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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RTC Live: College of Charleston @ Maryland

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2010

We’re back with our third season of RTC Live, folks, and we are scouring the entire country for interesting games this year.  If you’d like for us to visit your school, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com, and we’ll do our best to get there.  RTC Live: College Basketball Nation’s Independent Live-Blog.  Join us for a bit tonight, or anytime throughout the season. 

Tonight Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is on-site in College Park, Maryland, for a heckuva interesting game between two old coaching rivals.

Maryland beat their first opponent, Seattle, by 29 points on Monday, but it certainly wasn’t the prettiest game the Terps have ever played. They committed 27 turnovers, including 15 by their three main ball handlers in Adrian Bowie, Pe’Shon Howard, and Terrell Stoglin. That said, both Maryland and Seattle came into the game looking to play an uptempo, full court game. As a result, it devolved into nothing more than glorified AAU ball. Charleston will be a tougher opponent for the Terps. Predicted to finish second in the South Division of the SoCon, Charleston returns five of their top seven, led by a kid named Andrew Goudelock. I’m sure UNC fans remember who he is.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this game? Its being called by Jay Williams. That Jay Williams. In College Park. We’ll be sure to get there early to be sure that we get the crowd’s reaction when the former Dookie Williams enters the arena.

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After the Buzzer: Opening Night Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 9th, 2010

Year the Fourth.  Welcome to the fourth season of Rush the Court’s continuing coverage of college basketball.  If you’ve lurked around these parts before, you already know that our After the Buzzer (ATB) feature is something we try to do most every weeknight of the season and quite a few of the weekends — pretty much any night there are nationally-interesting games going on somewhere.  If you’re new to this joint, the concept behind this feature is that we want to prepare you, Mr. College Basketball Citizen of the World, to face a new day armed with the knowledge you need in order cast forth into a hostile environment of hoops poseurs, charlatans and frauds.  We’re going to be experimenting with this piece over the next couple of weeks as the fresh, shiny new season gets underway, so let us know in the comments if there’s something you find particularly interesting or sucky.

Scotty Hopson Must Lead His Team This Year (UTsports.com)

Your Watercooler Moment: D2 Shows It Can Ball With the Big Boys (or, at least the SEC). There were three games that counted tonight in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but for realz games that counted in the standings were actually not the most newsworthy part of tonight.  Rather, it was Exhibition Madness tonight, as no fewer than two SEC teams dropped games against D2 opponents and a couple of other BCS teams required a total of three overtimes to sneak past two more.  The biggest “upset” took place in Knoxville, as the University of Indianapolis (Butler, is that you?) whomped Tennessee 79-64 behind a 60% shooting second half where the visiting team nearly doubled up the Vols.  The Indy backcourt of  Adrian Moss and Darius Adams torched UT, going for 47 combined points and getting to the line an astounding thirty times.  Meanwhile, over at Auburn, Tony Barbee’s new team shot 7-20 from the line as the Tigers dropped a close one against Columbus (AL) State, 54-52, a team picked to finish twelfth in its thirteen-team D2 division.  Not to be outdone, state rival Alabama was taken to double-overtime prior to pulling out a 73-68 win against Alabama-Huntsville.  It’s been a number of years since we have actually been able to state without equivocation that the SEC was a legitimate basketball league, but despite what columnist John Clay says, if tonight is any indication we may still be a ways off.

Moving away from tonight’s SEC disaster for a moment, Indiana stormed back from a 13-point deficit with seven minutes remaining against Ferris (MI) State, converting a gigantic four-point play by freshman Victor Olapido and surviving a buzzer-beater by FSU that was waived off to win 78-65 in overtime.  It’s not as if anyone in Indiana is expecting IU to compete for a Big Ten championship this season, but Hoosier faithful are expecting improvement.  Sneaking by D2 teams — even good ones — by the hair of your chin isn’t exactly inspiring the faith.

Does It Matter? Enhhhh… probably not much.  The past few years have been lightly littered with examples of good teams dropping games in the exhibition season.  In 2009, Syracuse lost to Le Moyne — the Orange went on to become a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament; in 2007, #8 Michigan State was shocked by Grand Valley State while Ohio State lost to Findlay — that season the Spartans went to the Sweet Sixteen while the Bucks won the NIT.  There are undoubtedly other examples over the years, but we’re inclined to believe that the only real lesson learned here is that the truly elite (national-title caliber) teams do not lose these games while very good ones sometimes do.  But we’re not sure that anybody actually believes this year’s Tennessee team (and most definitely, Auburn) is a legitimate threat to go deep in March anyway.

Oh Right, Real Games.  The 2kSports CvC began today with four games at home sites around the country, keeping in mind that the four host schools this week are already slotted into the semifinals round next week in NYC.  We’re biting our tongue once again about the absurdity of these games starting four days prior to everyone else, but hey, it’s college basketball on the television and we’ll take it.  The best game of the evening was Rhode Island visiting #5 Pittsburgh and giving the Panthers pretty much all they wanted before succumbing down the stretch on FTs and a key block by Gilbert Brown.  The Pitt backcourt of Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker was outstanding, going 15-28 from the field to combine for 46/7/11 assts, but URI’s ability to bomb the threes (14-32) very nearly allowed the Rams to pull off the road upset.  We have faith that Pitt will be very good this year, but URI with its four seniors is an intriguing team to watch in the Atlantic 10.  In the other games, #16 Illinois rode reserve guard Brandon Paul’s scorching shooting from deep (6-8) to a huge first half lead and never looked back, winning 79-65, while Texas woke up in front of about 150 people in Austin to obliterate Navy 83-52 behind Jordan Hamilton’s extremely effective night (26/10).  Tell us if you’ve heard this one before — the Horns dominated the boards (+20) while throwing up a house of bricks at the foul line (19-34).  In the last game, Maryland and Seattle ran up and down and all over the court at the Comcast Center with the Terps easily prevailing 105-76 despite an alarming 29 turnovers.  Normally, we’d talk about what the next matchups in the bracket will be on Wednesday night, but that’s not useful here as they’ve already been established for months.

Tonight’s Quick Hits.

  • ESPN’s New Home Court of College Hoops Ad.  Kinda diggin’ it.  Especially the last few seconds.  (anybody got a clip?)
  • Jordan Hamilton. Looked like the player we were promised last year, smoothly dunking and shooting his way to a 26/10 night.  If he plays like that all season, he’s an AA.
  • Jordan Williams.  While we’re talking about Jordans blowing up, Maryland’s star dropped 17/15 on Seattle and will need a lot more of those this year.
  • Scotty Hopson.  The anti-Jordan with three points, three turnovers and one assist in a five-foul fiasco that didn’t actually count, yet gives us pause about believing that the talented player will ever make the leap to stardom at UT.
  • Cory Joseph & Tristan Thompson.  The talented Texas freshmen showed flashes of brilliance mixed with periods of looking completely lost, but if Rick Barnes can bring them along slowly, this will be a very good duo in Austin.
  • Victor Olapido.  Underhyped IU freshman saved the Hoosiers from an embarrassing exhibition loss by scoring the last eight points in regulation and providing a key block with two seconds left.  Rare to see such clutchness out of a rook.
  • Talib Zanna.  Starting for injured Pitt forward Nasir Robinson, the 6’9 Zanna may have Wally Pipp’d him with 9/11 in his collegiate debut.
  • Texas Fans.  Look, we know you’re a football school, but come on… the sparse attendance for tonight’s game vs. Navy was ridiculous.

Tweet of the Night.  Was it real or was it fake?  The Twitterverse went a little nutty when a tweet went across the wires earlier tonight where Duke super-recruit Austin Rivers supposedly wrote the following during the Indiana-Ferris State game:

He immediately retracted the statement, saying that his Twitter feed had been hacked by someone.  Cynics such as this one have noted that all of Rivers’ preceding and subsequent tweets came from an iPhone, suggesting that either Rivers himself actually made the offending tweet or someone picked up his phone and started playing while he was away from it.  Either way, we’re really, really, really hoping that Duke and Rivers somehow gets to play IU and “Creme” next year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge or elsewhere (we know, extremely unlikely).

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Morning Five: 10.05.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2010

  1. Luke Winn wrote a piece on a little-known coach named Bill Fenlon, the head man at Division III DePauw University, and you’re wondering why.  Remember the flap several weeks back when the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective released its findings on 2009-10 game data that showed there is no significant difference in the coaching strategies to foul or not foul on the last possession?  Well, a decade ago Fenlon did a similar analysis where he calculated the mathematical odds of fouling/not fouling while up three points with seven seconds or less left on the clock.  The 2,728 word paper ultimately found that there is a 19% chance of the game going to overtime by playing strong defense; but only a 5% chance of OT if a team fouls correctly in that situation.  This flies in the face of the  conclustion of the HSAC study, but one possible explanation is that, due to data limitations, the HSAC had to consider all possible last possessions (rather than those with seven seconds or less).  Very interesting stuff from Winn, as always.
  2. The Summit League is planning a site visit to Great West member North Dakota during the first two days of November to assess whether the school might be a good future candidate for league expansion.  This would appear to be a good fit, as North Dakota State and South Dakota State are current members of the league and South Dakota is set to join next year.  Nothing like cornering the Dakota collegiate sports market!  All kidding aside, there may be a conference battle brewing over the Fighting Sioux as this push by the Summit appears to be precipitated by the Big Sky’s recent interest in UND as well.
  3. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber spent a full day last week tooling about the nation’s capital as part of his charity work for Coaches vs. Cancer and the American Cancer Society.  The Illini are among the top ten fundraisers in CvC, and Weber has made a point of the maxim to “give something back” now that he has reached the upper echelon of his profession.  Great to see this.
  4. There was a time where we honestly believed that Richmond, once the darlings of the CAA, had made a mistake in joining the higher-up-the-food-chain Atlantic 10.  No longer, and the reason: head coach Chris Mooney.  Under the legendary Dick Tarrant and (later) John Beilein, the Spiders made six NCAA Tournaments from 1984-98 and won games as every seed from the spectrum of #12-#15 — in other words, the seeds that usually don’t win NCAA Tournament games.  It took some time, but it appears that Mooney has gotten UR acclimated to the A-10 and the Spiders should be able to regularly play the role of favorite against some other future giant-killers themselves.
  5. Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena is set to open to the public in January, but two Ducks — EJ Singler and Jeremy Jacob — took an early tour recently with goofy hardhats in tow.  Place looks sick, especially the part about the highest-resolution big screen used in any arena in America.  Now, if Oregon can just find some decent players in order to put fans in those plush seats and show highlights on that ridiculous jumbotron.

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Morning Five: 08.06.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 6th, 2010

  1. Good grief, could yesterday have been any busier in the college basketball world on a random August Thursday?  Between the Karen Sypher verdict, the release of several holiday season tournament brackets, coaching APRs and eligibility issues flying around, it felt like January around here.  Let’s talk Pitino
  2. The Chicago Sun-Times in response to its writer Michael O’Brien’s allegation (later removed) that Kentucky had paid Anthony Davis‘ family $200,000 in return for his commitment?  _________________________________________(crickets chirping)___________________________________________.  A slightly revised article on the S-T website, “Davis No Longer a Hidden Talent,” makes no mention of any payment nor offers a retraction or correction of any sort.
  3. On a normal summer day, we might have a blast with this story from Kansas that they’re enlisting the help of students to redo their fight song now that Colorado and Nebraska are no longer members of the Big 12.  The winner will be announced on Oct. 23 this fall at Homecoming, but we can already say that the winner in our hearts and minds will be the clever student who comes up with a ditty trashing Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma for holding the rest of their conference brethren over the proverbial barrel and bringing it Deliverance-style in June.  C’mon, KU fans.  Send us something smart.
  4. We dove into the Maui Invitational tournament brackets yesterday, in part because it has the best field and also because of the potential juicy Kentucky-Washington semifinal matchup, but several more tournament brackets were released as well.  Ready for some .pdf brackets?  The CBE Classic (Duke-Marquette and Gonzaga-Kansas State in the semis); the 2kSports CvC (Pitt-Maryland and Illinois-Texas); the Old Spice Classic (Ladies, look at your man…); and the 76 Classic were all bracketed yesterday.  Andy Katz has a tremendous breakdown of all the best pieces of the various tournaments here. 
  5. The gray line between advisor and agent is holding up the NCAA’s confirming the amateur status of Kansas’ Josh Selby, according to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish.  The question of Selby’s amateurism stems from an association with fellow Baltimore native Robert Frazier, who acts as Carmelo Anthony’s “business manager” and has admitted he acted as an “advisor” to Selby and his mother during his recruitment.  Parrish’s article also contains quotes from Bill Self and Selby’s mom, neither of whom sound terribly worried.
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Morning Five: 03.09.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

  1. The rush of conference awards are rolling in…  here are some conference POYs that were announced on Monday: James Anderson, Oklahoma State (Big 12); Jerome Randle, California (Pac-10); Evan Turner, Ohio State (Big 10); Darington Hobson, New Mexico (Mtn West); Kevin Anderson, Richmond (A10).  As for conference COY: Matt Painter, Purdue (Big Ten); Steve Alford, New Mexico (Mtn West); Herb Sendek, Arizona State (Pac-10), Frank Martin, Kansas State (Big 12), Fran Dunphy, Temple (A10).  The ACC, Big East and SEC are expected to announce their choices on Tuesday.
  2. At the national level, The Sporting News has selected Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim as its national COY, and has listed their all-americans.  Their first team has five guards on it — John Wall, Kentucky (also FrOY); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland; Evan Turner, Ohio State; Scottie Reynolds, Villanova; James Anderson, Oklahoma State.  Of course, we think that’s cheating, and RTC will have its position-specific AA team later this week.  Watch for it.
  3. Next year’s Coaches vs. Cancer Classic will feature Pittsburgh, Maryland, Texas and Illinois as the four regional hosts who are slotted into the semifinals at Madison Square Garden the week before Thanksgiving.  This could be a very interesting and talented field if the majority of underclassmen on these teams decide to stick around, as they should.  Maryland and Texas lose some key pieces in Vasquez, Milbourne, James and Pittman, respectively, but there are a bunch of really good underclassmen on all of these teams.
  4. Talk about really early entry.  Seattle University’s Charles Garcia is wasting absolutely no time in declaring his intention to go pro this spring.  Seattle is an Independent, so their season is now over unless the Redhawks are invited to one of the lower postseason tournaments such as the CBI or CIT.  What is most notable about Garcia aside from his 19/8 scoring/rebounding average is his ability to draw fouls from the defense.  Garcia picks up an astonishing 10.6 fouls per game on his defenders, which as you may imagine, puts the 6’9 forward at the line nearly ten times per game.
  5. As always, here’s some great analytical work from Vegas Watch, who takes an alternative (and much more defensible) approach to seeding the field of 65.  Keep fighting the good fight, VW, with logic, reason and most importantly, data.
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Morning Five: 01.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2010

  1. Did you guys hear about that #1 team whom President Obama called yesterday to congratulate?  Boy, it sure would suck if the man with the Midas touch somehow jinxed them, wouldn’t it?  As we tweeted last nightBecause of tonight’s events, with 0% of precincts reporting, I believe CNN just called Kentucky for the GOP in the 2012 election. Sounds about right, eh?
  2. You may not remember this exercise, but as part of the season preview over at Vegas Watch, we pitched in on an analysis of each BCS conference team + a few others using the 2008-09 Pomeroy ratings and manually adjusting each team based on returnees and recruiting classes.  Here are some of our notable misses that we overshot — UNC, Washington, Iowa, Auburn, LSU, Oregon State, UCLA and Oklahoma.  Coming next will be some of the teams we undershot.
  3. Is Friday night’s game between Harvard and Cornell in Ithaca, NY, the game of the year in college basketball?  The WSJ thinks it might be.
  4. Stewart Mandel is back from football to ask where all the great hoops dynasties have gone?  Not sure how much we agree with this assessment, though.  Carolina and UCLA are clearly down, but Kentucky and Kansas are clearly up.  There’s always a power vacuum and someone can fill it (usually one of the traditional powers).
  5. BYU will ‘go pink‘ in Saturday’s home game against rival Utah to support Coaches vs. Cancer, of special interest to the Cougar program because of head coach Dave Rose’s battle over the summer with pancreatic cancer.  Here is a visual representation of what the jerseys and shoes should look like.

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Revisiting CvC from a Tempo-Free Perspective…

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is an occasional contributor and the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.


NEW YORK CITY –  A final look back on Coaches vs. Cancer from a tempo free perspective.  The first semifinal was a blowout with Syracuse dominating California 95-73. The other semifinal, North Carolina vs. Ohio State, was a rout for the Tar Heels.  Down the stretch, Ohio State, which shot a putrid 1 of 10 beyond the arc in the first half, suddenly found the range. It was a one possession game with under twenty seconds to play. The Buckeyes never drew even and Carolina prevailed 77-73. The offensive efficiency tale of two halves:

tempo free cvc1

North Carolina had a more even distribution with a 103 offensive efficiency and a 101 mark for the game. The strong second half showing by the Buckeyes was largely due to the Buckeyes’ shooting 17 of 30 (57%) for the final twenty minutes, including 5 of 11 from three.

Beware of the turnover. Tempo-free advocates and  coaches agree, twenty percent or one-fifth of your possessions resulting in a turnover is not conducive to offensive efficiency, or winning. In the first semifinal, California had a TO rate of 19% (15 turnovers on 81 possessions). Not a bad showing, but upon further review, Syracuse had 10 steals and scored 19 points off Cal turnovers, which is indeed damaging. The problem is that not all turnovers are created equal. If you throw a pass out of bounds, the ball is dead and you can organize your defense.  However, if the ball is stolen at midcourt your opponent has a great transition opportunity which often leads to a score.

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ATB: Wesley Johnson Makes Syracuse Better Than Last Year

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2009


Coaches vs. Cancer.

Addition by Subtraction? Syracuse 87, North Carolina 71.  We all knew that Roy Williams’ Carolina team was likely to take a bit of a step back this season after losing four players (Hansbrough, Ellington, Lawson, Green) to the NBA Draft, and we expected the same from Syracuse after losing the core (Flynn, Harris, Devendorf) of its Sweet Sixteen squad.  But is it possible that Syracuse, with the addition of multi-dimensional forward Wesley Johnson and the natural progression of players such as Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine, are actually better than they were in 2008-09?  Forget the loss to Le Moyne in the preseason — when the games have actually counted, they’ve mauled every opponent they’ve faced by an average of 27.5 pts.  Albany and Robert Morris, sure — but highly-ranked California by 22 and North Carolina by 16?  Not so much.  As Roy Williams put it after the game, Syracuse “beat the dickens out of us,” and he wasn’t exaggerating.  The Orange broke out of a 39-37 deficit at halftime with a ridiculous 22-1 run that had Carolina looking as befuddled as they’ve been in what seems like a long time (don’t let anyone tell you that it’s actually been that long, though – the 2008 Final Four game against Kansas looked similar for long stretches).  The key to that stretch of play was that North Carolina all of a sudden looked much like the young, inexperienced team that they are.  Williams made sure to stress that youth isn’t an excuse, but during the blitzkrieg by SU it was clear that many of the Heels were uncertain how to stem the tide, incapable at this point in their development of settling their nerves with several bad decisions on both ends of the court.  At the end of the night, it was obvious that the better team (with the best player, Johnson) won the game.  We have to be careful to crown anyone with anything this early in the season, but there’s no doubt that Syracuse is much further along than UNC, and we found ourselves wondering (along with Ray Floriani) if this year’s version of the Orange might actually be better off with the talented trio of Flynn, Harris and Devendorf out of the picture.  Sometimes those players, particularly Harris and Devendorf, could cause more problems than they solved for Jim Boeheim.  Is it possible that the group he has now — last year’s backups  + Johnson (transfer) and Jardine (redshirt) — have better team chemistry and trust for each other, resulting in wonderfully efficient execution on both ends?  Boeheim would never admit to it, but there could be something to this.

wesley johnson syracuse

Can We Send Cal Home 0-3? Ohio State 76, California 70. Memo to Pac-10 teams.  Don’t bother sending your schools back east unless they plan on actually showing up for the games.  For the second consecutive night, Mike Montgomery’s California team got completely outclassed by a bigger, more athletic foe that simply imposed its will on the Bears in the first half, rendering the second stanza as (mostly) garbage time.  Ohio State was much better tonight than they were last night, hitting five threes in the first half over the much shorter Bears, and generally controlling the game from start to finish.  Dallas Lauderdale in particular tortured the Cal interior players, getting credited for seven blocks and generally intimidating any Cal player of consequence who entered his lane.  Evan Turner was masterful as usual, notching another near-triple double of 26/14/6 assts on 9-14 FG.  More importantly for Thad Matta, Turner cut down his turnover total to a more reasonable (yet high) four, quite a few less than his ten last evening against UNC.  Jerome Randle was once again the only bright spot for Cal, as he dropped 26/3 assts in what was clearly a frustrating couple of games for the competitive guard.  The loss of Theo Robertson for these last two games with a stress reaction was undoubtedly a tough blow, but we’re not convinced that Cal would have beaten either Syracuse or Ohio State even with Jason Kidd back on campus.  Their problems with the interior players are just too damning, and there doesn’t appear to be any easy solution.  So what have we learned from this?  First, if Cal is indeed the best team in the Pac-10, then there won’t be a single Pac-10 team beyond the second round in March (again), and secondly, if there’s a better player than Ohio State’s Evan Turner (22/15/6 assts), he’d better start putting up some ridiculous games soon or the NPOY race will be over before it gets started.

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