Mississippi State’s Maui Performance Signals a Tough Season for Rick Ray

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 22nd, 2012

The Mississippi State Bulldogs spent earlier this week on the beautiful island of Maui as they participated in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Among the palm trees, sandy beaches, and perfect waves, the Bulldogs’ lack of productivity in the annual preseason tournament showcased why Rick Ray‘s club, which finished in last place in the event, will have to endure a long and difficult path back to the top of the SEC.

Mississippi State’s woes displayed in Maui is a foreshadowing for the rest of the season (WFAA.com)

The Bulldogs lost all three of their guaranteed games in Maui by an average of 29 points. They averaged only 18 field goals per game, three three-point field goals per game, and, at one point, trailed #9 North Carolina by 49 points on Monday evening. Was this the worst performance from an SEC team in Maui in the last half-decade? Yes. Since 2007, the first year since any one specific school has been in Maui before (Kentucky went in 2006 and 2010), Mississippi State became the first SEC program to finish last in the annual week-of-Thanksgiving tournament. Out of the possible 18 games in the six total years of this research, Mississippi State had three of the five lowest scoring games of any SEC team (averaging 55 points per game). They also allowed opponents three of the five highest scoring games in the six years (averaging 84 points per game).

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SEC Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 16th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury announced his retirement after 14 years in Starkville. Stansbury will continue to work at MSU in a yet-to-be-determined position, said athletic director Scott Stricklin. Accoring to the Clarion-Ledger report, Stricklin “didn’t rule out interviewing current MSU assistants for the job. ‘We’ll see; we’re wide open. I wouldn’t dismiss that idea.’” In that same piece, Dee Bost, the Bulldogs’ departing senior point guard, tweeted out an endorsement for long-time assistant coach Phil Cunningham. “Coach Stans retired,” tweeted Bost. “I think all alumni and fans should try to get Coach Cunningham as coach.”
  2. Vanderbilt won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2007. In a Tennesseean article by Michael Cass, he writes of a “banner year” for the Commodores and of some of the possible ramifications this year’s SEC title could bring. One Nashville native said, “For high school players, I don’t see how you can watch that (SEC championship game) and see the collection of talent Coach Stallings has put together and not want to be a part of it.” Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said, “On such a big national stage, to have Vanderbilt, obviously one of the greatest academic institutions in the world, beat the No. 1 team, win a championship in the greatest athletic conference in the country, it brings a lot of benefit to the university.”
  3. Alabama‘s Friday opponent, Creighton, utilized a popular practice technique to help prepare for the Crimson’s Tides press defense.  “There’s times when we’ve had seven defenders out there guarding five,” said Doug McDermott, the Bluejays’ All-America sophomore forward. “Our scout team guys probably aren’t as athletic and don’t have as much length as their guys do.”
  4. Like Dwight Howard announced today, another big man from the Sunshine State announced he would be staying for additional year when Florida sophomore center Patric Young said in the locker room Thursday that he intends to come back for his junior season. “That’s the first that I heard of that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “So that’s always great news. I think Patric has learned a lot this year. I don’t think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.”
  5. Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper pointed out a facet of the game where the Kentucky Wildcats will have to improve if it hopes to win an eighth national title. “If they want to advance and win a national championship, they’re going to have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter,” Harper said. “They’re going to have to find somebody else that can make a shot from the perimeter.” The Wildcats have shot just 23.8% from the three-point arc going back to the start of the SEC Tournament and have not shot better than 30% in any of those four games. Doron Lamb is 4-for-15 in that stretch; Darius Miller is 2-for-12; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are a combined 0-6.
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SEC Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 28th, 2012

  1. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was named SEC Player of the Week for his demonstrative performances against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Davis averaged 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and two steals including a career-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds against the Commodores. Kentucky’s freshmen swept the awards this week as Wildcat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals. He scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Kentucky’s win in Starkville.
  2. Despite the loss on Saturday, Vanderbilt was encouraged with its play against the #1 team in the land, the Kentucky Wildcats. “We got down 10 and I thought our guys really showed some courage coming back and getting the game back to where it was,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. While winning is the measure of any good team, Vanderbilt has to feel good about playing tough in Rupp Arena where the Cats have won 51 straight. “They’ve had their way with most people in here,” Stallings said. “We lost but the game was a game for 38 or 39 of the 40 minutes.” Vanderbilt’s experience in a hostile environment in Rupp, albeit during a loss, could give the ‘Dores the confidence they need going into March that they can play with anyone in the country.
  3. Tennessee freshman Jarnell Stokes is still adjusting to the college game, after he became eligible for the Volunteers during mid-season. Vols coach Cuonzo Martin, for one, is impressed with Stokes’ progress. “Jarnell has a good pace to his game; he doesn’t rush, he does a good job reading the defense, and for his size, he has good footwork and quickness,” Martin said. “You’re asking a kid that should still be in high school kid to come in and play at the SEC level against great competition without a preseason or the 14 games before league play.” As good as Stokes has been for Tennessee this season, even mid-season form is a scary thought for Vols’ opponents.
  4. Without the physical nature of forward Will Yeguete, Florida struggled on the defensive end in its loss to Georgia on Saturday. “We got hung up on screens and did not do a great job defensively at all,” coach Billy Donovan said. The Gators let the Bulldogs shoot 52.9 percent from the field, while being outscored by Georgia 38-26 in the paint. “There is an immaturity in understanding the other team’s guys are on scholarship. The other team’s guys are preparing hard,” Donovan said. Field goal percentage defense has been an especially important measure for Donovan’s Gators. Florida has given up over 50% shooting three times this season (at Tennessee, at Kentucky, and at Georgia), and all three games ended up as losses for the Gators.
  5. Mississippi State Bulldogs has been unraveling late in conference play. After appearing to be one of the surprise teams of the season with their solid play throughout the early going, the Bulldogs are on an alarming five game losing streak. “It’s real disappointing because I just see our season slipping away right in front of our eyes,” forward Arnett Moultrie said. “All we need is one win. I believe we’ll be able to get on a winning streak.” The players, obviously, aren’t taking this situation lightly.  “It’s real disappointing,” point guard Dee Bost said. “It isn’t fun. It’s not exciting.” Luckily for the Dogs, postseason success is most often the standard for which teams are measured and Mississippi State still has time to turn this season around.
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SEC Morning Five: 2.22.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 22nd, 2012

  1. Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators are trying to take things one game at a time, but it is proving difficult as Florida fights for a higher seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. “I don’t really talk to them about the seeding and those kind of things,” Donovan said. “I’ve always been a big believer you kind of take care what’s in front of you right then, and now and talking about something that’s going to be two or three weeks down the road, that will come.” Florida insists it is focusing on Auburn, but even point guard Erving Walker admits he “sometimes” checks mock tournament websites like brackets produced by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. And what is his opinion of Florida’s current placement on those websites? “Joe Lunardi is wrong sometimes,” Walker said.
  2. One team that needs to begin peeking at mock NCAA Tournament sites if it is not already doing so is the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are currently on the bubble according to USA Today’s latest bracketology. “What’s going on with the Bulldogs,” asks USA Today writer Nicole Auerbach. “Three not-great losses in a row. Need to turn things around quick, but for now, MSU stays in the field because of those three Top 50 wins.” After a tough home loss to Kentucky on Tuesday night, Mississippi State has another chance for a big win against Alabama that could propel the Bulldogs onto solid ground.
  3. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury prepared for his team’s matchup with Kentucky on Tuesday by taking a shot at former player Twany Beckham who transferred to Kentucky. “I saw his stats the other day in SEC play. Did he make one or attempt one shot,” asked Stansbury. “He’s seeing some pretty good basketball. He’s getting a front-row ticket every night. Yes, sir.” But Beckham fired right back via his Twitter account saying, “that dude wanna coach where I’m playin at…not worried at all”. Although Beckham didn’t play against the Bulldogs on Tuesday night, it certainly added fuel to an already heated rivalry.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari played a game of his own, as he praised Stansbury’s Bulldogs relentlessly prior to Tuesday’s showdown.Dee Bost is good. You’ve got guys that could go for 30 (points),” Calipari said. “You’ve got five of them that could go for 30. All the sudden, you’re not just, ‘Stop this guy.’ You can’t do it that way. You’ve got to play basketball and try to make it difficult for them.” While Calipari’s point about the strength of the Bulldogs roster was not lost, not a single player on the Bulldogs roster has scored 30 points all season. But Calipari zeroed in on the most likely player to do so, and the one who has come the closest, Arnett Moultrie. “Arnett could go for 35 or 40 (points),” Calipari said. “It could happen, just like (Jeffery) Taylor went for whatever he went for (23 first-half points) against Mississippi.” Calipari’s motivation tactics worked yet again for the Wildcats as they rallied in the second half on Tuesday night, while not allowing a single Mississippi State player to get to 30 points during the game.
  5. Georgia coach Mark Fox had high praise for Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins after the Commodores defeated the Dogs 61-52 on Sunday. Jenkins buried six of eight three point shots on his way to 28 points.“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached against,” Fox said about the reigning SEC Player of the Week. “I mean he’s phenomenal. He really is.” On the season, the Bulldogs have been a fairly strong team in guarding the perimeter shot. The 10 made threes by the Commodores were tied for the most Georgia has given up all season. Then again, it is difficult to defend Jenkins, who is a special player with an incredible outside shot. “We didn’t defend him well today all around,” Georgia guard Gerald Robinson said. “Everybody got a piece, got a taste in zone. The guy can shoot, flat-out shoot it. No ands, ifs or buts about it.”
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SEC Morning Five: 02.10.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 10th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost had lots to say prior to the first matchup with rival Ole Miss, but he hasn’t had much to say this go-around after suffering a loss against the Rebels. Bost refused to trash talk on Twitter, resorting instead to focusing on the task at hand. “We’ve got to get our competitive edge back and just go out there and compete,” said Bost. “And take it personal when anybody scores on us.” The senior played much better in the rematch scoring 15 points and dishing out 13 assists to lead the Bulldogs to a 70-60 win. Maybe Bost will have plenty to say afterwards, but his play did the talking this time around.
  2. The Florida Gators are ready to regroup after a 20-point loss to Kentucky on Tuesday. “We have to move on,” Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal said. “We’ll have a day off (Wednesday) and then we will watch film and then be ready for the next game Saturday against Tennessee. We have to put this one behind us.” The game against Kentucky was Florida’s worst game as far as the numbers go. The Gators shot their worst field goal and three-point field goal percentages of the season. It was the second lowest point total for Florida all season. And the 20-point margin was by far the largest loss of the season for the Gators. This game is one Billy Donovan and company would like to forget.
  3. South Carolina lost by 34 to the Wildcats last week, and now Gamecocks’ fans are wondering if their beloved team will win again this season. The Gamecocks are losing the faith amongst the natives in Columbia. “Each game (with the exception of Alabama) plays like a broken record: poor execution, questionable coaching, a chance to turn things around and maybe even pull off a win, then the comeback bid falling short. Another game, another loss for South Carolina’s men’s basketball team.” Fortunately for South Carolina, the most winnable game on paper is approaching on Wednesday with a home game against the Georgia Bulldogs (11-12 overall, 2-7 SEC).
  4. The Kentucky Wildcats have a star in center Anthony Davis, but Big Blue Nation cannot cash in on Davis’ success. The UK Athletics office has issued a cease and desist order to Wildcats’ fans who were selling posters of the freshman and his incredible wingspan. “We have to do everything we can to prevent from someone making a profit off of an amateur student-athlete’s image or name,” UK Athletics spokesman DeWayne Peevy said. “And so if somebody puts something on eBay or sells it in a store, our normal process is a cease-and-desist letter.” As basketball crazed as Kentucky fans are, it is surprising to find these collector’s items for sale considering Wildcat fans aren’t usually ones to give up their basketball memorabilia so easily.
  5. While CBS Sports believes the race for National Player of the Year is between Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis and Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, RTC claims Davis is the clear frontrunner after his performance against Florida. Statistically, Davis isn’t the leader, but his impact on both ends of the court is what puts him at the top of the discussion. But despite all of the accolades and praise, he has remained a great teammate. Coach John Calipari said, ” I said to both of them (Davis and fellow freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), ‘You guys understand, these guys love playing with you because you don’t command the ball. You defend. You rebound. You block shots.’ They get to shoot all the balls. What’s better than that?” The only thing better is the 16-game winning streak the Cats are currently on with the aid of the two dynamic freshmen.
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SEC Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 1st, 2012

  1. The Anthony Davis season-long block party continued in Lexington last night as he blocked seven shots in Kentucky’s 69-44 win. Davis increased his block total to 108 on the season, good for 10th on the SEC single-season list. He trails only Shaquille O’Neal for the SEC freshman record, when he blocked 115 shots in the 1989-90 season. For the first time in more than 1,800 games, the Wildcats held three straight opponents to 50 or fewer points (Georgia 44, LSU 50, Tennessee 44). Kentucky had not limited three teams to 50 or fewer points in three consecutive games since the 1950-51 season. On the offensive side, UK hit its first 11 shots and jumped out to a 26-8 lead.
  2. Arkansas remained perfect at Bud Walton Arena this season beating Vanderbilt, 82-74, thanks to a 50-point effort in the second half. The Razorbacks improved to 16‐0 at home this season, tying the school record for the most consecutive home wins to start a season (matching the 1993-94 national championship team). The Razorbacks now own home victories against Mississippi State, Michigan and Vanderbilt; the last time that Arkansas defeated three ranked teams in the same season came in 2007‐08 when it beat Mississippi State, Florida and Vanderbilt.
  3. The only contest on Wednesday night features Georgia traveling to Auburn to face the Tigers at 8 PM on the SEC Network. Although neither team is threatening the top of the SEC standings, the series is extremely tight as the Bulldogs took a two-game lead in the series (89-87) after a pair of wins last year. Over the 176 games, Georgia leads the all-time score, 10,427-10,223, a difference of a mere 204 points. The home team has won 16 of the last 20 contests.
  4. Florida has moved to the top of the national leaderboard in assist/turnover ratio at 1.55. The Gators have increased that mark over their last four games (wins against South Carolina, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) by dishing out 66 assists against only 33 turnovers. Point guard Erving Walker paces the team with 106 assists and the senior has only 43 turnovers, good for a 2.47 A/TO ratio. He entered his final season sporting a 1.67 A/TO ratio. In the previous two seasons, the Gators sported a 1.14 A/TO ratio, a mark that ranked just outside the top 50 in the NCAA.
  5. Since starting 12-1, Mississippi State has gone just 5-4. In defense of the Bulldogs, the losses are all to RPI top-50 schools (Baylor, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Florida). However, Brad Locke surmised that the Bulldogs’ lack of depth could be showing itself. The top three minute-loggers in the SEC come from Mississippi State with Dee Bost (35.0), Arnett Moultrie (34.2) and Rodney Hood (34.2) seeing significant minutes. The Bulldogs feature just 10 scholarship players, and that still includes Renardo Sidney, who as Locke writes is “clearly out of shape and overweight, and he seems incapable of handling any bigger of a playing load.”
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Set Your TiVo: 01.27 – 01.29

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 27th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

There aren’t too many big time matchups on the schedule this weekend but it’s still a decent slate of games to keep you occupied.

Mississippi State @ #12 Florida – 1:30 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com  (***)

Florida May Struggle to Contain the Mississippi State Big Men

  • It has gone largely unnoticed but Florida has won six of its past seven games since losing at Rutgers in December. The Gators bring the top-rated offensive efficiency to the table and are a threat to win any game they play because of it. However, Billy Donovan’s team is thin up front and lacks the lockdown defense elite teams exhibit. Against Mississippi State, Florida could very have major problems dealing with the Bulldogs’ front line. Patric Young attempted double figure shots for only the fifth time this season against Mississippi on Thursday. Without a go-to guy in the post, Florida’s offense revolves around Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton with Brad Beal and forward Erik Murphy, a pick-and-pop specialist. Florida will attempt plenty of threes, connecting 40.7% of the time. Scoring from outside shouldn’t be a major problem against Mississippi State but stopping the Bulldogs inside will be.
  • Rick Stansbury has a huge advantage in this game with Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney in his frontcourt. Florida can’t match those two players and the Bulldogs should be pounding the ball inside all day long on Saturday. However, Dee Bost has to be able to create and get into the lane in order to get Moultrie and Sidney going early and often. If Bost isn’t able to penetrate Florida’s defense, the Gators can pack it in and dare Mississippi State to beat them from the outside. Of more concern to Stansbury has to be his defense. In SEC play, the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 43.4% from beyond the three point arc. If Florida shoots anywhere near that percentage, it’s likely going to be a long afternoon at the O-Dome for the visitors from Starkville.
  • In order to steal an important road win, the Bulldogs have to rebound and score in the paint as well as in transition off long rebounds since neither team turns the ball over much. Fast break points will be at a premium in this game but whichever team wins that category will have an advantage. However, the most important part of Mississippi State’s game plan has to be defending the three point line. If the Bulldogs can’t, they won’t win in Gainesville. Even with all that said, this is a game Mississippi State can win with a strong effort. Florida needed a second half rally to defeat Ole Miss in its last game and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mississippi State could spring the upset.
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Set Your TiVo: 01.20 – 01.22

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 21st, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Cincinnati and Vanderbilt will look to keep rolling but a Big 12 clash highlights Saturday’s slate.

#5 Missouri @ #3 Baylor – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN (*****)

This Clash Between Big 12 Powers Offers a Contrast in Strengths

  • This game could really come down to which team imposes its will. For Missouri, it would love nothing more than to speed the game up, force turnovers and not let Baylor get set in its half court defense. Missouri’s strength is its guard play. Frank Haith employs a four-guard lineup and it has worked wonders this season. The Tigers have shot the ball very well this season and that’s going to have to continue on the road in Waco. Missouri has struggled against teams with bigger front lines so its guards must shoot well if penetration is cut off and Ricardo Ratliffe is limited inside by Baylor’s trees. Kim English, Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon can flat out shoot the basketball and Haith will need all three contributing in order to beat Baylor. It will be a bonus if Ratliffe can get anything going inside but Mizzou’s guards must continue to make shots in a tough environment.
  • Baylor is the stronger team inside and Scott Drew knows it. Getting Perry Jones III to assert himself in the paint along with Quincy Acy could be the key for the Bears in this game. Baylor will have the home crowd and energy behind itself and capitalizing on that is going to be very important against a team that loves to speed you up and force turnovers. In order for Jones and Acy to get the ball, Baylor’s guard play must be up to the task. Missouri will pressure Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton all game because the Tigers need to run up the turnovers and transition points in order to offset what should be a significant Baylor edge on the glass. If Baylor can slow the game down a bit, limit turnovers and get the ball inside, it should be on its way to a win. If Jones III and Acy are hot in the paint, that will open up Brady Heslip and Jackson from deep. Jackson does so much for this team with penetration, passing and shooting ability but Heslip is great spotting up or coming off a screen. Baylor has multiple weapons of varying height, something Missouri may have a very hard time dealing with.
  • As we said, Missouri must speed the game up and create turnovers against the turnover-prone Bears. Ratliffe is a very good post player but we’re not sure if he’s going to be able to score consistently as the only Mizzou big man against Baylor’s immense height in the paint. If Missouri can’t get anything inside it must knock down deep shots and get to the free throw line. The Tigers shoot 77.6% from the charity stripe and that could end up being their most efficient way of scoring against Baylor aside from the three ball. Baylor didn’t defend well against Kansas but Missouri was exposed in a tough environment at Kansas State. If Baylor is physical and sticks to the game plan of good half court offense, the Bears should win. Missouri should play better in its second time on the road against a very good team but you have to favor Baylor at home given the size mismatch.

Cincinnati @ West Virginia – 3:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPNU (****)

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SEC Morning Five: 1.20.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 20th, 2012

  1. Head coach Anthony Grant questioned the team mentality of his Alabama squad after a 56-52 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. “There’s a point in time when winning needs to take a priority over any individual things,” Grant said, “and I don’t think we understand that all the time.” If the Tide’s head man had questions over teamwork on Saturday, then he’s really going to ponder his club’s commitment following a 69-59 loss to Vanderbilt. Alabama trailed by as many as 23 in the second half, were outrebounded by 10, and shot just 33% as a team from the field. Rather than a lack of teamwork, maybe it’s a lack of shooting ability that has done the Crimson Tide in this season. Alabama is last in the SEC in made three-point field goals with under three per game.
  2. Forward Reginald Buckner was a huge factor in Mississippi’s first win over rival Mississippi State since January 31, 2009. Buckner pulled down 15 rebounds, blocked three shots, and scored a career-high 19 points. That’s a lot of production from the junior who averages 8.7 rebounds and just 6.8 points per game. “I thought he was tremendous,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “Obviously the difference in the game.” And not just any game — a much needed win for the up and down Rebels. “It was a statement game,” Buckner said. “We’re back in it. We’re back in the race.” Which race exactly is yet to be determined.
  3. Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost is an emotionally driven player who can trash talk with the best of them, but usually backs up his talk with positive play on the court. Bost made plenty of noise before the game, but came up short in the Bulldogs loss on Wednesday night. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy set out to frustrate Bost by defending him with the length of 6’10″ forward Terrance Henry. And it worked. Bost was four of 15 from the field for 15 points, but scored a flurry of eight points in the final 42 seconds of the game after the final outcome was already decided. “We thought the length would bother him, which it did a little bit,” Kennedy said. Bost has been the key to Mississippi State’s five-game winning streak against Ole Miss prior to this loss. In the 69-64 win in Oxford last season, Bost came up huge for the Bulldogs with 25 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
  4. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones credits a new attitude for his recent 13-point, nine-rebound performance against Arkansas. “I’m just not thinking as much,” Jones said. “Just being less conscious about my hand. Worrying about messing up because I wasn’t playing like I was as a freshman. Just thinking too much about every little play.” Jones refuses to use his finger injury as an excuse for his poor play, which is appropriate considering his struggles started well before the December 17th setback. The 6’8″ power forward has yet to record a double-double this season, despite reaching that mark thirteen times as a freshman.
  5. Billy Donovan is looking to his bench to fill the void left by the ankle injury of center Patric Young. “Pat is obviously a big part of our team,” Florida forward Erik Murphy said. “He’s going through a little bit of an injury, and we have got to pick up the slack, step up. All of us collectively as a group need to.” Young is expected to play on Saturday against LSU, but how much and how effective he is remains to be seen. If Young is unable to play significant minutes, Donovan could turn to freshman Cody Larson. “I’m gaining more and more confidence and trust in Cody,” Donovan said. “I’ve put him in now the last several games, and he’s given us some good minutes.” Young was limited to just 13 minutes in the Gators’ last game against South Carolina.
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In Their Own Words, SEC Style: Inaugural Chapter

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 19th, 2012

In Their Own Words will be a regular feature on the SEC Microsite that will explore tweets, quotes, videos or any other type of media outlet where players or coaches choose to communicate.

Ole Miss – Mississippi State

The Egg Bowl rivalry has created some good ole-fashioned trash-talking from some of the players involved. Mississippi State’s Dee Bost had this to say about the game:

@DBost3: We in Oxford tomorrow lol

LOL indeed, Dee. Oxford… Laughing out loud. But I guess in retrospect, playing in Tad Smith Coliseum is no laughing matter. It seems like Bost waged war with the Rebels with that comment, but then later he was ready to call a truce. Sort of:

Dee Bost added fuel to the fire in an already hostile rivalry against Ole Miss

@DBost3: I wish these ole miss ppl stop tweeting me damn get a life

Read the rest of this entry »

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Set Your TiVo: 01.13-01.15

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 13th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

A couple of Mountain West battles highlight Saturday’s action but the big one is late Sunday afternoon in the Big Ten.

#14 Connecticut @ Notre Dame – 11:00 AM EST Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Led by Andre Drummond’s 20/11 on 9-11 FG, Connecticut got back on track by defeating West Virginia on Monday night. To win on the road, the Huskies will need quality efforts from most of their roster. That starts with Shabazz Napier protecting the basketball. Jim Calhoun’s sophomore point guard sets the tone for this team, good or bad. Napier (and UConn as a whole) has struggled with turnovers, especially in Big East play. On the road against a team looking to make its mark in the middle of the conference, the Huskies have to do a better job handing the ball if they are to win this one. The more possessions UConn can earn by using its strong rebounding advantage while minimizing turnovers, the more opportunities there will be for talented players such as Drummond, Jeremy Lamb (25 points vs. WVU) and Ryan Boatright to score.

    Can Napier Step Up To Lead The Huskies?

  • Believe it or not, Notre Dame actually has an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament. 37 at-large bids have to come from somewhere and the Fighting Irish are on the bubble according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. This will be a tall order for Notre Dame, even at home. The Irish have won 29 consecutive home games but that will be tested mightily against the Huskies. The emergence of Jack Cooley in the paint could be the biggest reason why Notre Dame has a chance to upset UConn. Cooley has averaged 16.5 PPG and 9.7 RPG over his last eight games, the latest Notre Dame big man to develop nicely under Mike Brey. However, Cooley will likely have a more difficult time against Connecticut’s stifling interior defense. The Huskies have always owned the paint under Calhoun and this year is no different. Notre Dame has to make outside shots in order to win because it can’t count on Cooley alone inside. Jerian Grant has turned into a consistent scorer but the Irish need a third option. Brey had hoped Scott Martin would be that guy but he has really struggled. However, Martin is impacting the game in other ways, rebounding well even when the shots aren’t falling. Notre Dame must try to get to the foul line as well. UConn historically doesn’t foul often so this could be difficult even at home.
  • If Drummond plays like he did against West Virginia, the Huskies will be a strong favorite. UConn must rebound aggressively to counteract any turnover problems it may have. The Irish have struggled shooting the three ball this year and Connecticut ranks second in interior defense. If those statistics hold true, Notre Dame will have an incredibly difficult time scoring. The good news for the Irish? They have been the best team defending the triple in Big East play (20.9%). For UConn, it’s simple. Protect the ball, rebound, and defend the paint. If the Huskies do that, they will snap ND’s 29-game home winning streak. Easier said than done, of course.
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Freeze Frame: Attacking Arkansas’ Full Court Press

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 10th, 2012

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is known for his patented full court pressure, and that defensive intensity caused a headache for the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday. The Razorbacks scored 23 points off turnovers, pressuring the Bulldogs into 18 miscues for the game. Mississippi State looked flustered all night, making a parody of costly errors. Today’s version of Freeze Frame will look at where coach Rick Stansbury’s squad went wrong on Saturday. We’ll also discuss how HD channels should be a prerequisite for watching college basketball. Watching ESPN Full Court’s free preview this week is like watching an old Atari game on your 1980s television complete with drunk goggles. Not good.

Play 1 (14:05 remaining in the first half):

The first rule of attacking Arkansas’ press is you don’t talk about the press. The second rule of beating the press is you DO NOT talk about the press. Ok, the third rule is you don’t try to dribble through it. Freshman guard Deville Smith received the ball in the corner as two Arkansas guards closed in on him.

Don't dribble towards the baseline!

He committed another cardinal sin by dribbling towards the baseline (That’s the fourth rule, by the way). With nowhere to go, Smith’s best option is a skip pass to a streaking offensive player near the half-court line. Read the rest of this entry »

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