Morning Five: 01.17.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 17th, 2011

  1. When we reported on Angel Garcia leaving Memphis to pursue a professional career in Spain approximately a month ago, we jokingly noted that it could be the start of a new trend. It turns out that we may be onto something as Kansas State recently announced that Freddy Asprilla, a transfer from Florida International, had opted to leave the school to pursue a professional career overseas. While it appears that Asprilla was having some difficulty to adjusting to playing under Frank Martin, his AAU coach states that the real reason he turned pro was to earn money to support his ill mother. We wish Freddy the best of luck in his professional career (particularly if the latter is true).
  2. We usually don’t pay attention to mock drafts or player ratings until the end of the season when players are deciding whether or not to go pro, but Chad Ford’s most recent Top 100 caught our eye because of how the top players are rated: (1) Perry Jones (talented, but very inconsistent — four points in a loss at FSU followed by zero points in a close win over Texas Southern); (2) Kyrie Irving (phenomenal, but injured with a toe injury that apparently cannot be described); (3) Harrison Barnes (the preseason #1, but very disappointing so far); (4) Enes Kanter (a talented inside player, but banned from playing this year); (5) Terrence Jones (phenomenal this season); (6) Jared Sullinger (your current national player of the year favorite). Outside of the dominance of freshman in the top six, we are struck by the fact that the two most productive players are rated below an inconsistent big man, a point guard with an injury that nobody can figure out, a massively disappointing freshman, and a Turkish big man who was given the NCAA’s equivalent of an individual death penalty.
  3. The New York Times takes a look at something that we mentioned earlier this season and we expect that many of you have also considered–the Kalin Lucas you see post-injury is not the same player you saw last year. We aren’t sure if it was just poor editing on the part of the The New York Times, but we were surprised by the fact that Tom Izzo was, in fact, surprised to realize that Lucas wouldn’t have the same explosiveness he had last year after a relatively short period of rehab. Our question all along has been how long will it take Lucas to return to a reasonable representation of what he was last year. The answer to that will likely hold the key to whether or not the Spartans can turn around their season in time.
  4. It technically isn’t college basketball, but we are assuming many of you tuned into ESPN2 on Friday night to catch Michael Gilchrist and Austin Rivers square off. Both players had solid games, but in the end Gilchrist and his St. Patrick team (ranked 2nd nationally) were too much for Rivers and his Winter Park squad. We are assuming that plenty of Kentucky and Duke fans tuned in to watch two players who are expected to be the next superstars for their programs. One thing that struck us was how so many of the St. Patrick players looked to at least be college players at some level while the Winter Park players looked more like high schoolers.
  5. Finally, in light of the struggles of many highly ranked teams on the road this season, we found the question — How many points is Cameron Indoor Stadium worth? — posed by Gary Williams to reporters on Friday to be particularly interesting. We know that the Vegas odds-makers probably have a number at least for general home team advantage if not team-specific home court advantages. So our question to you is how many points is the home court worth at some of the toughest places to play in country?
Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 12.23.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 23rd, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Not a bad set of games tonight but nothing that jumps out at you as a must watch. The best games of the night may very well be in paradise as opposed to Memphis. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#11 Baylor vs. Washington State (in Honolulu, HI) – 6:30 pm on ESPNU (****)

A Rare Klay Thompson Sighting on National TV Tonight

The theory that good guard play wins in college basketball will be put to the test in this game from the Diamond Head Classic. Washington State’s guard-heavy lineup goes up against Baylor’s powerful front court, though the Bears have a star guard in LaceDarius Dunn. The Cougars have surprised this year and sit at 9-1 with wins over Gonzaga and Mississippi State in addition to a close home loss against Kansas State. Washington State shares one common opponent with Baylor, that’s Gonzaga. Baylor lost to the Bulldogs this past Saturday in Dallas while Washington State rolled the Zags 81-59 at home ten days earlier. Baylor’s offense has struggled a bit against the two decent teams they’ve played, Gonzaga and Arizona State. Combine that with the fact that Washington State defends the three exceptionally well, the Bears should look to use their strength and athleticism inside and pound the ball into the paint. Rebounding is a concern for the Cougars, especially against a Baylor team that averages 41 RPG. Even if the Bears miss some shots inside, they’re sure to get a bunch of put-back chances against the WSU front line. For Washington State, DeAngelo Casto must have a good night on the glass in order to contain Baylor’s front court, led by Perry Jones and Quincy Acy. The Cougars must look to their back court for scoring and they’ll feel comfortable knowing they have Klay Thompson on their team. Thompson had 28 points against Mississippi State on Wednesday and will be in the running for Pac 10 POY honors. In addition to Thompson, Faisal Aden has enjoyed a terrific season so far. Aden and Thompson form a strong guard duo capable of draining three’s with regularity. Washington State is very good inside the arc as well but Baylor’s interior defense poses the toughest challenge the Cougars have faced so far. They need to be clicking from deep or else it could be a long night. Baylor’s back court isn’t too shabby either with Dunn and A.J. Walton, but each player struggles with turnovers. Washington State enjoys a great turnover margin and that’s how they’re going to get extra possessions against the turnover-prone Bears. With the expected rebounding problem, Washington State has to create turnovers to win this game. Expect Baylor to have an edge at the free throw line as well, enjoying a nice free throw rate on both ends of the floor. The Bears also shoot five percent better from the line than Washington State. The Cougars are a good team but Baylor has something to prove after falling to Gonzaga. We’ll take the Bears behind a big game from Acy inside.

#9 Georgetown @ Memphis – 8 pm on ESPN2 (***)

With the departure of Angel Garcia, the injury to Wesley Witherspoon and their struggles on the court, Memphis is going through some adversity. How Josh Pastner gets his young team to overcome that will determine how far he can take his talented group of players. The Tigers have had three close calls against bad teams and are struggling a bit offensively. Memphis averaged 85 PPG in its first seven games but that number has dropped to 69 PPG over the last three contests. Memphis is not a particularly great shooting team but they get to the charity stripe often and do make up some points there. The pregame story is whether or not Witherspoon will play, as Pastner did not rule him out and said he was day-to-day. If he doesn’t play, the guard-laden Tigers will be severely undersized and thin overall. If he does play, they’ll still be undersized but at least will have a scorer capable of pulling the Georgetown big men away from the basket. For the purposes of this preview, we’ll go on the assumption that he doesn’t play and wouldn’t be near 100% even if he does. Memphis already struggles rebounding the basketball and that’ll be a huge problem against a Hoya team with good rebounding guards and two strong post men. Look for Julian Vaughn and Hollis Thompson to own the paint with Witherspoon out. For Memphis, Will Coleman and Tarik Black have to make their presence known, otherwise Georgetown will focus its defense on the Tiger guards all night. A freshman, Black has had a tough time adjusting to a bigger role on this Memphis team. Tonight is a huge opportunity to assert himself and make himself a strong option for his head coach. The story for Georgetown is obviously their terrific trio of guards. They account for 57% of their points and all are great three point shooters. Point guard Chris Wright is also averaging seven assists per game during his senior season in the nation’s capital. Jason Clark is one of the most underrated players in the game today and has the potential to break out at any time. Austin Freeman is their rock. The preseason Big East POY leads the team in scoring and is a lights out three point shooter. When Freeman is hot, Georgetown is incredibly difficult to beat. The Hoyas are third nationally in offensive efficiency, first in effective field goal percentage and fourth in two point percentage, showing they can get it done both inside and out. It’s no surprise Georgetown hoists a lot of three’s, getting a third of their points from the arc. Memphis has to do a good job defensively on the perimeter otherwise Georgetown will shoot them out of the building. The Tigers also have to worry about turnovers, currently averaging 16 per game with Joe Jackson accounting for almost a quarter of those. Jackson is another freshman who’s incredibly talented but a bit undisciplined at this point in his career. He needs to play well and also get Chris Crawford and Charles Carmouche involved from the arc. With almost all of their players being guards, Memphis is going to have to try to match Georgetown’s outside shooting and get to the foul line. The Tigers will be in this game if they can disrupt the flow and score by getting to the stripe but Georgetown is just too experienced and talented for the young Tigers to overcome. Expect the Hoyas to pick up a nice road win at the FedEx Forum tonight after missing an opportunity at Temple a couple weeks ago.

A few other games to monitor:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 15th, 2010

Stephen Coulter is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

A Look Back

  • Tiger Attrition: Since the Tigers lost to Kansas last week, Josh Pastner has had to deal with a slew of personnel matters. Forward Wesley Witherspoon underwent surgery for a right knee cartilage tear on Friday and will be sidelined for the next five weeks of the season. Witherspoon is currently the team’s leading scorer and has begun rehabilitation already. The coaching staff hopes to have him back in time for the Tigers’ game against Marshall on January 15. He suffered the injury on November 17 against Northwestern State, but continued to play despite the pain.  Junior forward Angel Garcia is transferring from Memphis at the end of this semester to pursue a career in Spain. Garcia, who averaged 6.1 points for the Tigers, plans to finish his final exams and then will sign a professional contract in Spain. In a press conference, the 6’11 Garcia claimed he is making the decision so he can help his family financially.  Finally, sophomore forward D.J. Stephens will miss the next two games for the Tigers because of a groin injury. Without Garcia, Stephens and Witherspoon, the Tigers are down to nine active players for their Thursday game against Austin Peay.
  • Brock Young Moves to No. 6 on ECU’s Assist List: Old Dominion ended East Carolina’s five-game win streak last week when they beat the Pirates 81-68 last Tuesday. Although the Pirates drop to 7-3 overall, the team’s point guard Brock Young kept things upbeat by moving into sixth place on the conference’s career assists list.
  • Cougs Drop First Home Game: Maurice McNeil’s career-high 26-point performance wasn’t enough to help Houston protect its perfect home record as the Cougars were beaten 68-63 by Texas-San Antonio last Saturday. The loss was UH’s first at Hofheinz Pavilion this season and ended an eight-game home winning streak that had started late last season.
  • Marshall Makes a Run: With four players reaching the double-digit plateau, Marshall was able to keep its winning streak alive and earn its best win of the season over James Madison (7-3). The two clubs will play again when the Thundering Herd travels to take on the Dukes on December 22.
  • Flowers Knocks off Cal with Game-Winner: Gary Flowers is garnering Player of the Year consideration after scoring the final 12 points in Southern Mississippi’s big win over California on Sunday. The biggest basket was a turnaround jumper with three seconds left that lifted the Golden Eagles past the Golden Bears 80-78. Flowers finished with 28 points and currently leads the team with 21.7 points per game. The senior is currently pacing the conference in scoring.
  • Knights Remain Unbeaten: Central Florida is one of 14 teams in Division-I to have an unblemished record going into Tuesday’s action. The Knights stayed unbeaten last week when they beat Bethune-Cookman 76-59. Sophomore Keith Clanton led the team with 16 points and eight rebounds, while senior Tom Herzog dropped 14 and finished with eight blocks, tying school record. In the Knights’ previous win against Southeastern Louisiana, Clanton had eight swats.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis (7-1): Despite a plethora of injuries and their first loss of the season, the Tigers remain atop this conference. Will Barton is going to need to step up in the weeks to come.
  2. Central Florida (8-0): The last unbeaten in the conference, while several one and two-loss teams rank ahead of them in KenPom. The Knights have played solid defense so far this season, limiting their opponents to 61 points or fewer in all eight of their games. An upcoming game against Miami will be a good test.
  3. Southern Mississippi (7-1): The top rebounding team in the nation currently averages over 45 boards per game this season. Gary Flowers is dominating at the moment and could be named conference player of the year.
  4. UAB (7-2): With the week off due to exams, the Blazers are looking to build off of a solid non-conference performance thus far. They are winners of five of their last six.
  5. Marshall (6-2): The fab four—DeAndre Kane, Tirrell Baines, Shaquille Johnson and Dago Pena—have been outstanding for the Herd so far, averaging over 52 points combined this season. Marshall looks to add to their three-game win streak with a set of very winnable games.
  6. UTEP (6-2): The Miners returned from their break to pummel Arkansas Pine-Bluff 77-54 on Sunday. The team looks to win its fourth consecutive game Wednesday when they host Louisiana-Monroe. A battle with Texas Tech on Saturday is not to be overlooked.
  7. East Carolina (7-3): The team is currently on break because of exams, but when the Pirates return on Saturday, they will play an 8-2 Coastal Carolina club that has won six in a row, including an overtime win against LSU.
  8. Tulane (5-2): Kris Richard and Kendall Timmons look to spark the Green Wave against New Orleans and VCU after a week off. The duo is currently averaging 29.3 points per game combined.
  9. Houston (6-4): All of Houston’s losses have come against teams with winning records. Luckily for the Cougars, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is 3-6. Senior Maurice McNeil is 36th in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, but is shooting just 54.5% from the stripe. The Cougars’ search for life after Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis is still a work in progress.
  10. SMU (5-4): The Mustangs return to play on Saturday after a two-week break for exams. Papa Dia’s 17.3 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game make him a prime candidate for All-Conference first team honors. The Mustangs have a mediocre record and have eight teams on their schedule who are either ranked below 300 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings or are in D-II. There isn’t much to get excited about in Dallas.
  11. Rice (4-4): The Owls have been on break since they barely beat Lamar on December 4. Arsalan Kazemi’s 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds a game have kept this team afloat early on. Sadly, tougher competition looms as the Owls take on Miami, Oral Roberts, LSU and TCU before conference play begins on January 5.
  12. Tulsa (4-5): Three straight losses for the Golden Hurricane after the team dropped a double OT thriller to Princeton on Sunday, but the schedule hasn’t been bad. Justin Hurtt keeps on fighting the good fight.

A Look Ahead:

While the action tapers off this week, keep an eye on how Memphis adjusts to their suddenly short bench. Three games to watch Saturday:

  • Miami at UCF
  • Texas Tech at UTEP
  • Tulane at VCU
Share this story

Morning Five: 12.13.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 13th, 2010

  1. How hard is it to lay off the phones? Seriously. We are starting to lose count of all the programs that have gotten in trouble for excessive phone calls and/or text messages. California is the latest program to fall under the NCAA’s microscope for inability to use a phone properly. The alleged infractions occurred in 2008 by a current member of the basketball staff just as Mike Montgomery had taken the job. According to the school, the infractions were discovered during a routine review of records. We don’t expect much to come of this outside a light slap on the wrist, but the NCAA might want to consider either clarifying these rules or start to come down with the hammer on programs to show it has some teeth because it seems like nobody respects any of the rules relating to use of phones.
  2. The weekend’s big winner? Louisville. The Cardinals not only pulled off the most impressive win of the weekend knocking off UNLV after a sluggish start, they also landed Rodney Purvis, the top rated point guard in the class of 2012. It looks like all the work that Rick Pitino and the administration at Louisville have been doing is starting to pay dividends with their new facilities likely being a major draw. It is worth noting that Purvis is the second big-time point guard recruit to leave the state of North Carolina to play for a school in Kentucky in the past few years (the other being John Wall).
  3. In a surprising piece of news, Angel Garcia is the first player in college basketball this season to opt to forgo the rest of his college eligibility (at least to our knowledge). Garcia, a junior forward at Memphis who was averaging 6.1 points and three rebounds per game this season, is leaving the Tigers to sign a professional contract in Spain. Garcia said that he wished that he did not have to leave Memphis, but that there were mitigating circumstances (family financial pressures).
  4. Duke may be still be the #1 team in the country, but the loss of Kyrie Irving for an unspecified amount of time has led many to question whether the Blue Devils can repeat. For those people, Doug Gottlieb offers an explanation of how Duke can change its game plan to succeed even without Irving in the line-up (ESPN Insider required). For those of your who don’t have access, it basically amounts to playing like last year’s team did. While that might work (it did last year), that style of play would probably only make them about #3 or #4 on our list of favorites this year.
  5. Wake Forest welcomed Melvin Tabb back to their team on Friday afternoon after previously suspending the 6’8″ forward while he got his academics in order. According to reports, Tabb has met the academic requirements set forth by Jeff Bzdelik and was voted back on the team by the remaining Demon Deacons. While every bit of help is needed by a team that has is barely above .500 against a weak early schedule, Tabb only provides a small part of the production (2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game).
Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 12.07.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 7th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

All eyes will be focused on the Big Apple this evening as four quality teams take center stage at Madison Square Garden in the 2010 Jimmy V. Classic. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

The Jimmy V is Outstanding This Year

#4 Kansas vs. #18 Memphis – 7 pm on ESPN (****)

This is quite an undercard but that’s why we love the Jimmy V. The classic 2008 championship game rematch happens for the second year in a row, this time in New York after playing in St. Louis last year. Memphis almost knocked off the powerhouse Jayhawks in the ‘Lou but fell short by two points. Kansas is just as good this year, but Memphis is better than they were. The young Tigers don’t have a true star yet, but Josh Pastner has a roster full of solid players who do a good, not great, job in most areas of the game. Combining all of that talent into an efficient unit has been a work in progress so far but you’d have to figure they’ll click at some point. Pastner faces a number of challenges in his first big test of the season under the bright lights of the big city and ESPN’s cameras. This should be an up-tempo game but Memphis doesn’t handle the ball very well. They average 16 turnovers per contest with Joe Jackson being the key culprit. The freshman point guard has a ton of talent but he’s just that: a freshman. With Jackson’s assist to turnover ratio at 1.19, Kansas has to be salivating at the prospect of quick transition buckets off turnovers tonight. Memphis is not a great three point shooting team and KU ranks second in the country in three point defense. Therefore the Tigers should be looking at their mid range game with Will Barton as well as in the paint with Wesley Witherspoon, shooting 61% on the year. The problem there is that Memphis doesn’t have a great rebounder to go up against Kansas’ Markieff Morris, plus the Tigers have little front court depth. Perhaps the best strategy is to go right at the Kansas bigs and get them in foul trouble. One thing Memphis does extremely well is get to the line. They rank #17 in free throw attempts per field goal attempts and shoot a respectable 73% from the line. In fact, Memphis gets 26% of their points from the stripe, attempting an average of 30 free throws per game. Aside from a bit of a slip up against UCLA, Kansas has looked outstanding. One story to watch is Jayhawk point guard Tyshawn Taylor returning to the New York area for the first time in a college game. Taylor played for Hall of Famer Bob Hurley Sr. at St. Anthony High School, right across the Hudson River in Jersey City, NJ. Taylor has been tremendous handling the ball for Bill Self, averaging almost seven assists a game with a 2.31 A/T ratio. We said Memphis should look to get Kansas in foul trouble but you can bet the Jayhawks will try to do the same on their end. If Marcus Morris can stretch the defense a bit, leaving brother Markieff to go one-on-one with the 6’9 Witherspoon, Memphis’ leading scorer may pick up a couple early fouls. Pastner may turn to Tarik Black or Angel Garcia to defend Markieff as Witherspoon is more of a face up player. Black played 27 minutes against Western Kentucky on Saturday, perhaps getting him prepared to face Kansas tonight. Kansas gets 60% of its production inside the arc and foul trouble for Memphis will only make it tougher for the Tigers to compete with the deep and talented Jayhawks. Memphis will hope to catch Kansas on another off-night defensively as UCLA and Arizona each put up over 75 points on KU, but the matchups really favor the Jayhawks in this game. We’d be surprised if Memphis won but this could be a close game for a while. In the end, expect Kansas to pull away and win by about ten points.

#6 Michigan State vs. #14 Syracuse – 9:30 pm on ESPN (*****)

As for the nightcap, what a matchup this is. Michigan State, tested three times already, faces a Syracuse team that hasn’t faced a top notch opponent but will be playing in front of what is sure to be a highly partisan crowd clad in Orange this evening. Syracuse is undefeated but they’ve struggled offensively. The Orange shoot just 43% as a team, second to last in the Big East. Syracuse’s strength is inside with Rick Jackson (13/12) and Kris Joseph (14/5) but they’ll face a Spartan defense that allows just 39% shooting inside the arc. That’s bad news for Syracuse, ranked #281 in three point shooting at just under 30%. The Orange must be able to score inside to win so they’ll need solid efforts from Jackson and Joseph along with Scoop Jardine driving and dishing. Jardine averages seven assists per game and has to create in order for poor-shooting Syracuse to get easy buckets. Defensively, Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone hasn’t been as airtight as last year’s edition. Syracuse defends the three well but opponents get 39% of their points from deep, probably because of the volume of shots put up trying to shoot over the top of the zone. The Spartans shoot 43% from three so look for that to be a key factor in this game. With Korie Lucious handling the point for the most part, Kalin Lucas had had more opportunities to shoot the three ball at the two guard position. Lucas is connecting at a 44% clip and Tom Izzo’s top four scorers are all threats from long range. Syracuse has to contain the three, otherwise they’ll have very little chance to win this game. The problem for Michigan State has been turnovers. They average 18 per game and 20 turnovers against Duke doomed them. Sparty let a huge opportunity against the Blue Devils slip by the wayside as they out-shot and out-rebounded Duke on their home floor. They had 21 giveaways against Bowling Green on Saturday and Izzo actually said his team is “tired” from all the tough games early on. Turnovers will only keep the Orange in the game, but Michigan State can use its rebounding prowess to their advantage. They’ll have an edge overall but specifically on the offensive boards. Izzo loves sending each player to the glass, one of his trademarks over the years. Syracuse is vulnerable on the glass in their zone, ranking just #154 in opponents offensive rebounding percentage. Michigan State should be able to work the ball into the free throw line and paint against the zone with their guards, enabling Draymond Green to go to work. The Orange defense is just #128 in defending the two and Green, at 6’6/235, can take advantage of that. Averaging 14/9/4 a game, the versatile junior will be a vital part of MSU’s offensive attack tonight. He’s also expanded his game this year, taking 24 three’s and hitting 54%, giving State yet another weapon on the wing. We don’t know if Izzo’s “tired” comment is an omen but Michigan State is the deeper team and should use that to its advantage. Syracuse will no doubt come out amped up in front of a big crowd at MSG but they have to shoot better than they have been if they hope to win. This game has the makings of a classic, especially if Syracuse is able to tap into the energy of the Garden crowd. Expect this game to come down to the last few possessions with free throws and coaching strategy playing a huge role. Neither team shoots it well from the line so this game won’t be decided until the buzzer sounds. It’s going to be a great night in New York.

Share this story

One Man’s Opinion: Contenders After One Month

Posted by zhayes9 on December 6th, 2010

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

After engulfing myself in a nightly binge of college basketball over the first month of the season- taking in games from the Big Apple to the Little Apple and from Cancun to Maui- here is one man’s evaluation on some of the top teams in the country and where they stand heading into the final weeks of non-conference play:

Kyrie Irving has surpassed expectations thus far

Duke- It’s going to take a near perfect effort to beat Duke this season. Being able to lure Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler back to campus coinciding with a severe down year in the ACC was truly the perfect storm of circumstance. One chance a team may have to dethrone Duke is if they lure Mason Plumlee into two early fouls, keep them in the halfcourt and the Blue Devils become three-happy, but Duke does have five players who can catch fire from deep at any time. Kyrie Irving has surpassed any and all expectations during the first month of the season. His court awareness is reminiscent of a 10-year NBA veteran rather than an 18-year old college freshman. His use of the hesitation dribble, ability to split screens, explode to the basket and display innate court awareness has vaulted Irving to stardom. What makes Duke so lethal is that they have a plethora of options that can explode for 25 points on any given night, just as Plumlee did against Marquette or Singler against Oregon or Irving against Michigan State.  There’s three potential lottery picks on this team, but selfishness is never an issue and they flow together seamlessly on the court. I have a hard time pointing out exactly where Duke slips up this season; after all, they don’t face a currently ranked team the rest of the slate.

Ohio State- Here’s the one team I feel would have a good shot at knocking off Duke on a neutral floor right now. They can come close to matching the Blue Devils at every position on the floor if William Buford runs the point. Jared Sullinger has been overrated a bit in the early going. Most of his production has come off easy dunks and layups and I haven’t seen an array of post moves quite yet, although I trust that they exist in his arsenal. It’s his fellow freshmen that should be receiving more attention. DeShaun Thomas is scoring 13 PPG in just over 17 MPG of play and shooting 56% from the floor. I’ve also been wildly impressed with the headiness and intelligence of Aaron Craft at the point. He’s compiled a near 2/1 assist/turnover ratio in the early going and has done a fantastic job finding shooters Diebler and Lighty off screens or Sullinger in low post position. David Lighty is this team’s MVP. He’s a lockdown defender and has really improved his outside jumper, while Buford may have the best mid-range game in the Big Ten. One should always anticipate Tom Izzo’s team to improve as the season wears on, but the Buckeyes have to be the odds-on favorite to win this conference as of now.

Pittsburgh- I know it’s horribly cliché when talking about Pittsburgh, but “tough” is the first word that comes to mind. Jamie Dixon’s teams are never outworked and currently lead all of college basketball is offensive rebounding percentage. Pitt seemingly has an assembly line of big men they can trot off the bench to give Gary McGhee, Nasir Robinson and Talib Zanna breathers. Dixon loves to run Ashton Gibbs off screens for open looks and the junior sharpshooter is connecting better than ever, although he still lacks true point guard skills. Although the rotation will eventually be trimmed down, Dixon has the luxury of digging 10-deep into his bench that Big East rivals like Georgetown and Connecticut simply do not have. McGhee is the type of bruiser inside that every team would love to throw out there for 20 MPG. He gives Pitt’s offense extra shot opportunities and shuts down opposing big men inside. Pitt doesn’t necessarily have the star power of other Final Four contenders, but their toughness and execution as a unit may be enough to carry them to Houston.

Kansas- I think we all need to take a moment to applaud the job Bill Self has done in Lawrence. This program lost two lottery picks and an All-American and have taken maybe one step back. This is a credit to the tremendous depth Self has compiled at Kansas and his staff’s ability to develop players. When Josh Selby is eligible on December 18, this team becomes Final Four good. He could be lumped into the same category as Irving, Walker and McCamey come March. I’ve been wildly impressed with how well the Jayhawks know their roles. The Morris brothers complement each other with Marcus as the inside-outside scoring threat (18.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 65% FG, 9/15 from deep) and Markieff perfectly content with doing the dirty work on the boards and in the paint. In and out of Self’s doghouse during his tenure at Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor has done a quietly solid job filling in for Selby at the point distributing the basketball.  A player who also flies under the radar is Brady Morningstar. Most just view him as a spot-up shooter, but he’s a valuable cog for Self ushering the fast break and setting up teammates for open looks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Boom Goes The Dynamite: ESPN’s 24 Hours Of Hoops Marathon 2010

Posted by jstevrtc on November 15th, 2010


For the third year in a row, ESPN is bringing us what we consider one of the great television events on the sports television calendar, the 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon. That means that for the third year in a row, I’ll be live-blogging the whole thing from start to finish — and this year, we’re climbing this hoops blogger’s Everest without supplemental oxygen. That is to say…I’m going caffeine-free. More importantly, here is the schedule of games for this year’s marathon (all times Eastern):

  • 12:00 midnight — Miami (FL) at Memphis (ESPN)
  • 2:00 am — St. John’s at St. Mary’s (ESPN)
  • 4:00 am — Central Michigan at Hawaii (ESPN)
  • 6:00 am — Stony Brook at Monmouth (ESPN)
  • 8:00 am — Robert Morris at Kent State (ESPN)
  • 10:00 am — Northeastern at Southern Illinois (ESPN)
  • 12 noon — Oral Roberts at Tulsa (ESPN)
  • 2:00 pm — La Salle at Baylor (ESPN)
  • 4:00 pm — Virginia Tech at Kansas State (ESPN)
  • 5:30 pm — Marist at Villanova (ESPNU)
  • 6:00 pm — Ohio State at Florida (ESPN)
  • 7:30 pm — Miami (OH) at Duke (ESPNU)
  • 8:00 pm — Butler at Louisville (ESPN)
  • 9:30 pm — Belmont at Tennessee (ESPNU)
  • 10:00 pm — South Carolina at Michigan State (ESPN)
  • 11:00 pm — San Diego State at Gonzaga (ESPN2)
  • 11:30 pm — Pacific at UCLA (ESPNU)

The first attempt at this resulted in some hallucinations and arrhythmias as the hour got late (I had been up for 16 hours before starting the live blog) and I required a few caffeine-laden beverages. Last year, we had a technical glitch that kept us on our toes, but the live blog survived. This time, to raise the standard yet again, I’ll be sans caffeine. I know that without a webcam (we’re not that kind of site) you have no reason to believe that I’m not pounding sodas and cappuccinos and Five Hour Energy drinks by the blender-full. Since I believe RTC is the only site that’s done this all three years, well…you’ll just have to trust me. After two years, I think our relationship is in that kind of place. I hope you’ll join us right here (the live blog will continue in this post) a few minutes before midnight. Now, for my pre-live-blog meal. How’s a little turkey and wine sound?

11:47 PM Monday — Here we go. The high-def at the RTC Southern Compound is rockin’. We’ve checked the router and the internet connection to the building (which bit us in zee buttocks last year), and it appears solid. The football game is all but over (as it has been since halftime). Let’s go.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 11.15.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 15th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Monday begins an exciting week of hoops featuring a marathon of games and many big matchups later in the week. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

Wofford @ Clemson – 7 pm (no TV, live stream on (***)

After a loss to Minnesota on Friday, Wofford gets another crack at a road win against a major conference team. The Gophers were able to hold Terrier star Noah Dahlman in check, limiting him to 15 points. Clemson must do the same as they’re not as talented as Minnesota. The Tigers, under the direction of first year coach Brad Brownell, are coming off an 87-64 victory over Western Carolina in their season opener also on Friday. Clemson is going to pose a significant problem for Wofford in the frontcourt. Wofford has only three players 6’8 or taller on its roster and none of them played against Minnesota. By contrast, Clemson has four guys at least that height. All contributed on Friday, led by Devin Booker’s 16/7. Brownell’s big men scored 52% of their points, while Minnesota’s front line scored 70% (48 of 69) of their points against Wofford including 43 out of 48 in the paint or from the foul line. The Terriers did a nice job limiting Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen to a combined ten points but they got absolutely destroyed up front, including on the boards (41-29 in favor of Minnesota). Coach Mike Young needs a big performance out of his junkyard dog player Tim Johnson (10/13 vs. Minnesota) if the Terriers hope to get this win. The problem for Wofford is Johnson shot 37% from the line last year so if he’s fouled it’s essentially a turnover most of the time. A solid performance out of the Clemson backcourt, led by Demontez Stitt, will only make it much more difficult for Wofford to win. The Tigers lead the all-time series (50-16) between these upstate South Carolina rivals. For Young’s team to win, he’ll need to come up with some clever defensive strategies to counter the serious height disadvantage his team faces. While it’s possible he can do that, it is unlikely Wofford can win the game given the matchups. Ken Pomeroy gives Clemson an 88% chance to win and that’s about how we see it as well.

Miami (FL) @ #20 Memphis – 12 am on ESPN (***)

Josh Pastner is a Man Down But Will Be Ready Regardless

Josh Pastner’s heralded recruiting class lost a piece on Saturday as Jelan Kendrick was kicked off the team by Pastner and his staff. While it’s certainly unfortunate for the Tigers, Memphis fans know they still have a terrific class coming in led by Will Barton and company. Barton has received all the headlines it seems but it was his brother, Antonio Barton, who stepped up in his collegiate debut and led Memphis in a romp over Centenary on Friday. Antonio had 17 points, four assists and five steals in only 23 minutes of action. Chris Crawford also had a big game, hitting every shot he took from the floor for 16 points. Memphis shot 55% overall, including 52% from behind the arc in totaling 104 points. Even more encouraging were 25 assists on 33 made field goals. The bad news? The competition gets much tougher tonight as Frank Haith’s Miami Hurricanes visit FedEx Forum in the first game of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops marathon. Miami finished last in the ACC last year but made a nice run in the conference tournament. They have one of the better backcourt tandems in the conference in Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant, who combined for 43 points and ten assists in an opening win over Jacksonville on Friday. Grant has been around, giving a verbal to Seton Hall back in 2005 then reneging and signing with Villanova. Eventually he transferred to Miami where he seems to have found a home. It’ll be interesting to see these two go up against the deep and talented (but young) Memphis backcourt. Miami has some talent up front, too. Adrian Thomas, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble return for Haith. Johnson is an absolute brute in the paint. Standing 6’10 and checking in at 300 pounds, he somehow has the endurance to play a number of minutes (24 against Jacksonville) and still put up good numbers. These three combined for 35 points the other night and will be tough for Memphis to handle. That job falls to Will Coleman, Angel Garcia and freshman Tarik Black. We expect this to be a fairly high scoring game as both teams shot over 50% in their openers. Vegas pegs the Tigers as five and a half point favorites at home which seems a tad low given Memphis’ ranking and expectations. We do expect Miami to be in this game but Memphis is at home and should be able to take care of business.

St. John’s @ St. Mary’s – 2 am on ESPN (****)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Class Schedule 2010-11: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by zhayes9 on August 9th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.  To see the entire group of 2010-11 Class Schedules, click here.

If you’ve been a visitor to RTC since last summer, you’ll remember our Class Schedule feature during the offseason, one in which we dissect and analyze the schedules of the most notable teams in the nation, from the easiest to the hardest stretch, the most intense rivalry to the early season tune-ups, upset watch to best individual matchup. If your team is lingering around the expected preseason top 25, their schedule will be scrutinized in the next couple of months. There’s no rhyme or reason to the madness, just a prominent school every few days as the releases begin to trickle out from the respective schools (up next is Texas).

Team Outlook: As we did last summer, let’s start with the Kansas Jayhawks (schedule here). Kansas saw another mass defection similar to the post-Chalmers shot version of Rock Chalk, but just as that team barely blinked on their way to a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, we don’t expect much rebuilding this winter in Lawrence, either. Marcus Morris returns as a candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year and one of the most skilled big men in the country. Josh Selby enters as one of the most heralded freshmen in the nation and could step in as starting point guard immediately. There’s plenty of talent around Morris and Selby that have the chance to make a leap forward, from enigmatic wing Tyshawn Taylor to athletic forward Thomas Robinson and Marcus’ brother, Markieff Morris. The reloading of this roster should be strong enough to maintain a spot in the polls wire to wire with a chance that Bill Self hoists his seventh consecutive conference crown next March.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 6. Kansas’ non-conference games remind me of Notre Dame’s football schedule every fall- a slate chocked full of “name” programs that, well, shouldn’t be all that powerful when the dust clears. At first glance, one can’t help be impressed by the names: UCLA, Arizona, Michigan, California, USC, Memphis. And yet, in all likelihood only Memphis has a legitimate chance to sniff the Top 25 this season unless things come together for Ben Howland awfully quickly, and even the Tigers were just dealt a potentially devastating blow this past week. Give Self credit, though. He couldn’t have anticipated the Pac-10 would be mired in such a down spiral and he could have drawn top-15 Syracuse or top-five Michigan State in the Jimmy V Classic instead. As it stands right now, Kansas should be favored in every single non-conference game this year. Their only true road games are at California and at Michigan, two teams that are in the process of re-stocking their squads and could find themselves missing out on postseason play altogether in 2011.

Cupcake City: With six games against “name” schools and Colorado State thrown in, the frosting isn’t piled on too heavy for Kansas. Even two of their weaker non-conference games come against teams that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament- North Texas and Ohio. The Mean Green are expected to win the Sun Belt once again with three of their top four scorers returning, while the Bobcats have four double-digit scorers not named Armon Bassett back in Athens following their improbable blowout of Georgetown last March.  Another team that could hang with a Kansas team still feeling each other out in mid-November is a talented Homer Drew coached Valparaiso squad. The teams that Kansas should run roughshod over in Lawrence include Longwood, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT-Arlington and UMKC. Also: ask Kentucky if you should overlook Miami (OH).

Toughest Early Season Test: As we mentioned, California and Michigan are rebuilding, rendering those true road games a bit lower on the difficulty scale (although it wouldn’t be wise to overlook any true road game in college basketball). The stiffest challenge should come from Memphis in the first game of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader on December 7. Memphis is one of the few teams that can match Kansas’ explosiveness and athleticism. Even factoring in the Will Barton fiasco, Josh Pastner brings in two other five-star recruits in small forward Jelan Kendrick and Memphis native point guard Joe Jackson. They’ll join forces with returnees Will Witherspoon, Will Coleman and sleeper Angel Garcia to reclaim what they believe is their rightful spot atop Conference USA. Remember last season when a less talented Tigers squad took the Jayhawks down to the wire in November?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story