Thoughts From a Wacky Opening Night in College Basketball

Posted by Andrew Gripshover on November 14th, 2015

There were a lot of games and a lot of things that happened last night!  Some immediate takeaways on several of them…

Wisconsin. Yikes. You just don’t expect THAT from a Bo Ryan team, right? We all knew the Badgers were replacing a lot this season but it’s always been next man up in Madison. Perhaps it’s a little different though when you’re replacing the NPOY Frank Kaminsky, his sidekick Sam Dekker and many of the other key components of arguably one of the greatest offenses in college basketball history. Still, there shouldn’t be a drop from that to losing at arguably the nation’s greatest fortress to WESTERN ILLINOIS. Picked last in the Summit (as I’m sure you’ve heard by now), the Leathernecks weren’t exactly North Florida winning at Illinois or even Belmont winning at Marquette (both of which also happened last night). This was THE most shocking result of the night.

Shocker of Shockers on a Wild Opening Night

Shocker of Shockers on a Wild Opening Night

Monmouth over UCLA put in a late bid, though.  Playing 2,796 miles away from campus at Pauley Pavilion and with their body clocks at well after midnight Eastern time, the Hawks more or less debunked every time-zone theory by winning 84-81 in overtime. Maybe it’s fairer to say that the Bruins really lost this one, however, after blowing a 13-point lead with 12 minutes to play, and then up five with two minutes remaining in the extra session. Aaron Holiday had an end-of-game sequence to forget — first missing a jumper, followed by one-of-two free throws after an offensive rebound, and then badly bricking a game-tying three-pointer as time ran out. Perhaps tearing up San Diego State in a secret scrimmage isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Arizona State Preview: Hurley’s First Stand

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 21st, 2015

In the next three weeks leading up to season tipoff, the Pac-12 microsite will be evaluating each of the league’s 12 teams. Today, we head to Phoenix.

Arizona State Sun Devils

Over the next few weeks, we’ll preview each Pac-12 team in random order, but today we’ll start with the Sun Devils and new head coach Bobby Hurley. Hurley, formerly of Buffalo and a member of college basketball royalty as a two-time national champion point guard at Duke, takes over as Arizona State’s head coach after Herb Sendek was fired following a fifth-place Pac-12 finish last season. Four of the team’s five leading scorers return, with three junior college transfers and a freshman rounding out the likely rotation.

Strengths. Six players return from last year and, as it turns out, they seem to fit perfectly together. Four starters return – sophomore point Tra Holder; senior off-guard Gerry Blakes; junior power forward Savon Goodman; and senior center Eric Jacobsen – leaving the fifth starting spot ready to be grabbed by senior wing Willie Atwood. Guard Kodi Justice – an intriguing prospect with plenty of versatility– figures to be the sixth man. And between those six, there’s a variety of talent here. Goodman and Jacobsen form an imposing frontcourt. There’s athleticism and upside in the backcourt. And for a team that plans to push tempo, there is plenty of high-flying play-making ability as well.

The Returning Trio Of Tra Holder, Savon Goodman And Eric Jacobsen Gives Bobby Hurley Hopes In His First Season In Tempe (Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today)

The Returning Trio Of Tra Holder, Savon Goodman And Eric Jacobsen Gives Bobby Hurley Hopes In His First Season In Tempe (Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today)

Weaknesses. Two things stand out here. First, beyond those top six players, there’s not much proven talent. Obinna Oleka stands out as the newcomer with the best chance of becoming an impact performer, but JuCo guards Andre Spight and Maurice O’Field will likely be called upon to contribute as well. It was hoped frosh forward Andre Adams could chip in right away too, but he tore his ACL (for the second time in his career) in September and will spend this year rehabilitating. Of the guys remaining, Spight in particular may be called upon for his ability to knock in the perimeter jumper because nobody else on this roster has a history of competent three-point shooting. Blakes is the leading returning long-range dialer, having knocked in 39 threes last season, but he did so at just a 30.2 percent clip. Justice shot 45.9 percent from deep, but on just 37 attempts. In an ideal world this season, Justice ups his attempts, Blakes ups his efficiency and Spight lends a hand as well. If the Devils can add some perimeter punch, that will make Goodman and Jacobsen that much more impressive in the paint.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Things We Think We Know in the Pac-12

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@Amurawa) on October 19th, 2015

It’s been a long and enjoyable summer, but, while staring out the window at a Los Angeles rainstorm, it’s clear that summertime has come and gone, my oh my. No need to worry, though; that just means college basketball season is on the horizon. We’re now less than a month away from the start of the regular season. Teams across the country already have their practice schedules in full swing. All of which means it is time to get the RTC Pac-12 microsite back up and running. We’ll be with you here from now until that first weekend in April when the Final Four visits Houston. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be rewarded with a Pac-12 representative in our sports’ final weekend for the first time since UCLA went back in 2008.

Bobby Hurley's First Season In The Pac-12 Will Be Worth Keeping An Eye On (Tom Tingle, Azcentral Sports)

Bobby Hurley’s First Season In The Pac-12 Will Be Worth Keeping An Eye On (Tom Tingle, Azcentral Sports)

But all of that is a long way off. Today we’ll just take the first few steps to gather our bearings for the journey ahead. At this stage, there’s a lot of guesswork and uncertainty about what is to come. And as we’re reminded on the regular in both arenas of sports and in life, surprises loom around every corner. So today, by way of getting reacquainted with the Pac-12 conference, let’s take a look at what we know and what we will have to learn over the next five months.

Things We Know

New Faces – As always in college sports, there is rampant year-to-year turnover. It’s baked into the pie. It’s something we expect and something we love: getting to spend a full season figuring out all the new talents and personalities. In this year’s edition of the Pac-12, there are some high impact new faces. First, there’s a new head man patrolling the sidelines in Tempe, as Bobby Hurley takes over the reins for Herb Sendek at Arizona State. In terms of new players, the conference boasts six of the nation’s top 25 recruiting classes (according to ESPN), including a couple landing in the top five. We’re used to Sean Miller regularly pulling in sterling classes at Arizona, but the big news this season is that Cuonzo Martin welcomes a loaded recruiting class highlighted by power wing Jaylen Brown and skilled big man Ivan Rabb. Continuing the theme, there’s plenty that we don’t know about the newcomers, but we certainly know that we’ll be keeping a close eye on Tempe, Tucson and Berkeley this season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

West Coast Bias: Pac-12 Media Day Happenings

Posted by Adam Butler on October 16th, 2015

They say the media doesn’t pay attention to anything that happens out West, but no such claim could be made yesterday. Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2015 edition of Pac-12 Media Day, in order of their appearance.

USC Trojans

You only take the podium first if you’re the commissioner or the last place team in the conference. Andy Enfield isn’t Larry Scott. His squad is the latter. Andy Enfield is interesting to me in that Enfield “won the presser.” He was the flashy hire meant to breathe life into a stale program. And then he spouted off about UCLA! Of course those remarks were “off the record” and not meant to be disseminated anywhere beyond his practice. Two years ago we thought he was every bit the flashy hire Pat Haden promised. They’ve won six conference games since and Enfield really hasn’t had a ton to say. This year, however, he seemed to receive more questions and have more to say. It was a refreshing change from the previous platitudes. And while he didn’t say much – and distinctly promised nothing – there seems to be optimism inside this program. They’re older, wiser, stronger, and presumably better. Enfield has a talented roster: How will it translate?

Washington Huskies

Another program with the allusion of optimism, but I maintain it’s going to be a long one in Seattle. They’re bringing in a top recruiting class and return a senior point guard, but the Huskies feel another year away to me. Which of course is not the seat you want to sit in when you’ve had four progressively worse seasons. It’s the seat of a team predicted to finish 11th by the media. But let’s talk about the important stuff: #Globalization. The PAC is sending its Dawgs to China for the first ever regular season game – collegiate or professional – in China. LoRo’s squad will square off against Shaka Smart’s first Longhorn team in an overseas battle. The Huskies, in fact, are taking classes in prep for this trip. Fact: Andrew Andrews seamlessly spoke Mandarin during Pac-12 Media Day. Fact: Malik Dime is bilingual and the best Mandarin speaker on the team (according to Andrews). And while these are all admirable things, they might not be enough to create a particularly good basketball team.

Lorenzo Romar's Team Will Begin A Do-Or-Die Season For Their Coach In China Against Texas (Photo: Seattle Times)

Lorenzo Romar Will Begin A Do-Or-Die Season In China Against Texas (Photo: Seattle Times)

Colorado Buffaloes

Tad walked in all smiles and I loved it. At Media Day, while there isn’t anything particularly stressful, it isn’t everyone’s favorite day. There are logistics, entrances, platitudes, smiles for the camera, and a lot of ‘hey howya doings.’ Media Day is polite. But Tad Boyle waltzed onto the stage with his senior leader, Josh Scott, and a genuine grin on his face. He said, “I was just sitting down with Josh in the waiting room right there, and I’m not sure I have a lot to say. I’m just ready to play.” And doesn’t that make sense? Colorado closed last season in joyless fashion, watching a plethora of players transfer and a senior – Askia Booker – decline an invitation to play in the CBI. About five months ago, there was little to smile about surrounding Colorado basketball. “Looking at last year, I think me and my teammates kind of had to evaluate where we went wrong as a group, and in looking at it, we were afraid to call each other out,” Scott said. Now winning doesn’t necessarily demand a bunch of guys telling each other they’re out of position or screwing up, but it doesn’t hurt to have the kind of trust where teammates work together towards a common goal. The Buffs might not be great this year, but it seems they might be working towards cohesion. And that’s got Tad smiling.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

A Column of Enchantment: There’s No Explaining, Just Read It

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 26th, 2015

Lots of people grow up hoping to one day become a professional athlete. Whether it is a guy who gets paid to hit a ball with a stick, hurl a different-sized ball towards the general direction of a basket, or hit other people as hard as you possibly can for the sake of a touchdown, most young people have at least entertained the notion. Then, well, reality sets in. Baseball requires incredible hand-eye coordination, which you most certainly do not have. Basketball is not looking for slightly chubby 6’0″ centers. Football requires you to not be a lazy oaf who thinks that running a 40 in nine seconds is an accomplishment. After that reality sets in, folks turn to other dreams. Some think about being a firefighter, others unicorn tamers, and a few more conjure up the idea of owning a pro sports team to fill that void of pro sports aspirations. There are a few other people, like me, who dream of something else. A world where they can own their own college. Wait… what? Let me explain. The purpose of wanting to own a university is not so much to help educate our youth — I mean, they’re rather helpless at this point anyway (am I right, Mike Wilbon?) — it is to selfishly oversee and build a Division I basketball program. Seems logical, right? Eh…

Luckily for me, I have a few friends who thought this was a tremendous idea. Now that we know such a thing is actually feasible, we started the process of building our university from scratch. With that being said, though, I doubt you want to read the logistics of it all. And to be honest, neither do I. Thankfully we live in a world where technology trumps all. I discovered an app on my phone which has allowed some form of time travel. Now, I can’t actually go to the future myself, but I can pull articles from there! That’s as exciting as hell. What I will now share with you is the article I found from 30 years from now that happens to tell the story of the university Randy, Drew, Bennet and I (all Rush the Court scribblers) started to build on Tuesday. I haven’t read it myself yet. I guess we will enjoy our college’s triumphs together! I bet we did awesome and the future is as cool as heck.

RTC pic hehehe

The Tragic Story of The Club State Pool Cleaners

Posted by Michael DeCourcy Jr. on March 26th, 2045

It is amazing to think that it has been 30 years since Club State University was formed from a simple idea. It was just four guys, bloggers (remember those?), who found a loophole in the then-governing body of college sports, the NCAA. As our history books have taught us, the NCAA was a rather inept governing body. It allowed athletes to be punished over others’ clerical errors, forced kids to play basketball games on school nights, and didn’t even pay them to play. Think about that: There was a time in our country when an institution limited another group of people’s powers, while making millions upon millions of dollars off the backs of their hard work, and a good chunk of people were kind of okay with it. Alas, this story has nothing to do with the now-ancient practice of free labor. It is about four men who changed college basketball by founding one of the greatest basketball programs ever, but one that’s time has seemingly passed because of so many tragic, yet preventable events.

The Club State Pool Cleaners were the brainchild of one man. Joseph Nardone, at the time, was a rather low-level blogger, incredibly unsuccessful in the business world, longing for a day when he could do something he actually loved. Articles from those years report on Nardone’s obsession with building a Division I program despite being pretty dumb. Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated (you may now know it as being called Sports With No Pictures) a few months after the paperwork to legalize the school was filed:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Bracket Prep: Midwest Region Analysis

Posted by Walker Carey on March 17th, 2015


Throughout Tuesday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (10:00 AM), South (11:00 AM), Midwest (1:00 PM), West (2:00 PM). Here, Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) breaks down the Midwest Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC Midwest Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCMWregion).

Midwest Region

Favorite: #1 Kentucky (34-0, 18-0 SEC). The unbeaten Wildcats enter the NCAA Tournament as not only the favorites in the Midwest Region but also for the entire tournament. John Calipari’s squad has been able to reach 34-0 due to its star power combined with its ability to play tremendously well as a unit. It will be utterly shocking if Kentucky is tripped up before reaching the Final Four. The reason why the Wildcats are such a lethal team is that they possess top-flight talent at each position. Their backcourt is loaded with sophomores Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison and freshmen Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis. The insanely long and athletic front line is led by junior Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomores Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee, and freshmen Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns. Toss in the fact that Kentucky’s veteran players have Final Four experience from a season ago and you will understand why the Wildcats are the overwhelming favorite to advance to Indianapolis.

Will John Calipari Be Smiling This Time Next Week? (AP)

John Calipari and the Wildcats have had a lot to smile about this season. (AP)

Should They Falter: #3 Notre Dame (29-5, 14-4 ACC). The ACC Tournament champion Fighting Irish enter the NCAA Tournament fresh off playing some of their best basketball of the year. Notre Dame possesses an elite offensive attack with multiple options that makes it a very tough team to defend. That attack is led by senior star guard Jerian Grant, an All-American senior who has the ability to take over a game each night out. Grant is the alpha dog star of Mike Brey’s team, but senior Pat Connaughton and sophomores Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia all strongly contribute to the Irish’s success. It will be a stunner if Kentucky loses at any point in this region, but if it does, look for Notre Dame to take home the Midwest Region trophy and advance to the Final Four.

Grossly Overseeded: #8 Cincinnati (22-10, 13-5 AAC). The Bearcats enjoyed a solid season but their résumé suggests that they should have been a double-digit seed. While Cincinnati had good victories over SMU (twice), San Diego State and NC State, it also had head-scratching losses to Nebraska, East Carolina and Tulane. The Bearcats finished the AAC season tied for third in the conference standings. Temple — the team they were tied with, and Tulsa, the team that finished one spot ahead of them — did not even earn bids to the NCAA Tournament. That’s not to suggest that Cincinnati didn’t deserve inclusion in the NCAA Tournament, but a #8 seed is very generous.

Grossly Underseeded: #7 Wichita State (28-4, 17-1 MVC). The Missouri Valley Conference does not provide many opportunities to pick up marquee victories, but Wichita State was able to pick up one on February 28 though when Gregg Marshall’s team got revenge from an early-season loss by topping Northern Iowa. The rest of the Shockers’ résumé was not very exciting, but they managed to win 28 games overall and only stumbled once in conference play prior to the MVC Tournament. Wichita State’s core is essentially the same (minus Cleanthony Early) as the one that started 34-0 last season. Gregg Marshall’s team is too talented and experienced to be a #7 seed and it would not be surprising at all to see it make a run to the second weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Bracket Prep: Buffalo, Stephen F. Austin & Eastern Washington

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 16th, 2015

Let’s finish off the Bracket Prep series with our reviews of each of the weekend mid-major automatic qualifiers to help you fill out your bracket. Here’s a primer on each of the most recent bid winners. The entire series can be found here.


Buffalo is going dancing for the first time in school history. (Ken Blaze, Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Buffalo is going dancing for the first time in school history. (Ken Blaze, Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

  • MAC Champion (23-9, 12-6)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #28/#54/#59
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +8.4
  • NCAA Seed: #12

Strength: Buffalo has some serious offensive weapons and tends to set them free. The Bulls were the most uptempo offense in the MAC this season, using just 17.4 seconds per possession and attacking the basket at every turn; 76 percent of their points came from inside the arc or at the free throw line. Part of that emphasis can be attributed to the presence of Justin Moss (17.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG), the 6’7” forward who won MAC Player of the Year. His ability to both run the floor and dominate on the low-block – along with a stable of talented, attacking guards like Shannon Evans (15.3 PPG, 4.7 APG) and Lamonte Bearden (8.2 PPG) – makes Bobby Hurley’s group tough to stop on that end of the court. The MAC champs are pretty solid on the other end, too, holding opponents to under a point per possession on the season. Keep an eye on Moss, though – the junior was limited during the league tournament because of an ankle injury.

Weakness: Outside of its so-so perimeter shooting (34% 3FG), Buffalo does not have too many glaring weaknesses – at least not by the numbers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns. There was a three-game stretch during February in which the Bulls were bludgeoned on the defensive end, including a home loss to Toledo where the Rockets shot 86 percent from behind the arc and scored 1.3 points per possession. And for a team that shoots a healthy 72.2 percent from the stripe, Buffalo’s late-game free throw shooting in both MAC Tournament victories over the weekend was not very good. Whether these inconsistencies have to do with their youthful backcourt, lulls in energy, or something else, I’m not sure. But they can’t afford similar lapses this week.

Key player: Xavier Ford (9.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG). Moss is absolutely crucial and his health should be closely monitored as the week progresses, but assuming he’s good to go, another guy to keep your eye on is Ford. The 6’7” senior’s length and athleticism gives Hurley an added dimension on the offensive end – a slasher able to get to the rim (and rebound effectively) – as well as a defender who can guard the type of athletic scorers his team will probably see next week.

Outlook: Buffalo led both Kentucky and Wisconsin at halftime this season, which says a thing or two about its overall ability. As long as Moss is healthy and able to go, the Bulls are more than capable of keeping pace with West Virginia, especially considering their #12 seed line. Hurley’s bunch is talented, fiery and could end up playing on the back-half of the weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Tourney Primers: Mid-American

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 9th, 2015

We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

MAC Tournament

Dates: March 9, 11-14

Site: First round is at campus sites; second round, quarterfinals, semifinals and championship are at Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH)


What to expect: The MAC’s week-by-week momentum shifted so many times this season that it became hard to keep up. But it was important to keep up, because in a tournament where the top four seeds receive double-byes, the top two seeds get triple-byes and everyone else is left facing an uphill climb, the standings matter than most. In the end, Central Michigan, Buffalo, Kent State and Toledo earned those top four spots – the Chippewas and Bulls with the triple-byes – while Bowling Green and Akron, both strong contenders throughout much of the season, were left having to win five games in six days. As a result, one of the well-rested teams will probably emerge as conference champion, but which one? Preseason favorite Toledo and three-point happy Central Michigan boast the league’s two most efficient offenses; Kent State features three senior guards to complement big man Jimmy Hall (15.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG); and Buffalo – with Justin Moss, the MAC’s best player (18.4 PPG, 9.3 RPG) – is peaking at just the right time.

Favorite: Buffalo. Just a few short weeks ago, Buffalo sat at 6-6 in conference play and looked destined for first- and second-round games in Cleveland. Since then the Bulls have reeled off six wins in a row, including Friday night’s dramatic, #2 seed clinching victory over Bowling Green. They are the league’s highest-ranked team in KenPom (#58), one of its least reliant on outside shooting, and possess an unmatched post presence in Moss.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2013


  1. It’s not very often that a piece of random news floors us, but the revelation that former Washington State, Iowa and USC head coach George Raveling has in his possession a copy of one of Martin Luther King’s original “I Have a Dream” speeches is nothing short of astonishing. CBS News reported on Tuesday that the 76-year old coach and media personality — then an assistant coach at Villanova — was one of the volunteer security marshals standing on the Mall near King 50 years ago when he delivered his rousing speech, and that King handed him a copy of it as he stepped off the podium. One expert on genuine historical documents estimated that Raveling’s copy could be worth as much as $20-25 million on the open market, given that King’s most famous speech was given at the height of the civil rights movement. It is sometimes so beautifully strange how life intersects with itself.
  2. And on that note, we move to eligibility issues. The NCAA ruled Wednesday on the case of former Louisville and Florida International forward Rakeem Buckles, a fifth-year senior who had applied for a transfer waiver (based on FIU’s postseason ban) to play at Minnesota this season. If his appeal is denied, Buckles will be forced into a precarious situation where if he stays at Minnesota he risks gambling that the NCAA will allow him a sixth year of eligibility in 2014-15 (no slam dunk), or he will have to return to FIU this season to play in a no-win situation there. For Minnesota, a team facing a significant rebuilding project inside after losing most of its frontcourt talent, Buckles was expected to help man the interior for new head coach Richard Pitino. Now all he can do is cross his fingers and hope for the best.
  3. We mentioned the Lindy’s top 10 rankings in yesterday’s M5, and that created a bit of a firestorm on Twitter as a result. But the truth is that in today’s college basketball environment there are no teams in any year that don’t come in with weaknesses. The most experienced teams are short on talent; and the most talented teams are short on experience. As a result, your preseason top 10 might look a good bit different than ours, and even splitting the difference, there’s a better than reasonable chance that both of us will be completely wrong. The Sporting News yesterday released its 16 regional magazine covers, in the process also unveiling its preseason top 10, and needless to say, there were fewer surprises than with Lindy’s. Mike DeCourcy took time to break down each team’s glaring weakness, and as we’ve said before, even using the dreaded slideshow format, he gives great analysis that makes it worth the click-throughs. Although we’re still not sold on North Carolina, fellas, just for the record.
  4. One of the teams we do believe in next season is Duke, and it goes without saying that Mike Krzyzewski will mold his personnel into a tightly-knit unit that maximizes the talent it can put on the floor. One of K’s all-time great point guards — and there have been several — was Bobby Hurley, and as the standard by which most of the others are measured, he is about to begin his first season as a Division I head coach at the University of Buffalo.‘s Dana O’Neil writes that Hurley the head coach is truthfully in no hurry to get his young charges started on their first season with him at the helm — in fact, he wants as much time as possible to set goals and expectations. Of course, there’s no telling whether the superb floor game and team leadership that Hurley possessed in spades at Duke can effectively translate to players two decades later who have barely heard of him, but if there’s any of the brand-new coaches we’d be willing on betting on, it would probably be this one. The guy has always been a winner.
  5. Where is Canada? We feel like there’s a South Park reference in that question somewhere, but that didn’t stop Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker from doing an ad lib Jaywalking-style Q&A with his teammates about all things above the border. It’s more cute than clever, but we will give it up for the #goodjobgoodeffort of somehow bringing Ryan Gosling into the mix.  But that’s enough from us, enjoy your Thursday, the starting date of the college football season, and feel free to start it off with the video.

Share this story

Morning Five: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2013


    1. Duke is still in the NCAA Tournament, but that has not stopped longtime assistant coach Chris Collins from taking time to interview for the now vacant Northwestern coaching job and is considered the frontrunner for the job. As far as first head coaching jobs go it could be a nearly ideal, low-stress job (outside of some high-powered alumni) for a school with no expectations (never made the NCAA Tournament) in a major conference. As an added bonus Collins would be returning to his home state where he was Illinois Mr. Basketball. Or it could be seen as a nearly impossible situation at a school with no tradition and relatively little financial support for its athletic program while competing in the premier college basketball conference in the country. We are guessing that the former argument will win out and Collins will probably take the job unless he harbors some aspiration of stepping directly into Mike Krzyzewski’s job as soon as he departs (without any prior head coaching experience that seems unlikely).
    2. Collins might be on the verge of taking over in Evanston, but he is not the only former Blue Devil taking his first coaching job as Blue Devil legend Bobby Hurley was announced as the new coach at Buffalo yesterday. Hurley (at least this one) is best known for his time guiding Duke to back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 while setting the NCAA record for career assists, but his family (particularly his father Bob Sr. as well as brother Dan) is better known for their coaching success. Bobby’s time on the sideline has been limited to serving as an assistant to Dan for the past three seasons so it shouldn’t be surprising that all of Bobby’s references in the official article are either from Duke or his family members. We are not sure if Bobby’s name and game as a player will translate on the sideline, but he certainly has the genes for it and for a program at Buffalo’s level it seems like a reasonable risk to take.
    3. One coaching position that does not appear to be opening up any time soon is Wake Forest who appears content on keeping Jeff Bzdelik as its coach despite his 34-60 record there and mounting disapproval from its fans. Fan displeasure with Bzdelik reached the point this season that he had to change his radio show to taking taped (pre-screened) calls instead of live calls and fans have taken ads out in local newspapers calling for his dismissal in addition to the standard website demanding that he be fired. Apparently Wake Forest’s defense of Bzdelik is that he has been cleaning up the mess left by Dino Gaudio and we hope that is what they believe because if it isn’t then what they are doing is a more subtle version of the two-finger salute that Marshall Henderson offered to fans on his way out of the NCAA Tournament.
    4. Before he became a national story for his model predicting the 2012 Presidential Election (and becoming the subject of scorn of Fox News) Nate Silver was more well-known in some circles for his work in sports. Not forgetting his roots, Silver comes back to sports particularly for big events like the NCAA Tournament. Of course, his work is focused on predicting things and following up on his pre-NCAA Tournament predictions he is offering updated odds on the Sweet 16 teams winning the national title. We are assuming that this won’t spark the kind of outrage that his Presidential Election predictions did, but there were some pretty significant shifts that might get the attention of some fan bases.
    5. Like the work of Nate Silver we have come to respect the work that The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective puts out, but we are not afraid to call them out on their methodology when the occasion calls for it. And that appears to be the case with their analysis of how “crazy” this year’s NCAA Tournament has been. We are usually fans of people trying to quantify stuff instead of using useless, vague descriptions, but when people quantify the wrong stuff or use the wrong methods to get results you run into issues like HSAC appears to have done when they tried to analyze craziness by looking at average seeding of teams in the Sweet 16 rather than something like variation relative to performance against seed expectation. The latter is probably a better measure because a very low seeded team making a deep run is very different than a couple of middle-tier seeds making a deep run
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 2nd, 2012

  1. USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell published a piece on Tuesday with some rather inflammatory quotes about the status of big-time college basketball recruiting. Everybody already knows that agents and runners representing the interests of high school stars with their hands out is a big problem — but is it a 70%-of-the-elite-prospects problem? If you believe Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo‘s math, it is. “I am not saying that cheating is 80 percent of the game. It’s probably 20 percent. But it’s probably 70 percent of the top 20 percent [of player recruitments].” Izzo went on to say that he has “absolutely” lost recruits to other coaches because he was unwilling to play the agent/runner AAU game (which even Sonny Freakin’ Vaccaro says has gotten worse). In the same piece, North Carolina’s Roy Williams also made some interesting comments about stepping away from recruits who were ‘handled’ by AAU influences, saying, “Will I have a legitimate chance if I do it the right way?” There’s a lot of eyebrow-raising information in the article, and we highly suggest you read it — but the obvious question if Izzo’s numbers are anywhere near correct is… who exactly is landing all of these elite recruits if every major coach is on record blasting the system and doing it the right way? It’s not just Central Florida, that’s for sure.
  2. Team USA‘s men’s basketball squad is now 2-0 in round robin play with a game against always-dangerous Tunisia later this afternoon. Although there are no guarantees in a knockout tournament situation, we’re all too aware, it appears that the team led by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are well on their way to another gold medal. Jeff Goodman writes that NBA owners are pushing so hard for a 23-year old age limit on the men’s team in future Olympiads that there is “little doubt” as to its eventuality [memo to owners: how about another age limit — one that limits inclusion in your league to players 20 years old and older]. If USA Basketball decides to go this route with the 2016 team, most of today’s elite high school and young college stars would be eligible — Goodman takes a stab at putting together a potential team, and would you believe that a player nobody outside of Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, had heard of this time last year is designated as the starting point guard? Basketball can be a funny sport that way.
  3. While on the subject of Olympic teams, A Sea of Blue put together an interesting analysis reviewing what the six men’s basketball teams in the “Dream Team” era might have looked like if USA Basketball had never ditched the amateur model. The cream of the crop is very clearly the 1992 squad, a team filled with players on in an era on the cusp of moving to a prep-to-pro mentality (Kevin Garnett began the trend in 1995). A starting lineup of Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Chris Webber may have even crowded out 1992 NPOY and two-time NCAA champion Christian Laettner. In the backcourt, do you run with Penny Hardaway and Jim Jackson over the dominant Duke duo of Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill? It’s really an unbelievable team. Conversely, the 2000 team — led by Kenyon Martin? Shane Battier? — is a joke. That team, decimated by the prep-to-pro era, may have finished dead last in the Olympics that year. It’s an interesting thought experiment, and we encourage you to visit ASoB and check it out.
  4. Going back to 1992 — was it the greatest year of basketball in American history? — former Duke star Bobby Hurley raised some major burn late Tuesday night after tweeting the following in reference to the gold medal-winning USA women’s gymnastics team (dubbed a modern-day “Fab Five”): “Proud 2 watch the “Fab Five” perform & bring home the gold! Who would have thought that the “Fab Five” could it get it done.” Of course, the Michigan group of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson not only lost the 1992 national championship game to Hurley’s Blue Devils, but they also lost two other regular season games to Duke during that era, giving the point guard the easy upper hand when it comes to taking those shots.
  5. With the exception of a notable tweeter, the Penn State story has died down in the national media as a result of the Olympics. And even though the long moribund basketball program was not implicated in the scandal or penalized by the NCAA in any way, it’s incomprehensible that Pat Chambers’ program will not be negatively impacted among the collateral damage to the Nittany Lion brand. In response to this piece by Jeff Borzello at, it may very well be true that a recent de-committed recruit was already on the fence about heading to State College and another Class of 2013 recruit says he has no intention of backing out, but the issue will become more apparent in future classes where the semi-permanent negative message about Penn State has had sufficient time to stick. An argument that PSU will continue to recruit non-elite talent in the same way as before is not really an argument at all — the point is that every aspect of that university, from the chemistry lab to the jai alai club team to the local Penn State chapter of PETA, will be associated with this horrific situation for years to come. Whatever each group had to do to earn recognition prior to this fiasco, they’ll have to do so that much more in the future. This goes for basketball too.
Share this story

ACC Morning Five: 12.16.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 16th, 2011

First, it’s not really ACC-related, but this is a fantastic article on former Washington star Brandon Roy.

  1. Fox Sports Carolinas: Starting next season the ACC is going to 18-game conference schedule in men’s and women’s basketball. Andrew Jones takes a look at the positive and negative effects of the change. I agree that it’s a positive that two conference games will replace two garbage “guarantee” games (hopefully). I don’t agree that the 12 extra losses will hurt the ACC. Obviously, each one of those losses is also a conference win. The key for ACC teams is getting prepared for conference season a little earlier than usual to take advantage of the game. One negative is the new schedule will almost certainly reduce the number of non-conference home-and-home series coaches are willing to schedule (specifically, keep an eye on Kentucky and Texas with North Carolina).
  2. Tobacco Road Blues: Here’s a pretty fascinating interview with Steve Kirschner. Kirschner is the head of North Carolina’s basketball public relations. He’s got a pretty interesting perspective on current and past players, as well as the Duke-North Carolina rivalry and everything in-between. Specifically, his analysis of Kendall Marshall is very good. Kirshner described Marshall’s ACC Tournament championship game perfectly by saying the Nolan Smith made Marshall speed his game up and forced him to make mistakes.
  3. Duke Basketball Report: Speaking of the sophomore Tar Heel point guard, Marshall looks ready to break the single-season assist record for the ACC. He’s on pace to average over ten dimes a game, and the Tar Heels are likely to play well over thirty games. It’s also impressive to look at the class years on the list of top assist totals. Seven of the top ten assist totals are from juniors and seniors. Marshall is on pace to pass all of them in another 20 games. If he plays four years, Bobby Hurley‘s ACC assist record could be blown out of the water (and imagine what Marshall could have done if he started from the beginning last season).
  4. Baltimore Sun: Don Markus takes a look at five questions facing Maryland for when the Terrapins return from winter break. He sounds cautiously optimistic, especially with Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len in the fold, that the Terrapins could be better than advertised. Len could be the real deal. If he is, there will be major changes in Mark Turgeon’s strategy (i.e., the ability to play inside-out, having to change the starting line-up, less of a height deficit, etc.). Basically, the point is that Maryland may look like a totally different team come conference play.
  5. Winston-Salem Journal Now: Jason Capel was an all-conference player when he played for North Carolina. Now he’s coming back to coach Appalachian State in the Dean Dome, his first time in the arena since 2005. Capel doesn’t have any misconceptions about the juggernaut his Mountaineers are about to face: “I say it’s going to be fun now […] but if they go on a 20-0 run, it’s not going to be very darn fun.”

EXTRA: So Maryland students weren’t too excited to go to the Florida International game…

There was Sparse Attendance for Maryland's Game against FIU this Week (Photo: EB's World).

Share this story