ATB: Karl Hess Isn’t Invited to Our Thanksgiving Dinner Either

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2009

atb

Sean McDonough Rips Karl Hess.  Rarely will you hear an announcer publically call out an NCAA basketball official by name for a terrible call, but during the second half of the Vanderbilt-Arizona game tonight in the Maui Invitational, ESPN play-by-play man Sean McDonough ripped Karl Hess a new one for calling a bizarre quick-trigger technical foul on Arizona coach Sean Miller for protesting a cheapie on one of his players.  Another blog gives a much more detailed take than we will here, and we’re not really buying the gambling angle they suggest, but McDonough’s comments were without question incendiary and had us thinking that he might even face some sort of internal administrative censure for going after Hess so vigorously.  McDonough’s specific comments were that:

Karl Hess, he was involved in the 54-foul game the other night, and he’s one of these officials, unfortunately, who always finds a way, it seems, to be at the center of the action.  You don’t come here to watch him officiate, but more often than not, he finds himself at the center of attention.  And here he goes again over the scorer’s table to try to sort something out…

We found a video of the situation and posted it below — the relevant parts begin after the 2:00 mark, but there are comments throughout leading up to it.

OT Exotica.  We head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with a couple of nice overtime battles in exotic locations for tournament titles.  Both were unexpected for completely different reasons.

  • #5 Kentucky 73, Stanford 65 (OT).  Even with Kentucky’s apparent growing pains in terms of defense and turnovers, nobody could have predicted that a team picked tenth in the Pac-10 that already has losses to San Diego and Oral Roberts would be able to hang with John Calipari’s stable of Wildcat stars  in the finals of the Cancun Challenge — even for a half.  Yet there was Johnny Dawkins’ Cardinal with a chance to seal the game away at the line as Jarrett Mann stepped to shoot two with under fifteen seconds remaining.  Problem is… and we see this with struggling teams all the time, Mann missed both.  That gave Kentucky wunderkind John Wall (23/4/5 assts) just enough of an opportunity to slice through the Stanford pressure to get into the lane for a foul and two free throws (which he nailed) with 2.4 seconds left.  This clutch performance came on the heels of another Kobe-style icewater jumper from the right side with thirty seconds left that had tied the game at 61-all.  In the overtime period, Stanford predictably fell apart and Kentucky’s other star freshman guard Eric Bledsoe hit a dagger three to salt the game away with 33 seconds to go.  The Cardinal should be proud of its performance, especially Landry Fields (23/13/3 assts/4 stls), who often appeared to be the best player on the court in this game (yes, just a mirage), but it’s now exceptionally clear that all the squawking Calipari has been doing about how far his team has to go is truth-speak.  The talent for this team to become something special is there, but it’s also painfully obvious that his Cats often rely on God-given abilities (especially on offense) rather than an actual understanding of strategy or the sets.  Decisionmaking by some players, especially DeMarcus Cousins, is also troubling in their naivete and youthful indiscretion.  For example, back to back horrendous decisions by Cousins late in the game to shoot a three (not his shot) and later to purposefully miss a FT attempt in a misguided attempt to get his own rebound only to foul Stanford in the process, exhibits these characteristics.  Kentucky has a chance to be very, very good, and when you have a release valve player like John Wall to cover up mistakes, that can go a long way, but there’s no doubt that UK has a lot of work ahead of it to reach its goals this season.
  • Gonzaga 61, Cincinnati 59 (OT).  The other really good game tonight was in the Maui Invitational finals, where those plucky little Zags from Spokane once again proved to the world that we should never take them lightly regardless of who they lose from year to year.  Mark Few’s team won its first Maui Invitational title behind a balanced scoring effort among its starters — Robert Sacre (14/5), Elias Harris (13/7), Steven Gray (13/7/4 assts), and Demetri Goodson (12/2).  The Zags’ supposed best player, Matt Bouldin, contributed the least offensively (6/11 on 1-7 FGs), yet the others stepped up and held off a very athletic and gritty Cincinnati team that looks nothing like the disaster that Mick Cronin inherited there a few years ago.  The Bearcats’ starting five is extremely athletic and talented, and nobody is going to want to face this team as it continues to develop together (remember, Lance Stephenson is brand new and Cashmere Wright is essentially so).  We were already high on Cincy but now we’re even moreso.  One tiny complaint, though.  When Cashmere Wright decides to take the game into his own hands as he did on the final drive in regulation, Born Ready needs to be ready to get to the rim for the putback and not stand around at the three-point line pouting that he didn’t get the ball.  Just sayin’…

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RTC Live: Preseason NIT Semifinals (UConn vs. LSU; Duke vs. Arizona State)

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2009

RTCLive

RTC Live is taking over the Garden… again. Just last week, we were there to watch Syracuse run roughshod over the rest of the Cal and UNC en route to the CvC tournament title. This time around, we will be there to provide instant analysis of the semifinals and finals of the Preseason NIT. The semis kick off with LSU taking on the UConn Huskies. Not much was expected out of the Tigers this season as they lost Chris Johnson and Marcus Thornton, but Trent Johnson’s group has played well. They are 3-0, including a win over Western Kentucky in the NIT regional final. Bo Spencer (20.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.0 apg) and Storm Warren (16.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg) are putting up the best numbers, but senior Tasmin Mitchell is the best player on this team. UConn, on the other hand, has been playing below expectations. With underwhelming wins over William & Mary, Colgate, and Hofstra (a game they were down nine with nine minutes left), the Huskies look like they are a long way from being a top three team in the Big East. That said, Jerome Dyson has played like an all-american (20.0 ppg, 6.0 apg), and Stanley Robinson (16.7 ppg) is forever a threat for a big dunk or three.

The second game of the night pits the Duke Blue Devils and the Arizona State Sun Devils. ASU, and the Pac-10 as a whole, could really use a strong showing in NYC. Herb Sendek’s teams are usually expected to low-scoring, but ASU has hit 80 points three times already this season, including breaking the century mark in their last outing against San Francisco. Sharpshooting Rihard Kuksiks leads five players averaging double figures at 13.8 ppg. The Dukies are shorthanded in their backcourt this season, as Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Andre Dawkins are the only scholarship guards Coach K has. Smith and Scheyer are playing like stars, however. Smith is averaging 22/6 apg through his first two games back from suspension, while Scheyer is posting 16.5 ppg and 5.3 apg through four games. His most impressive stat? 0. As in the number of turnovers he has this year. With Kyle Singler playing like Kyle Singler, this Duke team looks a lot better than the pundits gave them credit for during the preseason.  Join us for an exciting night of RTC Live hoops again from the mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Live: Week 3

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

RTCLive

It’s Feast week and RTC Live will once again be covering games from coast to coast.  This week is tournament-heavy, as we’ll have correspondents in Kansas City for the CBE Classic, Anaheim for the 76 Classic, New York for the Preseason NIT, Atlantic City for the Legends Classic, and Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.   We’re not crazy enough to cover every game at these venues, but we will try to get ourselves to the best games for your live-blogging enjoyment.  We may add a couple more games during the week, so check back periodically.

Monday November 23 (click here for post)

  • Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh (in Kansas City, MO) – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2)the undercard in terms of the evening, but probably the much better game.  Pitt is trying to figure out how to move past the DeJuan Blair/Sam Young era without taking too many losses, and this will be a quasi-home game for the Shockers.
  • #3 Texas vs. Iowa (in Kansas City, MO) – 9:45 pm ET (also on ESPN2)Iowa has already taken losses at the hands of Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne, so this could get extremely ugly for Todd Lickliter’s team in dealing with Texas’ hordes of young talent.

Tuesday November 24

  • CBE Classic Finals (in Kansas City, MO) - 10 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – we’d expect this one to match up Texas and Pitt, but it wouldn’t shock (heh) us if Wichita State ended up there instead of the Panthers.  Either way it’s an opportunity to get another look at Rick Barnes’ outstanding freshmen corps of Jordan Hamilton, J’Covan Brown and Avery Bradley.

Wednesday November 25

  • #13 Connecticut vs. LSU (in New York, NY) – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – the Huskies will have a home crowd as they return to NYC to take on a depleted LSU team that was the SEC champion last year.  This doesn’t mean that UConn should sleep on the Tigers — Tasmin Mitchell and Bo Spencer are a formidable duo, and Trent Johnson knows how to coach. 
  • #8 Duke vs. Arizona State (in New York, NY) – 9:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – Herb Sendek gets another look at Coach K in the nightcap, which would have been a spectacular game last season.  Former Dookie Eric Boateng is averaging 12/8 for the Sun Devils, who come into this game scorching hot. 

Thursday November 26

  • #24 Minnesota vs. #11 Butler (in Anaheim, CA) – 8:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – Butler continues its difficult nonconference schedule with an opportunity to play three ranked teams in three days at the 76 Classic, starting with Tubby Smith’s Gophers.
  • Portland vs. UCLA (in Anaheim, CA) - 10:45 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – UCLA bounced back from its loss to Fullerton with a win over Bakersfield, but Portland will be in a class above those teams.  Howland’s team better be able to improve upon it’s 21.4% from three percentage if they hope to come out of the 76 Classic with a winning record.

Friday November 27

  • Preseason NIT Consolation & Finals (in New York, NY) – 2:30 pm & 5 pm (also on ESPN2/ESPN) – if everything goes according to plan here, we’ll have an undercard game of Arizona State vs. LSU followed by a blockbuster of #9 Duke vs. #12 Connecticut.  You could spend your “Black Friday” afternoon fighting crowds in the stores, or you could watch some great early-season basketball with us — your choice.
  • 76 Classic Semifinals (in Anaheim, CA) – 2:30 pm & 9:30 pm (also on ESPN/ESPNU) – we would expect to see two phenomenal games involving #8 West Virginia vs. #22 Clemson and UCLA vs. #11 Butler, but other teams such as Long Beach State, Texas A&M, Portland and Minnesota may have other ideas.

Saturday November 28

  • Legends Classic Consolation & Finals (in Atlantic City, NJ) -  5:30 pm & 8 pm (also on HDNet) – we’d expect to see an undercard of Florida vs. UMass in a run-n-gun showdown, followed by the finals featuring loaded #2 Michigan State vs. Rutgers in an upset bid in its home state.

Sunday November 29

  • Old Spice Classic Consolation & Finals (in Orlando, FL) – 5 pm & 7:30 pm (also on ESPNU/ESPN2) – there’s no telling who these teams will be at this point, but our best guess results in Creighton vs. Baylor as the consolation game and Florida State vs. #15 Michigan in the title tilt.
  • 76 Classic Consolation & Finals (in Anaheim, CA) – 5pm & 10 pm (also on ESPN2) – again, this is a very difficult tournament to project, but if things go according to favorites, then we’ll see #24 Minnesota vs. #22 Clemson for third place and #8 West Virginia vs. #11 Butler in a slugfest for the 76 Classic title.
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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

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If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #6 – Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2009

seasonpreview

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com is the RTC correspondent for the Big West and Pac-10 Conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. California  (13-5)
  2. Washington  (12-6)
  3. UCLA  (11-7)
  4. Oregon  (10-8)
  5. Arizona  (10-8)
  6. Stanford  (8-10)
  7. Oregon State  (8-10)
  8. Washington State  (7-11)
  9. Arizona State  (6-12)
  10. USC  (5-13)

All-Conference Team:

  • Nic Wise (G), Arizona
  • Jerome Randle (G), Cal
  • Patrick Christopher (F), Cal
  • Landry Fields (F),  Stanford
  • Michael Dunigan (C), Oregon

Impact Newcomer. Abdul Gaddy (G), Washington

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What You Need to Know.  A legendary NCAA powerhouse, the Pac-10 Conference practically owned property in the Final Four in recent years. Last season, though, no team made it to the promised land with a flurry of budding superstars bolting for the NBA – leaving the Pac-10 fumbling to reload with a full clip.  This season, the number of quality players is as high as ever, but they’re largely too young or inexperienced to consider the Pac-10 a national power this season. While UCLA and Arizona look to rebuild their storied histories from near scratch, only Washington and California return enough experienced talent to warrant much confidence, and its no coincidence that these two teams have been picked as preseason favorites to vie for the conference title.

Predicted ChampionCalifornia (NCAA Seed: #5) – Arizona attempts to begin a new legacy with the replacement of their iconic coach. UCLA starts from scratch after losing the core that took them to national heights. USC is facing stiff sanctions and has a tough season ahead of them after losing an array of stars. By comparison, California is a picture of consistency. The Bears return two all-conference first team players who will likely battle each other for POY honors this season. In Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher, Cal boasts two experienced leaders who can each carry the team when need be. Add to that a deep bench and the nation’s best shooters, and this team is built for a Pac-10 championship, and beyond…

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest and Mountains) are located here.

It’s time for the ninth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of hot, dry, desert-y states known as the Southwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Southwest Region (NM, AZ, NV, HI, southern CA)

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  • Rihards Kuksiks – F, Jr – Arizona State. Advice to Pac-10 coaches writing up their scouting reports for when they go up against Arizona State this season: when Rihards Kuksiks enters the building, get a man on him. Don’t bother waiting until the game actually starts. You don’t want him getting comfortable, because he’s the kind of shooter who can change a game just that quickly. The guy can touch the ball a few times and the next thing you know you’re down nine before the first TV timeout. Or you get a little comfortable with your late-game lead and after Kuksiks gets a couple of touches the lead is gone and you’re wondering how time can tick so slowly. You want numbers? Fine. Kuksiks is third in terms of returning individual leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%) in the country among players who hit at least two threes a game and finished 8th in that category last year. A recent article on FoxSports.com by Jeff Goodman reveals some other incredible stats: in games decided by 2 points or less, Kuksiks shot 47% from behind the 3-point line; against ranked opponents he shot 46% from beyond the arc, and in the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s second round last year, he put up his career high in points with 20, with 18 of those coming from long range. In other words, the man steps up during big games. If the numbers don’t interest you, then consider the fact that many of these threes are not from a hair behind the line. They are often from distance. And they are often clutch (ask Arizona about a couple of late ones he nailed in that February game last year). Most importantly, watch the form. It should be an instructional video. He gets good height on his jumper but doesn’t overdo it, and you can see how he gets his legs into the shot. He releases the ball out in front just a little bit, but then the follow-through is a perfect example of that “reach into the cookie jar” that basketball coaches start teaching kids from the moment they can lift a basketball. By the way, he’s 6’6 and more than happy to mix it up in the paint, if needed. My favorite bit about Kuksiks comes from an interview he did for a site called EuropeanProspects.com in which he was asked what kind of player he was. The first words out of his mouth? “I am a sharpshooter.”  This is confidence, not cockiness, from the big man from Riga, Latvia. But I think it’s just fine if there actually is a little cockiness there. Long-range shooters are like neurosurgeons. They’re often asked to do the most difficult things in their field…and if I get to the point where I need to depend on one, I want them a little bit cocky.

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09.30.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2009

You know what tomorrow is, right?  Yeah, October.  Us too. 

  • Scare at Tennessee.   A very frightening story out of Knoxville earlier this week was that Vol sophomore forward Emmanuel Negedu collapsed while lifting weights on Monday and reportedly had to be revived by UT medical staff prior to his transport to the hospital.  He’s spent the last two nights there under watch, and doctors continue to perform tests on him to make sure that he’s not suffering from something deadly.  We all know the stories over the years, from Len Bias to Hank Gathers to Reggie Lewis, and these are always scary incidents.  RTC wishes Negedu the best of luck and wishes for a full recovery. 
  • Cleaning up at Binghamton...  Two ugly incidents put an early stain on the 2009-10 season, as we discussed in separate posts when they happened last week.  Both were stories capable of sending shock waves through college basketball this week, though, as Binghamton yesterday fired an adjunct lecturer who claimed in a NYT article last February that basketball players were receiving preferential treatment in the classroom (grade changing, independent study, and the like).  The Binghamton program is now in shambles on the court, but we continue to be shocked and amazed that Kevin Broadus, the recruiter of all the problem children who ended up dismissed (and arrested), is skating on this one.  Seriously, think about this - Binghamton cans the whistleblowing prof but not the coach who orchestrated the entire mess?  How is this possible?  Isn’t the SUNY chancellor now the same woman who stood on the library steps and shouted “no more” to the Cincinnati faithful when she 86ed Bob Huggins four years ago?  And yet she’s curiously silent (along with BU’s president, Lois B. DeFleur, for the most part).  Something’s not right here, and we figure there’s more to come.  If there is, we can rest assured the NYT’s Pete Thamel will figure it out.     EDITED TO ADD: Yep, the AD is gone, can Broadus be far behind?
  • …and Kansas.   Perhaps the uglier incident last week was the three fights between members of the KU basketball and football teams.  Much was written about how embarrassing this was to the university, the athletic department, the coaches and players involved, and Thursday’s public, formal apologies did little to defuse the PR hit that Bill Self’s program took last week.  The word is that players were fighting over (what else?) girls and rep, but KU football players shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that just because they’ve had a nice run in that program the last few years that Kansas will ever be anything but a basketball school.  The question now is what will Bill Self do to punish the guilty parties?  We already know that Tyshawn Taylor was involved due to his dislocated finger that’ll hold him out of workouts for around a month.  We also know that one of the Morris twins pushed a football player down the stairs, a very dangerous act of battery (this would be Markieff’s second, btw) that was mitigated by another player catching the falling player as he made his way downward.   News outlets all report that there were some other hoops players involved as well.  We think that, for the sake of his program, Bill Self has to take a very serious stand on this one.  You simply cannot have the players on a preseason #1 team running around campus fighting indiscriminately with players from the football team.  Not only can your own players get hurt, but with so many big bodies involved, run-of-the-mill students can also get hurt.  Luckily, that didn’t happen here, but Self needs to show that he’s totally in charge of his program.  Anything less than a several-game suspension for all of the players involved would reveal that early-season Ws are more important to him than discipline.  If it were us, we’d sit the Morris who threw the player down the stairs for ten games and the others for five each.  No questions asked.  If Kansas loses an early game or two versus Memphis and/or UCLA because of it, well, too bad.  The good will that Self engenders as a no-nonsense coach will provide far greater benefits over time in terms of recruiting and public reputation than it will by letting these players off easy.    
  • Non-BCS Schools Receive Harsher Penalties Than BCS Schools – No Way!!  This jewel made it into our inbox last week from the Orlando Sentinel.  The Michael Buckner Law Firm performed an analysis that showed that the average years of probation meted out to non-BCS programs was longer than those handed out to BCS programs over a 4+ year period in the late 2000s.  The average amount of probation time for a non-BCS program was 2.74 years versus 2.58 years for BCS programs.  There’s no accounting for whether the difference is simple error or actual bias, but what is more damning from this study is the finding that the HBCU schools (historically black colleges and universities) were given 3.83 years of probation versus the aforementioned 2.58 for BCS schools.  That seems a little ridiculous to us.  Of course, the NCAA predictably dismissed the study on statistical grounds, and we understand their complaint.  So here’s our suggestion to the NCAA: hire an independent researcher to examine your enforcement policies and practices for consistency and bias, and get back to us.  Something tells us we’ll be waiting on that for quite some time.
  • Quick HitsBlue Ribbontop 25 and all-americansJames Ischgood luck, sir.   Billy Clyde: offered a plea bargain in Ky.  Gary Williams: one-year extensionNolan Richardson: the descent continuesMVC Nonconf Schedulestremendous analysis.   Gonzaga:  are they reloading or rebuilding in Spokane?  Luke Winn: charting peaks and valleys of the offseason.  Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger: get to know themCvC: pushing for healthcare reform on Capitol Hill.  Goodman: top 20 backcourts and top 20 frontcourts AND his Big 12 previewTyler Smith: who will be the first person he follows on TwitterJim Crews: fired at Army after 7 years.  Herb Sendek: busily not gloating in TempeDemetrius Jemison: Bama forward out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.   Shocker: Derrick Rose says he took his own SATA Decade Ago: Harold “The Show” ArceneauxRay McCallum, Sr.: walking the fine line between parent and recruiter

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09.14.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2009

In the last week or so, we’ve noticed that the days are distinctly shorter than they were, which means only one thing…  darkness.

  • What, no Matt Doherty?  Carolina celebrated its 100 years of basketball with a blowout extravaganza two Fridays ago featuring such UNC luminaries as Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Phil Ford, Larry Brown, Antawn Jamison, George Karl, Julius Peppers and a bunch of other dignitaries, both past and present.  The tribute video they presented at the beginning of the evening should be mandatory viewing for every recruit that steps into Chapel Hill (sidenote: 2010 #1 Harrison Barnes and several others were there), but the featured event was the scrimmage, nicknamed the “Professional Alumni Game,” where the White team (starters: Raymond Felton, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse) defeated the Blue team (Vince Carter, Jawad Williams, Dante Calabria, Sean May and Ed Cota) 113-92.  It sounds great and all, but it was the trotting out of that old Carolina/Dean Smith warhorse, the Four Corners offense, that just about made this writer puke.  Let’s sully one of the greatest collections of collegiate talent ever put together in a single place at a single time by reminiscing and celebrating one of the biggest abominations the game has ever witnessed.  For you youngsters, the 4C was largely responsible for the implementation of the 45-second shot clock in the mid-80s, and is widely ridiculed as one of the worst inventions of the modern game.  Bad, bad idea, Heels.  As another sidenote to this Carolina joyfest, did anyone else feel that MJ’s acceptance speech at the HOF induction last weekend was completely petty and mean-spirited?  From our cheap seats, it appears that more than one Jordan Myth was defused this weekend (h/t TBL).
  • Memphis Appeals.  Last week Memphis sent its timely notice of appeal to the NCAA based on the Derrick Rose Scandal, arguing that the Tigers’ 38 wins and NCAA Tournament runner-up appearance from 2007-08 should not be removed from the history books.  Among the findings that led to the penalties, the only one that Memphis is appealing is the violation involving Derrick Rose’s SAT score.  This is presumably because it is also the most difficult one to prove (cf. with Memphis getting cold-busted for providing illicit airfare and hotels to Reggie Rose).  The school, now represented by “NCAA defender to the stars” Mike Glazier, has thirty days to present its arguments to the NCAA Infractions Committee, and their argument is going to undoubtedly hinge on the seeming inconsistency of Derrick Rose being cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to his freshman season only to be later deemed ineligible after the fact.  Sadly for Memphis, in this case and in the real world, what is an apparent inconsistency is incongruent with the fact that the justice system (and the NCAA) doesn’t work like that.  The bottom line is this: so long as the Clearinghouse made a good faith effort to determine the basis for Rose’s initial eligibility (and we presume it did), the revelation of later evidence indicting Rose’s SAT provenance has no bearing on the initial assessment.  The NCAA had no basis to believe that Rose had cheated on his SATs until the allegations surfaced after his freshman year.  The real-world analogy would be if the police did a cursory investigation of someone related to a crime and found no evidence to initially support their involvement, only to receive credible information a year later that the person investigated might have indeed committed the crime.  Rose was no more “cleared” than any of us are - there is no “get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can present in perpetuity; if additional information comes to light, it is entirely reasonable for conditions to change in response.  Furthermore, the fact that Rose then ignored three letters from ETS (who administers the SAT) questioning his score, and two other letters from the NCAA requesting an interview, does not help his case.  Unless he plans on showing up to the NCAA hearing on Memphis’ behalf with evidence to the contrary (LOLable), we’re afraid that Memphis is going to be forced to eat those 38 wins and the $600K they stand to lose here.  Maybe Josh Pastner could simply request that Rose write him a check?
  • Back To Renardo Sidney.  The NCAA stated last Friday that Mississippi St.’s Renardo Sidney is not certified to play this season because his family did not turn over the financial documentation that they requested as part of the investigation into how the Sidneys afforded to live in high-end homes in the LA area.  Or as they put it, Sidney is “not certified due to non response.”  The NCAA went on to say that if or when the Sidneys send the information requested (and not a stack of random papers they found in someone’s locker), then his certification will be re-evaluated.  What does all this mean?  Basically, the NCAA doesn’t want to get caught with its pants down again, as in the cases of OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose where they certified players as initially eligible only to watch as those same players danced on the NCAA Clearinghouse’s grave en route to the NBA.  Sidney’s attorney is threatening lawsuit, and we suspect that his argument “that the Sidney family has to establish the existence of non-violations” probably has some merit, but none of this may matter given we’re only two months from the first games and the justice system moves slower than molasses.  It’s unlikely that MSU will risk playing Sidney while the wheels of justice are turning simply because they don’t want a Rose giveback of all the Ws they’re anticipating this season.
  • Vegas Watch: Big Ten.  VW got his third installment of the major conference previews up today, and once again we were invited along for the peep show.  What’s interesting about the Big Ten ratings is that we all pretty much agreed that Purdue is the best team in the conference in 09-10, but (at least for our money) Michigan St. is the team more likely to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.  Another good exercise, and the league is looking at being way up – up to seven solid NCAA bids this season.  For the ACC and Big 12 ratings and discussion, see these posts.
  • Quick HitsSlam Magazine: finished its Top 25.  Arizona St.: more than just Harden and PendergraphParrish: why Butler is no Boise.   Goodman: 25 players you should know for 09-10, and his all-americans (John Wall for POY = bold).  Incredible Shrinking Center: Memphis’ Pierre Henderson-NilesJim Griffin: RIPJohn Pelphrey at Arkansas: agreedSeton Hall: extends Bobby Gonzalez to 2015Florida St.: haven’t we heard this song before?  Travis Ford: wow, how do you get a 10-year extension after one year on the job?  Larry Eustachy: Gillispie has a diseaseFreshmen: here’s the top 20 for 09-10Memphis: down to 8 scholarship playersBlue Ribbon: go ahead and order it.
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08.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…

  • Comings and Goings.  There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation.  The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen.  Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester.  Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester.  Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.  On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season. 
  • 2009 NIT Bracket.  The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it.  They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field.  But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings?  Take a closer look at the thumbnail below.  If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right?  In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU.  What’s the point of this?  If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience.  Sigh…   For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.

2009 NIT Brackets

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Boom/Bust Cycle

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2009

It’s a little less than an hour before tonight’s NBA Draft, and this should have probably been done days ago, but we wanted to use our undeniable RTC expertise when it comes to projecting college hoops talent to the pros so we can say “told ya so” when the one undervalued player we said would be a star pans out (while the other ten we said would be don’t, but let’s not quibble).  We’ll use Andy Katz’s final mock draft from this morning, and we’re only going to evaluate college players (because we’ve seen them play for at least one year).  The criteria is BOOM or BUST – either that player is undervalued or overvalued based on his selection.  That’s it.  Here we go…

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1.  Blake Griffin, Oklahoma - BOOM, although the fact that he’s going to ClipperLand means drug addiction and/or horrific injury.  Bill Simmons agrees

2.  Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – BUST, his offensive game won’t develop any further and he’s no Dikembe.

4.  Tyreke Evans, Memphis – BUST, not seeing it at this selection; opposing defenses can lay off of him out to 18 feet. 

5.  James  Harden, Arizona St. – BOOM, a Joe Johnson/Monta Ellis clone.  Kid can really play.

6.  Stephen Curry, Davidson – BUST, limitless range but really, #6?  Too many question marks to be this high.

7.  Jordan Hill, Arizona – BUST, nice player but he’s not even as good as Big Baby.

8.  Jrue Holiday, UCLA – BUST, classic example of being a better athlete than player. 

9.  Demar DeRozan, USC – BOOM, DeRozan really came on at the end of the season and appears poised to break out.

10.  Jonny Flynn, Syracuse – BUST, is Flynn really the best true point in this draft?  No way. 

11.  Terrence Williams, Louisville – BUST, seems like the kind of player who will be out of the league in 3 years (does everything well, nothing great).

12.  Gerald Henderson, Duke – BOOM, second best guard in the draft behind Harden.

13.  DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh – HEDGE, this is about the right position for an undersized beast like Blair. 

14.  Earl Clark, Louisville – BOOM, should have been higher but has a reputation for being lazy.  Will shed that and become an excellent NBAer.

15.  Austin Daye, Gonzaga – BUST, we used to love this guy, but he hasn’t shown much improvement in two years of college.  We don’t believe in him.

16.  BJ Mullens, Ohio St. – HUGE BUST, this is a joke.  Either he’ll be washing cars in two years with Patrick O’Bryant or turn into Chris Kaman, who knows?

17.  Ty Lawson, UNC – BOOM, he’s proven that he’s a winner and has improved his game substantially.  Could be TJ Ford w/o the back problems.

18.  James Johnson, Wake Forest – BOOM, has a reputation for being lazy, but he’s silky smooth at his size and will succeed in this league.

19.  Tyler Hansbrough. UNC – HEDGE, we all know what kind of player he’ll be.  Average at best.

20.  Sam Young, Pittsburgh – BOOM, an absolute steal at this pick; Young could end up being a star.

21.  Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – BOOM, would have been a lottery pick had he not packed in the second half of the year; the talent and athleticism is apparent.

24.  Eric Maynor, VCU - HEDGE, nice pickup for this position. 

25.  Jon Brockman, Washington – BUST, sorry, but Brockman just isn’t NBA material in the long run.

26.  Toney Douglas, Florida St. – HEDGE, could go either way here, but we’d expect Douglas to find a niche in the League.

27.  Darren Collison, UCLA – BUST, Collison has always struck us as someone who should have been better than he was. 

29.  Nick Calathes, Florida – BOOM, Calathes will find a way to make himself a good pro if he decides to play in good ole USA instead of Greece.

30.  DaJuan Summers, Georgetown – BUST, but it’s worth a gamble given his natural abilities.  Could become a defensive stalwart at some point if he tried.

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RTC Mascot Death Match: Sweet Sixteen Matches

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

Ok, we’re ready for the Sweet Sixteen of Mascot Death Match.  Things are starting to heat up.  Who is your favorite?  Voting will be open the next couple of days.

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Conference Report Card – Sweet 16 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

We’re back with the second annual review of how the major conferences are doing after one weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  As we all are aware, the Dance eliminates the pretenders – that means you, Wake and Washington – so that the teams with legitimate chops remain standing.  Chalk has predominantly ruled this tournament so far, but that doesn’t keep us from evaluating which conferences are performing better or worse than expectations.   We review the conferences with multiple bids below…

Simpsons Chalkboard

Big East  (7 bids, 5 remaining, 11-2 record)

The Big East was the most powerful conference all year and they are proving it in the postseason.  West Virginia was the only first round loser, and Marquette was outlasted by a tough-as-nails Missouri team in the second round.  All other Big East teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, setting a new record for the total number from one conference (5).  What’s more is that each of these teams are F4-caliber; there isn’t a single Cinderella in the group.  It wouldn’t surprise us if this league managed to get 75% of the F4 entrants this year, and we fully expect all five to play into the national quarterfinals.

Verdict:  A.  The Big East’s expected # of wins for the tournament is 16.2, and there’s a solid chance that the league will bust through twenty wins this season in setting another new record.

Big 12  (6 bids, 3 remaining, 9-3 record)

For the second consecutive year, the Big 12 had another great first round (6-0), culminating in their three best teams making it to the Sweet Sixteen.  The league hasn’t had an upset yet, and the three losing teams – Texas, Oklahoma St., and Texas A&M, acquitted themselves nicely in five of their six games (lone exception: TAMU vs. UConn).  Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all have tough but winnable games if they play well, and the Big 12 should reasonably expect to see one of them playing into next weekend.  For a “down” year in the league, this is a great performance.

Verdict: A.  The Big 12 already has nine wins against an expected performance of 10.57 wins, which basically means they’re doing really well so far.

Atlantic 10  (3 bids, 1 remaining, 3-2 record)

The A10 got three teams into the Dance and made the most of its opportunity, winning two first round games (one an upset with #11 Dayton over #6 WVU), and sending Xavier to yet another Sweet Sixteen.  We don’t feel that XU has much of a chance to advance the league’s banner further against Pitt, but never count out a Sean Miller team.  Xaviercruised to the Sweets against two good teams.

Verdict: A-.  The league was expected to win 2.52 games and they’ve already won three, so anything beyond that is gravy.  How pathetic is it that the A10 is outperforming the SEC by a country mile?

Horizon (2 bids, 0 remaining, 1-2 record)

The Horizon had a chance to make some serious noise in this Tournament, but typically-solid Butler couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain when it lost to #8 LSU (who was probably underseeded).  However, Cleveland St. so far has had the upset of the Dance with its throttling of #4 Wake Forest, so we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

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