Examining ACC Teams in Early Season Tournaments: Part I

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 25th, 2013

As part of our preseason coverage on the ACC microsite, we will be looking at ACC teams competing in early season tournaments in a three-part series . Today we present Part I, which includes an overview and a look at the 2KSports Classic, the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Charleston Classic.

In these early season tournament previews we will present them in order of when the championship games will be played. To make it easier to find each team’s event we will include a table with all the teams in alphabetical order, with bold print to indicate the schools featured in that part of the series. All of these events are not constructed alike but there are two main types. The first type is the traditional eight-team tournament in which all teams play three games through winners’ and losers’ brackets. The second type is the newer popular model, usually with four well-known teams predetermined to play a semifinal and championship round at a neutral site after hosting two lower rated teams at home. The Preseason NIT is the lone tournament to stick with a traditional format with 16 teams competing in a winners’ bracket. Each preview will look at potential match-ups with links to the brackets, and a brief outlook on the ACC team’s chances. Note that N.C. State and Notre Dame will not be included in the analysis as they are playing in exempt events with all the match-ups predetermined.

School

Tournament

Location (Finals)

Dates

 Boston College

 2K Sports Classic

 New York, NY

 Nov  14,17,21-22

 Clemson

 Charleston Classic

 Charleston, SC

 Nov  21,22,24

 Duke  NIT Season Tip-Off  New York, NY  Nov  18-19,27,29
 Florida State  Puerto Rico Tip-Off  San Juan, PR  Nov  21,22,24
 Georgia Tech  Barclays Center Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  24,26,29-30
 Maryland  Paradise Jam  U.S. Virgin Islands  Nov  22-25
 Miami  Wooden Legacy  Orange County, CA  Nov  18,28-29, Dec 1
 North Carolina  Hall of Fame Tip-Off  Uncasville, CT  Nov 15,17,23-24
 North Carolina St. N/A – Global Sports Shootout-All Games Predetermined Matchups
 Notre Dame N/A – Gotham Classic-All Games Predetermined Matchups
 Pittsburgh  Progressive Legends Classic  Brooklyn, NY  Nov  17,20,25-26
 Syracuse  EA Sports Maui Invitational  Maui, HI  Nov  25-27
 Virginia  Corpus Christi Challenge  Corpus Christi, TX  Nov  23,26,29-30

 Virginia Tech

 Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

 Brooklyn, NY

 Nov  9,15,22-23

 Wake Forest  Battle 4 Atlantis  Nassau, Bahamas  Nov  28-30

 

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Boston College2K Sports Classic

Date                     Time(ET) TV                         Location                  Opponent                Conf                  2012-13 W-L

Th-Nov 14               7:00 PM   ESPN3                      HOME                    Toledo                     MAC                        15-13
Su-Nov 17               8:00 PM   ESPNU                     HOME                    Florida Atlantic      ConfUSA                  14-18
Th-Nov 21               7:00 PM   ESPN2                     New York               Connecticut             AAC                         20-10
Fr-Nov 22                  TBD         ESPN 2/U               New York                Indiana                    Big Ten                    29-7
                                                                                                                or Washington            Pac 12                     18-16

And The Winner Is: Connecticut - With one of the finest backcourts in the nation and the motivation of being NCAA Tournament-eligible, look for the Huskies to come out on top in New York in a couple of close games.

Possible Surprise Team: Boston College – With all key players returning from last year, the Eagles will probably be ahead of rebuilding Indiana or Washington at this early stage of the season. They even have a decent shot at taking down UConn. Sophomore guards Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon won’t be easily overmatched, and Connecticut lacks an established inside scorer to punish the smallish frontcourt Boston College frequently uses.

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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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Pac-12 Early Season Tournament Round-Up/Preview

Posted by AMurawa on November 22nd, 2011

It’s a great time to be a college hoops fan. This week in college basketball is arguably the fifth best week in the season, you know, right behind the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament and the week of the conference championships. We’ve got a chance to see teams, often for the first time, matched up with other schools from disparate corners of the country in tournament play, with the opportunities for teams to snag resume-boosting wins in rapid-fire fashion. Sure, we’ve already got a few tournaments wrapped up, and there are even a handful that come along later, but for the most part we’re right in the wheelhouse for the early season tournaments. So, we’ll take a quick look at all the Pac-12 teams and either preview or review the early season tournaments that each team is participating in.

  • Arizona – The Wildcats got things started right off the bat with an appearance in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. After dispatching of Valparaiso and Duquesne in the first week of the season, they rallied from behind in the semifinal against St. John’s to advance to the championship game, but folded down the stretch there, losing to Mississippi State.
  • Arizona State – The Sun Devils are in Orlando over the Thanksgiving weekend for the Old Spice Classic. They’ll get things started with Fairfield, expected to battle Iona for the MAAC title this year, before facing either Dayton or Wake Forest on Friday.  Texas Tech, Indiana State, Minnesota and DePaul make up the other side of what looks to be a relatively weak bracket, but given ASU’s poor start to the season, expecting them to do much damage in Orlando seems to be a pipe dream.
  • California – The Golden Bears are in the middle of the CBE Classic tournament in Kansas City this week, where they will play Missouri tonight in the championship game at 7 PM PST. They got to the final by demolishing Georgia last night 70-46, after handling George Washington and Austin Peay with ease in Berkeley last week.
Brandon Smith, California

Brandon Smith And The Cal Bears Take On Missouri In The Finals Of The CBE Classic Tonight

  • Colorado – A seventh place showing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off wasn’t what Buffalo head coach Tad Boyle had in mind, but that’s exactly what he got last weekend, after dropping the first two games of the week to Wichita State and Maryland in relatively close games before taking care of Western Michigan to avoid a winless trip to the tropics.
  • Oregon – The Ducks spend their tournament time in something called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, December 20-22 in Eugene, with games against North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin doing absolutely nothing to help their at-large chances. Read the rest of this entry »
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Pac-12 Game of the Week: Arizona vs. Mississippi State

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

Each week around these parts we’re going to pick one big game involving a Pac-12 team and provide a preview of the game. Last week we took a look at Oregon traveling to Vanderbilt, today we’ll look at a real dog vs. cat matchup as Arizona faces Mississippi State in the final of the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament this evening in New York City.

The Bulldogs (3-1) got to this championship game by racing out to a big 22-point lead in the first ten minutes of Thursday night’s semifinal game against Texas A&M, then hanging on from there to post a nine-point win. MSU hit five three-pointers during the opening ten minutes and made 11 of their first 15 shots from the field, then cooled off considerably, hitting just one of seven three-point attempts in the final 30 minutes of the game and only 28.2% of their field goals over that span. Of those two extremes of shooting, the final 30 minutes probably more accurately reflects MSU’s shooting ability, as the best three-point bombers from last year’s MSU club have graduated. Senior point guard Dee Bost is the Bulldogs’ most important player, team leader and leading scorer (18 PPG), but the real strength of the team lies along their frontline with 6’11” center Arnett Moultrie, much-maligned and underachieving 6’10” power forward Renardo Sidney, and 6’9” reserve big man Wendell Lewis.  The Wildcats will need their veteran forwards Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill, along with freshmen bigs Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol, to put in a full night’s work on the glass to keep Arizona in touch.

Dee Bost, Mississippi State

Dee Bost Is The Engine That Makes The Mississippi State Offense Go

While the Wildcats are off to a 4-0 start, they’ve yet to really gel. They needed a big 23-6 in the final seven minutes of their semifinal game with St. John’s to advance, and they’ve struggled to not only replace last year’s two leading scorers, but to fold four freshmen into the mix. Offensively, the Wildcats have been decent, with multiple players chipping in on a nightly basis to provide balanced scoring, but things still remain unsettled. Five players (Kyle Fogg, Hill, Perry, Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes) have averaged double figure scoring thus far, but this team is still a work in progress, albeit with much upside. Junior wing Kevin Parrom just returned from a gunshot wound suffered in September and has yet to get back to 100%; freshman point guard Josiah Turner is getting slightly more comfortable game by game, but he is still too wild to be completely trusted; and the freshman frontcourt duo of Johnson and Chol has shown some serious flashes but not yet the ability to produce on a consistent basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

  1. In an exciting nightcap at Madison Square Garden Thursday night, Arizona turned an eight-point deficit to St. John’s with under seven minutes to play into a nine-point win when it all was said and done. While it was Arizona veterans like Jesse Perry, Jordin Mayes, Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill who finished strong for the Wildcats, it was their pair of highly-touted freshman guards who got the 23-6 game-closing run started. Nick Johnson took advantage of the Red Storm’s zone defense to drill a three on an underneath inbounds play, and on the next possession point guard Josiah Turner stepped into a passing lane, made a steal and threw down a slam at the other end to swing momentum. Johnson later added another three in the middle of the run to finish with 11 points off the bench, while Turner had his best game of his young career with eight points, three rebounds, and a couple of steals. He’ll still need to get his game under control more (he turned the ball over four times in 19 minutes), but last night he earned the minutes he played. He and his team will get another chance to take a step forward tonight as they face Mississippi State back at the Garden for the Coaches vs. Cancer championship.
  2. On the other side of the continent, USC came up on the losing end of another exciting game that came down to the final moments. Playing at San Diego State, Trojan sophomore point guard Maurice Jones hit a wild game-tying three pointer with 6.8 seconds left, only to see his team give up a coast-to-coast drive for a bucket from Aztec sophomore point guard Xavier Thames with 1.8 seconds remaining to provide the final margin. Jones played all but a minute of the game for USC and led the Trojans in scoring for the third straight game, but his team fell to 1-2 with the two losses coming by a grand total of five points, including a double-overtime loss to Nebraska in their last outing.
  3. ESPNU’s recruiting guru Dave Telep posted his rundown on the remaining unsigned top 100 recruits in the 2012 class and actually opined that UCLA’s struggles in their first two games of the season may help rather than hinder their pitch to #1 overall recruit, Shabazz Muhammad. Apparently Muhammad is looking for a needy co-dependent suitor, and if that’s the case, maybe the Bruins are employing a strategy similar to the Suck for Luck sweepstakes in the NFL. Elsewhere on Telep’s list, Cal and Oregon seem to be running a bit behind St. John’s for ESPNU’s #30 recruit, Ricardo Gathers, while Washington is one of many still trying to get a commitment from #7 Anthony Bennett.
  4. Arizona State hosts New Mexico tonight, with both teams coming off losses earlier in the week. It’s been said that ASU is ready to play a faster tempo this season (although the first couple of games don’t indicate much of a change) and the Lobos will certainly offer the Sun Devils every opportunity to do so. However, Herb Sendek’s team has plenty of things they’ve got to shore up before they can be considered a different team than last year’s 12-19 squad. First, guards Chris Colvin and Keala King need to buy into Sendek’s gospel of ball movement, something they haven’t done yet. And secondly, somebody along the ASU frontcourt, whether it be Kyle Cain, Jordan Bachynski or Ruslan Pateev, needs to show that they can provide the threat of a scoring punch up front. Until that happens, this is still Trent Lockett and a bunch of inoffensive warm bodies.
  5. Lastly, we head back to the Wildcats, as Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News tells the story of Kevin Parrom’s battle back from the gunshot wounds he sustained in an attack in New York City in September while visiting his mother who was then dying of cancer. Back in New York this week for the Coaches vs. Cancer event, it is a bittersweet homecoming for the junior from the Bronx, coming back to the city where he could have lost his life, and where his mother did lose her life just a month ago.  Parrom first made it back to the court last Sunday against Ball State where he played a key role in helping the Wildcats scrape out a victory. When he left the court at the end of the game to a standing ovation from the McKale Center crowd, he also got a big embrace from his coach Sean Miller, a hug that Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen puts on par with some of the other great moments in Arizona basketball.

Today we’ve got a bonus entry, as I forgot to include our football picks for the weekend. Last weekend was a dismal week for both of us as we each went 3-3, but I’d have to point out that I at least got the Oregon pick in our game of the week right (although I had the game much closer than it turned out. And, it should be noted (if only because I’m the one writing this and not Connor), that although Connor holds a one game lead on the year, I’ve correctly picked all three of our games of the week, while Connor is a mere 2-1). This week we’ll look at Oregon again in our game of the week, this time against bowl-ineligible USC playing another in a long line of what amounts to mid-season bowl games.

Game Connor (12-6) Drew (11-7)
Arizona @ Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Colorado @ UCLA UCLA UCLA
California @ Stanford Stanford Stanford
Washington @ Oregon State Oregon State Washington
Utah @ Washington State Utah Washington State
USC @ Oregon Oregon 38, USC 21 Oregon 49 USC 30
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RTC Live: Coaches vs. Cancer Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2011

RTC Live is back in MSG tonight as the next week-plus of pre-conference tournaments start tipping off everywhere around the country. Texas A&M will take on Mississippi State in the first game, with Arizona visiting a young but talented St. John’s squad in the nightcap. Join the conversation from the Garden, after the jump.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 16th, 2011

  1. Less than a week ago, there was excitement around the UCLA program for the upcoming season. Now, after an opening game loss to Loyola Marymount, the suspension of last year’s leading scorer Reeves Nelson, and last night’s 20-point loss to Middle Tennessee State, the program is officially in freefall. The Blue Raiders shot 71.4% from the field, and made 10 of their 11 three-point attempts for a whopping 78.6 true shooting percentage. (To put that into perspective, when Villanova shot lights out in the 1985 National Championship game to upset Patrick Ewing and Georgetown, the Wildcats shot posted a 82.7 TS%.) Meanwhile, UCLA only managed a 42.9 TS% of their own, and after a 4-20 night from deep, they are now 6-35 from three on the season. Sophomore center Joshua Smith was fairly effective for the Bruins inside, posting 15 points and nine rebounds (with 11 of those points coming in the first half), but the twin faults of being unable to consistently hit perimeter shots and the inability of UCLA defenders to guard, well, anybody or anything, leaves UCLA at 0-2 for the first time since Steve Lavin’s final year. UCLA begins the Maui Invitational on Monday, and Nelson’s status for that trip remains up in the air.
  2. Things weren’t a whole lot better in Tempe on Tuesday night, as Arizona State dropped a home game to Pepperdine, a team that finished 12-21 last season and was picked to finish last in the West Coast Conference this season. Outside of junior wing Trent Lockett, who had 23 points and nine rebounds, ASU went 10-42 from the field for a 29.8 true shooting percentage. With still no update on the eligibility status of freshman point guard Jahii Carson, it looks like the Sun Devils will have to move forward with their currently eligible players, meaning that this is more or less the same team that struggled to a 12-19 record last season. And after all the offseason talk about significantly upping the tempo, the Sun Devils are still only using about 64 possessions per game, good for putting it right smack dab in the bottom 20% of Division I teams.
  3. With all the talk about the turmoil in UCLA, the fact that Arizona’s freshman point guard Josiah Turner was never asked up off of the bench in the Wildcats’ win over Ball State on Sunday has been swept under the rug somewhat. Turner has been ineffective so far in Tucson (seven points, four assist and three rebounds combined in UA’s first three games), but while head coach Sean Miller hinted that the DNP may at least be partially behavior-related, Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star points out that most of the great lineage of floor generals at Point Guard U took some time to get going out of the gate. In other words, it is far too soon to write off last year’s #15 recruit (according to ESPNU).
  4. Up in Corvallis, Oregon State has opened the season with a couple of wins over Cal State Bakersfield and Division II West Alabama by an average of 28.5 points. While neither opponent is much to write home about, the performance of junior center Joe Burton has Beaver fans excited. Burton has averaged 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, five assists, and three steals in those two games, while knocking down a three in each game. Of course, much bigger challenges lie ahead for OSU, but head coach Craig Robinson believes that the hard work that Burton has put in off the court will continue to pay off the rest of the season.
  5. Finally, a look ahead. We mentioned UCLA’s trip to Maui above, but in the next couple of days we see a couple other Pac-12 teams hit the road to compete in early season tournaments. Arizona will be at Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday nights for the final two rounds of the Coaches vs. Cancer (okay, I’ll go ahead and call this thing by its actual name, the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer – name just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?), with a semifinal matchup against St. John’s followed by either Texas A&M or Mississippi State the following night. An Arizona/Texas A&M matchup in the championship seems mighty appealing. Also, Colorado is in the Caribbean as we speak, preparing for their Puerto Rico Tip-Off opening round game against Wichita State on Thursday, with either Maryland or Alabama lying in wait in their next game. The Buffs only have a warm-up against Fort Lewis under their belt, so we’ll get to see by the end of the week whether they have what it takes to compete in the Pac-12 this season.
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After the Buzzer: Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed…

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Year the Fifth. Welcome back for another year of late-night — or overnight, depending on where you are — coverage of the nightly events in college basketball. When we started this feature at the beginning of the 2007-08 season, this was pretty much the only place you could find comprehensive national coverage of the sport posted as soon as possible after the games had ended. Now, everybody does it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we don’t mind — in fact, it only makes us better. We assume you’re familiar with what this post is about, but each weeknight when there are games of national significance going on, we’ll be here with the After the Buzzer wrapup. On weekends, we’ll put together an overview on Sunday nights that will cover the previous couple of days of games. The intent here, mind you, isn’t to bore anybody with game recaps. We hate those probably more than you do. Rather, we try to mine the universe of nightly games to ferret out the most interesting information in terms of what people are (and will be) talking about the next morning. As with anything we do here, feel free to contact us with ideas for improvement or, really, anything else. We’re always listening.

Grabbing the Cats Wasn't Going to Help Tonight (LHL/C. Bertram)

Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Lays Waste to Morehouse College. Even though it was opening night for six schools Monday in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the game people will be talking about Tuesday morning didn’t even count on anyone’s record. And it’s a good thing, because the NCAA may have had to award John Calipari’s team two or three victories while remanding a completely overmatched Morehouse College down to Division III, or IV, or V, or whatever basketball purgatory teams that lose by 85 points end up. You read that correctly — the final score in last night’s exhibition game between UK and the D-II school better known for notable alumni such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee was 125-40. We won’t cover all the ridiculous stats in this space (The Dagger has you covered for that), but at one point late in the first half the Wildcats finished off a 29-0 run to put their lead at 63-6. It only grew from there, eventually peaking at an 89-point lead that caused the nation’s #1 recruit in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, to profess his awe. Does it mean anything to lambaste a D-II team by so many points? Probably not. But in just viewing some of the highlights from tonight’s victory, it is abundantly clear that the stable of long, lean athletes that Calipari has at his disposal this season is unmatched in college basketball. At a glance, the Wildcats looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder out there.

Three Dollops of Hoopsurdity.

  • A Hopeful Family. Everyone is no doubt now familiar with the interesting name of one of St. John’s new star recruits, God’s Gift Achiuwa. But the names of his brothers and sisters helps to give a little perspective. We learned during tonight’s broadcast that the transfer has five brothers and sisters with equally hopeful names: sisters Peace and Grace; brothers Promise, Precious and God’s Will.
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Ball Control And Offensive Boards Key Panthers’ Run In New York

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and NEC, and makes additional contributions based on his analysis from action around the country.

Each of the four teams in the Coaches vs. Cancer ‘final four’ in New York left with something significant. Pittsburgh exited with the championship and an even better feeling of what they are all about. Texas left disappointed as runner-up but still encouraged they could take the #4-ranked team to the final possession with a limited rotation. Illinois showed resiliency coming back from a tough OT loss in the semis to post a nice consolation victory. Maryland, with a number of new faces, competed well both nights and received an encouraging two-day performance by sophomore center Jordan Williams.

First Semifinal

eFG FT RATE OREB PCT TO RATE
Pitt 49 48 41 22
Maryland 50 25 18 12

Possessions : 73

Off. Efficiency: Pitt 108, Maryland 96

The number that jumps off the page is offensive rebounding percentage. In raw numbers, Pitt owned the offensive glass 15-6 and the Panthers were beasts on the boards. Freshman forward/center Talib Zanna led the way with 12 rebounds but even junior guard Ashton Gibbs pulled down seven, which would have put him second on Maryland behind Williams’ eight caroms.

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ATB: Coaches vs. Cancer Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2010

We’re going to make this one fairly quick as it’s a travel day here at the RTC west coast compound.  Gotta get to Maui…

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Talib Zanna.  The Pitt freshman is making the most of his opportunity to start, going for 14/12 in the first double-double of his young career.  He’s now averaging 10/9 in four games and proves once again that Jamie Dixon really knows how to find recruiting diamonds in the rough.  This guy wasn’t even a top 150 player on Rivals (although he was listed as the #10 center on Scout).
  • Coming Out Party of Harrison Barnes.  In a mere half of action, Barnes showed everyone watching why he is considered the top amateur talent in the world right now.  He hit all four of his trey attempts en route to a 19/7 first half that allowed UNC for at least a game to look like the dominant force they usually are under Roy Williams.  If the Heels destroy Minnesota as easily as they did “Hoftra,” then we may want to re-assess our preseason ranking of them.
  • Dogus Balbay & Tristan Thompson.  Balbay’s late game defense on Illinois’ Demetri McCamey allowed his Longhorns to seize control of the semifinal game of the CvC, while Thompson did just about everything else — 20/7/4 assts/3 stls/5 blks for the budding superstar.  It’s never too early for UT to tank, but so far this team seems to like playing together a lot more than last year’s team did.
  • Georgetown Guards.  The Hoya trio of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark scored 54 points and dropped 17 assists in an easy win over Coastal Carolina at the Charleston Classic.  This is all fine and well until the guards go cold from outside — they hit 14 threes tonight, but we seriously doubt that’ll be the norm.

…and Misses.

  • K-State Looking Ahead.  Here’s how you know that you’re a top-shelf program.  You don’t look past teams like Presbyterian because you’re playing Gonzaga and Duke next.  If you feel that you’re on par with those programs, there’s no reason to look ahead.  KSU was only up 69-65 against the Blue Hose with 2:30 remaining.  That level of effort won’t work in the CBE Classic on Monday/Tuesday.
  • Madison Square Garden.  It’s difficult for us to believe that MSG is the self-described Mecca of College Basketball when New Yorkers don’t fill the seats for four quality teams such as Texas, Pitt, Illinois and Maryland.  We’ve been there a few times ourselves and even when local favorites Syracuse and UConn were playing, there were still seats available.  Give us a college arena with people packed in like sardines to the rafters any day.
  • Missouri’s Late Start.  As the last team in the country to play its season opener, Mizzou looked terrible.  How bad was it against Western Illinois?  For the first time in 59 years, the Tigers won a game without a single double-figure scorer.  Ugh.

Tweet of the Night.  This one didn’t have to do with any of tonight’s games, but it’s an 8.8 on the unintentional comedy scale.  Have at it, UNC fans…

RTC Live. We were back at the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer for the second year in a row, and we got to see two pretty good games.

#5 Pittsburgh 79, Maryland 70.  Maryland hung tough with a very good Pitt team on Thursday night. The Panthers’ focus coming in was slowing down Maryland’s Jordan Williams, and they did a pretty good job of it for the first 35 minutes of the game. With Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs both playing subpar basketball, Talib Zanna stepped up to the tune of 14 points and 12 boards. In a closely contested first half, Jordan Williams picked up two fouls early on. After he would come out of the game, Pitt hit the Terps with 22-8 run. And while Maryland’s back court — Cliff Tucker, Terrell Stoglin, Adrian Bowie — led the charge back, Pitt threw a counter-punch with Nasir Robinson’s three point play. Maryland never threatened again.

Texas 90, #16 Illinois 84 (OT). Texas got a dominating performance out of Tristan Thompson. The talented big fella went for 20 points, seven boards and four assists. Jordan Hamilton, the Longhorns’ best player, went for 21 points.  After watching Illinois suffer a disappointing, 90-84 overtime loss to Texas in the nightcap of the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals at Madison Square Garden, I can’t help but ask those same questions of Illinois. The Illini are a talented team. There is no questioning that. Demetri McCamey is a scoring guard that became the nation’s leader in assists last season. Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson, known last year as a promising but inconsistent freshmen duo, are back for their sophomore seasons as McCamey’s sidekicks. Mike Tisdale, Mike Davis, and Meyers Leonard provide a long and versatile front court, while Bill Cole and Jereme Richmond are combo-forwards that give Bruce Weber the option of playing really big or really small. On paper, this is a team that is good enough to contend for the Final Four. But projected success on paper is far from a sure thing once the teams take the court.

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RTC Live: Coaches vs. Cancer Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2010

Games #16-#17.  We’re back at Madison Square Garden for the second year of the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals.  You might recall that this is the spot in the season last year where Wes Johnson and Syracuse announced themselves as contenders for the crown with two convincing wins here.

#5 Pittsburgh vs. Maryland – 7 pm

Maryland may be 3-0 on the season, but there are some serious red flags waving for this team. The issue at hand? Point guard play, or lack thereof early in the season. For the first three games, Gary Williams has been starting senior Adrian Bowie at the point, but Bowie is not a prototypical point guard. He’s more of an off-guard that happens to be 6’1. He looked horrible in the opener against Seattle (seven turnovers, 12 minutes), and while he’s been better the last two games (eight assists, two turnovers), he’s not exactly the facilitator the Terps need. Two freshmen, Pe’Shon Howard (who hit the game-winner against the College of Charleston) and Terrell Stoglin, have been impressive at times, but their youth and inexperience has shone through as well. The Terps’ best offense early in the season has been pounding the ball into Jordan Williams or beating their opponent’s defense down the floor. Pitt has a much bigger and better front line (headlined by Gary McGhee, which makes for one of the most intriguing one-on-one matchups thus far this season) and a much better defense, so the question heading into this game is “can Maryland actually score?” For Pitt, watch Brad Wanamaker. I know Ashton Gibbs gets the accolades, but Wanamaker is ready to turn into one of the Big East’s best.

#16 Illinois vs. Texas – 9:30 pm

Illinois is underrated right now, in my opinion. I think the Illini have a shot of competing for the Big Ten title with Ohio State and Michigan State, that’s how good I expect them to be. Demetri McCamey is one of the least talked about superstars at the college level. He’s coming off of a season where he led the country in assists. My concern with McCamey? The theory that a knucklehead is always going to be a knucklehead, because heading into last season, McCamey had a reputation as, well, a knucklehead. The rest of Illinois’ lineup is talented. They are deep. They have some size as well, and while that size can be considered “soft”, their bigs (the Mikes, Tisdale and Davis) both shoot the ball well enough that it keeps the floor spread for McCamey’s penetration. Texas, on the other hand, is going to be an interesting team to follow this year. They have a supremely talented 1-2-3 punch in Cory Joseph, Jordan Hamilton, and Tristan Thompson, but those are two freshmen and a sophomore that wasn’t exactly known for his maturity or decision-making as a freshman. Do the Horns have a leader? Will Hamilton be the next Brandon Rush or the next Jeremy Hazell? Can Joseph run this team? Does Thompson have enough “want-to” to be a force on the block?  These and other questions will be answered tonight.

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After the Buzzer: Pe’Shon Announces His Presence to the World

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment.

There really wasn’t going to be any question tonight, was there?  Pe’Shon Howard announced his presence to the college basketball world by spinning, driving and fading his way into a 12-footer from the right side that dashed the dream of College of Charleston earning a statement ACC road win to use as a shiny gold star on its postseason resume.   What — we’re talking about postseason resumes on only the second night of the season?  Of course we are.  For SoCon schools like Bobby Cremins’ club, there are limited opportunities available in a season to notch the marquee win that could give the Cougars a shot at an at-large NCAA bid (or a nicer seed if the auto-qualifier), and Howard’s play down the stretch of this game may have single-handedly eliminated that possibility.  CofC will have more opportunities with games at North Carolina and Tennessee plus a home date versus Clemson, but it’s unlikely that the Cougars will stumble into the same perfect storm of a turnover-prone home team that goes 5-18 from the line and makes only two treys during the entire game.  If Cremins’ team looked up the phrase “missed opportunity” on the Google, we’re pretty sure they’d see a mirror image staring back at them.

As for Gary Williams’ Terps, it’s clear that they still have some things to figure out.  But don’t be fooled — we’ve watched Maryland teams that looked like they belonged in the MEAC in November playing as well as anybody in the country by March.  RTC Live was courtside for the Terps’ 75-74 win tonight, and our correspondent Rob Dauster writes that “the Terps need a point guard and a leader… [despite] a dominating, 26/15 performance from their star center, Jordan Williams.  They have other holes — perimeter shooting, depth up front — but in two games they now have 47 turnovers. Is Howard the answer? Right now, he looks like it. He’s an excellent passer, a talented penetrator, and a capable shooter. But perhaps the more telling sign was his poise and confidence at the end of the game. He wanted the ball in his hands with time winding down. And he succeeded. That kind of leadership is what Greivis Vasquez provided.”  And it’s true — in merely two games, Howard is 8-11 from the field with 12 assists and five steals.  Throw in the ability to finish ballgames as he’s already done once, and Gary Williams definitely has another star in the making on his bench.

The Tournament That Isn’t.  Right, it’s actually a “Classic.”  Not a tournament, remember.  The 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic played three other games tonight that at first blush appeared to be tournament-style, but actually were just glorified fixes (average margin = 37 points).  #5 Pittsburgh “moved on” with a 97-54 win over Illinois-Chicago behind dominant performances from Ashton Gibbs (24/7 assts), Brad Wanamaker (17/6/9 assts) and their glass-eating corps (+22 rebs), while Bruce Weber’s #16 Illinois squad “advanced” with an overpowering 47-18 first half en route to a 39-point victory over Toledo.  Texas also looked impressive in another destruction at home, this time over Louisiana Tech 89-58 to “survive.”  In two games this year, the Horns are proving to be a second-half team, breaking open both games by wide margins in the second stanza.

Next Week in NYC.  With tonight’s wins, the four regional hosts now move on to face each other in next week’s semifinals in Madison Square Garden.  Unlike this week’s games, though, next week’s contests are not already predetermined past Thursday night’s double-header of Pittsburgh vs. Maryland and Texas vs. Illinois.  The winners and the losers will play each other on Friday night for the right to claim the championship, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, those should be two pretty great matchups.  More next week on that, of course.

Tonight’s Quick Hits & Misses.

  • The Pitt Backcourt.  In two games, Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker are averaging 44/7/14 APG on 60% shooting with a ridiculous 4.6:1 assist to turnover ratio.
  • Andrew Goudelock. His jump shot was ripping the Maryland nets with such exceptional rotation that it was actually changing the trajectory of the ball as it zipped through.  Goudelock’s 27/10 (although with eight TOs) showed everyone why he’s the projected SoCon POY.
  • Olu Ashaolu’s Breakaway DunkThis was fantabulous, from one of the best names in the game today.
  • Jordan Hamilton.  Hamilton, so smooth on Monday night, didn’t look nearly as good this evening, too often settling for the three-ball (1-6) when it clearly wasn’t dropping.
  • Peterson Events Center.  Pitt’s home court has witnessed 134 wins versus only 11 losses in its nine years, for a winning percentage of 92.4% in that span.
  • Terps Fans. Ok, it’s one thing if Texas fans can’t be bothered to show up; but Maryland?  Not only is UMCP unequivocally a basketball school, but the Terps were playing a solid mid-major (as proven by the close finish).  There better have been a reason we’re not aware of for such a lackluster fan showing.

Tweet of the Night.  Tonight’s best tweet comes from SI.com’s Andy Glockner, a fella who captured what the rest of us were thinking as we watched the Andrew Goudelock Show turn into the Announcement of Pe’Shon’s Presence.

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