10.15.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2008

 There’s a lot of news out there today…  which only means one thing…

  • Goodman continues on his crusade to expose the underbelly of the game with today’s lead – the father of UK’s new hotshot recruit, Daniel Orton, was paid three times over the summer to give talks at Billy Gillispie’s camp.  This is completely legal, by the way.  Discuss. 
  • Too many preseason/holiday tourneys?  ESPN announced today that the Diamond Head Classic will begin in 2009 at the University of Hawaii.  It will finish up on Christmas Day, which will provide a nice collegiate alternative to the annual Shaq-Kobe matchup in the NBA.
  • Please read this, “conference fans.”  It’s even truer in basketball.
  • Is it sad or compelling that this endorsement could tip North Carolina to Obama in three weeks? 
  • Ok, great.  Players are graduating more than they used to.  But is that because they’re committed to the degree program or schools are making it easier to get that degree?
  • A quick Class of 2009 recruiting update from NW Wins, as well as a nice overview of the likelihood of Carolina running the table in the regular season this year.
  • WAC coaches pick Nevada to win their conference, while Big South coaches/media picked Winthrop to win it again. 
  • NBCSports picks AJ Price, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Harongody as its all-americans.  We’re just not feeling Price, sorry UConn fans.
  • Parrish thinks that this year’s Florida squad will be quite a bit better than last year’s, and we can’t say that we really disagree with that.
  • Andy Katz assures us that KU’s 2008 national title is safe in light of the re-opening case of Darrell Arthur’s HS transcripts.  You know, because we were worried, or something.
  • He also gives his preseason view of 37 teams that he thinks can make a run next March.
  • Hey, we’ve always been Stacy Dales fans, BC!  Even when she was married to someone named Schulman.  Looks like we may not be able to root out Psycho T for her attention, though. 

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09.25.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 25th, 2008

It’s officially Autumn, which means cooler air is around the corner and the sweet cacophany of bouncing basketballs echoing through a gymnasium is coming…

  • Dana O’Neil gives a pretty good roundup of injured players who are either all the way healed or expected to be so by the time the meat of the season begins.  One of those players, Syracuse’s Eric Devendorf, is back from an ACL injury with another year of eligibility in tow.  Another, Alabama’s Ronald Steele, is a hard-luck guy who RTC is hoping catches a few breaks this year – he deserves it. 
  • Tubby Smith’s nephew, William L. Smith, was stabbed and killed last weekend at an off-campus apartment complex in Worcester, Mass. 
  • UConn’s Nate Miles, he of the five high schools, was arrested for violating a restraining order.  We’re shocked, I tell you, that Jim Calhoun’s charge is acting up!  Shocked! 
  • Jamie Dixon‘s deal with Pitt has been extended through the 2016 season at a minimum of $1.3M per annum.
  • Remember Pierre Pierce?  The former Iowa star who spent 11 months in prison for a multitude of charges will be allowed to serve his probation in France while playing professional basketball there this winter. 
  • Here are six teams to watch in the 08-09 season seeking to break long NCAA droughts.
  • More Stephen Curry.  The Wooden Tradition, not to be confused with the Wooden Classic (UCLA v. Depaul; San Diego St. v. St. Mary’s), will feature Purdue v. Davidson and St. Mary’s v. S. Illinois on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.  In case you were wondering how the new Mr. March spent his summer, click here
  • HoopsAddict has it’s All-Americans out – Tyrese Rice over Darren Collison is a weak call. 
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11.04.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2007

Another week full of information to catch up on…

  • Lute Olson is taking a leave of absence (not medically related) from Arizona (see video below). Asst. Coach Kevin O’Neill will take over during the interim (update: UA isn’t looking very good during its exhibition game vs. Concordia today).
  • This is a very cool map of every D1 school – did you know there’s only one D1 school in Minnesota? We didn’t either. (h/t to Meaningful Collateral)
  • Post Game Heroes breaks down the College Hoops 2K8 Sports player ratings (nice to see Bo McCalebb (#3 SG) and Kyle Hines (#2 PF) getting their due). EA Sports NCAA08 March Madness also lists its top 25 teams.
  • Did you know that Davidson is playing at Texas today? Yep, a closed scrimmage. We’ll see if we can find a report of this game later.
  • Everyone’s favorite play-in game is now worth the same amount as any other first round game.
  • MTD plugged a college coaching simulation game that really sounds interesting – once we figure out how to quit our job and watch hoops all day manage our time more effectively, we’re all in.
  • NCAA Hoops Today gives a sweet rundown of upcoming games on the tube.
  • After whiffing on Greg Monroe, Duke got a commitment from Elliott Williams, a shooting guard from the Memphis area. Oh, and Duke’s three football fans were miffed when Coach K scheduled a scrimmage at the same time as their game vs. FSU last weekend.
  • It turns out the college hoops fans are the most superstitious of all. Now excuse us while we arrange our chair just so in front of the tv.
  • Injuries, Suspensions, Returns –
    • Washington three-point specialist Ryan Appleby broke his thumb and will miss 6 weeks.
    • UCLA guard Michael Roll tore the plantar fascia in his foot and will be out 3-5 weeks.
    • Sticking in the Pac-10, USC is battered and beat up.
    • Marquette’s Trevor Mbakwe is out for the season with a knee injury.
    • Wisconsin’s Michael Flowers has returned from a two-week leave of absence.
    • Auburn top returning scorer and rebounder Josh Dollard will miss the season for medical reasons.
    • Tennessee forward Duke Crews was allowed back on the team from his month-long suspension. His buddy Wayne Chism, however, was taken to the hospital with a concussion last week.
  • Season Preview Materials –

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Breaking Down the Preseason Mags… pt. 3

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2007

A month ago we gave you our reviews of the Athlon and Lindy’s preseason mags.

We’ve been busy plugging away at the conference previews, but in the interim, a few more mags have hit the shelves. So here’s the third installment of our continuing series of reviews of the preseason magazines.

Next Up: Sporting News/Street & Smith’s.

Note: Yes, TSN and S&S, two of the oldest and most respected preview issues, have joined forces this year on their college basketball preview. It remains to be seen whether this is a good idea.

TSN / S&S Cover 08

I. Covers (5 pts) – are they cool? inclusive?

  • 12 regional covers hitting only the BCS conferences. Definitely a major conference bias here.
  • Coolest Cover – see above – one thing we really like is that most of the covers are full-color action shots. The Roy Hibbert (getting serviced by Vandy’s Ross Neltner?) and Mario Chalmers shots are our favs after Richard Hendrix above. Great cover.
  • Oops. The Athlon, Lindy’s and TSN issues all use the exact same action shot for Brook Lopez of Stanford on their Pac-10 cover. Unfortunately for Cardinal fans, Lopez is not reaching for a textbook.
  • Total Points = 4

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

  • Not a fan of their setup here. They divide the conferences into high, mid, and low-major categories, then list them alphabetically within each section. Quick – is the Big West a mid-major or low-major league? The MAC? How about the Southern Conference? TSN considers the MAC a high major (???) and the others as mid-majors, which means we were flipping all over the place to find these leagues. Difficult navigation.
  • Within the league, they then list each team by predicted order of finish. Typical fare here.
  • Standard format otherwise – roundup, features, analysis of teams, recruiting, stats and schedules in that order.
  • Total Points = 2.5

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

  • The Late, Late Show is a short article explaining the basis behind TSN’s pick of UCLA as the #1 team in America.
  • Decourcy’s Directives are short narratives on the following topics: Coach Calipari’s calculations; Don’t Cry for Duke; One-and-Outs to Watch; and, Recipe for a Championship. The only interesting information here is in the Recipe section, which explains that most national champions for the last 20 yrs have had at least one NBA-caliber big man and guard on their roster (exceptions: MSU-2000; Arkansas-1994; Syracuse-2003).
  • TSN also provides three teams of All-Americans, led by seven sophomores and two freshmen among the fifteen. We like that they took some chances, going with Eric Gordon (Indiana) and Chase Budinger (Arizona) on the first team over some of the better-known names.
  • There is also a Top 25 with a couple of sentences describing each team’s strengths, but it is notable that TSN doesn’t bother with predicting the NCAA field anywhere within the magazine.
  • There is one page devoted to listing the Top 100 freshmen, but rather than listing them #1-#100, they made a confounding decision to order them geographically (all-east, all-south, etc.) and then alphabetically. There’s no way to intelligently distinguish OJ Mayo (all-east) from Edwin Rios (all-south).
  • Another page lists transfers eligible this season and next, but again they’re not ranked in any discernible manner. This page also lists all the coaching changes from the offseason.
  • Overall, this section is incredibly weak compared to the other previewed magazines, and especially considering that TSN and S&S were once considered the bibles of this genre. We literally learned nothing new in this section.
  • Total Points = 3

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

  • Features – what features? There is only one feature article, which if we said was shocking would be severely understating our sentiment. So surely that one article has something to do with this season, right? Nah. Try Whatever Happened To… Teddy Dupay, JR Van Hoose and Dane Fife, three (white) players who were HS stars ten years ago but didn’t ultimately make it to the League. Don’t get us wrong, we actually appreciate the concept of an article like this. The problem is that it’s the only feature article TSN felt necessary to give us in the entire magazine. That’s beyond unacceptable, especially when you consider the cache of writers that TSN has at its disposal.
  • Cheerleaders. Ok, we enjoy a photo collage of college cheerleaders as much as the next guy, but the only other “feature” that TSN insults us with offers us is a five-page spread of various gals in tricky positions. Again, this just seem so beneath TSN and S&S to pull out the cheerleader photo section to try to increase sales. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that they just don’t care anymore. Good grief – they even put the Duke cheerleaders in the spread (Doherty was right)!!
  • FWIW, the Texas gal on p. 21 is absolutely scorching hot, with nods to Miss UCLA and Miss Florida on p.19. Surprisingly, we found Miss Kentucky (p.20) to be one of the fugliest of the group, along with Miss Hawaii (p.19). And Miss Wichita St. (p.18) can bend in ways that aren’t quite believable.
  • Total Points = 3

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

  • TSN’s Top 25 is pretty standard issue big conference fodder. They do put Memphis at #2, Gonzaga at #12 and Xavier at #25, but every other team is a BCS school. Since there are no NCAA predictions, we can only assume their top 4 is their predicted F4, which would mean UCLA, Memphis, UNC and Kansas are their choices.
  • Big Conference Bias. Assuming top 16 = Sweet 16, then Gonzaga and Memphis are the only exceptions. As for the Top 25, here’s the conference breakdown – Pac-10 (5), Big 12 (4), Big East (4), ACC (3), SEC (3), Big 10 (3), CUSA (1), WCC (1), A10 (1).
  • Surprises. Some teams that are getting some preseason pub that TSN doesn’t think much of include: Syracuse (10th in the Big East, which presumably would mean not an NCAA team); UConn (7th); USC (7th in Pac-10) & Vanderbilt (5th in SEC East). On the flip side, teams that TSN values more than others include: Georgia (3d in SEC East); Penn St. (4th in Big 10) & NC State (3d in ACC).
  • Boldest Prediction. Not much in the way of excessively bold predictions, but we believe that a lot of these prognosticators are going to regret giving a 5-11 ACC team (NC State) so much preseason hype this year.
  • We’re really annoyed that TSN doesn’t give us a field of 65, at minimum.
  • Total Points = 12

VI. Conference Pages (5 pts) – as a primer for the conference, how much can we learn here?

  • High Majors. The twelve conferences TSN designates as high majors each gets a full page primer, and there’s a lot to like here. The predicted order of finish uses a cool feature with arrows that shows how the team is trending this year – up, down, or steady. There’s a five man all-conference team, a short narrative breakdown of the league, and the most inclusive list of superlatives we’ve yet seen (15-20 different superlatives). There is also a third of the page devoted to ranking the recruiting classes within the conference and short analyses of each incoming player.
  • Mid Majors. TSN anoints only six leagues as mid-major leagues, and each of these leagues gets a half-page of analysis, including the predicted order of finish, a short narrative, an all-conference team, recruiting rankings and three superlatives.
  • Low Majors. The remaining conferences receive one page each, nearly the same as the mid-majors with the exception that the narrative is really just a paragraph wrapup.
  • Total Points = 5

VII. Team Pages (20 pts) – how in-depth is the analysis? where does it come from? is it timely and insightful given this year’s squad or is it just a rundown of last year’s achievements?

  • Roughly the top 2/3 of the high major teams get a full page of analysis from TSN; the remainder get a half page. Again, there’s a lot to like here – the writing is solid, giving decent insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each team without merely another rundown of each player and his stats. There is also a section on power ratings by five categories, a five-year wins trend, an impact rookie blurb and a brief but useful team statistics table.
  • The mid-major conference projected champions get the same treatment as the lower third teams of the high majors – a half-page with much of the same information above. The remainder of mid-major teams simply get the one-paragraph rundown treatment.
  • The low-majors all get a single paragraph, whether they’re the projected champion or not.
  • For the top twelve conferences, the analysis is the best we’ve seen this year thus far. The writers clearly know these teams and do a good job at breaking down what to watch for this season. The remaining leagues get short shrift, but those fans are not the target audience.
  • Total Points = 16

VIII. Recruiting (5 pts) – we want to know who the top players are coming into college bball, where they’re going and who to watch for next year.

  • As mentioned above, each major conference page has a substantial section on recruits for each school and rankings within each league.
  • See above for our issue with their list of the top 100 incoming players.
  • There is no listing of the best incoming recruiting classes nationally anywhere in the magazine, which is incomprehensible to us.
  • Once upon a time, S&S was the best place to get recruiting information, but that time again seems to have passed. They have four pages of names of players without ranking any of them outside of their Boys All-America Team (top 20). It’s nice they give a paragraph describing the skill set of each of those twenty players, but there’s just no way to compare players outside of that grouping.
  • With that said, we continue to enjoy the All-Metro Teams of twenty or so HS basketball hotbeds around the country. It gives us something to look for in our local area.
  • We also enjoy that TSN lists the top 25 HS teams for 2007-08.
  • This magazine has more information on high school prospects than any other we’ve seen, and yet they muff it by not presenting the information in a way most people would want to see it. Lists are fine, but they have to be useful for comparison.
  • Total Points = 4

IX. Title IX Guilt (aka Chick Ball) (5 pts) – the less the better…

  • The women’s preview is a Top 25 with four pages of analysis, but thankfully they stuck it in the back of the magazine.
  • Where they really go wrong is by wasting five more pages in the back on girls’ HS All-Americans and a HS top 20. We cannot believe that anyone would buy this magazine to get this information.
  • Total Points = 2

X. Intangibles (15 pts) – what’s good and bad about the magazine as a whole?

  • This magazine is trying to be everything to everyone. You can easily tell which parts were the expertise of TSN and which were the responsibility of S&S, and as such, the magazine seems random and incomplete in parts. For example, in addition to the prep information in the back, the magazine also gives us a full page on D2, D3 and NAIA basketball (with top 10s and All-Americans). And if that’s not enough, it also has a juco section, complete with a Top 10 and an article explaining why juco talent is getting deeper.
  • There is also a full page of individual and team stats for D1, D2, D3 and NAIA, plus two pages of women’s stats. Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to give us six pages of D1 stats instead? Are a substantial number of NAIA fans really buying this magazine?
  • Schedules. By virtue of its release date, TSN has most every team’s schedules in complete form at the very back of the magazine. The back page also has a nice roundup of all the in-season tourneys and conference tournament information.
  • The writing of this magazine is better than Lindy’s and Athlon, but the only writing actually performed is in the conference and team previews. It was very disappointing there weren’t more features at the front.
  • Total Points = 10

RTC Grade for Sporting News/Street & Smith’s = 61.5 pts

Basis: We have to say that we were really disappointed with this magazine, largely because when we were growing up, the TSN and S&S previews were must-reads in our house. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. How can you not have feature articles or build an NCAA field? How can you not rank-order recruits? How can you add a cheerleader section and spend page after page giving us NAIA stats? At this point, and we never thought we’d say this, the TSN magazine is definitely worse than Lindy’s and no better than Athlon. This would have been unheard of a few short years ago. The only value of this magazine is in the quality of the writing of the analyses for the high major conferences and teams – that is the one (and only) area where TSN trumps the other two. What a disappointment.


Grading Scale:

  • 90-100 pts – exceptional quality in all areas – must buy and keep on-hand all season!
  • 80-89 pts – very good quality mag – worthy of purchasing and reading cover-to-cover
  • 70-79 pts – average, run of the mill magazine – some value in certain areas but weak in others – tough call as to whether to purchase it
  • 60-69 pts – magazine on the weaker side, but may still have some positive attributes – probably not worth the money, though
  • 0-59 pts – such a low quality magazine that it’s not worth any more than the five minutes you thumbed through it at the store
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09.11.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2007

We’re so far behind in news that this is a must-post…

  • Huckleberry Hound Roy Williams and the entire 1966 Texas Western squad were the collegiate candidates inducted into the Basketball HOF on Friday.  No beef with the Glory Road fellas (although UK and Rupp’s ex post facto vilification is a story that still needs correcting), but has RW accomplished enough yet (five F4s, one title) to warrant inclusion?  Seems as if the committee jumped a little early on that one.
  • Come see the new inclusions in your town this fall, as the HOF is making a 30-city tour around the country over the next year.  The spokesperson of the tour is the Human Highlight Film himself. 
  • Stability in the Northeast – BC’s Al Skinner and Holy Cross’s Ralph Willard both had their contracts extended through 2013. 
  • Calipari mobilizes the entire city of Memphis to watch his players, who apparently cannot be trusted out on their own without inciting a freakin’ riot.  We knew before it even came out that The Mouth of the South, Joey Dorsey, would somehow be involved in this.  Make it rain, Joey.     
  • Not to be outdone, Mike Davis’s transfers at UAB decided to party without him, and all five were arrested on various charges.  The most disturbing in our eyes?  Walter Sharpe’s outstanding warrant for his arrest on a prior marijuana charge.  Not only did he already have a prior, but he didn’t even show up for the hearing?  And Davis didn’t know about this??  Now we know why IU fans wanted him gone.
  • Oh, and former Terp star and NCAA Champion Lonny Baxter has an unhealthy interest in firearms likes guns. 
  • From a while back, ESPN believes that nearly a third of D1 teams are eligible to become Bracket Busters.  (h/t to Awful Announcing)
  • Louisville’s new arena (due in 2010) is already bidding for future NCAA Tournament games.  Possible beneficiaries:  Kentucky, Indiana, Cincinnati, Xavier.   
  • Rivals weighs in with Alabama, Villanova, Illinois and others’ Labor Day weekend trips.  (takeaways:  Bama will struggle w/o Steele and Scottie Reynolds was on fire
  • Andy Katz also contributes with reports (here and here) of his trip to Mexico with OJ Mayo and USC.  (takeaway: OJ is the real deal)  
  • Goodman also has some summer excursion thoughts on Oklahoma, Duquesne, USC and Arkansas here; and Villanova, Marquette and James Madison here
  • Apparently Ohio St.’s Kosta Koufos was offered but did not take a Christian Drejer deal in Greece last week. 
  • Blue Ribbon’s preseason All-Americans are out – Drew Neitzel, Chris Lofton, Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Dominic James.  We’re lukewarm on Neitzel as a first-teamer. 
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International Incidents

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2007

The real dog days of summer are here, and that can only mean one thing to hoopheads – international basketball.  Yes, we know that you’ve all missed the trapezoidal lane and goofy emblazoned unitards preferred by our international friends.  Harkening back to the days of our youth when we trotted amateurs out there and still actually won these events, we should take solace in the knowledge that, even though the world has indeed caught us in team basketball, we still own the patent on And1-style showmanship.  If only there was an international competition that allows four steps after picking up your dribble followed by random acts of dancing with the crowd.

Skip to my Lou

A Team USA Led by S2ML Could Win This Competition

The Senior Men’s National Team will get most of the hype this summer (will Kobe play?  will Team USA qualify for the Beijing Olympics?), but there are two other international teams filled with collegians that we’re keeping an eye on – the Pan Am team and the Under-19 World Championships team (see rosters below).   

Pan Am Team USA Roster

 Pam Am Team USA

The Pan Am team (coached by Villanova’s Jay Wright) begins play in Rio de Janeiro on July 25, and at least half of the roster is filled with players who will be NCAA All-Americans next season.  What’s most interesting about this roster is the names of some of the players who were left off the squad.  Preseason first-teamer Chris Lofton apparently counterbalanced global warming all by himself as he froze up the gym with his shooting stroke during the trials and was left home, as were Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Mario Chalmers and Duke sharpshooter Jon Scheyer.  It was also peculiar that Wisky’s Brian Butch was left off the team, as it leaves Roy Hibbert as the only true center available – let’s hope he stays out of foul trouble.  Jay Wright realizes that the four-guard offense that he employed at Villanova was out of necessity, yes?  Nobody asked us, but this team seems heavy on shooters and wings and extremely light in the middle.  That’s probably not a strong recipe to win in international competition against stronger, older and more experienced players.  We’ll see…

Seth Davis gave his insights after watching the trials here.      

Under-19 World Championships Roster

U19 Team USA Roster

The Under-19 Worlds team, coached by the Undertaker, has already won its first five games in pool play heading into a showdown with 4-1 France tomorrow.  K-State’s incoming freshman Michael Beasley (14 ppg; 6 rpg; 70% fg in only 17 mpg) and Davidson guard Stephen Curry (11 ppg; 3 apg; 61% fg) have led a balanced attack for the high-scoring (99 ppg) American squad.  Arkansas guard Patrick Beverly is the only Team USA member earning more than 25 mpg thus far, while Donte’ Green and Damian Hollis appear to be the only two Americans not getting substantial minutes.  From what we’ve seen so far, it appears that Beverly, David Lighty and Deon Thompson are poised for breakout years at their respective schools, while Big 12 fans should just hang on for the one-year ride watching Beasley and DeAndre Jordan perform.  The eight-team medal round begins on Friday in lovely (especially as compared to Rio) Novi Sad, Serbia.

Beasley Team USA

Michael BEASTley

We’ll be checking back in periodically with these teams to see how they finish in their respective competitions and, more importantly, whether any particular player(s) shows what to expect next season. 

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