Rushed Reaction: #1 Kentucky 87, #8 Iowa State 71

Posted by jstevrtc on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. When Kentucky shoots like that, forget it. The Wildcats shot 48% in the first half and led by 11. They shot 16-25 (that is not a typo, 64%) in the second half. Listen, you don’t need to be some kind of genius to know that when this UK team shoots like that, the only thing you can do is hand them the trophy. If you saw the game, you’d agree that Iowa State didn’t play that badly. They did a super job of battling back on the boards compared to their effort there in the first half. They kept Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a single late bucket. Terrence Jones only managed three scores. Iowa State’s downfall was that the threes just weren’t falling (3-22, 13.6%). Didn’t matter if they were open looks or not; they just didn’t go down. And Kentucky hits 10-20? Simple math.
  2. Marquis Teague can kill you many ways. He’s quick enough to go by you when he drives to the goal (he showed Scott Christopherson and Bubu Palo that tonight, both very game defenders, and he fouled the latter out in just 11 minutes), but he also noticed that it was his man who was leaving to double the post most of the night. That left him open for jumpers, and he went 10-14 on the night by both hitting open shots as well as driving into the space the ISU defense gave him.
  3. Did we mention the shooting? One of the compelling things about this shooting display by Kentucky was that so many of the shots were NOT from close range. Iowa state WON the points-in-the-paint battle. The Wildcats shot that percentage by hitting a lot of jump shots. Yeesh.

Star of the Game. Tough call here between Teague (24/7 assists on 10-14 shooting) and Darius Miller (19/6 boards on 7-11). Teague was brilliant at taking what the defense gave him while still finding a way to get his teammates involved with seven dimes, but it was Miller who hit some extremely tough shots (and a couple of threes) that keyed the late first-half run that helped UK put some space between themselves and the Cyclones.

Sights & Sounds. In the post-game press conference, ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg said, “We’re going to leave Lexington…I mean, [resigned laugh] Louisville with our heads held high.” It was an HONEST mistake. This undoubtedly felt like Rupp Arena, given the blue-clad fans who packed the KFC Yum! Center. There were a few times early in both halves where Kentucky needed an emotional lift. The crowd helped provide it.

Quotable. Asked about playing Indiana and good friend Tom Crean in the Sweet 16, Calipari noted, “I don’t like playing friends. When they win, I’m sick about it. When I win, I enjoy it for a bit, but then I don’t, because I know what they’re going through.” He then added, “And I know he’s gonna watch every single piece of film anyone has on us, so [looking into TV cameras] Tommy, if you’re watching, I’m putting in two new out-of-bounds plays, some new side-outs, and two new offenses.”

What’s Next? A rematch between two of the seminal programs of our sport. A rematch between friends, Crean and Calipari. A rematch between an overall #1-seed who is rolling, and one of the two teams to draw blood from them this season. Indiana versus Kentucky in the second week of the Tournament. We can’t wait.

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Rushed Reaction: #3 Marquette 62, #6 Murray State 53

Posted by jstevrtc on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Catch your breath. We haven’t seen any tempo stats on this game yet, but who needs ‘em? This game was played at a Formula One pace despite not producing much in the way of scoring, but what fun it was. Mid-major local club with a packed partisan arena (even bigger than its home gym) going against a Big East trendy pick — and deservedly so — of a team that also boasts their conference MVP? Excellent storyline for an Elite Eight game, let alone a Round-0f-32 affair. Players sacraficing their bodies at every opportunity. Great passing. Superb hustle. Quicksilver pace. A pleasure to attend.
  2. Marquette slammed the door, hard. Murray State led by four in the middle of the second half when Buzz Williams stacked one of his time-outs with a media break. It’s obvious the salient message during those talks was to step up the defense. From that point, Marquette went into (to borrow from Wedding Crashers) crisis-lockdown-mode, especially on Isaiah Canaan. They didn’t give him room to get his long-range jumper off, and every foray into the lane was challenged by at least one Marquette defender, often more.
  3. Crowder impresses again. The senior stepped up with 17/13 in an arena whose crowd was as biased against him and his team as much as any arena probably has been this year, and most of those points and boards required every single muscle in his powerful frame. This game had speed, but it was also incredibly physical. In the end, Crowder and his teammates seemed more conditioned for such an affair.

Star of the Game. Crowder, as noted, was tremendous, completely and further legitimizing the “MVP!” chant that broke out from the Marquette section late in the going. But let’s also give some props to Murray State’s Ed Daniel, who averaged 5.3 rebounds a game this year…and pulled down 14 tonight in an absolute battlefield. He’s a junior. Bet he wins the OVC rebounding crown next year with this kind of effort on a consistent basis.

Sights & Sounds. This is why Buzz Williams should be particularly proud of his boys. The sights and sounds were dominated by Kentucky fans rooting for the in-state school against the big-conference squad. To win, and specifically to maintain mental stability in this environment, might be normal for a Big East team on the road, but was pretty much a true road game in the NCAA Tournament, not a Monday night Big East game.

What’s Next? Marquette awaits the winner of Florida (who won’t mind even more pace, and shoot threes a little better — sometimes — than Murray State) versus the non-Lehigh darlings of the tournament, Norfolk State.

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Rushed Reaction: #8 Iowa State 77, #9 Connecticut 64

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Pardon Our Cliches… If you watched this game, you saw exactly what we did, in terms of the most important takeaway from this game. Connecticut’s roster oozed with talent. Kentucky fans stuck around for this game because they feared seeing UConn again, and for good reason. UConn had enough NBA talent on that roster to frustrate Kentucky. Both Kentucky- and non-Kentucky fans knew it. It was evident in the Big East tournament last week, even in the close loss to Syracuse. All they needed to play like that is motivation. You would think that, this being the NCAA Tournament and all, motivation would be the last of a talented roster’s problems. So here it comes: Connecticut had more talented individuals. Iowa State, from tip to buzzer, was the better team.
  2. Whither Jim Calhoun? Given his health problems and frequent absences from games this season, will it be back to Storrs next year, or will that loss be how he departs the scene? Twitter buzzed with this question in the dying moments of this game, and the speculation will continue until he puts paid to the question with a definitive statement. And we wouldn’t expect that until after the tournament is over. He would not address the issue in the post-game.
  3. Royce White Won the Key Battle. You would never have thought such a sentence would have ever been written a while back when White made that strange exit from Tubby Smith’s Minnesota squad, but the matchup everyone was watching tonight was White versus (sometimes) whiz-kid Andre Drummond. The latter was virtually non-existent (two points, three rebounds) save for four blocks, and his head was clearly elsewhere all night. White wasn’t exactly himself for the first 30 minutes or so, but took over on both ends of the floor late, just like a leader should. He ended with 15/11 on 6-10 shooting, and a new legion of  believers, we’d say.

Star of the Game. White impressed us with his leadership late in the proceedings, especially when Ryan Boatright shrank the ISU lead down to six with a 5-0 run of his own making. Aside from that, though, the most important part of this game was the opening punch landed by Cyclone guards Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen, outhustling the Huskies’ backcourt, getting into the lane easily, and propelling ISU out to an early 20-point lead. Connecticut never really recovered except for the small run in the second half that amounted to little. Those guards deserve some of the SOTG credit.

Quotable. Jim Calhoun: “They played 40 minutes. We played sporadically.” Completely true. It would be interesting to put some of these Huskies on a polygraph and ask them if they’re just a little bit glad this season is over. We don’t think they totally mind this. Calhoun tried to dilute it by saying, “If Connecticut wins 20-25 games a year and goes to the NCAA Tournament, we’ll always be happy,” but that is not the Connecticut standard. It’s been a tough season, and Calhoun admitted as much, and we think it’s one the program is glad to see the back of.

Sights & Sounds. As mentioned, most Kentucky fans stayed for this one. No question the added fan support was appreciated by Iowa State. We, uh, wouldn’t count on that come Saturday. Great motivational tactic for the Cyclones, right? We can already hear Fred Hoiberg and the ISU coaches whispering in their players’ ears, “They stayed to root for you because they thought you were the weaker team. Make them regret they cheered for you.”

What’s Next? Obviously, Iowa State gets Kentucky in the marquee game on Saturday night. Royce White has the last word, speaking about Kentucky: “You see them every night on ESPN. They have a great team, they’re number one for a reason. Great coach, great tradition, great program there, Kentucky basketball. We’re gonna go back and watch some film, and we’re gonna try and figure out their strengths and weaknesses, just like every other team has tried. I’m sure our coaches will come up with a solid game plan just like they have all year long.” He does not sound intimidated.

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Rushed Reaction: #1 Kentucky 81, #16 Western Kentucky 66

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1.  All Business. Kentucky had this one wrapped up and in the mail by halftime. The specific play that did it was at the end of the half when the Wildcats put together an Anthony Davis dunk, a Doron Lamb three, and a block by Davis to lift the lead at 19 and bring the crowd to life. Western Kentucky walked off the floor and, frankly, didn’t provide much resistance upon coming out for the second half.
  2. There Was a Little (One-Sided) Fun, Actually. Watch for two straight Davis alley-oop dunks on your favorite highlight show tonight if you didn’t see them live. He got a technical on the second one…for pulling his KNEES up to the rim. Deserved it for the knee maneuver, and probably would have broken his back if he had let go of the rim, but hey, it looked cool.
  3. How Long Will the Wildcats’ Legs Hold Up? John Calipari has played seven guys, and almost EXCLUSIVELY seven guys, all year long. They’ve played such tough defense and quick, motion offense for a long, hard year. Even with a lead that got up to 30 at one point, Calipari still had his blue-chippers in there with less than ten minutes to go. He didn’t clear his bench until there was less than a minute left. There was a little bit of buzz along press row as to whether Cal’s affinity for leaving his big boys in to close out games even with big leads will eventually cause the legs to fail, given the minutes those seven guys have had to log all season — maybe against, say, a Connecticut or Iowa State? — a buzz not mitigated by the fact that Calipari’s boys let up on defense near the finish line, allowing the ‘Toppers to get the lead down to 15 by the final buzzer.

Star of the Game. Terrence Jones donated 22/10 to the UK cause and was rivaled only by Davis’ 16/9 and seven blocks. Let’s be fair, though. WKU has a couple of ballers, notably freshmen T. J. Price (21/4 on 6-11) and Derrick Gordon (12/5). Once the UK defense decided to take them out of the game (especially Price) at the start of the second half, the matter was decided, but safe to say those gents will have WKU back in the Tournament in short order — and not as a 16-seed.

Quotable. Calipari, who has remarked in the past about how he’s not really a fan of tournament-format basketball: “I’ve told my guys, just forget about the whole tournament. We’re just playing basketball. I told them tonight, I don’t care about offense, let’s just play defense. Let’s show everyone what kind of defensive team we can be.”

Sights & Sounds. Credit to the WKU band for the taunts during Kentucky’s free throws, referencing Davis’ unibrow, questions of Kentucky players’ gender, and other cleverness. They were doing what they could. UK finished 18-25 from the line for 72%.

What’s Next? Everyone knows what’s next. Not many UK fans will leave the KFC Yum! Center until they know who their team is playing on Saturday. There is a palpable fear of Connecticut in this building. UK fans know the Huskies have enough NBA talent on that team to challenge the ‘Cats, and of course UConn disposed of UK last year in the Final Four. A burnt child, indeed, shuns fire.

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Rushed Reaction: #3 Marquette 88, #14 BYU 68

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Not Just the Big Three For Marquette. In the first half, BYU had nobody who could contain Davante Gardner. The Marquette big fella scooped in 12 first-half points that all came from either attempts within five feet or free throws. We mention him specifically (he finished with 15/6) because his first-half performance was indicative of Marquette’s wise and efficient shot-selection on the day. Jae Crowder (10-20) was phenomenal, posting a 25 point/16 rebound performance enhanced further by the fact that he led his team with six offensive rebounds and pilfered five steals. Darius Johnson-Odom was his usual imposing self, as well (20/5), but Buzz Williams will laud his team’s effort from top to bottom; the Warriors had four players in double-figures (Todd Mayo added 10/6) and had six players pull down at least five rebounds.
  2. Hump Day. As in, the 10-point one BYU just couldn’t get over. BYU improved their shot selection in the second half and, for the most part, played much better defense than they did in the first. Seemed like every time they’d string a few nice possessions together, Marquette would drill an open three. This happened on four different occasions when the Cougars were able to cut the lead to ten.
  3. Your Turn, Kevin. No disrespect to WVU’s Kevin Jones, but Jae Crowder showed why he’s the Big East player of the year. The 6’6” senior was everywhere, playing the one, two, three, or four at any given time, talking like mad on defense, and being the leader they expect (and need) him to be.

Star of the Game. Crowder, without question. BYU was led by Brandon Davies (19/12), but he left a lot of points at the free throw line (5-11). Crowder was the best player on the floor right from the tipoff.

Sights & Sounds. What in the world was going on with the slippage? For years we’ve been talking about players slipping on the floor decals of tournament sponsors, but this wasn’t decal-related. Four stoppages of play to wipe the floor, multiple players slipping, sliding, falling…did they sneak a hockey rink under the Yum! Center floor while nobody was looking?

Marquette Fans Appreciate a Balanced Effort From Their Warriors

What’s Next?  Marquette gets Murray State on Saturday. Marquette showed that it’s going to be a tough out in this tournament. They shot well (30-66, 45.5%), hit from range (9-20 from three, 45%), and absolutely owned the boards against the Cougars (48-32). Of the two winners today, Marquette would our choice to move on based on their opening performances.

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Rushed Reaction: #6 Murray State 58, #11 Colorado State 41

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Racers Win With Defense. From about the 10 minute mark of the first half, head coach Steve Prohm urged his players to crank up their intensity on defense. They obeyed. It changed the game. It’s often said that defense leads to offense, and even though (likely 1st-team All-American) Isaiah Canaan didn’t get his first bucket until almost 10 minutes into the first half, as the Racer defense clamped down, buckets became easier to come by. This continued into the second half, as the Rams were forced into turnover after turnover and Murray State capitalized.
  2. The Best Laid Plans… Things really got bad for CSU when they made an increased effort to drive-and-dish in the second half. It worked the first time they tried it. It failed the next four, and the Racers scored off each turnover. It was in the Rams’ head at that point. Even open shots weren’t falling for them and the anxiety was obvious…which led to more missed shots, and more miscues.
  3. Land of Canaan, Hornung of Plenty. Isaiah Canaan was the man with the most eyes on him to start this one, but the buzz in the place was largely about CSU junior Pierce Hornung as his rebound totals just kept climbing throughout the game. Looking forward to seeing more of him next year.

Star of the Game. I have to equivocate, here. Isaiah Canaan was excellent as expected (15/8), but we can’t just forget Pierce Hornung for Colorado State with a workmanlike 12/17 on 6-7 shooting. He got the biggest ovation of the night after fouling out.

Sights & Sounds. Murray State’s home gym, the CFSB Center, holds 8,600 people. The KFC Yum! Center holds 22,000. Colorado State filled a section, but between Murray State backers and Kentucky fans who had already taken their seats ahead of their game in the evening session, this was BETTER than a home game for Murray State.

What’s Next?  Murray State will get the winner of Marquette/BYU, but if you’re already talking up Murray State as the next Butler/George Mason/VCU, slow down. They were terrible from three-point range (5-17), only hit 50% of their free throws (13-26), were outrebounded (38-32), and only shot 39.2% (20-51). They only committed eight fouls the WHOLE GAME even though the defensive effort was commendable, and they only turned the ball over eight times, but they’ll have to clean things up considerably by Saturday if they want to move forward.

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We’re Talkin’ About Practices: 2011 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 14th, 2011

BEHOLD, friends, as the countdown clock approaches the all-zero for the first time this year, signifying the moment that we can at least say that practices are in session and our game has returned. The rocket has been moved to the launching pad and we’re about to light this candle, and just as launching a rocket into outer space is a process with many stages, so is getting a college basketball season off the ground. There’s Midnight Madness, or what might be more accurately called the First Official Day of Practice (FODP). The first exhibitions. The first official games. The ESPN 24-hour Marathon is considered a season-starting event. Our game, as we all know, has many Opening Days. That’s been a point of criticism from many sources in the past, including us. Let’s worry about that later. For now, let’s just prepare ourselves to enjoy the ride.

We’re going to be watching coverage and keeping track of the events around the country all evening, so feel free to tweet @rushthecourt and/or contact us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com if you have some great photos, videos or simply anecdotes and rumors to share.

Just like we provided last year, here is a list of last season’s NCAA Tournament teams and their status as far as holding FODP festivities:

Event on October 14th:

  • Alabama StateLate Night Madness at Dunn-Oliver Acadome.
  • ConnecticutUConn Basketball First Night. Prima noctis! Doors open and autograph session at 6 PM, and showtime with the defending champions begins at 7 PM.
  • DukeCountdown to Craziness. Scrimmage, dunk contest, live performances among other activities. And you know what? They got Raftery.
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Morning Five: 10.12.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 12th, 2011

  1. Indiana self-reported a violation to the NCAA yesterday, specifically the contacting of recruit Gary Harris by head coach Tom Crean on October 6 even though the period for allowable contact ended on October 5. The university report said that one of Crean’s assistants told the head coach that the contact was permitted and they didn’t realize the error until the communication had occurred. Self-imposed penalty: loss of two recruiting days, loss of an allowable contact, and no further contact with that recruit. That’s probably all that will be necessary to appease the NCAA, but this is just odd to us. We’re confident that in time Crean can bring the Hoosiers back to prominence, and we know that head coaches delegate so much to their assistants, but at a school with a recent history of improper contact with recruits like Indiana, it’s difficult to believe that the man who’s most responsible for what goes on there doesn’t know when the contact period ends.
  2. Notre Dame will be without fifth-year senior forward Tim Abromaitis for the first four games of the upcoming season as a penalty for playing two exhibition games before his sophomore season — yes, this happened three years ago — officially began. Abromaitis had taken that year off after the exhibitions to give himself an eventual fifth year of eligibility, but NCAA rules say that only freshmen are allowed to do this, not sophomores. Head coach Mike Brey took responsibility for the faux pas, and both he and Abromaitis knew this was coming, so it’s not like the team is caught off-guard on this one. According to the NCAA, Abromaitis’ fifth year is green-lighted because of a waiver that takes the program’s misunderstanding of the rule into account. An NCAA waiver that considers misunderstandings? Somewhere, Enes Kanter and his parents offer a bemused glower…
  3. Homer Drew was the designer of one of March Madness’ greatest upset moments. Actually, it’s just as accurate to eliminate the word “upset” in the previous sentence. The tip-pass play executed by Drew’s Valparaiso squad that resulted in Homer’s son Bryce drilling that jumper to beat Mississippi in the 1998 NCAA Tournament’s first round has become a lasting reminder of hope for all small-conference teams who find themselves in the Dance. Hope…is exactly what Drew and his wife now need, more than ever.  The school revealed yesterday that both Drew AND his wife were recently diagnosed with cancer. No further details. Awful, awful, awful news. Our best wishes and prayers go out to both of them and the entire Drew family.
  4. At a couple of spots on this site yesterday we covered  Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo’s comments about the ACC’s power grab in snagging Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East a while back, as they appeared in an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe. Now DeFilippo has apologized, saying that he was wrong to have his personal feelings appear to come off as the stance of the entire department. That might work for the comment about blackballing Connecticut from the ACC, but that surprised few. As for the assertion that ESPN nudged the ACC into making the play for Syracuse and UConn, he said he spoke “inappropriately and erroneously” about that. So, now we’re to believe that ESPN didn’t have a hand in it after he brought it up without prompting? Because his denial is of the non-denial variety, this matter won’t be put to bed until Mr. DiFilippo specifically states that ESPN was not involved at all — if then. If you believe the prevailing mood among journalists, bloggers and fans on Twitter, his first takes are still considered as the truth, and there’s nothing inappropriate or erroneous about speaking the truth.
  5. Listen, we don’t like the lack of Gus Johnson on CBS any more than you do, and we’ve expressed our sorrow here and over our Twitter feed more than a lot of our readers/followers probably ever hoped we would. It might still come up from time to time (especially about five months from now), but it’s real and there’s nothing more that we can do about it. In the spirit of moving on, we give you, via Sports Media Journal, the entire CBS college basketball schedule. From December 3 (North Carolina at Kentucky) to February 26 (Big East/Big Ten doubleheader), here it is in all its glory.
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Morning Five: 10.11.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 11th, 2011

  1. One might think that Robbie Hummel, or any other player who’s torn the same ACL twice within eight months, might be a tad cautious upon returning to the basketball court. A burnt child shuns fire, after all. Right. Being the type of competitor he is, he probably went to the place on the gym floor where his last ACL tear happened and jumped up and down on it using his bad knee. That’s speculation on our part, but here’s more: Michigan State’s Draymond Green knows about Hummel’s skill and intensity first-hand, and wonders if Hummel might not even be better (?!?) than he was before because of it; the Indianapolis Star summarizes the last 19 months for the Purdue forward.
  2. Occasionally we post a story or a link about a player who has had a tough stretch of luck, or who’s coming back from an illness, or something in that vein. More often than not, we throw in that old chestnut that goes, “If you’re looking for a kid to root for this season, here you go,” or the like. And we always mean it. Iona’s Mike Glover certainly qualifies. Adam Zagoria has a wonderful profile of the well-traveled Glover, a fellow who takes the inspiration he feels from being the father of a two-year old and channels it into discipline and harder work on the basketball court and in the classroom. If you’re looking for a guy to root for this season, well…
  3. You thought things had cooled on the conference realignment front? Please. As we all wait for Missouri to figure out what the heck it plans to do, we can take heart that the realignment virus has spread beyond the Power Six and made its way to smaller conferences. Among those weighing their options are the Colonial Athletic Association and the Missouri Valley, according to the New York Times’ Pete Thamel. What’s interesting here is that while those leagues are looking to expand, they also have to make sure the very conferences they’re poaching from aren’t pick-pocketing other members out from underneath their ranks.
  4. Speaking of realignment, the Boston Globe spoke with Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo at length about the process that led the ACC to snatch Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East several weeks ago. In the article, DeFilippo assures that the display of power by the ACC was based almost solely on football and television contracts — “TV — ESPN — is the one who told us what to do…” — and if you had any doubt about the story that BC blackballed Connecticut from also gaining an ACC invite, DeFilippo explains: “It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.” You need to check the rest of this one out for yourself. Great stuff here.
  5. Maryland Madness is this Friday. Recall, they are the originators of the midnight madness concept, and this is their 40th. This season is also the tenth anniversary of the Terps’ 2002 national title (and, unless we’re wrong, the 20th anniversary of Bonnie Bernstein’s graduation, if you can believe that), and to celebrate, four of the five starters from the championship team will play in the alumni game that happens as part of the MM festivities. We admit, it’s pretty cool that Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Byron Mouton, and Chris Wilcox are coming back to participate in such an event, but if we’re talking Maryland alums in an alumni game, what would really impress us is if they got a uniform on Van Pelt and gave him a couple of touches down low.
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Indiana’s Maurice Creek Out Indefinitely

Posted by jstevrtc on October 10th, 2011

Robbie Hummel has been the title-holder of Unluckiest College Basketball Player in Indiana since October 16th, 2010, when he tore his right ACL for the second time. Unfortunately, it looks like Hummel has some serious competition for that lamentable honor.

There Is No Timetable for Creek's Return From His Third Injury Inside of Two Years

Indiana guard Maurice Creek had surgery earlier today to repair a torn left Achilles’ tendon. This makes his third lower-extremity injury within 22 months. On December 28, 2009, just 12 games into his first season at IU, Creek went up for a layup against Bryant University and broke his left kneecap, costing him the rest of his freshman year, one in which he was shooting 52.7% from the field while leading Indiana in scoring (16.4 PPG) and efficiency rating (15.6). Five games into the Hoosiers’ Big Ten schedule the following season, Creek was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his other kneecap, obliterating his sophomore year.

It hasn’t been revealed how much time Creek will miss as a result of this latest setback. If Creek completely tore (that is, ruptured) the tendon, it could take him as long as a year to fully recover.

The most famous Achilles’ tendon injury of recent vintage was Kalin Lucas’ misstep in the Spartans’ second round 2010 NCAA Tournament game against Maryland. Though there was an obvious deficit compared to his previous level of first-step and lateral quickness in the first several games, Lucas eventually found his form and ended up leading MSU in scoring (17.0 PPG) and minutes played (33.4 MPG) last year. If we had just had a surgery like Creek’s, Lucas is the first person we’d call.

On two previously fractured kneecaps, though, Creek’s road to complete recovery is substantially more difficult. We certainly hope he makes it all the way back.

 

 

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Morning Five: 10.07.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 7th, 2011

One week, people. One week.

  1. So many people are assuming threat postures over this so-called battle of words between John Calipari and Rick Pitino, but to us this is just a symptom that fans of college basketball just want something to talk about. We’ll never fault anyone for that, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s a lot in this. Here’s the deal: speaking in front of the tent village that pops up around Lexngton’s Memorial Coliseum annually as people camp out for Midnight Madness tickets, Calipari told an interviewer that Kentucky basketball was the biggest deal “throughout this whole state,” raising the ire of Louisville fans. Pitino responded with a little bit of name-calling without actually saying Calipari’s name. That’s it. There’s no feud here because what Calipari said is correct. There are thousands of UK fans who live in Louisville. Yes, there are thousands of U of L fans who live in non-Louisville Kentucky, but to us Calipari’s comments were meant to compliment UK fans and were centered on his program, and did not constitute an insult of the Louisville program or its fans.
  2. Grantland.com doesn’t need our help getting attention, but we’ll always link quality college basketball discussion wherever it is, and this qualifies: remember that brawl in the summer that happened when Georgetown took its trip to China and played an exhibition against the Bayi Rockets? No surprise, there’s much more to it than you’d think. The New York Times’ Jim Yardley was in China three years ago doing a story on another Chinese professional team but got the scoop on Bayi. The team is a former military propaganda showpiece and have been given every break by those who run that league, are the most hated squad in the country, but have lost relevance of late. The incident with Georgetown, as Yardley writes, may be the thing that puts the Rockets away for good. His history of that team and the Chinese pro league is a must-read, and provides considerable insight on the fracas with the Hoyas.
  3. With conference realignment buzzing along as it is and people talking about the eventual superconferences at some point seceding from the NCAA, college hoops fans are wondering what effect these changes will have on the holiest of holies, the NCAA Tournament. Inspired by a series of tweets last night from Bylaw Blog and SI.com’s Andy Glockner, Rock Chalk Talk has laid out one fantastic (though obviously remote) possibility: the establishment of a champion based on the UEFA Champions League model. Can you imagine, say, six Selection Sundays as opposed to one? True, the singularity of Selection Sunday is what makes it so special, but in this model each one would mean just as much. And the idea of certain Power Six conference programs getting relegated, you have to admit, is pretty intriguing. Interesting stuff whether you’re a soccer fan or not.
  4. “Ladies and gentlemen…Tone Loc!” Such an introduction would inspire exactly zero excitement in anyone currently enrolled at Syracuse. Frankly, it probably wouldn’t inspire much excitement in anyone who has children enrolled at Syracuse. But that’s who was slated to host the midnight madness festivities at the Carrier Dome. Unfortunately, it’s been a tough month for Tone, who recently pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge. That in mind, the ‘Cuse made went with a change of host, tapping Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill (no, really) as master of ceremonies. As the Syracuse site Troy Nunez Is An Absolute Magician points out, at least Julie Boeheim will still be there. By the way, the last two sentences in the linked article are great.
  5. One of the best (or worst, whatever you prefer) examples of a kid that was hyped to death and just never, ever panned out was Schea Cotton. This is no exaggeration; Cotton had been touted as a basketball messiah from the age of 15, and many pros — meaning no less than Baron Davis, Tyson Chandler, Ron Artest, Paul Pierce — compared both the style and skill level of Cotton’s game to that of LeBron James. And many, including those same pros, can’t explain why he never played a minute in the NBA. Cotton is the subject of an upcoming documentary entitled Manchild, and we cannot wait to see it. If you want to see the reason for the hype (and the opinions of the aforementioned pros), check out the trailer contained in the linked article. Oh. My. Goodness.
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Steve Lavin To Undergo Prostate Surgery

Posted by jstevrtc on October 5th, 2011

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin will have prostate surgery in New York City on Thursday as part of what will hopefully be the beginning of the endgame of the treatment course for his diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Go Get 'Em, Coach, And Feel Better Soon

Back in April, Lavin went public with that diagnosis, noting that his physicians had recommended a trial of watchful waiting that had started about six months prior. Taking a “wait and see” approach is a common course of action in the treatment of the disease, especially when it’s caught early. Obviously we have no specific information as far as the communications between Lavin and his doctors, but given his age — the average age of patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer is 70, and Lavin is 47 — he should tolerate the procedure well, and it can be safely assumed that he and his physicians have examined all the data available and decided that this offers him the best chance for a totally cancer-free life. Surgery is frequently curative for the disease.

Of course, we can describe the surgery as a “common” course of action and make this all sound as routine as anything, but when you’re the one in the open-back gown being wheeled back to the operating room, there’s not a single thing that feels common or routine about it. That in mind, everyone at RTC really hopes this goes as smoothly as it can for Coach Lavin, and we’re hoping and praying for the best for him.

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