ATB: Tennessee Dominates Pitt Behind Scotty Hopson

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2010

The Lede.  It was a relatively quiet weekend in college basketball, as most schools scheduled lightly because they are either already taking or heading into exams.  There was only one matchup between ranked teams, and most everybody else in the Top 25 rolled (17-2 this weekend).  In the two losses — UNLV and Washington — both squads played good teams in their own right in Louisville and Texas A&M on the road.  As we head into the holiday season, the next three weeks will be hit-and-miss (mostly miss) in terms of quality games, with the majority of the pre-conference tournaments finished and schools preferring to not kill themselves immediately before conference play.  Keep this in mind over the next few weeks, though.  With the onset of winter break, teams will have a couple of things going for them.  First, if they’re waiting on a key player who might have been a transfer or academically ineligible, guys such as New Mexico’s Drew Gordon or USC’s Jio Fontan or even Missouri’s Tony Mitchell, there’s a good chance that player will be back and ready to help his team soon.  Second, with classes over and NCAA hours restrictions lifted during the break, coaches can practice as much as they want.  It shouldn’t surprise you in the least if some teams that looked shaky during the first month of the season come back much more polished and stronger after the break.

The UT Defense Outdid Pitt's on Saturday (P-S/M. Freed)

Your Watercooler MomentTennessee Throttles Pitt on the Road.  You have to give it to Bruce Pearl.  When he perceives that his back is against the wall, he comes out with guns blazing, repeatedly doing things considered nearly impossible by those of us who remember how the Vols collapse when the burden of expectations is placed upon them.  Who can forget, for example, the victories over #1 Kansas and #2 Kentucky last season; or, the win at #1 Memphis in 2008; or, the victories over the back-to-back Florida teams in 2006 and 2007?  The man gets it done when he’s playing the role of woebegone underdog, and Saturday’s 83-76 victory over Pitt in their own backyard is just the latest example of this trend.  With Pearl set to miss the first eight games of the SEC season and still-untold penalties looming from the NCAA masters, he has his team believing in one another and they’re once again shocking the basketball world in the process.  So how are the Vols doing it this year?  Try defense and a junior who has finally reached his potential.  Pitt learned quickly on Saturday that this Tennessee team wasn’t just another soft SEC squad more interested in scoring than getting back and moving their feet on the other end — these Vols actually play defense.  With athletic size and length across the front line in the form of Brian Williams, Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson, the Pitt bigs had trouble finding openings, but it was the specific work that Melvin Goins put in on Pitt’s star Ashton Gibbs that made the biggest difference, holding the guard to 4-13 shooting.  On the other side, no Panther seemed to have a clue as to how to defend the lithe Hopson, who for the first time in his career on a national stage looked like the top ten recruit in the Class of 2008 he once was.  He was 10-13 from the field, hitting all three of his bombs and slicing and dunking his way to a 27-point performance befitting a significantly improved and more efficient player this season.  Sometimes it just takes certain players longer to figure out how to play this game at a high level, and Hopson’s better understanding of what a great shot is has been one of the primary reasons that UT sits at 7-0 and presumably in the top five at this point in the season.  With a light home-heavy schedule until the SEC season starts, Pearl has his team poised to remain unbeaten and near the top of the rankings when he goes on hiatus.

Quit Calling It a Court Storm!!!! Hehe, regardless of the chosen nomenclature, we had another RTC over the weekend as Fordham came back from 21 down in the second half to beat crosstown rival St. John’s.  The Johnnies suffered not one, but two separate 16-0 runs by Fordham (who, remember, only won five games the last two seasons) before succumbing down the stretch.  It was Fordham’s first win over a Big East team since the first Reagan administration (1982) and clearly a massive win for Tom Pecora’s program looking for some traction in a crowded NYC sports market.  Somewhere on the left coast, UCLA fans knowingly nodded in quiet unison…  (h/t to The East Coast Bias for sending along the clip)

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RTC Live: Tennessee @ Pittsburgh

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2010

Game #70.  RTC Live moves on to Pittsburgh for the back end of the Big East/SEC Invitational.

Welcome college basketball fans to Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center in what promises to be a great matchup between #3 Pittsburgh and #13 Tennessee in the SEC/Big East Invitational. Most of what college basketball fans have heard about Tennessee in the early going this year have been off the court regarding their coach, but many may not know that the Volunteers have already knocked off then #7 Villanova in the NIT Season Tip-Off finale a couple weeks ago, only to rocket up 11 spots in the national rankings. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has been near the top of the rankings all year. These teams have as many similarities as they have differences though. Tennessee will be the first team since Texas that has matched up similarly to Pittsburgh on the boards. The two main differences between them are that Pittsburgh distributes the ball more in terms of total assists and they turn the ball over less. The difference that might prove monumental in this game, even though it is stated as a neutral site, is the home court advantage for Pittsburgh. Get ready for the toughest battle Pittsburgh has had all year at the newest sport’s facility in town.

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Andy Kennedy Continues to Embarrass Himself

Posted by nvr1983 on February 2nd, 2009

You may remember that Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy was reported to have had a little bit of trouble during a trip to Cincinnati during December. As embarrassing as that incident was, Kennedy may have been able to live it down in the college sports-crazed South if he could have just stayed out of the news. His Rebels have stumbled their way to a 12-9 record overall (3-4 in the SEC) and even managed to pull off a huge win over Kentucky.

I don't think Ole Miss will be using this in their media guide
I don’t think Ole Miss will be using this in their media guide

However, Kennedy has continued to stay in the news with several more incidents related to the original case:

While this isn’t quite the comedy goldmine that Mike Cooper and Carl Monday produced (quite possibly the finest moment in Ohio history), it has some moments that will follow Kennedy into opposing arenas for the rest of his career.

I’m here for the Big East/SEC challenge. I’m playing Louisville and Rick Pitino tomorrow. I was the UC head coach. I am going to be on national television. If I’m not standing there at 9 p.m. tomorrow, this is an international altercation.

While that itself is enough to make the video worth a watch, the officer’s response to Kennedy’s pleas for lenience because of his “celebrity” makes him worth of commendation.

You think we’ve never arrested somebody that’s made national media? We deal with the Bengals all the time.

Well done, sir. Well done.

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ATB: Gettin’ Chismed

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2008


Big East/SEC Invitational. This is so ridiculous.  Tonight was the opening night of yet another conference challenge series invitational that theoretically is a great idea, but is executed all wrong by the powers-that-be.  Why don’t the Pac-10, Big 12, SEC and Big East realize that interest will be much greater in these things if they’re made into week-long EVENTS, similar to the way the ACC and Big 10 do it, and they let ESPN carry all the games throughout the week.  The Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series is bad enough, considering nobody even knows about it; but this Big East/SEC thing is an abomination.  It only involves four teams from each conference, and somehow a team like South Florida gets invited.  South Florida… most people don’t even realize that USF is IN the Big East or even carries a basketball program!  Furthermore, they’ve decided to have doubleheaders in semi-neutral venues, which only serves to confuse people and create situations where half the stands are empty, even though two top 25 teams are playing (see: UT-Marquette tonight in Nashville).  How cool would it be to have three legitimate made-for-tv challenges between all the power conferences in the first three weeks of December, leading into Bowl Week?  Make this happen.  FYI – the much-maligned SEC went 2-0 tonight, but who wouldn’t beat South Florida?

  • Tennessee 80, Marquette 62. The score was Marquette by 2 with just over ten minutes remaining.  Then Tennessee and, more precisely, Mr. Headband as Yarmulke Wayne Chism, took over the game.  The Vols scored on eleven of their next twelve possessions, and Chism was involved in seven of them.  Game pretty much over.  Chism, incidentally, set a new career-high with 26 pts and 11 rebounds, and it was clear that in the second half he was feeling it.  The Vols didn’t get a huge amount of production from anyone else, though, (Tyler Smith had 14/3; Bobby Maze 10/6 assts) but their long arms and athletic defense did force Marquette into its worst shooting performance of the season (38%).  Wesley Matthews continued to show his value, as he dropped 30 (15 from the line) on a myriad of drives and scoop shots in the lane.  Matthews is #2 in the nation in FT attempts (97), behind only Blake Griffin, which shows just how frequently he gets into the paint and absorbs contact.
  • Vanderbilt 71, South Florida 52. We’re not going to spend too much time on this turd of game, but one interesting aspect of it was that the much-ballyhooed Mike Mercer (transfer from Georgia) and Gus Gilchrist (transfer from Maryland, sorta) made their tv debuts.  Mercer had 10/3 assts, while Gilchrist added 12/8 off the bench.  Anyone expecting these two players to turn USF into a Big East contender should have their heads examined.  AJ Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal had twenty each for the Commodores.
This Sweaty Vol Fan Was Outworking Wayne Chism Tonight

This Sweaty Vol Fan Was Outworking Wayne Chism Tonight

It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.

  • LMU’s Bill Bayno is taking a leave of absence due to a “serious medical condition” related to coaching-related stress.  Maybe the 0-10 record with a trip scheduled to Pauley on Wednesday had something to do with it.
  • Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury was hospitalized yesterday with migraines and flu-like symptoms, although further tests were being done.
  • Mike Davis lost half of his team today, as former Hoosier Armon Bassett decided to transfer (whereabouts unknown), and three other players were found academically ineligible for the spring semester.   UAB is now down to six scholarship players.
  • RIP, Pete Newell.

Scores that Have Us Wishing For Saturday.

  • Clemson 76, North Florida 36. In the past seven years, Clemson has had starts of 10-0, 17-0, 11-0, 9-0, and now in 2008-09, 11-0 again.  In those other four unbeaten starts, the final result was two NITs, one NCAA first round loss, and one losing record.  Woo.  Hoo.
  • Texas 88, Texas Southern 72. We’ve said it before, but if Dexter Pittman (19/5) gets going, Texas is a whole different animal.  One troubling aspect of tonight’s game is they allowed 0-9 TSU to shoot 58% against them – Rick Barnes cannot be happy about that.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST). Nothing like a Duke v. UNC-Asheville game (w/o Kenny George) to keep us warm at night.  We’re actually very intrigued with how Syracuse responds 48 hrs after losing at home, whether Pitt will dominate a good Siena team, and if St. Mary’s can go into Mac Court and beat a young Oregon team.

  • NC State (-9.5) v. East Carolina – 7pm
  • Syracuse (-25) v. Canisius (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Duke v. UNC-Asheville (ESPN2) – 7:30pm
  • LSU v. Nicholls St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Memphis (-22) v. Arkansas-Little Rock – 8pm
  • Arkansas (-6.5) v. Austin Peay (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
  • Ohio St. v. Jacksonville (ESPNU) – 9pm
  • Pittsburgh (-18.5) v. Siena (ESPN2) – 9:30pm
  • St. Mary’s (-2.5) @ Oregon – 10pm
  • UNLV (-10) v. Santa Clara – 10:30pm
  • UCLA (-30.5) v. Loyola Marymount – 11pm
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Conference Challenges, Invitationals & Hardwood Series

Posted by rtmsf on September 27th, 2007

Now that schedules are out, we thought it was worth a quick look at the new so-called conference challenges that are set to begin this year. We already know about the ACC’s annual emasculation and disembowelment of the Big very small 10 Conference, but we will recap that one too while we’re on the topic.

Big East / SEC Invitational

Big East / SEC Invitational

The Big East, having played in this sort of made-for-tv event once before (the ACC/Big East Challenge from 1989-91 resulted in an evenly split 12-12 record), has decided that it wants to show its wares against the SEC these days. This is a noble pursuit inasmuch as the two leagues have equalized in power over the last 15 years, with the Big East falling and the SEC rising. The confounding problem with this event is that it only involves four games annually and ESPN determines the matchups. While at first blush we thought this might be a good thing – visions of UConn-Florida, Kentucky-Syracuse, Tennessee-Georgetown and LSU-Seton Hall were dancing through our heads (ok not so much on the last one) – but upon actual review of this year’s schedule, we have to wonder if this will be worth our time at all.

December 5 (Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center; Birmingham, Ala.)
7:00 p.m. West Virginia vs. Auburn – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. Georgetown vs. Alabama – ESPN

December 6 (The Wachovia Center; Philadelphia, Pa.)
7:00 p.m. South Carolina vs. Providence – ESPN2
9:30 p.m. LSU vs. Villanova – ESPN

Out of this group, we see what, maybe one or two NCAA Tournament teams (Georgetown and who? Villanova or WVU?). Sure, Bama losing Ronald Steele couldn’t be anticipated, but what’s up with choosing last year’s SEC bottom dwellers Auburn, LSU and South Carolina? Is the SEC willfully trying to lose these games?

Big 12 / Pac-10 Hardwood Series

So that brings us to the other new conference challenge, which is slated to pit the Big 12 and Pac-10 against each other. This challenge mimics the ACC-Big 10 version in that every team will participate, and some even twice (Arizona & Stanford this year). Also, teams will play at home arenas rather than neutral sites, which ultimately makes early-season games more exciting.

Thurs., Nov. 29, 2007
8:00 p.m. Oregon at Kansas State – ESPN2
10:00 p.m. Oklahoma at USC – FSN

Fri., Nov. 30, 2007
8:00 p.m. Washington State at Baylor – ESPNU
10:00 p.m. Iowa State at Oregon State – FSN

Sat., Dec. 1, 2007
4:30 p.m. Washington at Oklahoma State – ESPN
10:00 p.m. Missouri at California – FSN

Sun., Dec. 2, 2007
2:00 p.m. Arizona State at Nebraska – ESPNU
2:00 p.m. Stanford at Colorado – ESPN2
5:00 p.m. Texas A&M at Arizona – FSN

7:00 p.m. Texas at UCLA – FSN

Outside the 10-game series window:
7:oo p.m. Arizona at Kansas (Sun., Nov. 25) – ESPN
3:30 p.m. Stanford vs. Texas Tech (Sat., Dec. 22) – ESPN2

Now that’s more like it. There are seven legitimately good games in this group, and a couple of them are potential blockbusters (Texas-UCLA and Arizona-Kansas). Furthermore, this could go a long way toward improving the schedule strength of these two conferences, both of which have traditionally been lower among the BCS conferences.

ACC / Big 10 Challenge

ACC / Big Ten Challenge 2

And now for the annual event where the ACC has not only won but dominated the Big 10 for eight years running. 48 wins, 27 losses. This year should be no different. Even though the ACC is a little down from last season, the Big 10 is a lot down, and we see no more than four wins from our midwestern friends this year.

Monday, Nov. 26
7:00 p.m. Wake Forest at Iowa – ESPN2

Tuesday, Nov. 27
7:00 p.m. Georgia Tech at Indiana – ESPN
7:30 p.m. Minnesota at Florida State – ESPN2
7:00 p.m. Northwestern at Virginia – ESPNU

9:00 p.m. Wisconsin at Duke – ESPN
9:30 p.m. Purdue at Clemson – ESPN2

Wednesday, Nov. 28
7:00 p.m. N.C. State at Michigan State – ESPN
7:30 p.m. Illinois at Maryland – ESPN2
7:00 p.m. Boston College at Michigan – ESPNU
9:00 p.m. North Carolina at Ohio State – ESPN
9:30 p.m. Virginia Tech at Penn State – ESPN2

A couple of final thoughts on these conference challenges. We’d like to see more conferences get involved with this, even if only the top few teams in the mid-major conferences were playing other top teams. A Missouri Valley/WCC or CAA/A10 challenge would be really instructional for considering mid-majors in March – a little like BracketBusters but more comprehensive.

Additionally, it should be a really fun ten days after the Thanksgiving weekend settling in each night for these games. The Big East and SEC have got to give us some better matchups, though.

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