Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Semifinal #1

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 22nd, 2012

Our first semifinal pits top seeded David Piper (Addicted to Quack) up against the fifth seeded, two-headed monster in Mark Sandritter and Jeff Nusser (CougCenter). Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

David Piper

Head Coach – Pete Newell, California

Guard – Terrell Brandon, Oregon
Guard – Harold Miner, USC
Guard – Andre Miller, Utah
Guard – Aaron Brooks, Oregon

Forward – Luke Jackson, Oregon
Forward – Greg Ballard, Oregon
Forward – Keith Van Horn, Utah
Forward – Adam Keefe, Stanford

Center – Sidney Wicks, UCLA
Center – Brook Lopez, Stanford

David’s Take:

Obviously, all of these teams are filled with great players, but none are as versatile as mine. At the guard spots, I have two of the best all-time scorers at guard in Terrell Brandon and Harold Miner, who both averaged over 27 PPG a game, but Brandon and Andre Miller are also two of the better distributors in league history, while Aaron Brooks is lightning quick and has an unlimited range. Miller and Brandon, two of the better all-around guards not only in college, but in the NBA over the last two decades, are both fantastic defenders as well. In the frontcourt, three of the forwards are 20/10 guys while the fourth is one of the best all-around forwards in league history. Keith Van Horn nearly won a national title at Utah, and has the ability to go inside out, while Adam Keefe was a physical banger at Stanford who went for 26-12 his senior year. Greg Ballard’s was the equal of Marques Johnson, drafted two rounds earlier, he just didn’t have the name “UCLA” on his jersey, and Luke Jackson was a triple-double waiting to happen who could score from anywhere on the floor and once had 39 straight in a game. At center, Sidney Wicks was a national player of the year who won a national title at UCLA while, Brook Lopez is a 20/10 seven footer. My team has four first-team All-Americans (Miller, Van Horn, Jackson, and Wicks) and two national players of the year (Wicks and Van Horn).

But, most importantly, there isn’t a thing this team cannot do. I can put out guard combinations that score at the rim, from three, or distribute. I can put in posts who will score back to the basket, or hit jump shots. Only Brooks isn’t a great rebounder or defender; everyone else is plus in both areas. Oh, and they are coached by national champion Pete Newell, who, if not for health reasons, would be the greatest coach ever (and is the only coach in conference history to have a winning record over John Wooden).

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game One

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 30th, 2012

Our first matchup of the summer pits top seeded David Piper (Addicted to Quack) up against the eight seed, Jack Follman (Pacific Takes). Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

David Piper

Head Coach – Pete Newell, California

Guard – Terrell Brandon, Oregon
Guard – Harold Miner, USC
Guard – Andre Miller, Utah
Guard – Aaron Brooks, Oregon

Forward – Luke Jackson, Oregon
Forward – Greg Ballard, Oregon
Forward – Keith Van Horn, Utah
Forward – Adam Keefe, Stanford

Center – Sidney Wicks, UCLA
Center – Brook Lopez, Stanford

David’s Take:

Obviously, all of these teams are filled with great players, but none are as versatile as mine. At the guard spots, I have two of the best all-time scorers at guard in Terrell Brandon and Harold Miner, who both averaged over 27 PPG a game, but Brandon and Andre Miller are also two of the better distributors in league history, while Aaron Brooks is lightning quick and has unlimited range. Miller and Brandon, two of the better all-around guards not only in college, but in the NBA over the last two decades, are both fantastic defenders as well. In the frontcourt, three of the forwards are 20/10 guys while the fourth is one of the best all-around forwards in league history. Keith Van Horn nearly won a national title at Utah, and has the ability to go inside out, while Adam Keefe was a physical banger at Stanford who went for 26-12 his senior year. Greg Ballard’s was the equal of Marques Johnson, drafted two rounds earlier, he just didn’t have the name “UCLA” on his jersey, and Luke Jackson was a triple-double waiting to happen who could score from anywhere on the floor and once had 39 straight in a game. At center, Sidney Wicks was a national player of the year who won a national title at UCLA while, Brook Lopez is a 20/10 seven footer. My team has four first-team All-Americans (Miller, Van Horn, Jackson, and Wicks) and two national players of the year (Wicks and Van Horn).

But, most importantly, there isn’t a thing this team cannot do. I can put out guard combinations that score at the rim, from three, or distribute. I can put in posts who will score back to the basket, or hit jump shots. Only Brooks isn’t a great rebounder or defender; everyone else is plus in both areas. Oh, and they are coached by national champion Pete Newell, who, if not for health reasons, would be the greatest coach ever (and is the only coach in conference history to have a winning record over John Wooden).

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Handicapping Lillard’s NBA Chances: How Have Prospects From Mid-Majors Fared in the Pros?

Posted by EJacoby on June 28th, 2012

Looking at the upcoming NBA Draft’s projected lottery picks, most of the players represent the big boys around the nation – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Connecticut. But smack in the middle between guys that played in a Final Four is a kid from Weber State. Anybody who follows college hoops or draft scouting surely knows about Damian Lillard, but it’s still surprising to see a player ranked so highly who most fans have never seen play a minute of college basketball. Will Lillard, who is projected to go in the top 10 as the draft’s top point guard, struggle to adapt to the massive increase in competition from the Big Sky Conference to the NBA? We researched lottery picks over the past 15 years from mid-major conferences to judge how successful they were in their transition to the league, grading success based on extended NBA productivity in the form of minutes played and value added. We considered all conferences outside of the top six power leagues as ‘mid-majors,’ so even the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and Mountain West qualify for our criteria.

Will Damian Lillard struggle in his transition from the Big Sky to the NBA? (US Presswire/K. Terada)

Taking a look at recent history, names like Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry came from smaller schools yet were still some of the most popular collegiate players in the nation. Just because a player hails from a mid-major school doesn’t necessarily mean he was an unheralded prospect. Nonetheless, the point of our analysis is to determine what, if any, crutch comes along with stepping up from such a wide gap in competition for lottery picks. Even though Fredette was a National Player of the Year winner, he still faced relatively weaker competition on a nightly basis at BYU. Is it more difficult to scout and project success for a mid-major prospect? Let’s take a look at how these players have fared historically. You’ll notice a trend that suggests Lillard should have a great chance at NBA success.

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Past Imperfect: The Tournament We Forgot

Posted by JWeill on March 18th, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Each week, RTC contributor JL Weill (@AgonicaBossEmail) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the lost, great 1998 NCAA tournament.

The 1998 NCAA tournament is the most exciting, bracket busting, nerve-wracking, well-played tournament in the modern era. And yet, no one seems to remember it. It’s sandwiched right there between “Simon says, ‘Championship,’” and Khalid El-Amin atop the scorer’s table. Can you see it? Look closely, it’s there. It’s the one with the two weird teams in the Final Four, the North Carolina squad coached by the old guy (no, not Dean Smith, the other old guy) and the first-year black coach at Kentucky. Oh, I know what will help…it’s the one where the coach’s kid hits that shot. Oh, now you remember.

It’s a shame, too, that no one remembers the 1998 tourney in toto. From beginning to end, the tournament was riveting, nip-and-tuck, gut-twisting basketball. And it didn’t take long at all to shake things up. On the first day, before many people were probably even aware that games were afoot, an out-of-the-way locale provided fans with some of the tournament’s most in-your-face moments, courtesy of a few names fans would become very familiar with over the next decade but who at the time were little known outside of the basketball community. But strange things can happen in Boise.

Ben Howland, then coach of the 15th-seeded Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, had his team on the cusp of history, all even at 62 apiece with Bob Huggins’ two-seed Cincinnati with just seconds remaining. Northern Arizona was the nation’s best three-point shooting team that year, so it was doubly cruel when Cincinnati’s D’Juan Baker buried an open three to win the game with just 3.6 seconds left to save the Bearcats’ skin. But Cincinnati’s flirtation with late-game disaster would come back to bite them the next round when, this time against West Virginia, Baker again hit a deep three-pointer to give his team the lead and then strutted down the court, only to watch helplessly as Mountaineers guard Jarrod West – yes, Jarrie West — threw up a prayer that was answered with eight tenths of a second left. West’s tipped three-pointer hit the backboard and went through the net, turning Baker’s sideline strut into a slumped-over disbelief. Live by the buzzer beater, die by the buzzer beater.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Tennessee fans got their first glimpse of a coach they’d become all too familiar with in a few years, when Kevin Stallings-coached Illinois State ruined the Volunteers’ sunny trip West on a running layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime. While the Redbirds would get blasted in the second round, that was small consolation for Tennessee fans. Because just a season later, Stallings would take the job at intra-state rival Vanderbilt.

Valparaiso guard Bryce Drew hit a classic buzzer beater in Round 1.

But the action wasn’t all left to the Left Coast. Back in D.C., President Bill Clinton wasn’t the only one issuing denials. Washington denied Xavier a spot in the second round on a Deon Luton game-winner, while three-seed South Carolina saw B.J. McKie’s last-gasp attempt fall short, keeping the Gamecocks on the outside looking in at upset king Richmond moving on. Oh, and for good measure, Indiana needed extra time to top Oklahoma as well. Had enough? Too bad. Because if Thursday seemed like enough excitement for any single round, things were just getting started.

All across the country, the tense moments and close games continued on Friday. In Lexington, a gruff Syracuse senior from Lithuania named Marius Janulis buried not one but two three-pointers to help the Orange squeak by Iona. Then Chicago turned into Boise, with Detroit Mercy upsetting St. John’s by two and Western Michigan sending Clemson packing by three. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, UCLA outlasted Miami (Fl.) on four straight free throws in the final seconds. And then, it happened.

It would be a shot for all time. It would be replayed so often it has become an indelible part of the very tournament itself. Like Christian Laettner’s turnaround jumper, like Jim Valvano running around looking for someone to hug, the miracle shot by Valparaiso guard, and son of his coach, Bryce Drew was the artistic flourish on a first round of gripping drama. Drew’s deep three, coming on a designed play whereby a half-court pass is touch passed to a streaking Drew, was the most memorable moment on a whole tournament’s worth of memorable moments.

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30 Days of Madness: Van Horn Buzzer Beaters

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next seven days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week.  Enjoy.

Championship Week

Dateline: 1997 WAC Tournament - Utah vs. SMU & Utah vs. New Mexico

Context: Thirteen years ago, Keith Van Horn wasn’t yet a punchline as an NBA player, he was instead an all-america forward at Utah.  At that time, the WAC had not yet separated into the current Mountain West/WAC split, and the league was a sixteen-team mess that included the Utes.  Led by KVH and point guard Andre Miller, Rick Majerus’ team came into the WAC Tourney at 23-3 (15-1) and the top seed in the conference.  Yet in the opening quarterfinal game against SMU, Utah found itself down 58-57 with 0.3 remaining on the clock.  Miller lobbed a pass into Van Horn, who tipped the game-winner into the basket as time expired.  The next night in the semis against New Mexico, the game was tied when a furious tipping drill in the lane led to Van Horn rebounding the ball and putting a ten-footer back in at the buzzer for the second consecutive evening.  In the finals one night later, he dropped 37/15 in a blowout win over TCU to earn his team a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  It was one of the greatest single performances the WAC Tournament has ever seen, and one of our favorites as well.

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NBA Playoffs – JV Conference Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on April 18th, 2008

It seems like the general consensus among NBA analysts is that this will be Boston vs. Detroit in the conference finals unless Lebron goes off for an entire series. I’m hoping to provide a little more insight than that with a preview of each opening round series and brief predictions of what I think will happen for the rest of the conference playoffs. I won’t expound upon the later rounds in great detail as I’ll probably mess up my first round picks making the subsequent previews meaningless.

First Round
#1 Boston vs. #8 Atlanta: This series looks like the biggest mismatch in the 1st round. Boston won all 3 games this year including the last when they sat the starters for the 4th quarter and still managed to win handily despite the fact that Atlanta actually needed the game to help get them into the playoffs. I don’t think there is any question that Boston will win the series easily. The only question I have seen by any analysts will be whether the Hawks will manage to win a game (most analysts don’t think they will). The more interesting thing is the individual match-ups:

PG: Rajon Rondo vs. Mike Bibby: This will be our first good look at Rondo against a quality PG in a playoff series. While Bibby isn’t the same player he was back around 2000 when he was the only Sacramento King who would take (and hit) big shots against the Lakers. It seemed like Bibby was ready to become a star at that point, but he never did. Rondo should have his hands full in this match-up individually, but the Celtics overall advantage is so great that it should actually serve as a great introduction to the playoffs for Rondo. If he struggles, the Celtics should be able to overcome it that night and if necessary they can always rely on Sam Cassell for short periods of time.

SG: Ray Allen vs. Joe Johnson: This match-upprobably has the most star power with 2 All-Stars battling. Johnson, who started his career in Boston before being traded during his rookie season, could give Allen a hard time throughout this series. If Atlanta is going to win a game, Johnson will have to dominate Allen for a night (along with Bibby winning his match-up against Rondo/Cassell).

SF: Paul Pierce vs. Josh Smith: Pierce is certainly the better player in this match-up (he deserves consideration for one of the All-NBA teams), but Smith’s length and athleticism make this an interesting match-up. Smith may also have to help on KG, who will be killing Marvin Williams.

PF: Kevin Garnett vs. Marvin Williams: To be honest, I haven’t seen Williams play much since his days at UNC. He seems to be putting up decent numbers, but this is a really bad match-up for him against Garnett, a MVP candidate. KG’s team playoff troubles and inability to hit the big shot has been well-documented, but that won’t come into play this series.

C: Kendrick Perkins vs. Al Horford: This is probably the only match-up that Atlanta has a decided advantage in with Horford, who will likely finish 2nd to Kevin Durant in ROY voting. Even though he is still the weak link in the starting line-up, Perkins has evolved into a decent NBA center, which might say more about the level of NBA centers in the league than it does about Kendrick’s game. I’m interested to see how Horford’s game has changed since he left Gainesville.

-Prediction: Celtics in 4. None of the games will be close.

#2 Detroit vs. #7 Philadelphia: The veteran Pistons team should win this series pretty easily in 4 or 5 games. The Pistons match-up well against the Sixers 2 best players (Andre Miller versus Chauncey Billups and Andre Igoudala versus Tayshaun Prince). The only real question is how intense the Pistons will be as they have a tendency to take games off even in the playoffs.

-Prediction: Detroit in 5. Philadelphia has a surprisingly tough team, but Detroit is too good to blow this series especially since the Sixers don’t have a Lebron-type player to win the series by himself.

#3 Orlando vs. #6 Toronto: Although the NBA experts have been ripping the Eastern Conference first round match-ups, I have to say that this series and the Cleveland-Washington series could be very interesting. Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh are obviously the marquee stars here, but both teams have good players at the other positions. It will be interesting to see which of the other players (Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, T.J. Ford, Jose Calderon, and Rasho Nesterovic) in this series step up and make themselves household names (outside of basketball junkie circles).

-Prediction: Toronto in 6. In such a close series, I’m tempted to go with the home-court. However, in this case I’m going with the relative experience of the Raptors to win a couple of the close games and close out the series in Toronto.

#4 Cleveland vs. #5 Washington: It appears like this is the only first round series in the Eastern Conference that the mainstream media cares about. It seems like the media is focusing on the Wizards (DeShawn Stevenson and Gilbert Arenas) calling out Lebron. However, there are a bunch of other interesting things about this series: (1) Can Washington finally beat Cleveland having lost to them the last 2 years in first round? (2) Can Agent Zero control his ego enough to play a supporting role? (3) Can Lebron win another series with a horrible supporting cast? Our answers: No. No. Yes.

Prediction: Cleveland in 7. I think that Washington is the better team, but Cleveland has Lebron. Ever since the Detroit series it appears that Lebron has decided to start taking over games (not counting the Finals last year that nobody watched). In the end, it will be Lebron (and David Stern’s refs) pushing the Cavs into the 2nd round.

I’ll make longer posts for the later rounds when the match-ups are set. For now, I’ll just stick with predictions.

Second Round
#1 Boston vs. #4 Cleveland: Celtics in 5.
#2 Detroit vs. #6 Toronto: Detroit in 6.

Conference Finals
#1 Boston vs. #2 Detroit: Celtics in 7.

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