Rushed Reactions: Kentucky 70, Georgia 58

Posted by CD Bradley on March 15th, 2014

rushedreactions

C.D. Bradley will be reporting from the SEC Tournament semifinals and finals.

The Wildcats Were All Smiles Heading to Sunday's Showdown (Vicky Graff)

The Wildcats Were All Smiles Heading to Sunday’s Showdown (Vicky Graff)

Three key takeaways.

  1. Kentucky’s spurtability key to their success. Georgia hung around and hung around, cutting the UK lead to three at 46-43 with 13 minutes to go in the game. The Wildcats, whose offense had sputtered for much of the game, then showed a bit of that talent we’ve heard so much about all season. First Dakari Johnson hit a shot and drew a foul after getting an offensive rebound. He missed the free throw, but Willie Cauley-Stein corraled the rebound and found Aaron Harrison for a three. UK then got a stop, and Harrison launched another three. He missed it, and Georgia looked to have the rebound, but James Young swooped in for the tip-in. Seven points in 51 seconds, all off of offensive rebounds, pushed the lead to 10, and the Wildcats never looked back.
  2. Georgia was crushed on the boards. The Bulldogs reached 12 SEC wins mostly with smoke and mirrors, but the one thing they did decently was grab offensive rebounds. And while Kentucky is the best offensive rebounding team in America, they rank a middling #119 in defensive rebounding percentage. None of that mattered Saturday, when the Wildcats dominated the defensive glass, outrebounding Georgia at that end 25-3, with two of those Georgia offensive rebounds coming too late to matter much.
  3. The Twins might finally have arrived. Aaron and Andrew Harrison came to UK with enormous expectations, but both have struggled this year along with their team. So Wildcat fans have to be thrilled with the duo’s play in Atlanta, particularly Saturday when Aaron led all scorers with 22 and Andrew had 12 points, nine assists and five rebounds. If Kentucky is to challenge Florida on Sunday and advance very far in the NCAA Tournament, they will need more of such play from their backcourt.

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SEC M5: 01.31.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on January 31st, 2014

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  1. As expected, Florida won in Starkville last night. The Gators did not, however, roll over the Bulldogs (they led by only one point at halftime), and haven’t rolled over the SEC at all recently. The national perspective seems to be that Florida is blowing right by every conference team it plays. This is correct in a strict win-loss sense, as the Gators are the only team with an unbeaten SEC record. But Florida has been somewhat tested by triple-digit KenPom teams in three of their last four games (Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn). Should that be cause for concern? Margin of victory is a useful indicator of future success, but conference games are especially difficult when you have a top 10 target on your back. That target will be even brighter in an upcoming stretch when the Gators face Tennessee, Kentucky and Ole Miss on the road in the span of two weeks. The Vols and Rebels will be in desperate need of a statement win, and Florida may not be able to grind out wins as easily (that is if Billy Donovan doesn’t throw a blanket over Tennessee’s offense again).
  2. Tennessee has talented pieces that just haven’t fit together as well as they should have this season. Did Darius Thompson just ride into town on a white horse to make it all work? The freshman made his third start of the season Wednesday night in the Vols’ big win over Ole Miss, and his solid stat line (seven assists against two turnovers) should keep him in that spot. “Him getting better – him growing up as a ball player, the time he puts into it and learning and understanding and just being around those experienced guys; I think it was just time,” said head coach Cuonzo Martin. Whether it was a direct result of Thompson starting, Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson rebounded from a horrific shooting performance against Florida to go a combined 10-of-14 from three. Jarnell Stokes also said the Vols pushed the tempo more with Thompson in the game, which was refreshing considering how slowly they have played at times. At this point it’s clear Antonio Barton was not the answer to replace Trae Golden. Still, he’s a senior who can certainly contribute down the stretch for Tennessee.
  3. Arkansas is mired in a five-year NCAA tournament drought, and it’s looking more and more likely that number will extend to six. CBSSports.com‘s Gary Parrish took an interesting look at what’s been ailing the Razorbacks. He wrote extensively about problems with the head coaching position, including a whiff at Billy Gillispie and Dana Altman’s change of heart. Can Mike Anderson turn things around in Fayetteville? He reached the Elite Eight in his third season at Missouri, and barring a miracle, won’t come close to that this season. Bobby Portis may be the ray of hope Anderson needs. The five-star Arkansas native chose to stay home (unlike Archie Goodwin) and could generate some in-state recruiting momentum. Anderson has actually done a fairly good job recruiting elite talent the last few years, even if in a roundabout way. In addition to this year’s solid class, Anderson convinced BJ Young to stay at Arkansas and there is a rumor that Otto Porter would have gone to Missouri had Anderson still been the coach. If he can keep gathering top talent, Anderson’s pressure system may be what returns Arkansas to the NCAA Tournament.
  4. Could it be that Kentucky will have a handful of experienced players back next season? John Calipari is reportedly spreading the word in NBA circles that Andrew and Aaron Harrison will return for their sophomore seasons. This is probably wise given their (relative) struggles and the strength of this upcoming draft class. And it could do even more favors for Calipari. Dakari Johnson has looked good, especially recently, but probably hasn’t stood out enough (yet) to make it worth his while to leave. The same can be said for Marcus Lee. You never know what can happen, but Kentucky could have a starting lineup featuring four sophomores next year.
  5. If Auburn had to win only one SEC game a year, I suppose their fans would prefer it to be against Alabama. The Tigers picked up their first conference win in 51 weeks by beating Alabama last night at home. That win nearly a year ago? It came against the Tide too. Chris Denson scored a career-high 32 points and is firmly in the discussion for an all-SEC team spot. One has to wonder where Anthony Grant goes from here. For a team that started the season with NCAA aspirations the Tide are now a long way away from an NIT bid, and lost any good will created by their solid win over LSU last weekend. Right now they are sitting at the front of the SEC’s “most disappointing table.”
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Freeze Frame: Re-evaluating Kentucky’s Pick and Roll Defense After Beating Louisville

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 2nd, 2014

Kentucky’s porous defense was a hot topic last week as fans and analysts attempted to make sense of a preseason No. 1 team that has failed to meet historic (read: unrealistic) expectations. There was certainly reason for concern. Coming into Saturday’s Battle of the Bluegrass with Louisville, John Calipari’s squad had played exactly three top 50 teams, (according to KenPom’s efficiency ratings) and had come out of those three games winless. It wasn’t time to hit the panic button just yet, as the Wildcats had lost to three quality teams on the road or on neutral courts, but then again the Wildcats were running out of opportunities for quality wins to bolster its inadequate resume. They do play basketball in the SEC, after all. Saturday’s 73-66 win over Rick Pitino’s Cardinals was about as close to a must-win situation in December as Calipari’s young Wildcats will experience.

Kentucky's defensive score sheet vs. Louisville including Alex Poythress' monster defensive performance.

Kentucky’s defensive score sheet vs. Louisville including Alex Poythress’ monster defensive performance.

A lot of positives emerged for Kentucky on Saturday. The offense finally clicked, putting together 1.04 points per possession against a stingy defense. Andrew Harrison grew up before our very eyes, leading the offense down the stretch like a veteran point guard. And this was all with the Wildcats’ best offensive player, Julius Randle, on the bench after a 17-point first half performance. Perhaps nothing was more impressive, however, than Kentucky limiting KenPom’s most efficient offense (at the time!) to just 0.94 points per possession for the game. So how did a team that has had trouble guarding manage to stifle one of college basketball’s best teams at putting the ball in the basket?

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Freeze Frame: Analyzing Kentucky’s Porous Defense

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 16th, 2013

Kentucky started out the season with delusions of a perfect 40-0 season, a fantasy even more preposterous as we look back now. The fact is that this young team is a work in progress with imperfections that need to be addressed and a resume that needs polishing. In its three losses this season, Kentucky’s defensive struggles were highlighted and exposed for the nation to see. Luckily for these Wildcats, John Calipari has been here before and he has a lot of time to work out his team’s inefficiencies on the defensive end.

Willie Cauley-Stein is an elite defender with or without his blonde hair. (Photo courtesy of Kentucky247sports).

Willie Cauley-Stein is an elite defender with or without his blonde hair. (Photo courtesy of Kentucky247sports).

To analyze the trends ailing this inexperienced squad and to quantify their individual performances on the defensive end of the floor, I have charted every defensive possession in all 11 Wildcats’ games thus far. The analysis below represents the good, the bad, and the ugly in Kentucky’s defensive score sheet this season.

The Good News 

Kentucky’s interior rim protection has been a bright spot, erasing a multitude of mistakes in the Wildcats’ perimeter defense. Both Willie Cauley-Stein and Julius Randle have an impressive defensive rating, a metric calculated to represent the number of points allowed by an individual defender over 100 possessions. Cauley-Stein and Randle lead the team with 91.1 defensive ratings, with Cauley-Stein as a high usage defender involved in nearly 25 percent of the Wildcats’ defensive possessions.

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2013-14 RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by Walker Carey on November 7th, 2013

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And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, see the faces on the floor, and our favorite teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing on Friday evening, we officially unveil RTC’s 2013-14 Preseason Top 25. Starting November 18, you can expect our weekly poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick and dirty analysis that dives deeper into how the teams shake out from top to bottom. To see how we did last year, check out our 2012-13 preseason poll — we nailed some (Louisville, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas), and swung and missed on others (Kentucky, NC State, Missouri, UCLA). We promise to do better this time around.

rtc 25 preseason 13-14

Quick n’ Dirty Thoughts.

  • A Majority Likes Kentucky – Four out of our seven pollsters are in agreement that Kentucky is the top team in the country, while the other two teams that were picked first were Louisville (one #1 vote) and Michigan State (two #1 votes). It is really difficult to argue with any of the three selections, but Kentucky reigned supreme due to the star-studded recruiting class of Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson that John Calipari was able to lure to Lexington. Do not forget that Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein also return for the Wildcats. Defending national champion Louisville is once again loaded with talent, led by preseason All-American Russ Smith and 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock. Michigan State is a squad that was helped immensely when both sophomore Gary Harris and senior Adreian Payne bypassed the NBA Draft to return to East Lansing.

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Kentucky’s Ridiculous Recruiting Class: Not Good Enough to Beat MJ, But Perhaps Everyone Else

Posted by Chris Johnson on April 16th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

How any Kentucky basketball fan, coming off the most disappointing season of John Calipari’s Kentucky tenure, could turn to 2013-14 with anything less than a 2012-level romp of a national title as a baseline expectation is beyond my limited capacity for understanding hoops-obsessed fan bases. The Wildcats are bringing in what’s being billed as the best recruiting class of all-time, built on the backs of five McDonald’s All Americans, including the nation’s top power forward (Julius Randle), point guard (Andrew Harrison), shooting guard (Aaron Harrison) and center (Dakari Johnson), and a competitive leg in the race for the still-unsigned best player in the country, Andrew Wiggins.

If recruiting rankings foretell wins and championship odds, Kentucky is on its way to big things in 2013 (Getty Images).

If recruiting rankings foretell wins and championship odds, Kentucky is on its way to big things in 2013-14 (Getty Images)

It is a class that defies the basic tenets of recruiting: AAU Tournaments and unofficial visits and verbal commitments and the like. Calipari is drafting his personally-vetted lot, not evaluating and selecting it. Thanks to a proven track record for turning high-upside prospects into deep-Tournament outfits and high school superstars into first-rounders, Calipari can pick and choose the next batch of young stars who will join his one-and-done empire. This year, he’s blown the roof off of every former recruiting class, his included, to hit a college campus. Kentucky fans should be excited; they should be hungry; they should expect nothing less than a net-cutting ceremony at Cowboys Stadium exactly one year from now.

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SEC M5: 04.05.2013 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on April 5th, 2013

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  1. Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson stayed in the spotlight this season for rude, crude, and controversial behavior, but it never seemed that he was aware that he was acting a fool. Well, apparently he was. Henderson issued an apology to Ole Miss fans saying, “I take responsibility for my actions this season and apologize to anyone I offended,” Henderson said. “However, my edge on the court has made me the player that I am. I can’t change that, but I do understand that I can take things too far.” He also seemed to confirm that he would return to Oxford next season claiming, “With only nine hours left to earn my degree, I want to help build this program and that means I need to be a leader for my teammates both on and off the court.” Watch out SEC. Marshall Henderson is coming back and he is looking to get paid.
  2. Will Patric Young stay? Or will he go? The debate is on, and the good folks over at Alligator Army weigh in with a summary of reports. One comment from Young seems to suggest that he is staying in Gainesville. According to comments he made to the Palm Beach Posts’ Jason Lieser, Young spoke about next year saying, “to make sure we can have another spectacular season.” Next season could be special indeed for UF, especially if Young progresses in the middle with the additions of Chris Walker and Kasey Hill along with the return of Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin, and Casey Prather.
  3. While much of the conversation this week has been on current student athletes who are making decisions on whether or not to return to the University of Kentucky, last night was all about the high school athletes who have signed to play in Lexington next year. The McDonald’s All American game on Wednesday night featured six future UK athletes, and Kentucky fans are excited after seeing the future backcourt in action. Projected starting point guard, Andrew Harrison scored 10 points to go along with four assists while his brother Aaron Harrison, the projected starting shooting guard, added six points and five assists. The duo connected on an alley-oop lob that resulted in a slam dunk for Aaron. The Harrison twins were impressive, but they weren’t the only future Kentucky stars doing good work. Julius Randle contributed 11 points and seven boards and center Dakari Johnson added 12 points and five rebounds.
  4. The future University of Kentucky athletes know that in order to see playing time this year, they will have to battle future NBA players for it. Several players predicted physical practices that would prepare them for the college and pro level, and they know they will be better players because of that intensity. “I think at this point it’s, ‘Who else do I want to play against in practice?’ I feel like the practices are going to be a lot harder than the games at this point,” incoming freshman forward Marcus Lee said. “Going against (Julius) Randle and all these other major players, I think it’s more, ‘Who wants to fight to be on the court?’ than it is, ‘Who are we fighting against?'” Perhaps UK should enter a second team into SEC play this year so the reserves can see playing time as well.
  5. Former standout Alabama high school star Ricky Tarrant is transferring from Tulane University and is potentially interested in returning closer to home. The sophomore point guard confirmed the news saying, “I will not be attending nor playing basketball for Tulane University next year.” Originally, Tulane was not going to allow Tarrant to transfer, but have now granted him permission to contact other schools. The rumor at this point is that the former Pleasant Grove star would be interested in playing basketball at the University of Alabama, though his father says he has not made a list of potential destinations just yet.
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SEC M5: 04.03.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on April 3rd, 2013

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  1. After three straight seasons of being ousted in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, some are wondering if the Gators are capable of making the leap to the Final Four. Marketing of the Final Four has made that level of the Big Dance the standard of success as opposed to a previous round as the ultimate measure (the Sweet Sixteen or even making the Tournament for that matter). “People deem this NCAA Tournament journey of different pinnacles,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “Getting out of the first round, getting to the Sweet Sixteen, getting to the Final Four. At the end of the day for the people that are involved in it and coaching it, there’s no easy exit out of the NCAA Tournament.” The Gators will look completely different next season, losing at least three starters, but the talent level next season could take Donovan back to the Final Four that fans in Gainesville crave.
  2. Regardless of your emotions regarding the Gators failing to make another Final Four in 2013, the Gainesville Sun points out that there is a different way to look at this year. “Florida overachieved this season. This was hardly Billy Donovan’s most talented team, but the Gators found a way to win 29 games.” That they did. And they won another regular season SEC championship, just UF’s fourth in school history. Three straight Elite Eight appearances are nothing to scoff at considering there is no other SEC team that has even made three straight NCAA appearances in the same span. While Florida came very close to a Final Four this year, as previously mentioned, it could be right back in the mix next season. With as much talent as Florida will suit up in 2013-14, there will be no way the Gators can overachieve next season.
  3. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin will coach the East squad in the 2013 Reese’s Division I College All-Star Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday. The game doesn’t have any SEC players participating, but plenty of other talented players will be showcasing their skills. D.J. Cooper (Ohio), Larry Drew II (UCLA), and Rodney McGruder (Kansas State) headline the East team, while Pierre Jackson (Baylor), Mike Muscala (Bucknell) and Kwamain Mitchell (St. Louis) lead the West squad which will be coached by Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg.
  4. Incoming Kentucky center Dakari Johnson found inspiration from an SEC villain to deal with the hatred he might see on the road while playing away from Lexington. “I’m looking forward to it. I want to embrace it,” he said. “I know a lot of people hate Marshall Henderson, but he just embraces it. He lives in the moment and he just does what he does. And we’re going to do what we do.” UK’s next point guard, Andrew Harrison, is already accustomed to playing in difficult environments with his twin brother Aaron. “In Houston, they hate on us no matter who we play or where we are,” Andrew said. “We take that and we turn it around as motivation. It helps us play harder, actually.” Winning, of course, is the ultimate cure when it comes to quieting down a rowdy away crowd.
  5. The SEC will be on full display in the McDonald’s All American game, but LSU commitment Jarell Martin rested for the dunk contest, otherwise known as the Powerade Jam Fest. He is nursing a knee injury that has been bothering him. He will, however, play in the prime time game on Wednesday with several other future SEC foes including six Kentucky players, two Florida signees, and a future Arkansas Razorback. Martin is the 14th ranked prospect in the country according to Scout.com, a site that also has him as the fifth best power forward in the 2013 class.
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Who’s Got Next? Kentucky Receives Commitment From Dakari Johnson

Posted by CLykins on January 8th, 2013

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Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player ranking

Top Center Dakari Johnson Announces For Kentucky

Whether you love them or you loathe them, there is no denying the pure dominance on the recruiting scene in recent years from the Kentucky Wildcats. Since head coach John Calipari took the position in 2009, he has secured the No. 1 recruiting class in three of the past four years — Kentucky’s 2012 class was ranked No. 2 by some outlets — and 12 five-star recruits during that span. However, the Wildcats’ 2013 class is shaping up to be arguably the best recruiting class ever (at least on paper). Entering this past Saturday, Kentucky had a five-man class while still in the mix with four prospects ranked inside the top 15. As the day concluded, that five-man class turned into six as the Wildcats gained a verbal commitment from Dakari Johnson out of Montverde Academy (Florida).

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Dakari Johnson joins a historic recruiting class for Kentucky in 2013

Johnson, the No. 1 center and No. 12 overall ranked prospect, picked the Wildcats over Georgetown and Syracuse following Montverde’s game against Simeon Career Academy (Illinois) at the Cancer Research Classic, in which he notched 18 points and 15 rebounds in the victory with Calipari in attendance. The 6’10”, 250-pound center cited winning, honesty with Calipari and his staff, and his pursuit to develop into the best player that he can become  as the deciding factors in his recruitment. “I just want to win a national championship,” Johnson said. “The coaching staff told me this was not the place to come if I didn’t want to work hard. But I want to work and I want to get pushed. And I think Kentucky is the place for me.”

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SEC M5: 01.07.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 7th, 2013

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  1. The biggest news of the weekend came with the announcement that Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon will redshirt for the 2012-13 season. Maymon intends to give his left knee time to recuperate so that he can make a full return to the court in 2013-14. “It’s really tough to know that I can’t be on the court with my teammates this season,” Maymon said. “But I have confidence in them, just like I have confidence in these coaches and our medical staff. I know this is in my best interest, and I am going to work incredibly hard to come back as an even better player and teammate next season. I love Tennessee.” Maymon averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, and would have been a huge boost to a struggling offense that has put up point totals of 36 and 38 points already this year. He led the team last year in effective field goal percentage at 55.8 percent, and the Vols could certainly use a low post threat to help out sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes. Maybe next year will be the year, assuming Stokes decides to suit up one more season in Knoxville.
  2. Another SEC school lost one of its top scorers over the weekend as well. South Carolina guard LaShay Page has been ruled academically ineligible because of what Gamecocks coach Frank Martin is calling an “academic glitch.” Page is the team’s second leading scorer at 11.7 points per game. Similar to Tennessee, USC has not exactly put on a clinic on the offensive end this season, so any personnel losses hurt — Page took over 30 percent of the Gamecocks’ shots, so he won’t be easy to replace even though he wasn’t exactly the most efficient scorer with a 41.9% effective field goal rate. The backcourt should get somewhat of a boost with guard Bruce Ellington’s return from the football field and freshman Michael Carrera’s return from injury, but Page’s loss will no doubt be a huge blow for a team on the upswing.
  3. Florida forward Erik Murphy is out again, this time missing Sunday’s game against Yale because of bruised ribs sustained in practice. Murphy will undergo x-rays to determine if any further damage has been done when the team returns to Gainesville on Monday. “It’s tough for us and certainly disappointing for him,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. Murphy averages 12.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, and is the most offensively efficient player on the Gators’ roster (fifth in the nation). Though Murphy was surely missed on the court against the Bulldogs, this is especially disappointing because the game was somewhat of a homecoming for the senior. He grew up about an hour from the Yale campus in Kingstown, Rhode Island.
  4. This season hasn’t exactly gone as planned for John Calipari and UK, but next season could be his most talented roster yet. And that’s without knowing which of his current superstars will return. Kentucky received another commitment from a high school senior over the weekend, the number one rated center in the country, Dakari Johnson. Coach Cal is waiting on decisions from another pair of high schoolers (Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins), of which he will likely land one. Once finalized, some are calling this the greatest recruiting class of all-time. Not just at Kentucky, which would be quite the feat since Cal has been at the helm, but the best anywhere at any time. That’s impressive, but think of the talent that could return to help lead this group of fab freshmen. Kentucky could end up with a collection of starters in 2012-13 who may be sitting on the bench to make room for a new group of starters in 2013-14. Could be an interesting dynamic, but Calipari has made it work before.
  5. Speaking of super recruit Andrew Wiggins, after a string of top ranked recruits selecting the Wildcats, could Calipari and Kentucky actually lose a recruit? It seems so. Evan Daniels, Fox recruiting analyst, thinks Wiggins will choose the Seminoles of Florida State over the stacked Wildcats. The number of available shots in a loaded Wildcats’ lineup could be a factor in Wiggins’ decision. The Wildcats will likely play similar to last season, where minutes and shots are spread fairly evenly among six to eight talented players. If Wiggins wants the ball in his hands, then Lexington may not be the spot for him.
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Morning Five: 01.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 7th, 2013

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  1. The big news of the weekend happened on Saturday when Lehigh star CJ McCollum left their game against VCU after what appeared to be a fairly innocuous drive. However, when he returned to the court he was on crutches and told a teammate that his foot was broken, which was confirmed the following day as a fracture of his fifth metatarsal in his left foot and is expected to be out for 8-10 weeks. The injury is obviously a crushing blow for Lehigh’s season although it is possible the McCollum could return in time for the Patriot League conference tournament. However, various reports indicate that the plan is to be as conservative as possible, which seems to be the most reasonable choice given the fact that McCollum is still probably a first round choice as long as he comes back healthy.
  2. According to unnamed sources, the “Catholic 7″ are on the verge on striking a lucrative television deal worth more than $500 million over 12 years. The sources, who may have their own agendas in providing this information, are reporting that Fox is looking at putting the new conference on Fox Sports 1, which will replace Speed (already in 81 million households in the US). The deal would pay each of the seven schools about twice as much as they would have made had they elected to stay in the Big East. Interestingly, the seven schools are expecting that any incoming schools would be paid less than half of the television money that the “Catholic 7″ are making because those new schools would still be making significantly more than they are making in their current television contracts. This might sound reasonable in theory, but we would be surprised if the schools agreed to do so for more than a few years.
  3. File this under the category of “the rich get richer”. On Saturday, Dakari Johnson committed to Kentucky adding to their already ridiculous incoming recruiting class. Johnson, who is the consensus #1 center in this year’s class even though he only reclassified to the class of 2013 from the class of 2014 back in November, announced his decision on ESPN2/ESPNU after his team’s convincing victory over a Jabari Parker-led team from Simeon (IL). Johnson is the third player ranked #1 at his position to join the incoming class at Kentucky with twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison being the others with James Young (#2 shooting guard/#6 overall), Marcus Lee (#11 power forward/#30 overall), and Derek Willis (three-star power forward) rounding out the class so far. At this point Kentucky has already secured the #1 overall class for 2013 and everybody’s attention will be turned to where they rank historically. The obvious comparison is the Fab Five class that came into Michigan in the fall of 1991. We are sure that plenty of recruiting analysts will be chiming in with their thoughts in the next few months, but we will hold off on any comparisons (apparently so will John Calipari) except to say that we doubt they will have the cultural legacy, but hope they will exist in the eyes of the NCAA.
  4. After Jim Boeheim passed Bob Knight on the all-time victory list there was quite a bit of talk about where he ranked among the greatest coaches of all-time. One coach who we never hear mentioned in these discussions, but probably merits consideration to at least be mentioned is the legendary Jerry Tarkanian. While many reasons have been cited including the infamous hot tub photo where several of Tarkanian’s players are seen with Richard Perry, a famous gambler who had been convicted twice of sports bribery, it would seem that Tarkanian is unjustly left out of these discussions. As Sam Borden points out in his excellent article on Tarkanian in The New York Times Tarkanian was a pioneer who was well ahead of his time. As Borden points out, one of the sticky subjects around Tarkanian is that he still is not in the Hall of Fame despite his ridiculous coaching credentials as the lingering questions surrounding his methods and the people surrounding his programs have made many uneasy to include him in such select company. In our opinion, Tarkanian belongs in the Hall of Fame with the understanding that those who actually know the game will be aware of the allegations surrounding his career.
  5. If you are unhappy with how your team’s season is going so far, be happy that you are not a fan of Hamline, a Division III school that has suspended its head coach indefinitely, dismissed a player, forfeited its game on Saturday, and is considering additional discipline/suspensions for the 14 remaining players on the team. The origins of this fiasco appear to start after the team’s trip to Spokane, Washington when Eugene Lawrence III was charged with felony second-degree assault after allegedly punching a women in the face. The entire story, which is described in detail including the circumstances around the encounter and Lawrence’s reaction afterwards, is disturbing although we are not sure how the coach and the rest of the team fit in here. Hopefully the situation can be resolved, but we have to applaud the school (or at least someone at some level) for stepping in and apparently taking charge of this mess.
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Big East M5: 12.13.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on December 13th, 2012

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  1. Yesterday, we speculated that reconciliation between the Big East and its seven Catholic basketball schools seemed less likely after reading comments from Marquette’s AD Larry Williams in a Tuesday radio interview. Just after midnight this morning, the venerable Brett McMurphy reported that “it’s becoming ‘more likely’ the basketball schools will break away from the league’s football members,” with an announcement coming in as little as 24-48 hours. The Big East bylaws are apparently filled with byzantine procedural protocol, but it appears Temple would not have a vote in the matter of dissolution, after all. So if those seven schools can reach a consensus, there’s nothing UConn, Mike Aresco, or anyone else can do to stop them.
  2. Though Rick Pitino has explicitly prohibited sophomore Chane Behanan from speaking to the media this semester, the embattled forward has developed a surreptitious ritual during his postgame locker room exits. Always the first to leave, he repeats the same refrain as he walks past media waiting for player interviews: “I just want to say, all I want to do is win a national championship.” Though his steady play (8.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG) has at times been overshadowed by disciplinary issues and precocious freshman Montrezl Harrell, Behanan has showed maturity in competing rather than sulking. Considering ego or complacency may have been the culprits that landed him in the doghouse with Pitino, it’s hard to imagine his coach being too upset over this kind of team-oriented, ambitious statement.
  3. The Casual Hoya pegged Georgetown #5 behind Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Notre Dame in yesterday’s power rankings, and made two salient comments that put the Hoyas’ offensive woes into perspective. The team shooting percentage of 46.2% is only 0.3% lower than last year, and its shooting inside the arc has improved, but the Hoyas’ three-point and free throw shooting percentages are the lowest in John Thompson III’s tenure. Part of the problem might be at the center position: “Georgetown’s centers under III have either been future 1st round picks or seniors. [Mikael] Hopkins currently is neither.”
  4. Villanova exorcised some demons over the course of their Big 5 rivalry games over the last couple weeks. In holding on to win a heated game against St. Joe’s on Tuesday, the Wildcats earned a measure of redemption for the errors that helped La Salle erase seemingly insurmountable last-minute deficits and beat Nova last month. Correcting mistakes identified and dissected by a coach on film is always a more onerous task than simply acknowledging those mistakes and resolving to do better. “That’s part of our building process,” said Jay Wright, “You’ve got to get it done in that situation.” Nova has gone 3-1 in the two weeks since the La Salle collapse, and closed out its Big 5 series strong with wins over Penn and St. Joseph’s.
  5. Jim Boeheim is hedging his bets on losing an underclassman to the draft after this season, as evidenced by his recent recruitment of Class of 2013 5-star center Dakari Johnson. The Orange are out of available scholarships, with five guys already committed in Johnson’s recruiting class. While it’s possible Boeheim is preparing for a player to transfer –– or be told to transfer, a la Jared Swopshire at Louisville –– it’s more likely sophomore Michael Carter-Williams is planning to cash in on his skyrocketing draft stock after this season.
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