What Can We Learn From NBA Draft Combine Measurements?

Posted by EJacoby on June 11th, 2012

The top 60 prospects for the upcoming NBA Draft were invited to Chicago for the official NBA Draft Combine late last week, where players seek to impress the loads of pro scouts and executives in attendance in preparation for June 28. Before players even began competing in drills and scrimmages, they were first tested by the ‘tape’ in an extensive set of measurements. This year’s numbers were released on Friday, which include everything from height and weight to hand width and horizontal wingspan. But do these physical measurements really mean anything? Does the fact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist measured a half-inch shorter than expected, or Jae Crowder’s hands are some of the widest of the group, have an impact on that player’s chances to succeed in the league? Adjusting to the elite size and speed of NBA competition is important for all incoming prospects, but a ball player is a ball player, regardless of his standing reach or hand size. History shows that some Combine measurements become useful in predicting future success while others bear no weight at all, making it a difficult data set to analyze.

Kevin Jones didn't measure out well at the Combine; does this mean anything for his NBA potential? (AP Photo/D. Smith)

This year’s athletic testing results (bench press, agility drill, vertical jump, etc.) are not yet released, so we’ll just take a look at the player measurements and what they mean. Some notable numbers from this year include Meyers Leonard’s massive height without shoes (6’11.75”), Andre Drummond’s ridiculous wingspan (7’6.25”), John Henson’s skyscraping standing reach (9’3.5”), Kevin Jones’ excessive body fat (11.2%), and Andrew Nicholson’s enormous hands (10” long, 10.75” wide). But didn’t we already know these things? We knew that Drummond was a freakish physical specimen, and Henson’s intrigue as a prospect stems from his elite length. We know Leonard is huge and Jones doesn’t look like much of an athlete. But that becomes the dilemma – should scouts put more stock in Kevin Jones’ physical measurements, or his versatile skill set that’s been on display at West Virginia for four years? The hard part is determining to what extent, if any, a player’s body will impact his ability to contribute in the NBA.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Andrew Nicholson

Posted by EJacoby on May 30th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Andrew Nicholson

School: St. Bonaventure

Height/Weight: 6’9” / 225 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Andrew Nicholson Was a Versatile Threat on Both Ends for St. Bonaventure (AP Photo)

Overview: Despite playing four years in the Atlantic 10 and being productive from the minute he stepped on the floor as a freshman, Andrew Nicholson has long been an under-the-radar prospect. That is, until recently, when he led St. Bonaventure to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000 and nearly led the Bonnies to a stunning upset of #3-seed Florida State in the first round — putting up 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, in line with his senior season averages. In that game, the 6’9” beast also extended out and hit 4-5 shots from three-point range, a new skill he’s added to his game that makes him an even more intriguing prospect. Nicholson is a bit undersized for a true power forward/center, but explosiveness around the rim allowed him to average two blocks per game for his college career, and he’s always a threat to throw down dunks near the basket. He was asked to do a lot for his team in college and was always the point of emphasis on opponents’ scouting reports, which perhaps helps explain his struggle with turnovers throughout his career. He was very productive from day one and shot an outstanding 57.4% from the field for his career. Nicholson is a rare senior that’s just now rising up draft boards, as his array of skills provides the potential for great upside outside of the lottery.

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Four Thoughts from Nashville …

Posted by David Changas on March 18th, 2012

Here are few thoughts on Friday’s NCAA Tournament action in Nashville, and a look ahead to Sunday’s action.

1) The first thing that stood out in watching the eight teams in the NCAA Tournament pod in Nashville was the level of parity that was on display, and which is prevalent throughout college basketball.  In the first half of the day’s first game, the East Region’s #11 seed, Texas, took futility to a new level, hitting 4 of 25 shots on its way to a 31-17 halftime deficit against #6 seed Cincinnati. After falling behind by 19 early in the second half, the Longhorns eventually tied the game, which wasn’t decided until the final minutes. In the nightcap, South Florida, the #12 seed in the Midwest Region, made Texas look efficient by going 3 for 27 and scoring 15 points in the first half.  Somehow they trailed Temple by only four, and the Bulls came out of the locker room on fire and shot 60% for the second half on their way to a 58-44 win over #5 seed Temple. That was the largest spread of any of the final scores here.  Each of the day’s games was up for grabs going into the final minutes.

FSU May Be The ACC Champs, But They Had Their Hands Full

Beyond the obvious – that #12 and #13 seeds won here on Friday, and that two #15 seeds won elsewhere on the same day – it is apparent that the disparity in talent between the mid-majors and the BCS schools continues to narrow.  In watching teams in a pod in which there were no 1-16 or 2-15 matchups, it was clear that parity abounds.  St. Bonaventure, the East Region’s #14 seed and the lowest-seeded team here, played ACC Tournament Champion Florida State to the wire and easily could have won the game. The Bonnies were the fourth-best team in what many consider the best mid-major league – Atlantic 10 – and they were able to control most of their battle with arguably the ACC’s best squad.  And while it would have been an upset, no one here would have been shocked if it had happened.  St. Bonaventure had good players, including the sensational Andrew Nicholson, and the overall difference in talent levels between the two squads was not as vast as it may have been in the past.

Transfers are also an important part of this equation. Case in point is Ohio forward Walter Offutt, who left after two years at Ohio State in which he rarely saw the floor. Offutt, a top-100 player coming out of high school, is one of many former high-major players we have seen over the years make a difference at the mid-major level.  He is flourishing in Coach John Groce’s system and is the team’s second leading scorer. While he couldn’t get into the rotation in two years in Columbus, Offutt has flourished in relative obscurity in Athens. He is the type of player that allows a team like Ohio to compete when it faces better competition in March.

Upsets have long been a part of March Madness, but as we see more of them, we should be less surprised. The George Masons, Butlers, and VCUs of the world have shown us that there is plenty of talent outside the BCS leagues, and the parity on display in Nashville on Friday typified that.

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ATB: Absolute MADNESS – Chaos Ensues As Round of 64 Concludes…

Posted by EJacoby on March 17th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede – Thursday was a fairly slow first day of NCAA Tournament action, producing just two total upsets and leaving much to be desired in terms of thrilling finishes. Friday was a completely different story – two #15 seeds won on the same day for the first time ever, with the results coming just a couple of hours apart. We also saw a #13, #12, #11, and two #10 seeds come out victorious in one of the craziest days in Big Dance history. Half of the games on the schedule resulted in upsets, including seven of the final nine contests on this freaky Friday night. Without further ado, we provide everything you need to know in this installment of After The Buzzer…

Your Watercooler Moment. #15 Norfolk State Stuns #2 Missouri.

It was supposed to be the late afternoon game to fill the only quiet block of the evening. #15-seed Norfolk State against #2 Missouri, the exciting up-tempo team that produced the most efficient offense in the country this season with its four-guard attack. Mizzou was a very popular Final Four pick, considered the team with the greatest upside in the West Region. But then things got interesting; pesky Norfolk State was hanging around and had the game tied at halftime. Every time you looked up at the scoreboard in the second half, Norfolk was ahead or behind by a couple of points and that’s when it was time to tell all your friends that we might have a serious bracket-buster taking place. Sure enough, it happened. The Spartans of the MEAC conference became the first #15-seed to win an NCAA Tournament game in 11 years since a fellow MEAC school did it in the form of Hampton University over Iowa State in 2001. This year, it was dominant big man Kyle O’Quinn who paced the way with a monster double-double for a team that shot 54.2% from the field and went 10-19 from three. Missouri played fine offensively, shooting 52.7% itself, but the Tigers allowed the tournament’s least-efficient offense to hit shots from everywhere on the floor as well as out-hustle them to loose balls and open rebounds. Little did we know, the madness was only beginning on this night.

Also Worth Chatting About. Hours Later, #15 Lehigh Makes History

Most brackets were busted from Missouri’s loss alone, but those who happened to have the Tigers falling early in their pools surely didn’t survive the rest of the night, either. The 7:00 PM ET block of games blew the roof off of this tournament, beginning with the little guys from the Patriot League. #15 Lehigh had a terrific year led by mid-major star guard C.J. McCollum, but nobody thought this team had a chance against Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, the most successful NCAA Tournament team of the past 20 years. #2-seed Duke, though, was vulnerable because of an injury to starting forward Ryan Kelly and an overall trend of weak recent play thanks to a porous defense. The Mountain Hawks took advantage early and often, leading this game early in the first half and continuing to put the pressure on Duke’s ‘D’. McCollum was the star of the show, Duke wasn’t hitting from the perimeter, and Lehigh really had a chance to win this game. Late in the second half it was anyone’s game, but McCollum made big play after big play while no Duke guard could counter. Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, and Andre Dawkins combined to shoot 4-19 from three. Gabe Knutson matched Mason Plumlee inside going for 17 points on 5-5 shooting. And when the buzzer sounded, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks were winners in a thorough victory that made history. For the first time ever, two #15 seeds won in the same year of the NCAA Tournament. And it all happened on the same evening, just two-and-a-half hours apart.

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Rushed Reaction: #3 Florida State 66, #14 St. Bonaventure 63

Posted by David Changas on March 16th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Survive and Advance.  Florida State did not want to become the 15th team  – and only the fourth since 2000 – to lose as a #3 seed in the round of 64.  The Seminoles used an impressive second-half defensive effort - holding St. Bonaventure to 11-31 from the floor – and were able to hold off the upset-minded Bonnies.  FSU allowed St. Bonaventure to shoot 46% in the first half, which led to a six-point deficit at the break.  Florida State is known for its ferocious halfcourt defense, and that is what carried it through to the third round.  The Seminoles were also able to neutralize St. Bonaventure star Andrew Nicholson, who got off to a hot start with 10 points in the first eight minutes of the game, but finished with only 20.
  2. Seminoles Win without Much from Snaer.   The Seminoles’ leading scorer, Michael Snaer was held scoreless on the day for the first time in his career. Snaer, a second-team All-ACC performer, got into early foul trouble and played only five minutes in the first half.  He was a non-factor in the second and took only seven shots, going 0-5 from three. Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton has to be pleased that his team was able to overcome the odds considering such a poor performance from its best player to move on.
  3. A Perplexing Finish.  After Florida State missed two of three free throws late, St. Bonaventure had a chance to tie with a late three.  The Bonnies had the ball in the frontcourt with 20 seconds remaining but had no timeouts left.  Florida State guarded the perimeter ferociously, leaving Da’Quan Cook with a two-point attempt with nine seconds left.  After Cook rebounded his miss, rather than pass to a teammate for a three, he went back up with it and time expired.  It was an inexplicable ending to a hard-fought game.

Star of the Game. Bernard James, Florida State. On this day, Florida State does not advance without the play of Bernard James.  Given the off afternoons that the team’s two leading scorers, Ian Miller and Snaer had (eight combined points), James’ performance was a necessity.  He ended up with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Quotable.   “Give Florida State credit. They defended very well in the second half.  But we did what we needed to do; we just came up short.  It was a terrific college basketball game.” – St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt

Sights and Sounds.  St. Bonaventure, which appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000, had a raucous and creative group of fans on hand in Nashville.  Florida State’s smaller contingent got very loud themselves after the Seminoles clawed back and took the lead. The Tomahawk Chop was out in full force on Friday.

What’s Next?  Third-seeded Florida State now looks to its matchup with sixth-seeded Cincinnati in what promises to be a defensive war.  Don’t expect a lot of offense in Sunday’s game.

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ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting Florida State vs. St. Bonaventure

Posted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012

Every time Florida State faces a vastly inferior opponent it might be tempting to go ahead and give the red hot Seminoles credit. Then you have to remember that while Florida State beat North Carolina and Duke two times apiece, this is a team that lost to Boston College, one of the worst teams to play in a power conference this year. Florida State is definitely a good team, but this loss sticks out as a stark reminder that the Seminoles know how to give one away. Not that St. Bonaventure needs any charity: this is a pretty good team that has a legitimate star in Andrew Nicholson and enviable size at most positions. St. Bonaventure presents a number of challenges to the Seminoles, but Florida State is equipped to deal with these challenges.

Nicholson Could Give The Seminoles Problems

So here’s a fun fact: despite all their defensive acumen and talented interior play, the Bonnies have been the better rebounding team over the course of the season. This team gobbles up misses on offense and secures the rock on defense. They aren’t reliant on the long ball and are skilled at getting the ball down low where both guards and forwards are fairly talented at drawing fouls. These are all good things, but unfortunately, these strengths don’t particularly play into the Seminoles weaknesses. The Seminoles defend the interior even better than they defend the perimeter and their depth leaves them largely immune to foul trouble. As good as St. Bonaventure has been at rebounding this year, Florida State has players who can definitely challenge the Bonnies on the glass.

Meanwhile, the Bonnies have one glaring weakness: they cough the ball up very freely. Now, Florida State does the same thing, but the two differ in one key way. Florida State makes up for it’s own turnovers by using pressure defense to force plenty of opponent turnovers, while St. Bonaventure has largely been unsuccessful at forcing opponent turnovers. In this disparity, Florida State has a big opportunity. The Bonnies susceptibility to pressure and disruptive defense plays right into the Seminoles hands. Leonard Hamilton‘s team will be able to do what it does best: make a team miserable on offense by breaking up the possession before it even really starts. Unless St. Bonaventure figures out a way to play exceptionally carefully against one of the most maddening defenses in America, I think that the Bonnies are very likely to lose the battle for possessions in a landslide, rendering most of the rest of the contest a moot point.

Still, Boston College…

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Bracket Prep: East Region Analysis

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 12th, 2012

Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), South (11 AM), Midwest (2 PM), West (4 PM). Here, Brian Otskey (@botskey) breaks down the East Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC East Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCeastregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Brian breaking down the East Region here.

East Region

Favorite: #1 Syracuse (31-2, 17-1 Big East). Despite losing to Cincinnati in the Big East semifinals, the Orange are the clear favorites and will have plenty of fans in Beantown to cheer them on, assuming they advance. SU features a transition attack that’s arguably the best in the nation, usually sparked by Dion Waiters off the bench.

Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Are The Favorites, But The Path to New Orleans Is Loaded With Tough Opponents (AP)

Should They Falter: #2 Ohio State (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten). I was tempted to slot #3 Florida State in this space but the Seminoles are too inconsistent for my liking to be a legitimate Final Four threat. Ohio State is a terrific team but not nearly as good as last year’s outfit which had Jon Diebler to bury a perimeter jumper. Even so, the Buckeyes are still capable of reaching New Orleans.

Grossly Overseeded: #11 Texas (20-13, 9-9 Big 12). This is an exaggeration because I thought the Selection Committee did a very nice job with the seeding across all regions. But I have to pick someone, right? I’ll go with the Longhorns, a team I didn’t have in my projected field of 68. Texas has four RPI top 50 wins but three of those came against teams seeded on the eighth line in this tournament. The Longhorns are 4-11 against top 100 competition, a fact that I felt should have kept them out of the Big Dance.

Grossly Underseeded: #5 Vanderbilt (24-10, 10-6 SEC). Again, this is a very minor quibble. As I said before, I thought the Committee did an admirable job seeding the teams. I had Vanderbilt pegged for a #4 seed after beating the best team in the country (Kentucky) in the SEC championship on Sunday. The Commodores won 16 games against the RPI top 100, with two of those coming against top 10 opponents either on the road (Marquette) or a neutral site (Kentucky). In fact, only one of Vandy’s five RPI top 25 wins has come at home. That’s impressive and an indicator of a team that can do some damage in this event despite its recent history of early flameouts.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament Finals, Daily Diary

Posted by nvr1983 on March 11th, 2012

Three Bids? Four Bids?
If the nearly unanimous opinion leaving the Boardwalk Hall Saturday night was that Xavier was definitely “in”, the feeling was less certain as the Championship game wound toward a conclusion. Xavier looked like the January 24 edition rather than the March 10 edition. Saint Bonaventure had seized the automatic bid, had Xavier’s lackluster performance knocked them out of tournament? The Selection Committee must have liked their body of work, because Xavier drew a #10 seed in the South Region and will face fellow Midwesterner Notre Dame in the second round, while Saint Bonaventure drew the #14 seed (fitting for a team not even in the bubble discussion a week ago) in the East Region and will play Florida State in Nashville on Friday. Saint Louis and Temple were “in” to start the week, so elimination before the Championship game hurt at most a seed. Saint Louis was seeded #9 in the West Region and will face Memphis on Friday in Columbus and lastly Temple was seeded #5 in the Midwest Region and will face either California or South Florida (the winner of the #12 seed playoff in Dayton on Tuesday) on Friday, also in Nashville. The conference did draw 4 bids, the third time in conference history that four teams have made the field of 64 (or 68…). The conference has earned five bids twice, in 1996-97 and in 1997-98. This marks the 13th time in the last 17 post seasons that the conference has earned more than two bids.

Nicholson Helped Guide Saint Bonaventure To An Automatic Bid

The Gate, Again
The announced attendance for the Championship game was 6,101, as Saint Bonaventure fans from all over the Northeast drove in overnight to cheer their Bonnies on. The absence of the three Philadelphia teams did not appear to depress the attendance numbers as many feared, while the crowd, loud and enthusiastic from the introductions to the final buzzer gave the barrel-ceiling auditorium the intimate feel of a college campus arena.

Temple is Out, Who’s Got Next?
Though the Owls are due to play another season of basketball in the Atlantic-10, speculation has begun about who will replace Temple as the 14th member of the conference. Concern about presence in media markets have some looking at another New York metro area school while those concerned about quality of the basketball (what else?) program look elsewhere. New York metro area teams mentioned include Iona (too small perhaps) of the MAAC and Quinnipiac (located in Connecticut) of the NEC. Given the conference’s extremely large footprint, George Mason, a Virginia state school with excellent facilities and reputation, was also mentioned. The Patriots would make a good “traveling companion” for Charlotte, Richmond and George Washington. George Mason’s affiliation with the CAA, combined with their run to the Final Four in 2005-06, make it an attractive acquisition target for the A-10. Given Commissioner McGlade’s southern orientation (she spearheaded the move of the conference’s headquarters from Philadelphia to Virginia Beach when she became commissioner) gives credence to George Mason rumors. Another intriguing candidate, mentioned frequently, is Butler, the Horizon Conference power whose runs to the Final Four in 2010 and 2011 along with their historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, speak to a long and successful tradition in basketball.

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Bracket Prep: Michigan State, Florida State, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach State, & New Mexico State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

Selection Sunday is here! We’ve been providing you with summaries of every automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and this post concludes all of the conference tourney winners. Big Ten, SEC, ACC, A-10, Big West, and WAC were the last ones to complete their championships. Here’s everything you need to know.

Michigan State

Draymond Green is the Force Behind the Spartans' Strong Attack (AP Photo/A. Goldis)

  • Big Ten Champion (27-7, 16-5)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #4/#3/#3
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +17.3
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, expect Michigan State to steal the last #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing that this team hasn’t done to deserve the top line. 27-7 against the #1 strength of schedule, co-champion of the best conference in the country, and Big Ten Champions. This is a classic Tom Izzo team that’s ferocious on the boards and executes efficiently on both offense and defense. The Spartans run through their Big Ten Player of the Year, but this is a deep team that relies on many contributors in different areas. A late season ACL injury to blossoming freshman forward Branden Dawson was horrible news and is potentially devastating. But Dawson was still not much of an offensive factor and the team won the Big Ten Tournament without him, showing an ability to adapt.
  2. Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year who does everything that you want in a senior star leader. 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game is what Green provides. The 45% field goal percentage doesn’t look great until you realize that Green does much of his work on the perimeter, including hitting the most three-pointers on the team. The rest of this team is loaded with strong athletes and defenders, from the interior duo of Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne to the perimeter players Keith Appling and Brandon Wood, and beyond to the reserves. Appling is crucial to this team as the playmaking point guard with explosive agility to make plays for his teammates and himself.
  3. Most things in March Madness are unpredictable, but one of the few guarantees is that Tom Izzo’s teams will play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament. This Izzo team is loaded and ready to dance with as difficult a combination to beat as nearly anyone in the country. A +17.3 adjusted scoring margin is the fourth best in the nation, led my MSU’s elite defense. The Spartans allow just 37.7% defensive field goal shooting, the second best in the land. Their 89.9 defensive efficiency also ranks in the top 10. Throw in their own 47.7% field goal shooting, and this team’s shooting percentage disparity is fantastic, which is always a top formula for success. Their 55.2% rebound percentage is top 10 in the nation, as well. The numbers look great for Michigan State. But this team just lost its best athlete to the ACL injury and it doesn’t have the amount of elite scorers that a usual #1 seed does. Instead, this team is so efficient defensively that it will be difficult to knock off. Teams that gave Michigan State trouble were those that caught fire from the outside while holding their own defensively, like Indiana. Expect an awesome clash of styles between MSU and its opponent in a Sweet Sixteen matchup, if it can avoid an upset from the 8-9 seed, or 10-7 seed if it receives a #2 seed.

Florida State

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10 Great Players You Won’t Be Seeing This March

Posted by zhayes9 on March 2nd, 2012

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

As the calendar flips towards March, the nation will focus its attention to players on title contenders—Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Syracuse’s Dion Waiters, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes and Duke’s Austin Rivers, to name a few. Others will become infatuated with captivating players on endearing Cinderella teams– Oral Roberts’ Dominique Morrison, Iona’s Scott Machado, Long Beach State’s Casper Ware or Belmont’s Kerron Johnson. There will be ample opportunity to delve into the storylines of those vying to become household names once the brackets are unveiled. This space is reserved for those whose season will most likely end without any taste of postseason glory. Accolades are warranted for these ten players who, through no fault of their own and barring a miracle conference tournament run, are about to conclude praiseworthy seasons away from the national spotlight:

Providence's Council is an underappreciated player nationally

Vincent Council, Providence- Many theorized that Council’s robust assist totals during his first two seasons at Providence were more of a product of the Friars top ten adjusted tempo than any extraordinary  court vision or gifted passing ability. Council’s resounding response to such fallacies: 7.4 assists per game and the third highest assist rate of any major-conference point guard despite a new coach and a much slower pace. Sure, Council plays almost every minute for a Friar squad lacking depth, but he’s still engineering a top-50 efficient offense without anyone resembling an all-conference candidate as support. The junior and Brooklyn native has posted eight games of double-digit assists and averages over 16 PPG to boot. It’ll be intriguing to see how Council and Scout.com’s top-ranked class of 2012 point guard Kris Dunn share duties at the position next season.

Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure- Nicholson has turned in one of the greatest careers in the history of the Atlantic 10, scoring nearly 2,000 point, grabbing nearly 800 rebounds, flirting with the all-time school record for field goal percentage and “bringing the program back from the underground” according to coach Mark Schmidt. Going out with a bang seems to be a priority for the best Bonnie since Bob Lanier; Nicholson has scored 29.8 PPG on 66 percent shooting over his last four games, all victories. With his array of advanced post moves, range out to the three-point line and an unquenchable motor, Nicholson is nearly impossible to contain. His play has buoyed St. Bonaventure to a respectable 17-10 and an NIT/CBI invite is likely in the cards, so make it a priority to catch Nicholson in action before he’s the next NBA Draft second round success story.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State- He’s an Oakland native and Beavers guard with a voracious tenacity equally adept at whipping out a mean crossover or picking your pocket at midcourt. That same scouting report oft-repeated regarding former OSU star Gary Payton can easily be applied to Cunningham, not only the Pac-12’s leading scorer but one of the top perimeter defenders in the nation. The Beavers star is a risk-taker on both ends, susceptible to the occasional turnover but just as capable of pulling off a highlight reel steal and dunk on the next possession. Cunningham utilizes his phenomenal instincts to jump passing lanes and create havoc out of Oregon State’s 1-3-1 zone defense.

Tim Frazier, Penn State- Frazier has almost single handedly kept Penn State competitive in the brutal Big Ten despite losing four senior starters from an NCAA Tournament team. Playing with a lightly-recruited, largely unanimous supporting cast, Frazier leads the conference by a healthy margin with 6.3 assists per game and ranks second in the nation in assist rate. He’s also scored at a healthy clip, averaging 18.8 per game and pouring in 20+ point performances 16 different times. The junior guard from Houston brings that rare combination of exceptional point guard skills, ability to fill up the scoring column and tenacity on the defensive end (2.2 SPG). Of greater importance to a program featuring only one senior and bereft of elite talent, Frazier has proven a model leader for new head coach Patrick Chambers from the first day of practice.

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With Temple’s Road Win at St. Louis, A-10 Race Even Murkier Than Before

Posted by dnspewak on January 12th, 2012

Danny Spewak is an RTC correspondent. You can follow him @dspewak on Twitter. He filed this report following Temple’s victory at Saint Louis on Wednesday.

Saint Louis looked nothing like one of the Atlantic 10′s top defensive teams on Wednesday. Exploiting a mismatch with its four-guard attack, Temple overcame a sluggish effort from senior point guard Juan Fernandez to knock off the Billikens 72-67 at Chaifetz Arena, avoiding an 0-2 start and leaving the A-10 standings as messy as ever. SLU (13-4, 1-2 A-10) could not handle the physicality of the Owls’ guards, especially Khalif Wyatt. The junior led all scorers with 22 points, and his team shredded Rick Majerus‘ man-to-man defense all night to score 44 points in the paint. Temple (11-4, 1-1 A-10) shot 59% in the second half and 56.6% overall, marking just the second time this season Saint Louis could not hold an opponent to less than 50% shooting. And it all happened without normal production from Fernandez, who scored just two points on a 1-8 effort from the field.

Saint Louis Drew Its Second Largest Crowd of the Year

The Billikens never led in the second half, though they did cut Temple’s lead to a single point on two occasions. Even with an animated home crowd behind it — the 8,760 fans marked its second-highest attendance of the season — Saint Louis could not get the defensive stop it needed in the final two minutes. After Kwamain Mitchell‘s three-pointer pulled SLU to within 62-61 with 2:14 remaining, Aaron Brown immediately responded with a three-point play. Then, a turnover led to a thunderous alley-oop in transition by Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, sealing the Billikens’ first home loss of the season.  “You have to buck up and gets stops,” senior forward Brian Conklin said. “And we’re not doing that right now.”

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ATB: No Road Blues, Pennsylvania Hoops Doldrums, and a Celebration of Buzz Williams’ Sport Coat…

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. It wasn’t as crazy as Tuesday’s action, but Wednesday night around the college basketball landscape held plenty of interest in the form of a number of ranked teams going on the road, a near-complete meltdown among the major teams in the Keystone State, and a career night from a Marquette sophomore and its coach’s sport coat. Let’s jump into it…

Michigan's Celebration Means Yet Another Northwestern Disappointment (DFP)

Your Watercooler Moment. Northwestern Can’t Win For Losing. Poor Northwestern. It’s probably only a weird mind trick that the Wildcats seem to have lost about a dozen games like this over the last several seasons — games that if a few bounces had gone their way, they may have finally found their way into the NCAA Tournament — but just a week after a heartbreaking one-point loss at home against Illinois, Bill Carmody’s team once again found itself on the short end of a game that they’ll file under what-could-have-been at the end of the season. Facing the prospect of a 1-3 Big Ten start with games in the next week against Wisconsin and Michigan State, the Wildcats had Michigan down in Ann Arbor by 10 points in the second half and managed to find ways to lose (or not win, more accurately) the game both in regulation and overtime. Northwestern had what looked to be the final shot at the end of regulation, but a drive by Drew Crawford ended in a weird traveling turnover call that resulted in the extra period. Then, when presented with an opportunity to make three FTs with 0.3 seconds left to tie the game in overtime, Alex Marcotullio managed to miss the first attempt, rendering the next two rather useless. As noted above, a couple of different bounces and the Wildcats are sitting pretty at 3-1 going into a brutal part of its schedule. Instead, they’re now facing a difficult 1-5 start to conference play and a near-impossible situation to get to 9-9 and have a reasonable shot to make the NCAA Tournament (even in a deep conference such as the Big Ten).

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Road Wins From Syracuse, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. As we have learned from an eternity of conference play, no team is ever completely safe on the road in conference play. Tonight, though, four of the Top 10 teams went on the road and took care of business. It’s true that their four opponents — Villanova, Auburn, Iowa State, and Texas Tech, respectively — are not among the elite of each conference, but a road win is a road win is a road win. As described below, Kansas’ destruction of Texas Tech in Lubbock was the most impressive victory, but Missouri’s bounceback win in Iowa State against a dangerous Cyclones squad, Kentucky’s late push to finish off Auburn, and Syracuse’s surgically methodical taking apart of Villanova are all worth noting. Read the rest of this entry »
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