Big 12 M5: 12.07.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 7th, 2012

  1. West Virginia students chanted “Not our rivals” near the end of the Mountaineers’ 69-59 win over Marshall Wednesday night. Bob Huggins agreed after the game, and forward Deniz Kilicli took it a step further. “This happens all the time,” He said. “(Marshall’s) talking all the time. I like it. I just laugh at them.” He added, “We are West Virginia, and we are the state’s team. We prove it over and over again. We are the ones playing big time schools; we have high recruits. We can’t get into all that pushing and shoving and talking trash.” I’m not sure what’s more amusing, that Kilicli didn’t consider that trash talk, that he felt the need to remind people West Virginia basketball is superior to Marshall, or he had the gall to make those statements after the season his team has had so far. In case he has forgotten, the Mountaineers were embarrassed by Gonzaga last month. They then lost back-to-back games against Davidson and Oklahoma. They beat Marshall by 10 points, a team that has lost to Hofstra and South Dakota State already this season. Kilicli is right, West Virginia does play big-time schools. But they sure aren’t playing like one.
  2. Sometimes when a player his hot, there isn’t much a defense can do about it. On Tuesday against Oklahoma, Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell had 33 points, going 4-6 from three-point range in the Razorbacks’ 81-78 win. Sooners head coach Lon Kruger wasn’t happy at all with his team’s defensive performance after Arkansas shot 52.6% from the floor. Without watching the game, it’s hard to say how many of Arkansas’ nine three-pointers were contested or just the product of a hot night, but the Sooners also gave up 34 points in the paint. That’s not a good combination, regardless of whether it’s the product of a little luck or not.
  3. Could Texas be playing in one of four simultaneous games in Cowboys Stadium next year? Michigan State Athletic Director Mark Hollis, the same guy who came up with the idea to play on aircraft carriers, has come up with another idea to have four games at once on the gigantic floor of Cowboys Stadium next season like an AAU Tournament of sorts. The idea is far from finalized and only Michigan State is confirmed to be playing if it goes through, but the Longhorns aren’t far from Dallas and have played multiple times in Cowboys Stadium. Whether you think this is a terrible idea or not (I’m somewhere in the middle right now), it’s guaranteed to have great ratings, meaning it’s probably going to happen.
  4. Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber was pleased with the production he got out of senior guard Martavious Irving in the Wildcats’ 72-53 win over South Carolina Upstate on Sunday. “We settled down with a great run as we finished the half, led by (Irving),” Weber told the Topeka Capital-Journal. Injuries nagged much of the rotation Sunday and the bench, led by Irving, picked up the slack. Irving played 20 minutes, which is more than he’s accustomed to. He had four assists and zero turnovers in the win, and the Wildcats are 6-1 as they head to Washington, DC to play George Washington on Saturday afternoon.
  5. Whether it’s been Thomas Robinson, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, or Michael Beasley, there is usually a Big 12 player in the discussion for National Player of the Year.  That doesn’t look to be the case this season, although ESPN’s Jason King at least listed Kansas center Jeff Withey as “on the cusp” of Player of the Year candidates, along with nine others. And while it looks to be Mason Plumlee or Cody Zeller’s award to lose right now, Withey’s defense has been better than any other player in the country. He’s leading the country in blocks and blocks per foul and is keeping the Jayhawks near the top 10 while they figure out their guard situation.
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Big East Morning Five: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 2nd, 2012

  1. Some will disagree, but count me among those who think college basketball needs to start using a 24-second shot clock. Coaches have started to milk the clock so well that scoring is way down and the basketball is less interesting. The biggest perpetrator of this in the Big East is Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and his “burn” offense. Give Brey credit for utilizing a style better-suited for his undermanned team, but the “burn” offense is about as interesting to watch as silent movies. The players in college are good enough to find a good shot in 24 seconds and some of them will need to learn it for the next level, so let’s just all agree to make the change and improve the quality of the game.
  2. Sometimes when you fall behind in school, you just have to buckle down and catch up. Just ask Syracuse center Fab Melo who apparently got his academics in order and will play Saturday when the Orange face St. John’s. Syracuse might not need Melo against the struggling Johnnies, but they will enjoy having him back in the middle of their defense for the rest of the season. He is one of the country’s best shot blockers and is an important defender and rebounder for a team with legitimate national title hopes.
  3. Most expected multi-talented Marquette point guard Vander Blue to pass Junior Cadougan on the depth chart this season and take the reins of the offense, but he has taken some time to get going. Now he says he has “found a groove,” though, which is good news for the Golden Eagles. Blue went for 16 points and eight rebounds in the team’s win over Seton Hall, and he has begun to assert himself on both ends of the floor. With all due respect to Cadougan, Blue is more talented and more athletic and he is the team’s answer at point guard as long as he stays in his groove.
  4. It’s time to sound the alarm in Storrs, Connecticut, if the bells aren’t already ringing. Give Georgetown’s defense some credit, but Connecticut shot 30% from the field for the game and went just 2-20 from downtown. Star guard Jeremy Lamb was the main culprit, taking 18 shots and making just four, including a 2-11 performance from behind the arc. Center Alex Oriakhi probably hit rock bottom last night and played just seven minutes without scoring a point and point guard Shabazz Napier committed his all-too-common ritual sacrifice of the act of shooting, going 0-9 for the game. Let’s be blunt, the Huskies are not an NCAA Tournament team right now, and they might not have enough juice to turn things around in time to get there.
  5. Hey Truck Bryant and Deniz Kilici! Are you guys listening? Yes, we know Kevin Jones is really, really good at this game called basketball, but even he can’t win games by himself. The senior forward is in the midst of an historic season and could be the first since Troy Murphy to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding, but his team has been inconsistent. Naturally, his coach “feels bad” for him and agrees that the rest of his team needs to get it together. The good news for the rest of the team is that they have Jones on their team, so they only need to improve moderately and then let their big man handle the rest.
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Big East Morning Five: 12.22.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 22nd, 2011

  1. In honor of the holiday, our good friends at Ballin’ is a Habit put together a Christmas Wish List for Louisville and as is the norm with those guys, there is lots of good analysis to go around. I have no idea who Claire Bennett is because I don’t watch Heroes and personally I would have chosen Wolverine if I was looking for an example of the powers of regeneration, but the point is salient. The Cardinals need to get healthy and stay healthy. But perhaps the most intriguing bit of analysis was about the subtle decline in some of their key players’ three-point shooting percentage. I knew the Cardinals weren’t play as uptempo as last year, but I admit I didn’t realize so many players were struggling from beyond the arc. This is something that can probably be rectified as the season continues, and with the way Louisville plays defense, they will have a chance against whomever they play. But if they want to be considered legitimate title contenders, they will need to find some true scorers and having guys shoot the three-ball better will certainly help.
  2. Those same friends also tipped us to the short story of how Connecticut‘s star freshman Andre Drummond basically refused to take a scholarship away from redshirt freshman Michael Bradley when he enrolled early with the Huskies. The story is that, for now, Drummond counts as a walk-on as long as the financial aid he receives is non-institutional, and Bradley is back on scholarship. The school deferred to the wishes of Drummond and his family, who made the classy and selfless move to essentially pay his own way, although, as Ballin’ is a Habit pointed out, his future earnings will mean he probably won’t worry about student loans the same way most regular college students do. In a year where criticism of coddled freshmen and their handlers has run rampant, it is nice to hear that perhaps the most ballyhooed freshman in the entire class is staying grounded and refusing preferential treatment that a teammate so selflessly offered him. So Bradley gets to continue using an athletic scholarship he earned, and a future star who has had everything handed to him is showing maturity beyond his years. Great story all around.
  3. This note should cheer up some Villanova fans who are wondering whether their favorite program is on the verge of falling back to mediocrity. The Philadelphia Daily News wrote that despite their struggles this season, the Wildcats can basically pick and choose top local talent much to the dismay of other Big 5 programs like Temple and Saint Joseph’s. The reasons are pretty obvious: recent success, larger fan-base, and national media exposure. None of the other teams in the immediate area can boast of those traits and that’s why the article says the recruiting gap has widened in recent years. There have been rumbles from the fans about whether Jay Wright should be on the hot seat given the team’s last two seasons and to that I say pump the brakes folks. This guy has 12 NCAA Tournament wins since 2005 and his recruiting prowess in both Philadelphia and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic corridor is one of the primary reasons why. That said, the current team is underwhelming to say the least. Check back tomorrow for more in-depth analysis on why.
  4. A good quick hitter from the folks at CBS Sports on the development of Louisville sophomore Russ Smith, who helped spark the Cardinals comeback against College of Charleston last night. The most relevant point is hidden near the bottom and it is that star guard Peyton Siva still has not recovered fully from a bone bruise in his ankle and his play this season seems to indicate the bruise is affecting him more than anyone is letting on. Siva was 0-5 from the field last night and is averaging less than 10 points per game on the season, which would be a problem for any other team in the country that has a star suffering through a scoring drought. For Louisville it just means that Rick Pitino gets to look down the bench, find his next unheralded guard, plug him in, and expect consistent and solid play from him. Just like that. Smith was a three-star coming out of high school and now he is a sophomore with a big role on both ends of the floor for one of the ten best teams in the country.
  5. Did anyone else notice the building feud between West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and his second-leading rebounder Deniz Kilici? Okay so it isn’t exactly a building feud, it is more of a one-game disagreement between the junior and his coach, but I still love the brutally honest evaluations of his players that we have come to expect from Huggy Bear. It is also telling to see that no matter how badly Huggins lays into Kilici, the big man still loves his coach and wants his approval more than anything. Huggins is extracting the most out of Kilici, who has doubled his scoring average and has become a more consistent and physical interior presence. This only proves that with Huggins tough love is effective.
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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: January

Posted by zhayes9 on October 22nd, 2009


Last Monday we broke down the top games of November and December as part of our season preview here at Rush the Court. As we examine the best games of the month of January, keep in mind what games during this crucial portion of the season usually represent: separating the contenders from the pretenders. With conference play heating up, the true top-seed players emerge from the pack and leap up their conference standings, while teams that may have overachieved or floated along on a cupcake-filled slate during the first two months begin to fall apart. Here are the games of great importance to circle on your calendar for January:

Ed. Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

January 1- West Virginia at Purdue (#7 overall)– The top game in the entire month of January will be played on the first day of 2010. You won’t find a more bruising, rugged and intense contest played all year with Bob Huggins and Matt Painter’s teams battling it out in East Lafayette. West Virginia is led by the shooting ability of Da’Sean Butler, the super-athletic Devin Ebanks, the two headed point-guard combo of Joe Mazzulla and Darryl Bryant and impact JC transfer Casey Mitchell. Purdue will be entering their third full season with the core of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and Keaton Grant intact.

January 2- Louisville at Kentucky (#23 overall)– This game has been circled for fans of Big Blue since the details emerged of Rick Pitino’s affair and subsequent extortion mess. They’ll be on Pitino relentlessly for these transgressions because they know their ultra-talented Wildcats can back up the berating on the court. Kentucky fans will also be eager for revenge after Edgar Sosa’s stunning game-winning three a season ago crushed Kentucky in Freedom Hall. Sosa will have to handle sensational freshman John Wall this time around.


January 9- Kansas at Tennessee (#12 overall)– If Tennessee gets into an offensive rhythm, they can hang with the Jayhawks. Look for Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism to utilize their versatility to move Cole Aldrich, Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson and other Kansas bigs away from the basket while allowing their wings — Scotty Hopson, J.P. Prince –– to penetrate inside and draw fouls while Kansas has to recover. This could be an electric, high-scoring affair that may be decided at the foul line.

January 9- West Virginia at Notre Dame (#24 overall)– How about four top-25 games to kick off the month of January? This Big East clash is one of West Virginia’s toughest road tests in their quest of a conference title. Notre Dame recently had a long home court winning streak and the West Virginia forwards Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith and Deniz Kilici have to deal with the likely BE POY Luke Harangody. Whether the Irish can receive production from their guards is the key.

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