Daily Diaries: ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament Finals

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC covered several of the conference tournaments from the sites over the weekend. We had RTC correspondents at the ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament finals on Sunday; each of them wrapped up the day’s action in these diary submissions.

Atlantic 10 Championship

Temple 56, Richmond 52

  • “It is tough to win both the regular season title and the conference tournament. I have to congratulate Temple on their achievement” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney to start his last press conference at the 2010 A10 Tournament. His Richmond team had lost to Temple, 56-52, in front of 10,000+ fans at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The cheers from the arena floor could he heard in the background as the reporters asked Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper to analyze their team’s performance. Richmond came out cold in the first half, missing their first four shots. A dunk by center Darrius Garrett put Richmond on the board, but Temple had already converted three times. Three minutes into the game it was 7-2 Temple, just like the day before, different day and opponent perhaps, but the same start. That was the story of the A10 Championship game. Like their semifinal game with Rhode Island, the Temple Owls scored first and never relinquished the lead. Richmond however was not Rhode Island and the Spiders did not go quietly. The crowd was Temple’s by a 60-40 margin, and when the Spiders came close cutting Temple’s lead to one with 39 seconds left in the game, the Spider faithful came to their feet and gave their team a loud cheer.
  • “Threepeat!” shouted the fans as the Temple team cut down the nets. “It’s the beginning of a dynasty!” a fellow member of the media said as he packed his bags, “They bring back Fernandez, Allen, Eirc and Jefferson. They will own the A10 for at least two more years.” Dynasty talk will have to wait for next season’s previews however, because the talk along press row was whether the game would help Temple’s argument for a #3 (or better) seed.  There is another month to this season, and the growing expectation that this Temple team (and most probably the two other A10 teams who will participate in the NCAAs next week) will play through the first weekend, and possibly into the second weekend.
  • Weather and a leaky roof aside, the A10 Conference Tournament was everything an eastern basketball fan could ask for. Three days of terrific basketball, ten games in all. Throw in an overtime game and two of the last three games decided by six or fewer points and play after play by athletic and skilled basketball players. The work of Kevin Anderson and Juan Fernandez in particular stand out. Anderson put the Richmond team on his back and brought them back against Xavier in the semifinal game. Anderson scored the last four points in regulation to tie the game, and hit the first points in overtime that put Richmond in the lead. Fernandez is a oddity for American audiences. Temple fans remember Pepe Sanchez, an Argentine guard brought over by John Chaney very fondly. Fernandez is about six inches taller and very skilled. In the championship game he called for the ball again and again, taking to the lane or hitting a pull-up jumper, a small lapse at the midpoint of the second half aside, he was composed throughout, chewing on gum, as if to set his internal clock. In the championship game Anderson played 38 minutes and scored 14 points. Fernandez played 38 minutes and scored 18 points: the margin of the game.


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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Efficiency Differentials

The Atlantic 10 teams have played just over 20% of their conference schedule (as of Sunday, 1/17); every team has posted three or four games to the conference ledger. I might be a week (maybe?) early for conference-only efficiency differentials (offensive points per possession – defensive points per possession), but I was curious to see what the numbers and rankings could tell me now…

Xavier may have the most wins, but Temple has the largest positive differential. The Owls’ toughest win was on the road over Rhode Island (and a bit of a surprise because Rhode Island is ranked second), and that trumps the Musketeers’ home win over Dayton last Saturday (though that one is impressive given the progress Xavier has made since the beginning of the season). Are you surprised that, having absorbed a loss against Temple, the Runnin’ Rams of Rhode Island are ranked second? Consider that their next two opponents, Saint Joseph’s and Fordham, are #13 and #14 respectively. Blame the unbalanced nature of all conference schedules at this point in the season for a number of quirks. Rhode Island embarks on a two-game road trip, with stops in Cincinnati (Xavier) and Dayton, beginning on Saturday (1/23). That trip should clear up a few questions about Rhode Island, not to mention Dayton and Xavier. Even though it is early, the differentials do confirm that Saint Joseph’s and Fordham are struggling. That will most likely continue through the rest of the season.

Standings as of – 01/19/10

  1. Xavier (4-0, 12-5)
  2. Temple (3-0, 15-3, #17)
  3. Richmond (3-1, 14-5)
  4. Rhode Island (2-1, 14-2)
  5. Dayton (2-1, 13-4)
  6. St. Louis (2-1, 11-6)
  7. Charlotte (2-1, 12-5)
  8. La Salle (2-2, 9-8)
  9. George Washington (1-2, 11-5)
  10. St. Bonaventure (1-2, 9-8)
  11. Massachusetts (1-3, 7-10)
  12. Saint Joseph’s (1-3, 6-11)
  13. Duquesne (0-3, 9-8)
  14. Fordham (0-4, 2-14)

Team Breakdowns


Crushed in the first half 44-28, at Xavier, the 49ers rallied to “win” the second half 46-42, but it was not enough, however, as they came up on the short end of a 12-point decision 86-74 on Wednesday (1/13). Four starters, led by junior forward An’Juan Wilderness’ 15 points, scored in double digits. Charlotte beat Xavier on the boards 32-28, but that was not enough as the 49ers shot a terrible 9% from beyond the arc. They bounced back against St. Louis on Sunday (1/17) with a 63-61 overtime win in Halton Arena. Junior forward Shamari Spears played nearly 40 minutes and, along with freshman forward Chris Braswell, led all scorers with 16 points. Spears logged his seventh career double-double, the first with Charlotte. The win came with a price however, as senior forward RaShad Coleman suffered an avulsion fracture of the patella from the base of his left kneecap during the overtime period in the game. The senior, having taken an outlet pass from Dijuan Harris, put in a layup that gave Charlotte a 59-54 lead, but landed badly after. Most likely his career at Charlotte is over.

Next up for the 49ers is a trip to St. Louis for a game at the Chaifetz on Wednesday (1/20), followed by another trip to Philadelphia for a Saturday (1/23) game with La Salle.


Luke Fabrizius’ 13 points led the Flyers over Fordham 74-58 on Wednesday (1/13). They shot an impressive 42% (8-19) from beyond the arc, as they posted their second conference win. Dayton traveled to Cincinnati and dropped their game at Xavier 78-74, on Saturday (1/16). Although they led at halftime 39-36, Coach Gregory’s squad could not hold off the Musketeers in the second half. Xavier came back to tie 39-all at the 19-minute mark of the second half, and the Flyers could not stop Kenny Frease from putting the Musketeers up by two with a layup on Xavier’s next possession. The two teams wrestled over the next four minutes, tying the score four times and exchanging the lead three more times before Xavier took over with about 14 minutes to play. Dayton’s Marcus Johnson shared scoring honors, 17 points, with his backcourt opponent, Terrell Holloway. Chris Johnson led rebounders (Dayton won the boards by a large margin — 48-28) with 16 and posted his third double-double of the season, and his second in the last three games. The Flyers lost their 26th straight game at Xavier, 78-74, on Saturday (1/16). Pushing a lead out to seven points twice in the first half, Dayton took a three point lead into the locker room. Coach Gregory’s squad fell behind by eight at the 2:51 mark of the second half, but after whittling Xaviers’ lead down to three with 0:48, they could not stop Jordan Crawford on Xavier’s next possession. They had it down to two with 0:03 left, but the change of possession foul put Terrell Holloway on the line, and the junior guard converted both free throws to ice the game. Marcus Johnson paced the Flyers with 17 points; he was one of four Flyers in double figures. Chris Johnson logged his third double-double of the season.

The Flyers will host George Washington on Wednesday (1/20), and then travel to Philadelphia for a game with the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on Saturday (1/23).


The Dukes dropped a double-overtime decision to St. Louis on Wednesday (1/13), 79-75. Damian Saunders played the entire 50 minutes (regulation plus two overtime periods) and paced Duquesne with a game-high 23 points on 9-21 (0-2, 9-19) and 5-7 shooting. Saunders made it a game-leading double-double, (his 14th of season, leading all of D1) as he also grabbed a game-high 17 (10-7-17) rebounds. Getting more offensive than defensive rebounds is unusual, and getting double-digit offensive rebounds more unusual still. Bill Clark notched his fifth career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Melquan Bolding logged 5 minutes of the 50 minutes allocated by regulation and two overtime periods. Strep throat was blamed for a missed practice and the limited action. Bolding has yet to his stride, but the Dukes clearly need him now.

Duquesne will take to the road for a game with Rhode Island on Wednesday (1/20), then return home to host the Bonnies on Saturday (1/23).


Fordham extended its consecutive loss run by two more over the last week. After dropping a 16-point decision (74-58) to Dayton, they lost to Rhode Island 85-67, an 18 point loss. Both were home games for the Rams, but there was no advantage for the Fordham Rams. Brent Butler, relying on volume shooting, scored 20 points on 18 attempts against Dayton. Chris Gaston secured eight rebounds, though the Flyers clearly outrebounded the Rams. Gaston logged his ninth double-double, as he paced Fordham with 29 points and 16 (10-6-16) rebounds on 13-24 (0-0, 13-24) and 3-6 shooting. Butler chipped in 19 points

Next up for Fordham is a visit with the Billikens in St. Louis on Wednesday (1/20), and then back to the Bronx to host the Temple Owls on Saturday (1/23).

George Washington

George Washington dropped a heartbreaker to the Explorers on Wednesday (1/13), 65-64 in Philadelphia. In a game decided on the very last possession, Aaron Ware scored four points in the last 1:08 to close the deficit to a single point. Damian Hollis forced a La Salle turnover with 0:08 on the clock, but Travis King left a three point attempt on the rim as time expired. Damian Hollis and Aaron Ware paced the Colonials with 17 and 16 points respectively. Hollis made his a double-double, the ninth of his career and his first this season, as he grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Colonials go to Dayton to play the Flyers on Wednesday (1/20), and then return to DC to host Richmond on Saturday (1/23).

La Salle

Dr. Giannini’s squad won a nail-biter against George Washington 65-64, on Wednesday (1/13). Down one  at the half, the Explorers outscored the Colonials 34-32 in the second half to take the decision. In a game that saw 11 ties and 12 lead changes, the Explorers took the lead for good, 61-59, on a Rodney Green layup with 2:43 remaining. The Explorers stretched their lead out to five, 65-60 on four made free throws. The Colonials closed with an Aaron Ware-one man scoring rush in the last 1:08, but La Salle survived. La Salle freshman center Aaric Murray led all scorers with 21 points on 9-11 (2-2, 7-9) and 1-1 shooting. Yves Mekongo Mbala and Rodney Green each chipped in double-digit points, 17 and 15 respectively. The Explorers could get no bounce out of the win however, as they dropped a road game 67-63, to Richmond on Saturday (1/16). In contrast to his effort against George Washington, Aaric Murray took the “high volume” shooting route to a double-double night. The freshman scored 19 points to go with his 15 (3-12-15) rebounds as he recorded his fourth double-double of the season, the first in conference play. Junior Jerrell Williams, who shot 6-9 (0-0, 6-9) and 2-2 scored his 14 points far more efficiently (66.7% – eFG%) than Murray did his 19 (42.5% – eFG%) or Green his 10 (41.8% – eFG%). Unfortunately Williams took only 19.1% of the shots when he was on the floor, to Murray’s 39.0% and Green’s 22.2%.

La Salle travels across town Wednesday (1/20) to play Big 5 rival Penn at the Palestra, then hosts Charlotte on Saturday (1/23).


Their two-game road trip last week was disappointing. Derek Kellogg’s team is a bit young (at 1.24 years, they are ranked #304 out of 346, according to Ken Pomeroy’s Scout Page), but dropping an overtime decision by seven points to Richmond had to hurt. The Minutemen made up their three-point first half deficit, but despite having two possessions in the last minute, were unable to convert and take the win. They were outscored 17-10 in the extra period. Freshman Freddie Riley’s game-high 20 points paced Massachusetts for the second consecutive game. Senior guard Ricky Harris chipped in 17 points on a high volume 8-21 (1-6, 7-15) and 1-1 shooting.

The Minutemen will host St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/20), then take a break from conference play, travel to Texas and play the Baylor Bears of the Big 12, on Saturday (1/23).

Rhode Island

The Runnin’ Rams nickname was well earned as Rhode Island dispatched Saint Joseph’s by a 27-point margin, 101-74, on Wednesday (1/13). Senior forward Delroy James scored a career best 24 points on 8-12 (3-6, 5-6) and 5-8 night. Freshman guard Akeem Richmond also had a career night, nearly matching James’ 24 points with 21 of his own. Richmond shot 8-14 (5-8, 3-6) and 0-0 for an efficient 67.9% eFG%. They followed the Saint Joseph’s game with another impressive outing, an 85-67, 17 point win over the Fordham Rams, on Saturday (1/16). Senior guard Keith Cothran scored 26 points, while Lamonte Ulmer recorded a career-high 24 points to complement his double-double (14 rebounds). This was Ulmer’s third double-double of the season and the fifth of his career.

After hosting the Dukes on Wednesday (1/20), the Rams run off to Cincinnati, OH, for a game with Xavier on Saturday (1/23), the first game in a two game road trip that takes them to Dayton for a game with the Flyers on Tuesday (1/26).


The Spiders came from behind to knot the Minutemen at 53 and force an overtime period last Wednesday (1/13). They had ceded a three point lead to Massachusetts but managed to outscore their young opponents 17-10 during overtime to seal the victory.  The Spiders’ scoring triumvirate of Kevin Anderson, David Gonzalvez and Justin Harper each scored double-digit points, 19, 16 and 12 respectively, to bring the win home. The Spiders followed that win with another, this one over La Salle, 67-63, on Saturday (1/16). Up by nine 38-29, at the half, the Spiders withstood an Explorer 6-2 run which brought the visitors to within 5, 40-35 with 16:34 to play. Another push by the Explorers trimmed the Spiders’ cushion to 2, 50-48 about 7:30 later. Coach Mooney’s squad gathered themselves, took a 5-2 run to build a seven-point cushion, and did not allow the Explorers to get closer than three thereafter. Anderson, Gonzalvez and Harper again led the Spiders, scoring 21, 12 and 11 points respectively. Sophomore Darrius Garrett gathered six rebounds to pace Richmond rebounders.

Richmond hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (1/20), then travel to George Washington for a Saturday (1/23) game.

Saint Joseph’s

Coach Martelli’s squad played three games in five days, going 1-2 in the process. On Wednesday (1/13) they traveled to Kingston, RI, and lost a 101-74 decision to Rhode Island. Darrin Govens (15), Garrett Williamson (14) and Charoy Bentley (10) scored double-digit points. The second road game was played in Olean, NY, 68-65 on Saturday (1/16) against St. Bonaventure. The upperclassmen, senior guards Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson, along with junior forward Idris Hilliard led the way with 15, 12 and 12 points respectively. Hilliard hauled in seven rebounds, matching sophomore center Todd O’Brien’s efforts. How did O’Brien score 11 points while taking five field goal attempts? He lived at the line, taking 12 free throw attempts for his five FGAs. That is an FTA/FGA of 240.0%. O’Brien’s 12.0% offensive rebounding rate is very promising. The Hawks took a break from conference play to host Towson of the CAA conference on Monday (1/18). They beat the Pat Kennedy-coached Tigers 64-57 at the Hagan Arena on campus to hold their run of losses to two. Idris Hilliard led the way with 20 points on 8-12 and 4-5 shooting. Freshman Justin Crosgile helped with 13 points on 4-7 (3-5, 1-2) and 2-2 shooting. Senior Garrett Williamson added 12 points in 40 minutes of play.

The Hawks will host Dayton on Saturday (1/23), and then take a second break from conference play for a tilt with Big 5 rival Penn at the Palestra.

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies recorded their first conference win, a 68-65 squeaker, on Saturday (1/16), complements of Saint Joseph’s. Michael Davenport, Andrew Nicholson and Malcolm Eleby powered St. Bonaventure’s offense with both volume and efficient scoring. Davenport matched his season high with 19 points with a 61.5% eFG% performance. He used his 32.9% shot rate (high for a D1 player) very efficiently garnering a 113.9 offensive rating. Eleby, with 10 points in 18 minutes of play, notching a 60.0% eFG% while taking 21.8% of the shots when he was on the court provided the Bonnies with a bit of efficiency. Nicholson converted efficiently (a 63.6 eFG%) and prolifically, scoring 16 points with 11 field goal attempts. His offensive efficiency (95.2) was hurt by a 26% turnover rate. Losing one in four of your possessions is a rally killer waiting to happen.

Coach Schmidt’s squad travels to Amherst on Wednesday (1/20), to play Massachusetts, then to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne on Saturday (1/23).

St. Louis

The Billikens completed a two game road swing last week. Good news greeted the squad at the first stop, as St. Louis defeated Duquesne 79-75 in overtime on Wednesday (1/13), but lost to Charlotte, 63-61 (also in overtime), at the second stop on Sunday (1/17). The best news of the trip may have been Australian Cody Ellis, a 6’8, 240 pound forward from Perth, Australia, who became eligible in time for St. Louis’ 1/9 game with Richmond. In his first three games Ellis has scored 10, 14 and 11 points. Ellis is not afraid to shoot, and for the offense-starved Billikens, that is not a bad thing. Kwamain Mitchell led St. Louis with 19 points, while Kyle Cassity chipped in 15. Ellis posted a double-double, garnering 11 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Versus Charlotte, Jon Smith, a 6’5 freshman forward paced St. Louis with a career-high 15 points. Three others, Kwamain Mitchell (12), Cody Ellis (11) and Willie Reed (10) scored 10 or more points in the losing effort.

St. Louis hosts Fordham on Wednesday (1/20), then take off a week. The Billikens return to action when they travel to Washington DC to play the Colonials of GWU on Wednesday (1/27).


Coach Dunphy’s squad climbed to #17 in the AP poll this Monday (1/17) and with good reason. Having dispatched the Penn Quakers in a Big 5 contest on Wednesday (1/13) 60-45, the Owls know they are halfway to the first Big 5 Championship of the decade. If the score doesn’t seem particularly impressive given the state of the Quaker program (Coach Glen Miller was fired earlier in the season), consider that Dunphy coached at Penn for 17 seasons, before moving over to Broad Street. And Penn’s interim head coach, Jerome Allen, played ball for Coach Dunphy’s Penn teams in the mid 1990s. Guard Ryan Brooks continued his run by posting a game-high 15 points. Point guard Juan Fernandez added 12 points. Temple returned to conference play with a win over visiting Massachusetts 76-64, on Saturday (1/16). Brooks and Fernandez were effective yet again, scoring 29 and 15 points respectively. Junior forward Lavoy Allen gathered 14 (5-9-14) rebounds.

The Owls host the Musketeers on Wednesday (1/20), and then off to the Bronx for a game against Fordham on Saturday (1/23).


Xavier had a two-game home stand last week, leading off with a visit from Charlotte, whom they defeated 86-74 on Wednesday (1/13). Jordan Crawford led all scorers with 18 points, with support from Dante Jackson (14 points), sophomore guard Brad Redford (12 points) and Jason Love (10 points). They were not good hosts on Saturday (1/16) either, as the Musketeers beat Dayton 78-74, at the Cintas Center for the 25th time since 1981. Losing the lead at the 4-minute mark of the first half, Xavier went to the locker room down 3 39-36. The X-men knotted the score at the 19-minute mark of the second half, and retook the lead on the next possession on a Kenny Fraese layup. Over the next four minutes the game saw four ties and three lead changes, but the Musketeers took the lead for good at the 14:32 mark and did not look back. Xavier nursed a lead as high as six and as low as one through the last 14 minutes, closing the Flyers out with a mix of jumpers and layups, masking a shaky showing (4-6) at the free throw line. Dante Jackson led all scorers with 19 points on 6-13 (5-8, 1-5) and 2-2 shooting. Jordan Crawford (16), Terrell Holloway (15) and Jason Love (10) all chipped in at least 10 points apiece.

Coach Mack’s squad travels to Philadelphia for an early season meeting with Temple on Wednesday (1/20), then return home to host Rhode Island on Saturday (1/23). Hosting Dayton on 1/16, followed by these two opponents has made this an especially rough week for the Musketeers.

Games to Catch

  • Richmond at Charlotte – Wednesday 1/20 — Is Richmond ready for the next step? A move up to the top spots in the conference won’t come until the Spiders can secure their home court and then go out and win on the road. With a home record of 7-0 and an efficiency differential of .215, Richmond would appear to have the first test covered. A road win over the 49ers would put them on the road to covering the second.
  • Xavier at Temple – Wednesday 1/20 — The schedule maker must have seen something in the off season that most of us missed, as he (or she?) scheduled a second “sorting out” game in two weeks. The Musketeers travel to Philadelphia to play the Owls. Jordan Crawford should give Ryan Brooks all he can handle, and the Jason Love – Lavoy Allen matchup should be pretty good too.
  • Rhode Island at Xavier – Saturday 1/23 — The Flyers last Saturday, the Owls on Wednesday and then the Rams the Saturday following. The Musketeers might be gunning for a 3-0 sweep (that would really scramble the A10 race), but 2-1 would be a good outcome. The Delroy James – Jason Love/Kenny Fraese matchup should be entertaining. Keith Cothran and Jordan Crawford might turn this into a game of HORSE.
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ATB: Can We Stop Discussing Big 12 Home Teams Now?

Posted by rtmsf on January 14th, 2010

Big 12 Home Teams No Longer Unbeatable.  We saw the stat floating around on one of the ESPN360 feeds for the first time over the weekend, and by the early part of this week it was ubiquitous.  Undoubtedly last week somebody in the Big 12’s stats department realized that the league’s home teams had only lost a single game all season (Northern Iowa’s victory at Iowa State in early December) and began marketing it as unassailable proof of the conference’s superiority.  It’s a manufactured statistic, but anytime people start repeating such a meme it takes on a life of its own.  By last night, after Kansas State and Colorado’s home wins to move the league to 114-1 on the year in their own buildings, you might have thought from listening to the announcers on the night’s games that we were in the midst of an epic realignment of the balance of power of the sport.  Sigh…  such is the 24-hour national news cycle.  At any rate, tonight’s three games featured three really good Big 12 teams going on the road to a conference rival, and collectively those three teams — #1 Texas, #3 Kansas,  Missouri — made mincemeat of that stat.  Let’s not speak of it again.

  • #1 Texas 90, Iowa State 83.  Texas’ freshman crew continues to impress, as they combined for 46/11/7 assts in UT’s 16th consecutive win to start the season.  This game was close for about a half, but UT came out and wrested control of the game in the second half behind Avery Bradley’s scoring (16 of his 24 in the 2d) and if this kid is going to keep playing like his last two games (22-28 from the floor, 7-7 from three), then Kansas’ Xavier Henry is going to have some serious competition for Big 12 FrOY this season.  Up next to stay unbeaten: rival Texas A&M at home.
  • #3 Kansas 84, Nebraska 72.  Kansas found itself down double-figures very early on the road in this one, but the Jayhawks were able to stay composed and use their superior depth and experience to pull away from pesky Nebraska late behind turnovers and strong interior play.  Cole Aldrich didn’t have a huge game (6/9/3 blks), but he didn’t need to, because Marcus Morris came off the bench to provide 19/7, including several timely plays during they key stretch where KU pulled away.  Kansas doesn’t utilize the three-point shot to a great degree, but the Jayhawks hit thirteen tonight, including 4-5 from Sherron Collins (22/5 assts).
  • Missouri 94, Texas Tech 89 (OT).  Mizzou used its fullcourt press to force 18 Red Raider turnovers and get a great game from Marcus Denmon off the bench (20/6) to win a key road game in Lubbock tonight.  The Tigers very nearly blew it, though, letting an 11-pt lead slip away in the final four minutes of regulation and allowing the game to be sent to overtime on two FTs by Tech’s John Roberson.  Then in the overtime period, it was Texas Tech’s Nick Okorie who had two FTs to give his team the lead, only to miss both of them with 20.4 seconds remaining and allowing Mizzou to hang on.

Clemson, You Simply Cannot RTC in This Situation!! #19 Clemson 83, #13 North Carolina 64.  Surprisingly, this was over very early.  Clemson came out and jumped on UNC with two large Trevor Booker-sized feet, and for the rest of the game the Tar Heels were one big turnover machine (25 total).  Closest UNC came in the second half was 12.  Booker’s 24/9/4 assts led Clemson to only their fifth win in sixteen tries against the Tar Heels, and their first since 2004.  Message to Clemson fans: we at RTC agree that this was an important win and dealing with UNC has caused you some recent frustration.  But you were FAVORED in this game, and UNC was only six spots ahead of you in the rankings.  We hope you enjoy the win, because you deserved it.  But this version of Gathering at the Paw (which we thought was a football tradition only) does not meet our criteria as a valid RTC.  You simply cannot RTC when you’re the favored team!

Jamie Dixon, COY#20 Pittsburgh 67, #15 Connecticut 57.  On Tuesday night we saw Evan Turner inject himself right back into the Player of the Year race with his late-game tour-de-force in stealing that win at Purdue.  Wednesday night gave us all a good look at a man who is likely the favorite for Coach of the Year (we just got some mean looks from people in Lexington) at this point — a certain Jamie Dixon of the University of Pittsburgh.  Going to Hartford and playing Connecticut is a tough task for anyone, but getting UConn coming off a loss makes that trip even more treacherous.  The Panthers didn’t care.  They started the game by streaking to an early ten-point lead, immediately putting UConn on the defensive.  The Panthers then led by 32-39 at the half and, even though they shot a tepid 39% from the field (23-59, and 4-12 from three-point range), held off the Huskies for the first part of the second half, causing the Hartford crowd to grow restless.  Just like you knew they would, Connecticut then made their run, a 10-0 stretch that gave UConn a one point lead at 47-46.  It was back-and-forth until the 5:00 mark, at which point Pitt took a lead (52-51) that they would not relinquish for the remainder.  The stats show that Pittsburgh was able to hold off UConn by outrebounding them 26-13 in the second half and by hitting 17-20 at the free throw line.  We say, however, that it was the intrinsic toughness of this Panthers squad that earned them this victory.  To outwork UConn on the glass (both offensive and defensive) in their own building, to drive the lane and take contact with abandon in the way they did…that takes guts.  And that’s a product of what Dixon has instilled in this team.  If you’ve heard his players do interviews over the last couple of weeks, you’ve noticed that these Pittsburgh kids love talking about how great the chemistry is on their team and how much they’ve bought into Dixon’s mindset and vision for their squad.  Everyone knows you have to have quality players (the “Jimmies and Joes”) to be competetive at all, especially in a cut-throat conference like the Big East.  But team chemistry is the ultimate catalyst for success.  Coaches can go whole seasons without having their players “buy into” what they’re trying to teach.  Dixon has achieved this with a team that lost 60% of its scoring from last year and had been forgotten about by just about everyone up until they started their current seven-game win streak, the last three coming on the road in-conference against Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Connecticut.  The Huskies now find themselves going out of conference to Michigan this Sunday, needing a win to stay ranked…and relevant.

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