NCAA First/Second Round Tip Times Released

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2011

It’s always exciting to see when the tip times comes out on Sunday night after the NCAA Tournament field is announced.  As you can see below, every game will be televised live, so there’ll be no more of a need to wait on Greg Gumbel to move you around to the better game.  If you haven’t already moved four TVs into your living room for next weekend, we can only assume that you’re: a) lazy; or b) waiting on the other flat screens to arrive.  Either way, get on this, and soon.  You’ll also note the new staggered tip times throughout the day so that there will literally be games on for 12-13 consecutive hours — this is also known as heaven.  Enjoy.

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UConn Asks That You Kindly Keep The Noise Down

Posted by nvr1983 on February 23rd, 2011

Over the years we have heard a lot of stories about fans (particularly parents of young children at games) and school administrations (even at Duke) getting on the student section for their crude language and poor behavior, but we have never heard about students publicly criticizing other students about their behavior at sporting events (or, “sports games”). As they say, there is a first time for everything, as the editorial staff at The Daily Campus, an independent student paper for Connecticut, published an editorial today criticizing students for “displaying poor sportsmanship and little respect” toward opposing teams and specifically cites fans at the men’s basketball games. Essentially the editors are asking the student section to display the same respect and courtesy afforded to Jim Calhoun and Kemba Walker to the other team no matter what the letters on the front of that uniform say. Judging from the reader comments at the bottom of the article, I don’t think this will go over too well in Storrs.

A New Sign for Gampel?

While I agree that fans occasionally go over the line (and I had multiple discussions with a certain friend in college about this — I will spare you the rather interesting details that he would divulge to the opposing team and crowd), I am having a hard time figuring out what the UConn fans did to deserve a reprimand from their fellow students. I have been to several UConn games over the past few years (both at Storrs and Hartford) and have found the fans to be pretty reasonable. Sure, there may be a choice comment or two from the fans that might offend the opera crowd, but I don’t think anybody can reasonably expect a PBS conversation at a sporting event of this caliber. Now if I hear that sort of stuff at a Little League baseball game, I might be a little more concerned. Quite simply, Gampel and the XL Center have been two of the more pleasant places I have been to watch a game at recently, and no, I am not going to list the places that might be less friendly to a child’s ears. We doubt that this article will generate any real change except to flood the paper’s e-mail inbox, but it is worth a read if only for its naivete.

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Kansas Fans Rally Around Thomas Robinson

Posted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 2011

A Facebook page has been created in support of Kansas sophomore forward Thomas Robinson. The page calls upon “all Kansas fans to support T-Rob during this horrible time in his life, and not only Kansas fans, but fans of any other school who find it in their hearts” to support Robinson.

Robinson, and Friends

By now, you’ve heard about the unbelievable trial that fate is putting him through right now. The only two grandparents he’s ever known died within a few weeks of each other. His mother Lisa died on Friday of a heart attack. She was 38 years old. The Robinson family now consists of Thomas, 19, and his 9-year old sister, Jayla. So, in addition to keeping up with his studies and everything else that comes with playing for an elite college basketball program with as rabid and dedicated a fan base as any out there in any sport, Thomas is, for now, the official caretaker for his 9-year old sister — the very person who called him to tell him that their mother was gone.

[Time out, here...imagine that scenario for a moment. The 9-year old second grader has this news. She has to alert her brother, over a thousand miles away. There were presumably adults around at the time her mother died, at the hospital or wherever. They probably felt like they should make the call to Thomas, because that's not news that you tell a 9-year old to break. Whether she volunteered for that task or not, Jayla is the one who left that voicemail. 29-year olds shouldn't have to do that, let alone 9-year olds. That's courage.]

On one hand, we’re sure Thomas is honored to take that responsibility of caring for his sister, and will dedicate his life to it. On the other…he shouldn’t have to. The situation is beyond comprehension, even to people as detached from it as us. The universe, though, has forced Thomas and his sister to comprehend it, and live it.

There have been some good — actually, let’s not say “good” — let’s say that some positive things have happened in the wake of this, things that speak well of Kansas fans, the school itself, and the NCAA. A scholarship fund that bears her mother’s name has been set up for Jayla Robsinson, and people are even inquiring about adopting the girl, or at least becoming her legal guardian. Kansas Athletics, Inc. will pay for the cost to fly the team to Washington, DC for the funeral tomorrow and the funeral itself. This has been approved by the NCAA, an organization that takes a lot of guff and endures a lot of second-guessing as far as the decisions they make that greatly impact kids’ lives. You can find some of that venom on this very site. But you’ve got to give credit where it’s due, even when there’s no other decision that could conceivably have been made.

So let’s all enjoy tonight’s games, and the big San Diego State vs BYU matchup that most of us have been looking forward to for so long. We all need to enjoy these little pleasures and be grateful for the chance. You don’t need us to tell you that. But before you settle in for the game, perhaps you could take 60 seconds, check out the Facebook page that’s been set up to support Thomas Robinson, and join the group set up by Kansas fans. Chances are, if you have a Facebook account, you’ve offered or accepted friend requests from more tenuous “friends” in the past. We’re pretty sure Thomas will look in on it at some point, and it would be good if the member count was well into the thousands, as we expect it will be eventually. We’re talking about the Kansas basketball family, after all.

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The Texas/ESPN Television Deal: What It Means

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent.

When it was announced on Wednesday that the University of Texas and ESPN had come to terms on a 20-year, $300 million agreement to create a 24-hour television network largely dedicated to broadcasting Longhorn sports, we entered a new era of college sports on a variety of different levels. What exactly this new era will look like remains to be seen, but the Texas move, which they have been angling in on for years, but most intensively since they turned down the Pac-10’s offer this summer, will reverberate around the world of college athletics.

Texas Keeps Expanding Its Reach and Redefining College Sports Media

First let’s look at some of the details of the deal. The network, launching in September, will be developed and managed by ESPN. According to the Austin American-Statesman, of the $300 million, 82.5% or $247.5 million is guaranteed to Texas, with the other $52.5 million promised to IMG College, which handles marketing and licensing for the university. According to Texas president Bill Powers, the university will receive about $10 million per year during the first five years of the contract, half of which will “be devoted to academic and faculty support” and half of which will head to UT Athletics. This $10 million annually will grow over the course of the contract, and Texas can expect an average of $12.4 million per year above and beyond their share of the Big 12’s television agreements. Currently, Texas receives approximately $14-15 million from those existing agreements (a number which will grow to $20 million next year with the departure of Nebraska and Colorado), and with the additional income from the new deal will earn more than $30 million per year from their television deals. All told, this new network is only guaranteed one football game and eight men’s basketball games, although it may get a few more in the early years of the contract and perhaps even more down the road. But, the crux of these numbers bears repeating: ESPN essentially gave Texas $247.5 million to air one football game and eight basketball games a year over the next 20 years.

This is by no means the first example of an individual school striking out on its own to pursue its own television contracts. Notre Dame’s football deal with NBC in 1991 was the first such example, and it was indeed a blockbuster, but given their lack of ties to a conference there were few immediate ripples. Gonzaga basketball has its own television deal with Spokane’s KHQ-TV and FSN Northwest, independent of the West Coast Conference’s television deals. And BYU, just this past summer, decided to break away from the MWC and move ahead as an independent in football, with a brand new contract with ESPN and with plans to air additional sports content on its own network, BYUtv. But given the size and stature of the Texas athletic department, this development is a whole different animal, and its repercussions are numerous and considerable.

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Players Still Struggling With Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2011

It’s nothing new that athletes love to talk.  Mostly about themselves, but sometimes about completely unrelated things too.  Such as… girlfriends, coaches, other players, fans, referees, or anything that tangentially relates back to themselves.  This is part of the reason that social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have had to become so regulated by coaches and universities — players don’t always have the ability to filter their thoughts from their mouths (but honestly, who does?).  Two incidents in college hoops this week help to crystallize this point. 

Smith Has Some Lessons Still to Learn (UCLA D-B)

First, UCLA center and freshman behemoth Josh Smith lashed out after Sunday night’s loss to USC where he was clearly frustrated by his 22-minute, five-foul performance.  In the postgame comments, he blamed much of his 8-point, 3-rebound night on the zebras:

The refs, honestly, were terrible.  They were giving me B.S. answers [about fouls]. They were telling me this, this, this.  Hopefully, they can watch tape and correct themselves.

He also left the Galen Center on Sunday night hoisting a one-finger salute to a USC fan who had obviously irritated him.  All in all, not the greatest debut for the rookie in his first rivalry game of the series.  Predictably by Tuesday, Smith had been reeled in by UCLA staff and forced to apologize (after all, he’ll see those Pac-10 referees again), with head coach Ben Howland acting the role of disappointed parent:

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The Night Dick Vitale Gave Us A Baby

Posted by jstevrtc on January 12th, 2011

He’s mo-bile, probably not very a-gile, but definitely not fra-gile. Dick Vitale, one of the best friends the game of college basketball has, signed a contract extension with ESPN today that will keep him telling us about PTPers and diaper dandies through the 2014-2015 season. That’s right — at least an Olympiad more of Dickie V.

We needle Vitale on here quite a bit. But we wouldn’t have been disappointed if ESPN had locked him up for forty more years as opposed to four. Not becuase we like ribbing him, but because you gotta love the guy.

In Celebration of His Contract Extension, We Won't Call That Clearing Left Arm.

The first time I “met” Dick Vitale I was a sophomore in college. I won’t tell you where or when (heh heh) this was, but there were no college basketball blogs then. A couple of friends and I had attended a Vitale-called game at our beloved institution of higher beer consumption hitting on girls learning, and we stayed around for the head coach’s live post game radio show. When it was over, my buddies and I saw Vitale, who had just completed his post-game duties for ESPN, walking up the stands with an undeniably imposing security guard in front of him. We figured we wouldn’t get too many chances like this in later life, so, like star-struck fanboys, we speed-walked (okay, ran) up the bleachers towards him, calling him “Dickie V!” as if we’d known him for most of our lives.

The school had given out those cardboard cutouts of Vitale’s smiling face on a stick (actual size), similar to the ones they use on Pardon the Interruption. We still had ours and brandished them as we approached him. The security guard turned, put out a halting hand, and told us, “No, gentlemen. Thanks, but Mr.Vitale is finished working for the night.”

Actually, he only got out half of “finished” before Vitale, in long coat and gloves and obviously wanting to get back to his hotel and rest, turned around, removed his gloves, and shook our hands. With his usual enthusiasm and only slightly reduced volume, he asked us, “Hey, what’d you fellas think of that game? Man, that press took care of [the opponent] tonight, they had no answer! I mean, it was like there were ten of ‘em out there!…” We didn’t even have time to answer. If he was just assuming “Dickie V-mode” and performing for us, he was doing a pretty convincing job.

One of my friends was from Maryland and loved his Terrapins despite being very far from home. When he could get a word in, he asked Vitale, “Hey, Coach, when’s your next trip to Maryland to see my Turtles?”

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Introducing the ACC Vault, Another Great Way to Idle Away Hours of Your Time

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2010

Matt Patton is an RTC contributor.

Everyone has a first memory as a fan.  Mine came in 1997, the day before my seventh birthday.  I’m sure I went to college basketball games before this, but none of them stand out.  I was in first grade, headed to the ACC Tournament championship game.  The game was between N.C. State and North Carolina.  The Wolfpack were the electric underdogs, if you can call a team that runs a modified Princeton offense electric.  They were the eighth seed in a nine-team conference, having put away Georgia Tech, Maryland and top seeded Duke in the process. 

How Cool is This? (photo credit: SI.com)

My most vivid memories from the game were Ramses and Mr. Wuf (the mascots) getting into a fight ending with a one-horned sheep and a victorious wolf; N.C. State losing the game; and my younger brother switching his allegiances to the Tar Heels for the rest of the day much to the chagrin of my parents.   A surprisingly thick head of hair topped Herb Sendek’s head, as he led a team of overachievers to the conference championship game in his first year of coaching.  But the real history was held by the man coaching the Tar Heels.  I’m embarrassed to say this, but until yesterday I never knew that was Dean Smith’s last ACC game.  I had no idea. 

This game, along with dozens of “full-length, classic Tournament and regular season men’s basketball games from all 12 ACC member institutions,” is now available online at the ACC Vault.  You’ve likely seen the NCAA Vault (another must-visit site for any college hoops fan), and the ACC and Raycom Sports have followed suit.  The site features games from 1983 through the present with some really cool features that make the viewing process more user-friendly.  I’ll list some highlights for each school after the jump, but seriously, how cool is this?

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ESPN Full Court Schedule – 480 Games of Delicious Goodness

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2010

Once again this year we’ve been inundated with requests for our annual release and analysis of ESPN’s Full Court Schedule, which for some reason the WWL makes very difficult to find and use every year.  You’d think that if they want us to pay $104 for this product, they’d make it considerably easier to know exactly what we were buying.  Alas.  Keep in mind that according to ESPN every one of these games is simulcast for free on ESPN3.com (previously ESPN360), so the decision point on whether to spend the hundy probably comes down to whether you enjoy watching games on a 15″ or a 50″ screen.  We didn’t want the length of this post to be a mile long, so we’ve thumbnailed the entire schedule (which we re-organized in a useful way) below.

Note: You’ll have to click the table in the new page to expand it to full size.

Click for Full Schedule

A fully sortable Google Doc that we created containing the same information is also located here.  You can sort the table by your favorite school or conference if you like, a feature that ESPN with its boring .pdf format simply doesn’t provide.

If that’s too much to look at, here are the twenty games that we find the most compelling on the package this year.  There are some legitimately good games on this list, including several matchups where talented mid-majors having something to prove visit a ranked team’s gym (i.e., Morehead State @ Florida; ORU and ODU @ MissouriOhio @ Kansas).  Additionally, some of the conference matchups later in the year could turn out to be important games for the overall standings and in terms of NCAA Selection Committee seeding (i.e., Kentucky @ Georgia; Maryland @ Virginia Tech; UNC @ NC State).

Here are the schools with the most appearances on Full Court this year.  If you enjoy bad Big 12 basketball (Iowa State and Oklahoma), then you’re in luck, but the  package’s comprehensive coverage of the SEC’s Georgia (with probable first-rounders Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie) and Mississippi State (with Renardo Sidney) should be interesting.  Seton Hall is on FC fourteen times, and given the amount of talent the Pirates are bringing back with the level-headed Kevin Willard entering the fray, it might be worth catching several more of their games.  And if you’re not getting enough of Jacob Pullen through the usual channels, the Full Court package will give you eleven more opportunities to fear the beard this season.

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The AP Makes Harrison Barnes Its First Freshman Preseason All-American

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Typically, the announcement of preseason All-Americans is something that we pass over, but when today’s list was announced it caught our eye. It appears that the Associated Press has decided to get with the 21st century and named Harrison Barnes as a 1st team preseason All-American making him the first freshman to receive the honor since the AP began bestowing the honor before the 1986-87 season. Although Barnes was technically the last man on the team with 17 out of 67 possible votes, by far the fewest of any member of the 1st team, it is remarkable that he achieved recognition that players such as Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and John Wall never did. Still, Barnes, who like every other freshman, was left off the preseason Wooden Award list will have his work cut out for him trying to match the production of some of the most prolific freshman (many of whom made the final All-American team), but based on what we have heard out of Chapel Hill he might have a chance.

Barnes: The 1st AP Preseason All-American Ever

Here is the rest of the first team with the number of votes out of 67 possible votes that they received from the AP voters:

  • Kyle Singler, Duke (65)
  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State (53)
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU (49)
  • JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (46)
  • Harrison Barnes, UNC (17)

Singler, the top vote-getter, is the lone returning AP preseason 1st team All-American although he was only honorable mention when the end-of-season picks were made last year. It is worth noting that none of the members (John Wall, Evan TurnerDeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, and Scottie Reynolds) from of last year’s All-American team returned to school and none of them were on the preseason All-American team from a year ago so keep that in mind although we have a feeling we will be seeing a few of this year’s preseason All-Americans on multiple All-American lists at the end of the season.

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ESPN To Offer Rare Glimpse At Duke Basketball

Posted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2010

As we gear up for the upcoming season we will be spending an inordinate amount of time learning about up-and-coming programs and future March Madness heroes. In that vein, ESPN has announced that it will be airing a multi-episode series on the relatively unknown Duke Blue Devils. Perhaps you have heard of them? All kidding aside this is the first time we have heard of Coach K allowing camera crews into Duke’s practices. The “ESPNU All-Access” program will be based on 9 days that ESPN spent with the players and coaches while filming practices, film sessions, and leadership activities (you all surely remember that Coach K is “a leader who happens to coach basketball”) beginning with their Countdown to Crazieness.

He just happens to coach basketball

Perhaps it is a sign of Coach K becoming hip by allowing camera crews to follow him along with the previous insights he offered through his XM radio show and the variety of video content provided by Duke basketball sites about their players. Of course the more cynical fans might point out that Duke is just taking advantage of the media (and ESPN in particular) giving them another avenue to recruit and grow their brand (as if their nationally televised schedule wasn’t enough). In any event, this would appear to draw off of HBO’s wildly popular “Hard Knocks” series that followed a NFL team during their mini-camp and preseason (ESPN also did a similar feature on Alabama, the defending BCS National Champs earlier this year). It’s unclear if they will focus on players on the fringe of being cut from the team or will focus on the team’s more engaging personalities. We are confident in saying that no Duke player will play the role of a Chad Ochocinco and Coach K will not be giving his team a snack speech.

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Let The Knicks’ Loss Be College Basketball’s Gain

Posted by jstevrtc on October 21st, 2010

In a move that illustrates just how in touch the organization is with its fan base and the basketball-loving public in general, MSG Network (the folks responsible for broadcasts of New York Knicks games) has let the most exciting play-by-play announcer working today slip from their grasp. That’s right — they let Gus Johnson get away.

Johnson has been calling Knicks games for 16 years, primarily on radio but acting as a backup for TV broadcasts, and even chipping with some baseball, hockey, and arena football duties as well . A few outlets claimed that MSG Network brass were ticked off at Johnson’s various other projects which caused him to miss the occasional Knicks game – little things like doing college basketball and NFL football games for CBS and boxing for Showtime — and that’s why MSG played hardball, refusing to come to a deal in the end. Later in the day, though, we heard that it might not have been quite so contentious. Still, with Johnson’s popularity, MSG should have done whatever it could have to keep him.

We’re not taking pleasure in a man losing a job, but we’re selfishly hoping that, as soon as this happened, someone from CBS called and immediately gave Johnson a mountain of cash in a big juicy revised contract that increases his college basketball visibility. As many games as Johnson already does — we want more. And don’t lie — you know you’ve been to the Gus Johnson Soundboard. We defy you to go there and not click every one of those buttons before leaving (though a link to “Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya!” is needed). It’s impossible not to. What other announcer has this? Seems like the type of guy you’d want to keep in your organization, but then again, most Knicks fans these days see that orgainzation and the MSG suits as the types who probably would have told that Paraguayan model Larissa Riquelme not to run through the streets of Asuncion naked had Paraguay won the World Cup. Whatever, guys. As long as it benefits college hoops.

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Starting Tomorrow, We’re Talkin’ About Practices

Posted by jstevrtc on October 14th, 2010

Fall is the most appropriately named season. It is called that because the sun is falling below the celestial equator, for you amateur astronomers out there, but poets and writers far better than this one have described so many other reasons throughout time to illustrate why fall is known as the “season of descent”  — the decreasing number of daylight hours, the leaves, the mercury in your thermometer, the amount of filler material on SportsCenter. Of the few things that do indeed rise at this time of year, one of them has become one of surest signs that fall has arrived…

When the Tents Sprout in Lexington for Big Blue Madness Tickets, You Know That Fall Is Here.

True, in the Driesellian sense, nobody has true “Midnight Madness” anymore. And there’s so much more interaction now between coaches and players that happens prior to that circled mid-October day where once none was allowed. It doesn’t matter, because the psychosis to which college basketball aficionados across the nation willingly give in is real, and it arrives tomorrow.

That’s right, tomorrow. A big black “x” in the October 15th square on your wall calendar means that hoopheads are celebrating their own national holiday, which, inasmuch as it isn’t real Midnight Madness, we’ll call the First Official Day of Practice (FODP). Like it or not, the NCAA still calls the shots, and if they say that that particular day is open season for full-squad, you-can-use-a-ball workouts to begin, then celebrate we will, for the season is short but sweet for certain (apologies to Dave and the boys).

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