College Basketball on the Verge Of Making Another Smart Addition to Its Season-Opening Slate

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 2nd, 2013

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

With each passing season, college basketball moves closer and closer to staging a truly definitive opening day. The goal, for obvious reasons, is to eliminate the brushed-aside nonchalance with which the general sports populace typically treats college basketball’s opening tip. The time slot is hazardous  (The NFL is the law of the land, basically, and college football after that) and aside from a few marquee events in recent years – the Champions Classic, the Ramstein Air Base adventure, the epic aircraft carrier overindulgence of last season – the non-conference season commences in a way that captures the common fan almost exclusively in non-NFL, college football-time slots. College hoops is a fallback at that time of year, an OK-because-nothing-else-is-on ordeal. All of these ambitious season-opening endeavors comprise an attempt to make it the main attraction.

If the event comes to fruition, college basketball will have improved its often overlooked nonconference season (Ardas Photography).

If the event comes to fruition, college basketball will have improved its often overlooked non-conference season (Ardas Photography).

Another such opportunity was brought to our attention late Tuesday night by ESPN’s Jason King, who reported that event management firm bd Global is working with the American Airlines Center in Dallas to stage a headlining “multi-game event featuring some of the nation’s top teams.” The AA Center stuck its toes in the college hoops realm last season when it hosted Texas and UCLA’s ugly December 8 clunker in front of meager crowd support and only a passing glance of national media attention.

This year’s proposed event would be better theoretically, and astutely planned practically. Why? The arena just so happens to be situated a mere afternoon drive’s distance (18 miles, to be exact) away from the modern sports fiefdom known as Jerry World, the site of the 2014 Final Four. Placing this event – which could include up to four games and, in lieu of more enlightening details, should feature a large contingent of Big 12 teams – near the Final Four host site will stoke local excitement in the sport and its nearby teams well in advance of the time of year casual fans typically turn their eyeballs and acknowledge college basketball’s actual existence: March.

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Wichita State’s Success Isn’t Shocking to Its Fans

Posted by BHayes on April 5th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC contributor. He can be found on Twitter @hoopstraveler.

For four of the past five years, I have taken a month out of my winter to literally chase college basketball. I have followed it to places large (Lexington, Kentucky, and Lawrence, Kansas), and small (Charleston, Illinois, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri), and along the way I have developed a few favorites. I can tell you that the only thing that surpasses the fervor of college basketball fans in Murray, Kentucky, is their hospitality. I have seen 6th Street in Austin provide as much (and sometimes more) life as the Erwin Center, and I now fully understand why Big Ten teams so rarely leave the Kohl Center victorious. But among all the memorable games and cherished college basketball experiences, one stop has always stood out – Wichita, Kansas.

Demetric Williams' And Wichita State Always Have Shocker Faithful In Their Corner

Demetric Williams’ And Wichita State Always Have Shockers Faithful In Their Corner

It was my first trip back in 2009, and I had no idea what I was getting into – in more ways than one. Travel fatigue was quickly accumulating (despite it only being week one), and the dark drive from Omaha (where I had watched Drake beat Creighton) on Saturday night was a long one. Wichita was to be but a Sunday stop-over before Bedlam in Stillwater the next day; the fact that the Shockers had a game that day was merely a superfluous reality for this naive traveler. Calling my expectations low would be false. My mind was already on Stillwater, and I had no expectations for Wichita.

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Big East NCAA Tournament Capsules: Marquette Golden Eagles

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 21st, 2013

Marquette rode a dominant season at home, where the Golden Eagles finished a perfect 16-0, to a 14-4 Big East record which tied Louisville and Georgetown atop the Big East.  Buzz Williams’ team notched big wins over NCAA Tournament teams Wisconsin, Georgetown, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh twice.  Marquette had a double bye in the Big East tournament, but dropped its quarterfinal match-up against Notre Dame.

marquette over ND

Marquette Raced to Another Great Season Under Buzz Williams

Region: East
Seed: No. 3
Record: 23-8 (14-4 Big East)
Matchup: vs. Davidson in Lexington

Key Player: When he can stay on the floor, Davante Gardner is a total mismatch for most of the teams that Marquette will run into this March.  The 6’8″, 290-pound bruiser averages over 11 points in just over 21 minutes per game with remarkable efficiency. He shoots at a 58% clip from the floor, and is among the best free throw shooters in the conference at 84% from the line. When Marquette finds a mismatch down low, he can exploit it and find himself camped there all night.

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Providence Shows Its Growth With Recent Big East Wins

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 7th, 2013

Dan Lyons is an RTC Big East microsite contributor who also writes for the Syracuse blog, “Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician.”  You can find him on Twitter @Dan_Lyons76.  He filed this report after Wednesday night’s match-up between Cincinnati and Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Providence has played this entire season teetering on the edge.  On one side, losses to the likes of Penn State, UMass, Brown, and DePaul don’t inspire much confidence for Ed Cooley‘s squad going forward.  On the other hand, the only game this season that really got away from the Friars was the January 2nd 80-62 loss to then #4 Louisville.  Every other Friar loss has been within ten points, with two having gone to overtime – the games against Penn State and UConn.  Since the loss to UConn, however, Providence’s luck has seemed to turn a bit.  They went to Villanova, a team that had just logged back to back home wins against the conference’s two big dogs Louisville and Syracuse, and knocked off the Wildcats, and then followed that up with last night’s close win at home against #17 Cincinnati.

Kadeem Batts' 25 points and nine rebounds were essential in Providence's upset of #17 Cincinnati.

Kadeem Batts’ 25 points and nine rebounds were essential in Providence’s upset of #17 Cincinnati.

Providence’s road to relevance under Cooley has been a treacherous one, but there has been reason for hope.  Cooley has been recruiting well above the expectations laid forth by Providence’s 42-53 record over the last three seasons.  Last season Cooley reeled in five-star prospects Kris Dunn and Ricardo Ledo and he currently has 2013 commitment from four-star small forward prospect Brandon Austin.  He also inherited a team with capable players like Kadeem BattsBryce Cotton, and Vincent Council.  However, in a college basketball landscape where inexperience is no longer an excuse for poor performance, Providence’s turnaround hasn’t translated to on-the-court success as quickly as some fans probably hoped.

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Morning Five: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 8th, 2013


  1. Now that we are done with that joke of a championship we can get back to sports where teams have to beat the best to appear in a championship game. This is not to say that the NCAA Tournament always pits the two best teams against each other because most years we do not have the two consensus top teams playing on that Monday night in April, but we do get two teams that have beaten teams from the same general pool of teams to get there. With college football attempting to move in that direction we can only hope we do not continue to get disastrous postseasons from it.
  2. For those of you who were unfaithful and got sucked into the vortex of the BCS Championship Game, Seth Davis and Ken Pomeroy have you covered with their week in reviews. Usually Davis and Pomeroy have fairly similar recaps in that they usually have similar biggest games and upsets, but this week they differ quite a bit primarily because Pomeroy digs a little deeper into the results thanks to his mathematical model that considers the #330 team beat the #185 team to be a bigger upset than an unranked ACC team beating another unranked ACC team. Still both are worth a read if you need to catch up on any action you missed last week.
  3. Florida is starting SEC play tomorrow against Georgia, but may be doing so without the services of Erik Murphy, who may be out due to a fractured rib. According to the report (and we aren’t sure how accurate it is), Murphy had been playing with a bruised rib, but further injured himself on Friday when he took a forearm to his chest during practice. That supposedly led to the fracture that was discovered on x-ray on Monday. Given how weak the Bulldogs are and the fact that Florida has a big game coming up against Missouri in less than two weeks resting him would probably be the most reasonable decision, but the school has not decided on whether or not he will play.
  4. We don’t think that they will be holding any ceremonies for Jim Boeheim as he takes his last trip through the Big East, but he is still taking time to reminisce at each stop. While South Florida has not exactly been the site of many memorable games for the Orange (unless you consider easy wins memorable) Boeheim took time out to talk about the ups and downs of the conference and his hopes for stability within the ACC. One of the interesting things that Boeheim brought up was the fact that he never seriously considered moving to the NBA. We can’t be certain that Boeheim never seriously considered it although we have never heard any significant rumors, but it is interesting that we have rarely heard many rumors about coaches above a certain age looking at the NBA with the obvious exception of Mike Krzyzewski while many in the younger generation have already been in and out of the NBA.
  5. By now we all know that polls don’t matter in college basketball (except for RTC’s poll), but that doesn’t stop Gary Parrish from releasing his weekly Poll Attacks. This week’s “victims” are a writer who ranked Illinois behind three teams they beat easily and the coaches who apparently didn’t see that Pittsburgh played last week. While these continue to be entertaining and the logic that some of the writers and coaches have continues to vex us, we have a hard time getting too worked up over these decisions. Now if these decisions affected who played for the championship that might be another matter…
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Vanderbilt Guard Dai-Jon Parker Suspended

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 31st, 2012

Coming off its first SEC Tournament title since 1952 and losing a majority of their offense from last season due to the NBA Draft or graduation, Vanderbilt already knew it would have to replace many pieces on this season’s team. Today, they will have to add sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker to the list because of a non-academic suspension. Head coach Kevin Stallings announced Tuesday that the projected starting shooting guard will be suspended indefinitely because Parker “failed to uphold the high standard that we expect of a Vanderbilt basketball player and will be disciplined accordingly.” Parker and sophomore Kedren Johnson were expected to fill the voids left by Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor, all upperclassmen who left after last season due to graduation or to pursue professional careers. The guard trio of Tinsley/Jenkins/Taylor provided Vanderbilt’s most dangerous weapon: 244 three-pointers on a blistering 43% clip and high offensive efficiency numbers. Parker and Johnson, on the other hand, were substituted into the rotation last year with very minimal roles.

Who will replace Dai-Jon Parker in Vanderbilt’s already depleted backcourt?

The departures of Tinsley, Jenkins, and Taylor, as well as experienced defensive big men Festus Ezeli, Lance Goulbourne, and Steve Tchiengang, made up arguably Vanderbilt’s most well-rounded team in the Kevin Stallings era. The Commodores’ offensive efficiency (115.7) ranked #11 in the country while their defensive efficiency (92.7) was solid at #30. Sky-high expectations after winning the SEC Tournament over heavily favored Kentucky  quickly came crashing down when Vanderbilt lost to Wisconsin in the Third Round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, one step short of the school’s first Sweet Sixteen since 2007.

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game One

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 30th, 2012

Our first matchup of the summer pits top seeded David Piper (Addicted to Quack) up against the eight seed, Jack Follman (Pacific Takes). Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

David Piper

Head Coach – Pete Newell, California

Guard – Terrell Brandon, Oregon
Guard – Harold Miner, USC
Guard – Andre Miller, Utah
Guard – Aaron Brooks, Oregon

Forward – Luke Jackson, Oregon
Forward – Greg Ballard, Oregon
Forward – Keith Van Horn, Utah
Forward – Adam Keefe, Stanford

Center – Sidney Wicks, UCLA
Center – Brook Lopez, Stanford

David’s Take:

Obviously, all of these teams are filled with great players, but none are as versatile as mine. At the guard spots, I have two of the best all-time scorers at guard in Terrell Brandon and Harold Miner, who both averaged over 27 PPG a game, but Brandon and Andre Miller are also two of the better distributors in league history, while Aaron Brooks is lightning quick and has unlimited range. Miller and Brandon, two of the better all-around guards not only in college, but in the NBA over the last two decades, are both fantastic defenders as well. In the frontcourt, three of the forwards are 20/10 guys while the fourth is one of the best all-around forwards in league history. Keith Van Horn nearly won a national title at Utah, and has the ability to go inside out, while Adam Keefe was a physical banger at Stanford who went for 26-12 his senior year. Greg Ballard’s was the equal of Marques Johnson, drafted two rounds earlier, he just didn’t have the name “UCLA” on his jersey, and Luke Jackson was a triple-double waiting to happen who could score from anywhere on the floor and once had 39 straight in a game. At center, Sidney Wicks was a national player of the year who won a national title at UCLA while, Brook Lopez is a 20/10 seven footer. My team has four first-team All-Americans (Miller, Van Horn, Jackson, and Wicks) and two national players of the year (Wicks and Van Horn).

But, most importantly, there isn’t a thing this team cannot do. I can put out guard combinations that score at the rim, from three, or distribute. I can put in posts who will score back to the basket, or hit jump shots. Only Brooks isn’t a great rebounder or defender; everyone else is plus in both areas. Oh, and they are coached by national champion Pete Newell, who, if not for health reasons, would be the greatest coach ever (and is the only coach in conference history to have a winning record over John Wooden).

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Arizona Week: State of the Program Address

Posted by AMurawa on June 30th, 2012

We been all around the Arizona basketball program this week, but we’ve got one last post to go, the one in which we step way back and look at the big picture of the program, not just looking at what the next season holds, but the overall trajectory of the program. Given the stunning success the program enjoyed under legendary head coach Lute Olson, it is no secret that the last few years have been sub-par. Two NCAA Tournaments missed in the last three years is especially galling to a program that ran off 25 straight appearances, but that’s in the past now. What should – and what will –  the next decade or more of Arizona basketball look like?


Following Lute Olson’s Unprecedented Run Of Success In Tucson, The Expectations In Tucson Will Always Be High

Prior to Lute Olson, Wildcat basketball was an afterthought on the national scene. But after 11 Pac-10 titles in 25 years, with 11 Sweet 16s, four Final Fours and a national title mixed in there, Arizona is without a doubt an elite program, a solid #2 program in their conference (for evidence of how strong a program Arizona is, watch some of their fans take offense at being referred to as the #2 program in the conference). Olson established Tucson as a legitimate landing spot for elite recruits from around the country. Further, upgrades to the basketball facilities which began under Olson have continued under new head coach Sean Miller. Between the McKale Center and the Richard Jefferson Gym, the Wildcats enjoy excellent facilities, even if the 41-year old McKale is no longer exactly state-of-the-art, a fact more than made up for by the consistent fan support that building houses.

As for Olson’s replacement, despite the two missed NCAA tourneys in Miller’s first three seasons, the new head man has a history of success, taking Xavier to four tournament appearances in his five seasons there, including two Sweet 16s. And the Elite Eight run in his one NCAA appearance at UA has not only earned him time, but it has earned him the confidence of his fanbase and the trust of recruits, who saw Derrick Williams rise from an afterthought as a recruit to the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In short, Miller has credibility not only for those close to the UA program, but for the recruits who he’ll need to entice to the desert to get the ‘Cats back to their perch atop the Pac-12.

And really, those are the rightful expectations for the Arizona program: consistently competing for and winning conference titles, regularly advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament and occasionally landing in the Final Four. A national title every decade or two wouldn’t hurt either. Lute Olson set a high bar for the program, and while his run of success is the exception, rather than the rule, over the long arc of the program, it is, for better or worse, the standard for the modern-era of Arizona basketball. Basketball fans around the nation expect the Arizona program to be an unfailing national force, playing ridiculously tough regular season schedules, making NCAA Tournaments annually, pipelining players to the NBA. It is a realistic goal for the program because it has been done before. And barring a major change in culture, that is the expectation for all future head coaches at UA. There will likely be coaches in the future who are not up to that challenge, just as UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina, for instance, have made missteps in hiring for the head seat. And the leash that those coaches get will not always be long. But, forever and anon, the expectations in Tucson will be vast. As they should be.

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2012-13 RTC Way Too Early Top-25

Posted by zhayes9 on April 3rd, 2012

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

It’s never too early to look ahead to next November and take an early crack at the top 25. This isn’t meant to act as a rigid ranking but more of a first snapshot at who’s primed to contend in 2012-13. Remember to keep in mind that so much can still change with early entries, injuries and transfers. Here it goes:

1. Indiana- Assuming Cody Zeller and Christian Watford return to Bloomington for another hurrah, the Hoosiers projected crunch-time five – Hulls, Oladipo, Sheehey, Watford and Zeller – will be the most versatile and talented the nation has to offer. Tom Crean also added a star-studded recruiting class bolstered by point guard Yogi Ferrell. I’d say the rebuild is officially complete.

2. Louisville- Rick Pitino will likely only lose seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith, meaning his three most indispensable cogs – point guard Peyton Siva, center Gorgui Dieng and explosive scorer Russ Smith – are all back in the fold. The Cardinals also tout emerging star Chane Behanan in the post and will receive a full season from talented sophomore Wayne Blackshear.

3. Kentucky- Assuming Marquis Teague is John Calipari’s first returning point guard since before Derrick Rose, the ‘Cats could put together another title run. Doron Lamb may also return to form a sharp-shooting tandem with pick-and-pop threat Kyle Wiltjer. It’s fair to assume that Calipari convinces one or both of Shabazz Muhammed and Nerlens Noel to join Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress in his latest star-studded rookie class.

Believe it, folks: As long as Zeller returns, Indiana should be preseason #1

4. Florida– While it appears projected lottery pick Brad Beal may be headed out the door, Patric Young has given every inclination he’ll return for his junior season. Billy Donovan will once again spread the floor around Young with point guard Scottie Wilbekin, scorers Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, plus versatile forward Erik Murphy. Solid post defender Will Yeguete and incoming point guard Braxton Ogbueze could also be key components.

5. Ohio State– Jared Sullinger is likely history, as is senior Will Buford. But nearly every other contributor should return, including the best duo of backcourt defenders in the country in Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith. DeShaun Thomas is a candidate to lead the Big Ten in scoring and garner All-American consideration, while Amir Williams and Evan Ravenel will be expected to take on a much larger role down low.

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Morning Five: National Championship Monday

Posted by nvr1983 on April 2nd, 2012

  1. In a rather surprising move, Kansas State announced that it was hiring Bruce Weber to be its next head coach. Weber replaces Frank Martin who left the school earlier in the week to take over at South Carolina (technically that was more surprising than the Weber hire). Weber, who has a 313-155 record in stops at Southern Illinois and Illinois, reached the national championship game at Illinois in 2005, but was criticized by Illini fans for having done so with Bill Self’s recruits and then failing to land many of the top recruits out of Illinois. Now he will be tasked with running a program that Martin revitalized and will also have to deal with a familiar foe in-state: Bill Self.
  2. Less than a month after getting fired from Tulsa, Doug Wojcik has found a new head coaching position at Charleston. Wojcik, who went 140-92 at Tulsa in seven seasons, replaces Bobby Cremins, who retired due to health issues. Interestingly, Wojcik was fired in large part because of his inability to make the NCAA Tournament, but he takes over a program where Cremins was widely praised despite his inability to get his team to the NCAA Tournament. Will Charleston be as forgiving if Wojcik continues to fail to make the NCAA Tournament when he is at Charleston?
  3. Mississippi State is taking another route to find its next head coach. Instead of hiring a retread the Bulldogs are going with Rick Ray, who has served as assistant at Indiana State, Purdue, and Clemson. Although Ray has not had any experience as a head coach he has experienced a good amount of success as an assistant and comes in with high praise based on the quotes we have seen. Some may view hiring someone without head coaching experience as a risky proposition and it is to some degree, but we would rather see a program do that than hire someone with a track record of mediocrity as a head coach.
  4. Like Wojcik, Jim Baron did not have to wait long after being fired to find another job. The former Rhode Island coach, who was fired after going 184-165 in 11 seasons, but went 7-24 this past season is set to be named as the next head coach at Canisius later this week. Even though we have been critical of teams hiring retreads (see above) this seems like it would be a decent hire for Canisius as Baron’s team had won 20 or more games in the past four seasons, which would be a huge turnaround from where Canisius has been recently.
  5. In a sign that the times may be changing, Ohio is reportedly has taken Jim Christian away from TCU. Yes, a (soon to be) Big XII school might be losing a coach to a MAC school. Christian’s record at TCU (56-73) is not exactly inspiring, but he was very successful at Kent State, another MAC school, going 138-58 there including 10-5 against Ohio. The school has not released a statement on the topic, but is expected to introduce Christian on Tuesday so we suspect that an official announcement would come out some time later today.
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