RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: January

Posted by zhayes9 on October 22nd, 2009

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Last Monday we broke down the top games of November and December as part of our season preview here at Rush the Court. As we examine the best games of the month of January, keep in mind what games during this crucial portion of the season usually represent: separating the contenders from the pretenders. With conference play heating up, the true top-seed players emerge from the pack and leap up their conference standings, while teams that may have overachieved or floated along on a cupcake-filled slate during the first two months begin to fall apart. Here are the games of great importance to circle on your calendar for January:

Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

January 1- West Virginia at Purdue (#7 overall)- The top game in the entire month of January will be played on the first day of 2010. You won’t find a more bruising, rugged and intense contest played all year with Bob Huggins and Matt Painter’s teams battling it out in East Lafayette. West Virginia is led by the shooting ability of Da’Sean Butler, the super-athletic Devin Ebanks, the two headed point-guard combo of Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant and impact JC transfer Casey Mitchell. Purdue will be entering their third full season with the core of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and Keaton Grant intact.

January 2- Louisville at Kentucky (#23 overall)- This game has been circled for fans of Big Blue since the details emerged of Rick Pitino’s affair and subsequent extortion mess. They’ll be on Pitino relentlessly for these transgressions because they know their ultra-talented Wildcats can back up the berating on the court. Kentucky fans will also be eager for revenge after Edgar Sosa’s stunning game-winning three a season ago crushed Kentucky in Freedom Hall. Sosa will have to handle sensational freshman John Wall this time around.

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January 9- Kansas at Tennessee (#12 overall)- If Tennessee gets into an offensive rhythm, they can hang with the Jayhawks. Look for Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism to utilize their versatility to move Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson and other Kansas bigs away from the basket while allowing their wings — Scotty Hopson, J.P. Prince -- to penetrate inside and draw fouls while Kansas has to recover. This could be an electric, high-scoring affair that may be decided at the foul line.

January 9- West Virginia at Notre Dame (#24 overall)- How about four top-25 games to kick off the month of January? This Big East clash is one of West Virginia’s toughest road tests in their quest of a conference title. Notre Dame recently had a long home court winning streak and the West Virginia forwards Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith and Deniz Kilici have to deal with the likely BE POY Luke Harangody. Whether the Irish can receive production from their guards is the key.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009

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Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.

It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)

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Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

  • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
  • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
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Alex Tyus Follows Billy Donovan’s Lead

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

As we mentioned in today’s Fast Breaks, there was some curious news out of Gainesville today where Alex Tyus, who had announced that he was transferring from Florida on April 17th, changed his mind and has decided to continue his basketball career there. Yes, that would be 11 days between leaving and coming back to the Gators.

Surprisingly, Billy Donovan let  Tyus rejoin the program without any hesitation (at least publicly), which is a change for a coach who has ripped his team publicly on several occasions in the past. However, when you consider Donovan’s past flirtations with leaving Gainesville before returning his acceptance of a change of heart regarding scenery seems to make sense.

The interesting question which we will probably never find out is what made Tyus change his mind. Was it that he thinks UF is the ideal system for him? (Doubtful because they played him out of position and Donovan’s teams have largely underperformed outside of the repeat national champs–a big exception, but a team that seems like more of an aberration if you look closer at Donovan’s tenure.) Was it the co-eds? (Ok. That’s a very valid reason although he could have gone to UCLA, Arizona State, or FSU if that was the issue.) Was it a lack of options? (Doubtful for a guy who averaged 12.5 PPG and 6.2 RPG playing out of position as a sophomore.)

Whatever the case was I’m sure that the Gator fans are happy to have Tyus back as he makes them a NCAA tournament team (possibly SEC champs if Nick Calathes pulls out of the draft) with an incoming class that includes Kenny Boynton and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin. Well, that is at least until Tyus changes his mind again. . .

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04.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

It’s been a light few days, but we’re here to get you caught up on the few things surfacing…

  • Florida’s Alex Tyus was transferring, now he’s not.  This confused us until we remembered that he learned from Donovan two-step from the master himself. 
  • Bruce Pearl’s romantic overtures know no bounds… not even the head football coach’s wife (not that we blame him). 
  • Oddly, USC is no longer recruiting big man Renardo Sidney (who moved to LA three yrs ago for marketing purposes).  Now he may be heading back home to Mississippi St?  Stay tuned on this one.
  • Will Syracuse be the one-year football destination for Greg Paulus?
  • The NBA’s early entry deadline was Sunday – here are a few of the last-minute entries:  Mississippi St.’s Jarvis Varnado (no agent), UConn’s Ater Majok (no agent), Tennessee’s Tyler Smith (no agent), USC’s Taj Gibson (no agent) and BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari (no agent). 
  • Returning:  Iowa St.’s Craig Brackins (a major coup), Michigan’s Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
  • Gary Parrish doesn’t believe that Davidson will recapture the Curry magic for quite some time. 
  • It’s hard to believe this didn’t happen now that the FBI has brought charges against Karen Sypher for attempting to extort Rick Pitino for $10M, two cars, a paid-off house and college tuition.  Wow.  Regardless, we have to agree with Goodman when he says nothing good is ultimately coming from all of this.
  • He was only “holding it” for someone named “Luck.”  Welcome to Nevada basketball in the post-Mark Fox era.
  • Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall got a one-year contract extension (to 2015) after an improved second year at the school.
  • Good to see the NCAA gumshoes going after the big boys like Northeastern, who received two years probation on Friday.
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04.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2009

There are only FIVE DAYS left to declare, kiddies!  Get your early entry paperwork in NOW!!!

  • At least one report states that Duke’s Gerald Henderson will enter the draft.  And we thought we already knew this (about Tyreke Evans).
  • Xavier’s Derrick Brown, Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal and Mr. Game Winner, Scottie Reynolds, will all test the waters.   All three should be back in college next season. 
  • Steph Currystill thinking
  • One dude who will not go pro this year is John Wall.  Luke Winn dissects his recruitment, while Gary Parrish all but pushes him down the aisle to explore the opportunity for him to go pro.  In a separate article, Winn discusses how John Calipari’s move to Kentucky impacted numerous top players in this year’s top 50.  Speaking of which, the final Scout top 100 list is out.
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for his now-admitted verbal and physical abuse against a Cincinnati cabbie in late December.   What did it cost him?  40 hours of community service and no further “enrichment” of his current contract with Ole Miss.  Interesting.  The civil cases should be phenomenal theater. 
  • What’s going on in Gator-Land?  Alex Tyus‘ departure (transfer, not NBA) is the seventh player Billy D. has lost in the past calendar year.   
  • Purdue’s starting PG Lewis Jackson got community service and will await his punishment from Matt Painter for his recent DWI arrest on April 12. 
  • Jason Whitlock nails at least one part of this Isiah to FIU piece – the part about the strip clubs
  • Andy Staples takes a look at the boxed-in problem that side deals to the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent are causing.  Paging DeMarcus Cousins…
  • Gary Parrish believes that the 09-10 season will be much stronger across the board thanks to the return of numerous lottery picks as well as an influx of prep talent who will have instant impacts (unlike this year, for the most part).
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ATB: Fresh Maui Breezes

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

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Maui Invitational. Texas vs. Notre Dame could be the best game of the first month of the new season.  UNC vs. Oregon could be interesting, but won’t be.

  • Texas 68, St. Joseph’s 50.  The Texas defense has been absolutely superb so far this season, holding its three opponents to an average of 46.3 ppg and 29% from the field.  St. Joe’s was no different, struggling to find open looks against the long arms and quick feet of the Longhorns.  Damion James and AJ Abrams combined for 31/8 for the Horns, who will hook up with Notre Dame tomorrow in a blockbuster contrast of styles (ND is averaging 82.3 ppg).
  • Notre Dame 88, Indiana 50. This was a complete mismatch from start to finish, as the experienced Golden Domers meticulously picked apart the green Hoosiers in nearly every way possible.  Notre Dame shot 51% as it brought back to the fore that Indiana simply isn’t going to be very good this season.  Tory Jackson had 21/5/6 assts and Kyle McAlarney contributed 18 (all threes) for the Irish.
  • UNC 115, Chaminade 70. UNC rode a 67-pt second half to the second-worst loss that host Chaminade has ever suffered in this tournament.  Roy Williams kept Tyler Hansbrough on the bench throughout, figuring it best to keep him fresh for what will be a much tougher next two days of games.  Danny Green had a career-high 26 pts, while Ty Lawson added 19/6 assts.  UNC will play a revived Oregon next, but we guarantee that the Heels will put up more of a fight defensively than Bama did.
  • Oregon 92, Alabama 69.  At times during this game, Alabama appeared to be the least prepared and worst coached team in America.  And they were playing a team in Oregon that often appears that way themselves, which should really tell you something.  If we had a coconut for every time Bill Raftery or Jay Bilas said the word “terrible,” our living room would smell like Maui right about now.  UO hit a blistering 54% from the floor while holding Bama to 36%.  In a sidenote, Ronald Steele shot 3-11 from the field and just doesn’t look like the same player he was two years ago (before all of his knee injuries).

CBE Classic. It’ll be Syracuse vs. Kansas in KC tomorrow night for the championship.

  • Syracuse 89, Florida 83. Florida’s ‘improved’ defense got exposed exploited, giving up 89 points and 52% shooting to the more athletic Orange in an entertaining up-and-down game that featured several nice performances on both sides.  Paul Harris contributed 18/11 for the Orange, while Alex Tyus chipped in 24/4 for the Gators.
  • Kansas 73, Washington 54. KU’s Cole Aldrich dominated the more ballyhooed Jon Brockman by dropping 16/9/6 blks (vs. Brockman’s 7/18 on 2-9 shooting) in the Jayhawks’ blowout victory in the semis of the CBE Classic.  The Kansas defense held the Huskies to 29% shooting for the game, and frankly, Washington largely looked out of sorts for much of this game.

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Some Exhibition Nonsense

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2008

We don’t put any much stock in Exhibition Games, because, well, they’re exhibitions.  But maybe we should – last year, Findlay defeated Ohio St. and Grand Valley St. beat Michigan St., and both of those teams had worse seasons than expected (OSU in particular – NIT).  Someone should do a correlation on this.  Anyway, here are some exhibition tidbits for the discerning fan…

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