Morning Five: 06.24.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. North Carolina is not getting the headlines that other programs like Miami and Penn State have received for their respective scandals, but at some point we assume that the NCAA is going to step in on the various scandals surrounding the school. We all know about the academic scandal that the school continues to dig through, but now the school has to deal with the NCAA investigating the potential involvement of P.J. Hairston with an agent. The agent that they are investigating is Rodney Blackstock, the same agent who allegedly paid an AAU coach money to influence Ben McLemore. This only adds to a month that Hairston would like to forget as he was arrested earlier this month for misdemeanor marijuana possession. And of course there was the gun found outside of the car that we think still does not have an owner. Officials are investigating if the rental car Hairston was using at the time was paid for by Blackstock. Given the speed that the NCAA runs its investigations we would be surprised if Hairston was playing for the Tar Heels at the start of the season.
  2. Although his freshman season (0.9 points and 1.2 assists per game) was nothing to write home about (maybe to write home about transferring),the announcement that L.J. Rose was transferring from Baylor to Houston is a pretty big coup for the Cougars. Despite Rose’s meager production the fact remains that he was the #9 rated point guard in the class of 2012 and was stuck behind Pierre Jackson at Baylor, which limited his playing time and hence his numbers, but may also have taught him quite a bit about playing the position at the college level. With the pieces that Houston has put together they could be a dangerous NCAA Tournament team over the next few seasons.
  3. After a rough freshman season where he lost his starting job you would expect that Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins would be working hard over the summer to prove that last season was a fluke. Instead, he was arrested on charges of public intoxication and interference on Saturday morning. For their part Oklahoma says “the matter will be handled internally”. If this is Cousins’ first brush with the law, we expect he will probably get nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the judicial system and the school. Still it cannot be comforting for Sooners fans to hand their team over to a guard. We also doubt that Cousins will be with the team on their European trip that starts on August 6.
  4. With all of the issues that the NCAA is going through some of the issues that their leadership debates continues to be a source of amusement for us. The latest example is the vote to overturn live scouting, which did not pass, meaning that live scouting will only be allowed under limited circumstances. We are not sure what those limited circumstances are (we are assuming teams and coaches can watch other teams play in tournament play before or after their games), but it appears that the original discussion was a question of resources and whether it created on unfair playing field where the more wealthy schools had access to better quality video while the other side argued for deregulation. In the end it seems like a big waste of time for an issue that isn’t nearly as important as many of the other ones the NCAA is dealing with at this time.
  5. In Friday’s Morning Five we mentioned the interesting potential case of the athlete (or athletes) who are involved in the Ed O’Bannon vs NCAA case. We briefly discussed the implications for the athlete and the extra scrutiny that they would be under. Andy Staples took a deeper look at the issue and compared it to the case of Curt Flood who was instrumental in leading a similar change in Major League Baseball and subsequently all professional sports in America. As Staples points out the athlete should ideally be one who is on television a lot to give greater publicity to the cause being championed.
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Rick Pitino’s Takedown Of Gordon Gee Echoes The Consensus Public Sentiment

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 4th, 2013

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

College athletics was verbally assailed from every conceivable broad-issue dimension last week. You know this: Religion, academics and the spending habits of one (very important) conference commissioner were the highlights of Ohio State President Gordon Gee’s incendiary comments from the school’s December athletic council, all captured on tape and released to a predictably irate interweb last week. The most poignant barbs were directed at the SEC and the quality of its academic institutions, along with Notre Dame’s stubborn negotiating tactics, which Gee attributed to the large contingent of “damn catholics” active in the Irish’s athletic department. He also, in mind-numbingly idiotic fashion, went all in on his own conference, including urging Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to “keep his hands out of our pockets” and Wisconsin’s former “thug” of a head football coach, Bret Bielema, now at Arkansas. For a man of such power and outsized influence, for someone who’s been praised for his ability to rake in exorbitant sums through fundraising (and roundly mocked for his snobbish bow-tie purchases), for someone expected to project poise, public tact and the utmost aplomb in any and all public speaking situations, Gee instead turned himself into a national media punching bag, further cheapened his already disgraced national reputation (this isn’t the first time Gee has spoken out, and immediately regretted it afterwards, mind you) and prompted the trustees at OSU to issue a stern admonition that Gee just shut up before you embarrass us any more than you already have.

Coming from Gee, insentive slander is nothing we haven't seen before (Getty Images).

Coming from Gee, insentive slander is nothing we haven’t seen before (Getty Images).

In college basketball land, where a mostly quiet stasis tends to settle in around this time of year, an occasional once-or-twice-in-a-decade recruiting talent like Andrew Wiggins disrupting the calm every now and then, there was nothing particularly incendiary – besides the general religious and academic wisecracks, of course – to get worked up about. Before Gee’s full audio script was laid bare for public consumption, no one would have guessed the Ohio State President had any specific reason or ulterior motive to let his deranged blather spill into the most passionate compacted locale of college basketball diehards in the country. But then again, when was last time logic or rational thinking ever helped anyone try to understand one of Gee’s ill-mannered public monologues?

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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

morning5

  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?

Arizona

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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