Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Butler-Indiana, Arizona-Florida, Jim Boeheim, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 18th, 2012

tuesdayscribblesBrian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. After enduring the dreaded finals week, we college basketball fans were given a treat on Saturday afternoon courtesy of two teams who call basketball heaven, otherwise known as the state of Indiana, home. In what was the game of the year to date, the Butler Bulldogs overcame a second half deficit and tons of foul trouble and knocked off the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers. While an unranked team beating #1 is always an amazing accomplishment, nobody should be surprised by this result. Butler has done this time and time again over the last few seasons with a variety of different players (although this was the program’s first victory over a #1-ranked team) who embrace the same unselfishness and winning culture. The Butler Way, as it has been deemed, is the reason why Brad Stevens is considered among the top coaches in the college game. This meteoric rise for the 36-year-old Stevens, in only his sixth year as a head coach, doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Butler won the game by torching Indiana from deep and dominating inside, consequently exposing preseason All-American Cody Zeller’s deficiencies. Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith took it to Zeller all game and made him look like a very average center in the process, one who struggled to rebound and had difficulty scoring against the physical Butler defense. Zeller’s stat line may look alright (18 points, five rebounds), but 10 of his points were scored at the foul line. He wasn’t a major factor on either end of the floor, a credit to Stevens and his preparation as well as Butler’s personnel. This is a blueprint for future opponents with the proper personnel on how to attack Zeller and Indiana. The Hoosier defense, which up until Saturday’s game had looked much improved, did not look all that impressive on this day. Aside from Victor Oladipo (who is quickly becoming Indiana’s most important player), the Hoosiers didn’t defend the way they needed to against Butler’s deliberate offensive sets. Indiana has plenty of time to fix the problems and remains a legitimate national title contender but Saturday’s result was a good reality check. There is no truly dominant team in college basketball this season and we will see more results like this as the year progresses.

    Alex Barlow's Game-Winner Knocked Off Indiana

    Alex Barlow’s Game-Winner Knocked Off Indiana

  2. Another fantastic game broke out later Saturday night in Tucson where Arizona overcame a six point deficit in the final minute to shock Florida and remain undefeated. In a 40-minute game, the Wildcats led for only a stunning one minute and 24 seconds, out-played in their own building for the vast majority of the game. What did I draw from this game? Not much except that it was fun to watch and both teams are legitimate top ten outfits. Who is the better team? I’m sticking with Florida. The Gators went into the McKale Center and methodically dismantled Arizona for 37 of the 40 minutes played. The problem for Florida was meltdowns at the end of both halves which proved fatal. The Gators held an 11-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the first half but two turnovers and a blown defensive assignment on Nick Johnson allowed Arizona to cut the lead to three at the half. Florida weathered the storm and slowly built up a comfortable lead in the second half before Arizona charged back. A Scottie Wibekin triple with 2:44 remaining seemed to be the dagger but Florida would not score again. In a final minute disaster, the Gators committed three turnovers and 90% free throw shooter Kenny Boynton missed the front end of a one-and-one. Mark Lyons still had to hit a tough shot off the glass to give Arizona the win but this was a total giveaway by Florida, a team that had no business losing this game given the way it played out. What did I like about the Gators? A lot, from Patric Young’s smooth touch and suffocating defense to Mike Rosario’s newfound self-control and poise. Billy Donovan’s team does a great job in zone defense and I thought they should have played some more possessions in it. After a made basket, I really liked Florida throwing on some light full court pressure before settling back into the 2-3 zone. It served them well by confusing Arizona for the better part of the game. Offensively, Florida has nice balance and utilizes Erik Murphy in the perfect way with pick-and-pops as well as a series of staggered screens that really confused Arizona’s defense. Rosario and Boynton play more under control this year and don’t chuck as often as in the past. This is a team that should win the SEC and contend for a national championship. As for Arizona, this is a very good team but not one I’m sure can contend for a national title. Sean Miller’s club must cut down on its turnovers (which it did against Florida) and improve its three point defense. I mentioned Arizona’s poor opponents three point percentage in a previous edition of this column and the Wildcats failed to stop Florida’s shooters on Saturday. That has to get better in the long run if Arizona wants to go deep in March. Kaleb Tarczewski is a tremendously talented young center but he was exposed by Young. Tarczewski will keep getting better but any team with a skilled big should be able to handle Arizona inside. Don’t get me wrong, Arizona will likely win the Pac-12 and advance deep in the NCAA Tournament but this team is flawed, as are many. This was a great resume-building win for Arizona but I’m not so sure the Wildcats would have beat Florida if the game wasn’t in Tucson. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 12.10.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 10th, 2012

  1. We figured that the NCAA’s decision to pull its championship events from New Jersey was the last we would hear of their issue with the state’s legalization of sports gambling. It looks like the NCAA (and the four major professional leagues) are just getting started. You may or may not remember that back in August those organizations sued the state for its legalization of sports gambling, which the state attempted to throw out. On Friday, the leagues/organizations filed a motion in an US District Court to stop New Jersey from dismissing the lawsuit. At the heart of the issue is New Jersey’s assertion that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which restricted sports gambling to a handful of states, was unconstitutional. We haven’t dug too deep into the legal minutiae of the case, but it seems like New Jersey would have a pretty good case on the surface. Of course, they are going against a group of organizations who are all essentially federally enabled monopolies so maybe we are giving being too rational here.
  2. On the court the biggest news of the national happened out west where Mike Moser dislocated his right elbow during UNLV’s one-point win over California last night. At this point all we know is that he didn’t break any bones, but the extent of the injury is still not known and early reports indicate that Moser will be out for anywhere from a few weeks to the whole season. For a team that has struggled to find backcourt play to match the production and level of play of an absolutely loaded frontcourt could be a huge blow. We should have more information about Moser’s injury and how long he is expected to be out within the next couple of days.
  3. Moser’s injury is by far the most significant loss over the weekend (and possibly this season), a pair of players in the SEC will not be seeing the court any time soon as Mississippi kicked junior transfer Jason Carter off the team for violation of team rules while Louisiana State suspended Anthony Hickey indefinitely over a violation of athletic department and university policies. Carter, who never played a minute for Mississippi, was a transfer from Alabama via junior college and had been suspended before the team’s first exhibition game and never had that suspension lifted. We are not sure what Hickey, LSU’s starting point guard, did other than showing up late for tutoring sessions, but since the school’s fall semester ended recently we are guessing his suspension has something to with his grades.
  4. Utah State junior Danny Berger, who fainted during a practice last Tuesday requiring CPR and the use of a defibrillator, was released from the hospital and honored at the team’s game on Saturday. From what the school is saying the cause of Berger’s syncopal episode is still not known and he will need to be monitored for at least six more weeks before a decision will be made on if and when Berger can return to the court. Creighton guard Josh Jones, who had been hospitalized after fainting during warm-ups of the Bluejays game on Thursday, was out of the hospital and was on the bench watching the team’s victory over Akron yesterday. Jones has a history of fairly significant heart disease as he had his aortic valve replaced as a high school senior after developing a severe case of infective endocarditis–essentially a bacterial infection on his heart valve(s). The reason for Jones’ syncopal episode also is not known yet and he will undergo more tests this week before a decision can be made as to whether he can play again.
  5. Finally, Taylor University did its annual Silent Night event on Friday night. The event, which is done on the Friday night before finals week, was a cute, relatively unknown event where students attend the game, but are totally silent until team scores its tenth point of the game at which point the students make as much noise as they possibly can. The event has gained a great deal of notoriety in the past few years as more and more blogs feature it yet it still remains one of the more unique events in college basketball.
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Who Won the Week? MCW, Chicago State, Not Jerry Jones…

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2012


Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Chicago State

The Cougars found themselves a home. Amid the constant turmoil found during this extended period of conference realignment, Chicago State has managed to go from the schedule conglomerate of the Great West to an actual conference in the WAC. (Let’s ignore the fact that the WAC would lose its automatic bid if the historically black university didn’t join its ranks.) Granted, the Cougars are 0-8 in Division I play this season, but their campus lies atop a recruiting hotbed, and they could easily snag many a player who falls through others’ cracks, especially now that they offer the same chance at an automatic NCAA Tournament bid that about 250 other schools promise every season. This move makes sense for both parties, but it should help save Chicago State from the fate of Winston-Salem State, another HBCU that tried to make the move to Division I but failed before retreating back to Division II.

(Related winners: The WAC. Related losers: None.)

LOSER: Florida State

Hamilton Hasn’t Been Smiling Much This Season (Photo Credit: Glenn Beil / Democrat).

The Seminoles have had an extended run of success in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one unseen for that program since the Hugh Durham era in Tallahassee, but that’s threatening to fall apart in Leonard Hamilton’s 11th season roaming the Florida State sidelines. FSU is currently riding a three-game losing streak, and last week’s losses to Mercer and Florida were both ugly in their own ways. Falling 61-56 to a team from the Atlantic Sun is ignominious in its own right, but especially so for a team riding a school-record four-year NCAA Tournament streak. Having only one player score more than seven points in the process is even worse. But the Seminoles actually managed to one-up that loss with an embarrassing 72-47 loss to rival Florida, this time where no Florida State player scored more than 10 points. Michael Snaer, the scoring guard who helped lead the team to three wins in the last two years in the NCAA Tournament, scored 17 points between the two games on 5-of-17 shooting while having five assists and seven turnovers. This is foreboding for a team many picked to finish in the top half of an ACC that has often looked lackluster during the start of the season.

(Related winners: Florida; Mercer, but more so had the Bears not gotten shelled by Denver later in the week. Related losers: The ACC, Snaer.)

WINNER: Greg Gantt

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 12.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 6th, 2012

  1. Last night’s scheduled game between Utah State and BYU was postponed after Danny Berger‘s collapse one day earlier. Given the circumstances of Berger’s collapse (occurring at practice requiring CPR and used of a defibrillator) this seems like a very sensible decision as Berger remains in what has been described as being in critical condition although he has been extubated and is reportedly talking with family and staff members. There has not been an announcement as to if or when this game would be made up, but frankly that should not really be a concern for either team.
  2. One of the few amusing things about conference realignment has been the fighting between conferences and schools about exit fees and the mandatory waiting periods before schools are allowed to leave their current conference. Apparently, the administrators at Rutgers do not find it that amusing as they filed a lawsuit against the Big East claiming that the exit fees and waiting period are arbitrarily applied to departing members while also claiming that the conference has failed to collect the $39.5 million it was owed by departing members. We can certainly get behind their issue with the 27-month waiting period and need to collect the exit fees from other schools, we don’t think that their issue with the different exit fees should be valid since the fee was raised to the current $10 million just before Rutgers left although if the argument is that the Big East doesn’t collect the fee in the first place from some schools then their case gets even stronger. While this will certainly drag on for months and likely lead to many news releases filled with legal jargon it does raise an interesting issue: If the Big East actually collects that $39.5 million it is reportedly owed it could go a long way to subsidizing the exit fee for Rutgers.
  3. With all of the movement going on with conference realignment we didn’t even notice that the WAC was on the verge of losing its automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament before it added Chicago State. The conference, which is described as “ever-changing” in the AP article needed seven schools in the conference to retain its automatic bid, but was going to lose it while waiting for Grand Canyon, a school that has its own issues as Deadspin detailed, to officially join Division I. Fortunately for the conference, Chicago State will join for the 2013-14 season, which is within the NCAA’s two-year grace period allowing it to retain its bid.
  4. As usual Luke Winn delivers with his always enlightening Power Rankings offering a variety of interesting stats that may change the way you view some of the best teams in the nation. For us, the two most interesting stats in this week’s edition concern the defenses of Duke and Florida (and we have vastly differing view on how long they will be able to sustain that performance). The stat that Winn cites for the Blue Devils is that the marked improvement of their interior defense, which has gone from mediocre to one of the best in the country through eight games. While they have already faced a tough early slate we have a hard time believing that they will able to maintain such a marked improvement. The statistic for the Gators regarding the frequency they use man-to-man or zone defense and how much better they are at both defenses. Given the change in players from last year’s defense (highlighted in the article) and their performance against FSU (a team that admittedly struggles at times on offense against mediocre teams) it seems like a stat that might hold up as the year goes on even if it tails off a little during SEC play.
  5. We are still a long way away from the NBA Draft, but Jeff Goodman is already looking forward to it and it doesn’t look pretty. According to Goodman (and we tend to agree with him here) this is one of the worst draft classes in recent memory and that is assuming that the talented freshmen leave instead of staying another year (or two or three) to work on their games. While there are a few notable players in this year’s Draft who seem like they are a cut above the rest of the class in terms of potential, but there is nobody that we see as a superstar yet and probably nobody that we see as a perennial All-Star.
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Morning Five: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 5th, 2012

  1. We are still waiting on an update on the status of Danny Berger, the Utah State junior, who collapsed at practice yesterday afternoon and required the use of a defibrillator before being transported to a hospital near Salt Lake City. Berger, who was averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game this season, had started every game for the Aggies this year. The Aggies have a difficult game tonight against BYU, but at this point we are sure that is a distant thought in the minds of the coaches and players.
  2. Fresh off completing the #1 recruiting class for 2013, John Calipari was back at work picking up Karl Towns Jr., who was considered the top player in the class of 2015 before he reclassified to the class of 2014 while committing to Kentucky yesterday. If this recruit’s name sounds familiar and you don’t follow the recruiting circuit closely (Towns was just a freshman last year) it is because he played for the Dominican Republic National Team this past summer–a team coached by Calipari. So while Mike Krzyzewski was busy coaching LeBron, Kobe, and company to another gold medal, Calipari was coaching and building a relationship with another top recruit who eventually committed to playing for him in the future. In terms of recruiting, it continues to be John Calipari’s world and we are all just living in it.
  3. As if their matchup against Arizona on Saturday was not enough of a test without the services of Milton Jennings, things just got a little tougher for Clemson with the announcement that T.J. Sapp has left the team and will be transferring at the end of the semester. Sapp has started all seven games this season, but only averaged a little over 15 minutes per game did not reveal the reason for his transfer (guessing probably in search of more minutes) or his potential destinations. For their part the school and coaching staff said that they both left under good terms for whatever that is worth since we doubt any institution would say otherwise for risk of alienating potential incoming recruits.
  4. We are very familiar with the wild emotional swings of college students, but even by those standards the announcement that Antonio Bryer would be returning to the Southern Illinois team after quitting the team earlier in the day for personal reasons is bizarre. Obviously the school won’t release the information regarding the issues surrounding Bryer’s decisions and we doubt that Bryer will talk about it so we are guessing that this remain one of the more bizarre unexplained roster moves of the season. Bryer is expected to play tonight against Western Kentucky so perhaps he will address the issue, but we doubt it.
  5. Last week we mentioned that Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley had been suspended for his involvement in gambling. Yesterday the school officially cut ties with Parmley by firing him in an announcement that was revealed publicly via an e-mail to faculty, staff, and students. When we first heard about the allegations against Parmley we knew that it was only a matter of time before he got fired. Now the big question is whether Tulsa will face any sanctions if the school had any knowledge of Parmley’s gambling activities.
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Checking In On… The WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 12th, 2012

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC. You can follow Sam on Twitter @AgsBleedCrimson.

Reader’s Take


Looking Back

Conference play got underway and nobody made a bigger statement than preseason favorite Nevada, who went 2-0 with wins on the road at Idaho and Utah State, the latter snapping the Aggies’ 33-game home conference win streak. New Mexico State hit the road and came away with a win while Hawai’i protected home court against San Jose State to join the ranks of the conference unbeaten.

Deonte Burton's Latest Exploits Include a Stunning 51-Point Effort On The Road.

Power Rankings

  1. Nevada (12-3, 2-0): The Wolf Pack have won nine in a row, but it’s the latest victory that has the rest of the conference buzzing. Nevada’s opening road sweep over Idaho (73-55) and Utah State (78-71) saw point guard Deonte Burton score 51 points on 19-32 shooting including seven three pointers, the final three being a dagger-to-the-heart trey in which he was also fouled in the act. His four-point play sealed USU’s fate and a 2-0 league start for Nevada. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Wolf Pack starters combined to scored 134 of their 151 points on the weekend. Eventually that lack of bench production will catch up with them. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 16th, 2011

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.  You can follow Sam on Twitter @AgsBleedCrimson.

Reader’s Take


The Week That Was

Another mixed bag for the WAC as Nevada posted a win at Montana 70-64, Idaho won at Oregon State 74-60, New Mexico State lost at UTEP 73-69, and Utah State lost at Wichita State 83-76.  The WAC is 38-38 overall as the conference is just under three weeks away from starting conference play.

Stew Morrill's Aggies Have Struggled In Transition From Their Memorable 2010-11 Campaign.

Power Rankings

  1. Nevada (7-3): Don’t look now but the Wolf Pack are on a roll having won four in a row and seven of their last eight. Deonte Burton has led the Pack in scoring in the past three games with outbursts of 31, 28, and 21. The Wolf Pack are making the “winning plays” down the stretch, according to head coach David Carter, and shooting percentages of 44% and 53.6% in the last two second halves attest to that.
  2. Idaho (6-4): The Vandals are starting to find themselves as well having won three of their last four with the loss coming by just a bucket against Washington State.  Deremy Geiger‘s 27 point against Oregon State and Stephen Madison‘s 17 points against Seattle led to a pair of road victories for Idaho.  The two wins have seen Idaho shoot 15-of-29 (51.7%) from behind the three-point arc. Read the rest of this entry »
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