Morning Five: 06.30.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 30th, 2011

  1. Ohio State welcomed home one of its own yesterday by hiring Chris Jent as an assistant coach. Jent has been an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the last couple of years and even served as a personal shooting coach for some guy who took his talents to South Beach last year. Jent was a solid swingman for the Buckeyes from 1988-92, and, if anyone had actually kept a crowd-dives or floorburns stat, Jent would have been on top with no real challengers. Good to have him back in the college game.
  2. Remember Chuck Culpepper? He’s written for Newsday, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Los Angeles Times, he wrote a book about how he discovered and came to love English soccer, and now he writes for The National — not the former daily sports newspaper from 1990-91, or the utterly freaking phenomenal rock band from Cincinnati/New York, but an English-language paper published in the United Arab Emirates. In yesterday’s edition, he had a go at explaining John Calipari’s new $36.5 million deal to his readers in Abu Dhabi. It’s fun reading how he tries to explain to folks in the UAE that, yes, this does happen at the college level, and it does happen in Kentucky.
  3. Nice writeup here by Steve Walentik of the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune about the recent group of coaches who turned down big names and big bucks to stay at their smaller programs, and how athletic directors are having (and will continue to have) a tougher time convincing these guys to stick around, what with the offered salaries getting ever larger, conferences that have TV networks attached to them, etc. We love that gentlemen like Brad Stevens, Chris Mack, Shaka Smart, et al, stayed at their respective current locales, but let us say now that if/when they leave for so-called “bigger” jobs, how unfair it would be to say they left just for the money. One of the things that makes great athletes and coaches great is their competetive drive, and if any of those fellows decides someday to move to a Big Six conference position, it will be for that reason more than it will be for the cash.
  4. We’ve loved seeing all the articles and tributes to Lorenzo Charles. It’s hard to go wrong with something like that, you know…paying respects to an obviously widely-beloved man who happens to be responsible for the most famous highlight in the history of our game, especially when he leaves us at such a young age. On Tuesday night, a Greensboro television station brought in former Terp Keith Gatlin to talk a little about Charles, since the two were friends and played together for the CBA’s Quad City Thunder. Gatlin offered a few quick comments, which were nice, and left us wanting more. Then, oddly, Gatlin (who at this point had to be thinking, “Someone please tell me why we’re doing this…”) and the anchor running the segment attempt an ill-conceived recreation of Charles’ iconic highlight. You can see how it went (video in that link). Bizarre.
  5. Is the knee-jerk impulse of players to transfer from one school to another a reflection of a problem within the current generation of kids? Evidently, Arizona State’s Herb Sendek and a fellow named Buddy Hobart (who helped Sendek write his book) think so. Sendek/Hobart describe Generation Y — of which today’s student-athletes are all members — as a group “not willing to pay their dues” and “impatient” because they feel today’s players would rather cut and run from an unpleasant situation than stick it out and see what happens. Um…don’t coaches do the same thing all the time? Sendek admits this, at least, but the author of the article conveniently forgets that point. It’s remarkable how every generation always bemoans the one that follows as unquestionably inferior in every way, the sentiment itself a mere rite of passage.
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NYT Dig At Calipari/Kentucky Just More Of The Same

Posted by jstevrtc on May 20th, 2011

Have you heard this one before? New York Times. John Calipari.

Shots fired.

[That’s a favorite of the Twitterati.]

In Wednesday’s online edition of the New York Times there appeared an article written by Harvey Araton about Kyrie Irving attending the live NBA Draft Lottery rank-order show and about how Irving could go as the first overall pick to Cleveland. In the piece, Araton makes a point to mention that, according to Kyrie’s father, Drederick, Kyrie’s decision to leave school after a single college season (one in which he played in a mere 11 games due to injury) did not represent a “long-planned escape from the often unholy alliance of Division I sports and academia.” In other words, the father is asserting that Kyrie isn’t just leaving school early to avoid college nor is Kyrie abandoning his plans for obtaining a degree. The elder Irving is a financial broker on Wall Street, and Araton quotes him as saying, “Everybody in my family has gotten their degrees, their master’s. We value the education aspect of it with Kyrie.”

Calipari Is Characterized As Someone Who Devalues Education Because He Embraces One-and-Done Players, a Logical Fallacy Not Many Critics Will Own Up To

Here is Araton’s next sentence in the article:

“Had they not, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where [Kyrie’s] godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

Uh…beg pardon? Let’s make sure we got that straight. Using Araton’s own words, what he said there was, “Had they not cared about the education aspect of it with Kyrie, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where the godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

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The Week That Was: Jan. 17-Jan. 24

Posted by jstevrtc on January 25th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

Get ready college hoops fanatics. Get ready for the stampede of casual fans that are about to crash the sports bars once the NFL season comes to a close. They’ll have to find something for their sports fix and they’ll turn to college basketball. So be prepared for people asking things like, “Who’s that big guy for Ohio State? He looks pretty good.” Or “San Diego State’s in the top five? Really?!?” Just try to smile and nod at those fools. No need to let them ruin the season’s stretch run.

What We Learned

TWTW Loves Jimmer and Kawhi, But Prefers E'Twaun and the Boilers Traveling to Columbus This Week

Even with SDSU and BYU squaring off on Wednesday, TWTW feels that if there’s only one game you watch this week, make sure it’s Purdue at Ohio State, tonight at 9pm ET. Matt Painter’s squad is one of our favorites and TWTW thinks they’re a good bet to pull off the upset. Purdue rebounded from back-to-back losses at Minnesota and West Virginia to grind out a win over a plucky Penn State squad and then took care of business against reeling Michigan State. It would have been easy for the Boilermakers to fold at the first sign of trouble this season. They have the built-in excuse of Robbie Hummel’s injury, and no one really believed they could sustain their early-season success once they hit the meat of their schedule, but seniors JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore wouldn’t let that two-game losing streak turn into a prolonged swoon. Johnson scored 25 points in the win over PSU, while Moore poured in 26 against the Spartans.

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Morning Five: 12.16.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on December 16th, 2010

  1. Missouri has suspended sophomore point guard Michael Dixon indefinitely for a team rules violation that head coach Mike Anderson has declined to reveal. Dixon had been solid in directing traffic for the Tigers this season, averaging a team-best 4.3 APG and 2.4 SPG, leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6), and hitting 82.5% from the free throw line (second on the team), in addition to his contribution of 10.7 PPG. Freshman Phil Pressey (3.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG) is Dixon’s understudy, and it looks like it’s the young fella’s team until further notice.
  2. Oklahoma freshman T.J. Taylor has decided to take his services elsewhere — at least we hope so. By that, we don’t mean that we want Taylor to leave the Sooners (he’s already decided on that), it’s that we just want to him to eventually play somewhere. Taylor, a top-100 recruit overall and a top-20 point guard in last year’s class, never played a second for OU, having suffered a concussion in the preseason. He’s said to be leaving the school for personal reasons and headed to junior college, and the quotes from the linked story indicate that the split is an amicable one, but we hope he can put any physical or mental/personal blocks behind him and that we’ll see T.J. back on a bigger stage soon, if that’s what he wants.
  3. Oh, Scoop Jardine. What happened, man? You somehow manage to overcome some pretty tall hurdles during your early days at Syracuse — and then this?? Hey, we’ve made mistakes, too. And we love your game, and acknowledge your apology, which we saw before you were taken down. But seriously, pardner…your newsworthiness should come from the classroom and the basketball floor. You’re an upperclassman. You’re so close; we think the Twitter hiatus is an appropriate move.
  4. Rise up, Kenny “Mouse” McFadden disciples! The Cleveland Cavaliers are underwhelming their constituents to such a degree that some Free Stampers are deserting the Cavs for the local undefeated college team — namely, 12-0 Cleveland Stateaccording to ABC affiliate WEWS. We can’t advocate the abandonment of any team at any level just because they’re not doing so hot, but we do love that people are taking time to head over and support the Vikings. We love the quote from CSU student Jessica Longstreet that finishes the article (and embedded video). We don’t know Miss Longstreet, but with such insights, we think she deserves high honors in all of her courses this term.
  5. Boy, can we get behind this: yesterday was the debut of College Basketball Today, the new college hoops talk show on Sirius XM. We’re talking about daily roundball discussion from noon to 3 pm ET with former Vermont coach Tom Brennan (!), ESPN’s Bob Valvano, some former-player perspective with Kenny Anderson and Jim Jackson, all tied together by NYC-based broadcaster Jason Horowitz. Many of us here are Sirius XM users [RTC Legal just handed me a memo asking me to remind our dear readers that any comment or endorsement found here about said satellite radio provider is unsolicited], and we’re glad to see this niche filled, especially considering how much we enjoy the nightly selection of games when we’re on the road. There’s just one problem. The show’s only on Wednesdays until — grrrrrooooooan — the end of the college football season, then it goes daily. Come on!!
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Buckeyes Stay With LeBrons, Await Gilbert’s Wrath

Posted by jstevrtc on July 22nd, 2010

Attempting to describe how unwelcome he would be in the state of Kentucky, Christian Laettner once remarked that, in a urinary emergency, it would be safer to use a bottle while driving as opposed to stopping anywhere in the Bluegrass.  After LeBron James‘ hour-long atrocity exhibition announcing his intention to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat, one could see how James might feel the same way about his home state of Ohio, at least for a little while.  That metaphorical shoe-to-the-chest is one from which many Ohioans — as the Gilbert Manifesto attests — are still reeling.

The Scarlet and Gray Will Still Wear 'Brons

Not so, however, on the Ohio State University campus — at least within the men’s basketball program.  Since we’re talking about shoes, Doug Lesmerises (whose last name means “the wild cherries” in French, if we’re not mistaken), a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reported yesterday that Thad Matta and his Buckeyes harbor no anger against James, specifically meaning that the basketball Buckeyes will continue to wear the LeBron-style Nike shoes as they have for the past three seasons.  In Lesmerises’ report, you can see that Matta has chosen to take the high road.  “In my opinion, LeBron still loves Ohio, still loves Ohio State,” he explained, later adding, “It’s more who he is as a basketball player, not who he’s playing for.”  At the end of the article, though, Matta does indeed note that, “I do wish he would have stayed at Cleveland.”

We await Dan Gilbert’s response.  He’ll probably choose to withhold comment on this one.  But…let’s not be hasty.  Remember, as we learned during the Cavs’ pursuit of Tom Izzo, Gilbert is an alum of Big Ten rival Michigan State.

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Former Kentucky Star Melvin Turpin Has Committed Suicide

Posted by jstevrtc on July 8th, 2010

Former Kentucky center Melvin Turpin, aged 49, has died by his own hand at his home in Lexington earlier today.

Known popularly as “Dinner Bell Mel” because of his size, and “The Dipper” because of his mass and his combination of strength and finesse around the basket, Turpin played four seasons at Kentucky from 1980-84 and comprised half of the  famed Twin Towers duo, along with Sam Bowie.  His play during his senior year earned him first-team all-SEC honors and spots on many 2nd- and 3rd-team all-America lists.  He was drafted sixth overall by the Washington Bullets in the 1984 NBA draft and was traded almost immediately to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Due to his weight struggles, Turpin only played five seasons in the NBA, his best season coming in his second year, averaging 13.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG for the Cavs in 1985-86.

Lexington police responded to a “personal injury call” at Turpin’s home late on Thursday afternoon, and local news outlets began reporting and tweeting more grave concerns as the coroner arrived on the scene.  The suicide was unfortunately confirmed soon after.

Turpin was a visible figure around Lexington and occupied a special place in the hearts of Kentucky faithful because of his often self-deprecating sense of humor and his friendliness toward his fans.  Our prayers go out to Mr. Turpin’s family and friends at this confusing and awful time.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Terrico White

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Terrico White

School: Mississippi

Height/Weight: 6’5, 203

NBA Position: Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Combo guard Terrico White stepped onto the Ole Miss campus with a top 100 ranking as a high school senior, the Tennessee AAA Mr. Basketball crown, and the hope of Rebel supporters that he’d inject a little hoops excitement into Oxford.  He didn’t disappoint during his freshman year, taking over at point guard after teammate Chris Warren was injured — a move that definitely suited his game — and won SEC Freshman of the Year honors.  Many fans were disappointed in his sophomore campaign, citing decreased numbers across the board, but that has to be attributed to going back to playing shooting guard, and to the presence of a returned Warren and a couple of improved teammates in Murphy Holloway and Eniel Polynice.  He will play mostly SG in the NBA, but his turns at PG really showed off his entire game better.

Will Translate to the NBA: He’s got great pace bringing the ball up the floor on the break, and the one of the best parts of his game is that he’s able to pull up and drain a jumper or juke his defender and drive to the basket with no fear.  He gets down so low when he breaks down a defender, we mean it as a compliment when we say that he may be 6’5, but at times plays shorter than that.  He knows how to use a screen to his advantage and loves coming off the curl to go straight up or use his quick first step to dart by his defender.  Also, he has great one-on-one skill, which only increases his NBA marketability.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Eric Bledsoe

Posted by jstevrtc on June 21st, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Eric Bledsoe

School: Kentucky

Height/Weight: 6’1/190

NBA Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: Even with high school phenoms like John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Daniel Orton headed to Lexington back in the fall of 2009, Eric Bledsoe was immediately liked by Kentucky fans.  He was going to give their beloved team something they hadn’t had in a while — a designated shooter.  Though Bledsoe was primarily a point guard in high school with reliable handle, he was also known as more than just a serviceable shooter from distance, a combination Wildcat fans craved at the time, especially considering the poor marksmanship and turnover-prone nature of Wildcat backcourts that preceded the Wall/Bledsoe duo.  As if that wasn’t enough, even though Wall didn’t commit until later, Bledsoe won over many card-carrying Big Blue Nation members by expressing his desire to return Kentucky to hoops prominence, proclaiming on his signing day that he and his fellow recruits were coming to Lexington to “get shit right.”  Playing out of position for almost every minute of his only college season, he gave the Wildcats what they expected — a good shooter who also provided a second point guard option, as well as a better-than-expected penetrator and creator.  He shot 38% from beyond the arc, but his streaky nature meant defenses had to stay close to him, which enabled him to utilize his blistering first step to rocket past defenders.

If he can motivate himself to improve on the defensive end, his value will increase during his early years in the league.

Will Translate to the NBA: Bledsoe’s a rock.  He has tremendous upper body strength and he’s great at using it to blaze a path to the hoop, absorb contact, and still score.  He’s quick in every direction, including straight up off the floor, and doesn’t lose much of that pace even when he has the ball.  He’s shown that he can play both point guard and shooting guard at the elite college level, so the team that drafts him will feel like they’re getting a skill set that spans the job descriptions of two different positions.  He definitely possesses a shooter’s mentality, and shows no fear in firing away even if he misses his first few attempts.

Needs Work: Bledsoe is streaky from long range, and on off-nights he would occasionally sulk, resulting in less production, more turnovers, and extended bench minutes.  Though he started the season as a capable defender, this is an aspect of his game that actually got worse as the year progressed.  His quickness should translate quite easily to the defensive side, so the fact that he went backwards in this area points to the fact that it’s a matter of motivation, and that won’t do in the NBA.  Despite his upper body strength, he’s still just 6’1, and that underscores the need for him to get his head right as far as defense is concerned and become a good close-up defender.  Finally, even though he’s got great springs, he doesn’t get a lot of elevation off the ground on his jumper, and he could use that at his height.

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Thanks, But No Thanks, Version 2 — Izzo Sticks

Posted by jstevrtc on June 15th, 2010

It’s being reported everywhere, now, that Tom Izzo is turning down the head coaching job offered by the Cleveland Cavaliers and staying in East Lansing as coach of the Spartans.  Chris Broussard stated on ESPN moments ago that , in addition to Izzo’s love of coaching at Michigan State, Izzo is not taking the position in Cleveland largely because he “couldn’t get assurance from LeBron James that LeBron would be back in Cleveland,” but noted that this is due to lack of contact between the two, not because LeBron left Izzo with doubts after a conversation.  By all accounts, such a conversation never happened.

A Spartan for life -- his words.

Spartan fans had reason to be nervous just before the reports began to surface that Izzo was staying;  his future still uncertain, he called a team meeting before confirming he was going to remain as the Michigan State coach, a sequence of events that one could have taken to mean that he was about to accept the job with the Cavs.  This now can only mean that he simply wanted to first alert his players to the good news as any responsible coach would do, and not have them receive it via television or tweet.

That’s why it’s good for college basketball that this man sticks in East Lansing.  Anyone who remembers how he struggled to keep his composure when asked in a post-game interview about the welfare of Kalin Lucas after Lucas tore his Achilles’ tendon knows how much he cares about his players off the court as much as on it (that’s just one example).  His players love him, he’s polite, affable, even self-effacing, as evidenced by the fact that he apologized for taking so long to come to a decision about this job offer.  Clevelanders certainly can’t be too mad at him, since he included in his statements an entreaty that LeBron hang around as a Cavalier.

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Have The Front Yard Stakeouts In East Lansing Started?

Posted by jstevrtc on June 8th, 2010

(Not that we condone such behavior.)

Within the last hour, the AP released a report citing a source who claims that Michigan State’s legendary Tom Izzo has been in talks with the fine folks from the Cleveland Cavaliers — namely, owner Dan Gilbert, who’s a Michigan State alumnus — about the terms of a possible contract to coach the Cavs, if Izzo should feel so inclined.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Monday that such talks centered around a five year deal worth $6 million a year.  Even the John Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors didn’t get this far.

If he's talking, Cavalier fans are smiling. (G. Shamus/Getty)

If this is true, Cavalier fans should take heart.  It’s doubtful that Izzo would even be involved in such a discussion if he wasn’t positive that LeBron James was returning to Cleveland.  Even if Izzo doesn’t sign on the dotted line, Cavs supporters are probably breathing a little easier (by the way, the LeBron-O-Meter on that above link is great), not to mention that the New York Post‘s Peter Vecsey is reporting that he has an insider with knowledge of a three-year contract being finalized for LeBron.

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