On Boeheim Scheduling: Do Tough November Games Pay Dividends in March?

Posted by Will Tucker on December 7th, 2012

Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse team has looked like the most complete in the country at points in its dominant 7-0 start this season. But tough road tests at Arkansas and against ranked San Diego State notwithstanding, their generally lackluster non-conference schedule (ranked #69 nationally thus far, according to StatSheet) exposes the Orange to the perennial “paper tiger” treatment their fans have come to expect. In his press conference after a shellacking of Long Beach State on Tuesday, Jim Boeheim argued unequivocally that scheduling difficult opponents in the first month of the season does not help a team prepare for the NCAA Tournament:

Jim Boeheim doesn’t see long term benefits in non-conference challenges, like playing SDSU in California

Boeheim makes the dubious suggestion that teams that suffer losses in November and December “aren’t even playing when it comes to the tournament.” That claim might raise eyebrows from slow starters like Brad Stevens, whose consecutive national runner-up squads each lost four games before New Year’s Eve. Boeheim stressed that his non-conference slate is designed exclusively to prepare for the Big East schedule, and that “if you’re not going to be ready in those 18 [Big East] games, then you have no chance to be good [in March].” While the league’s rigor is well documented, it can also present a liability when teams encounter unfamiliar styles in March: In each of the past two NCAA Tournaments, teams finishing in the top three of the Big East standings were all upset by lower seeds in the Elite Eight or prior.

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NCAA Tournament Final Tidbits: 04.03.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on April 3rd, 2012

With the season now finished, this will be our last version of NCAA Tournament Tidbits. Special thanks to contributors Brian Goodman and Walker Carey for putting these together throughout March Madness.


  • John Calipari finally won his first National Championship Monday night, which many think will catapult him from being a good coach to being a great coach. No matter your thoughts, it is time to give the coach his due.
  • Dan Wolken argues that you cannot blame John Calipari for the one-and-done culture that helped earn Kentucky its title. Wolken notes that Calipari has always been the same coach, but it is Kentucky that has changed to accommodate the coach’s way of recruiting and coaching.
  • Doron Lamb, who scored a game-high 22 points for the Wildcats, was so sharp in the team’s afternoon shoot-around that his coach told the sophomore that he expected 25 points from him. Lamb did not get that many buckets, but Calipari isn’t too upset about it.
  • All the talk after Monday’s game was about the freshmen and one-and-dones that are being shuffled through the Kentucky program. This talk was unfair to the sophomore Lamb, who was Kentucky’s standout offensive performer in its title victory.
  • Marquis Teague helped ignite Kentucky’s scorching start by scoring nine points in the game’s 13 minutes. This fast start and the leadership the freshman provided the Wildcats all night served to illustrate the improvement the guard has made throughout the season.
  • Darius Miller, Kentucky’s lone senior contributor, went from playing in the NIT as a freshman to becoming a national champion as a senior.
  • Anthony Davis was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite scoring just six points on 1-10 shooting in the title game. However, Davis contributed in many other ways, as he accumulated 16 rebounds, five assists, six blocks, and three steals.
  • Calipari noted after the game that he hopes there are six first-rounders that will come from Kentucky’s roster. The players he meant are Lamb, Teague, Miller, Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones.


  • In the past several years, the Jayhawks have found themselves despondent after tournament losses to underdogs such as Northern Iowa and Virginia Commonwealth. While KU is undoubtedly disappointed with its loss to Kentucky, this disappointment feels a bit different.
  • At the beginning of the season, virtually no one thought Kansas had even the slightest chance to play for the national title. Considering this season’s supposed “rebuilding” year was coupled with the low expectations, this season’s Jayhawk squad has much to be proud of.
  • Thomas Robinson is certainly headed to the NBA, as he is a projected lottery pick. With Robinson out of the fold, Kansas will have a tough task in replacing the All-America forward.
  • Tyshawn Taylor was often seen as enigmatic throughout his first three seasons at Kansas. However, this season, Taylor put it all together and flourished as the floor general for the Jayhawks. Despite his successes, the ultimate goal of a title proved to be elusive.
  • Bill Self said after the game that he did not think his team had lost the game, it was just that Kentucky had won it.
  • After Monday night’s defeat, both Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey vowed they would be returning to Kansas for their senior seasons. With Tyshawn Taylor graduating and Thomas Robinson more than likely gone, the Jayhawks are going to need major contributions from Johnson and Withey next season.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.28.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 28th, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.


  • Heading into his second Final Four in four seasons, Kansas head coach Bill Self is the lowest paid of the four coaches who will be in New Orleans this weekend. Of the group, only Self and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino have won titles.
  • While Kansas reserve forward Kevin Young’s contributions might not show up in the box score, but Bill Self and Young’s teammates acknowledge the energy Young brings to the court.
  • Barry Hinson has served as Kansas’ director of basketball operations for the past four seasons and on Wednesday afternoon, the former Missouri State head coach will be introduced as the new head coach at Southern Illinois.
  •  The unorthodox triangle and two defense helped lead KU to its second Final Four in four seasons. In basketball, defense can win championships and Bill Self is well aware of this notion.


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Rushed Reaction: #1 Michigan State 65, #9 Saint Louis 61

Posted by WCarey on March 18th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Draymond Green is still the man. The senior do-everything man for Michigan State put up another terrific performance with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and six steals. In such a close game, the Spartans needed every one of those contributions from Green. Green was in such control for Michigan State that there were times late in the game during Saint Louis’ furious comeback that he was running the point for the Spartans. He is one of those special talents who can lead Michigan State all the way to the Final Four and beyond.
  2. Keith Appling is capable of making huge plays from the guard position. Amidst the furious Saint Louis rally with Michigan State’s lead cut to just four, Appling nailed a huge three-pointer from the corner with just 1:37 remaining on the clock. After that three, Saint Louis realistically only had a fighter’s chance of getting back into this one. The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
  3. This is not the last we will hear from Saint Louis. Saint Louis is a very well-coached team who returns every contributor but leading scorer Brian Conklin. Starters Kwamain Mitchell, Mike McCall, Jr., Dwayne Evans, and Rob Loe return next season for the Billikens. Key bench guys Cody Ellis, Jordair Jett, and Cory Remekun also return to build on this year’s 26-8 campaign. Rick Majerus‘ squad plays a tough-nosed style of play and will definitely be a major player in the Atlantic 10 next season.

Star of the Game. Draymond Green, Michigan State. The senior had another impressive performance here, accumulating 16 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. Throughout the game it was more than clear that Green was the best player on the floor. Green really is a do-everything guy for Michigan State and that was more than evident again today.

Quotable. “We had to work today.” – Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. Saint Louis gave the Spartans a very tough fight all afternoon and the outcome was in question until the final minutes.

Sights & Sounds. Seeing a Saint Louis fan play a trumpet in the stands was really a sight to be had. I have never seen something like that at a basketball game before and I really wonder how he got that trumpet into the arena. Nevertheless, it was definitely a fun sight.

Wild Card. It was definitely tough seeing how emotional both Rick Majerus and Brian Conklin were at the postgame press conference. It was obvious to everyone in the room just how much those two care for each other. Conklin seems like a first-class kid and definitely someone the Billikens will miss next season.

What’s Next. Michigan State moves on to the Sweet Sixteen where it will face Louisville in a matchup of two legendary coaches in Phoenix. Expect a hard-fought, gritty, sometimes-ugly style of basketball to be played with the deserving winner one step from the Final Four.

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Rushed Reaction: #1 Michigan State 89, #16 LIU Brooklyn 67

Posted by WCarey on March 16th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Draymond Green is the man. The senior Big Ten POY compiled a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. It has been said all year that Green does everything for the Spartans and tonight that was definitely the case. It is tough to find a player in the country that means more to his team than Draymond Green means to Michigan State.
  2. Michigan State dominated in the low post. Green had a triple-double. Adreian Payne had 16 points and seven rebounds. Derrick Nix came off the bench to put up 18 points and eight rebounds. The Spartans dominated the rebounding category by a margin of 43-20. It was truly a dominant performance by the big men of Michigan State.
  3. Michigan State needs to avoid turnovers moving forward. At times, the Spartans were careless with the basketball. They finished the game with 12 turnovers and that number kept LIU Brooklyn in the game probably much longer than they should have been. If Michigan State is sloppy with the ball in a subsequent round, it could be a candidate to be upset.

Star of the Game. Draymond Green, Michigan State. The senior recorded a triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists and it was never a question who was the best player on the court. Green is a very special talent, and tonight, he was fantastic.

Sights & Sounds. Real strong Michigan State contingent, which was loud to the very end. LIU Brooklyn head coach Jim Ferry is a great coach to watch on the sidelines. He is extremely animated and never let up even when the game was out of reach. It seems like the Blackbirds really have a good one with Ferry.

What’s Next. Michigan State moves on to play Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. The Billikens’ front court struggled in their win over Memphis, so one can assume if it struggles again, Green and company could have another big day at the office.

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Rushed Reaction: #9 Saint Louis 61, #8 Memphis 54

Posted by WCarey on March 16th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Neither team played very well. Saint Louis won despite turning the ball over 16 times. The Billikens had an assist/turnover ratio of 7 to 16. Brian Conklin, the team’s leading scorer, turned the ball over a total of eight times. Memphis only shot 38.9% from the field for the game, turned the ball over 11 times and only had four assists. There were many times during the game were both teams possessed zero offensive rhythm.
  2. Rick Majerus can still really coach. Saint Louis was overmatched physically and athletically, but the Billikens found a way to get the victory. Leading scorer Brian Conklin struggled throughout most of the game, so Majerus went away from Conklin and ran the offense through Kwamain Mitchell, who ended up with 22 points. It was quite obvious that Majerus made some adjustments that Memphis head coach Josh Pastner could not.
  3. Memphis still has a ways to go before it is an elite team. The Tigers have way too many guys that play as individuals. Never once during the second half did Memphis look like a cohesive unit. Also, when Saint Louis grabbed the lead in the second half, it seemed like Memphis lost complete confidence in itself and its body language was subpar.

Star of the Game. Kwamain Mitchell, Saint Louis. The junior guard took over the game for the majority of the second half. He finished with 22 points, while hitting 4-7 from long range. Mitchell’s performance was crucial for the Billikens due to the fact that leading scorer Brian Conklin did not turn in his best performance.

Quotable. “The open guy is the go-to guy and we obviously went away from that.” – Memphis head coach Josh Pastner.

Sights & Sounds. Very impressive showing from the Saint Louis faithful. They remained loud and proud even when the Billikens were struggling. Memphis had a decent size contingent, which spent a majority of the second half yelling at referee Ted Valentine.

Wild Card. It has to be Rick Majerus’ wardrobe selection. The navy blue Saint Louis sweater and dark khaki pants were a welcome departure from the serious suit and tie look that most coaches utilize.

What’s Next. Saint Louis will meet the winner of Michigan State and LIU Brooklyn on Sunday. You have to figure it will be Michigan State, which would provide the Billikens with a tough and physical test, but with how today’s games have gone, you cannot really assume anything.

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