Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Thursday related to a player who is still a year away from actual collegiate game action. Mitch McGary, a 6’10″ power forward who has been desscribed as “Tyler Hansbrough on Red Bull,” committed to Michigan on Thursday. RSCI has him rated as the #3 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, and his range is between #2 and #5, so it’s not like there’s much disagreement on the ridiculous talent of this guy. An Indiana native, he’s certainly someone that not only his other two finalists — Duke and Florida — would have liked to have nailed down, but the fact that John Beilein’s Michigan program was capable of invading Hoosier territory to grab an elite talent like McGary is demonstrative. IU won’t be truly ‘back’ until prep players like McGary are theirs to lose, and at least one national writer is sold on UM as a program on the verge of greatness again.
  2. Tough news on Thursday from Virginia Tech, as hard-luck case JT Thompson reportedly tore his ACL for a second time in two seasons this week. Granted, last year it was his right ACL and this year it was his left, but the point remains the same: Instead of a comeback recovery season for Thompson as a fifth-year senior, he’s faced with another long year of rehabilitation and recovery as we head into the season. Thompson’s injury doesn’t necessarily put the Hokies into a precarious position with respect to the bubble, but as usual for the team from Blacksburg, it doesn’t help either. Then again, it wouldn’t be a Seth Greenberg team unless it was 18-12 and sitting on the bubble on Selection Sunday, so although we wish Thompson all the best on his recovery, we can’t say that we’re surprised.
  3. One week after announcing an optional initiative that will allow major conferences an opportunity to provide $2,000 per student-athlete to ‘fill the gap’ between the cost of a full scholarship and its incidentals, NCAA president Mark Emmert was quick to say on Thursday that such a stipend was not “pay for play.” No matter where you fall on this issue, we think that everyone can agree that opening up this Pandora’s box is equitable in name only — the power conferences are those who ultimately stand to benefit. Imagine if everyone in America were offered a fantastic deal of a brand new Maserati well below list price of only $50,000! Well… you see the point.
  4. Speaking of Emmert’s organization, it wouldn’t be the NCAA without preseason suspensions and Mississippi State is once again on the wrong end of a major delay in one of its key players actually suiting up. The good news for Rick Stansbury is that MSU appears to have Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie ready to hit the floor this season, but they will do so without the backup support of Kristers Zeidaks, a Latvian forward whom he would have liked to have had on his bench. Zeidaks will essentially suffer the Deniz Kilicli rule in that he must sit out a substantial number of games before the NCAA will deem him eligible. In this case, Zeidaks will miss the entire upcoming season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season if he ever desires to play college basketball. The issue is that he competed against a professional club team in Europe and must apparently pay his penance with the NCAA for doing so.
  5. Truth. Spoken. Alexander Wolff’s article this week on the complete irrelevance of college basketball on decision-making among the taskmasters of collegiate sports is both sickening and enlightening at the same time. Nearly twenty years ago, Wolff followed up the greatest college basketball game ever played with perhaps the greatest college basketball article ever written, “The Shot Heard Round the World.” What the piece lacked in titular form — much like the game itself (most people do not realize that Duke was a HEAVY favorite over Rick Pitino’s Wildcats that evening in Philadelphia) — it made up for in tone and reverence. There is no such reverence in an era where regal programs such as Kansas, St. John’s and Georgetown are thrown to the wolves for the sake of football dollars. While Wolff clearly reminisces about a bygone era where Jayhawks, Johnnies and Hoyas mattered, he also recognizes that, in some ways, the college hoops overlords brought this on themselves. Read it for yourselves.
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Morning Five: 06.10.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2011

  1. When Bryce Drew was chosen to succeed his father Homer at Valparaiso a little less than a month ago, he became the fifth head coach in the Horizon League currently in his 30s. We’re always intrigued to hear how coaches who are barely ten years older than many of their players are able to come across more as authority figures and less as contemporaries, and it brings up another question: with the current generation of players, is it better to be an old seasoned coach chock-full of wisdom that comes from time and experience who’s better at recruiting the parents as well as the players, or is it more advantageous to be perceived as a young “up-and-comer” who knows how to use Twitter, Facebook, and get up for a chest-bump? The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, and it will be interesting to see if the most successful coaches over the next 5-10 years are guys who are hybrids of those two options.
  2. With two teams leaving and four new coaches arriving, you might think the non-conference schedules of Big 12 teams might suffer a little next season. Um, think again. Texas goes to UCLA in early December. Kansas has games against no less than Kentucky and Ohio State, and will play in a Maui Invitational that’s more stacked than Sofia Vergara. Oklahoma State’s taking to the road to play an improved Alabama side as well as scheduling a prickly one at Missouri State. The list goes on. In short, the overall strength-of-schedule numbers (for what they’re worth) for the conference may elevate to Big East levels next season.
  3. Now that Patrick Chambers has gotten the shards of glass out of his neck (we’re still in disbelief) and finds himself as the honcho at Penn State, we’re betting he’s spent about 99% of his time performing the single most important task that will help him bring some pride back to the Nittany Lions — recruiting. But in addition to getting prospects to care enough about the place to attend it, until the wins start rolling in he’s also got to get fans to care enough about the program to get behind it. Chambers was a marketing major, and it’s time to put that training to good use.
  4. When we were younger and our copies of Sports Illustrated would arrive in the mail, it was always a highlight of the week. One of the first things we (and most college basketball fans) would do is flip straight to any stories on college basketball, of course. If there was one in there written by Alexander Wolff, it always meant that much more. We grew up reading his stuff, and his skill as a chronicler and storyteller of college basketball contributed massively to what we know about the game today and how much we still love it. It was announced on Thursday that the Basketball Hall of Fame has awarded Mr. Wolff (as well as Jim Durham, former voice of the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, and current NBA broadcaster for ESPN radio) its top media honor, the Curt Gowdy Media Award. It doesn’t even seem like our place to say it, but we will anyway: congratulations, sir. And thank you.
  5. In early 2010, right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Kentucky’s John Calipari and a group of eleven other people created a telethon called Hoops for Haiti that was broadcast on local television in Lexington. Calipari helped host the event, Wildcat players answered phones, and viewers called in to donate money or bid on auctioned items. Donations came in not just from within the borders of Kentucky (though the majority did), but indeed, from all across the nation. In a deep economic recession, the efforts of Calipari and his crew raised an incredible amount in excess of $1.3 million in aid to Haiti. Mind you, that’s more than the entire nations of Sweden ($850,000), India ($1 million), or China ($1 million) are each reported to have given. The folks who came up with this — including the Kentucky head coach — have been nominated for a regional Emmy award. A basketball coach has never been nominated for an Emmy, let alone won one – until now.
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Villanova and Pittsburgh put the madness back in March Madness

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2009

After nearly 10 days of college basketball critics bemoaning the lack of excitement in this year’s edition of March Madness, two of the Big East’s best teams answered all of those critics by submitting an all-time classic. After one of the strangest 10 seconds you will ever see, Scottie Reynolds made an end-to-end run that might replace the Danny Ainge and Tyus Edney versions on NCAA Tournament highlight reels from now on as this was on a much bigger stage with a trip to the Final 4 on the line. Even with Reynolds miracle, Pittsburgh still had its shot, but a 75-foot desperation heave by Levance Fields was off-target and the Villanova fans which filled TD BankNorth had their biggest moment since 1985 when Rollie Massimino, who attended the games in Boston, guided the Wildcats to their only national championship.

It was a game that showed off everything that the Big East was this year: tough, physical, surprisingly high-scoring, and always entertaining. The Wildcats came out of the gates strong and held a 22-12 lead with 9:27 left before the #1 seeded Panthers joined the fight. Relying on its three stars (DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Fields), Jamie Dixon‘s squad cut the lead to 2 with an 8-0 spurt in 1:09. From that point forward, the two team traded punches like world-class heavyweights (back when being a heavyweight actually meant something) as neither team was able to stretch their lead beyond 5 points. Villanova relied on a balanced attack (Dwayne Anderson with 17 points, Reynolds with 15 points, Dante Cunningham with 14 points, and Shane Clark with 11 points) while Pittsburgh relied heavily on its two 1st team All-Big East performers (Young with 28 points and 7 rebounds and Blair with 20 points ant 10 rebounds) to keep it in the game.

A tight game throughout. . .

A tight game throughout. . .

After trading haymakers for nearly 37 minutes without either team achieving any separation, Pittsburgh appeared to have a chance to do so coming out of a Villanova timeout with a 4-point lead and the ball out of bounds with 3:05 left.  Instead, that’s just when the madness started. Jermaine Dixon, who had hit a tough jumper just moments earlier  (with a shot that was reminiscent of one that his brother Maryland star Juan Dixon used to hit not too many years ago) to give the Panthers the lead, had the ball stolen from him and in an attempt to recover fouled Dwyane Anderson for the conventional 3-point play. A Sam Young turnover and a Corey Fisher lay-up later, the Wildcats had the lead with 2:16 left, but Fields hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers the lead back. The Wildcats showed their mettle by scoring the next 5 points to take a 4-point lead with 47 seconds left. As he has done all night long, Young provided the answer for the Panthers with a clutch 3-pointer (“Onions!” as Bill Raftery would say) with 40 seconds left to cut the lead back to 1. A pair of Fisher free throws and a Reggie Redding free throw allowed the Wildcats to stretch the lead back to 4 with 20 seconds left.

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