12.12.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2008

Some notes for your weekend of debauchery…

  • It’s harder than it looks, huh?  Former #1 recruit Brandon Jennings was supposed to become a trailblazer by going to Europe rather than Arizona for one year.  According to this Washington Times piece, he’s averaging 5/3 in a mere 17 minutes per game.  As for his peers who matriculated at US colleges, they’re not exactly tearing it up either.
  • Gary Parrish points out an interesting stat about Stephen Curry’s shooting vs. BCS and non-BCS opponents this year.  Definitely something to keep an eye on (although this is consistent with Curry’s 41.1% shooting against Georgetown, Wisconsin and Kansas in the NCAAs last year). 
  • From the completely shocking and out of character department, Jim Boeheim is upset with the terms of Eric Devendorf’s suspension from Syracuse
  • John Wooden would like to see the rims raised to some point less than eleven feet high. 
  • Kentucky all-time assists leader Dirk Minniefield was indicted in Houston for engaging in a fraudulent real estate scheme.
  • Here’s a pretty good piece on Dick Vitale’s vocal cord problems – we love to rip the guy’s partisanship, but we’ve never wavered on his passion and love for the game. 
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11.14.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2008

Well, if we can get our ESPN Full Court package to work tonight, we might actually get to watch some games…  don’t hold your breath on Comcast actually coming through at the casa de RTC, though… 

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10.08.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2008

We’re less than 48 hrs from the quasi-official start of practice (at least at Kentucky, Illinois and a few others)… 

  • The Class of 2009 will definitely be keeping an eye on Brandon Jennings’ experience in Europe this year.
  • So we can have D2 games on tv, but getting some good mid-majors on the ESPN Full Court package is damn near impossible?
  • The Big West signed a new deal with ESPN, but unless you get the U, you’re pretty much out of luck.  Note to ESPN – put ESPNU games on the Full Court Package this year!  Find a way to watch Fullerton’s Josh Akognon anyway this year – trust us.
  • STF pegs Purdue and Oklahoma as its breakthrough teams in 2008-09, and Baylor and Tennessee as its tipping-point teams.
  • Talent = Title Contender.  Thanks, Gary.  This was a fun idea, but we don’t really trust DraftExpress for evaluating NBA talent that far out, do you?
  • The Big 12 coaches like Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas/Baylor in that order.  Over in the Horizon League, Butler is picked fifh?!?!
  • Tom Crean to NCAA on further penalties:  Enough is Enough!  Meanwhile, Kyle Taber goes on record stating that Indiana will no-way, no-how, finish last in the B10 this year.
  • One jewel from Goodman’s blog – wait, Georgetown recruited a white kid?
  • Insert Rick Pitino isn’t walking through that door joke here
  • Speculation on where the top prospects in the Class of 2009 will end up.
  • Dickie V. should stay away from MLB Playoffs predictions.   
  • We must say, as an unabashed fan of God Shammgod, this is completely awesome.
  • One man’s take on the top NCAA program of all-time.
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Lute’s Plot Thickens

Posted by rtmsf on October 3rd, 2008

Quick hit here, but Arizona coach and resident college basketball drama queen Lute Olson announced today, some four months after the bitter dissolution of his marriage to Christine Toretti, that he is newly engaged!  The new Mrs. Arizona Basketball will be the much-younger Kelly Pugnea (below, left), 47, herself a divorcee with two sons.  Apparently the couple met seven months ago while Lute was still battling his ex-wife over undisclosed issues.  Gosh, we wonder what those could have been?

(photo credit:  Arizona Daily Star)

From the Star:

Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Lute Olson formally announced another new member of his team Wednesday: a fiancée.  During a benefit dinner at the UA student union hosted by former Wildcat Steve Kerr, Olson introduced Kelly Pugnea as his fiancée, saying she’s a “very, very good person.”  Pugnea, 47, is a divorced mom of two boys. They reside in Tucson. Olson said after the banquet that the two met seven months ago but have no wedding date at this point.  “No plans yet,” Olson said. “Probably next summer.”

There’s been no word whether Ms Pugnea intends to honor her verbal commitment if a better offer arises, as if, for example, she were offered a six-figure deal by some hunky European suitor
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The Lute Olson Circus Continues…

Posted by rtmsf on September 16th, 2008

It’s no secret around these parts that Lute Olson has experienced a volatile year since he decided to take a leave of absence from his Arizona Wildcats last November.  There were already the rampant rumors that Olson was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, or at minimum, some other undisclosed health issue, accompanied by the not-so-private saga involving a divorce from his second wife, Christine.  Throw in the embarassingly open secret that Olson was unhappy with his replacement, Kevin O’Neill, in addition to the loss of several key players either in or coming into the program (Jerryd Bayless, Brandon Jennings, Emmanuel Negedu) and it’s safe to say that the Silver Fox had a stressful year.  All that said, Olson has gone on record to exuberantly state that he expects to remain the coach at Arizona at least through his current contract, ending in 2011. 

Happier Times for Lute and Christine Olson  (photo credit:  azstarnet.com)

Well why not? – so long as you intend to wilfully flout the NCAA rulebook in an attempt to get recruits to Tucson.  From the AP report

The University of Arizona has reported a possible NCAA recruiting violation by men’s basketball coach Lute Olson, who called it “an unfortunate and regrettable error.”  Athletic director Jim Livengood said Monday that Olson had sent a letter to basketball boosters asking for a donation to Jim Storey’s Arizona Cactus Classic basketball tournament, held last May at Arizona’s McKale Center. NCAA rules prohibit institutional representatives or boosters from arranging financial assistance for potential recruits.  “A ‘personal and confidential’ letter was sent to Rebounders Club board of directors over the electronic signature of Lute Olson, requesting that they provide financial assistance to Jim Storey’s Cactus Classic AAU Tournament,” Livengood said in a July 2 letter to Ron Barker, Pac-10 associate commissioner in charge of governance and enforcement. “The letter expressed how important this tournament is to the Arizona basketball program’s recruiting. The letter also stated (correctly) that ‘The athletics department can’t assist in any way.’ Which would include requesting that donors make financial contributions.”

Forget the one-and-dones, Olson has apparently decided that he will simply have his boosters finance players into Tucson.  (sidenote: the #2 PG in the class of 2009, Abdul Gaddy, also commited to the Wildcat program today – was he at this camp?).   

To be fair, Olson disabused reporters of the notion that he knew anything about this letter, which had an electronic signature on it.  Yet numerous poeople within in the program have gone on the record to state that Olson wanted this letter sent out.  Some Arizona fans are suggesting this is a setup propagated by the AD, Jim Livengood, who (the assumption goes) wants the powerful Olson out of the picture.

There’s one thing we can remain certain about – the Lute Olson stories are getting exponentially more interesting the older he gets.  Stay tuned for more out of the desert.   

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07.25.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2008

Some things we’ve missed while lounging in a pool of indignant contempt (and mineral hot springs)with Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill and friends the past few weeks…

  • It’s Extension Season! – Davidson’s Bob McKillop (3 more yrs until 2015-16), UCLA’s Ben Howland (7 yrs at approximately $2M per until 2014-15), Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl (1 more yr until 2013-14, but with a raise that will average out to $2.3M per over that span), Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (2 more yrs until 2014-15), Temple’s Fran Dunphy (2 more yrs through 2013-14), and Oregon’s Ernie Kent (3 more yrs until 2012-13) all got their wives a new car last week.
  • UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero is the new NCAA Tournament Committee chairman for 2009-10.   Expect UCLA to play in Pauley and the Staples Center during its first four rounds that year.
  • Tim Floyd breathed a sigh of relief when he learned last week that Demar DeRozan passed the ACT and will be eligible next season for his Trojans.  DeRozan is a likely 1-and-done, which means Lute Olson has vowed to not recruit players like him for the rest of his career (still feeling the burn of Jennings and Bayless, Lute?)
  • Gonzaga forward and RTC fav Austin Daye both tore and didn’t tear his ACL at the Lebron Skills Camp recently.  He should be ok for the upcoming season. 
  • Welcome to the Kyle Taber Hoosiers.  Speaking of which, ex-Hoosier Jordan Crawford is transferring to Xavier. 
  • Memphis guard Doneal Mack has decided to return to Calipari’s squad after all – he had previously stated that he was transferring to the University of FEMA New Orleans. 
  • This is interesting.  Georgia Tech center Ra’Sean Dickey has decided to forgo his senior season so that he can begin his professional career in Ukraine?  Wow, thie Euro thing is starting to heat up, eh?
  • The fall of former Florida gambler guard and gunner Teddy Dupay is now complete.  He was recently charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping of a Utah woman, according to court documents. 
  • It’s sayonara to the Top of the World Classic in Alaska.
  • The extremely poorly situated Kentucky Basketball Museum closed its doors in the face of large financial losses. 
  • We wanted to get a take in on the Brandon Jennings Experiment, as articulately described by N-Bug upon BJ’s announcement that he’ll spend his “1-and-done” year playing in Europe.  Generally, we think this will be a disaster and wouldn’t be surprised if Jennings absolutely submerges his draft stock during the season (that is, until he returns next spring and excels in the 1-on-1 workouts given by teams).  Gottlieb nailed it when he pointed out that EuroLeague ball is of a much-higher quality than what Jennings probably thinks it is (and certainly well above college hoops).  Lots of risk of exposure here for Jennings.  Bad decision. 
  • Gary Parrish makes a compelling point about the inherent conflict of interest in referees working for schools calling games on international trips and scrimmages, then turning around and calling games for those same teams during the season.  As you may recall, we wrote exactly a year ago that the Donaghy situation happens way more than anyone thinks, and this is just another loophole that encourages it. 
  • Maybe we’re cynical, but there has to be a Shawn Kemp is Broke story somewhere in this tender piece by Luke Winn.
  • Davidson’s Stephen Curry has noticed that his life has changed after his spectacular March run.
  • Where does Super Mario’s shot rank in the all-time great NCAA shots pantheon?  His former teammate Sherron Collins won’t have to worry about watching the highlight from the pokey, as prosecutors stated there was not enough evidence to substantiate allegations against him stemming from an alleged incident in an elevator with a woman on the KU campus. 
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The Brandon Jennings Experiment

Posted by nvr1983 on July 17th, 2008

In what will undoubtably be one of the most scrutinized decision in prep sports history, 5-star point guard and Arizona signee Brandon Jennings has decided to forgo his college eligibility to turn pro. . .in Europe. While most people have been speculating that the decision is based on his trouble achieving a high enough SAT score–met the requirement on his 2nd try, but the NCAA flagged it for being a suspiciously high increase from his 1st try and he is awaiting the results of his 3rd attempt–his family asserts they have been considering going to Europe for a while because of the NBA rule that American high school players cannot be drafted until 1 year after their high school class has graduated. Lute Olson appears to be less than thrilled with the decision and has stated he will not recruit anybody who would be a one-and-done player.

While Jennings probably isn’t the 1st American-born player to go straight from high school to an overseas professional league, he certainly is the first with legitimate NBA potential. It will be interesting to see how Jennings does as it will give us a better insight into high-level college basketball versus European pro ball.

On Thursday, Jennings signed with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of the Italian league. The deal was negotiated by Sonny Vaccaro (surprise!) and is described as a “three-year, multimillion-dollar” contract with an option for a buyout if Jennings wishes to enter the NBA Draft. Vaccaro declined to go into detail about the financials, but I’m assuming Vaccaro is shrewd enough to make sure that the buyout isn’t significant enough to affect his client’s draft stock.

I’m not that familiar with European basketball outside of a few of the major powers, which Pallacanestro Virtus Roma definitely is not (last European League title came in 1984). However, it seems like Vaccaro has ensured that Jennings is in a position to succeed by placing him with an English-speaking coach and arranging for many other things including taking care of his family.

In order to study what could become a major turning point in college basketball (players skipping it to go overseas before the NBA), we will try to provide updates and analysis of Jennings and his performance along with an attempt to translate it into how it will affect his draft stock. In the meantime, if any of you are familiar with Italian league basketball share your knowledge with your fellow fans in the comment section.

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6.24.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on June 24th, 2008

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05.22.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 22nd, 2008

An abbreviated version of Fast Breaks today. . .

  • If you thought nepotism was dead, think again. Mike Krzyzewski promoted his son-in-law to director of basketball operations. Nothing keeps your in-laws on leash like having the power to fire them.
  • As we mentioned almost two months ago, Arizona is going through some tough times with the transition from interim coach Kevin O’Neill back to living legend Lute Olson. However, it looks like things are more of a mess there than we previously thought. Lute has his work cut out for him and he might want to try to erase any record of his previous prediction that the Wildcats would contend for the 2009 national title, which was before Jerryd Bayless left and Chase Buddinger left and Kevin O’Neill left and Emmanuel Negedu backed out of his national letter of intent and Brandon Jennings failed to qualify academically and Nic Wise brought up the possibility of transferring. . .
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The West Side is the Best Side…

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2007

2Pac

2Pac was right after all

Quite a bit was made last season of a renaissance in the quality of basketball in the Pac-10 conference, as it ended the season as a top three conference in both the RPI and Sagarin ratings in addition to earning a record six NCAA bids for the conference and enjoying the prestige as the only conference with multiple teams in the Elite Eight (Oregon and UCLA). There has always been a surplus of talent on the west coast, especially in the Seattle and SoCal areas, but it was largely characterized by players opting to play for an eastern school just as often as staying home to play for State U. This has been changing over the last five years, however, as new coaches such as Lorenzo Romar at Washington, Tim Floyd at USC, Tony Bennett at Wazzu and Ben Howland at UCLA have endeavored and succeeded in keeping as many of those talents as possible close to home. This is no more evident than in some of the recruiting wars over the last couple of years that resulted in top ten players such as Spencer Hawes (Washington), twins Brook & Robin Lopez (Stanford), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Brandon Jennings (Arizona) signing to play in the Pac-10 (notable exception: Lake Oswego’s (OR) Kyle Singler to Duke).

Steve Lavin

Lavin’s former conference is on the rise

Still, we were a little surprised when Rivals released its top ten players at each position for the 2007-08 season, and the Pac-10 claimed by far the most players, with thirteen of the top fifty. This is especially remarkable given that the league is losing all-conference performers Arron Afflalo (UCLA), Aaron Brooks (Oregon), Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Nick Young (USC) to the NBA next season, while it welcomes likely top fifty players Kevin Love and OJ Mayo (USC) to the league. With talent like this staying on the west coast, we should expect another great season from the Pac-10 conference next year. Somewhere Steve Lavin’s hair gel is celebrating.

The ACC and Big East have seven players each on the list; the SEC has six, and the the Big 12 has five of the top fifty players. The Mountain West and Conference USA both have three of the top fifty, outperforming the Big 10 (again), who only has two. The Colonial (Eric Maynor – VCU), Horizon (AJ Graves – Butler), Missouri Valley (Randal Falker – S. Illinois) and Southern (Stephen Curry – Davidson) conferences each have one top fifty player returning. Below is the list including multiple-player conferences:

Rivals 2007-08 Top 50 Players

You probably noticed that we shaded the teams with three top fifty players returning next season – Stanford, UCLA, UNC, Kansas. It’s certainly no coincidence that three of those will begin next year in the top five of the polls, and the fourth, Stanford, will probably be knocking on the door of the top ten.

Thoughts -

  • Where is all the Big Ten talent? Having less players on this list than CUSA and the Mountain West is cause for alarm, and helps to explain why only one Big Ten team played into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament last season. Where are the usual stables of talent at Michigan State and Illinois? Aside from the yeoman’s work that Matta is putting into recruting at OSU, the rest of the Big Ten has signed only two top thirty prospects during the last three recruiting cycles – Joe Krabbenhoft of Wisconsin in 2005, and Eric Gordon of Indiana in 2007. An influx of coaching talent has entered the league (Tubby Smith at Minnesota and Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but without the players to accompany those moves, the Big Ten is going nowhere fast.
  • Nitpicks. We probably would have found a place for the following players: Derrick Low (Washington St.), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), and Patrick Beverley (Arkansas). Expect each of these players to be all-conference performers in their respective leagues next season. We also have a sneaky feeling that guys like DaJuan Summers (Georgetown), Deon Thompson (UNC), Derrick Caracter (Louisville) and JaJuan Smith (Tennessee) will make a solid case to be on this list next season.
  • Surprises. NC State’s future looks bright with two young big men, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, returning for Sidney Lowe’s team. Alabama should be much improved next year as well, assuming Ronald Steele gets healthy (he was on many preseason all-american teams last year but struggled with tendinitis and ankle injuries that largely derailed Bama’s season). Apologies to the Mountain West, but who are Stuart Creason and Luke Nevill? Their inclusion on this list shows that the depth of talent at the center position in the college game is ridiculously thin.
  • Instant Impact Players in 2007-08. This list next season will be populated by the likes of OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (Kansas St.), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Anthony Randolph (LSU).
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