Wake Forest Releases Tony Woods

Posted by nvr1983 on October 11th, 2010

Earlier today Wake Forest announced that they would release beleaguered center Tony Woods from his scholarship at his request so he could pursue other options for the continuation of his college basketball career and education. Woods had already been suspended by Wake Forest after his arrest on charges that he had assaulted the mother of his 8 month-old son.  Woods subsequently pleaded guilty and was given a 60-day suspended sentence, ordered to complete an anger management course, and perform 100 hours of community service. His departure leaves the Demon Deacons even more thin in the frontcourt even if he only averaged 5 points and 3 rebounds per game last year as they had already lost their top player Al-Farouq Aminu to the NBA Draft. Woods has not mentioned which schools he is looking at, but we expect that there will be plenty of schools in the market for a 6’11” post player with two years of ACC experience.

Where will Tony Woods go next? (Credit: AP/Karl DeBlaker)

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2010 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Posted by zhayes9 on June 25th, 2010

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

Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:

Paul George saw his stock skyrocket all the way to #10 and the Pacers, Al Bello/Getty Images

Winners:

Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.

John Calipari - As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.

Paul George - It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.

Greivis Vasquez’ reaction - I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.

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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

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

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Al-Farouq Aminu

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Al-Farouq Aminu

School: Wake Forest

Height/Weight: 6’8, 216

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-lottery

Overview:  Al-Farouq Aminu is a player that every NBA scout has had on his radar since he came out of the Atlanta area two years ago, but despite two solid years in the ACC at Wake Forest, he has yet to make the leap to bonafide superstar that many anticipated at that time.  In watching AFA play, you get a sense that he’s still often learning how to use his prodigious physical talents to his advantage, which makes sense when you consider that he’s still only 19 years old despite having two years of college ball under his belt.  Aminu’s upside is tremendous with his size, athleticism and nose for the ball combining to leave scouts waiting for everything to come together, but the biggest barrier between him and NBA stardom will be his weak jumpshot.  Still, despite having little in the way of a reliable offensive move to the basket at this stage of his career, he’s projected as a mid-lottery pick in next week’s draft because of the obvious possibility that he may explode in the next 3-5 years.  There is a slight risk that the team selecting Aminu will eventually be left with a freakish athlete and not much else, but the stronger possibility given his obvious work ethic is that AFA will eventually become a second-tier star in the league, a double-double threat every night out from the small forward position.

Aminu is a Freakish Athlete But Needs to Work on Shooting

Will Translate to the NBA:  Aminu’s athleticism and length at the small forward slot are what NBA coaches covet, as he has the capability and potential to become a terror filling lanes on the break, a powerful rebounder from the wing and a devasting perimeter defender.  Still only 19 years old, Aminu’s upside is what has him slotted into the top ten picks of the draft, in large part because if he ever figures out the shooting part of the game, he has the tools to become an eventual All-Star.  His wingspan of 7’3 ensures that he’ll get his hands on boards that most players his size cannot, making Aminu a modern-day Shawn Marion clone (with an equally ugly jumper).  Despite spending a fair amount of time on the perimeter in the Wake Forest offense, AFA was first in the ACC in rebounding (10.7 RPG) and was one of the very best in the nation at corralling second-chance opportunities for his team.  Players with that particular skill are born, and Aminu will be one of the next undersized forwards to consistently outhustle the Lamar Odoms of the world to rebounds and loose balls. 

Needs Work:  Speaking of that jumper, Aminu cannot yet shoot the ball with any kind of consistency outside of ten feet.  While his three-point percentage improved in his sophomore campaign from 18% to 27%, no opposing team had stopping AFA’s three-point attack at the top of their defensive priority list.  There are also concerns about Aminu’s maturity level.  At times last season and particularly as the wheels on the Wake Forest bus were coming off, AFA would seem to float through large portions of games, most notably in a zero-point, five-foul performance against Florida State during the last week of the regular season.  He also fouled out of three other games and picked up four fouls in nine more, limiting his time on the floor and causing his team to suffer as a result.  For him to reach his lofty potential, shooting drills and better concentration will have to be areas of improved focus. 

Comparison Players:  We mentioned Marion above as an example of a similarly sized player who had the athleticism and heart to regularly snare rebounds away from taller, bigger players.  The key distinction is that, ugly as it was, Marion’s jumper became consistently deadly from outside.  Will Aminu be able to work up to that level of shooting skill to keep defenses honest and open up his ability to get to the basket?  Luol Deng is another player with similar size and athletic gifts who Aminu could favorably compare with. 

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Al-Farouq Aminu’s Take On The Kentucky vs Wake Forest Game

Posted by jstevrtc on March 20th, 2010

Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu had an interesting take on his team’s loss to Kentucky in the second round on Saturday.  Barely an hour after the Wildcats eliminated the Demon Decons, Aminu tweeted the following:

Come on, AFA.  Listen, we LOVE your game around here.  Trust us — you have supporters around these parts.  And we know you picked up some early fouls and had to sit a while in the first half.  We respect that, even with all that time on the pine, you still came back to lead your team in scoring.  We wish you luck and good health for the rest of your career, whether it’s in the pros or back in Winston-Salem.  But we’re going to have to disagree with you as far as the refs being a reason your team lost.  We think this guy named Eric Bledsoe might have had something to do with it (not the best video, we know):

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First Round Game Analysis: Thursday Evening

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Thursday evening games.

7:10 pm – #8 Northern Iowa vs. #9 UNLV  (Oklahoma City pod)

The Midwest Region’s first game of the tournament features two teams battling for the privilege of going up against Kansas in the next round. What press there is about Northern Iowa, Jordan Eglseder gets most of it. UNLV will also have to watch out for senior guard Ali Farokhmanesh, a streaky three-point shooter who’s had five straight games in single figures and is due for a run. It was thought at the beginning of the year that UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield would do a little more sharing of the scoring burden for the Runnin Rebels this year, but it’s been Willis who’s shouldered most of the load. At 17.5 PPG, he averages a full seven points more than the Rebels’ next leading scorer, sophomore forward Chace Stanback. Both of these teams take good care of the basketball and, even though neither of them is going to give the scoreboard operator much of a workout, the game itself should be a good one between two teams of similar talent. We hope all these guys get to enjoy the trappings of the tournament… because it won’t last long, sorry to say.

The Skinny: In a game played in the mid-50s (both in tempo and era), look for UNI to make the key plays down the stretch to win this one by four.

7:15 pm – #1 Kentucky vs. #16 ETSU  (New Orleans pod)

If any #16 seed is going to be the first to topple a top seed in this bracket, here’s your best shot. East Tennessee State was in this exact position one March ago and took #1 Pittsburgh to the wire. In fact, the Buccaneers trailed by just three points with 2:47 left in a contest usually reserved for monumental blowouts. ETSU was expected to rebuild after losing four starters from the Atlantic Sun champion of 2008-09, but the Bucs pulled off two upsets in the A-Sun Tournament and toppled Mercer in a true road game, meaning ETSU and former UAB headman Murry Bartow are dancing for the second straight campaign. One player who may give the top seed Wildcats some trouble is a 6’4 wing named Tommy Hubbard that has finally harnessed his talent and is one of the most improved players in the nation. Let’s be honest here, though: Kentucky should roll over the underdog Bucs. The Big Blue has more athleticism and pure ability than any team in the field, never mind the A-Sun champion that finished the season with 14 losses. No guard can come close to contain the blazing speed of John Wall. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson should have their way on the boards. Even a few breathtaking alley-oops could be in store for the ESPN folks to feast on. Last year Cal State Northridge gave John Calipari’s Memphis team a real scare in the first round. Expect the Kentucky head coach to learn from that game and have his squad prepared to blow the doors off ETSU from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

The Skinny: Kentucky will spend most of the game up 20+ before calling off the dogs Cats to win by fifteen or so.

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NCAA Region by Region Tidbits: 03.15.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • #8 Texas was once the top team in the nation, but now they are reeling. However, a team trending even worse might be their opponent: #9 Wake Forest. Demon Deacon Head Coach Dino Gaudio said Al-Farouq Aminu had an x-ray done on his hand and appears to be ready to play on Thursday. Meanwhile, Texas, who comes in having lost seven of their last nine games to teams in the NCAA Tournament, said he is trying to deflect questions that the Longhorns are done this year. “There are people saying Texas is done,” Texas coach Rick Barnes told the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t think our guys have felt like that at any point.” Meanwhile Wake Forest’s last road win against an NCAA Tournament team was their December 5 win over Gonzaga, 77-75.
  • #5 Temple against #12 Cornell will be the game to watch on Friday to start. The subplot of course is that Cornell head coach Steve Donahue spent ten years as an assistant under Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, who crossed town from Penn to Temple in 2006.  Donahue said he purposely does not schedule Dunphy’s Owls for a reason.  “See, we would never play each other in a regular season game because it would be torture. In this profession, you want your friends to advance,” Donahue told the Ithaca Journal. “The NCAA tournament is the pinnacle of what you do, so both of us will have to get over that.”  Dunphy reflected similar sentiments to the Philadelphia Daily News.  “If you had said to me who do you not want to play? Cornell,” Dunphy said about the matchup. “We’re good friends and there is a no-win situation in that.”
  • #11 Washington, the Pac-10 Tournament champion, had to play to get into the field of 65. Their opponent, #6 Marquette, is not happy about traveling to San Jose to play the Seattle school.  “They going to fly, or drive?” Marquette coach Buzz Williams asked the AP of the Huskies’ trip to the neutral site. “I think anytime you play on the West Coast against a team from the Pac-10, you are the underdog.”
  • #3 New Mexico, the regular season champion of the Mountain West Conference, will have their hands full with #14 Montana’s Anthony Johnson who scored 34 of his 42 points in the second half to clinch their Big Sky championship and NCAA Tournament bid. When asked about his ability, Lobos head coach Steve Alford told the AP, “We know he’s extremely talented … a potent scorer.” The Lobos will be playing to try to reach their first Sweet 16 in school history.
  • #7 Clemson taking on #10 Missouri will be an interesting matchup, guaranteeing an up-tempo pressuring style that Clemson coach Oliver Purnell favors. Missouri coach Mike Anderson told The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, “It won’t be one of those, walk it up and pass it about 20 times or five times. It’s going to be end-to-end. (It’s going to be) some athletic kids hopefully making some athletic plays.”
  • #2 West Virginia will tip off the NCAA Tournament against #15 Morgan State on Thursday. Coach Bob Huggins did not mince words when asked on whether or not West Virginia should be a top seed.  “I thought statistically we were a 1,” Huggins said Sunday to the AP. “The disappointing thing is that when they stand up there and say, ‘Let’s look at the full body of work,’ and if you look at the full body of work, we were probably a 1.”  The Mountaineers probably have a case for a #1 seed and will look to come out and show it to start the Tournament.

West Region Notes (Andrew Murawa)

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ACC Tourney Daily Diary: 1st Round

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. One of our RTC correspondents is at the ACC Tournament.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, he will post a nightly diary with his thoughts on each day’s action. Here is his submission for the 1st round games.

Virginia 68, Boston College 62

  • Virginia was playing without second team all-ACC Sylven Landesberg, who was suspended by head coach Tony Bennett for the remainder of the season due to academic issues.
  • Virginia opened a 34-27 halftime lead mostly in part to 6-11 (55%) 3-point shooting, compared to only 3-8 (38%) for BC.
  • This was a clean, well-played game with both teams combining for only 12 turnovers (UVa – 5, BC-7), but not a thrilling game by anybody’s definition.
  • Virginia held BC’s leading scorer, Joe Trapani, to 2 points on 0-7 shooting. Maybe he should consider transferring back to Vermont.
  • BC’s Corey Raji injured his shoulder during the game. “We’ll let the doctors look at it, and hopefully rest will do it.”

Miami 83, Wake Forest 62

  • Miami starting PF Dwayne Collins was not available for today’s game due to a “stress condition” of his left leg. Redshirt freshman big man Reggie Johnson, from Wake’s backyard in Winston-Salem, got the start in his place, scoring a career-high 22 points. Even without Collins, Miami still outrebounded the taller Deacons 39-34 for the game.
  • Wake’s 2nd team all-ACC forward Al-Farouq Aminu again pulled a disappearing act, as he has been oft to do. He managed only 11 points on 3-10 shooting and 7 rebounds, a less than stellar performance for a supposed lottery pick. This kid pulls more disappearing acts than Lance Burton. If he’s ready for the NBA, then so am I. Maybe he should spend less time tweeting and more time finding out why he’s slumping. He needs another year of college ball, because he doesn’t have the body or the handle to be effective in the NBA next year.
  • #12 Miami led 41-27 over #5 Wake Forest at the half. Miami opened the second half on an 8-0 run, extending their lead to 22. Their lead never dropped below 16 points in the second half. Miami was unconscious from the floor, shooting 52% for the game versus Wake’s 35%.
  • Wake Forest never displayed the ability to keep Miami’s guards, particularly freshman Malcolm Grant, out of the lane. Wake’s usually stingy 3-point defense, which held teams to 32% during the regular season, was torched by Miami for 47% (8-17).
  • Wake Forest is in their annual end of the year slump, which coach Dino Gaudio can’t explain. “I thought we were tired down the stretch last year, so we changed things this year, going with more time off.” Guess what coach, that hasn’t worked either. Maybe he’ll be able to explain why he doesn’t have a job this time next year.

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ATB: Maryland Becomes Everyone’s NCAA Sleeper Team

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Large Wednesday.  It was a big-time night of games, the kind of evening that has you checking the clock all day long in nervous anticipation.  Most of the games ended in predictable fashion, but that didn’t make them any less interesting.  To get this out of the way, ranked teams #3 Kentucky, #6 Purdue, #10 New Mexico, #13 Tennessee, #15 BYU, #16 Temple, #17 Wisconsin and #24 Texas A&M all won, most easily.  UNM won the Mountain West title outright, and Kentucky grabbed at least a share of the SEC title tonight.  We’ll focus on the biggest games, the key games of bubbular interest, and the conference tourneys in this space tonight, though.

  • #2 Kansas 82, #5 Kansas State 65. ESPN got lucky that this game was only interesting for about thirty minutes tonight.  At the 15:39 mark of the second half, K-State’s Luis Colon hit a layup to pull the Wildcats back within one point, and we thought this battle between Big 12 stalwarts was destined to go down to the wire in Lawrence.  We were wrong.  Kansas seemingly awakened from its halftime slumber and went on a quick 9-0 run to open its lead back up to double digits.  KSU made one more push to get it back to six, but the Jayhawks used a 13-1 run to put the game away for the 59th consecutive time in Allen Fieldhouse.  The Kansas defense, virtually nonexistent in their loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday, was back in action here, holding their in-state rival to 40% shooting and limiting the opponents not named Denis Clemente or Jacob Pullen to a mere 24 points.  The old barn was rocking as Kansas won the Big 12 regular season outright and likely wrapped up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as well, but we’re not completely certain because we could hardly see the action on our ESPN360 feed.  KU walks into a trap game at Missouri on Saturday, while K-State should still finish second in the league with a win over Iowa State this weekend.

Sherron Collins: Winningest Player in KU History (KC Star/R. Sugg)

  • #23 Maryland 79, #4 Duke 72.  The better big game of the night took place in College Park, as Maryland outlasted Duke in a back-and-forth contest that resulted in the Terps tying the rival Blue Devils at the top of the ACC standings with one game remaining.  Ultimately, it was Gary Williams’ team, led by the animated and spectacular Greivis Vasquez (20/4/5 assts), who broke a 69-all tie with two minutes to go and ended the game on a 10-3 closing run.  In particular, it was Vasquez’s running, fading, only-the-kind-of-shot-he-would-take-and-make jumper that gave Maryland a four-point lead with 39 seconds left and forced Duke to start fouling soon thereafter.  We really shouldn’t read too much into one result in a rivalry game, so we won’t, but one thing is very clear in that Maryland has been playing the better part of two months much, much better than their ranking might 0therwise indicate.  Since the new year turned, the Terps have only lost at Wake (when WFU was playing well), Clemson and Duke.  That’s it.  Pollsters have been holding four nonconference losses against them, but if Maryland isn’t a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament, then we haven’t seen one.  As for the regular season title, the Terps will play in a trap game at Virginia this weekend, while Duke will actually have the easier home game against rival UNC.  If both win (or lose), then Duke will win the top seed in the ACC Tournament, but suffice it just to say that these two are clearly the best two teams in the ACC.  Now, about that RTC, Terp fans…  we love the quick, full coverage of the court, and we know it’s been a few years since you last beat Duke, but, what if you’re the better team?

Huge Bubble Games.

  • Notre Dame 58, Connecticut 50. There’s absolutely no question that the Irish are playing better without all-american Luke Harangody than they were with him.  Notre Dame won its third straight game over a solid team to put themselves squarely back into the NCAA picture, but with an RPI in the 60s, a win over Marquette this weekend and another in the Big East Tourney are needed.  The Ls keep piling up for UConn (13 now), but how long can you hide behind the excuse of a tough schedule and some big wins before you cut them out of the picture?
  • Florida State 51, Wake Forest 47.  Wake is busily playing itself from a projected #4 seed to outside the field in a short span of two weeks with the Deacs’ fourth straight loss tonight.  Al-Farouq Aminu had a ridiculous zero-point, five-foul performance in the loss, and with a game versus surging Clemson on Sunday, Wake could be staring at five Ls in a row to end the regular season.
  • Memphis 70, UAB 65.  In a battle of CUSA bubble teams, Memphis was able to get a big win while also wrapping up the #2 seed in next week’s Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa.  In most mock brackets, UAB is the second team out of this conference, but now Memphis has swept the season series between the two.  It will be interesting if they meet again in Tulsa with Memphis taking a third game as well.

Helped/Hurt Themselves.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.16.10

Posted by THager on February 16th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#25 Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech – 7 pm on ESPN2 (****)

This game might feature two of the most underrated teams in the entire country.  It took a four-game winning streak for Wake Forest to crack the bottom of the top 25, and the 20-4 Hokies are still unranked in both polls.  In fact, Virginia Tech ranks just #50 in the RPI and are still considered by many to be a bubble team.  VT’s out of conference schedule is weak, but with four straight wins against ACC opponents, they are 7-3 in the league, just half a game behind Wake Forest and still in contention to win the conference.  Before the Hokies can even think about an ACC title, though, they need to prove their legitimacy against a solid Wake Forest team.  This game may only end up in the low 60s for both teams, as neither ranks in the top 70 in offensive efficiency, and both rank among the top 20 defensive teams.  Virginia Tech, whose leading scorer shoots below 40%, ranks #113 in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive ratings, so a below-average shooting night could bring this game down to the 50s.  If the Hokies want to be successful tonight, they are going to have to stop Wake Forest in the post.  Led by Al-Farouq Aminu, the Demon Deacons score the majority of their points from forwards and centers, and they rank third in the nation in rebounds per game.  Virginia Tech has not lost in Blacksburg yet, but they will face their toughest test of the season tonight.

Cincinnati @ South Florida – 7 pm on ESPNU (**)

With their recent performances, South Florida played itself out of the tournament and Cincinnati is on the verge of playing themselves back in.  USF has lost their last two games to other bubble teams (Notre Dame and Marquette) and are now not even in Joe Lunardi’s first eight teams out.  The Bearcats, on the other hand, are coming off a game in which they held UConn to their lowest point total since 2002, and are now the second team out according to Lunardi.  Like the Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech matchup, this game will also be extremely low scoring.  Both teams give up less than 66 points per game, and neither ranks in the top 70 in offensive efficiency.  Cincinnati has no players scoring over 12 points per game, and they rank #112 in offensive efficiency.  On paper, it would seem like USF would score more than 68.9 points per game, with four players averaging over 10 points per game and two players scoring over 17 points per game.  However, one reason for that is Gus Gilchrist just returned from an injury that kept him sidelined since December 2.  In his first game back against Marquette, he scored 10 points below his season average of 17.4 (most of USF’s earlier games were against weaker teams), but if he can provide some quality minutes and score close to what he did earlier in the year, USF should be able to win this game.  Cincinnati is just 2-6 on the road this year, and despite a relatively empty crowd at the Sun Dome, the Bulls should at least play themselves back in the bubble discussion.

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The RTC Midseason All-America Team

Posted by rtmsf on January 23rd, 2010

We’re a little past the halfway point of the 2009-10 season now, and we wanted to make sure that we had given the players who had performed at an elite level their due and propers with a little love from the crew here at RTC.  Here is our 2009-10 Midseason All-America Team.

First Team (** unanimous)

  • John Wall** (G), Kentucky (17.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.8 APG, 2.1 SPG) – Wall has been the most electrifying and clutch player in America so far this season.
  • Wes Johnson** (F), Syracuse (17.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.8 BPG) – Johnson does it all for Jim Boeheim’s team, proving the cranky old man right.
  • Luke Harangody** (F), Notre Dame (24.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG) – the nation’s scoring leader isn’t just a bomber; he’s also in the top five in overall efficiency.
  • Damion James (F), Texas (17.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG) – James is the clear leader of a Texas roster brimming with talented players.
  • Evan Turner (F), Ohio State (18.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 5.5 APG) - Mr. Triple-Double (two this year) missed a month and still made it onto the first team.

Second Team

  • Sherron Collins (G), Kansas (16.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.3 SPG) – Collins has proved his worth in late-game situations where he’s taken charge.
  • Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas (10.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.4 BPG) – Aldrich doesn’t get enough touches, but his impact on the game is invaluable to the Kansas attack.
  • Jon Scheyer (G), Duke (19.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 4.0 A:TO ratio) – Scheyer has proven he can handle Duke’s point guard duties exceptionally well.
  • Scottie Reynolds (G), Villanova (18.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 SPG) – Big Shot continues to improve, leading Villanova to 17-1.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu (F), Wake Forest (17.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.3 BPG) – the Leap that we all expected from Aminu in year two has happened.

Third Team

  • Da’Sean Butler (F), West Virginia (15.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG) – Butler’s superb numbers get crowded out by the other talented forwards in the Big East.
  • Quincy Pondexter (F), Washington (20.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 SPG) – it’s been a disappointing first half for UW, but not because of Pondexter.
  • Jarvis Varnado (F), Mississippi State (14.1 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 5.3 BPG) – the nation’s most feared interior presence continues to erase possessions for the opponent.
  • Patrick Patterson (F), Kentucky (16.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG on 63% FG) – Patterson is not as hyped as Wall or fellow big man DeMarcus Cousins, but he’s more efficient than both.
  • Jimmer Fredette (G), BYU (19.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.6 SPG) – Fredette’s elevated production has helped BYU get off to a fantastic 19-1 start.

Others Receiving Votes:  Jacob Pullen, Kansas State; Ekpe Udoh, Baylor; Xavier Henry, Kansas; Avery Bradley, Texas; Kyle Singler, Duke; Dexter Pittman, Texas; Greg Monroe, Georgetown; Jerome Dyson, Connecticut; Robbie Hummel, Purdue; Ed Davis, UNC; Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s; Klay Thompson, Washington State.

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ATB: The Night Basketball in the Triangle Died…

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2010

Black Wednesday in RTP.  A bit of hyperbole here, as we make reference to Black Sunday (March 11, 1979), the infamous day when both UNC and Duke lost NCAA second round games on the same afternoon.  Still, tonight’s surprising losses by both Carolina and Duke to the two ‘other’ schools in the traditional Big Four represent the first time in nearly seven years that they both lost conference games on the same night.  How on earth could this have happened?  Are big scary red/black aliens shaped in Deacon and Wolf form landing tonight to take us all away?  Will tears of blood flow from the sky as God weeps for us?   Will high-profile recruits clown Uncle Roy?  These are all good questions for the people of central North Carolina to be asking tonight, so we’re here to help them make sense of it all.  (ed. note: what?  NC State wasn’t shipped out to somewhere like Pembroke in the late 80s?)

NC State Exorcised Their Devils Tonight (N&O/Ethan Hyman)

  • NC State 88, #6 Duke 74.  There were a lot of shocking parts to this game, but by far the biggest shocker was the knife-through-butter ease by which NC State repeatedly shredded the Duke defense.  The Devils have held their opponents to 41% from inside the arc and 28% from beyond it all season long, but the Pack paid that no mind, shooting a red-hot 58% for the entire game and hitting five timely threes on a reasonable twelve attempts.  Even the expected collapse that everyone thought was coming immediately after halftime (and Nolan Smith’s ridiculous catch-and-shoot trey just before the buzzer) never materialized.  Instead it was NC State that appeared to have the confidence, pushing their lead back out into double-digits and answering the Devils each and every time they cut the lead to eight.  The night belonged to NCSU’s Tracy Smith, the 22d birthday boy who could seemingly do no wrong, dropping 23/5 on 10-12 FGs on a variety of post moves and drives to the hole.  The Duke defense, one of the very best in the nation coming into tonight, seemed bewildered and confused by Smith all night long, almost as if he’d been left off the scouting report.  Coach K’s group allowed over a point per possession for just the fourth time all season, and at 1.23 PPP tonight, it was easily their worst performance of the year.  Something tells us that their level of effort on that end will not go unnoticed by Krzyzewski.  With the win, NC State moves to 2-3 in the ACC race, and would you believe that the leaders of this conference are Virginia (3-0) and Maryland (2-1)?  Is it too early to start calling the ACC the Pac-10 East with its nuttiness so far this year?  Final thought: nice RTC, State students.  And, deserved (start at 2:50).

  • Wake Forest 82, #23 UNC 69.  Freshmen?  No, I don’t think so.  Wake’s C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart were impolite guests in their first visit to the Dean Dome as collegians, to say the least.  In the first half, Wake cajoled UNC into questionable shot selection while taking good ones themselves and went into halftime with a three point lead.  When UNC came out quickly early in the second and almost immediately made it just a one-point deficit, you got the feeling that Roy Williams had indeed gone into his magic bag and come up with a speech that would now put things right.  You could feel that UNC had finally shown up and that they — the ranked team, at home — would redeem themselves, take advantage of the young Deacon guards, pull out a win, and SURELY avoid a three-game losing streak, something that’s never happened here under Roy Williams.  It cannot happen here under Roy Williams.  Right?  RIGHT?  Well… it just did.  Harris and Stewart looked like anything but frosh in the second half right about the time UNC started getting their legs under them.  First, almost halfway through the second half, it was Stewart.  A three.  Then another.  Then ANOTHER.  That last one is in caps because it was from about 22 feet, finishing the triple of triples that came in a span of a minute and 26 seconds.  About a minute later, it was Harris, drilling two straight from the same spot on the left.  Those five threes were courtesy of assists from four different players.  At that point the Deacons’ lead was 15, and the Tar Heels were done.  A couple of minutes later Ish Smith — a terror tonight, with 20/7/6 on 9-17 shooting — drilled another three for the official dagger.  A team on which each player knows and cherishes his role is a dangerous thing, and that is this Wake Forest team — at least, it was tonight.  Aside from the aforementioned guards providing the outside threat, Smith distributes well and is a heady senior point guard.  Al-Farouq Aminu, whose 13/11 we haven’t even mentioned, is a fine interior defender and rebounds like a maniac.  Chas McFarland might not take many shots (1-3 tonight), but he gets to the line and hits the boards (ten against UNC) and anchors the defense inside with Aminu.  And they seem to be buying in to what Dino Gaudio is teaching.  Sure, the Heels didn’t have Ed Davis, and this might have been Wake’s best outside shooting night of the season.  But this is North Carolina.  At home.  What can you say about this team at this point?  Is Roy about to lose them?  It’s been an incredible three-year run.  But sometimes after such a period of sustained success, when hard times arrive it can be easy for a young team to fold.  They’re 12-7 and 1-3 in the ACC, have twelve games left, with seven of them away.  A split does not get them in.  The Heels have six days off, and it’s a good time for it.  They have a lot to think about.  It’s soul-searching time.

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