AAC M5: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on December 10th, 2013

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  1. With a #9 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll, UConn is back in the top 10 for the first time in two years. It’s hard to believe, but the last time the Huskies were this highly ranked was midway through the 2011-12 season, on the heels of Jim Calhoun’s third and final national championship. The good times didn’t end there for Kevin Ollie’s team yesterday, as Shabazz Napier won his second consecutive AAC Player of the Week honor. Despite scoring in single digits in limited minutes against Maine, Napier’s superhuman performance last Monday against Florida was enough to put him over the top again. Oh, and did I mention that the Huskies are the only remaining undefeated team in the AAC? Not a bad way to start the week. Napier and company will continue building their case as the league’s team to beat if they can take care of business this week against Stanford and at Washington.
  2. College Basketball Talk lists Memphis sophomore Shaq Goodwin among the 20 most improved players in college basketball this season, noting that “on a team with a stable of perimeter weapons, Goodwin’s emergence [as] a presence on the block is key.” In addition to averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, the athletic big man has improved his field goal percentage from 46.6 percent to 65.4 percent, and among AAC players is second only to UConn’s Niels Giffey in that statistic. On a more intangible level, he’s contributed a degree of toughness and decisiveness to the Tigers that he often didn’t deliver as a freshman.
  3. Just when it may have appeared as though Rutgers had washed its hands of the Mike Rice abuse scandal, reports surfaced yesterday that former player Derrick Randall has filed a lawsuit against the university in connection with his misconduct. The complaint, filed in federal court last Friday, names Rice and a number of present and former university officials as defendants, including president Robert Barchi, former athletic director Tim Pernetti, and former assistant coach James Martelli. Randall, who received a waiver to play immediately at Pittsburgh this season, is seeking damages for assault and emotional distress, among other things, and his complaint cites “violent screaming, cursing and other humiliation tactics, including the use of homophobic slurs and other shockingly derogatory and discriminatory name calling.” He was one of four players to transfer after Rice’s firing, and is – at this point – the only one to file suit against his former coach. Fallout from the scandal and its aftermath has reportedly cost Rutgers an estimated $4 million already — it’s hard to say how much bigger that figure might get.
  4. As good as USF forward Chris Perry has looked starting alongside fellow freshman John Egbunu in the Bulls’ last two games, coach Stan Heath stands by his decision to not start Perry in five of his first six games. “I guess early on, I still feel like we did the right thing just bringing him along where he can get his feet wet first, and I think it’s paid dividends for us,” said Heath. “It’s made him a little hungrier in practice.” The extra motivation seems to have indeed paid off, as Perry averaged 14 points and 12.5 boards per game in close wins over George Mason and Alabama last week, earning him AAC Rookie of the Week honors. The 6’8” freshman acknowledged that his team is finally “learning to play together,” which is a scary thought for other AAC frontcourts given that Perry and 6’10” center Egbunu are each imposing enough on their own.
  5. Houston ended a two-game losing streak with a decisive 89-58 win over Alcorn State last night, after the Cougars reportedly got “tired of losing.” Star junior forward TaShawn Thomas said his team had become especially frustrated by its tendency to blow leads, a problem that never presented itself as the Cougars more than doubled the halftime margin in the second half against a dismal Alcorn team. It’s hard to say how much we can draw from this game given the poor competition, but it was still encouraging to see highly-touted sophomore Chicken Knowles heat up the way he did. In only 20 minutes of action, Knowles scored a career-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, after scoring only two total points in previous losses to San Jose State and Texas A&M.
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Four Thoughts on Houston vs. Stanford Last Night

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 26th, 2013

Four Thoughts is our way of providing some rapid reactions to some of the key games involving AAC teams throughout the season. 

Stanford

Stanford

  1. Houston Has Upside. Yes, the Cougars fell apart at the end of the first half and most of the second half, and yes, their defensive performance left a lot to be desired. But that said, Houston looked like a better team than most of the teams surrounding them in KenPom’s latest updated rankings. The Cougars are full of athletes who love to run and have a lot of different individual offensive options behind the spectacular TaShawn Thomas. Stanford isn’t a marquee name this season, but the Cardinal are a very good team with legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations and Houston looked like the better squad for a good portion of the game. Houston’s main problem seems to be maintaining consistency and defensive effort for a full 40 minutes (a hallmark of a young team), and lest we forget, the Cougars boast a rotation that features just two significant upperclassmen. Nobody is saying that Houston showed enough in a losing effort to make the NCAA Tournament, and certainly the schedule gets much more difficult from this point, but there is more than enough talent to surely finish in the top half of the AAC standings this season.
  2. They Need to Find a Shooter. It’s difficult not to imagine how lethal the Cougars would be with a pure shooter on the wing, someone like Connecticut’s Niels Giffey. Point guard L.J. Rose is an effective shooter from behind the arc but he is also in charge of running the offense and isn’t the type of guy coach James Dickey wants to run off screens for catch-and-shoot opportunities. The roster is full of ridiculous athletes like Danuel House and Jherrod Stiggers, who are great in transition but considerably less threatening when they are being dared to shoot over the zone. Stiggers was supposed to be a marksman after shooting better than 37 percent from downtown last season, but he missed all four of his three-pointers against the Cardinal and is off to a slow start from deep this season (28.6%). Tione Womack and Jaaron Simmons are competent backup guards but one more pure shooter to complement Stiggers and catch passes from Thomas when he kicks it out of the post would make the Cougars tough to stop offensively. Read the rest of this entry »
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AAC M5: 11.13.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on November 13th, 2013

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  1. Houston’s prospects this season received a boost yesterday after the NCAA cleared sophomore Danrad “Chicken” Knowles to play immediately. A top-60 recruit who signed in the Cougars’ landmark 2012 class with Danuel House, Knowles sat out last season after being declared academically ineligible. As a 6’10″ face-up forward, he was noted by recruiting services for his athleticism and offensive versatility, and those attributes should make an immediate impact for a Houston team that lacks elite talent. Knowles could quickly work his way into a complementary starting role this season alongside House, TaShawn Thomas and L.J. Rose.
  2. After two quiet games, the Hartford Courant’s Dom Amore writes that UConn is waiting for DeAndre Daniels to reprise his breakout performance from late last season. Daniels went scoreless and collected only one rebound in 18 minutes against Yale on Monday, and it seems his early shooting struggles have poisoned every facet of his game. Kevin Ollie expressed little sympathy for a 6’9” player with NBA-caliber talent: “He has just got to play. He can’t worry about scoring. Use your length, use your energy… we can’t wait for anybody on this team.” Ollie added, “You want [Daniels] to keep his head up, but at the end of the day, you can’t baby him.”
  3. Addressing newly implemented officiating rules, Eddie Jordan used the word “farce” at least three times while describing the current state of college basketball in an interview after Rutgers’ 79-76 loss to UAB on Monday. Rather than objecting specifically to the way his team’s loss was officated, Jordan reportedly took issue with the changes in style of play imposed by the new guidelines, and said he wondered whether fans would lose interest in college hoops as a result. Fouls weren’t the most pressing concern for Jordan’s Scarlet Knights after a frustrating road loss in which they were significantly outrebounded by their first opponent with decent size. Rutgers suffered a minus-27 margin on the boards against UAB, and Jerry Carino of New Jersey Hoops Haven notes that the Knights have been outrebounded 42-25 on the offensive glass through two games.
  4. Louisville point guard Chris Jones quietly orchestrated his second consecutive game without a turnover in the Cardinals’ 97-69 win over Hofstra last night. While the return of Chane Behanan and Luke Hancock set the tone and Russ Smith stole the show by lightin up Hofstra’s zone for 30 points, Cardinal Authority’s Jody Demling pointed out that in his first two games with the team, Jones has accumulated 12 assists and zero turnovers in 55 minutes. He put together the best game of his short Louisville career against the hapless CAA visitors, chipping in 20 points (on 54 percent shooting) and four steals to go with his seven assists. As a team, the Cardinals have forced 43 turnovers while committing only eight themselves this season.
  5. Central Florida will face its first major challenge when the Knights host Florida State tonight, particularly on the offensive end. Orlando Sentinel writer Paul Tenorio points out that after carving up overmatched Division II Tampa in their season opener, Isaiah Sykes and UCF’s other guards face a much stiffer test breaking down the Seminoles’ interior defense. “Florida State is going to be a tougher team to drive it on… those gaps close quick when you get there,” said head coach Donnie Jones, who acknowledged “we’ve got to really make the extra pass in this game, much more so than we did in the Tampa game.” Jones said that breaking the press and defending in accordance with the new hand-checking rules were also points of emphasis in UCF’s preparation for the Seminoles.
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Morning Five: 11.13.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 13th, 2013

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  1. Before the Champions Classic we cautioned you not to read too much into the results no matter how they ended up. We stand by that statement, but we hope that you still tuned in because if you did not, you missed some fantastic November basketball. In the main event/nightcap, Duke superstar Jabari Parker played a sensational first half that led some real-time draft experts to strongly consider changing the order of their daily NBA Mock Drafts right there on the spot. Eventually Parker cooled off (partially aided by Kansas counterpart Andrew Wiggins taking the initiative to guard him), and in the end, it was Kansas that made the statement with a 94-83 win fueled by a 15-4 run to end the game. For a full analysis of the Parker vs. Wiggins duel, check out our postgame write-up here.
  2. In the undercard game that also happened to involve the top two teams in this week’s national polls, Michigan State knocked off Kentucky 78-74 in a game that more than lived up to the hype. While Big Blue Nation will have a tough time dealing with the loss (what fan base ever appropriately deals with a loss?) they should be able to take the loss in stride. The Spartans played like the veteran team that they are while the Wildcats showed flashes of youthful head-scratching combined with signs of brilliance that will put them on the short list of favorites when March rolls around. If we have one issue for the Wildcats going forward it will be the play (and more specifically, the attitude) of the Harrison twins, who at times appeared to lose focus when things were not going their way. The back-breaking play for Kentucky was a late turnover by Andrew Harrison that gave Michigan State just enough cushion with a few minutes left to hang on the rest of the way. For a full analysis of the battle between #1 vs. #2, check out our postgrame write-up here.
  3. The biggest regular season night in college basketball in some time had nearly every major media outlet’s attention on Tuesday, so we’ve parsed through some of the best columns about the two games to help you catch up on everything. TSN‘s Mike DeCourcy writes that Kentucky’s slew of talented but very young players needed this education at the hands of their more experienced Michigan State elders in order to become the team that everyone thinks that it can be. CBSSports.com‘s Gary Parrish argues that, after having watched the oustanding freshman talents of Parker, Wiggins and Randle on display Tuesday night, it’s OK to fall in love with all three of them. At ESPN.com, Andy Katz punctuated in writing what our eyes were already telling us — that this year’s freshman class (which honestly should also include Arizona’s Aaron Gordon) is special. Finally, SI.com‘s Luke Winn came away from the proceedings convinced that, despite all the truth and hype about the precocious freshman on display, Michigan State, with all its experience, talent and coaching, is the team to beat this season.
  4. There actually was some news outside of Chicago’s double-header last night, and for Houston it was of the very good variety. Danrad “Chicken” Knowles, already in the running for the best nickname is college basketball, was cleared on Tuesday to play immediately for the Cougars. Knowles had missed the first two games of the season waiting for a decision from the NCAA clearinghouse, but the former top 75 recruit will be able to suit up for James Dickey’s team as soon as Thursday’s game against Texas-San Antonio. Knowles at 6’10″ will provide a much-needed inside presence for the team in a league that is extremely light in the frontcourt. If Houston is to make a push this season into the top half of the AAC, much of that rise may depend on the incoming Knowles.
  5. On the flip side, Delaware star Devon Saddler has been suspended by his team for a month for an unspecified violation of team rules. The all-CAA guard was averaging 23.0 PPG in the Blue Hens’ first two contests this season, and is only 314 points from becoming the school’s all-time leading scorer. If he can make it back to the team by a target of Delaware’s December 16 game against North Dakota State, that would leave him a minimum of 23 games to capture the record. Given that his career scoring average of 16.3 PPG is well above the 13.7 PPG he would need take over the top spot, he should be on track to still get there. What’s less certain is how the 0-2 Blue Hens will do without their best player in the lineup. Six of the team’s next seven games — while Saddler is expected to be out — are on the road, and a couple of those, at Villanova and at Notre Dame, will be no walks in the park.
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Around The Blogosphere: August 11, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 11th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Oh Canada! La Salle Wraps Up North Country Tour With a Win: After trailing by 4 at halftime, La Salle ended up winning 66-64 thanks to some solid defense in the second half. (Villanova by the Numbers)
  • Men’s Basketball Unveils 2011-12 Out-of-Conference Schedule: “The Commodores will kick off their 2011-12 basketball campaign with a home game against Oregon, according to the team’s newly released out-of-conference schedule. The upcoming season also includes challenging matchups against Xavier, Louisville, Marquette, North Carolina State and a potential preseason tournament showdown with Texas.” (Anchor of Gold)
  • Syracuse Basketball: Bucknell Bound For Dome December 20: “Our old friends the Bucknell Bisons will be making a trip to the Carrier Dome on December 20 when they play the Syracuse Orange for the first time since 2005.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
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