Unrest In Memphis: Should Josh Pastner Be On The Hot Seat?

Posted by mlemaire on November 22nd, 2013

There probably aren’t too many college basketball coaches who have found themselves on the hot seat just one season after winning more than 30 games, but after a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State on Tuesday that left him 0-13 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25, Memphis coach Josh Pastner is probably feeling a bit toasty. Tuesday’s showdown with the Cowboys was supposed to be an opportunity for Pastner’s Tigers to prove that they were ready for and deserved national recognition. Instead it served as the latest public service announcement on why you should never trust Memphis in big games. Sure, Oklahoma State may have won the game anyway because Marcus Smart doesn’t belong in college basketball and Stillwater is not an easy place to play, but Memphis didn’t even make it competitive. It’s probably unfair to judge this year’s team based on its second game of the season, but Pastner shouldn’t get to be so lucky.

A Proven Recruiter, Josh Pastner Needs To Prove He Can Coach Too If He Wants To Keep His Job

A Proven Recruiter, Josh Pastner Needs To Prove He Can Coach Too If He Wants To Keep His Job

Pastner’s reputation as an up-and-coming coaching superstar didn’t really begin until he graduated fromArizona and became an assistant at his alma mater under Lute Olson in 2002. Pastner’s reputation as a tireless worker preceded him and he quickly used that work ethic to establish himself as one of the best recruiters in the entire country, luring stars like Channing Frye, Mustafa Shakur, and Chase Budinger to the desert with a combination of charm and persistence. That recruiting prowess (as well as Olson’s retirement) played a big role in Pastner moving on to become an assistant coach and lead recruiter at Memphis, working under the Godfather of Recruiting himself, John Calipari, for the 2008-09 season. Calipari resigned after the season to take the job with Kentucky and it looked like Pastner would follow Calipari to Lexington. But the college basketball coaching ranks were experiencing a bit of a youth movement and a passionate and energetic 31-year-old like Pastner was the poster boy for this shift.

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Arizona Schools Opt For Mid-Day Madness Over the Weekend

Posted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2011

After skipping out on the hysteria that is Midnight Madness, both Arizona and Arizona State gave their fans a treat last weekend with events centered around open scrimmages on their home court. For the ambitious desert hoops fan, they were even scheduled appropriately enough to allow the truly committed to make it to both events.

Jesse Perry, Arizona

Jesse Perry will be a major factor up front for the Wildcats this season.

For the last three years under head coach Sean Miller, Arizona has opted for using the Red-Blue Game, an intrasquad scrimmage played at the McKale Center, as a chance to present his team to the fans. Calling Midnight Madness little more than “playing a glorified pickup game,” Miller has instead turned the annual game into an event, complete with player introductions, a dunk contest, and the honoring of former players. For instance,in front of a capacity crowd that included former Wildcat greats such as Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry, Jerryd Bayless, Lute Olson and others, as well as a handful of recruits, Arizona this year inducted Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger to its prestigious Ring of Honor.

As for the game itself, it was a good chance for UA fans to get a first glimpse at their highly-touted freshman class of Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, who went for a combined 49 points in the scrimmage. The two Johnsons (no relation) were arguably the most impressive players on the day by all accounts, with Nick hitting three three-pointers, playing tough defense, throwing down a put-back dunk (on top of winning the pre-game dunk contest) and even running a bit of point. Sidiki, meanwhile, hit all seven of his shots from the field, including a couple of threes (a skill he was not known for in high school) and looks to be slightly ahead of Chol in the chase for minutes. Senior forward Jesse Perry led all scorers on the day with 20 points, including three threes, an addition to his game since last year. He will seemingly be the main offensive threat in the frontcourt for the Wildcats. Junior wing Kevin Parrom, who is recovering from being shot in New York about a month ago, dressed for the game but did not play. Nevertheless, there was good news on the Parrom front in the postgame press conference, as Miller mentioned that the team is unlikely to redshirt him this season, although he is expected to miss some of the Wildcats’ early games while his rehabilitation continues.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 10.24.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2011

  1. One of the themes of this Pac-12 basketball season will be the impacts that newcomers make on the conference race. And nowhere will a group of freshman be more important to the team’s eventual success than in Tucson, where Sean Miller welcomes in four top 100 recruits. Josiah Turner is the most highly acclaimed of the four, and he has a chance to step in and grab the starting point guard position from the get-go. Nick Johnson is a seriously athletic two-guard, while Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol are a pair of power forwards who should earn minutes immediately. For a little deeper introduction, Casey Crowe at Bleacher Report has the rundown on each of them.
  2. Also in Tucson, Arizona held its Red-Blue Game on Saturday, a scrimmage that also served as a platform for adding Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger into the UA Ring of Honor. Before a sold-out crowd at the McKale Center that included former Wildcat great such as Jason Terry, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, and Channing Frye, UA fans got their first glimpse at those new freshman, with Sidiki Johnson scoring 18 and Nick Johnson, who won the pre-game dunk contest, adding 17.
  3. Washington invites in six freshman of their own, with explosive guard Tony Wroten, Jr., leading the way. Wroten underwent minor knee surgery this week, but is not expected to miss any games. To get to know Wroten a little bit, check out Searching for Billy Edelin’s exploration of the impact that Wroten has already had on Lorenzo Romar’s program, and the big things in his future. Wroten has been compared to such greats as Magic Johnson in the past, a comparison that Romar doesn’t shy away from.
  4. Not all the impact newcomers in the league are freshman. For Colorado, newly eligible transfer Carlon Brown will not only be a veteran leader, he’ll also be a major part of what the Buffs try to do on the floor. Brown left Utah after struggling through an unhappy junior season during which he was asked to give up his starting role and come off the bench. After spending last year on the practice squad guarding guys like Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, Brown is more than ready to get back on the floor.
  5. At Arizona State, not only are there new players, but there’s also a new pace, as head coach Herb Sendek is implementing a system that operates at a higher tempo than we’re used to seeing his Sun Devil teams play. Last year, ASU’s adjusted tempo was 296th in the nation, but they look to up that substantially this season. It would help if freshman point guard Jahii Carson was around to help push the pace, but Carson is still waiting for his transcripts from an online summer school course to be released.
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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.

It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)

south_impact

Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

  • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
  • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
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Welcome Team Narcissism: Class of 2009

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2009

Well, the 2009 NBA Draft has come and gone, and hundreds of players are waking up to the soul-crushing wreckage that inevitably follows.  For thirty players last night, hummingbirds are carrying $100 bills around the hotel room, there’s a case of empty Cristal at the foot of the bed, and the debilitating headache you’re sporting today is a badge of honor – Welcome to the Show.  For another thirty players, there’s a melancholy tease of ‘what could have been’ as you realize your dream is only marginally within reach – no guarantees from here on… you’re just a day-to-day wage-slave like the rest of us.  For the remainder who were waiting on that siren’s call from D. Stern last night, replace the Cristal with Boone’s and the tease with ‘what went wrong… I thought I was pretty good,’  and you have what we like to call Team Narcissism.

narcissismTeam Narcissism is filled with players who thought they were something they weren’t: draftable.  Or if they were draftable, they thought they were first-rounders when they were really second-rounders.  These are players who left college early based on the tenuous premise that they were ready for the NBA, and that the NBA would welcome them into its arms…  but… it didn’t quite work out that way.  Now they’re left with the option of scratching and clawing their way onto a team for a minimum salary, or heading overseas to try to catch on somewhere else.  Some of these players had absolutely no business declaring early, while others were victims of unfortunate timing and stock slippage.  Still, Scotty Thurman says hello.

Team Narcissism

  • Dar Tucker, Depaul (undrafted) – the 6’5 Blue Demon thought because he could score 18 ppg on a terrible FG% (39%) that this made him a draft pick?
  • Shawn Taggart, Memphis (undrafted) – Taggart should be a gearing up for a senior season as a featured player in Josh Pastner’s new offense.  He never had a chance at getting drafted this year.
  • Brandon Costner, NC State (undrafted) – never had a chance, so why not stay in school for one more season and get your degree (see: Taggart)? (correction: stay in school and improve your game?)
  • Paul Harris, Syracuse (undrafted) – the first of two Syracuse clowns who were egregiously fooling themselves into believing they had a shot to get selected last night.
  • Eric Devendorf, Syracuse (undrafted) –  it’s true, he probably had nowhere else to go, but given what we know about Devo, he also probably saw himself as a lottery pick.
  • Daniel Hackett, USC (undrafted) – can’t blame the kid for jumping off a sinking ship, but he probably could have returned and dominated on that team next year (plus get his degree).
  • Patty Mills, St. Mary’s (#55) - this was a free-fall last night.  Mills was a borderline first-rounder but his stock fell significantly in the last month, and he probably should have listened to the right people and returned to SMC for an injury-free junior all-american campaign.
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky (#41) - no surprise here, as Meeks was expected to go in the second round.  Still think it was a poor decision, though.
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona (#44) - another free-fall player, as Budinger was a lottery pick not all that long ago.  Don’t really blame him much for leaving early, though, as his fall was swift and recent.
  • DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh (#37) – good decision for an undersized Big Baby clone to leave early?  Probably depends on whether he makes the team or not, right?  Definitely a gamble.
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Tim Floyd to Arizona

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2009

Update: Apparently, the mainstream media is no more reliable than blogs as ESPN was completely wrong about Floyd accepting the Arizona job. Instead, he has decided to stay at USC perhaps comforted by the fact that he has Mike Dunleavy coaching in the same city to make him look like a coaching genius.

After unsuccessfully trying to woo Rick Pitino and reportedly going after Mark Few and Jeff Capel, Arizona is set to name Tim Floyd as its new head coach according to reports. In the wake of the Lute Olson fiasco last off-season, the Wildcats turned to Russ Pennell to lead the team as an interim head coach. Along with Mike Dunlap, who acted as a co-coach, Pennell guided the Wildcats to their nation-leading 25th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (if you ignore trips that were later vacated). The Wildcats, who in the eyes of many had underachieved all year long with one of the nation’s most talented trios (Nic Wise, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill), managed to get to the Sweet 16 with victories over Utah and Cleveland State before getting crushed by Louisville by 39 points to end the season.

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Floyd built his coaching reputation at Iowa State where he is the only coach in the program’s history to lead them to 3 consecutive 20-win seasons as he finished his 4 years there with a 81-49 record. However he is most well-known nationally for picking up the scraps of the Chicago Bulls team following the departure of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson, has only been moderately successful at USC making it to the NCAA tournament his past 3 years including a trip to the Sweet 16 two years ago.

Floyd’s first order of business when he takes over in Tucson will be to try to convince his 3 stars to come back next year. If he is able to do that, the Wildcats should be able to make the NCAA tournament. Once he does that he will need to start recruiting again as the Wildcats’ recruiting has fallen off considerably with all the uncertainty regarding their coaching situation the last 2 years.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2009

dynamiteWe’ll be doing a full BGtD today so you won’t have any interruptions in coverage tonight. Honestly, last night’s games were kind of disappointing. Pittsburgh-Xavier was entertaining, but that was the only game that I would say was memorable from a pure basketball standpoint. Now the other games did have their own interesting subplots. UConn rolled over Purdue in a game that was close at points in the 2nd half, but I never really got the sense that the Huskies were in any danger of losing. I was particularly impressed with how the Huskies played despite the media circus that is going on around them. Missouri‘s victory over Memphis was entertaining although for me it was marred a little by the atrocious free throw shooting. As we mentioned last night, I really wonder what John Calipari does, if he does anything, for his team’s free throw shooting. At this point, I’m convinced J.J. Redick would have shot 70% from the free throw line if he had gone to Memphis. Also, what happened to vaunted Memphis defense. Missouri has a good offense, but they shouldn’t be able to hit triple digits in regulation against a team that went into the game with the #1 defense according to the Pomeroy numbers. I’m sure some of you took great pleasure in watching Villanova pick apart Duke leading to another early March exit for Coach K, but the game wasn’t exactly exciting if you didn’t have a rooting interest for (or in most people’s case against) a team.

The line-up for tonight should give us a couple of interesting games:

  • 7:07 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:27  PM: #3 Syracuse vs. #2 Oklahoma
  • 9:37 PM: #3 Kansas vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:57 PM: #4 Gonzaga vs. #1 UNC

We’ll be back around 7 for the start of tonight’s action. Leave your comments/questions and we’ll respond to them as soon as we start.

6:55 PM: A couple quick pieces of news to pass along in the midst of this Billy Gillispie madness and these somewhat important games tonight. Clemson‘s star forward Trevor Booker will return for his senior year. The news out of Iowa isn’t as good after Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, and David Palmer announced that they are transfering, which means that Todd Lickliter will need to replace 2 starting guards and a reserve forward.

7:10 PM: Chase Budinger makes a great play to temper Louisville’s great start. He’s going to need to have a great game tonight. If both teams use the press tonight, we’re going to get a blowout (and I think it will end up going in Louisville’s favor).

7:12 PM: I should warn you that I’m a big Chase Budinger fan so you’ve been warned. I haven’t seen a lot of him this year (stupid west coast starts), but I think he has the makings of a very solid NBA player.

7:14 PM: That’s not a good stat for Arizona. Only 6 Wildcats have scored in the NCAA tournament.

7:19 PM: Great play by Edgar Sosa feeding it to Preston Knowles. This pressure is going to kill Arizona if they only go 6 deep.

7:28 PM: I don’t think it will matter tonight, but I hope you paid attention to that FT statistic. Louisville shoots 63.8% as a team (307th out of 334 teams). That will come back to bite them. Just ask John Calipari. Actually he probably wouldn’t admit it because his team was just as bad last night. . .

7:30 PM: I think that any Blue Devil who mentions that they made the 1994 title game should put an asterisk by it on their resume saying that they rode Grant Hill‘s coattails there. If you don’t agree with me, see what happened the next year even if Coach K missed the last 2/3 of the season.

7:31 PM: It looks dead in Memphis. What do you guys think? I’m guessing it’s only 20% full. UNC fans must have bought up most of the stadium.

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Sweet Sixteen: Midwest Region Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

Looking back at the Midwest Region 1st/2d Rounds…

Best Game:  undoubtedly the game of the Tourney thus far, the Ohio St.-Siena game had not one, but two, game-changing threes by the underdog Saints to keep their hopes alive. 

Shocker:  Wake Forest’s complete and utter failure to show up for its game against Cleveland St. last Friday night.  With three first-rounders on the team, there is no excuse for a team to be this mentally out of it (which they were much of the last six weeks of the season). 

Cinderella That’s Not Really One:  Arizona was one of the last teams invited to the Dance, but we all knew that their talent was better than most #12 seeds if they could just put it together.  They received a favorable draw in the first two rounds, playing an overrated #5 Utah team and a true Cinderella #13 Cleveland St., but if they really want to impress us, beat Louisville tomorrow night. 

Region MVP (so far):  Cole Aldrich, Kansas.  A player who gets a trip-dub automatically wins the MVP from us.  Aldrich terrorized Dayton for 13/20/10 blks on Sunday. 

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Midwest Region Game-By-Game Previews – 1st Round

Posted by zhayes9 on March 18th, 2009

MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW (by Zach Hayes)

#1 Louisville vs. #16 Morehead State

For Louisville to win: It’s pretty simple for Louisville in this 1-16 matchup: do exactly what has gotten you to the point of receiving the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They shouldn’t have much problem playing their usual lockdown defense, employing their frantic press and letting the pure athletic ability of guys like Earl Clark and Terrence Williams completely overwhelm the star-struck Eagles.

For Morehead State to win: The triumphant winners of the inaugural Play-In game, Morehead State will need a God-delivered miracle to prevail over Louisville. They hope their stud big man Kenneth Faried (13.9 PPG, 13.1 RPG) can push around Clark, Williams and Samardo Samuels enough inside where it becomes a guard-oriented shooting contest. Hope that Edgar Sosa, Preston Knowles, Andre McGee and Co. reverts back to their November shooting woes and pull off the monumental upset.

#8 Ohio State vs. #9 Siena

For Ohio State to win: The Buckeyes will need to play steady, Big Ten-like team defense on Siena’s trio of scorers and run a bunch of isolation plays down the stretch for their superstar Evan Turner (17.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG). At times Turner can penetrate and score at will; Siena simply does not have that type of talent on their roster. They also need to utilize B.J. Mullens inside due to Siena’s lack of height.

For Siena to win: The Saints have been led all season by their own Big Three- Kenny Hansbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin. Receive balanced scoring out of those three like they’ve perfected all season (all average between 14.8 and 13.6 PPG) and they could surely take down the Buckeyes. The Saints will also be shorthanded inside trying to box out bodies like Dallas Lauderdale and B.J. Mullens. They’ll need Ryan Rossiter and Franklin to pound the boards constantly.

#5 Utah vs. #12 Arizona

For Utah to win: Luke Nevill outplaying Jordan Hill would be nice. Seriously, this is one of the best first-round matchups in the entire tournament. If Nevill can get Hill into foul trouble, the entire complexity of this game changes. Nic Wise and Chase Budinger love shooting it from the outside and the Utes wouldn’t mind getting into a three-point contest with Shaun Green and Lawrence Borha both over 40% from downtown.

For Arizona to win: Even though Arizona is the 12-seed, not many would refute that the Wildcats have the superior talent in this game. They can escape all of the regular season’s distractions now and out-talent the Utes. Nic Wise needs to have a quality outing for Arizona to win; when he’s hitting threes and running the offense with ease, Budinger gets open shots, Hill gets touches inside and Arizona can beat anyone.

#4 Wake Forest vs. #13 Cleveland State

For Wake Forest to win: The Demon Deacons need to avoid underestimating a clearly inferior opponent. As with losses to Georgia Tech, NC State and Virginia Tech, the young Deacons have played down to their competition. The Vikings went into the Carrier Dome and won this season when Syracuse did the same thing. Hopefully Jeff Teague and James Johnson come out right away with a fire in their collective bellies.

For Cleveland State to win: One thing Wake Forest does not do well at all is make threes. Their entire offensive game is generated by penetration and mid-range jump shooting. Coach Gary Waters should pop in the game film from Wake’s latest loss to Maryland and examine how the Terps chopped up the inconsistent Deacon defense. Cedric Jackson is the perfect point guard to lead the way.

#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Dayton

For West Virginia to win: The Mountaineers simply need to play like they did last weekend in the Big East tournament. Set screens to free deadeye shooter Alex Ruoff, let DaSean Butler work his multi-faceted offensive game, continue to witness Devin Ebanks mature into an elite scorer and rebounder and hope Darryl Bryant keeps distributing like a senior.

For Dayton to win: It’s going to be awfully difficult as West Virginia seems to be picking up steam lately and you know Bob Huggins will have them prepared and intense. Not only will stars Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson need to play outstanding games, but their deep bench must contribute offensively. It’s all about keeping West Virginia off the boards and hoping Ruoff has a bad day from the outside. If that happens, the Mountaineers can look very confused offensively.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 North Dakota State

For Kansas to win: Ben Woodside is not only the Bison’ top scorer, he’s the engine behind their incredibly efficient and unselfish offensive game plan. He’s quite a task for Sherron Collins in the first game of the tournament. If Collins can shut down Woodside on the defensive end, North Dakota State should have trouble scoring with the Morris twins, Cole Aldrich and others blocking shots inside. This young Jayhawk team will live and die with the play of their junior leader Collins.

For North Dakota State to win: They need to play some semblance of tough defense. We all know the Bison can score points in bunches and have some prolific offensive options, but the only way the Bison will be fitted for Cinderella’s slipper is if they can contain slashers Collins and Tyshawn Taylor and bang bodies with the Morris twins and Aldrich. If they fall behind early, it is imperative they stick with their offense that’s gotten them this far instead of panicking.

#7 Boston College vs. #10 Southern California

For Boston College to win: The Eagles can sometimes look really crappy on defense. The Trojans have so many weapons, BC needs to play inspired defense to win this game. The most arduous task will be to contain Taj Gibson inside with Joe Trapani and Josh Southern. Gibson has an NBA-body and tremendous scoring potential. Trapani and Southern must play defense inside similar to their effort in Chapel Hill when they knocked off the Tar Heels.

For Southern California to win: Stud freshman DeMar DeRozan played like a possessed man during the Pac-10 tournament and USC finally came together to play up to their potential. If DeRozan outplays Rakim Sanders and explodes to the rim with ease, the entire USC offense improves drastically. Defending Tyrese Rice will also clearly be imperative. Should Daniel Hackett hold Rice, the Trojans will win.

#2 Michigan State vs. #15 Robert Morris

For Michigan State to win: The Spartans clearly have enough talent to win this 2-15 game easily. If only a couple of their many weapons are flowing offensively, they should be fine. Izzo’s boys are also in the top ten in defense and rebounding. Overwhelm the Colonials with the talent of Lucas, Morgan, Suton, Summers and they’ll prevail by 20+.

For Robert Morris to win: For the Colonials to pull another Duke-Belmont 2-15 scare, they’ll need to play their usually efficient offensive game. Their entire team shoots 48% from the floor and Jeremy Chappell is especially remarkable- 16.9 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 47% FG, 85% FT, 41% 3PT, 2.5 SPG as one of the most unheralded all-around players in the nation. If Chappell has a monster performance and Michigan State can’t get into any flow offensively, the Colonials have a shot.

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NCAA Preview: Arizona Wildcats

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Arizona (#12, Midwest, Miami pod)

vs. Utah (#5)
Mar. 20 @ 7:20pm

Vegas Line: pick

General Profile

Location: Tucson, Arizona
Conference: Pac-10, at-large
Coach: Russ Pennell (interim), 19-13
08-09 Record: 19-13, 9-9
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 84-67, Kansas, 12/23/2008
Worst Loss: 79-64, UNLV, 12/20/2008
Off. Efficiency Rating: 117.9 [6]
Def. Efficiency Rating: 99.4 [132]

Nuts n Bolts

Star Players: Jordan Hill – 18.5 ppg/11.0 rpg; Chase Budinger – 18.2 ppg/6.4 rpg
Unsung Hero: Nic Wise – 15.0 ppg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Jordan Hill: 3rd overall in 2009 / Chase Budinger: 16th overall in 2009 / Nic Wise: 52nd overall in 2010
Key Injuries: Garland Judkins: out indefinitely (suspension)
Depth:  18.3% (#339)
Achilles Heel: Interim Head Coach Russ Pennell is in his first year leading a team, and has kept the Wildcats out of a collapse that so many predicted after Lute Olsen’s departure. However, Pennell’s inexperience could prove troublesome in a high pressure tournament environment.
Will Make a Deep Run if...:  The defensive pressure elevates to the Wildcat’s level of offensive output.
Will Make an Early Exit if…: They meet a team with great guards – Arizona’s halfcourt D is a feast for drive and kick point guards with wings that can shoot from outside.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008 – Round of 64
Streak: 24
Best NCAA Finish: 1997, National Champions
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.22 wins per appearance

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Arizona alum Bison Dele had his most productive year in the NBA while playing with the Pistons in 97-98, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Distance to First Round Site: 2,246 miles.
School’s Claim to Fame: The 1997 National Championship team is the only one in NCAA history to defeat three number one seeds (Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky). Academically, the University of Arizona is recognized as one the strongest land-grant institutions in the nation.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Things haven’t always been cheery in the Arizona family during the past couple years: Lute Olsen’s ugly divorce made news frequently, and the first interim coach, Kevin O’Neill, was largely disliked by the fanbase.
Prediction: Arizona is the most questionable at-large team to make the tournament. Considering they were 0-10 against top 100 teams away from home, don’t expect a lot from the Wildcats when they travel to Miami. Bet on a one and done trip.

Major RTC storiesLute Olson Retirement Wrapup

Preview written by…  Matt the Intern

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ATB: Conference Tournament Thursday – Mid-Day Report

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

afterbuzzer1There are so many games today, we thought it would be worth a quick look at the afternoon sessions that have already concluded to see what’s going on out there, especially as it relates to BubbleLand. 

Reminder: keep in mind that RTC Live’s correspondents are simul-blogging from both the Atlantic 10 and WAC today, so be sure to check those guys out. 

Helped Themselves.

  • Minnesota - Classic bubble team at this point with a 10-9 Big Ten record, 6-6 in their last twelve games, 9-9 against the RPI top 100, RPI in the low 40s and no bad losses.  A win against Michigan St. on Friday leaves no doubt.  A loss… and Minny is playing with fire.
  • Virginia Tech - Their game against Miami today had all the markings of a knockout game, with both teams holding identical conference records and similar RPIs.  How do you justify a team getting put in that has lost six of eight, though?  VT still needs to beat Carolina tomorrow. 
  • Baylor - The Bears aren’t sniffing the bubble, but they’re looking very interesting as a possibility of this year’s Georgia.  We referred to this in last night’s ATB – they simply outworked Kansas for this one.  If they can survive the OU-Mizzou winner, they can cut down the nets in this thing. 
  • Kentucky – Maybe the news that Patrick Patterson is returning next season inspired the Cats, but they’ll have their work cut out tomorrow against LSU.   They need that game and more this weekend. 
  • Michigan - this easy win over Iowa probably puts Michigan safely in.  Their high-level numbers look exceptionally similar to Minnesotas, but where UM’s profile takes off is six wins against the RPI Top 50, including Duke and UCLA. 

Hurt Themselves. 

  • Kansas - Obviously, not in terms of the bubble, but KU probably dropped a seed line today.  Whereas previous to this afternoon, they were talked about as a 2/3 on the S-curve, this may have dropped the Jayhawks to a 3/4. 
  • Clemson - It’s really not good to lose to the last-place team in the conference in the first round of the ACC Tourney.  Clemson is an NCAA team, but with four Ls in their last five games, they’ve swooned themselves into possibly an 8/9 seed range.
  • UAB - Believe it or not, UAB is still in the conversation with today’s one-point win over Southern Miss.  The Blazers’ RPI is in the low 40s, but they’re 0-5 against the top 50.  If the Blazers can get to the Memphis game on Saturday and just give the Tigers a good run on national tv, that might be enough. 
  • Providence - Providence shot 2-17 from three and 33% overall in an ugly game that, had they won, may have been enough to get them into the NCAAs.   Given their 70+ RPI, the question for the Friars is whether an overall 11-9 Big East record is sufficient when they played the top four seeds six times. 

Mortally Wounded.

  • Arizona - Chase Budinger’s 3-15 shooting sunk the Wildcats, who should be feeling rather nervous about extending their 24-season streak of NCAA appearances right now.  They’ve now lost five of six, and if they do make it in, they’re starting at a double-digit seed.
  • Kansas St. - Denis Clemente picked the wrong afternoon to go ice cold (4-20).  The Cats had a nice second half of the season to get itself on the bubble, but they really, really could have used what was a winnable game against Texas today.  Our gut says they’re going to end up on the outside looking in. 
  • Miami (FL) - The Hurricanes aren’t dead, but they’re on life support.  They needed this game just as much as Virginia Tech did, and they soiled the bed with a flat 35% shooting performance with no player reaching double figures.

Killed Themselves. 

  • Northwestern - The Cats gave a nice run at their first-ever NCAA bid, but 8-11 in the Big Ten and a 70ish RPI isn’t going to get it done.  They really needed a solid run in Indy to make this happen.  The NIT will be a nice consolation, though. 
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Pac-10 Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on March 9th, 2009

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 Conference.

Pac-10 Final Regular Season Standings
1. Washington 14-4, 24-7
2. UCLA 13-5, 24-7
3. Arizona State 11-7, 22-8
4. California 11-7, 22-9
5. Arizona 9-9, 19-12
6. USC 9-9, 18-12
7. Washington State 8-10, 16-14
8. Oregon State 7-11, 13-16
9. Stanford 6-12, 17-12
10. Oregon 2-16, 8-22

Player of the Year: James Harden
The third sophomore in Pac-10 history to win player of the year. The others were Jason Kidd (1994) and Mike Bibby (1998). Harden is also the third ASU player to win it following Ike Diogu (2005) and Eddie House (2000).

Freshman of the Year: Isaiah Thomas
Thomas set the freshman scoring record for Washington with 477 points and is the fourth Husky to win the award.

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