A Quick, Fake Summary: St. John’s Cannot Hide or Ever, Ever Escape

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 1st, 2011

Most folks wouldn’t be surprised if St. John’s lost tonight; any young team without their head coach in attendance would be rightful underdogs visiting a #1 team on their home court. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Kentucky finished the game with lot of blocks. They’ve been swatting them at an excellent pace for most of this early season. But the combination of Red Storm youth and Kentucky defensive length and intensity created the perfect environment for freshman forward Anthony Davis to wreak havoc.

Davis accumulated eight blocks through the second half of Kentucky’s 81-59 victory tonight. Kentucky fans in Rupp Arena were openly cheering for Davis to tie or break Kentucky’s single-game block record (nine, shared by Andre Riddick and Sam Bowie). When referee Jim Burr called a questionable body foul on Davis denying the ninth block, it was like a pitcher on a no-hitter in the 8th inning giving up a bloop single. Davis subbed out with 4:44 left in the game with 15 points and 15 rebounds and having outshined his teammates on the national stage.

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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: St. John’s @ Kentucky

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 1st, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Gerald Smith and Patrick Prendergast are going one-on-one to break down St. John’s trip to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky.

Gerald Smith: They’re young now, they’re wild now and they want to be free; Kentucky and St. John’s have got the magic power of freshmen in them! The Johnnies gathered the third-best recruiting class in the nation which included Maurice Harkless, D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer. The Wildcats managed yet another number one recruiting class of Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer (7.8 PPG while averaging 16 minutes per game) has been the slowest to adjust to the speed and complexity of coach John Calipari’s system. The other freshmen have been crucial from the beginning: Kidd-Gilchrist (12.5 PPG while averaging 30 minutes per game), Teague (11.7 PPG while averaging 30 minutes per game) and Davis (12.7 PPG while averaging 25.7 minutes per game) have powered the Kentucky machine to triumphs over Top 25 Kansas and an experienced and well-defending Old Dominion squad.

Its Fresmanpalooza in Lexington (credit: BB Times)

These Wildcats freshmen starters aren’t without their faults. Davis is still learning how to play as a collegiate-level forward who should be more effective in the post. Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump-shooting will be a thorn in his side most of the season. Teague is experiencing the normal growing pains of Calipari point guards: Forcing too many plays which lead to turnovers or bad offensive sets.

Which St. John’s freshmen have been the fueling their team so far this season?

Patrick Prendergast: First off, it is a shame that St. John’s coach Steve Lavin will not be on the sideline for the game as he continues in his recovery from prostate cancer surgery. His presence would have added to the allure of this one. If St. John’s, a team that has not played well of late, can hang in there with the more talented Kentucky team as they did with Arizona and Texas A&M, this has the potential to be an extremely entertaining game as it is difficult to see the Storm go out of character and try to slow the game down to offset Kentucky’s need for speed.

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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Providence @ South Carolina

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 1st, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the RTC Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Gerald Smith and Patrick Prendergast will battle one-on-one to break down Providence’s visit tonight at South Carolina.

Gerald Smith: The first Big East/SEC Challenge matchup is a cold, calculated move by the WORLDWIDE LEADERS at ESPN: After 30 minutes of Providence at South Carolina, fans nationwide will be eager to jump into the St. John’s @ Kentucky game 30 minutes later. Prior to Providence’s better performance against Holy Cross Tuesday night, both teams scored less than 62 points their last three games. Opponents of bothhave been averaging seven three-pointers made per game. The Gamecocks and Friars didn’t have the highest of expectations this season yet both have chalked up some disappointing losses — Providence was manhandled by Northern Iowa and South Carolina dropped its fourth game of the season to Southern California on Saturday.

Will Gill Get Rowdy? (credit: 247sec.com)

Perhaps the national audience might get drawn in if freshman forward Anthony Gill gets kinda rowdy early. When Gill is active, coach Darrin Horn’s team has a pulse: Gill uses his athleticism and size to grab rebounds (5.2 RPG), score inside (61.3% FG on 31 attempts) and draw fouls. When Gill is too rowdy, he is forced to sit; Carolina is 1-3 when Gill plays 23 minutes or less. Gill is a legitimate talent that could steal SEC Freshman of the Week honors at least once this season.

For Providence, which player (or players) might keep fans from switching the channel?

Patrick Prendergast: The Friars (5-2) run on the “3 Cs,” a backcourt trio consisting of 6’2” junior point guard Vincent Council (18.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 5.7 APG), 6’5” sophomore wing Gerard Coleman (16.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.7 APG) and 6’1″ shooting guard Bryce Cotton (14.6 PPG). With no seniors on the roster the junior, Council is the leader and floor general. Coleman, a starter a year ago,” has been used predominantly in a sixth-man role to add scoring punch off the bench for a team that can be offensively challenged. While Council and Coleman lead the charge, Cotton may be the best barometer of success for Providence as he has averaged 19.2 points per game in their five wins and just three per game in their two losses.

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A Quick, Fake Summary: All Else is Castles Built In The Air

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 28th, 2011

Festus Ezeli busted a deal and spun the wheel. (He also spun his MCL; he’ll be out for a while.) Vanderbilt has been spun about without him, though it might not be due to his absence.

At the beginning of the season, it was theorized that Vandy’s seniors would rise up and contribute more with Ezeli out. Against Xavier tonight, the Commodores of Musictown still couldn’t barter themselves a decent offense. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne (18 points on 8-17 FG seven rebounds), junior guard John Jenkins (20 points on 8-18 FG & 4-9 3FG) and senior forward Jeffery Taylor (18 points on 6-11 FG, five rebounds) all led the charge defensively but faded as near the end. Not one Commodore scored a single point in the last 3:56 of the second half.

Earlier in the that half, senior guard Brad Tinsley had controlled drives into the paint that resulted in easy assists. Like the rest of the ‘Dores, Tinsley tried to do too much late in the game. With his limited defensive ability, Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons finally took control and powered the Musketeers to a 82-70 overtime victory.

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SEC Set Yer Tivo: 11.28.2011 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 28th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While you are picking your teeth clean of the leftover turkey on your couch, the Southeastern conference teams are back up and running towards the Big East/SEC Challenge. RTC SEC will have detailed Big East/SEC Challenge preview before Thursday’s games. Before the multi-conference potluck, several SEC teams will be working out the final kinks in action tonight through Wednesday. Which games are appetizers for your eyes and which should be sealed in Ziploc bags and hidden in the back of your fridge?

#12 Xavier at #20 Vanderbilt – Monday, November 28, 7 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (****)

Having played just four games played this season, Xavier has not been as tested as those schools who participated in late-November tournaments. The Musketeers’ best win was last Friday’s 70-56 drumming of Georgia when they used nearly their entire bench to give scoring support for injured senior guard Tu Holloway. Coach Chris Mack’s team is shooting 59.5% from the floor (42nd best in the nation) and 42.3% fro three-point range (25th best in the nation). With that kind of accuracy, Xavier has four players averaging double-figures in scoring: Holloway (15.0 PPG), junior Mark Lyons (17.8 PPG), freshman Dezmine Wells (10.5 PPG), and senior Kenny Frease (10.3 PPG).

Vanderbilt senior forward Jeffery Taylor must protect the ball better for the Commodores to have a chance against Xavier. Photo via AP Photo/Bill Kostroun.

The Commodores struggles this season have been well-documented. Xavier will be yet another difficult test for Vanderbilt’s point guards. Senior Brad Tinsley has been liability against quicker opponents and will get no rest against the Musketeer backcourt. Freshman Kendren Johnson might see more than his 15 minutes-a-game average against Xavier as long as he limits his own turnovers. And about those turnovers: Seniors Jeffery Taylor, Lance Goulbourne, and Tinsley must protect their possessions if the Commodores have any chance at pulling off the upset. As Brian Joyce told you earlier, tonight’s game may end up being one of two make-or-break games for Vanderbilt’s season.

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SEC Set Yer TiVo: Turkey Week Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 21st, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC non-conference basketball schedule heads into Thanksgiving by finishing up its early season tournaments. Those already back from their tourney travels kick off the holiday week with an easy-as-pie opponent. Which games this week are the turkey meat and which are the store-bought cold bean salad that stays unserved on the kitchen counter?

Tennessee vs. #6 Duke (at Maui Invitational) – Monday, Nov. 21st 5:30 PM EST on ESPN2 (***)
Tennessee vs. #13 Memphis or #14 Michigan – Tuesday, Nov. 22nd 2:00 PM (or 7:00 PM) EST on ESPN2 (or ESPN) (****)
Tennessee vs. UCLA/Chaminade/#15 Kansas/Georgetown – Wednesday, Nov. 23rd (Time and TV TBD)

As the sole SEC representative in this year’s EA Sports Maui Invitational, Tennessee faces quite the gauntlet. First up are the Blue Devils, whose outside shooting (42% 3FG) and size advantage in 6’11” forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be a significant advantage. The Volunteers will either need to find a way to score inside or keep riding a hot 3-point shooting streak (26 of 53 in two games) to find the exit with a victory. Memphis and Michigan have youthful teams that share a ghost-like quickness. Tennessee won’t out-shoot the Wolverines from deep and can’t out-run Memphis so Cuonzo Martin might have make some magic happen with his forwards in order for the Vols to overcome either team.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin really wants his team to stop shooting the magic potions. (Photo via AP Photo/The News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

With one victory in Maui before Wednesday, Tennessee will find a key that helps open the door to an NCAA Tournament bid. With two straight losses, the Vols would likely face UCLA or Chamiade on Wednesday and their NCAA chances in trouble early in the season. Tuesday’s game will be probably the best to watch especially if in-state rival Memphis is involved.

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SEC Set Your TiVo: Weekend of 11.18.11

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 18th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC got the Internets goin’ nuts this weekend. You’ll have to hook up your laptop to your TV if you want to catch nearly every game not involving Mississippi State, Mississippi or South Carolina. Check out our evaluations below for the games that’ll make you want to change television service providers to get The Tres.

#15 Arizona vs. Mississippi State (2K Classic Championship Game) – Friday, Nov. 18, 6:30PM EST on ESPN2 (***)

Renardo Sidney is available for basketball AND all your stamp-licking needs.

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury finally found some redemption for an embarrassing loss at home to Akron last week. In Thursday night’s 2KSports CvC Classic Semifinals, the Bulldogs sprinted to a 31-9 lead in the first half and held off #18 Texas A&M’s comeback to win 69-60. MSU’s eight-man rotation forced 16 turnovers and committed just 16 fouls, limiting A&M’s free-throw attempts (10-14). Another tough defensive assignment awaits in Arizona, who defeated St. John’s in the other semifinal, 81-72.

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A Quick, Fake Summary: Kansas Couldn’t Beat Pitfall and Got Tired of Tryin’…

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 16th, 2011

Kentucky‘s freshmen entered Madison Square Garden and thought they were playing a different game. Maybe they pretended they were wearing McDonald’s All-America jerseys as each player tried to make plays one-on-one. Kentucky’s offense broke against a physical Kansas defense over and over. Freshman guard Marquis Teague had six turnovers and looked like he was button-mashing in NBA Live. Thanks to a superhuman effort by Terrence Jones and a Wildcat-wide defensive effort, Kentucky remained tied 28-all at halftime.

Coach John Calipari reminded his team at halftime they should be playing a different game. (No official word from the locker room if Calipari blew on the cartridge and held the reset button while powering on.) Kentucky entered the second half playing more team-oriented basketball and applied pressure to collect a 11-2 run. Later the Wildcats blew open the game when Doron Lamb (17 points on 3-5 3FG) and Darius Miller (five points, four assists in 20 minutes off the bench) exploited Kansas’ packed-in defense with a three-point barrage. Recovered as if expending an energy tank, Teague calmed himself and allowed no further turnovers. Freshman Anthony Davis (14 points, seven rebounds, six blocks) showcased his incredible talents and proved he could contribute offensively and defensively against stronger and thicker competition.

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Trae Golden & Anthony Davis Featured In First SEC Weekly Awards

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 14th, 2011

The first recipient of the 2011-12 SEC Player of the Week was not one that most SEC basketball wonks would have predicted: Tennessee’s Trae Golden. The sophomore guard earned the award with 29 points, six rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and a steal in 27 minutes against UNC Greensboro last Friday. Golden gunned his lofty point total by being perfect on his two-point attempts (5-5) and deadly everywhere else (3-4 FT, 3-9 3FG). In one game this season, Golden nearly matched the six made three-pointers from the entire season last year. If Golden can continue being the Most Professional Volunteer, Tennessee can exceed the marginal preseason predictions set for them.

Trae Golden has a license to kill opponents from behind the 3-point line (TNJN/B. Ozburn)

On the other hand, pundits expected that the first SEC Freshman of the Week would be one of the four players that make up Kentucky‘s incredible freshman class. This first week features forward Anthony Davis, who tallied 23 points, ten rebounds, five blocks and three assists in just 23 minutes of action versus Marist last Friday. Eight of Davis’ ten field goals were dunks; unofficially Davis may be leading the nation in Fewest Non-Dunk Field Goals per minute played. With Davis’ lauded freshmen classmates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer yet to be honored with a weekly award, the SEC may just consider creating a Kentucky-specific freshman award so that UK fans can celebrate regional recognition while the rest of the conference’s talented freshmen also get spotlighted.

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SEC Set Your TiVo: Week One

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 14th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

After the first real weekend of college basketball action, the SEC dives headfirst into the non-conference schedule. The conference will have six teams participating in national tournaments through Thursday. Vanderbilt (TicketCity Legends Classic) and Georgia (Progressive CBE Classic) stay on their home courts for preliminary round games; LSU (DIRECTV Charleston Classic), Kentucky (State Farm Champions Classic), Alabama (Puerto Rico Tip-Off) and Mississippi State (2KSports Classic) travel to neutra court sites. Florida faces its first Top 10 test in non-tournament action.

This will be the national introduction for nearly all of these SEC teams. Which games should you watch live (besides those of your favorite team)?

#2 Kentucky vs. #13 Kansas (at Madison Square Garden) – Tuesday, Nov. 15, 9 PM EST on ESPN (*****)

Kentucky sophomore guard Doron Lamb packs his 3-goggles for a trip home to the Big Apple (pic via http://kentuckybasketball.tumblr.com)

Kentucky gets its first real challenge at the State Farm Champions Classic in New York City. This Kansas team looks different than the team who ran into the VCU buzzsaw last March in the NCAA Elite Eight. The only returning Jayhawk starter is senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor; the experienced bench from last season — junior forwards Travis Releford and Thomas Robinson, junior senior Jeff Withey and junior Elijah Johnson — now becomes the experienced starters. Although they started this season with questions about their bench depth, the Jayhawks played nine players for 14 minutes or more in their 100-54 victory over Towson on Saturday. In just 14 minutes, junior transfer forward Kevin Young tallied 13 points and seven rebounds.

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A Quick, Fake Summary: Don’t Worry, Vanderbilt…We All Have Our Little Faults

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 13th, 2011

Throughout the season, RTC’s Gerald Smith will be bringing you off-the-cuff and odd recaps of games: Quick, Fake Summaries. This first one of the season involves Vanderbilt‘s shocking 71-58 home loss to Cleveland State Sunday afternoon.

Vanderbilt was flying high into this season. Despite another early NCAA Tournament exit, the Commodores returned seniors Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins to a team that led the SEC in scoring last season. They opened up their gym to two teams of green; one (Oregon) self-destructed with unforced turnovers on Friday. Today, the other green team was glowing and sapped the strength from the Super-Seniors.

Cleveland State’s quick guards hindered Jenkins (5-14 FG, 2-8 3FG, 5-7 FT for 17 points), preventing him from getting comfortable shooting behind screens. Those quick-as-a-Flash guards nullified senior point guard Brad Tinsley (two asists, three turnovers) by making him a defensive liability; head coach Kevin Stallings was forced to play Tinsley only 21 minutes and sophomore guard Kevin Fuller (three turnovers) fared little better. The senior forward Taylor was practically nonexistent with just nine points, four rebounds and six turnovers.

The Vikings’ broad-shouldered Aaron Pogue out-muscled senior forward Steve Tchiengang (five points, ten rebounds, one block). With senior center Festus Ezeli out with an injury and suspension, Vanderbilt had no inside-out post game. Well, no post game completely: the Commodores scored just 10 points in the paint. Without any offensive push and no ability to stop the Viking’s constant scoring, Vanderbilt wimpered all the way into the pool of defeat.

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SEC Opening Night Recap: Kentucky and Vanderbilt’s First Half Follies

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 12th, 2011

Kentucky 108, Marist 58

The Kentucky team that coach John Calipari claims could be beaten a hundred other NCAA teams appeared in the first half of their contest versus a physical Marist team. Perhaps the team stayed up too late worried sick about Terrence Jones, who had quite the Thursday night on his own. The Red Foxes used forward Andy Kemp to facility an inside-out game that sliced and shot-over the sluggish Wildcats defense. Calipari said after the game that without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11 points, five rebounds and nearly every positive defensive play in 1st half) and Anthony Davis (ten points, five rebounds in 1st half), “we are down at halftime.”

Kentucky forward Anthony Davis' ability to dunk nearly any lob pass let the Wildcats stay ahead of Marist. (Photo via 247 Sports.)

In the second half, as Marist coach Chuck Martin said afterwards, “the No. 2 team in the country showed up.” With ten blocks and five steals and eight forced turnovers in the second half, Kentucky held Marist to just 22 total points on 17.1% FG. Kentucky’s Davis finished with 23 points and should have a special stat created for him called, “Points Not Scored On Dunks.” Wildcat point guard Marquis Teague finished with 16 points, four assists and three turnovers.

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