A College Basketball Fan’s Guide To Watching The World Cup

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2010

In less than 48 hours, our televisions will be taken over by the biggest sporting event the world has to offer.  Your TweetDeck (or whatever Twitter application you use) will be lousy with friends, celebrities, and sportswriters tweeting about it.  Your Facebook friends will be centering their status updates about it.  And, for the next five weeks, when you walk into your favorite sports bars, as you peer at the flat-screens you’ll notice an increased presence of a game to which you might not be accustomed.

It’s World Cup time.

Like the Olympics and the Fields Medal, this is an every-four-year event.  It pits nation against nation in the sport that still stirs up the most passion among its fans on a worldwide scale.  Imagine if we only got one NCAA Tournament every four years.  Well, this is the one summer in four that soccer (the word we’ll use for this article, though we’re aware that most of the world calls it football) lovers get to enjoy their chance to crown a champion.  If you follow RTC on Twitter (if you don’t, shame on you, and go click our logo at right), you’ve probably been impressed by our occasional tweet about other sports or even current events.  It’s not exactly a long limb we’d be going out on for us to assume that if you’re a college basketball fan, you’ve probably got an interest in other sports, too — though international soccer might not be one of them.

Want to talk to her? Know your World Cup. Yeah, we thought that'd keep you reading.

Worry not, our fellow college hoopheads.  We’ve got you covered.  We want you to be able to hang in those conversations at those sports pubs.  We want you to be able to approach that lovely blonde bespectacled German girl wearing her Deutschland jersey in the supermarket (this actually happened to us a week ago).  We want you to impress your friends with your world vision and increased overall sports knowledge.  You think those kids in the stands at Duke or Xavier or Utah State are both well-prepared and berserk?  Wait until you hear the crowd at a World Cup soccer match.  We want you to enjoy that vital aspect of it all, as well.  We’re by no means experts on the subject, but to those ends, we give you — trumpet flourish — Rush The Court’s College Basketball Fan’s Guide to Watching the World Cup.

If this England squad is like Kentucky, then Wayne Rooney is their John Wall.

THE TEAMS

First, let’s list some of the participating  teams and define those squads in terms familiar to college hoop fans.  As you’ll see, by the way, national soccer teams have some of the best nicknames you’ll ever hear.  The best?  Cameroon.  The Indomitable Lions.  I mean, COME ON…

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11.10.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2009

In getting all the preview stuff together, we lost a little track of the news other than the endless suspensions and injuries…

  • NCAA Not Backing Down on Renardo Sidney.  If the information that Gary Parrish wrote in his “Three Storylines” articles is true, then Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney may not play this season at all.  According to the Sidney family attorney, the NCAA requested additional evidence beyond what the Sidneys gave them two weeks ago — specifically, “records that identify the sources of each [bank] deposit, cellular phone records for every family member since Jan. 1, 2006, records to indicate where every payroll check was deposited, etc.”  To an untrained ear, that sounds like the NCAA isn’t buying what the Sidneys are selling.  The evidence that the Sidneys previously provided — bank statements and the like — don’t mean a whole lot unless they can show the funds in those accounts are not a product of financial tomfoolery.  So, what now for the Sidneys?  MSU’s first game is against Rider on Friday night, so their only recourse might be to take things to court, but the NCAA could probably motion up/down/sideways until March to keep Sidney off the floor if it wanted to make a point.  Even if Sidney sought injunctive relief in the interim, MSU is unlikely to play Sidney until he’s eligible by NCAA standards.  Well, Jarvis Varnado and John Riek still makes for a nasty frontcourt, right? 
  • Arkansas SuspensionsCourney Fortson and Stefan Welsh were indefinitely suspended by John Pelphrey today for their roles in various discipinary actions over the offseason.  Additionally, reserve Marcus Britt will miss six games, freshman Glenn Bryant will miss two games, and walk-on Nick Mason will miss the fall semester.  The latter three players were at a fraternity party last month where a student alleged several players raped her.  The local prosecutor (who is related to Arkansas brass) said there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward, but the case has now been brought to a special prosecutor for further review.
  • Vegas Watch Mammoth Preview.  It was finished over the weekend, so here’s the link to the entire thing in one place.  The analysis we performed here reflects VW’s vision as to how to project the 2009-10 teams in a quantifiable manner, and we think he’s done a pretty damn good job at developing a formula that properly takes into account returnees plus incoming recruits.  Keep an eye on things over there this week as he rolls out a list of the final projected ratings among the BCS conferences (and a few others) sliced and diced in various ways. 
  • Preaseason Stuff.  There’s more out in the last week than we know what to do with, and besides you have our Everything You Need to Know… post to guide you there, but let’s look at some of the better things we’ve seen.  Luke Winn has his 16 most entertaining players in America, while Jeff Goodman gives his 65 storylines to watch for this season and even found time to do a little bracket work.   Mike DeCourcy encourages us all to buy blue-chip stocks this year and also lists his top storylines and questionsGary Parrish believes that the Big 12 is the best conference in the land this year, and he also projects a bracket for us while sprinkling around his all-americans.  Everybody’s doing this bracket thing these days, including Jerry Palm, whose done it once or twice before.  And for good measure, here’s the Fox Sports power rankings.
  • Quick HitsKen Bone: unpluggedDeCourcy: why cupcakesBob Knight: as expected, did not attend his IU Hall of Fame induction over the weekendCal Faculty: nonbinding vote to end athletic department subsidiesScout: top 100 prospects of 2010Isiah: got his mom’s blessing to coach Monday night.  UNC Throwbacks: why would Carolina ever have red in its unisJeff Capel: Big 12 is the bestDeniz Kilicli: WVU freshman forward will sit until FebruaryVillanova: How Scottie Reynolds almost ended up at OklahomaDave Odom: your new Maui chairmanACC Tourney: headed back to the ATL in 2012 (but at Phillips Arena, not the Ga Dome).  Luke Apfeld: Vermont player tears ACL again.
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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.

Flickr.com

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

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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10.01.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 1st, 2008

It’s Wednesday afternoon, 72 degrees and sunny, and we’re heading outside…

  • Kelvin Sanctions fires back at Indiana – get this blasted bus off of me!
  • Good news – Bob Knight will be back on your television set in some capacity this winter.  Will Digger’s jealous rage get in the way?
  • We like this – which coaches got begotten, er, begatten? 
  • Let’s call it the “trickle-down effect” of college basketball.  Although unlike the economic version, this kind, you know, actually works?
  • Two weeks ago, we (and our bookies – seriously, the check is on the way) might have been worried about this…  luckily, the implosion of the Palin-drone appears nearly complete, and our worries have subsided.
  • The guy who allegedly killed Tubby Smith’s nephew pleaded not guilty in Worcester, Mass., yesterday.  There were numerous witnesses – good luck with that. 
  • For fear of karmic payback of mammoth proportions, we’ll abstain from captioning the below photo (h/t Hugging Harold Reynolds), but LORDY…  you’ve got Jim Boeheim, Gary Williams and Mark Gottfriend all in one place!  All you need to add is Steve Lavin and Dave Odom (6th man: John Brady) and you’d have a starting five of mediocrity unmatched in history.

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ATB: Pac-10 It In Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.17.07

Story of the Day. Siena 79, Stanford 67. We should have known better. Really, we should have. As soon as we started thinking that Stanford was a legit power again, given the way they mowed through their first four opponents with ease (without Brook Lopez, remember), they go and drop a game at Siena. For chrissakes, we even put the Cardinal #12 in our latest blogpoll ballot. This continues a disturbing trend of Trent Johnson teams to inexplicably drop ugly pre-conference games to a mid-major or worse (last year: Air force by 34; Santa Clara by 16; two years ago: Montana by 19, UC Davis by 6). Ugh. So what happened today? The 1pm EST start time probably didn’t help the Cardinal, but the time-change excuse only goes so far (they played and won in Chicago on Thurs. night). It appears from the stats that poor shooting (37%), especially from lead guard Anthony Goods (2-12) contributed, but an insane 32 to 3 FT attempt disparity suggests a little home cookin’ and/or aggressiveness in favor of the home team. In any case, it’s yet another reason to wonder whether the Cardinal under TJ will ever have the toughness to gut out games like this outside of Pac-10 arenas (in Johnson’s tenure, Stanford typically does fine in the Pac-10 schedule then flames out badly in March). The positive takeaway from this game is that we believe this is the first RTC of the new season. Enjoy.

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Other Games Today. Louisville 104, Hartford 69. Terrence Williams was astonishing tonight in Louisville’s opening game. He put up a trip-dub (14/12/13 assts, barely missing the quad-dub with 8 turnovers) as the Cardinals tallied seven players in double figures and made a school-record 22 threes (with just 13 misses). It’s just the first game, we realize, but Louisville appears to have all the pieces in place to make a phenomenal run this year, so long as they can avoid their annual bugaboo of injuries. We can’t wait for that matchup with Carolina later this month in the LV Invitational (assuming the Heels can handle ODU). Virginia 75, Arizona 72. In another tough loss today for the Pac-10, Virginia went into Tucson and delivered another blow to the aura of invincibility of the McKale Center, handing Arizona its fifth loss in the last seven games there. Sean Singletary led the way for the Wahoos (24/8 assts) while battling flu-like symptoms, and it was his jumper with 39 seconds left that was the clincher. This and the Stanford upset really hurt the Pac-10’s early-season cred as the best conference. George Mason 67, Dayton 56. This is the kind of win the committee will want to see on GMU’s resume next March. Will Thomas had a nasty game (18/17) and the team as a whole went 21-21 from the line. Florida 88, Rutgers 63. The Gators continue to look impressive at home, but then again, so did Stanford until today. Mareese Speights had 18/12 in the blowout win over a bottom-feeder Big East team. USC 85, South Carolina 75. Speaking of bottom-feeders, South Carolina got Hackett-ed by USC, as the non-OJ Mayo guard for the Trojans had a trip-dub as well (22/10/10 assts). No word on whether OJ wanted to deck him again (he had 29/4/4 assts, btw). The Dave Odom death knell watch continues…

Other Upsets. Cleveland St. 69, Florida St. 66. Well, it wasn’t all peachy for the ACC today. FSU resurrected its bad habit of losing to bad teams. Amazingly, that’s only the second nonconference loss for the ACC so far this year (23-2). Monmouth 59, Wichita St. 50. Gregg Marshall’s start at Wichita hasn’t been very promising thus far (1-2 with the other loss to Baylor). Alaska-Fairbanks 62, Oregon St. 60. And we save the best upset of the day for last – another Pac-10 team losing, but this is worse because the Beavers were beaten by a D2 team – the host of the Top of the World Classic. How utterly embarrassing.

Ranked Teams.
#9 Oregon 86, Portland 61. Hairston (24), Leunen (17) & Porter (15) roll.
#15 Gonzaga 84, UC Riverside 48. Zags continue to dominate w/o Heytvelt.
#24 S. Illinois 88, N. Illinois 68. Only 7 for Falker and still no problem.

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Let’s just start penciling him in here every time he plays. 28/22 in a 13-pt win over W. Illinois.

On Tap Today (all times EST). A light Sunday schedule, but we really have our eyes on that 5pm game.

  • Louisville (NL) v. Jackson St. (ESPN FC) 1:30pm – can UL be as impressive as today?
  • Charleston (NL) v. Houston (ESPNU) 1:30pm - interesting early afternoon game.
  • Clemson (-12.5) v. Old Dominion 2pm – upset alert! Clemson could be looking past ODU here after its win v. Miss St.
  • Villanova (NL) v. Bucknell 5pm – Jay Wright goes up against his old team.
  • Arkansas (-7.5) v. VCU (ESPNU) 5pm – best game of the day – Maynor v. Beverly.
  • Georgia Tech (-3) v. Winthrop 6pm – upset alert! Ga Tech is so hit-and-miss these days.
  • UNC (-34) v. Iona (ESPNU) 6pm – this game could get extremely ugly.
  • Miami (FL) (-1) v. Providence (ESPN2) 7:30pm - championship of PR Shootout.
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10.16.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2007

An absolute ton of newsworthy stuff to catch up on from the weekend…

  • 2008 #1 player Greg Monroe committed to Georgetown after his visit there this weekend.  It couldn’t have had anything to do with that now-ubiquitous Jerry Rice dance, could it?  “Hoops” Weiss has the definitive take on how Monroe will impact the Hoyas.  Above the Rim writes that Duke (who was hot-n-heavy for Monroe) isn’t used to losing out on these guys. 
  • Making the Dance reports that after Georgetown (who obviously had the best MM weekend), Illinois (Bruce Weber can recruit after all?!?!), Indiana, Louisville and several others had good weekends. 
  • Lots of Midnight Madness and practice coverage from the weekend…
    • Huggins taking over the reins at his alma mater.  (there’s an amusing wmv file floating around where Huggins is giving a speech to some WVU booster club – it’s longwinded and rambling, but the DerMarr Johnson payoff is funny) 
    • A general roundup of MM from Lexington to Lawrence.
    • Catching up with Tubby in Minnesota. 
    • Pat Forde takes in the scene at UK with Billy Gillispie.  Apparently Goodman did the same.   
    • Andy Katz checks in on the hype surrounding Memphis. 
    • Goodman also took a road trip to Saluki country to report on the best mid-major not named Gonzaga, while en route to seeing Pitino in Louisville
    • Wake’s first practice without Skip Prosser
    • Dave Odom tries to save his job with transfers at South Carolina.
    • Pitt has XXXL expectations for DeJuan Blair
    • The defending champs (2x) start the rebuilding process.
  • Sad news that former Georgia star and current surgeon Alec Kessler died of a heart attack last weekend. 
  • Injuries, suspensions and dismissals:
    • Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt was reinstated on Friday but will miss the first week of practice due to shroom farming foot pain.
    • Louisville’s Juan Palacios injured his ankle and may have to redshirt his senior season. 
    • Brandon Rush reports that he’s on target for his Dec. 1 return to Kansas.
    • Georgia suspended three players for not attending classes, including top two scorers Takais Brown (9 games) and Mike Mercer (15 games).  Seriously, fellas?  SEC Hoops:TGTBTD has the take on how this will affect the Bulldogs.
    • Northwestern’s best player Kevin Coble is taking a leave of absence to be with his sick mother. 
    • Ball St. coach Billy Taylor booted two more players off the team, making a total of six since he was hired in August. 
  • More Preseason goodies:
    • Gary Parrish and Ben Howland converse about whether the Pac-10 will have the most first round picks ever this year.
    • Pitino bitches about the difficulty of the unbalanced league schedule Louisville is being forced to play. 
    • MMAS continues its comprehensive review with its non-BCS top 25
    • Seth Davis asks us 20 questions, then he answers them. 
    • Gary Parrish lists his start-of-practice top 26.  Memphis, eh?
    • The Fanhouse wonders if Memphis is even the best team in its own state.
    • Jeff Goodman takes a realistic look at Duke’s expectations for this season.
    • ESPN plans on showing a grand total of TWO Pac-10 games this year!  Up from zero last year. 
    • The Big 12 handed out its preseason awards – DJ Augustin is the projected POY. 
    • Shawn Siegel lists his top 25 Big 12 players and top 25 Big 10 players for 07-08. 
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SEC Diversity Redux

Posted by rtmsf on April 27th, 2007

Apparently Gary Parrish hit a sore spot with many SEC fans based on the reaction he received to his article on CBS Sportsline earlier this week. As we stated in our response to his article, not all of the criticism he received is without merit.

Parrish wrote a follow-up article today, which in our opinion, states the essential point that he should have made in the first incarnation. Namely, although it is unfortunate and a bit peculiar that three black coaches left SEC schools (whether willingly or unwillingly) in the past two years, it is not due to racism per se that these coaches are no longer with their schools. In other words, it is not their blackness alone that got these coaches in trouble, for these and other SEC schools have had successful black coaches in the past; it is their blackness in combination with a prevailing perception of not meeting the high expectations of the fans as head coach. As he put it simply, “minority coaches operate on a shorter leash.”

John Brady OR Stan Heath ??

There is merit to this argument, and we wish Parrish had made it more clearly in the first article. There are valid concerns as to why a coaching clown like John Brady at LSU can continue with legitimate employment after ten years of mostly disappointing seasons. Or how a squirrelly little man such as Dave Odom can continue cashing SC’s checks after one NCAA appearance in six years (unless your goal as an SEC program is to win NIT championships, as he’s very accomplished at that). We have absolutely no doubt that black coaches at these schools would have been gone long before these gents. As we noted in our initial response, we’re still not past the point where “diversity” in the SEC amounts to much more than blondes and redheads. However, it must be stated that a very successful black coach at any SEC school – in football or basketball – would be warmly embraced by its fans despite the racial component.

Dave Odom OR Tubby Smith ??

As a final point, let’s also throw out another possible confounding factor in the cases of Tubby Smith and Stan Heath. We’ll leave Rod Barnes out of this discussion, because even Parrish concedes that his record at Ole Miss was lacking. Could part of the reason that Smith and Heath felt so much heat in comparison to coaches like Brady, Gottfried and Odom has something to do with how basketball is treated at those particular schools, rather than attributing all of it to race? Everyone knows that the expectations at UK are through the roof every season. Arkansas, while at heart a football school, could also fairly be described as a basketball school as well. Their fans have supported the hardwood Hawgs dating back to Eddie Sutton’s days there in the 1970s, and they’ve been to multiple Final Fours and won a championship in 1994.

Contrast that with LSU, Alabama and South Carolina, where football is absolutely and undoubtedly king. Basketball is by most fans still considered a stepbrother to the gridiron – sure, the fans want to see the program do “well,” but well is defined in the context of making the NCAAs fairly often, and maybe winning a game or two the years you get there. Those kinds of expectations get football coaches like Dennis Franchione , Gerry DiNardo and Mike Shula fired quickly (and they’re all white!). The level of expectations for basketball at these schools are far from what you see at UK, Arkansas, and as of now, Florida in the SEC. Perhaps this issue trumps all else when it comes to dealing with fan expectations at these particular schools.

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