Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 16th, 2012

  1. With California’s defeat in the First Four on Wednesday night, Colorado is left alone to carry the flag for the Pac-12 conference in the NCAA Tournament. And they made a fine showing on Thursday night, roaring out to a 20-point second half lead over UNLV before letting off the gas, and allowing the Rebels back into the game. But, the Buffaloes were able to cobble things back together, sparked by a great block from Andre Roberson that turned into a Carlon Brown slam on the other end. At the end of the regular season, the Buffs were in a do-or-die scenario, needing to win the Pac-12 Tournament to advance even this far. But, it is clear now, as they ride a five-game winning streak that “do” was the choice the team made.
  2. In the wake of California’s loss to South Florida, there is a feeling of disappointment around the Golden Bear program. Heading into the final two weeks of the season, they were tied for first in the Pac-12 conference and seemed to be on the road to a special season. Instead, they lost four of their last five, capped by a terrible performance against the Bulls. Now seniors Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp move on, while head coach Mike Montgomery is, apparently, left to rebuild around guards Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs. But with every season the 65-year-old head coach wraps up, there is some question as to whether he’s nearing the end. Thus far, there are  no indications that he’s planning a retirement party in the immediate future, but, especially after October’s bladder cancer scare, there is the chance that at any time, Montgomery could be ready to move on.
  3. One of the defenses of Johnny Dawkins’ poor showing in his time at Stanford is that he inherited a bare cupboard when he took the program over from Trent Johnson. But Jon Wilner sees through that claim and shoots it down, noting that Dawkins’ first roster included two all-conference honorable mention selections from the previous year (Anthony Goods and Mitch Johnson), an all-conference first-team member from two years previous (Lawrence Hill) and junior forward Landry Fields who was about to turn into an NBA-caliber player. Now, of course Dawkins should get some credit for Fields’ development, but the fact is there was enough talent on the Cardinal roster to finish higher than the ninth-place slot they wound up in.
  4. Utah’s offseason is off to a pretty good start, as head coach Larry Krystkowiak got his first oral commitment from a 2013 recruit on Thursday, from 6’3” point guard Julian Jacobs. With freshman Kareem Storey having taken over the lead guard role in the wake of Josh Watkins’ dismissal this year, he may have the edge on Jacobs when the newcomer arrives, but as Krystkowiak learned this season, you can never have too many point guards.
  5. Arizona State is another program that needs and influx of talent. And while they’ve got some Division I recruits (Bo Barnes and Evan Gordon) that will be eligible next year and freshman point guard Jahii Carson finally able to kick start his career in Tempe, head coach Herb Sendek is spending his NCAA Tournament time hitting the road in search of additional help.
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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes

  • Washington has clinched their first regular season Pac-10 title since 1985 and with a win against Washington State can clinch their first outright conference title since 1953.
  • Washington State’s first senior class of Taylor Rochestie, Aron Baynes, Caleb Forest, and Daven Harmeling is its first to defeat all nine Pac-10 rivals since 1989.
  • Darren Collison is shooting 91.8 percent (89-for-97) from the free-throw line this year good for second in the nation, and second on the UCLA all-time single-season chart.
  • It may not make Oregon feel any better, but Pomeroy College Basketball ranks Oregon’s schedule as the toughest in the nation.

Some three-point information

  • California still leads the nation in three-point accuracy, at 43.9 percent.
  • Junior guard Jerome Randle is two shy of the team record 68 set by Ryan Drew in 1990.
  • Theo Robertson has hit 52.2 percent of his three-point attempts this year which would be the highest in school history, and is first in California career percentage at 44.3.
  • Junior guard Tajuan Porter of Oregon is second all time in team history in three-pointers made with 269. The leader is Orlando Williams with 282.

Player of the week: Jon Brockman
Brockman scored 17.5 points per game and pulled down 10.5 rebounds in the two victories for Washington this past week. Brockman came up big in overtime against ASU scoring the first two baskets.

Honorable Mention
Freshman Klay Thompson scored 16.5 points per game this past week fueled in part by 7-for-15 shooting from three-point range. Thompson also pulled down seven rebounds in the victory over Arizona State. Darren Collison scored 14.5 points a game for UCLA in the past week when the Bruins bounced back with two wins. He also posted five assists a game. Arizona was winless this past week, but could not find much fault in Jordan Hill who averaged 21 points, and 9.5 rebounds per game.

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Set Your Tivos: 02.08.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 7th, 2009

Set Your Tivos

Today’s schedule is a lighter than yesterday, but there are several solid games today.

#13 Purdue at #21 Illinois at 1 PM on CBS: Both teams looking to bounce back from road losses in the Big Ten. The homecourt should be pretty big here as Illinois is 13-1 with their only loss coming by 2 points against a Clemson team that is pretty good (just ask Coach K about the Tigers). If Purdue was at full strength, they might be able to give them a challenge, but they will be without Robbie Hummel. Purdue coach Matt Painter will have to rely on E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to have big games against Bruce Weber‘s squad. Watch the Mike Davis-Johnson match-up because Johnson will have to dominate Davis in order for the Boilermakers to win.

Creighton at Northern Iowa at 2:05 PM on CBS Affiliates (in Iowa), ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Yes. Sometimes we think it’s worth watching the “little guys”. This match-up, which features the top 2 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference (Creighton is tied in 2nd with Illinois State), might end up being the most compelling match-up of the day. The Panthers don’t have any player who puts up huge numbers, but they have 5 players averaging between 9.5 and 11.5 PPG with Adam Koch leading the way (11.5 PPG and 4.8 RPG) and Kwadzo Ahelegbe (11.1 PPG and 3.3 APG) close behind. The Bluejays have a legitimate go-to-guy in Booker Woodfox (16.3 PPG).   The last time these two teams met Northern Iowa escaped with a 3-point win. Johnny Moran had a big day for the Panthers scoring a season-high 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. I doubt Moran will be able to duplicate the effort, but it should be a close game as the Panthers have a tendency to play close games (only have a +/- of  4.7 PPG despite their 17-6 record).

Boston College at #6 Wake Forest at 4 PM on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Will Wake come out as flat as Duke did after their 27-point loss? I’m sure that Dino Gaudio will mention that sometime before the start of this game. The last time these teams played, RTC was there and the Demon Deacons dominated the Eagles. The match-up at guard featuring Tyrese Rice and Jeff Teague could be interesting, but I would expect to see Ishmael Smith on Rice. If Wake has shaken off the shock from their blowout loss at Miami, they should be able to win this game relatively easily utilizing Al-Farouq Aminu, Chas McFarland, and James Johnson on the inside.

#25 Washington at Stanford at 5:30 PM on Fox Sports: Despite their nearly identical overall records (16-6 versus 14-6), the Huskies are well ahead of the Cardinal in their quest to land a NCAA tournament bid as they sit 7-3 in the Pac-10 compared to 4-6 for the Cardinal. Lorenzo Romar will be looking to get his Huskies out of their recent skid (losing 2 of 3) when they travel to The Farm. This game will likely come down to which team’s trio of stars plays better. The Huskies are led by Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Jon Brockman while the Cardinals are led by Anthony Goods, Lawrence Hill, and Mitch Johnson. The PG match-up of the freshman Thomas against the senior Johnson should be particularly entertaining as the winner of that duel will probably end up winning the game. I’d look for the Huskies to ride Thomas and Brockman, who comes in averaging a double-double and doesn’t really have anybody on Stanford who can slow him down, to a road victory.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 6th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News and Notes

  • Arizona State‘s Rihards Kuksiks leads the nation in 3-point percentage, but is only third in the Pac-10. How is that possible? Well NCAA statistical leaders need to make a minimum of 2.5 per game from three-point range to qualify, while Pac-10 needs to make one per game and play in 75 percent of the team’s games. Theo Robertson is shooting 56.2% and Michael Roll is shooting 54.5%, both ahead of Kuksiks’s 46.7%. Either way Kuksiks has had a tough time the past two games going 3-for-20 from behind the arc.
  • Ben Howland‘s 13-4 record against California is his best against any team in the Pac-10.
  • UCLA’s recent victory over Stanford was UCLA’s largest victory over Stanford at Pauley Pavilion in over 30 years. It was also UCLA’s highest scoring game under Howland. UCLA shot 73% from 3-point range and only 62% from the free throw line. Maybe they should start taking their foul shots from behind the arc.
  • California, the best three-point shooting team in the nation at 47%, shot 2-for-16 from three-point range against USC.
  • UCLA dominated teams this week. The Bruins went 3-0 with average margin of victory over 21 points.
  • Darren Collison, who earlier this year broke the UCLA record for consecutive free-throws with 43, is shooting 94.4% from the line, which leads the nation.
  • Craig Robinson has turned it around for Oregon State. The Beavers have four wins in the first half of the Pac-10 schedule for the first time since 2002-03.
  • After another week of ups and downs in the Pac-10, there are really only two locks for the tournament at this point: UCLA and Washington. Four others (Arizona, Arizona State, California, and USC) still have work to do.

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Checking in on the… Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

News & Notes.

  • California’s 66.7% from the field against Oregon was the best any Pac-10 team has registered in conference play this year.  Theo Robertson of the Golden Bears still leads the nation in 3-point percentage shooting at a 55.2% clip. 
    Patrick Christopher is just 13 points shy of 1000, at 987.  Jerome Randle is right behind at 957.  Randle also is ninth in career 3-point field goals made at 125, and tenth in career assists with 313. Randle is also first in career free-throw percentage at 85.7%.
  • This is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  Washington has won 13 out of their last 14 games. It is the first time the Huskies have been in sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 since January 2005. It is just the third time Washington has started 6-1 in the last 25 years.  The only time the Huskies ever had a better start through seven games was 1953 when they went 7-0.  Last week Washington averaged getting to the free throw line 41.5 times a game.  If they keep getting to the line this much they will be hard to beat.
  • Arizona forward Jordan Hill’s 30 points and 18 rebounds against Houston, was his first game of his career that he broke the 20 point and 15 rebound plateaus.  Blake Griffin on the other hand has put together 10 such games so far this year. Aubrey Coleman’s face stomp of Chase Budinger was the most classless act I have seen in years.  He should have been suspended multiple games for that.  Each high-five he got while leaving the game, should have added a game to it.
  • Oregon State’s three victories so far match their total of the last two seasons combined.
  • Joe Lunardi currently has Arizona State, California, UCLA and Washington getting in the dance.  It is hard to see any other Pac-10 teams really making a push.  USC has been too inconsistent still and they are the only other team with a shot in my mind.

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Sweet 16 Preview: South & Midwest Regions

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2008

South
#1 Memphis vs. #5 Michigan State (9:57 PM): It seems like a lot of analysts consider this the best of the Sweet 16 games. I just don’t see it. I’d take either of the 2-3 matchups (Tennessee/Louisville or Texas/Stanford) over this game, but I still think it should be an interesting game.

Tom Izzo has done a good job getting the Spartans back on track after a bad February stretch where they lost 3 of 4 games. The Spartans returned all 5 starters from last year so they obviously have experience, which helped them withstand that rough stretch. However, coming into the tournament not a lot of people were giving them much respect particularly with Pittsburgh waiting in the 2nd round. The Spartans surprised a lot of people, including me, by knocking off the Panthers. The Spartans are led offensively by a pair of 2nd team All-Big 10 players: Raymar Morgan and the more-heralded Drew Neitzel. The duo, who average 14.2 and 14.1 PPG respectively, will need a big performance out of freshman PG Kalin Lucas if they want to try to run with the Tigers (IMO not the best strategy).

If you’re a college basketball fan (and if you’re on this blog you certainly are one unless you ended up here doing a Google search for Erin Andrews), you know about Memphis’s inability to hit free throws. I don’t buy into John Calipari that Memphis won their 2nd round game against Mississippi State at the free throw line because they made more free throws despite going 15/32 from the line. It seems like there hasn’t been a single analyst who picks Memphis to win the title, but when I look at this team I see an unbelievably athletic team that is 35-1 and came very close to being undefeated at this point in the season. The Tigers like to run and utilize a Dribble-Drive Motion offense. Leading the attack are Chris Douglas-Roberts and the ridiculously fast freshman PG Derrick Rose. While having those two along might be enough to sustain an offense, Calipari also has solid players in Robert Dozier, Joey Dorsey, and Antonio Anderson. The result is an unconvential offense filled with freakish athletes, a combination that is very hard to defend. One big key for Memphis will be is if they can keep Dorsey out of foul trouble as he is their muscle inside (at least as long as he doesn’t try to talk trash like he did last year before he got beat down by Greg Oden).

Opening Line: Memphis -5.
Prediction: A lot of analysts think the Tigers will be the first #1 seed to lose. I could definitely see that happening, but just not in this round. The Tigers have too much talent for the Spartans. If the Spartans have an X-factor, it would be Lucas. Unfortunately, he will be going against Rose who is several levels above Lucas at this point in their careers. The result is Memphis winning by 5-10 points. I think they will outplay the Spartans, but will keep the game close with their “winning” free throw shooting.

- #2 Texas vs. #3 Stanford (7:27 PM): Along with the Tennessee-Louisville game, this was our favorite game of the long weekend. Hopefully, this turns out to be more exciting than than the Cardinals rout was.

I’ll get this over with now: nobody left in the tournament can guard Brook Lopez. If he’s on, he should be getting 30 a night for the rest of the tournament. By now everyone knows that his twin brother Robin is the more defensive-minded one, which has led some people to speculate that Robin may be more successful as a pro (think Joakim Noah or Anderson Varejao). While those two will control the inside, the Cardinal use Lawrence Hill, Anthony Goods, and Mitch Johnson to control the perimeter. This trio hasn’t gotten much respect including from yours truly. However, if Stanford wants to beat Texas in Houston, they will need this group to control D.J. Augustin (and for Trent Johnson to stick around for the 2nd half).

Rick Barnes has done a great job making the Longhorns into a national title contender a year after losing Kevin Durant to the NBA. The Longhorns are led by D.J. Augustin, who has taken his game to another level as he has not had Durant to bail him out like last year. Augustin also has great support from A.J. Abrams, Damion James, and Connor Atchley. While the Longhorns don’t really have an answer for Brook Lopez, I don’t know how well the Lopez twins are going to be able to guard Atchley when he steps behind the 3 pt line where he has shot 42.3% (41/97) for the year.

Opening Line: Texas -1.
Prediction: If this game was outside of Texas, I probably would have gone with Stanford and the big guy inside. In the end, I think the homecourt and the Longhorns edge on the perimeter will let them pull away at the end of the game.

Midwest
#1 Kansas vs. #12 Villanova (9:40 PM): This weekend in Detroit will once again focus all the attention on Bill Self and his heretofore confounding inability to get extremely talented teams into the F4 (o-4 trips to the E8). Considering that this bracket was blown apart by Cinderellas last weekend, the Jayhawks are the odds on favorite to win this region.

Villanova has looked really good in their two games against Clemson and Siena, shooting 52% and holding its opponents to only 37%. Scottie Reynolds has found his stroke, averaging 23 ppg thus far in the Tourney, and dropping eight threes in the two games. Look for Kansas to focus in on stopping Reynolds, as Villanova simply isn’t nearly as good of a team when he’s misfiring (27 total pts in Nova’s last three Ls).

But let’s be serious here. Kansas is the most talented team that Villanova has faced this season, and their season-long inconsistency is the reason they ended up a #12 seed. Their best wins of the year were probably close wins over Pitt and UConn at home, and neither of those teams bring the noise on offense (#1 off. efficency) and defense (#5 def. efficiency) as Kansas does. Villanova will play hard, but by most measures, a run to the Sweet 16 renders their season a successful one, and they’ll be happy to be there tonight. Kansas has much larger aspirations in mind, and as such, we expect a blowout win here tonight.

Opening Line: Kansas -11.5.
Prediction: KU jumps out early and often. Villanova makes a run in the second half to make things interesting, but they never seriously threaten the Jayhawks tonight. Bill Self’s albatross will be judged on Sunday.

- #3 Wisconsin vs. #10 Davidson (7:10 PM): The undercard in Detroit tonight could end up being a total washout, we’re afraid. Davidson has looked fantastic in its two come-from-behind upsets of Gonzaga and Georgetown last weekend, and Stephen Curry’s legend is already concretely imprinted into the national consciousness. But we have a sneaky suspicion that the #1 defensive team in the land will absolutely lock up Curry, leaving the rest of the Wildcats struggling to pick up the slack.

The game that concerns us was the 6-19 (3-10 from 3) clunker (15 pts) that Curry put up against UCLA back in December. The Bruin defense (#2 nationally) keyed on Curry, which allowed the other Davidson shooters to get open looks early, as Davidson ran out to a quick early lead. But once UCLA figured out that they were going to have to guard all the Davidson shooters, they took control of the game and pulled away easily in the second half.

Wisconsin will probably employ a similar strategy. They’ll slow the game down to a crawl, and essentially dare anyone but Curry to beat them. You can count on a bruising, grinding, no-mistakes gameplan by Bo Ryan’s team, and honestly, short of a superhuman effort by Curry again, we don’t see any way that Davidson wins their way into the Elite 8. Gonzaga was soft mentally, and Georgetown forgot that they had a 7’3 beast underneath the basket, but Wisconsin is a different story.

Opening Line: Wisconsin -4.
Prediction: As much as we’d like to see the Curry bandwagon continue for another game, we just don’t think it’s possible. The Badgers will bump and grind him into a poor shooting night, giving him and his teammates more motivation for next year’s possible dream season.

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ATB: Pac-10 It In Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.17.07

Story of the Day. Siena 79, Stanford 67. We should have known better. Really, we should have. As soon as we started thinking that Stanford was a legit power again, given the way they mowed through their first four opponents with ease (without Brook Lopez, remember), they go and drop a game at Siena. For chrissakes, we even put the Cardinal #12 in our latest blogpoll ballot. This continues a disturbing trend of Trent Johnson teams to inexplicably drop ugly pre-conference games to a mid-major or worse (last year: Air force by 34; Santa Clara by 16; two years ago: Montana by 19, UC Davis by 6). Ugh. So what happened today? The 1pm EST start time probably didn’t help the Cardinal, but the time-change excuse only goes so far (they played and won in Chicago on Thurs. night). It appears from the stats that poor shooting (37%), especially from lead guard Anthony Goods (2-12) contributed, but an insane 32 to 3 FT attempt disparity suggests a little home cookin’ and/or aggressiveness in favor of the home team. In any case, it’s yet another reason to wonder whether the Cardinal under TJ will ever have the toughness to gut out games like this outside of Pac-10 arenas (in Johnson’s tenure, Stanford typically does fine in the Pac-10 schedule then flames out badly in March). The positive takeaway from this game is that we believe this is the first RTC of the new season. Enjoy.

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Other Games Today. Louisville 104, Hartford 69. Terrence Williams was astonishing tonight in Louisville’s opening game. He put up a trip-dub (14/12/13 assts, barely missing the quad-dub with 8 turnovers) as the Cardinals tallied seven players in double figures and made a school-record 22 threes (with just 13 misses). It’s just the first game, we realize, but Louisville appears to have all the pieces in place to make a phenomenal run this year, so long as they can avoid their annual bugaboo of injuries. We can’t wait for that matchup with Carolina later this month in the LV Invitational (assuming the Heels can handle ODU). Virginia 75, Arizona 72. In another tough loss today for the Pac-10, Virginia went into Tucson and delivered another blow to the aura of invincibility of the McKale Center, handing Arizona its fifth loss in the last seven games there. Sean Singletary led the way for the Wahoos (24/8 assts) while battling flu-like symptoms, and it was his jumper with 39 seconds left that was the clincher. This and the Stanford upset really hurt the Pac-10’s early-season cred as the best conference. George Mason 67, Dayton 56. This is the kind of win the committee will want to see on GMU’s resume next March. Will Thomas had a nasty game (18/17) and the team as a whole went 21-21 from the line. Florida 88, Rutgers 63. The Gators continue to look impressive at home, but then again, so did Stanford until today. Mareese Speights had 18/12 in the blowout win over a bottom-feeder Big East team. USC 85, South Carolina 75. Speaking of bottom-feeders, South Carolina got Hackett-ed by USC, as the non-OJ Mayo guard for the Trojans had a trip-dub as well (22/10/10 assts). No word on whether OJ wanted to deck him again (he had 29/4/4 assts, btw). The Dave Odom death knell watch continues…

Other Upsets. Cleveland St. 69, Florida St. 66. Well, it wasn’t all peachy for the ACC today. FSU resurrected its bad habit of losing to bad teams. Amazingly, that’s only the second nonconference loss for the ACC so far this year (23-2). Monmouth 59, Wichita St. 50. Gregg Marshall’s start at Wichita hasn’t been very promising thus far (1-2 with the other loss to Baylor). Alaska-Fairbanks 62, Oregon St. 60. And we save the best upset of the day for last – another Pac-10 team losing, but this is worse because the Beavers were beaten by a D2 team – the host of the Top of the World Classic. How utterly embarrassing.

Ranked Teams.
#9 Oregon 86, Portland 61. Hairston (24), Leunen (17) & Porter (15) roll.
#15 Gonzaga 84, UC Riverside 48. Zags continue to dominate w/o Heytvelt.
#24 S. Illinois 88, N. Illinois 68. Only 7 for Falker and still no problem.

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Let’s just start penciling him in here every time he plays. 28/22 in a 13-pt win over W. Illinois.

On Tap Today (all times EST). A light Sunday schedule, but we really have our eyes on that 5pm game.

  • Louisville (NL) v. Jackson St. (ESPN FC) 1:30pm – can UL be as impressive as today?
  • Charleston (NL) v. Houston (ESPNU) 1:30pm - interesting early afternoon game.
  • Clemson (-12.5) v. Old Dominion 2pm – upset alert! Clemson could be looking past ODU here after its win v. Miss St.
  • Villanova (NL) v. Bucknell 5pm – Jay Wright goes up against his old team.
  • Arkansas (-7.5) v. VCU (ESPNU) 5pm – best game of the day – Maynor v. Beverly.
  • Georgia Tech (-3) v. Winthrop 6pm – upset alert! Ga Tech is so hit-and-miss these days.
  • UNC (-34) v. Iona (ESPNU) 6pm – this game could get extremely ugly.
  • Miami (FL) (-1) v. Providence (ESPN2) 7:30pm - championship of PR Shootout.
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ATB: Heytvelt Back on the Shelf

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.11.07

Story of the Night. Our preseason F4 picks are UNC, UCLA, Indiana and Gonzaga, so it’s no surprise that we really like the Zags this season. Imagine our own surprise, however, when we learned just before tipoff of today’s #16 Gonzaga-Montana game that Josh Heytvelt will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. Given what we know about these sorts of things, we wonder just how effective he’ll be when he gets back. Obviously, without Heytvelt, the Zags have no chance to reach their first F4. Or do they? Heytvelt’s replacement, 6’10 freshman forward Austin Daye, put on a show in his first game, going for 20/10/2 blks on 8-13 shooting and 2-2 from long range. Daye’s performance along with Jeremy Pargo’s high-wire act (he totally went B-Diddy on one of his dunks) and 17/5/5 asts were more than enough as Gonzaga put down Montana without much of a problem. If Heytvelt can come back healthy in January, this team is going to be a major player next March. (Gonzaga 77, Montana 54). One other comment from this game’s coverage on FCS Pacific – commentator Craig Ehlo needs to go back to guarding MJ or something; dude is terrrrible.

Things We Saw. We got to see pieces of five other games today, and here were our impressions. #4 Kansas once again showed just how good they can be, while never actually showing us how good they are. We never had a moment where we thought they were playing all that well, and yet they still won by 23. There were four missed dunks by the Jayhawks during the game, tons of missed foul shots (16-31), and still… UMKC was never really a threat to win in Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers was the lone bright spot, going 8-13 (6-9 from three) for 23 pts, but Bill Self said they have to get better at many phases of the game if they expect to do anything significant this year (Kansas 85, UMKC 62). Another game we watched was #11 Oregon v. Pacific. Judging by tonight, if there was any doubt as to whether Tajuan Porter can take over for Aaron Brooks, let that notion be put to rest. Porter was scintillating with 28 pts on 10-15 shooting (5-8 from three) and acted as much a leader as we had previously seen from him. Malik Hairston added 20/6 and Maarty Leunen contributed 17/10 in a well-balanced attack against a Pacific team that hung in there. We’re expecting big things from the Ducks this year (Oregon 80, Pacific 64). The Pittsburgh-St. Louis game was a little boring, but it showed us (once again) just how good of a coach Rick Majerus is, as the Panthers didn’t put the game away until a minute to go. If SLU can play like this all season, they’ll be a factor in the A10 race (Pittsburgh 69, St. Louis 58). We didn’t catch as much of the #17 Stanford-UCSB game as we would have liked, but we noted that Stanford once again handled business without much sweat, as Anthony Goods (23/6) outplayed Gaucho star Alex Harris (18/2) in the battle of the guards (Stanford 67, UCSB 48).

Upset Alert. Two minor ones. Nevada will need to win these games if it expects to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time (UCF 63, Nevada 60). And Cincinnati dropped its second home game in a week tonight – the Bearcats are a long way from “Big East competitive” at this point (Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67).

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Again. Only 30/14 tonight in a 29-minute, 5-foul performance against Pittsburg St., a D2 team. It should be noted that K-State was down 40-38 at halftime to this team, though.

On Tap Today (all times EST). 43 games, including Indiana’s debut and a solid test for Duke at home (i.e., not NC Central).

  • Indiana (-24) v. Chattanooga 7pm – Eric Gordon makes his long-awaited debut.
  • Duke (-17) v. New Mexico St. (ESPN2) 7pm - if Duke is playing with a chip this year, they’ll win this by 30.
  • Syracuse (-15.5) v. Siena (ESPNU) 7pm – looking forward to seeing freshmen Flynn and Greene(oh wait, we don’t get ESPNU).
  • LSU (NL) v. SE Louisiana (ESPN FC) 8pm – Anthony Randolph, anyone?
  • Missouri (-14.5) v. Central Michigan (ESPN FC) 3pm – year 2 of 40MoH begins.
  • Oklahoma (NL) v. Alcorn St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – more Blake Griffin.
  • Texas (NL) v. Texas-San Antonio (ESPN FC) 8pm – DJ Augustin is our favorite PG.
  • Ohio St. (-15.5) v. Wisconsin-Green Bay (ESPN2) 9pm – first game since the Findlay debacle.
  • Oregon (NL) v. W. Michigan (ESPN FC) 10:30pm – third game in three nights – any tired legs?
  • UCLA (-28.5) v. Youngstown St. (ESPN2) 11pm – first chance to watch K-Love’s superb outlet passing – haven’t you heard?
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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Posted by rtmsf on August 22nd, 2007

Unless you notice because your team happens to take advantage of the rule in a given summer, one of the open secrets among college hoops fans is that many teams are allowed to get a jumpstart on their season by implementing NCAA Bylaw 30.7 – “Foreign Tours and Competition.” This rule permits teams to take a basketball-related road trip to a non-US territory (yes, even Canada) once every four years, and allows for ten days of practice and as many as ten games against international teams so long as no class time is missed.

Playing Hoops in Far-Flung Places

With only 25 or so days of practice after Midnight Madness prior to the first regular season games, ten extra days in August to get a team prepared for the season can really make a difference. Not to mention the additional experience of playing games against real competition in sometimes hostile environments (we’ll never forget the story of Rick Pitino famously getting ejected by an Italian official on an overseas jaunt while at Kentucky). An experienced team can use this trip to revitalize the well-oiled machine it left on the floor last March; whereas, a young team can use the trip to build camaraderie and let the coaching staff assess where team strengths and weaknesses will lie. Either way, short of a devastating player injury, there are no downsides.

Since so many programs use this rule, and data about who/when is difficult to come by, we can’t quantifiably state for a fact that the rule helps teams in the season of which it was used. But it’s reasonable to believe that more practice time ultimately begets a better team, and at least we can point to the 2006-07 Florida Gators as an example of where it worked – the Gators spent Labor Day weekend 2006 in Canada reminding themselves just how good they were by destroying the Brock Badgers (as you can see from the vid, Brock’s defenders are invisible) and Guelph (hugs!) in succession.

So here are ten schools who are taking advantage of the rule this summer:

  • Tennessee – the preseason top 5 Vols spent 11 days on the Continent from Aug 8-19, and Bruce Pearl rated his team only a “C+” in terms of basketball while there. The Vols lost one game to Slovakia, but according to this article, they came away with a greater sense of appreciation for each other and understanding of roles, necessary after losing glue guy Dane Bradshaw and adding super-soph Tyler Smith to the mix.
  • Utah – Coming off an extremely tough 11-19 season, new head coach Jim Boylen’s team spent twelve days in Australia from Aug 7-19 working on teamwork and confidence. The Utes went 3-3 on their trip to chilly (it’s still winter there) Australia, but they came away with a sense that the “floor was higher,” which is pretty much a shot at the work ethic and demands of former coach Ray Giacolletti.
  • Stanford – likely preseason top 25 Stanford left for Italy on Aug 20 and will spend twelve days (six games) in Rome, Florence and Milan touring the piazzas and showcasing the interior game of the Lopez twins and the outside shooting of Anthony Goods. Somehow that trip just screams Stanford the only way Stanford can.
  • Indiana – another team with high expectations for the coming season is now practicing in preparation for its Labor Day weekend trip to the Bahamas – wait a minute, Kelvin, is this a vacation ($895 – all-in) or a basketball trip? The Hoosiers waited until school began so that it could include uber-frosh Eric Gordon in the practices and the trip.
  • USC – Tim Floyd is using the same holiday weekend to take his sqaud to Mazatlan, Mexico for four games. OJ Mayo will begin practicing with the team during the first day of classes on Aug 27. Assuming he can be bothered to show up, of course.
  • Clemson – the Tigers are another veteran team with four starters returning who will be taking the long Labor Day weekend to go to the Bahamas. Maybe Clemson fans and Indiana fans can both pretend they’re in Maui instead. Who are we kidding – all 440,000 toothless Clemson fans will be in Death Valley that weekend.
  • Oral RobertsEddie’s Other Son lost the two stars (Ken Tutt and Caleb Green) who led ORU to 86 wins in the last four seasons, so he’s using their Labor Day weekend trip to Toronto as an opportunity to rebuild with some young faces. Toronto, eh? No word on how ORU’s penalty killing and shift changes are looking this year.
  • Alabama - what is it with these schools going to Canada? The Tide will spend Labor Day weekend in Ottawa, of all places – a city even further north than Toronto. Bama will be without star point guard Ronald Steele, who is still rehabbing both knees after a disappointing season in 2006-07. Still, Gottfried has a solid core coming back, and the last time they made this trip, they went to the Elite 8 (2004).
  • Washington – another disappointing team last year with promise of better things this season, the Huskies are now practicing in preparation for an extended Labor Day trip to Greece from Aug 31 – Sept 4. Head man Lorenzo Romar said that only one of his five starting positions is taken at this point – the rest are up for grabs (F – Jon Brockman).
  • Belmont – these trips aren’t limited to just the bigger programs, as tiny NCAA Tournament darling Belmont University took a nine-day trip to Europe from Aug 11-20, including stops in Paris and London. That’s more like it.
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