Big East M5: 10.23.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 23rd, 2013

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  1. Just weeks before the start of the 2013-14 season, Marquette forward Jameel McKay has decided to leave the Golden Eagles to pursue his college basketball career elsewhere. Marquette Tribune writer Patrick Leary was especially taken aback by the announcement, based on a conversation he had with McKay just days earlier, when he “raved about how excited he was to play for Buzz and the Golden Eagles.” McKay, a junior college transfer who did not log any time for Marquette last season, was expected to be behind forwards Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, and Jamil Wilson at the forward spots. Leary speculates that playing time may have been a concern for the junior, although time would have opened up next season when all three of those players will have graduated. There do not seem to be any hard feelings between McKay and the program, at least based on his Twitter feed where he stated: ““I appreciate the coaching staff and fans no hard feeling at all GoodLuck to them this year!” shortly after announcing the transfer.
  2. Another day,another transfer player is being held up in the vortex that is the office where the NCAA clears up these matters. Today, Georgetown awaits the fate of UCLA transfer Josh Smith. Coach John Thompson III acknowledges that waiting is, in fact, the hardest part: “It’s the nature of the beast. It’s the nature of the system. Would I prefer it not be this way? Probably. But at the same time, I understand it takes time.” Smith would be a big addition to a Hoyas frontcourt that is already without forward Greg Whittington, who tore his ACL this spring after missing most of last season with academic concerns. Like Smith, Thompson doesn’t have a substantive update on Whittington’s status: “Only God knows when Greg’s going to be able to play. I have no idea when he will be able to get back on the court.”
  3.  Even within a largely new conference, DePaul‘s status remains the same. The Blue Demons have once again been voted to finish last in the league, but the players are excited for what the future holds in the Windy City. The team returns two stalwart seniors who have averaged double figure points in each of their first three years in forward Cleveland Melvin and guard Brandon Young, and adds an exciting freshman class highlighted by guard Billy Garrett Jr. To his credit, Garrett looks forward to playing on the big stage: ”Playing with expectations is something I’ve gotten used to. It’s something I don’t pay that much attention to because you have to go out there and perform.” While many bemoan the loss of former conference rivals to the AAC and ACC, DePaul and other members of the Big East who struggled against the UConns and Syracuses of the world may welcome the change simply because it makes things a bit more manageable. The new league, combined with a roster that features both stars of years past and new players who are not used to all the losing years that DePaul has experienced, could make for a fresh start for a once proud program.
  4. A new league means a new court for Providence, who is set to unveil Dave Gavitt Court this season. The Friars’ new hardwood moves away from the old design, which heavily featured black, with a cleaner silver and gray look around the perimeter, and is adorned by former Providence coach, athletic director, and first Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt’s name at center court.  With so many other programs installing crazy court designs in recent years, this sleek, streamlined design is much appreciated. Now if they can just do something about the total nightmare-fuel giant inflated Friar near the tunnel at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center…
  5. As a Syracuse fan, it was hard to get excited about Hilby the German Juggle Boy as the main source of extracurricular entertainment at this year’s Midnight Madness in the Carrier Dome. Take note, Syracuse, as Seton Hall has this Midnight Madness entertainment thing figured out. During this Friday night’s event in South Orange, head men’s coach Kevin Willard and women’s coach Tony Bozzella will participate in a hot dog eating contest against the infamous Kobayashi.  If you’re a Seton Hall fan, you too can compete by entering an Instagram contest describing why you should be given a shot against Willard, Bozzella, and Kobayashi. So good luck to you, intrepid Pirates fans. I am incredibly jealous that Jim Boeheim is not participating in this one.
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Big East Mount Rushmore

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 22nd, 2012

With all due respect to the legions of legendary players the Big East has produced in its storied history, the Big East has always been a coach’s league.  This makes perfect sense given that the conference was conceived by, and molded through the eyes of a coach.  It was the vision of that coach which propelled the Big East and college basketball to new heights beginning in the early 1980s.  The Mount Rushmore of the Big East resides in its foundation and backbone.  In many ways these are the four fathers of the conference.  They all made long-term and lasting contributions to the league, and their statures grew in-kind with that of the conference as a result.  These four men are your pillars.

Dave Gavitt:  It is impossible to conceive any reference to the success or history of the Big East without Dave Gavitt at the forefront.  A true visionary who gave life to the Big East Conference when he founded it in 1979, Gavitt relinquished a successful coaching career at Providence where he led the Friars to the 1973 NCAA Final Four to devote his attention to building the league as its first commissioner.  It is hard to imagine where smaller Catholic schools like Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence , Boston College and Villanova would be today without Gavitt’s influence.  He believed that there was an audience for college basketball, a belief that probably saved the relevance of college basketball in the northeast and one that transcended his league, leading to the national television attention and marketing of the sport as we currently know it.

Jim Calhoun: The long time Connecticut head coach epitomizes the tenets of the Big East.  A New England-born no-nonsense guy and tireless worker who always appears ready for a challenge, Calhoun was hired by Connecticut in 1986. He has led the Huskies to three National Championships, including last season’s historic double where Connecticut came out of nowhere from a ninth-place regular season conference finish to win both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.  The Huskies have made 22 NCAA tournament appearances and four Final Fours under Calhoun’s watch.  Further, in this age where football and football money are deemed king, it is important to note that Connecticut has major Division I college football today as a result of the success Calhoun and Connecticut had on the basketball court and not vice versa.

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RTC’s Mount Rushmore – Top Four (And More) Most Significant People in College Basketball History

Posted by EJacoby on February 20th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

As we celebrate President’s Day on this Monday, it’s a good time to reflect back on the significant accomplishments of George Washington and the other great leaders of our country’s 236-year history. That got us to thinking: Who are the most significant people in the history of college basketball? The game is not quite as old as the United States of America, but there are many options to choose from in a sport that’s over 100 years old, from prodigious coaches to superstar players. In the end, we determined that no single player, in a maximum of four years of eligibility, has had as much impact on the sport as any of the four coaching legends that we selected. Head coaches are responsible for shaping the lives of hundreds of players during their tenure and thus have a greater opportunity to impact the game than anyone else. Here’s a look at the accomplishments of four of the all-time great coaches in college basketball history that compose our RTC Mount Rushmore (these are in no particular order):

Mike Krzyzewski – You may not be able to spell or pronounce his full last name, but ‘Coach K’ is one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the greatest coaches in basketball history. Krzyzewski became the all-time winningest Division I men’s basketball coach when he recorded his 903rd victory to surpass his former coach at Army, Bobby Knight, earlier this season. Coach K has been at Duke since 1980 and has led the Blue Devils to four National Championships, 11 Final Fours, and 12 ACC regular season titles. He also coached the USA Olympic ‘Redeem Team’ in 2008 to a gold medal. Mike Krzyzewski was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, still remains the head coach of one of the top contenders in the country every year, and doesn’t appear to be calling it quits anytime soon.

Adolph Rupp - A man known for his obsession with winning, Adolph Rupp is perhaps the single most successful head coach in NCAA history, statistically speaking. Rupp is fifth on the all-time men’s coaching wins list (876 victories), and he did it with the second-best winning percentage of all time, at 82.2%. Rupp spent his entire 41-year coaching career at Kentucky, where he guided the Wildcats to six Final Fours and four National Championships. His tournament records could have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for his team’s two-year hiatus from the postseason in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons. Rupp also led UK to 27 SEC regular season titles in 41 years and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame while still coaching in 1969. Shortly after he retired, Big Blue Nation named their home court after him, and Rupp Arena remains one of the historic landmarks in college basketball today.

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Voices of the Big East: Dave Gavitt Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on January 7th, 2012

Voices of the Big East is an ongoing feature intended to capture the essence of the conference through the words of those involved and those impacted. This will come in the form of quotes, tweets, videos and anything else we feel like sticking in here. It’s perfect for you multitasking short attention-spanners. If you find something you think is a candidate for this feature send it to us and we might even give you credit!

He Paved the Way

Among his countless accomplishments, Dave Gavitt, a true visionary, founded the greatest basketball conference ever assembled.  Gavitt sadly passed away in September.  On Wednesday the City of Providence, home of the Big East and place where Gavitt took Providence College to the Final Four as a coach, fittingly renamed a street in his honor “Dave Gavitt Way.”

Gavitt Was a Trail Blazer Who Impacted the Lives of Many (Photo by Bob Breidenbach/Providence Journal)

“We were blown away. We are humbled and honored and really touched that our father will be remembered in this special way. That this road leads up to The Dunk (Dunkin Donuts Center, home of Providence College Basketball) is great.”

“It’s fitting that it’s Dave Gavitt Way because we all knew that Dave Gavitt got his way.”

-Dan Gavitt, Dave’s son and Big East associate commissioner for basketball. (Providence Journal)

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Morning Five: 09.20.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 20th, 2011

  1. We absolutely love the rant that Jim Boeheim went on yesterday as he spoke to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Birmingham. We linked the article by Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News in our Tumblr feed yesterday (see right), but the thing is just so full of great quotes — and what sounds like frank disgust — regarding conference realignment and specifically his school moving to the ACC. Another morsel: “Where would you want to go to to a tournament for five days? Let’s see: Greensboro, North Carolina or New York City? Jeez, let me think about that one and get back to you.”
  2. Love among the Big East and Big 12 ruins? More like survival. The honchos from each of those jilted conferences are now engaged in talks to evaluate the possibility that they could combine what’s left of their leagues into a new one and still exist as after the conference shuffling is all through. Anyone ready for a little Seton Hall-Baylor? Maybe some Cincinnati-Kansas State? Actually, the matchups aren’t that bad, but we’re again reminded of how people putting these conferences together don’t want to face geographic reality. Football teams will be unaffected, playing their one game a week, but what are basketball teams going to do? Go on MLB-type road trips where they knock off a few games in a row against their most distant conference-mates? See, there’s this thing called going to class…
  3. San Diego State sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin had generated some positive chatter over the summer, with his teammates anointing him the most improved Aztec on the squad. He only averaged 7.4 MPG last year, contributing 2.6 PPG and 1.7 RPG, but Steve Fisher seemed to trust him more and more as the season progressed. Franklin might still have that breakout soph season, but he may have created a bit of a hurdle for himself over the weekend. Early Sunday morning, Franklin was pulled over and arrested on suspicion of DUI. As if that weren’t enough, he only turned 20 a couple of months ago. No comment from Fisher as of yet.
  4. OK, back to conference realignment, because we know you can’t get enough. West Virginia is one of the schools that seems to be caught both geographically and athletically in the middle of all this, with prognosticators seemingly placing them in a different conference every week. Frank Giardina of West Virginia Metro News has a few opinions on the matter, including 1) the WVU-Pittsburgh football rivalry is dead and Pitt would love to extract themselves from it, 2) WVU will move to the SEC, 3) TCU will never play a single second in the Big East, and 4) the late great hall of fame coach and Big East founder Dave Gavitt was no friend to basketball programs at WVU, Rutgers, and Penn State, and Gavitt’s emphasis on making the Big East a basketball-centered conference is exactly what’s killing it now. Thoughts?
  5. Meanwhile, while everyone in the Northeast (and the Midwest, and a good deal of the South) wonders what conference they’ll belong to in a year or two, Ben Howland out at UCLA just goes about his business in putting together one heck of a recruiting class from the class of 2012. He had already signed (rankings via the ESPNU 100) #50 Jordan Adams, a 6’5”, 210-pound small forward from Georgia, and #72 Dominic Artis, a 5’11” PG from California. Then, last night, #5 Kyle Anderson tweet-committed to the Bruins, and it’s worth noting that Anderson, another SF at 6’7” and 210-pounds, is from New Jersey. Did all this conference instability have anything to do with his decision? Probably not, since UCLA is an impressive draw all by itself, but hey…it probably didn’t help matters. Something to keep in mind: the #1 player in the nation, 6’6”, 215-pound SF Shabazz Muhammad, apparently has the Bruins in his final five.
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Morning Five: 09.19.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 19th, 2011

It’s a new week, and a new college basketball landscape. As last week closed, our game continued to be slowly and forcibly moved toward the feared four-headed superconference era, with the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, and…wait, who was the fourth supposed to be? The Big East? The ACC? It was likely that those two would have had to fight it out (or combine) for survival, but the first blow struck in that conflict may turn out to be the killing shot. Over the weekend and seemingly from nowhere, the ACC made a pre-emptive strike on (sucker-punched?) the Big East, absorbing Syracuse and Pittsburgh like the Germans taking Danzig. The Big East — at least the glorious version of it we’ve enjoyed all our lives — is in serious trouble, with the code called and the crash cart on the way. On Friday, we were all talking about how those ineligible St. John’s recruits would affect their Big East campaign for 2011-12. We never thought we’d wake up today doubting there would even BE a Big East in three years. Is the Big East now the Big Deceased? Or, as Dan Wetzel tweeted, will it survive but simply be “less big and less east?” All that in mind, you can guess what dominates the M5 this morning:

  1. We first heard news of the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh via CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy. On Saturday he also speculated on how he thinks the rest of the conferences will respond, as well as how those football-independent (but Big East basketball) Irish of Notre Dame might have their hands forced into choosing a new home. By the way, Coach K is totally on board with this whole expansion thing, is proud of the ACC leadership on the matter, and wants two more (Hi, Connecticut and Rutgers!). Not so keen on the idea are ESPN’s Dana O’Neil and evidently some guy named Jim freakin’ Boeheim.
  2. It’s tough not to be a little disillusioned after reading Sunday’s article by Dennis Dodd, another CBSSports.com college football scribe, but that doesn’t mean his assertion is wrong regarding how difficult it is to find an honest man among those who run college sports. Some interesting takes therein, from Louisville AD Tom Jurich and an unnamed Big East source, especially. If you doubt that the conference realignment mess is about pride, power, and money, click the link above and get back to us when you’re done.
  3. The case of Pittsburgh is an interesting one, because the Panthers happen to be led by one Jamie Dixon. An RTC favorite, the man unquestionably has one of the more clever minds in the basketball coaching biz, and he’s a young coach who — sorry, Pitt supporters — won’t be a Panther forever. Could the move to the ACC also be the thing that soon prompts Dixon to accept an offer from one of his many suitors? Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy spells out how the defection from the Big East might sound the death knell for Pittsburgh basketball.
  4. Since we referenced them earlier, what do you do if you’re Louisville? The ACC has its own agenda and would probably prefer to add UConn and Rutgers. Would the Big Ten or SEC welcome U of L? How proactive can the Cardinals actually be? Can they afford to wait until the Big East disintegrates, or see if it survives by adding schools that could actually turn a profit? And if the conference survives, who does it go after? TCU is on the way (*forehead slap*). But on who else should the Big East set its sights? East Carolina? Xavier?!? BUTLER??? [Ed. Note: Butler. In the Big East. Whoa, time out on the floor. Getting...dizzy...may pass out...]
  5. The final item here far supersedes in importance anything mentioned above, though the irony cannot be ignored. The moves out of the Big East by Syracuse and Pittsburgh first came to light on Friday, and people quickly began speculating as to whether it signalled the end of the conference. On Friday, Dave Gavitt, the man considered to be the founder of the Big East Conference, died at his home in Rhode Island of congestive heart failure, aged 73. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. Requiescat in pace, sir.
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06.09.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2008

Coming out of another slow weekend on the news front…

  • This NY Times story about Bol Kong, a Sudanese expatriate and college basketball player in British Columbia who has lived in Canada since age 7, shows once again the ridiculous of some of our leaders’ anti-terror measures.
  • Following up on the Orlando Predraft Camp, DraftExpress gives their wrap-up takes here and also takes a really interesting look at some historical tidbits of the predraft measurements (yes, Shaq was always a beast).
  • Chad Ford has his updated draft list – OJ Mayo is movin’ on up (maybe because of Lebron’s agent?)…
  • Gary Parrish writes something about buying a BMW at the NBA Draft… whereas Luke Winn breaks down the top eight fence-sitters as the early entry deadline to return to school approaches on June 16.
  • Echoing what we were wondering about the media’s culpability on the OJ Mayo situation, BruinsNation takes the LA Times to task for completely dropping the ball on what is going on over at USC. Keep up the pressure, fellas.
  • From the what-else-is-new category, South Carolina’s Devan Downey’s assault charges were dropped. Curtis Lowery, the assaulted, must have gotten got to.
  • Longtime Big East commish Mike Tranghese, who wiht Dave Gavitt shepherded the league into the ESPN era in basketball, created a football conference where there previously was none, and is responsible for the current 16-team abomination in hoops, is retiring at the end of the 08-09 school year. The lesser-known but very effective Pac-10 commish, Tom Hansen, will also be retiring next summer.
  • Speaking of the Big East, the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, wants to once again host NCAA Tournament games beginning in 2012.
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