can sell recruits on being a part of a “program on the rise.” Regardless, the administration is invested both in this program and Miles as the head coach — he’ll be given the appropriate time to turn the ship around.

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Big 12 Team Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 30th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the Big 12 microsite will preview each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Texas Tech.

Where We Left Off: The 2012-13 season was a rough one for Texas Tech. Billy Gillispie resigned as head coach just before the start of the season, citing health concerns, but a mountain of allegations of player mistreatment that surfaced over the previous summer made one wonder just how much of the move was his call. The Red Raiders went on to win just two conference games under interim head coach Chris Walker, and finished the season 11-20, although it’s worth pointing out that one of those wins came against Iowa State. One of the more startling moves on the coaching carousel saw Texas Tech tab former Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith as its next leader, as many thought the Red Raiders would go with a younger coach eager to take on the unenviable task of resurrecting the program.

Tubby Smith brings a wealth of coaching experience to Lubbock, but don't expect a quick turnaround. (AP)

Tubby Smith brings a wealth of coaching experience to Lubbock, but don’t expect a quick turnaround. (AP)

PositivesDespite the coaching change, six of Texas Tech’s top seven rotation players (by minutes played) return from last season. For a team that lost 20 games, the immediate reaction isn’t to necessarily view that as a major advantage, but at the very least, the core of junior Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett should provide some stability during the first phase of the program’s transition. The former averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while the latter led the team in scoring and two-point field goal percentage. Freshman forward Aaron Ross will also provide a boost to the frontcourt after he was forced to take a redshirt year due to a torn ACL. Sophomore Dusty Hannahs finished among the league leaders in three-point percentage with a 37.4 percent clip last season and should see his role increase. While Smith picked up a pair of guards off the scrap heap in Stan Mays and Randy Onwuasor, the Red Raiders’ frontcourt is clearly their biggest strength.

Negatives: The Red Raiders lost Josh Gray, who consumed the most possessions of anyone on the team, to transfer after just one season, and Trency Jackson left the program after two. As a result, Texas Tech will be very thin in the backcourt, leaving Hannahs and senior Jamal Williams, Jr. at the controls without much talent behind them. In the post, while Crockett performed admirably, considering his size (just 6’7″ and 200 pounds), he’ll need to be a much bigger threat down low if Texas Tech is to stay competitive. The Red Raiders have nowhere to go but up offensively after they finished 9th or 10th in the Big 12 in nearly every offensive category, but they’ll need several players to make big leaps to get there. Simply put, there isn’t one facet of the game where Texas Tech couldn’t use significant improvement.

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ACC Team Preview: Clemson Tigers

Posted by KCarpenter on October 30th, 2013

Last season, Clemson went 5-13 in the ACC and 13-17 overall on the way to a first round ACC Tournament exit to Florida State. This season, Clemson will try to do the same thing while losing program cornerstones Devin Booker and Milton Jennings. While Booker was a steady if unspectacular presence and Jennings a maddeningly inconsistent riddle, both were senior veterans who held down the Clemson frontcourt. This didn’t translate to many wins last year, but the Seminoles’ strong interior defense did show up in the numbers: Clemson was third in the conference in opponent two-point percentage (45.3%) and block percentage (12.6%). It’s a slim silver lining, but it was a small comfort last season. This season? There are lots of clouds on the horizon. A team that failed to do much of anything else effectively has its last strength taken away from it. What’s left for the Tigers?



K.J. McDaniels is a still-underrated swingman with offensive and defensive savvy. His ability to block shots is freakish. At 6’6”, he had the second highest block percentage in the conference (8.32%), surpassed only by the 6’10” Julian Gamble. His shooting remains unspectacular, but he had the second highest offensive efficiency on the team while taking the greatest proportion of shots. He might not be a perfect-world first choice on offense, but he is capable of handling the role while also playing stout defense.

Beyond McDaniels, however, the Clemson frontcourt has few proven options. Sophomores Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith averaged 6.6 and 5.6 minutes per game, respectively, and in that limited time didn’t do much to earn themselves more run. Though Nnoko has some intriguing potential on the glass (12.8% offensive rebounding!), his super-small sample size can’t be overstated. The newcomers to the team offer a little depth and some promise, but it’s unclear whether they are ready to contribute immediately. Jaron Blossomgame was touted as a guy with a lot of potential before injuries derailed his Clemson debut. If he is healthy he might make a big difference for the Tigers. Likewise, junior college transfer Ibrahim Djambo and freshman Sidy Mohamed Djitte. Djitte, in particular, may be a big help to Clemson down the road, but early reports suggests that he is still very raw. As he develops, however, he will provide a strong cornerstone for the Tigers for years to come.

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The RTC Podblast: Big Ten Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2013


We’re just a little over a week from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. This week we’ll unveil previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday), with the AAC, ACC and Big 12 to come next week. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. On this podblast, we invited RTC Big Ten microsite correspondent Deepak Jayanti (@dee_b1g) to the program, as he helped us determine if the depth of the Big Ten means that this is still the best basketball league in America.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-4:43 – Is Michigan State a Title Contender?
  • 4:43-10:12 – Spartan’s Challengers (Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin)
  • 10:12-12:23 – Surprise Teams (Northwestern, Purdue)
  • 12:23-13:54 – Can Iowa Justify the Preseason Buzz?
  • 13:54-16:22 – Randy’s New Favorite Team – Big Ten Style
  • 16:22-18:11 – Big Ten Player of the Year Discussion
  • 18:11-19:18 – Players Ready to Make the Leap
  • 19:18-20:47 – Players Set to Disappoint
  • 20:47-22:40 – Under the Radar Stars
  • 22:40-23:34 – Wolverine State Rivalry
  • 23:34-25:29 – Is the Big Ten Still King?
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