Morning Five: 08.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2013

morning5

  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 One expert on genuine historical documents estimated that Raveling’s copy could be worth as much as $20-25 million on the open market, given that King’s most famous speech was given at the height of the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. ESPN.com‘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.

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Morning Five: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2013

morning5

    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
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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 CBSSports.com, 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.
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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).

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ACC Morning Five: 12.13.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 13th, 2011

Eighteen years ago yesterday, Bobby Hurley left the Sacramento Kings’ arena after a relatively disappointing game. He was struck by a drunk driver, and “the impact threw Hurley’s Toyota 127 feet and onto its right side. Hurley, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle and landed in an irrigation ditch. His sneakers were ripped from his feet and lay on the pavement.” Long story short: Hurley’s basketball career was over before it really got started. The Sports Illustrated Vault has the story of his return to basketball five months later. It’s an inspirational read and a reminder of the world’s harsh realities.

  1. OrangeAndWhite.com: Brad Brownell, a “gym rat” from Evansville, Indiana, has spent 14 of the last 18 years coaching basketball in the South. Brownell described the differences in broad terms between recruiting in the Midwest and the South. Namely, in the Midwest basketball is king as kids play all year round. Whereas in the South, most players are multi-sport athletes, often playing football much of the year.
  2. Boston Herald: Boston College got what has been a rarity this season. The Eagles got a tip-to-buzzer win, beating Stony Brook 66-51. When it looked like the Sea Wolves might climb back in the game late in the second half, Patrick Heckmann scored ten of Boston College’s last 12 points. It was by far the Eagles’ best game of the season, as they played well in both halves and maintained a double-digit lead all of the second half. The defense held Stony Brook to 15% shooting in the first half.
  3. Blogging the Bracket: As college basketball moves into the calm period of finals, Chris Dobbertean grades ACC teams on where they stand with regards to Selection Sunday. Duke and North Carolina, unsurprisingly, are off to strong starts and earn the “Passing” grade. Virginia, Florida State, NC State and Virginia Tech all earn “Needs Improvement,” meaning they’ll need to bolster their resume with some solid conference wins (also hinting that not all of them will make the Big Dance). The rest of the conference is listed as “Failing.” My one semi-critique is that Miami will be a very different team when Reggie Johnson comes back. Its resume right now isn’t worth much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hurricanes finished fourth in the conference.
  4. The Devil’s Advocate: I touched on Duke‘s lack of a leader in my thoughts on the Duke-Washington game yesterday, but The Devils’ Advocate‘s Michael Corey takes a different view. He thinks Duke’s leader is still Nolan Smith, as the NBA lockout kept Smith around the team even after he graduated. That might be true. I think it’s unlikely that Smith’s time around the team has kept one of the other guys from stepping up, but it’s an interesting idea. Remember, none of Duke’s starters really took on leadership roles on previous teams. Keep an eye on this going forward.
  5. Seminoles.com: Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton is debuting his radio call-in show across the state of Florida this Thursday. I’m sure some of the stations have online streams, so if you’re looking to tune in to it, Seminoles.com has all of the stations carrying the show. It will broadcast on Thursdays at 7 PM EST through the end of February. If you’re looking to watch the show live, the show is hosted at the Tomahawk Sports Bar and Grill. I’m not a huge fan of coach call-in shows myself, though Roy Williams drops some gold during his from time to time (see video below).

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RTC Conference Primers: #20 – Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coaches Enjoy Honors: In September, Mount St. Mary’s coach Robert Burke coached in the Congressional County All-Star Classic. Burke coached a team of members of Congress while George Washington mentor Mike Lonergan guided a team of lobbyists.  The game was at GW’s Smith Center. Hopefully Burke did not allow his ‘club’ a lengthy recess. In other news, Wagner assistant Bobby Hurley was inducted into the Duke University Hall of Fame in September. Hurley scored over 1,700 points, handed out an NCAA record 1,076 assists and led Duke to two national titles during his playing days (19989-93).
  • A Long-Awaited Repeat In The NEC? Long Island is attempting to become the first NEC school in nearly two decades to successfully defend its conference title. The last? Current  MAAC  member Rider, which captured the NEC crown in 1993 and 1994.

Can LIU Capture the Blackbird Magic Again? (credit: NY Post)

  • The Numbers Game: Among starters lost, FDU and Quinnipiac lead the way with three each. It’s a matter of perception. FDU, coming off a five-win season, can look at this as a fresh start. Quinnipiac, a 22-win team from a season ago, has spots to replace. Tom Moore has options as he has the Bobcats primed for another run. The program with the least amount of starters lost? Wagner. The Seahawks, coming off an encouraging 9-9 conference slate good for a sixth-place tie, have every starter back on board.
  • Sacred Heart Mourns Loss Of Former Star: On a sad note, Sacred Heart is mourning the passing of Chauncey Hardy, a prolific player for the Pioneers from 2006-10. Hardy scored over 1,200 points during his Sacred Heart career and was playing professionally overseas in Romania at the time of his tragic death, which came after Hardy was assaulted in a pub.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Dysfunctional Success: Documentary to Look Behind Duke’s 1992 National Championship Season

Posted by mpatton on October 13th, 2011

Christian Laettner has a reputation as a little bit of a jerk. He’s arguably the best college basketball player ever (he’s the only player to start in four Final Fours), but he’s also in the conversation for most hated. Your relative opinion of him can run from Kentucky fans, who still grit their teeth when his name is mentioned, to Duke fans, who accept his abrasive personality with two spoonfuls of National Championships. But could his spiny personality have helped Duke stay motivated to win its second consecutive title in 1991-92? That’s one of the questions a new documentary produced by Bobby Hurley and Laettner, scheduled to be released as part of CBS and Turner’s March Madness coverage this coming spring, will attempt to investigate.

Christian Laettner Is One of College Basketball's Most Polarizing Figures. (Credit: TruthAboutIt.net)

An example of an anecdote from the documentary comes from USA Today: driving to the hole in a pick-up game, Hurley rocketed the ball off of Laettner’s face instead of passing it to an open man on the weak side. However, that sort of antagonism may have been what kept the Blue Devils on edge during the repeat season.  If the previews from the USA Today preview are anything like the rest of this movie, it will be must-see television for college basketball fans. There’s no doubt that opinions have probably mellowed over the years, but this should be a unique opportunity to look behind the game footage of one of the most dominant teams in the history of college basketball and into the strong personalities that made it happen.

The documentary will air on TruTV next March.

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Morning Five: 09.12.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 12th, 2011

  1. Yesterday, while most of the nation’s attention was focused on New York City and the variety of ceremonies honoring those who lost their lives in the horrific events of September 11, 2001, another tragedy occurred in the city. Early yesterday morning, Tayshana Murphy, one of the top female prep players in the country, was shot and killed in the hallway of her apartment building in what was believed to be a case of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, this one happens much more frequently in this country and often goes unnoticed. Our condolences go out to Murphy’s family and friends along with anybody else who has lost a loved one in a sadly “everyday” tragedy.
  2. This year’s Carrier Classic featuring Michigan State and North Carolina is one of the premier games of the season even if the Spartans are not expected to be as solid as we normally expect of a Tom Izzo-coached team. Of course, this leads to the inevitable question of who will be playing in the game next season. Although the match-up has not been announced, Morale Entertainment Foundation, who is putting on the game, has announced that Connecticut would be one of the participants. The potential opponents for the Huskies next season are Kansas, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, and Texas. We doubt that this game alone will be enough to convince Jim Calhoun to coach another season if he was not already planning on it, but it would be an interesting environment for a new head coach to try to direct his team in if Calhoun does step down at the end of this season.
  3. We briefly touched on Duke‘s decision to induct Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Hurley into the school’s Hall of Fame last week when Krzyzewski stated that Hurley’s 3-pointer against UNLV in the 1991 national semifinals was the biggest shot in school history. They were formally enshrined during a ceremony on Friday night along with three other Duke athletes.  We don’t have much to add here other than to ask the question: what took so long? On some level I can understand not wanting to induct an active coach into the Hall of Fame, but once you name the court after him I think that argument is moot. As for Hurley, he is the second of the championship-era Duke basketball players to be inducted with the first being Christian Laettner (an obvious selection who also has the perfect portrait that encapsulates everything about him right down to the sneer). We expect that there will be a couple more Blue Devils from their run of championships joining these three in the next few years.
  4. One of the more amusing topics in college sports over the past few weeks has been the ongoing discussion about team uniforms, the fashion statements they make, and whether they can attract a coveted player to come to a school that he or she might otherwise not be inclined to do so. The football uniforms from Oregon sparked this discussion before the start of the football season and the uniforms (or whatever you call them) that Maryland unveiled in their season opener last week created a Twitter frenzy. Still, we didn’t think that the uniforms could make a big difference until we read an interview from highly coveted prospect Archie Goodwin that appeared to suggest he ruled out Baylor because he did not like their colors or their shoes. The person who wrote the article has updated it to lash out at a few site that he felt unfairly criticized Goodwin for this comment and there were other reasons listed for his dismissal of Baylor. While we won’t go so far as to say that aesthetics were the singular reason that Goodwin crossed Baylor off his list it is interesting that it is enough of a factor that he would even mention it and might be something that college coaches take into consideration the next time the school’s athletic director unveils a new uniform for the team to wear.
  5. Finally, what would a Morning Five be without a comment on the ongoing ridiculousness that is conference expansion? Today’s submission comes from a little different perspective–the conferences trying to prevent teams from leaving via financial penalties. In this case, the ACC is reportedly looking to increase its penalty buyout to $13 million from the previous figure of $10 million. Honestly with the size of the TV contracts being thrown around that extra $3 million is more symbolic than anything else especially if an ACC school would be looking to join, say, the SEC. We are not sure if there is a realistic way to limit schools from switching conferences (having a school “sit out” a year from conference play would never be politically feasible), but some administration has to come up with a way or stop with the pettiness against programs that decide to switch conferences.
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The Greatest Shot in Duke Basketball History: Not The One You Think…

Posted by rtmsf on September 6th, 2011

We mentioned this over on TumblRTC a little while ago, but thought it was interesting enough to bear repeating here.  Duke great Bobby Hurley is set to enter the school’s athletic hall of fame on Friday afternoon, and although we think he’s on the short list of the greatest collegiate point guards to ever lace them up, we’re not sure that many people under the age of 30 remember much about him because his professional career was a bust (in large part due to a serious car accident he sustained during his rookie season).  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Four-year starting point guard on Duke teams that went 119-26 (.821) overall and 18-2 (.900) in the NCAA Tournament
  • Won two national championships (1991, 1992)
  • Played in three national championship games (1990, 1991, 1992)
  • Won two ACC championships (1991, 1992)
  • Two-time All-American (1992, 1993)
  • Three-time All-ACC selection (1991, 1992, 1993)
  • Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1992)
  • All-time NCAA leader in assists (1,076)
  • Retired jersey at Duke (#11)
In addition to these honors and accomplishments, his head coach Mike Krzyzewski says in the below clip prepared for the induction ceremony that it was Hurley who nailed what he considers “the biggest shot that [he’s] seen a Duke basketball player make.”  As far as we can remember, Coach K was also present on the sideline for this relatively minor bucket at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, so he’s either completely BSing us in elevating Hurley’s late trey in the 1991 national semifinals against UNLV over Laettner’s “Shot of the Century,” or he’s genuinely making a point about a school finally getting over the hump.  See for yourselves…

From the perspective of a coach who, at the time, was burdened with the weight of multiple Final Four flameouts (prior to 1991, Duke was the classic college basketball bridesmaid, having been to eight Final Fours and four under Krzyzewski without yet bringing home a trophy), Hurley’s long-range bomb to bring Duke back to within two points against the same team that had incinerated them the previous year probably felt massively important (for a detailed look at this game, check out our Greatest Games piece).  And K’s selection of this moment belies a fundamental truth about sports, and frankly, life in general.  When you’re the underdog fighting for recognition and a piece of the title, that unequivocal breakthrough moment (in K’s mind, Hurley’s 1991 three) where you finally and ultimately slay the dragon feels better than the moments where you’re already on top and merely seeking to protect that status (Laettner in 1992).  Heavy is the head that wears the crown, indeed, and it’s obvious that even after all of these intervening years and unbelievable successes that Krzyzewski has enjoyed in Durham, he still looks back at that one moment late in the 1991 UNLV game as the pivotal point between Duke’s oft-disappointing past and its bright future.

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Morning Five: 05.23.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 23rd, 2011

  1. The coaching carousel may have slowed down a little recently, but the player pinball is still operational and making noise. Over the weekend, St. John’s Red Stormer Dwayne Polee announced his intent to transfer to a school closer to home so he can help his family “get through a health issue.” Polee played in all 33 games for SJU as a freshman last season, starting most of them, and averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 boards in 15.5 per contest. We hope the family health issue he cites resolves to the best possible outcome, obviously. Much less importantly: Polee is from Los Angeles, so you may begin your speculation on his eventual college choice at once.
  2. Another player on the move is forward Luke Hancock, most recently of George Mason, and he’s evidently prepared to eschew mid-major life and head off to Louisville. As a sophomore last season, Hancock led the Patriots in assists (4.3 APG, 3rd in the CAA) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), and was third in scoring with 10.4 PPG. He had 18/5 in Mason’s first second-round win over Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, but a gastrointestinal bug kept him out of their next game — that 98-66 spanking administered by Ohio State. Hancock has serious game, folks. This is a nice pickup by the Cardinals.
  3. The official report doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but it looks like Connecticut will lose two scholarships for next season because of a low academic progress rate (APR). In this limited space we won’t get into the goods and bads of APR methodology, but in addition to leaving UConn with ten scholarships next year, one brow-raising factoid from the linked New York Times/AP summary is that the low APR will cost Jim Calhoun almost $200,000, including every dime of his postseason bonus of $87,500 that he received for the run to the national championship.
  4. The Hurleys have done their homeland proud, and we’re not just talkin’ about New Jersey. Dan and Bobby — now head and assistant coach of Wagner College, respectively — and their father Bob, the legendary head coach of Saint Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, were all recently named to Irish Central’s Top 100 Irish Americans for 2011 (um…isn’t it only May?). Dan and Bobby shared a spot on the list, but Bob got his own among the honorees, a list that also includes Regis Philbin, Will Ferrell, and Muhammad Ali. Erin Go Bragh, boys!
  5. Tim Brando had the idea and then John DeShazier of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune ran with it, and the result is this article from yesterday that makes the case for former LSU head coach Dale Brown. What do you think? Pete Maravich’s name is on the home arena. Shaquille O’Neal is getting a statue in front of the practice facility. Does Brown, who led LSU to 448 wins, 13 NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours, at least deserve to have the court named after him? Brando/DeShazier are pretty convincing.
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Past Imperfect: The NCAA’s Greatest Weekend

Posted by JWeill on March 24th, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Each week, RTC contributor JL Weill (@AgonicaBossEmail) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the greatest Sweet 16 and Elite Eight ever, the 1990 NCAA Tournament.

By the time the 1990 NCAA Tournament hit its second weekend, fans had already been treated to quite a show: 16th-seeded Murray State pushing top seed Michigan State to the wire; Loyola Marymount’s emotional return to the court following the tragic passing of All-American teammate Hank Gathers and stunning rout of defending champion Michigan; upsets by Ball State, Dayton and Northern Iowa; surprise takedowns of high seeds Kansas, Purdue and No. 1 Oklahoma.

But as much as the results, 1990 in many ways represented a modern apogee for college basketball – a natural peak that was a nexus of upperclassman experience, elite talent and athleticism and a growing American obsession with this quirky college tournament cum mega-event. As television numbers soared and a new generation of basketball fans came of age, interest in the NCAA Tournament was at an all-time high, and the product on the court was worthy of it.

Basketball is a game that has weathered changes in style, scandals of all levels and cycles of roster attrition, any of which might have crippled a less beloved sport. But while there have always been flaws, much of the negativity and cynicism that has since widened the gap between fans of the college game and fans of the modern NBA at the end of the 1980s had yet to be amplified by the combination of youthful revolt, unmitigated marketing and an ever-present media lens that we accept as the norm today. Likewise, at the time the 1990 tourney tipped, ESPN had yet to dominate the sports broadcast market the way it does now and, while viewership of cable television was certainly widespread, Americans were still mostly attuned to a tradition of watching major sporting events like the NCAA Tournament on network, and even more so, local television. And, certainly not to be ignored, this was long before the Internet changed forever the way fans consumed, discussed and dissected the sports the watched.

NBA talents with years of college experience like Michigan State’s Steve Smith made the 1990 NCAA special.

But if in these many ways the beginning of the 1990s was a more innocent time for fans, it was a more experienced and developed time for college basketball. Since Magic Johnson had been drafted No. 1 overall as a sophomore in the 1979 NBA Draft, only 12 underclassmen had been selected in the draft to that point, and of those, none had been freshmen from Division I colleges. There was a fundamental agreement that freshmen were not physically ready to play with grown men in the NBA, and despite the Spencer Haywood decision of the early 1970s granting high school players the right to be drafted, only three high school players had opted to skip college entirely: Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and Bill Willoughby.

The result was that coaches continued to build teams around star players who they knew were not only talented, but also would be around long enough to accrue the experience that came with having played at least two years in college already. Any fan of college basketball knows that while added playing experience is certainly no guarantee of success at the college level, it sure does help.

So came the 1990 tournament, flush with future pros, plus Hall of Fame and soon-to-be-household-name up-and-comer coaches, too. There were blueblood programs and upstarts alike. And the opening weekend of the tournament was a fantastic one. But if the first two rounds had produced great games and standout individual performances, it was only a prelude to the grand waltz of the weekend ahead. From March 22-25, 1990, college basketball showed, on its grandest stage, all of the best things its season-ending tournament had to offer: emotion, drama, intrigue, and controversy – not to mention collegiate athletics played at the highest level.

It all began with a bang. Two years before a miracle full-court pass and shot at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., would become one of the most replayed and remembered moments in NCAA Tournament history, another, different but equally improbable full-court catch and shoot would captivate college basketball fans’ imaginations … for all of two days.

Few people remember now that when coach Jim Calhoun took over the University of Connecticut program it was arguably the worst in Division I. Now, in just his fourth year, Calhoun had the Huskies as the East Region’s No. 1 seed, facing a talented fifth-seeded Clemson in the Sweet 16. Strong and oozing confidence, UConn opened a 19-point lead. But in the second half, Clemson went on a 25-8 run to cut the lead to two with just over three-and-a-half minutes left. With only 12 seconds remaining in the game, Clemson sophomore David Young hit a three-pointer to give the Tigers their first lead since early in the first half. UConn point guard Tate George missed a jump shot with four seconds left, Clemson rebounded and was fouled. But after forward Sean Tyson missed the free throw, UConn collected the rebound and called time out. One second remained on the game clock.

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The Cases For & Against a Duke Unbeaten Season

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2010

If you haven’t heard, this year’s Duke team is pretty darn good.  The defending national champions are loaded with talent on every area of the court and they’ve looked mighty impressive in the pre-conference slate against an impressive cast of characters — #5 Kansas State, #6 Michigan State, Marquette and defending runner-up, Butler.  As great teams are expected to do, they’ve  handled the contenders and destroyed the pretenders on their way to an 8-0 record. According to Ken Pomeroy’s latest figures, the Blue Devils have the most efficient offense in the nation and the fifth-most efficient defense — their efficiency margin of 36.8 points per 100 possessions is the best around, and they’ve been doing it against a schedule that rates in the top 25 through the first month of the season.  On most nights, the talented combination of playmakers featuring the versatile trio of Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler will be enough to secure another win for Coach K’s team; on the rare night when the offense sputters, the Blue Devil defense will keep the game close until the last few possessions, and Duke will have arguably the best point guard in the game handling the rock in crunch time. What’s not to like?

One of the Few Things Coach K Hasn't Done is Go Unbeaten

With the usually-reliable ACC looking like a mangled mess of mediocrity outside of Durham this year, some of the early-season buzz has already noted that Duke has gotten through the toughest part of its 2010-11 regular season schedule.  Liberally allowing for many of those good-not-great teams (i.e., Virginia Tech, UNC, Maryland, BC, etc.) to put it together and make the NCAA Tournament this year, Duke will have at most between 6-10 remaining games against quality competition the rest of the way, making for an interesting barstool debate over whether the Devils can run the table this season.  The argument goes as such:

  1. The remaining nonconference schedule is manageable.  Even considering the ACC as down (see #2), there are seven more non-conference games on the slate.  The next four — Bradley, St. Louis, Elon, UNC-Greensboro — are home or quasi-home games that Duke should have no trouble with.  Two others — UAB and Temple — are also home games that they typically win, although they’ll need to perform well against the Owls.  The last — a roadie to play St. John’s in another familiar environment, Madison Square Garden — is interesting on its face but will ultimately depend on how much Steve Lavin’s team progresses over the next two months.
  2. The ACC is down, way down.  In a typical year the best team in the ACC can expect to be put through the ringer with trips to Maryland, UNC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State, etc., pending.  Duke has all of those road games on the schedule, but already half of those teams have lost home games this year, and all of them will eventually.  The essential point is that if you’re not good enough to generally protect your home court against the likes of Stetson, Virginia or even Florida, you’re not likely to do so against Duke, an outfit that prides itself on road conference wins.
  3. Duke is not a team that is prone to many letdowns.  There are some schools that for whatever reason do not seem to take the regular season as seriously as they do the postseason.  Michigan State comes to mind immediately, but there are others.  Coach K has never been one of those coaches — in fact, a common critique through the mid-late 2000s was that he wore his teams down by overworking them during the regular season so that they had nothing left in the tank for the NCAAs.  Still, the Devils more than any other team and regardless of personnel tend to come strong all year long.  It’s difficult to catch them snoozing, one of the key recipes for a team to pull a major upset. Read the rest of this entry »
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