Halloween Tricks and Treats For Hoops Fans Everywhere

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2013

As an army of ghosts, goblins, witches and werewolves prepares to descend upon neighborhoods from coast to coast, we thought it might be worthwhile to hand out a few tricks and treats of our own before the autumnal extravaganza begins in earnest this evening. We’ve got a basket full of goodies to give away, but not everybody in our neighborhood is deserving of the full-size candy bars and gummy worms we have in our cache. Some of the trick-or-treaters in College Basketball Nation are frankly more deserving of healthy sweets (yay, fruits!) and some brand-new toothbrushes. Let’s take a look:

jackoball

TRICK: Our first trick goes to Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, who will receive a Costco-sized package of Dove from us this Halloween. With a mouth as profane as his, Henderson could stand to abide any good grandmother’s advice and wash his mouth out with a plentiful helping of soap. His act is one part entertaining and three parts tiresome, so let’s knock on wood to hope that he figures out a way this season to let his highly-impressive (and efficient) game do his talking.

TREAT: It’s still October, so we’re going to hand out treats in the form of a bag of candy corn (it’s striped, after all) to our intrepid game officials. The new rules instituted this offseason by the NCAA to eliminate hand-checking on the perimeter and bumping of cutters is designed to improve player movement and make the game more free-flowing. The NBA went through a similar transformation during the last five years, and the preponderance of open-floor offenses in the league has made the professional game a much better product as a result. Now, the zebras just need to implement it. Like we said, it’s still October.

TRICK: Some trick-or-treaters simply can’t get past others’ success, and they’re smaller for it. There’s no narrative more annoying in college basketball these days than the “[John] Calipari cheats” meme. The Kentucky head coach hasn’t always been an uber-recruiter (he had one legitimate NBA player in eight years at UMass), but he has always been a winner (at least in the college game). Yet many people in and around the sport simply won’t let go of the idea that he is some kind of masterful Dr. Evil on the recruiting trail, offering “one millllll-ion dollars” to the best prep talent the US has to offer. For these people, we’re giving out black licorice vines in the hopes that the candy stains their teeth as much as bitterness has stained their souls.

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Morning Five: 05.02.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 2nd, 2013

morning5

  1. Over the past five years or so, the college basketball puppet-masters have made heroic if not completely successful attempts to spice up the early November opening of the season. Between the ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon, the Champions Classic, the Armed Forces Classic and the various aircraft carrier games, there have been some hits and some misses, but if nothing else these events suck a small percentage of the oxygen out of a sports media universe dominated by the pigskin at the time. According to ESPN.com‘s Jason King, there may be another entry into a crowded opening week on the horizon. bd Global is reportedly putting together the final touches on a multi-game event that would take place in Dallas’ American Airlines Arena, just 20 minutes away from Cowboys Stadium, the site of next year’s Final Four. The concept, of course, is that this event — which would include some prominent semi-local Big 12 schools and other national programs — would bookend the 2013-14 season in exciting fashion, while calling attention to the site of next year’s (and future years’) championship weekend. We’re all for it, but is it too much to ask that the event organizers hold this on the actual opening day of college basketball?
  2. There were a couple of prominent transfers Wednesday, with the announcements that Kansas State’s Angel Rodriguez will land at Miami (FL), and Arizona’s Angelo Chol is leaving Sean Miller’s program. There was some speculation originally that Rodriguez may follow his former coach Frank Martin to Columbia, South Carolina, but because of a family health issue, he sought a location relatively close to his home in Puerto Rico and Miami is about as close as he can get. Rodriguez also played his prep basketball in South Florida, so he’s already familiar with the area. If he manages to receive an NCAA family health waiver to suit up next season, he can step right in at the point guard slot vacated by Shane Larkin and would immediately become the team’s best player. Chol found himself in a big man logjam last season in Tucson, averaging a couple points and rebounds per game in only about nine minutes per outing. Even with Grant Jerrett’s decision to leave for the pros factored into next year’s playing time calculus, the addition of top five prospect Aaron Gordon meant that things were unlikely to improve much for Chol in that regard. The San Diego native is likely to give San Diego State a good, hard look as a possible destination.
  3. With everyone providing their post-draft deadline Top 25s for next season, CBSSports.com‘s Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman went one step further with their predictions of how the preseason All-America teams are likely to look in November. Keeping in mind that players who are consensus locks in the preseason sometimes have a tendency to fall completely off the list by March, their selections generally make good sense at this time. Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott and Russ Smith are easy selections, and Mitch McGary probably is a good choice for a fourth. Their wildcard selection, however, is where you just never know… Andrew Wiggins is everyone’s rising superstar du jour, but it wasn’t that long ago that Harrison Barnes was a two-time lock for First Team All-American (he made zero major AA teams at UNC) and Anthony Davis was on a clear track to become the next Bill Russell (Damian Lillard instead was the NBA’s consensus Rookie of the Year). We say this not to point out specific mistakes because everyone makes them, but really to highlight the extreme fallibility of predictions such as these (by anyone).
  4. If that’s not enough to get you hyped for next season, ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil backs these guys up with her argument that the 2013-14 season, with a tremendous group of returnees buttressed by an equally impressive group of newcomers, is shaping up to be something special. Frankly, it’s a really tough argument to make. The 2011-12 season trotted out the same argument with the returns of rising stars Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones, to name a few, but that season was mostly marked by a clear delineation that Kentucky and North Carolina, when fully healthy, were the best two teams in America. For our money, a season like 2012-13 was actually more exciting simply because there were more legitimate contenders to the crown — Indiana, Gonzaga, Michigan, Duke, Kansas, Florida and even Miami (FL) looked like they had the chops at one time or another — before Louisville crowned an exciting NCAA Tournament with a storybook run to the title with a likable group of players. Hey, we’re ready for next season right now — let’s tip it off regardless of who is around to play the games — but we for one don’t think parity in college hoops is at all a bad thing. It works for the NFL, why not us?
  5. When RTC was just getting started several years ago, we had a somewhat quaint notion that if we asked nicely and didn’t show up looking like Russell Brand on a 72-hour bender, we might be able to convince a few schools to allow us to cover games as members of the credentialed media. The first school that gave us such an opportunity was Boston College, and the SID who allowed it to occur was Dick Kelley. This week SI.com‘s Pete Thamel wrote a tremendous story describing the unbelievable depth of positive impact that Kelley has had on a school’s athletic department in so many more ways than simply handling media requests. For the last two years, Kelley has been battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and at the time of Thamel’s piece, he has lost the use of both his arms and legs and can no longer speak. Yet he still attended basketball practices and all but one of BC’s home games this season. The story is an inspirational one, and sometimes it’s difficult to get emotionally attached to someone most readers have never met. But for us, not only was he willing to give a couple of part-time bloggers a chance to become legit, he also helped open the door for RTC (and so many others in our wake) to cover high-level Division I games in a professional way. Literally hundreds of games, dozens of conference tourneys, and three full NCAA Tournaments later, we will always remember how we were initially treated by a class act in every sense of the phrase. Take care, Dick.
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Virginia, Middle Tennessee, Stony Brook and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 12th, 2013

tuesdayscribblesBrian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. Does Virginia want to make the NCAA Tournament? Since beating Duke almost two weeks ago, the Cavaliers have lost to Boston College and Florida State and barely escaped Maryland in overtime on Sunday in a game that each team tried to give away multiple times. The more and more I look at Virginia’s resume, the more I think this team will be in the NIT. It has gotten to the point where there are too many bad losses to overcome, barring a run this week in the ACC Tournament. The Hoos have a couple things going for them, mainly the win over Duke and the victory at Wisconsin in November. Home wins over North Carolina, NC State and bubble buddy Tennessee also help but Tony Bennett’s club has a stunning EIGHT bad losses on its resume. Virginia went 11-7 in the ACC but went 0-3 against Colonial Athletic Association teams. Go figure. From an efficiency perspective, this is a strong team that plays stifling defense, has a couple of great players in Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell to go along with a solid supporting cast. The resume lacks some punch though and Virginia has a lot of work to do this week in Greensboro. The Cavs will likely open with NC State on Friday, a game they really need to win.

    Tony Bennett will sweat it out this week

    Tony Bennett will sweat it out this week

  2. One team fighting with Virginia for a tournament berth is Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders were eliminated from the Sun Belt Tournament by Florida International on Sunday and now have to sit and sweat out the next five days. Kermit Davis’s team finished with an impressive 28-5 overall record and lost just once over a 20-game conference schedule, on the road in overtime to Arkansas State (the next best team in the league). Davis has been with the program since 2002 and has built it up to respectable mid-major status. Is this a team worthy of a chance at a bid? Absolutely. The question is, will it get one? If I were on the selection committee, I’d probably have to say no unfortunately. Despite doing what it was supposed to do in its conference, Middle Tennessee didn’t do much out of conference. Yes, it beat two SEC teams (Mississippi and Vanderbilt), but neither of those teams is making the NCAA Tournament (unless the Rebels have a great conference tournament). But the real reason why I’d leave Middle Tennessee out is the fact that it was not competitive against Florida or Belmont, two of its better non-conference opponents. A competitive showing in either game would likely have changed my mind. In addition, the Blue Raiders lost a tough one in overtime to Akron. Those are missed opportunities that may end up costing this team a chance to dance.
  3. The fact that Stony Brook had to go on the road in the America East Tournament is a travesty. The Seawolves won the conference by three full games and their reward was a road trip to face #4 seed Albany in its own gym. It’s not right. I realize these smaller conferences don’t have the budgets that the power leagues do but would it be so difficult to host the tournament at whichever school wins the regular season title? Is that too much to ask? Instead, the America East picked Albany to host the quarterfinals and semifinals with the championship being hosted by the higher seed. The final part makes sense but the rest of it seems like bizarro world. Stony Brook had a stellar year, going 23-6 (14-2) in regular season play. Hopefully Steve Pikiell’s team will be rewarded with a nice seed in the NIT and maybe even a home game! Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

  1. The AP on Monday released its All-America squad and there were no surprises with this year’s group. Indiana’s Cody Zeller received all but one vote (64) for the first team (queue the Gary Parrish outrage article), while mid-major stalwarts Doug McDermott (62), Isaiah Canaan (43) and CJ McCollum (16) joined fellow Big Ten stars DeShaun Thomas (26) and Trey Burke (16) on the squad. There are six players on this year’s team because McCollum and Burke tied for the last spot — not because the AP has, like many conferences, forgotten how to count. Keep this and all preseason All-America lists in the proper context, though — of the five players chosen to last year’s preseason team, only Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger ended up on both the preseason and postseason first team. Three others — Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, UNC’s Harrison Barnes, and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor — finished as Honorable Mention postseason winners, while Kentucky’s Terrence Jones didn’t even earn that distinction. The two season-long NPOY candidates from last year — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — were among the others receiving votes in last year’s preseason list. Caveat emptor.
  2. Tis the season for preseason rankings, selections, lists, and all sorts of fun but ultimately meaningless analysis. Still, until the first games tip off just over 10 days from now, this is all we’ve got. Basketball ProspectusDan Hanner has produced his preseason analysis of all 345 Division I teams, and as he notes, some of the results of his model may well surprise you. For example, the model loves UCLA and all of its incoming talent but isn’t nearly as high on Louisville and all of its returning talent. It seems to think that the Big 12 conference race is going to be one for the ages with eight teams at .500 or better, but it’s not buying into the hype that NC State is ready to overtake one of its rivals to win the ACC. If you’re a numbers geek who gets off on efficiency analytics, it will be interesting to do a cross-tabbed comparison between Hanner’s preseason rankings and the Ken Pomeroy preseason rankings which are due to release sometime later this week.
  3. For non-stat geeks, there’s always the controversial RPI, which despite its myriad shortcomings, remains the “organizational tool” of choice for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Building off of SI.com writer Luke Winn’s previous work examining several power conference schools gaming the RPI by playing (and beating) good mid-majors in the non-conference slate, TSN’s Ryan Fagan takes the next step and reviews a number of mid-major programs that have figured out the best way to prepare a team in terms of both the RPI and its corresponding mental toughness is to play those kinds of games, often on the road in places like Lawrence, Durham or Pittsburgh. He mentions that Davidson, Lehigh, Detroit, Belmont, UNC Asheville and Long Beach State (what else is new?) have all taken this tack with their non-conference scheduling this season. We’re certainly not complaining — these are some of the best games of the November and December months of the schedule.
  4. Iowa State’s transfer project keeps right on truckin’, with the weekend news that USC point guard Maurice Jones has matriculated there and will become eligible in the 2013-14 season. While Fred Hoiberg has picked up another talented piece for his backcourt — Jones did everything but serve fajitas to the fans in the Galen Center last year — there is a degree of oddness about his departure from the Trojan program. According to a September statement released by the school, Jones was declared academically ineligible at USC and would be forced to miss the season as a result. Jones disputes this characterization, stating unequivocally that he “just got suspended from the school for a year, but it wasn’t because of my grades. […] It was something that happened at the school. I can’t really say what it was, but it wasn’t my grades.” It would seem somewhat unusual for a school to suspend a player for a different reason while using academic issues as a cover story, so we’re not sure what exactly is going on with this one — what we do know is that Iowa State has picked up a talented waterbug of a player who should seamlessly move into a starting role to replace Korie Lucious (another transfer) next season.
  5. With Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky all populating the preseason top five lists, this is as good a time as any to make sure that you’re regularly reading the WDRB.com College Basketball Notebook from Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich. Based in Louisville, the duo is perfectly situated to report on many of the anecdotes, rumors and tidbits that come out of this basketball-crazed Fertile Crescent on a daily basis. In this week’s version, for example, Crawford and Bozich discuss the numerous suitors for Andrew Wiggins, Tom Crean’s threat to use his bench productively, Calipari’s naysaying about his latest batch of fabulous freshmen, and Pitino’s verbal merengue around his contract extension with the Cardinals. Trust us,  you’ll learn something new every time you stop by — make it part of you weekly reading.
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Morning Five: 08.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2012

  1. Is before college football kicks off too early for the 2012-13 All-America team to come out? Not if you’re the bible of preseason college basketball, the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. Chris Dortch, its longtime editor-in-chief, tweeted out the annual’s five selections for next season’s individual honors. The recipients are Florida State’s Michael Snaer and Louisville’s Peyton Siva at the guard slots, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas as the forwards, and Indiana’s Cody Zeller at center (the cover featuring all five players is shown here). We’ll break these selections down a little more later today but some notable omissions on the first team are Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Michigan’s Trey Burke, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, North Carolina’s James McAdoo, and NC State’s CJ Leslie, among many others.
  2. Speaking of college football, tonight represents the start of the gridiron season as we head into Labor Day Weekend. And as everyone reading these words knows, Labor Day Weekend represents the beginning of fall. And fall means Midnight Madness really isn’t very far away — 43 days to be exact. Many schools have had their events scheduled for a while, but Pittsburgh has decided to shake the negativity off of last year’s disappointing season by doing something completely different. The Panthers have not hosted a Madness event since 2003, but to celebrate the school’s 225th anniversary and Homecoming weekend, Pitt is planning on building an outdoor “arena” and holding court under the stars. In the case of rain or a particularly bad cold snap (not unheard of in western Pennsylvania that time of year), the event will move indoors. But given the huge success of last year’s Carrier Classic playing a real game streetball style, we hope that this thing goes off without a hitch. Maybe someday this trend will result in real games hosted from Rucker Park to the Venice Beach asphalt — all the guys who grew up watching the And-1 mix tapes can dream, right?
  3. It’s not very often, well, ever, that we get a tip about something called the “Jewish Dwight Howard.” Yet that very email dropped into our inbox yesterday and, sure enough, Northwestern announced on Wednesday that it was adding a preferred walk-on by the name of Aaron Liberman to its roster. The 6’10” big man hails from California but spent last year in Israel, and will now join a Wildcat front line that boasts five players 6’8″ or bigger. Despite choosing to walk on for Bill Carmody, he received interest from a number of schools including Boston College, USC, Pepperdine, and Yale. Whatever the case, we can’t wait to see Liberman, replete with his yarmulke on top of his head, enter a game next season. Let’s hope that his college career turns out a little better than Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan,” did 10 years ago.
  4. While on the subject of big men, we realize that this is not going to be a popular position for many basketball fans, but the Pac-12 Networks announced its hoops schedule of over 150 games next season along with the caveat that Bill Walton will return as a color analyst after two years away from the business. He will also do some Pac-12 games for ESPN from time to time. Love him or hate him, Big Red has a certain giddy excitement and accompanying way with words that is utterly unique to him and him alone, and for that reason, we’re excited to have him back in the fold. Now… about figuring out where on our cable package the P12 Network actually resides…
  5. Indiana’s Tom Crean took a considerable amount of heat earlier this week for his (mis)handling of scholarships that resulted in fifth-year senior Matt Roth losing his scholarship from the school. With a top recruiting class entering Bloomington, Roth ended up as the odd man out heading into next season. But in an interview that Roth gave to Peegs.com earlier this week, Roth quite clearly stated that he had no hard feelings against Crean and had been completely aware dating back to the end of last season that losing his spot was a distinct possibility. While it’s great that Roth feels like he was informed, that doesn’t make Crean’s decision to recruit over him any more tolderable. Yes, college basketball is big business, and yes, players are not guaranteed four-year scholarships… but, does that make it right? Every coach in America gets 13 scholarships to play with — if he can’t win with 12 spots filled with elite talent, he’s not going to win.
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National Championship Game Showcases Rare Treat: The Nation’s Two Best Players

Posted by EJacoby on April 2nd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

This year’s National Championship game not only features the two winningest programs in college basketball history, but from a more tangible matchup standpoint it also pits the two best players in the country against one another. After Kentucky dispatched of Louisville on Saturday and Kansas survived the physical battle against Ohio State, we now get that rare matchup – Anthony Davis against Thomas Robinson in the National Title game. Why hasn’t this pairing received a flood of media attention? When’s the last time the country’s two National Player of the Year frontrunners faced off in the finals? And will these two interior forces even guard each other during the game? We attempt to answer these questions to prepare you for one of the many great stories to track during tonight’s National Championship.

Thomas Robinson vs. Anthony Davis is the Headline Matchup, but Terrence Jones (Left) Must Check Robinson on Defense (US Presswire)

Think it’s a given that the National Title game produces stud players facing one another? Remember how difficult it is to advance this far in the NCAA Tournament, and history proves how rare the opportunity is. Monday’s game will mark just the fourth time since 1979 that two first team All-Americans face off in the National Championship, and that simply encompasses any of the five best players in any given season. With Davis and Robinson, we are talking about the two leading vote-getters for National Player of the Year; two players that have gone toe-to-toe all season to decide the best and most valuable player in all of college basketball. Magic Johnson (Michigan State) against Larry Bird (Indiana State) in the 1979 National Championship game is the benchmark example of the scenario, and that matchup is still famous as one of the great individual battles in college history. The most recent matchup between All-Americans came in 1999 between Elton Brand (Duke) and Richard Hamilton (Connecticut), which is another good one but certainly does not resonate as strongly as Magic vs. Bird, and Hamilton was not a consensus Player of the Year candidate. It’s still unknown what kind of legacy, if any, Davis vs. Robinson will leave, but both players are forwards that are likely to be drafted in the top five of the upcoming NBA Draft, with Davis a near-lock for the #1 pick. The narrative of comparison between these two players truly begins on Monday night.

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Morning Five: 11.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2011

  1. Last night was supposed to be the start of the NBA’s 2011-12 season, but because of that lockout thing, doors were shuttered and the lights were off at the nation’s largest multi-purpose arenas. You know how we could tell? In the span of 30 minutes during last night’s Sportscenter, we saw not one, not two, but THREE separate highlight packages involving Top 25 teams playing in games of exhibition nonsense.  Yes, the WWL is just as starved for live hoops as we are, and they’re willing to show it in the form of exhibition nonsense.  For those of you wondering, the three teams involved were Syracuse, Kansas, and Arizona. All three won handily.
  2. If this really had been the NBA’s debut evening, none of those games would have been on anyone’s radar in Bristol, but it begs the question whether NBA fans will make room for college basketball during their winter of discontent. In a piece assessing the possibility, Dana O’Neil argues that the impact on attendance was virtually nil when the league was last locked out in the 1998-99 season . While true, she doesn’t address the likeliest area where NBA-turned-temporary-college fans would see any increase: television ratings. Interest in a sport can take many forms, but from our view, John Q. NBA is more likely to start watching marquee college matchups in November and December than he is to travel through the cold to catch a garbage game at Local State U. Whereas in previous years he may have been busy watching the Lakers vs. the Nuggets on his flat screen the week of Thanksgiving, he might instead this year be satisfied watching Duke vs. Michigan in Maui.
  3. Grantland is back this week with what they’re calling their Preseason All-America awards (shameless plug: our preseason AAs went live yesterday). Their writer, Jay Caspian Kang, seems to have a sufficient grasp of the sport and its key players (even if he runs a little UNCentric), but we need to put in a call to Gary Parrish this morning, because Kang did the unthinkable in choosing the Carolina floor general, Kendall Marshall, for a spot on the 1st team over the more heralded star of the Tar Heels, Harrison Barnes (2d team). If you want to get technical about it, he actually chose four players — Marshall, Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut), Anthony Davis (Kentucky), and John Jenkins (Vanderbilt) — over the smooth-as-silk Barnes (Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger is the only true post on his first team). Again, it doesn’t bother us all that much — if someone had left Shaq off the 1992 or Duncan off the 1997 teams, we’d be more outraged — but it is peculiar given what he writes about Barnes as someone lacking in “elite-level skills.” Worth watching…
  4. It’s not every day that a Congressman makes news for trashing the NCAA (that’s usually left to the likes of people like us), but Illinois representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) went on record Tuesday at a congressional forum of college sports in comparing the NCAA to “Al Capone and the Mafia.” The 64-year old who represents the largest majority-minority district in the House of Representatives (the South Side of Chicago) also holds the distinction as the only elected official to have defeated Barack Obama in an election (the Democratic primary for his seat in 2000). He infamously said at the time that the now-president “went to Harvard and became an educated fool,” and it’s clear that the irascible politician has not learned to better hold his tongue from controversial statements in the intervening decade. The context of his comments related to injuries sustained by athletes while playing college sports and his anger with how the NCAA handles its medical hardship cases.
  5. He’s baaaaaack. Luke Winn‘s first edition of the Power Rankings is back, just in time for you to enjoy over your morning latte. Winn once told us that he sometimes spends upwards of 20 hours on these articles, which we all know is a complete and utter lie (he has most of it in his head already). Still, his weekly PR is something that you need to spend some time with, so put your office phone ringer on mute, close out any instant messages you have going, and get to work figuring out what he’s talking about when he refers to such elusive yet fascinating concepts as possession poundage or Marcus Camby with a unibrow. When you’re done with that, spend the next half hour trying to come up with a name for his Thomas Robinson comparison at #12 — we have one name in mind ourselves, but aren’t sure about its validity. You?
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SEC Morning Five: 11.01.11 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 1st, 2011

  1. While we keep an eye on the Opening Night countdown timer on the top-left corner — anybody got a magical Hylian Ocarina? — we are squeezing every drop out of the SEC Media Days. This morning’s informative drip involves Georgia coach Mark Fox pouring out accolades for freshman guard and McDonald’s All-American Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Citing his great demeanor and team-first attitude, Fox expects upperclassmen Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson to mentor Caldwell-Pope and help him adjust and contribute immediately to the Bulldogs. The team will need Caldwell-Pope up-to-speed quickly, as the Bulldogs will need to replace the scoring output of Travis Leslie. Quick: double-time it!
  2. After being suspended from the Florida basketball team for his part in breaking into a car last April, junior forward Erik Murphy needed a mentor. Erik’s father contacted former McDonald’s All-American point guard Chris Herren — the subject of the ESPN documentary Unguarded — about Herren’s spiral into drug and alcohol abuse and subsequent recovery. Herren spent the summer with Murphy in Rhode Island working out their basketball games and their personal demons. Murphy tells Gatorsports.com that he is in the best physical shape of his career thanks to Herren’s workouts. His Florida teammates hope that he’s matured enough to handle his supporting role on a team that could crack the Top 5 this season.
  3. It’s likely that Tennessee won’t be cracking any Top 25 lists this season (even with a Megaton Hammer). The Vols are short on the kind of talent necessary to succeed in coach Cuonzo Martin’s motion offense system. The pieces are coming into place, though; junior college transfer D’Montre Edwards announced he will sign with Tennessee as a member of the 2012 recruiting class. Edwards led Brevard Community College last season with 15.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG and hitting 37% of his three-pointers. If Martin can secure a few more members of the 2012 class — complementing Edwards and 2012 recruit Derek Reese — the Vols will have a solid foundation for competitiveness next season.
  4. Another member of the 2012 recruiting class announced for a SEC team yesterday. Willie Cauley, a four-star player ranked #36 overall by Rivals.com, committed to Kentucky. The seven-foot Cauley seems like the perfect player for Coach John Calipari’s weakside inside player. Cauley picked the Wildcats over Florida and a few other non-conference teams. The basketball and football star might also draw the attention of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips, who is desperate for a tall wide receiver who can catch the ball.
  5. The Associated Press preseason All-American list released yesterday features just one SEC player: Kentucky sophomore forward Terrence Jones. The preseason SEC Player of the Year joins Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Jeremy Lamb of Connecticut and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor on the team. Jones’ campaign for Player of the Year honors will be enjoyed by increasing numbers of SEC fans. Joe Dorish of Yahoo.com reports that the SEC had the third-highest average attendance for college basketball in 2010-11.
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Morning Five: 09.07.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 7th, 2011

  1. Word leaked Tuesday night that the worst-kept current secret in college athletics will finally see the light — Texas A&M has been invited to formally join the SEC beginning in the 2012-13 academic year.  The school plans to announce its acceptance of the invitation later today, but the question on everyone’s minds from California to New York is what happens next.  Will the SEC now seek to add a 14th team like Missouri or West Virginia?  Will the Big 12 quartet of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech migrate en masse to the Pac-12?  Will the Big East move to swallow up Mizzou, Kansas and Kansas State?   Does the Big Ten convince Maryland to jump ship?  Or will the ACC raid the Big East for Syracuse, Connecticut, Rutgers and Pittsburgh?  The possibilities are seemingly endless and nobody knows how all of this will eventually play out.  Our conference realignment expert, Andrew Murawa, will be posting his thoughts on the myriad possibilities later this morning.
  2. One of the more intriguing possibilities from a basketball standpoint was reported by the New York Post‘s Lenn Robbins on Tuesday.  If the Big 12 implodes, the 17-team basketball version of the Big East is considering adding Kansas, Missouri and Kansas State to create a ridiculous 20-team hoops juggernaut that would include as many as 14 NCAA quality teams in a given year (last season’s 11 plus the additional three).  The format would divide the 20 teams into four five-team divisions, with each team playing home-and-homes within its division and rotating games among the other teams on a yearly basis.  It’s been said a million times that all of this conference realignment stuff is driven by football, but if the Big East expands as proposed here or if the ACC raids the power players in the Big East, we’re going to end up with one hell of a basketball league as a byproduct of all this madness.
  3. Luke Winn loves his efficiency stats, and we can’t really blame him. The rise of KenPom-like statistics in college basketball has helped us more deeply understand how to measure and quantify the hidden parts of players’ games who we know are really good despite perhaps only marginal numbers when it comes to the traditional metrics of basketball performance (PPG, RPG, APG).  In the first of a three-part series running this week, Winn takes a look at the top ten most valuable point guards of the efficiency era, and you might be surprised with the relatively unheralded player who ends up at the top of the list.  It’ll be interesting to compare the lead guards against the other players later this week, but three of the top ten single-season performances by those players were as a part of national championship teams, lending credence to the theory that superb play at the position is almost essential to winning a title.
  4. About that NBA lockout thing.  In case you haven’t yet noticed, the NBA has now been locked out of its facilities for over two months and there are no indications of the ongoing labor problems between players and management subsiding soon.  The New York Post reported on Monday that Madison Avenue firms who are accustomed to putting nearly a billion dollars worth of  annual advertising into the marketplace during the NBA season are looking for other options, and college basketball (along with the NFL) might be one of those beneficiaries.  Although college hoops and the NBA generally attract different fans, there are some demographic similarities: for example, both groups skew younger and male than they do among professional football fans, an extremely coveted group of eyeballs among the creative class.
  5. It’s never too early for a preseason All-American team, and in that spirit The Sporting News released its fifteen-member group on Tuesday.  Your first-teamers: UNC’s Harrison Barnes, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Baylor’s Perry Jones, Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.  That’s right — one year after Barnes was prematurely selected as the first AP preseason All-American in the history of the organization, TSN is staking its reputation on the extremely talented but oh-so-young Davis.  Of course, there have been seven freshmen first-teamers in the last five years, but the hard part is picking the right one.  Duke’s Austin Rivers and UConn’s Andre Drummond, for example, might end up being just as worthy as UK’s Davis.
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2010-11 RTC Season Preview: Complete Overview

Posted by nvr1983 on November 9th, 2010

Some of you may have noticed that we at RTC have been pretty busy getting lately. For those of you who have been keeping up to date on everything happening at RTC we would like to thank you. For those slackers who like to procrastinate in getting ready for the season (and you know who you are), we have put together this not-so-brief but comprehensive guide to get you ready for the season.

The RTC Top 25: Hard to pick against Duke this year, as all five of our voters were in agreement that Coach K’s Blue Devils are the team to beat.

Tweeting the Preview: Those of you who follow us on Twitter (@rushthecourt) are familiar with this feature, but for the past two weeks we have been Tweeting our rankings counting down every single Division I team in reverse order.

Preseason Bracketology: In conjunction with our run-down of the top 345 teams in Division 1 we also bring you the first of many installments of RTC Bracketology. [Ed. Note: If the seed doesn’t correlate with rankings just remember that just because a team has a higher seed doesn’t mean that they are better just that they have a better resume.]

RTC Conference Primers: Our countdown of every conference in Division I basketball with a breakdown of each (top players, teams, and what to watch for).

  1. Big 10
  2. Big East
  3. Big 12
  4. ACC
  5. SEC
  6. Pac-10
  7. Atlantic 10
  8. Mountain West
  9. Conference USA
  10. Missouri Valley
  11. Colonial
  12. WCC
  13. Horizon
  14. WAC
  15. MAAC
  16. Southern
  17. Big West
  18. Big Sky
  19. MAC
  20. OVC
  21. Sun Belt
  22. Atlantic Sun
  23. Southland
  24. Ivy
  25. America East
  26. Summit
  27. Northeast
  28. Patriot
  29. Big South
  30. MEAC
  31. SWAC

Where 2010-11 Happens: Our countdown of 30 things (via YouTube) to get us even more pumped up for the upcoming season.

  • It’s easiest to view all thirty clips in one place here.  And if you’re not excited about the season after watching that, well, you probably need to stick with arguing about the BCS.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 10.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 27th, 2010

  1. The Fanhouse 2010-11 All-America Team features Kyle Singler (Duke), Jacob Pullen (Kansas State), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Marcus Morris (Kansas) and JaJuan Johnson (Purdue).  To each their own, but we think it’s a mistake to leave off Harrison Barnes (UNC) given what we know about the talent of star freshmen these days (to be fair to Fanhouse, he was on their third team).  Also, we know that Morris is a great player only scratching the surface of his potential, but is he the second-best forward in the country behind Singler?  We just can’t get behind that one yet.
  2. Right, Leonard Hamilton, because your research about a preseason poll taken in 1975 is equally valid to one taken in 2010, with the crush of media and year-round coverage of the sport, not to mention the ability to watch nearly every high-major game on television (or at least streaming video).  Look, there are problems with some voters in preseason polls failing to do their homework – Lord knows that much is true — but if anything, the ACC traditionally gets too much credit based on the accomplishments of Duke and UNC  in most years.  The ACC has had a grand total of FIVE Sweet Sixteen teams in the last four NCAA Tournaments.  Five (compare with…  B12 = 9; BE = 14; B10 = 8; P10 = 8 ; SEC = 6).  Wanna know how many of those teams were not named Duke or North Carolina?  Zero.  Once upon a time, the ACC was a lock to have a minimum of two Sweet Sixteen teams every single year; and often other schools such as Maryland, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, etc, were getting there.  In fact, longtime ACC fans know that the league made its name  in the 70s, 80s and 90s for having quality depth beyond Duke and UNC.  Do you see a Sweet Sixteen team in this league other than Duke (or Carolina if you drink the kool-aid that they’re going to be significantly better)?  The league is down; it’s been down for a while, and it remains down.  Until some of the other ten schools start proving it in March, we don’t want to hear a peep from Hamilton and his coaching brethren in the ACC.
  3. Louisville finally received some good news regarding a player’s eligibility when the NCAA cleared 6’10 center Gorgui Dieng yesterday.  The freshman originally from Senegal with a 7’4 wingspan will provide some much-needed depth in the frontcourt for Pitino’s squad behind Terrence Jennings and Jared Swopshire.  He was a top fifty recruit according to Rivals, and although very raw, he could eventually become an interior defensive force for Louisville in the same way that Samaki Walker once was.
  4. Some comings and goings — you already know about Memphis’ Jelan Kendrick, who at this point may or may not ever suit up for the Memphis Tigers…  but Michigan State’s NCAA Second Round hero Korie Lucious should be back in a Spartan uniform, only not at the start of the season.  Tom Izzo still isn’t sure what Lucious’ exact punishment will be for his drunk driving arrest in August, but he said on Monday it would involve a suspension of between two to four games.  Including exhibition contests, this could result in Lucious possibly missing games that count against Eastern Michigan and South Carolina at the Breslin Center — we think the Spartans will be ok.  He would be back in any case to make the trip to the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving week.  Also, Duquesne’s starting point guard, Eric Evans, will miss at least two months with a broken right foot.  This is a major blow to a Dukes program (returning A-10 POY candidate Damian Saunders) who had designs on making a run into the top five teams in the Atlantic 10 this year.  It’s still possible, but Evans will have to hit the ground running just after the new year.
  5. Former Vanderbilt head coach Roy Skinner passed away yesterday in Nashville; he was 80 years old.  Most people today probably don’t know anything about Skinner as he last coached in 1976, but the man partially responsible for turning Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium into “Memorial Magic” (he won 82% of his home games during his career there) was also the first SEC basketball coach to break the color barrier.  How has this story not gotten more play over the years?  Skinner recruited Perry Wallace, the first black basketball player in the SEC, from across town in Nashville in 1966.  Wallace went on to become an all-SEC player for the Commodores and later went to Columbia Law School and a law professor at American University.  If that’s not a success story that Skinner should be lauded for, then we haven’t heard one.  RIP, Roy.
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Morning Five: 09.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 28th, 2010

  1. Former Michigan State star and 1979 national champion Jay Vincent pleaded guilty to falsifying his tax return and mail fraud on Friday as part of an Internet scam that defrauded investors of over $2M from 2006-09.  The ruse he and an associate pulled on people involved convincing their clients to become home inspectors, undoubtedly trying to cash in on people’s blind greed as a result of the national housing bubble during those years.  For some reason, every time we hear one of these stories about former stars doing the wrong thing (and there are plenty of them), it makes us sad.  It shouldn’t, but it still does.
  2. Wouldn’t it be great if Butler’s Brad Stevens ultimately decided to stay in Indianapolis for the next thirty-odd years and built Butler into a national powerhouse who competed with the likes of Duke, Kentucky, UNC and Kansas for the top recruits and slots in the Final Four every year?  To say Stevens will never leave Butler for another job at a high(er)-major is unlikely — after all, never is a long time for a 33-year old — but according to this article by Seth Davis, it certainly appears that the coaching wunderkind is awfully comfortable with his office in Hinkle Fieldhouse, and we’re rooting for him to be in the old barn for a very long time.
  3. Nolan Smith is the Dookie who’s hard to hate, and this story by David Steele at Fanhouse helps to illustrate why.  We all know that Nolan and his father, Derek, are one of the few father-son duos to have ever both won a national title.  Can you name the other duos?
  4. Blue Ribbon has announced its first-team All-Americans for the 2010-11 season, and the list is heavy with Big 12 players…  Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn, Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, Duke’s Kyle Singler and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette.  You know what’s especially interesting about this list?  Four seniors and one junior.  Do you think that Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes might have something to say about that?
  5. We’re definitely late on this one, but we had to make mention of it.  LSU walk-on Andrew Del Piero spent last year in the LSU band playing tuba; he’ll spend this year trying to harness the 7’2, 286-pounds of flesh and blood that he has been blessed with on a basketball court.  Tigers coach Trent Johnson has his work cut out for him, but Del Piero at least has some basketball bloodlines of some sort — his pops played at Dartmouth a number of years ago.  Here’s some footage of him playing in the LSU marching band last season — he’s fairly easy to spot near the end of the clip.

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