Morning Five: 10.03.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 3rd, 2014

morning5

  1. For the past few years we have been speculating as to when many of the legendary coaches in college basketball would retire, but there is another college basketball legend–Dick Vitale–who we should be talking about in a similar way. Vitale, who turned 75 in June, reached an agreement with with ESPN that will extend his contract through 2017. We all know that Vitale has become a polarizing figure with some fan bases, but we have a hard time faulting someone who is so passionate about the sport we all love and is even more passionate about raising money for cancer research. We are sure that there are some of you who have grown tired of Vitale and his “act”, but remember there is no bigger ambassador for the sport.
  2. Butler announced that head coach Brandon Miller would be taking an indefinite medical leave of absence for an undisclosed reason. Last season, Miller had the unenviable task of replacing Brad Stevens with a depleted squad and it showed with a first-year record of 14-17 overall and 4-14 in the Big East. We aren’t sure what the exact reasons are for Miller’s leave of absence, but according to Jeff Goodman they might be stress-related as many of Miller’s friends have been unable to contact him for months and Goodman says that he would not be surprised if Miller did not return. Whatever Miller’s ailment may be we wish him the best of health in his recovery from whatever is bothering him. Chris Holtmann, who previously spent three seasons as head coach at Gardner-Webb before coming to Butler, will serve as the interim head coach during Miller’s leave.
  3. Cameron Biedscheid‘s stay at Missouri was a short one as the school announced that the Notre Dame transfer is leaving the school “to attend to personal matters”. The school did not go into details as to what those personal matters were, but said that Biedscheid, who would be have eligible to play in the spring semester, “will no longer be a member of our basketball program” indicating that this will not just be a temporary break. Even though Biedscheid’s production as a freshman at Notre Dame– 6.2 points in 17.4 minutes per game–was modest he was a highly touted prospect and would have been expected to pick up a lot of the scoring the Tigers lost when Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross left. Now the Tigers are left in an even more difficult spot and Biedscheid will have some tough decisions ahead as he will not be eligible to play in Division I until the 2015-16 season. To make things even worse for Missouri, Johnathan Williams III, a power forward who averaged 5.8 points per game last season, will miss time after suffering a torn meniscus during an individual workout.
  4. With those losses the announcement that Missouri had reinstated freshmen Jakeenan Gant and D’Angelo Allen certainly seems a little suspicious. The pair had been suspended last month after they were arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault when Gant’s wallet was found at the site of an assault. Gant was considered a coup for Kim Anderson as he was the state’s 2014 Mr. Basketball who committed to Frank Haith and stayed even after Haith left. Allen committed to Missouri the week after Anderson was hired so they are both pretty significant freshmen at least on a symbolic level.  We aren’t exactly sure how they magically managed to do enough to impress the staff that they had turned things around the same time the team lost two key pieces, but we have our suspicions.
  5. Long Beach State‘s aspirations of competing for the Big West title this year took a hit when head coach Dan Monson announced that starting guard A.J. Spencer would miss the 2014-15 season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee during a pickup game last week. Spencer’s injury was reported last week by a local newspaper, but was not confirmed by Monson until this week. Spencer averaged 9.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season while starting 28 of 32 games. Monson will try to fill Spencer’s spot by committee, but with Long Beach State’s challenging non-conference slate it could be a rough start to the season.
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Georgia Tech and Notre Dame Exhibit Holes in Saturday Match-up

Posted by CD Bradley on January 12th, 2014

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When the schedules initially came out, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech expected to look very different in their third ACC game than they did on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. For the Irish, things started to devolve in the preseason with the redshirt of Cameron Biedscheid, who then announced his transfer to Missouri after Christmas. Then Jerian Grant, a preseason All-ACC selection who led the Irish in points, assists, and steals, was lost for the season due to an academic issue. Then on Saturday, frontcourt reserve Tom Knight didn’t make the trip to Atlanta due to a sprained ankle.

Georgia Tech's defense on Eric Atkins and his Notre Dame teammates (Getty)

Georgia Tech’s defense on Eric Atkins and his Notre Dame teammates were crucial in Saturday’s win. (Getty)

Georgia Tech has health issues of its own. First freshman point guard Travis Jorgenson tore his ACL in the Yellow Jackets’ fourth game. Then sophomore Robert Carter, who was averaging 10.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game (with a 29.8 defensive rebounding percentage, sixth best in the country), suffered a torn meniscus. Sophomore point guard Solomon Poole, the team’s top backcourt reserve, missed the game on Saturday with a migraine. As Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory put it, “It was two teams who were trying to re-discover themselves with guys out.”

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SEC M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell on January 8th, 2014

SEC_morning5

  1. Tennessee entered SEC play feeling good about itself after a dominant win over Virginia. Conversely, LSU entered on a low note after a home loss to Rhode Island. The momentum for both teams stayed the same after Tuesday night’s first conference game of the season. The Vols went to Baton Rouge and hammered the Tigers, getting a monster game from Jarnell Stokes (15 points, 15 rebounds) and good production from Jordan McRae (19 points) and Antonio Barton (14 points). For the second straight game, LSU was battered on the glass, getting outrebounded by 12 boards. Unlike Rhode Island, the Vols are a good rebounding team, but Jordan Mickey and Johnny O’Bryant are too big and talented to let this happen to that degree. LSU got an ice cold shooting night out of its backcourt as its guards combined to shoot a miserable 6-of-24 from the field. The Tigers won’t get the benefit of doubt from the selection committee in March, so it’s imperative that Johnny Jones’ squad turns things around quickly after two distressing home losses.
  2. Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings is running out of scholarship players after Eric McClellan, the Commodores’ leading scorer, did not make the trip to Tuscaloosa. A school release said the timetable for McClellan’s return is unknown. Nonetheless, the Commodores fought back from an 18-point deficit to get within three before Alabama pulled away with the win Tuesday night. Rod Odom (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Damian Jones (16 points, five rebounds) keyed the comeback in part by continually beating the Tide on the glass after it appeared they’d let up with a big lead, but a late Retin Obasohan three put the game out of reach. Stallings should be pleased with the resolve of his undermanned team in making this one competitive. On the other side, however, Anthony Grant should be happy with the play of freshman forward Shannon Hale, who was efficient (15 points on 6-0f-8 shooting) and could be a nice offensive complement to Trevor Releford and Obasohan. 
  3. CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm threw the SEC some respect in his latest bracketology update. In addition to Kentucky, Missouri and Florida, Palm has Arkansas in the tournament as an #11 seed and Tennessee in as a #10 seed. The Vols are the less surprising of the two since they brought considerable hype and expectations into the season, and despite a few early losses, they haven’t fallen off a cliff. Arkansas, however, has yet to prove anything, especially away from home. The Razorbacks avoid the “first round” in Palm’s bracket, meaning that they are safely in the field of 68. It’s just one person’s opinion, but perhaps the national perspective on Arkansas is a bit more positive than it feels within league circles. In total Palm views the SEC as a five-bid league right now, which would be an improvement over the last two seasons.
  4. There were repeat winners for both of the most recent SEC weekly awardsJordan McRae picked up his second SEC Player of the Week honor on the strength of a stat-stuffing performance against Virginia (21 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals). The senior is averaging the most assists per game of his career, and it couldn’t come at a better time with the point guards issues the Vols have had. Bobby Portis got the nod as SEC Freshman of the Week after a double-double performance against UT-San Antonio. This is the second time this season that Portis has won the award.
  5. Frank Haith’s transfer mill at Missouri keeps on churning as the Tigers appear to have picked up a commitment from Notre Dame transfer and St. Louis native Cameron Biedscheid yesterday (although Biedscheid later claimed that he had not decided yet). The 6’7” sophomore was redshirting in South Bend this year, but he will be eligible to play at the semester break next season. Biedscheid averaged 17.4 minutes per game in 2012-13, and his experience could be valuable for Missouri next year. It’s conceivable that Haith will need to replace his entire starting backcourt — Earnest Ross will graduate and both Jordan Clarkson (likely) and Jabari Brown (less likely) could enter the NBA draft — so sliding Baylor transfer Deuce Bello and, eventually, Biedscheid into open spots on the perimeter could be a big help for next year’s Tigers.
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Morning Five: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 8th, 2014

morning5

  1. As we suggested yesterday, it turns out there was more to the story of the suspended UTEP players than was initially reported as they are accused of betting on at least one sporting event. The accused players include not only already suspended juniors Jalen Ragland and Justin Crosgile, but also McKenzie Moore, the team’s leading scorer. At this point, all the school is saying is that they are not aware of any evidence that implicates the players in point-shaving or even betting on games that involve UTEP. We suspect that this will become a bigger story moving forward.
  2. It appeared that it would not take long for Notre Dame transfer Cameron Biedscheid to find a new home as news broke yesterday that he was headed to Missouri, but much like Biedscheid’s initial decision to leave Notre Dame now there is some question as to the veracity of the original report as Biedscheid came out later in the day and denied that he had made a decision yet. If Biedscheid does transfer to Missouri it would be a big pick-up for Haith as Biedscheid was a top-tier talent coming out of high school before his relatively disappointing freshman year in South Bend.
  3. Biedscheid may still be deciding on where he is transferring to (or at least when he will publicly admit it), but Providence transfer Brandon Austin has decided and like so many other recent transfers is headed to Oregon. To call Austin a Providence transfer might be a little misleading because he along with fellow freshman Rodney Bullock were suspended indefinitely before the season started with the suspension extended to the entire season just a few weeks ago. While the addition of Austin, a top-50 recruit, could mean big things in the future for the Ducks it also might take them out of the running for Louisville transfer Chane Behanan.
  4. It should not come as a surprise, but yesterday Fran McCaffery received a one-game suspension for his altercation with an official during Sunday’s game with Wisconsin that led to his ejection. McCaffery’s ejection came at a point in the game where the momentum swung in favor of Wisconsin so it would hardly be a stretch to call it a turning point in the game. For his part, McCaffery has publicly expressed remorse for his actions. Still given McCaffery’s history we doubt that this will be the last time we see his infamous temper on a public stage.
  5. It turns out that Grinnell can do more than set ridiculous scoring records. It can also set ridiculous assist records as Pat Maher handed out a NCAA-record 37 assists on Monday night in Grinell’s 164-144 win over College of Faith. As you might expect the usual suspects are already out criticizing Grinell’s scheduling, which we can admit is questionable. To us, the most interesting aspects of the record (we haven’t seen video of the game so for all we know Maher was throwing passes to guys who were hitting half-court shots all night) is that Grinell did this without Jack Taylor, who holds the NCAA record with 138 points in a game and sat out last night, and Maher broke the record of David N. Arseneault, the team’s associate head coach, who happens to be the son of the head coach and is a former Pioneer himself.
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Morning Five: 12.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. After some initial uncertainty regarding the status of Cameron Biedscheid, Notre Dame granted Biedschied permission to transfer. As we noted earlier this week, it has been a rough week for the Irish who lost Jerian Grant to an academic issue over the weekend. Biedscheid, who took a redshirt just before the season started, was a top-30 recruit coming into school, but did not have a particularly impressive freshman season. News of Biedscheid’s intention to transfer leaked over the weekend, but then questions arose as to when and whether Notre Dame would grant the transfer request.
  2. Some might consider it a little early to start debating the best conference in the country, but in some ways it might be the second best time to judge conferences since the remainder of the regular season will essentially be conference match-ups (the best time being after the season). As such, Matt Norlander’s analysis of the top conferences in the country using the RPI and KenPom rankings is somewhat instructive. Most of the findings are not too surprising for those of us that follow the sport regularly, but it is interesting to see just how bad some conferences have been (like the Mountain West and SEC) and how disappointing some other ones have been (ACC).
  3. With Saturday’s massive intrastate match-up between Louisville and Kentucky looming, Sporting News took a look at the top 10 players from Rick Pitino and John Calipari (fair warning: they are both slideshows). Given their well-traveled coaching paths neither list is composed exclusively of Louisville and Kentucky players, but it is interesting although not surprising to see how heavily weighted Pitino’s list is towards Kentucky. Having said that it will be interesting to see how Pitino’s legacy in particular is defined in terms of his team association when he hangs it up. Given the arc of his career we suspect he will be someone like Larry Brown without a firm affiliation to one school.
  4. When we saw the headline that Reggie Johnson was transferring from Miami we were initially very confused. It turns out that it was not about the rather large former center for the Hurricanes. Instead it was referring to the 6’1″ sophomore guard from Miami (Ohio). This Reggie Johnson is the second-leading scorer for his team at 11.8 points per game and states that he is looking for “great chemistry, a winning program, a place where I can excel and reach my full potential and of course a great education.” Although the other Reggie Johnson was probably a more desirable target this one should have a fair number of suitors with nearly two and a half years of eligibility remaining.
  5. We have spent a fair amount of time on Twitter criticizing the breaks that teams (particularly professional ones) get from the government. It should not come as a surprise that other organizations get these benefits too, but the size of the benefits–particularly for a company like ESPN–may surprise you. According to The New York Times, ESPN has received almost $260 million in state tax breaks and credits over the past 12 years. We won’t get into the economic or political discussions regarding the reasoning behind this decision or the implications it has on the state government and economy, but we suspect that it might become a big debate whenever the next economic crisis hits Connecticut.
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Morning Five: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. If you are one of those people who is vehemently opposed to the idea of tanking, Zach Lowe of Grantland may have a solution for you. According to Lowe, the NBA is exploring the possibility of what is essentially a lottery wheel. With this proposed system, teams would know where they would be drafting up to 30 years in advance of a specific NBA Draft. The numbers and the algorithms behind the wheel are beyond the scope of a Morning Five so we would refer you over to Lowe’s column for a discussion on it along with the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. This certainly is not a perfect solution, but could serve as an interesting point to base further discussions about how to structure the NBA Draft going forward.
  2. In this week’s Hoops Thoughts, SI‘s Seth Davis turns the tables and instead of looking at the freshmen as nearly every writer and fan has done this year he has decided to look at the top seniors. Reviewing his Senior Watch List it is apparent how many high-level seniors there are this season. We wouldn’t take this as an indication of a resurgence of upperclassmen, but instead as one of a short-term phenomenon as this year’s junior class is not particularly impressive. Still as Seth points out it is worth taking some time to appreciate this group of seniors.
  3. If any college basketball coach could use a little holiday boost this year, it might be Ed Cooley. Having already lost Kris Dunn for the season to a shoulder injury, Cooley announced yesterday that incoming freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock had been suspended for the remainder of the season. While unpleasant the news should come as a surprise to Friar fans as the pair had been suspended since November 6 for an unspecified violation of the school’s code of conduct. The school is not releasing any more information, but according to the local newspaper there are no state or local police complaints about either since they arrived on campus back in August. It is unclear if Austin and/or Bullock will stay or transfer, but they both will be allowed to practice with the team for the remainder of the season.
  4. It has certainly been an interesting past few days in South Bend. On Saturday the men’s basketball team blew a seemingly safe lead against Ohio State. On Sunday, Jerian Grant announced that he was leaving the team this season due to an undisclosed academic matter. Finally, yesterday news leaked out that Cameron Biedscheid, who was said to be redshirting, was transferring or maybe not. Biedscheid, one of the most highly touted recruits that Mike Brey has ever signed,  had an unremarkable freshman season averaging 6.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1 assist per game before deciding to take a redshirt year this year with the announcement coming just before the start of the season. Early yesterday it was reported that he had asked for a release from the school, but it is unclear when the school would process such a request since it is officially closed until January 2. As Tom Noie notes, there is a chance that Brey could talk Biedscheid out of it by then, but it seems unlikely.
  5. Finally with Christmas right around the corner, The Dagger has you covered with an assortment of college basketball teams butchering your favorite Christmas carols. While we can appreciate the effort and find quite a bit of humor in their attempts, we are pretty sure these will not be mentioned in the same breath as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Anyways, we hope you enjoy their renditions and have a happy holiday.
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A Number of Last Year’s ACC Freshmen Are Poised for Breakout Seasons

Posted by Chris Kehoe on October 16th, 2013

A common theme in college basketball is the jump in productivity from a player’s freshman to sophomore seasons. In a player’s second year with a program they are more apt to be familiar with the defensive schemes and offensive playbook of the coaching staff. They have also hopefully better adjusted to the speed and physicality of the college game and added some weight to their frame with a full offseason of serious strength and conditioning. In a premier basketball conference like the ACC, sometimes blue chip recruits struggle to acclimate to the game in their first year and may even spend a good amount of time on the bench. Their sophomore years represent a time for these players to make their names on the national stage and achieve a breakout campaign that will live up to their prodigious high school reputations. In the ACC, some freshmen have already ‘broken out’ and made a name for themselves with their play, like Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan (2012-13’s ACC ROY) and Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon. Here are 10 ACC sophomores ready to make the leap this coming season (listing in no particular order).

1). Justin Anderson, Virginia

Anderson Returns to a Virginia Team With High Hopes

Anderson Returns to a Virginia Team With High Hopes

This sophomore forward averaged 7.6 points  and 1.2 blocks per game in his freshman campaign. He started 17 of Virginia’s 35 games last season, and at 6’6″, 230 pounds, he has the frame necessary to take some of the burden off of the Cavaliers’ senior stars, Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell. He ended the season strong, leading the Cavaliers in scoring during their NIT run, and can only hope to build off of that positive momentum.

2012-13 stat line: 7.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.2 BPG in 24.0 minutes per game

2). Mike Tobey, Virginia

The 7’0″ behemoth has good hands and is continuing to develop the post moves necessary to make himself a force to be reckoned with in the middle. His elite-level footwork has him poised to make the jump in his second season in the ACC. Making the U.S. U-19 World Championship team has only increased his confidence in his ability to play with the best, and strengthened the bond between coach and player, considering Virginia’s Tony Bennett was the U-19 head coach.

2012-13 stat line: 6.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.6 BPG in 13.9 minutes per game

3). T.J. Warren, N.C. State

The 6’8″ marksman flirted with a jump to the NBA after his freshman campaign, but instead watched teammates C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown make the leap. The incredibly efficient forward had 14 starts for the Wolfpack and shot an impressive 62.2% from the floor, 51.9% from three-point range. The 2012 McDonald’s All-American and Brewster Academy graduate will have plenty of scoring opportunities this year without Brown, Leslie, and Richard Howell to contend with. It also can’t hurt having N.C State’s two-headed point guard tandem of Tyler Lewis and Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber feeding him the ball.

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Big East NCAA Tournament Capsules: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Posted by Will Tucker on March 22nd, 2013

Notre Dame built a Tournament resume by beating top-10 ranked UK and collecting conference wins over Louisville, Marquette, Pitt, Villanova and Cincinnati. In the Big East Tournament, Mike Brey’s team bested Rutgers and Marquette, and then hung with Louisville for 25 minutes before ultimately succumbing in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. Despite being ranked for much of the season, the Irish were handed a seven seed due to a weak nonconference schedule and 2-5 record against the RPI top 25.

Perimeter defense is top priority for Notre Dame (credit Frank Franklin III)

Perimeter defense is top priority for Notre Dame against Iowa State (credit Frank Franklin III)

Region: West
Seed: No. 7
Record: 25-9 (11-7 Big East)
Matchup: v. Iowa State in Dayton

Key Player: First Team All-Big East big man Jack Cooley has been an offensive juggernaut for the Irish all year, shooting 57% and posting the best offensive rebounding rate in the Big East for the second consecutive season. Cooley isn’t known as a versatile defender though, and the agile shooters in Iowa State’s frontcourt will force him to guard spots on the floor outside his comfort zone. If he can defend the perimeter without posing a defensive liability, Mike Brey’s team will be able to dictate the methodical pace they prefer against the high octane Cyclones.

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Big East M5: 12.04.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 4th, 2012

  1. Under Mike Brey, Notre Dame has developed a reputation for early NCAA Tournament flame outs. The Irish have reached the Dance eight times, but have only advanced past the round of 32 once. One of the reasons that has been cited is the tendency for Notre Dame teams to be predicated on jump shooting and finesse play. Brey thinks that this Notre Dame squad may be the one to break that mold and achieve “it,” although he seems to be very wary of angering the basketball jinx gods by revealing what “it” is.  This season’s Fighting Irish are flying high after a win over Kentucky, and the group seems to have a different makeup than the teams before them. They have a legitimate post presence in Jack Cooley, guards who can break down the defense in Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins, and the requisite shooters in Scott Martin and Cameron Biedscheid. This may not end up being the Notre Dame team that does “it,” but they certainly look the part at this early juncture.
  2. UConn’s season has been about as weird as one would expect so far. After what seemed to be a statement win in the opener against Michigan State in Germany, the Huskies dropped a game to New Mexico and have struggled recently against the likes of Stony Brook and New Hampshire. Kevin Ollie’s team is looking forward to the return of senior guard R.J. Evans, who is the normal sixth man in the team’s rotation. Evans, who missed the last two games with an injured sternoclavicular joint, may be ready to go in tonight’s match-up with a very talented NC State team. Evans’ presence and leadership off the bench should take some of the pressure off of starting guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Napier has stressed the impact that Evans brings to the flow of UConn’s offense: “Against New Hampshire we played a little selfish… We missed R.J.”
  3. In other UConn news, Jim Calhoun recently unveiled some interesting information about his health while on the YES Network’s Centerstage. On top of the February spinal surgery and the summer hip surgery that Calhoun underwent, he also had a “cancer-related” growth removed in May. Calhoun had previously received treatment for skin cancer in 2008, and doctors feared that the growth may be related to that incident. Calhoun also stated that he would “never say never” with regards to a coaching comeback. This seems like incredibly strange timing for such a statement, given his abrupt retirement which allowed his chosen successor Kevin Ollie to take over the job at Connecticut.
  4. Rick Pitino has competed against almost every notable coach you can think of at the highest levels of basketball, so when he is seemingly awe-struck by a young coach, it is noteworthy. After his Louisville Cardinals escaped an upset at the hands of Illinois State with a 69-66 win on Saturday, Pitino couldn’t heap enough praise on the Redbirds’ first-year head man, 36 year old Dan Muller: “We’ve all seen Brad Stevens (of Butler) and Shaka (Smart of VCU) the past couple years. That’s one of the brightest first-year coaches I’ve witnessed in a long, long time… I’m happy for him. He’s been very patient waiting for a job. That’s one of the bright young stars in our game.”
  5. When one thinks of Jim Boeheim, basketball is likely one of the first things to come to mind, along with Syracuse, central New York, zone defense, and epic post-game rants. However, Boeheim is also an avid golfer, and at one time, the Syracuse golf coach, which makes a three-foot tall golf ball painted in his likeness a little less… peculiar. The ball was painted by local artist Phillip Burke and will be auctioned off in the spring, with proceeds going to the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation. The Boeheims host an annual “Basket Ball” gala every spring, which has raised over $4 million dollars in the last dozen years for cancer research.

sternoclavicular

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Big East M5: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on November 21st, 2012

  1. Just when it looked as though we had some tenuous grasp of the complexion of this year’s Big East, these early-season tournaments rolled around and threw a healthy dose of chaos into the equation. UConn followed its marquee debut win against Michigan State with a loss to New Mexico in the Virgin Islands; Depaul soundly beat by Wichita State in Mexico; Georgetown shocked an oblivious viewing public with a superb performance in Brooklyn, falling short in overtime against the top-ranked team in the nation. Marquette, having had their hearts ripped out when Rotnei Clarke hit the biggest shot of the nascent season, rebounded last night with an emphatic 89-62 win over a reeling Mississippi State team. Marquette blog Paint Touches points out that Vander Blue has shown huge improvement in Maui in his two biggest areas of weakness––outside shooting and patience in the lane. He’s racked up 39 points and hit 5 of 8 three pointers against Butler and MSU. Marquette fans should feel relieved that Blue (11 PPG, 3 RPG) and Davante Gardner (14.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG), the two players widely regarded as wildcards headed into the season, have shined on their way to a 3-1 record.
  2. In a very surprising development, Florida coach Billy Donovan revealed last night that his athletic department has reached out to Georgetown in hopes of arranging a makeup date for the second half of their ill-fated maritime opener on November 9th. While the much-anticipated juggernaut matchup had been abandoned at halftime with no plans to resume, Donovan and AD Jeremy Foley probably feel they could use the RPI injection from a Hoyas team that already has a top-15 win under its belt. Donovan spoke enthusiastically about the possibility of a rematch, identifying a few dates in early January that could work for the Gators: “Both teams agreed to play before the year started. Let’s just play a game and help each other out here.”
  3. Yesterday, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Steve Eighinger filed a profile on hometown product Cameron Biedscheid, who’s putting together a productive freshman campaign at Notre Dame. The versatile 6’8 forward is averaging 6.3 PPG and has firmly established himself in Mike Brey’s seven-man rotation. The most salient quote from the Biedscheid provides a glimpse of the selfishness and mutual trust that seems to pervade the Irish locker room this year: “Coming in, I knew we had a lot of veteran guys on our roster…I knew just from playing in practice with them that they would have my back out there. I knew they would talk me through everything and make sure that I was doing the right things on the floor.”
  4. Joseph Santoliquito at CBS Philadelphia writes that Villanova’s freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono leads his team in scoring and assists less than a year after surgery to repair a herniated disk cost him his entire senior season. Arcidiacono credits a persistent optimism and healthy sense of detachment as responsible for his incredible recovery: “I never think about my back injury. To me, I never had back surgery. When people ask how my back is doing, I ask, ‘What back?’ The surgery never honestly took place. I had some doubts, but I found out I was strong enough to get through it and get back to where I was.” Jay Wright sees shades of a prolific former point guard in the freshman’s unwavering confidence: “Scottie Reynolds was the same way as a freshman…Reynolds has a record for nine turnovers in a game, but only because he wouldn’t stop after the second or third turnover. He just kept coming, and coming. I think Arch will be the same kind of kid. I think he’ll have some bad nights, but his bad nights will be from trying to do too much, and I like that.” Arcidiacono had the first such night of his young college career yesterday, shooting 3-11 (1-8 from long range) in Villanova’s embarrassing 75-57 home loss to Columbia. It’s no doubt better to gain the instructive perspective of a humbling loss early in the season, and utilize lessons learned once the games gain significance after the New Year.
  5. Lastly, Rick Bozich at the Courier-Journal yesterday published a story about a community-based boarding school in a depressed West Louisville neighborhood that will break ground this week a gym named in honor of Darrell Griffith, UofL’s most famous Doctor of Dunk. “No matter what athletic ability that you have, you’ve got to have an education,” said Griffith, who first dunked a basketball at the defunct Virginia Avenue Elementary School on whose former site the West End School now sits. “You’ve got to find your way in life. And it starts at this level.” Said fellow Cardinal alum Junior Bridgeman, who helped fund the $2 million structure: “If you’re going to hold up someone and say, ‘He’s from here. Look what he became in life and look what he accomplished in life.  It’s not a matter of where you’re from.’ You couldn’t have a better person than Darrell Griffith. It’s great that we can honor him that way. He deserves it and the kids need to know about him.” It’s a profoundly encouraging account of former college athletes taking an active role in community stewardship, and a welcome reprieve from the shallow avarice of conference realignment that’s gripped Louisville this week.
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Big East M5: 11.14.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 14th, 2012

  1. The first Naismith Award watch list, comprised of 50 players, was released yesterday. While it is difficult to take a ton of stock in a list that is so long and backed by so little in terms of on-court results, it’s always interesting to see who is highlighted. Seven current Big East players have been chosen for this first watch list.  Louisville has three players included, with guard Peyton Siva, center Gorgui Dieng, and forward Chane Behanan all named. Syracuse point guard Michael Carter Williams, Notre Dame center Jack Cooley, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, and Georgetown forward Otto Porter were also included.
  2. Villanova‘s Jay Wright and Purdue’s Matt Painter each look forward to their teams’ upcoming match-up in the 2k Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, as they believe the two programs are in a similar place early on this season. Jay Wright explains how the two teams, who are generally known for quite different approaches, mirror each other: “We’re similar to Purdue in that we have a lot of young players, and a lot of returning players who are taking on new roles… Right now, we are an inconsistent team, probably like a lot of people are early.” Villanova has started the year 2-0, but wins against the District of Columbia and Marshall aren’t enough to get people excited about Wildcats basketball again. A win over a quality Big Ten opponent surely would be.
  3. Marquette got a big boost from an unlikely source in its 84-63 victory over Colgate Sunday: sophomore Juan Anderson. Anderson has been a bit of a forgotten man in the Golden Eagles program, at least he had been before coming one point and rebound short of a double-double in the game against the Red Raiders. Anderson missed much of last season due to surgery and an NCAA suspension, and he was supposed to miss the beginning of this season again after undergoing another surgery, a fact that makes his performance all the more impressive.  Buzz Williams was impressed with Anderson’s play as well, and indicated that we’d see more of the forward in the future: “His energy level is what helps us… He had energy last year; he just didn’t have purpose to his energy. I think now he better understands how to play with that energy and have purpose in what he’s doing… I’ve been telling him the last few weeks that he needs to put me in a position where I can’t keep him off the floor, and the way he’s going to do that is by doing the things he did today.”
  4. Many basketball pundits are high on Notre Dame due to their experience — the Irish return four players from last season’s starting line-up. The prestigious Rush the Court: Big East Microsite preseason rankings place Notre Dame in at #3 after perennial powers Louisville and Syracuse. For all of the experience that Mike Brey returns, there are lingering questions about the team’s depth. Enter: Garrick Sherman and Cameron Biedscheid. Notre Dame was very sluggish in the first few minutes against Monmouth on Monday, until Sherman and Biedschied entered the game and sparked a 12-0 run. Sherman led the Irish with 22 points, while Biedschied added nine points and five assists. If Notre Dame can count on consistent performances like that off the bench, Brey’s squad may be more dangerous than originally thought.
  5. Many former college basketball players who aren’t lucky enough to carve out careers in the NBA are long-forgotten, but many of these athletes have long, fulfilling careers overseas. DePaul athletics highlighted former Blue Demon stars Will Walker and Krys Faber, a pair who are playing exceptionally well in Bulgaria and Uruguay, respectively.  Walker plays guard for BC Beroe, while Faber has become a 20/20 machine for Atletico Welcome. While both players certainly have NBA aspirations, they’re making the best of their current situations. It is refreshing to see Walker spreading an important message to up and coming athletes: “no matter what, always remember it’s a blessing to be playing professionally. Don’t take any of it for granted because there are hundreds of guys wishing for a spot.”
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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #3 Notre Dame

Posted by mlemaire on November 10th, 2012

Expectations; it’s something that coach Mike Brey and Notre Dame aren’t used to. Last season the Fighting Irish were pegged to finish ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll and they went on to win 13 conference games and make it to the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament. But this season, thanks to the return of nearly every meaningful contributor from last season’s team and the addition of a few precocious freshmen, expectations are high and the Fighting Irish are expected to contend with Louisville, Syracuse, and Cincinnati for the Big East crown. Brey and his squad won’t be able to play the role of underdog anymore, but they won’t have to either as they finally have the talent and the depth to compete with any team in the conference. If they can tighten up their defense, develop more interior depth, and become more efficient offensively, this team will be one of the best in the country. But if they struggle to defend and the offense becomes stagnant, we could be looking at just the latest in a long run of Notre Dame teams to flame out on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

2011-12 Record: 22-12, 13-5

2011-12 Postseason: NCAA Tournament Round of 64, lost to Xavier 67-63.

Things Are Looking Up for Mike Brey, Who Might Have Assembled His Best Team Yet (AP Photo)

Schedule: Last season the Fighting Irish played the 236th-most difficult non-conference schedule and so this season, the program added a few challenges while also keeping most of the creampuffs as well. The biggest match-up will be against No. 3 Kentucky in the SEC/Big East Challenge at the end of November, but St. Joseph’s is their first opponent in the CvC Classic Championship and while they aren’t ranked, they favorite to win the Atlantic 10. And Purdue under Matt Painter won’t be an easy game either.

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