SEC Morning Five: 10.21.11 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on October 21st, 2011

  1. Rally the troops! Sound the Horn of Nerdfighting and CHARGE! The ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top-25 poll has been released! The Southeastern Conference has four members on the list: Kentucky at #2 (with one 1st place vote), Vanderbilt at #7, Florida at #10 and Alabama at #17. (Future SEC member Texas A&M checks in at #19.) Mississippi State was the only other SEC school receiving votes from the coaches.
  2. Returning all five starters helped Vanderbilt garner their highest Preseason Top-25 ranking since 1965. Those 1965-66 Commodores, led by legendary coach Roy Skinner, were coming off their first NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance. This year’s Vanderbilt team has been upset in the past two NCAA Tournaments, leaving some observers to doubt their ability to make a serious run for the NCAA title. Others, such as CBS Sportsline’s Gary Parrish thinks Vandy had enough offensive talent and experience to advance further than the First Second Round. (Our very own Brian Joyce should soon have an interesting analysis of Vandy’s ability to succeed in the postseason. Keep yer eyes peeled!)
  3. After many years of success and orange body paint, it seems strange not seeing Tennessee listed on this Preseason Top 25 list. Their omission is understandable: Hitting the reset button to expunge the Bruce Pearl era, new Volunteers head coach Cuonzo Martin faces a strong schedule with a hodge-podge of athletic players who don’t exactly fit his system. After many years of being the big hounds on the block, Vols fans will need to change to root for the underdogs of the SEC East. One way to start will be getting ticket sales back on track.
  4. Mississippi State basketball fans have more to look forward to than a fitter Renardo Sidney and a team that has the potential to make all sort of noise come March. This is the 100th season of Bulldog basketball! (Please, don’t ring all your cowbells at once. It’s early.) The MSU Athletic Department has compiled a list of twenty All-Century team members: modern members include the versatile Mario Austin, incredible marksman Dontae’ Jones and swat-machines Jarvis Varnado and Erick Dampier. MSU fans can select the starting five from all these All-Century team members and the top five greatest games of Mississippi State history. Sounds like a fun start to a great year’s worth of events.
  5. Early in the 2011-12 team practice season there still remains more questions than answers for South Carolina. With only nine scholarship players, Coach Darrin Horn admitted to the media on Wednesday that he has yet to find a starting five players for his team. Horn’s challenge, he says, is that he has seven players that could start on any given night. The USC blog Garnet and Black Attack has speculated on a regular starting rotation that includes improving sophomore center/forward Damontre Harris and highly-regarded freshmen shooting guard Damien Leonard. The Gamecocks are currently practicing without point guard Bruce Ellington as he finishes the season for the Gamecock football team. With Ellington’s role on the football team possibly increasing due to the season-ending injury to running back Marcus Lattimore, Coach Horn may not know how much he will be able to play Ellington once he rejoins the basketball team. Horn is currently encouraged by the offensive effectiveness he’s seen in practice thus far but reincorporating his only returning experienced scorer remains a mystery.
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ESPN’s Toughest Arenas Survey: Analyzing Coaches’ Responses

Posted by rtmsf on September 7th, 2011 had an interesting series of stories that went up today regarding various folks’ favorite college basketball arenas to visit and the toughest ones to play in.  As always when you read blurbs of primary source information, it’s enlightening to see the reasoning behind their choices.  For example, we never knew that NC State’s old home was such an ACC snake pit, but ESPN commentators Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis both independently cited Reynolds Coliseum as the toughest arena they ever played in. Davis even claimed that he never scored “on the opposite basket away from our bench in the first half” due to the flustered situation he found himself in all four years he visited Raleigh.

A number of media types also weighed in with their favorite places to experience a game, and several of the old faithfuls represent well here — Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium (3 votes), Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse (2 votes) and the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden (2 votes) — along with a few other tried-and-trues including Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stanford’s Maples Pavilion, Penn’s Palestra, and UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion (1 vote each).  But it was the list provided by Dana O’Neil (excellent usage of “sepia,” by the way) from her interviews of several head coaches back in July on the recruiting trail that really caught our eye. First, here’s her list:

Fifteen prominent coaches chose nine different arenas between them.  Three of those are already retired to the dustbin of history, and three others are clearly a personal house of horrors to specific coaches.  Not many people in this business will choose a place like Murray State Arena over somewhere like the Kohl Center or Breslin Arena, but Big Ten coach Bruce Weber did.  The remaining joints are again places we’re all familiar with as incredibly difficult to walk out with a win, but we quickly noticed that there was something peculiar about the responses among O’Neil’s interviewees.  Take a closer look — of the 15 coaches, only one of them gave an answer that includes a site where his team must regularly play games.

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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? – Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies – Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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Set Your Tivo: 03.03.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 3rd, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

It’s a light night across the college basketball landscape but two teams will look to increase their NCAA chances with a win tonight. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Tennessee @ South Carolina – 7 pm on ESPN (***)

Hopson Should Have a Big Night Tonight

The Volunteers are likely in the NCAA Tournament with their quality wins against the second-ranked schedule, but it would be in their best interest to win at least one of their final two games. It’s possible that Tennessee could lose both and fall to 7-9 in SEC play heading into the conference tournament and therefore need at least a win or two. After tonight, the Vols host Kentucky in the regular season finale on Sunday.

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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 25th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.

A Look Back

  • Interestingly, Kentucky coach John Calipari cursed at Terrence Jones repeatedly during a time-out in Kentucky’s 66-68 loss to Alabama, and ESPN got the whole thing, audio not included.  While it was largely a non-issue until Calipari issued an apology, it was later discussed on “Around the Horn,” perhaps the most boring show in sports, and “Pardon the Interruption.”  While some have blown it out of proportion, others have regarded the whole situation as silly, saying that Calipari had no need to apologize.  That’s just coachspeak.
  • I have to appreciate what Coach Cal did.  His apology was completely unrequested and unforced, but he felt the need to say something and in this day and age of so much coarse language, unrepentant vitriol and media-induced faux-apologies, it is refreshing to see someone who realizes that he did something inappropriate giving a sincere apology without any pressure to do so simply because his conscience told him to do it.
  • More news from Vols camp involves Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge shooting his own music video at a bar and he not paying for the time that he was there filming, an action that could theoretically constitute an NCAA violation.  However, Woolridge was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation into the matter. Tennessee isn’t exactly in the good graces of the NCAA right now, so this figures to be one less headache from the higher-ups.
  • To follow up on Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury’s comment last week that he doesn’t feel there is that much difference between the SEC East and West, the East is now 82-29 to the West’s 64-49 and is winning by an average margin of 9.2 points per game to the West’s 3.5.  Furthermore, the East is now 9-3 in head to head matchups against the West.

Power Rankings

  1. Kentucky (15-4, 3-2) Kentucky continues to have trouble on the road.  All four of the Wildcats’ losses have come at road or neutral sites, and while the Alabama loss doesn’t look good, they took care of business at South Carolina to get a good win in a tough environment.
  2. Vanderbilt (14-4, 2-2) Vanderbilt went 2-0 this week with an 84-74 win over Mississippi and a good win over West Coast Conference leader Saint Mary’s.  A great week for the Commodores, but not quite enough yet to knock Kentucky off its perch at the top of the power rankings.
  3. Florida (15-4, 4-1) I want to say that Florida is looking good at 4-1 in conference, especially after pasting Arkansas 75-43, but they only shot 28.3 percent from the field including 5-26 from three… against Auburn, and the game was tied with under two minutes to play.  Starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combined to go just 6-28 from the field.  Not a good sign.  Auburn is probably the only BCS conference team in the country against whom you can shoot 28.3 percent and still win.  Step it up Gators.
  4. Georgia (14-4, 3-2) The Bulldogs posted a two-point loss to the ever-enigmatic Tennessee Volunteers and then pasted the mess that is Mississippi State.  1-1 against the two most disappointing teams in the SEC is nothing to get overly excited about, but nothing to panic over yet either as Joe Lunardi has Georgia in the NCAA Tournament in his latest bracketology.
  5. South Carolina (12-6, 3-2) The Gamecocks continue to be a feisty bunch getting a win over Arkansas and then forcing Kentucky to flinch by closing what was an 18-point second half deficit to just five with 1:16 to play.  And can I just say right now, Bruce Ellington is not the next Devan Downey.  Bruce is his own man, and though he posts near identical stats to Downey, when all is said and done, he will be the better player.  Coach Darrin Horn is putting things together in Columbia and his recruiting Ellington is just one piece of the puzzle.
  6. Alabama (12-7, 4-1) Alabama is certainly moving up after getting a nice win against Kentucky, but that loss to St. Peter’s might be too much for the selection committee to bear and right now, Joe Lunardi agrees.  Despite Alabama’s recent winning ways, it’s going to take some kind of a special conference season to make the NCAAs.
  7. Tennessee (12-7, 2-2) The win at Georgia is nice.  The loss to Connecticut is acceptable, but a win would have really helped to get the Volunteers’ minds back in the right place now that conference play is heating up.  The Volunteers did hold Kemba Walker to a season-low 16 points.  There’s something to be said for that I guess when you consider some of the teams Connecticut has played this year.
  8. Arkansas (12-4, 2-3) Conference play started well for the Razorbacks, but then they had to face a couple of SEC East teams.  This week, the Hogs posted a seven-point loss to South Carolina and an embarrassing thirty-two point loss to Florida in a game that was not entirely dissimilar to their ugly loss to Texas just prior to conference play.  It was tough to watch folks.
  9. Mississippi State (10-8, 2-2) With or without Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost, this team continues to disappoint.  There is plenty of talent here between Sidney, Bost, Kodi Augustus and Ravern Johnson, but the Bulldogs still posted an embarrassing 86-64 loss to Georgia in their only game last week.
  10. Mississippi (13-7, 1-4) Hey, look who got a conference win, and on the road, no less.  Of course it was at LSU, but if you’re Mississippi, you’re just repeating to yourself, “ A win is a win.”
  11. LSU (10-9, 2-2) The Tigers shot only 32.9 percent and were outrebounded 31-17 at home by Mississippi.  That doesn’t bode well for upcoming games against Tennessee and Alabama.  Of course both of those teams have shown they can beat or lose to any team in the nation, so maybe LSU goes 2-0 this week.
  12. Auburn (7-10, 0-5) Five straight losses is never fun.  Getting close against Florida after playing your best defense all year is a heartbreaker.  I’m rooting for the Tigers to get at least one win this week against Arkansas or South Carolina.

A Look Ahead

  • Florida @ Georgia, January 25.  Neither of these two teams shoot well, so this could get ugly, but both of these teams have some good wins, so there is potential for this to be a fun competitive game.
  • Georgia @ Kentucky, January 29.  This is the payback game.  I don’t expect to see the Wildcats come out as flat as they did against Georgia in Athens, but the one thing that gives Kentucky trouble more than anything else is a team with a quality big man.  Georgia just so happens to have one such big man in Trey Thompkins.
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Set Your Tivo: Weekend Review

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 17th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

This is the last major weekend before conference play begins in earnest and it features a bunch of solid games but none that really jump out at you as must-watch. All in all it’s a pretty good set of games. Don’t forget about the two games in the Bahamas on Saturday (Richmond vs. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State). They’re not on television but are meaningful, especially the latter. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Texas vs. North Carolina (Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC) – 4 pm Saturday on CBS (****)

A Smaller Venue in Greenboro, But Still a Great Game

You may never see a game between two unranked teams have this much talent on the court as this one. Yes the Longhorns are ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls but they aren’t in our own top 25. Texas has played better this year on the strength of defense and better chemistry though a loss at USC was cause for concern. Still, Texas has a ton of talent and has the ability to turn this season into a successful one. Leading scorer Jordan Hamilton still has a so-so shot selection but he’s connecting on 41% of his treys, a positive sign for Rick Barnes. Freshman Tristan Thompson has also been a plus for the Longhorns, giving them an athletic post presence who can score and defend very well. When you look at this matchup with North Carolina however, Tyler Zeller (16/8) is going to have a significant height advantage inside. You may see Barnes turn to Matt Hill for a bigger defensive presence in the paint in an attempt to control UNC’s big man. Each team has had some issues at the point guard, especially North Carolina. The Tar Heels have seen better play from Larry Drew II (2:1 A/T ratio) but questions remain with the team averaging 15 turnovers per contest. With a talented freshman in waiting, Roy Williams has to make a decision on who should see the majority of time at the point as they head into ACC play. For Texas, Dogus Balbay has seen his minutes drop in favor of freshman Cory Joseph, a move that’s understandable from an offensive standpoint but questionable in the eyes of some who see the experienced Balbay as a team leader and an effective distributor, not to mention an outstanding defender. Texas is not a particularly great shooting team as a whole so the transition to Joseph could be more about transition opportunities and easy buckets plus Joseph is a much better shooter. As for North Carolina, getting Harrison Barnes going could be the key between middling outside the top 25 and being a consistently ranked team and #2 in the ACC. Barnes is still in a slump, shooting just 33% overall over his last five games including a dismal 5-24 (21%) from three. He’s still averaging double figures and has done a nice job rebounding but the Tar Heels need more out of their star freshman. To become a really good team, UNC needs John Henson to become a consistent third option. He rebounds very well but he’s in double figures one night and single digits the next. He may have a hard time with Thompson inside but Henson is able to stretch his game out a bit and that may open things up inside for the Tar Heels. This figures to be another close game, far different from last year’s Texas blowout. This time North Carolina has the crowd to their advantage and may come out on top by a few points. It’s a huge game for UNC, their last non-conference opportunity for a quality win. Texas still has games with Michigan State and Connecticut but this is a big game for them too in a quasi-road environment. We wouldn’t be surprised either way but a slight edge has to go to UNC in this game.

#5 Kansas State vs. Florida (BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, FL) – 3:30 pm Saturday on FSN (****)

This is the first of two key games for Kansas State, the second coming on Tuesday against UNLV. Winning one or both will certainly help the Wildcats grab a better seed in the NCAA Tournament come March. Against Florida, K-State will have to contend with the Gators’ trapping pressure defense, something that could be a problem given their propensity for turnovers and some point guard issues. Jacob Pullen has been the main distributor at four assists per game but he turns it over more than three times per game, the most on a team that averages 16 turnovers as a unit. Florida’s back court pressure could cause a lot of problems for Kansas State and plenty of extra possessions for the Gators. Pullen doing a lot of ball handling could also be a factor in his overall struggle relative to last season. He’s never been a great shooter, 40% overall from the floor for his career, but his three point shooting is down over six percent to 33% this season. It is true that other teams are trying to lock him up like Duke did, but Pullen has to work through this and become a better player in order to lift Kansas State to the next level where they can compete for a national championship. Frank Martin may go with Will Spradling at the point in order to take some pressure off Pullen. As for Florida, expect them to fire up three’s as usual (17 per game) even though the Gators shoot just 32% as a team. Billy Donovan loves the trey, yet another Rick Pitino protégé who sticks to the system no matter the personnel he has. Erving Walker has improved dramatically but Kenny Boynton still can’t find the range for Florida. Walker shoots 20% better than Boynton from deep yet Boynton has 15 more attempts this season. Kansas State should look to isolate Walker and aggressively defend him, keeping the ball out of his hands. Pullen and Rodney McGruder may have to match Walker’s deep shooting but Martin will be content with Boynton chucking shots up and hitting once in a while, requiring Kansas State to clear the boards well. Both teams rank high in offensive rebounding percentage so the Wildcats must put an emphasis on keeping Florida off the glass as that will lead to easy Gator put backs. Florida is #15 in two point percentage, largely a result of offensive rebounds and the play of Vernon Macklin inside. Macklin against Curtis Kelly will be a key matchup to watch in the low post as each player finishes well and can rebound the basketball effectively. Kansas State should not bank on outscoring Florida from the line considering their awful free throw shooting (55%) and Florida’s ability to keep opponents off the line, second in the nation in defensive free throw rate. Only three players on K-State’s roster shoot over 70% from the line and Pullen is the only one of those three who gets there often. Martin’s depth will take a hit if Wally Judge is out, dealing with personal issues, but we don’t think that will have a major impact on the game. Kansas State is still a very deep team, able to go eight or nine deep if necessary. This should be a terrific game that may come down to the very end. Ken Pomeroy predicts a two-point Florida win so this game is essentially a toss-up. We see it that way as well.

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SEC Media Notes: 06.29.10

Posted by nvr1983 on June 29th, 2010

As part of our attempt to continue to provide you with the best independent college basketball information on the Internet we will periodically bring you information from conference media calls. Today’s entry comes from the SEC, which amazingly was not affected what could have been a massive conference shake-up.

Ed. Note: The conference call actually took place on Monday, but I had an ophthalmologist appointment and I’m pretty sure that they used just about the entire bottle of eye drops to dilate my eyes so I’m just starting to see straight again. The below entries are my some of the key points the coaches made, but are not direct quotes. If you want to listen to the coaches speak directly, click on the link next to their name.

Anthony Grant (Alabama)Audio
– Defense: Last year their defense gave them a chance to be in every game that they played, but they had to have that solid defense because their offense was not always there.
– Returning players: Senario Hillman one of elite athletes in the SEC and can guard multiple positions. He will need to improve shot selection and decision-making, but is making strides. JaMychal Green adds size and strength to the frontcourt, which is as good as any team in the SEC. Should improve with an extra year of experience. Tony Mitchell had a very good freshman year and being named to SEC All-Freshman team was an accomplishment. Grant is looking for the players to make a jump between their first and second year in the Alabama program.

Tony Barbee (Auburn)Audio / Key Quotes
– Lack of Experience: Starting over is exciting because you get to mold a new group of players. It will be hard to judge what he has until he sees the team together in the Fall.
– Plan: Focus on defense because they could be “offensively challenged” because they don’t know what they have outside of Frankie Sullivan. Given their lack of size on the inside they might have to focus on their offense around the 3-point line.

John Pelphrey (Arkansas)Audio
– Frontcourt: They have Marshawn Powell on the inside, but will need to develop more on the inside to help support him.
– APR: We’re all working very hard. We want to see these young men improve in the classroom and on the court. He isn’t sure statistics over the short-term can adequately reflect the academic performance of a program, but is open to more long-term measures.
Andre Clark: Aware of the transfer to TCU and does talk with players who have transferred if they contact him about an issue.

Billy Donovan (Florida)Audio
– Backcourt: Didn’t know what to expect coming into last season having lost Nick Calathes. Irving Walker played his freshman year at 2 guard spot. Kenny Boynton came in with huge reputation out of high school, but you’re never sure with them making the jump. Limited depth in the backcourt meant those two played more minutes than they probably should have, which meant they couldn’t do some of the stuff they would have otherwise done such as press. Coming into this year with the experience should be helpful for those two coming into this season. Still some issues with depth in the backcourt this year although they are adding freshmen Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather to the backcourt.
Alex Tyus: First UF player to put his name in the NBA Draft and return to UF. It was Alex’s decision. He worked out with a couple of NBA teams and listened to what NBA had to say about where he might go. No pressure from UF to come back. Donovan feels that process is only going to help the Gators going forward.
Patric Young: Very physical and aggressive player, but needs some work on the inside. In the near term he will bring energy and a great rebounding presence to the Gators.

Mark Fox (Georgia)Audio
Marcus Thornton: Really big boost after picking him up following his release from his letter of intent from Clemson. Gives Georgia a lot of options because of his versatility.
Trey Thompkins: Had discussion with family and got info from NBA. Felt it wasn’t appropriate. Only would be able to work out for 1 or 2 days due to final exams and the new NBA Draft withdrawal deadlines.
Turnovers: Feels they will take better care of the ball and they should also be able to create more turnovers on the defensive end, which should create more easy baskets.

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Morning Five: 12.15.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2009


  1. Marquette lost freshman forward Jeronne Maymon today when coach Buzz Williams announced that he was transferring from the school after just nine games, leaving the Golden Eagles with a mere nine scholarship players.  Or are they?  According to Maymon’s father, it was news to him and his son is “loving every minute of being” at Marquette.   Stay tuned on this one.
  2. South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn received a two-year extension and a hefty raise of $300k yesterday in a showing by the school that they’re serious in trying to keep the talented young coach around for a while.
  3. Food for thought:  Seth Davis reminds us that Kansas guard Xavier Henry is pretty solid in his own right, while the rest of us have become a sticky hot wet mess over Kentucky’s John Wall.
  4. If you didn’t read John Stevens’ report from the Crosstown Shootout on Sunday night, grab yourself a cup of joe, relax, and let yourself be taken away to a college basketball nirvana.
  5. Roy’s ejectee Brian King was interviewed by Dane Huffman at WRAL Sports yesterday, and he unequivocally states that he was not intoxicated and that he did nothing to warrant the ire that the UNC coach projected at him after he heckled Deon Thompson.  We gave our opinion on this yesterday, and yeah, this pretty much confirms what we thought.  Roy’s knowing smirk at the end of his press conference interview is telling — he’s the teflon don and he knows it.
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2009-10 Conference Primers: #5 – SEC

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2009

seasonpreviewPaul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:


  1. Kentucky  (13-3)
  2. Tennessee  (11-5)
  3. South Carolina  (10-6)
  4. Vanderbilt (10-6)
  5. Florida (7-9)
  6. Georgia  (2-14)


  1. Mississippi State (10-6)
  2. Mississippi (9-7)
  3. Arkansas (9-7)
  4. Alabama (7-9)
  5. LSU  (6-10)
  6. Auburn (4-12)

All-Conference Team:

  • John Wall (G), Kentucky
  • Devan Downey (G), South Carolina
  • Tyler Smith (F), Tennessee
  • Patrick Patterson (F), Kentucky
  • Jarvis Varnado (F), Mississippi State

6th Man. Terrico White (G), Mississippi

Impact Newcomer. John Wall (G), Kentucky

sec logo

What You Need to Know.  After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 years, the Kentucky Wildcats are poised to regain their role at the top of the SEC, having added the number one recruiting class and top coach John Calipari. This year looks to be a year of redemption and resurgence not only for UK but for the whole SEC which placed just three teams in the NCAA last year.  Tennessee, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are very strong, experienced teams in the East that should go dancing.  Mississippi State hopes to win the West behind Jarvis Varnado and Mississippi and Arkansas look to be much improved and can give any team in the SEC fits.

Predicted Champion. Kentucky  (NCAA Seed:  #1).  Kentucky returns Patrick Patterson and the core group of the team that won 22 games last season.  The main loss for UK was junior Jodie Meeks who went to the NBA, but in his place, UK added the number one recruiting class and hired head coach John Calipari.  Obviously, Calipari faces the task of instilling a new offense with six new faces, but the Cats are so deep that freshman Daniel Orton, a top 25 player, will have to battle for significant playing time.  The Wildcats achilles heel last year was at point guard and UK added two of the top four freshman points in John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.  Talent and depth alone make this a top 10 team and if Calipari can install his DDMO effectively, this is a legitimate Final Four team.

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The Mark Gottfried Effect: The SEC Is Wising Up On Its Coaches

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

There’s news coming out of Tuscaloosa tonight that doesn’t involve Nick Saban (although Utah’s demolition of the Tide a month ago may have led to this unrelated breaking news).  No, the crimsontided stepchild of Alabama’s athletics program is the one driving the needle tonight – Mark Gottfried’s Philip Pearson’s basketball program.  Er, formerly Mark Gottfried’s basketball program.

Photo Credit:

Today Alabama announced that Mark Gottfried, arguably the second most successful coach in Bama history (behind the irascible Wimp Sanderson), resigned amidst criticism over the state of his program in light of Ronald Steele’s decision to leave the school last week.  (although if you believe in msg board chatter,  using the word “resignation” is irresponsible; Gary Parrish concurs…)  From the AP report:

Gottfried, who played at Alabama, said he quit during a meeting with athletic director Mal Moore.  “It has been a wonderful decade for me and my family, and I love the University of Alabama, but I feel that it is in the best interests of everyone involved,” Gottfried said in a statement released by the university.  Gottfried’s teams have missed the NCAA tournament the last two years, and the coach was criticized over the recent departure of point guard Ronald Steele, a preseason first-team AP All-American pick two years ago, who later was hit by injuries. The school blamed Steele’s departure on a recent injury, but Steele said there was more to his decision than that.

There’s absolutely more to it than this.  A generation ago, a coach in the SEC with the success of Mark Gottfried could have stayed for thirty years and eventually had a practice facility named after him (Dale Brown comes to mind).  No longer.  Today in the era of million-dollar salaries and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately performance evaluations, even in the football-centric SEC (minus Vandy, Kentucky and Arkansas), “good enough” is no longer good enough.  Just last year, LSU canned John Brady, an Xs & Os charlatan who two years prior had parlayed a couple of great recruits into a very unlikely Final Four run.  They replaced him with a well-respected rising star in coaching, Trent Johnson (at $1.2M per, reportedly, of course).  At South Carolina, Dave Odom was invited to retire after he had taken the Gamecocks to two NIT titles and an NCAA Tournament in the last five years.  Darrin Horn already has matched the win total (14) of Odom’s last season with virtually the same roster.   Over in Athens at Georgia, Dennis Felton is currently walking the Bataan death march with his 310th most efficient offense and is expected to be replaced at the end of this season even after his unprecedented run in the SEC Tournament last year.

This Used to be Good Enough at Bama

This Used to be Good Enough at Bama

A sea change in philosophy is moving through the SEC in basketball.  Mark Gottfried is a competent head coach.  He recruits fairly well, his players generally stay out of trouble and graduate, and he occasionally had a good enough team to make a little noise in March, but nobody would ever have confused him for Hank Iba.  That used to be good enough for a football school like Alabama.  Or LSU.  Or South Carolina.  But times are changing, and those schools have seen how all-inclusive athletic prowess can build a national “brand” such as at Florida, Ohio St. and Texas that benefits the entire athletic program (and school at-large).  Basketball is a key component of that equation, and therefore it doesn’t surprise us in the least that Gottfried is now gone (before he got a chance to make a late-season run and “save” his job).

Memo to VCU’s Anthony Grant, you might want to answer any calls that come from The 205 this spring.

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