Attention Tall Hurricane Students: Miami is Holding Tryouts Today

Posted by KCarpenter on October 24th, 2013

So, the sanctions came down from on high, and lo things were… not that bad. Miami‘s basketball program is losing a single scholarship for the next three years as part of the NCAA’s sanctions at the end of a protracted investigation. Still, if you want to be a part of an embattled and now-penitent sports team and are a Miami student, the time has never been better.

Miami's Future Walk Ons Owe A Thanks to DeQuan Jones

Miami’s Future Walk -Ons Owe A Thanks to DeQuan Jones

The defending ACC champions are holding tryouts today and honestly, they could use some help. While Rion Brown remains, the cast that took the ACC by storm last season is gone. Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble, the three-headed center that anchored the conference’s best defense, have all left, leaving only scraps in the middle. If you are a tall student who can be persuaded to touch a basketball, today just might be your day. In fact, the time has never been better to be a walk-on at Miami. The scholarship penalty and the lack of talent at every position (other than the wings) means that Miami needs walk-ons more than ever as well as needing more walk-ons than ever. Will non-scholarship players see important minutes during the season? Let’s not get crazy. Still, you’ll never know unless you show up to tryouts — 5:00 PM at the UM Fieldhouse. Good luck.

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Morning Five: 08.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Like many other college basketball sites we have talked quite a bit about Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to commit to Southern Methodist and how it could affect their recruiting forward. One thing that most writers glossed over, but Mike DeCourcy goes in-depth about is Emmanuel’s brother, John Michael, and how he could have a huge impact on the program even if he does not fill up the box score. While we remain surprised that Emmanuel turned down Kentucky and many other top-tier programs to come to SMU, the fact that he would enroll at a school to play with his brother (and a Hall of Fame coach) should not be that shocking. Having said that we will wait until Emmanuel actually matriculates before we are ready to officially put him in SMU’s column.
  2. In the wake of the NCAA laying down the hammer on Johnny Manziel, several media members and a few anonymous coaches/administrators have taken shots at the NCAA, but few individuals have as much reason to criticize the NCAA as former Miami guard Dequan Jones. You may remember Jones as the Miami player who was forced to sit out 11 games of his senior year after the NCAA took Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro’s word that a Miami assistant had asked for $10,000 to get Jones to commit to Miami before the NCAA finally backed down when they could not find any evidence against him (other than the word of Shapiro). As you can imagine Jones was less than thrilled with how the NCAA handled their investigation of Manziel in comparison to how his was handled. We suspect that Jones is not alone among athletes who have previously been targeted by the NCAA and walked away with much larger penalties that what Manziel incurred.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the new Midnight Madness, but there is still some movement within the coaching ranks. Normally the hiring of an assistant coach at a mid (or low)-major would not merit a mention here, but the announcement that former Boston College coach Al Skinner had been added as an assistant on the Bryant staff intrigued us. Gary Williams might remain the most well-known (and successful coach) to grace the Chestnut Hill sidelines, but it is Skinner who remains the all-time winningest coach in school history. Obviously Skinner left under circumstances that can best be described as less than ideal, but if this current stint at Bryant works out for him he could soon be in the running for some fairly prominent coaching vacancies.
  4. It has been a precipitous fall for Anrio Adams. After enrolling at Kansas (arguably the most successful program in the country in recent years) Adams found himself stuck behind Ben McLemore before a series of unfortunate tweets led to Adams’ departure/dismissal from the team. From there Adams wound up at Ohio (a solid, but not elite program). Now after his decision to leave Ohio after just two months to pursue options at the junior college level we have to wonder where he is headed next. Although Adams was probably never headed for the NBA this is not the ideal trajectory for a player who was once a 4-star recruit. We do not know Adams’ motivation for leaving Ohio, but at this rate we do not expect to see Adams playing a meaningful role at the Division I level any time soon.
  5. After a hot streak picking up transfers it appears that at least one of USC‘s transfers–Ari Stewart–will not be playing for the Trojans this season as the former Wake Forest transfer reportedly failed to qualify academically. Stewart, who sat out the 2011-12 as a transfer redshirt, averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans and would have helped the Trojans on the inside this season. Unfortunately for Stewart he already used his redshirt year when he transferred meaning that his college career is over. Thankfully for Andy Enfield he will have VCU transfer D.J. Haley available this season to take some of the minutes that Stewart likely would have had.
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ACC Summer Recess: Miami Hurricanes

Posted by mpatton on July 25th, 2012

Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Miami.

Where They Stand Now

Jim Larranaga Has Plenty of Talent Back in Coral Gables for his Second Year

Miami comes off of another simultaneously successful and disappointing season after finishing 9-7 in ACC play (as modestly predicted last November) last year. The mediocre season led to a two-seed in the NIT, where the Hurricanes got trounced in the second round by Minnesota thanks to a horrendous defensive effort. Still, for Jim Larranaga‘s first season — especially one damaged by the Nevin Shapiro scandal and numerous injuries — a conference record above .500 shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Hurricanes never made the jump from a good team to a great one, but two high-profile wins at Duke and against Florida State showed the potential hidden in the roster.

Who’s Leaving

Malcolm Grant and Dequan Jones hit the road after finishing their final seasons of eligibility, but don’t overrate Grant’s departure. Last year Grant took major steps backward offensively, never finding his shot. For the first three years of his career, Grant was one of the country’s best shooters. He averaged significantly over 40% from deep those years, taking over 200 threes in 2010-11. Three-point shooting made up for his poor finishing skills and lackluster mid-range game, but Grant went cold from downtown in 2011-12 finishing the year at a tepid 33%.

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ACC Tournament: Scott-less Miami Falls to Florida State and Resume Comparisons

Posted by mpatton on March 10th, 2012

Truthfully, I don’t know why Miami suspended Durand Scott. The Hurricanes already took a big gamble allowing DeQuan Jones to play: why not take another with Scott? Assuming the Yahoo! Sports allegations are true (the NCAA investigation is ongoing), Miami is forfeiting nearly all of its wins from this year. Obviously, I’m not privy to insider details, but if you’re going to let one athlete under investigation play, why not let another–significantly more valuable–student-athlete play?

Durand Scott Was Missed In Miami's Loss to Florida State.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they may be in trouble. I still think they’re in if they split with NC State but they didn’t, and the bracketology consensus appears to have the Hurricanes in the “Last Four Out” group. What’s funny is I think Miami’s profile is as good or better than NC State’s right now. Frankly I think the profile is better than Virginia’s. Depending on how the Selection Committee views Reggie Johnson‘s injury, there are three feathers Miami can put into its cap:

  1. No bad nonconference losses. Seriously, Miami’s worst loss was an overtime loss at Ole Miss. The Black Bears aren’t banging down the door of the NCAA tournament, but they’re just outside of the RPI Top-50. The Hurricanes also lost a tough one to bubble team West Virginia on the road. In conference the loss to Maryland hurts, but that’s one bad loss to Virginia’s three.
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ACC Afternoon Five: ACC Tournament Saturday Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: The biggest news to break late on Friday was the suspension of Miami‘s leading scorer Durand Scott. Scott has been deemed ineligible by the NCAA due to impermissible benefits and the Hurricanes weren’t informed until around 5:30 PM yesterday.  Without Scott, Miami didn’t have the firepower to beat Florida State and succumbed to their in-state rivals. Scott is the third player to be suspended because of the on-going NCAA investigation at Miami. Reggie Johnson was suspended for a single game before being reinstated and DeQuan Jones missed the first ten games of the season before his reinstatement. While Miami has to hope that Scott will be swiftly reinstated, the timing could literally not be worse: the Hurricanes are right on the edge of the field and Selection Sunday is tomorrow.
  2. Basketball Prospectus: While yesterday’s wisdom held that Miami and North Carolina State each had to win one more game to make it to the Tournament, at least one system already had the Wolfpack and Hurricanes in. While, NC State almost assuredly played themselves into the tournament by toppling Virginia, Miami’s situation is much more interesting. It seems like most folks have Miami pretty squarely out, but the Easy Bubble Solver’s projections offer some cause for optimism in Coral Gables.
  3. ESPN: The big news in Chapel Hill was the awkward fall of North Carolina‘s John Henson. Though x-rays indicated that he didn’t break his left wrist which he was using to brace himself, clear discomfort prevented him from being a factor in the game against Maryland. While there’s no word yet on whether Henson will play today, history is skeptical. Roy Williams hasn’t been shy about his indifference to the ACC Tournament. In 2009, the stacked Tar Heels and eventual national champions lost the conference tournament while Williams held out Ty Lawson who was coming off a toe injury. If Henson really wants to play, the coaching staff will probably allow it, but this game seems to mean little to the folks in Chapel Hill.
  4. News and Observer:  In the inevitable benchmark category, Kendall Marshall‘s 12 assists against Maryland gave the North Carolina guard the single-season ACC record for assists. Now with 311 assist this season, Marshall surpassed Georgia Tech’s Craig “Noodles” Neal. Of course, Marshall still trails Iona‘s Scott Machado for the most assists on the 2012 season. Machado has 117.
  5. Durham Herald-Sun: With Ryan Kelly sitting out this weekend’s tournament with an injury, Duke had to dig a little deeper for some front court help in yesterday’s game. Josh Hairston got the call and responded by playing 17 solid minutes for the Blue Devil’s. His individual statistics aren’t going to blow anyone away, but he seems happy to help his team get the win. Hairston and Duke’s forwards will be tested against the platoons of athletic big men that Florida State sends out . It’s a stern test for Hairston, but one that will only help his team moving forward.
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On The Bubble: Reggie Johnson’s Suspension And Miami’s Gamble

Posted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012

Reggie Johnson was suspended by the NCAA indefinitely for his family allegedly receiving improper travel benefits from a member of Frank Haith’s staff. It should sound like a broken record at this point: family receives impermissible benefits; school and player argue the player didn’t know about them. It’s the same defense that kept Cam Newton from missing any games at Auburn en route to the national championship; it’s the same defense that restored Ryan Boatright’s eligibility earlier this season; it’s the same defense that will make a mockery of NCAA rules if not addressed soon.

Reggie Johnson Is Suspended Indefinitely. But How Long Is That?

First, a disclaimer: I think that the NCAA rulebook is not fair to student-athletes. In this case, we’re probably talking about a coach paying for a plane ticket. Why shouldn’t coaches be allowed to subsidize transportation for families? Don’t give me the “it’s not fair” argument. Nothing is fair in college athletics. Is it fair that some schools sit next to huge reserves of local talent or that some schools can afford top-tier practice facilities, top-tier coaches, and prime time TV exposure? No. But that’s the way it is.

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Morning Five: 12.21.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 21st, 2011

  1. As we mentioned yesterday the big news in the college basketball world (or at least the media world) was the first-person column by Todd O’Brien describing how St. Joseph’s and Phil Martelli have denied his attempt to use a graduate school exemption to transfer to UAB. Yesterday, the media got a chance to chime in with columns of their own. Outside of the expected “Martelli is a symbol of all things wrong with college sports” there were a few interesting posts. One of them comes from Gregg Doyel who urged the public to wait for St. Joseph’s side of the story to come out while Andy Staples took a bigger picture view at the landscape of the NCAA to point out its uneven approach in dealing with movement of coaches and players. We are sure that there will be several other interesting columns about this topic particularly if (when?) St. Joseph’s decides to tell its side of the story.
  2. Drew Cannon of Basketball Prospectus provides us with something he calls “Grand Unified Point Guard Theory” (in reference to particle physics theories that are way too complex to discuss here) using Kendall Marshall, Aaron Craft, Jordan Taylor, and Seth Curry as examples. Basically what Cannon argues is that a point guard’s impact is more about fit than the particular skills they have (at least in these four examples). While we do agree at some level that a point guard’s value can be greatly increased or decreased by the pieces around him, we tend to think that Cannon’s GUPGT is way too simplistic and undervalues a lot of what some of these players bring to a team. Perhaps it is because point guards may be doing things that even the most advanced basketball sabermetricians have not figured out a way to quantify. Of course, we could be wrong here (and John Gasaway, who works with Drew, agrees with GUPGT) and will admit that like everybody we may fall into a trap of overvaluing some qualities in players. One thing we can agree on is that the phrase “true point guard” is vastly overrated and would prefer to use something along the lines of “facilitator” that allows for inclusion of a player like Henry Sims, who manages to do many traditional point guard things despite not fitting the mold.
  3. It didn’t take long for the decision by DeQuan Jones to hire a lawyer to pay off as he was reinstated by Miami yesterday. We already discussed in detail the impact that the reinstatement of Jones would have on the Hurricanes. We don’t have more much to add here that wasn’t stated in yesterday’s post other than to reiterate our stance that Miami’s original decision to suspend Jones was ridiculous particularly since all of the coaches and administrators were allowed to continue to have jobs as well as Charles Robinson’s point that this decision does not indicate any change in the NCAA’s investigation and probably reflects more on Miami’s preference not to get sued.
  4. It has been a rough season so far for St. John’s, but help may be on the way in the form of Amir Garrett. After losing several recruits who failed to meet NCAA Clearinghouse standards and another freshman who transferred earlier this month, Garrett’s arrival could be a huge boost to a team that is just 5-5 as we approach Christmas. Garrett was one of the three incoming recruits who failed to meet the NCAA Clearinghouse requirements, but he is the only one who appears to be staying with St. John’s as the other two are exploring other options. There is a possibility that Garrett could play as early as tonight against Texas Pan-American. While the Broncs are by far the easiest remaining opponent on St. John’s schedule (the Broncs are #329 out of 345 in Division I according to Ken Pomeroy) we will be interested to see what impact if any Garrett has on the team.
  5. We missed this news from late Monday night due to the late hour and the fact that we don’t have our RSS feed set to find the latest news on Big Sky teams that started the season 2-8, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the mid-season resignation of Idaho State coach Joe O’Brien. O’Brien, who did not offer a public reason for stepping down, is the third coach to resign in recent weeks with the others also not providing a direct answer for their decision to leave. O’Brien’s record was a horrific 56-105 at Idaho State, but he was much more successful at the junior college level where he is one of only three coaches to win three national championships. Unfortunately, his time at Idaho State may be remembered most for his brutal scheduling according to school’s official biography of him (hello guarantee game!). Assistant coach Deane Martin will act as the interim coach with his first game tomorrow night against Wyoming.
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Miami’s DeQuan Jones Reinstated

Posted by mpatton on December 20th, 2011

Miami just got one of its missing pieces back according to the school’s release, which stated that senior DeQuan Jones can compete effective immediately. Jones was suspended for allegedly accepting impermissible benefits from renegade booster Nevin Shapiro. The Hurricanes got the go-ahead from the NCAA to reinstate Jones although they did not comment any further.

Here is the Miami’s official statement:

The University of Miami, after consultation with the NCAA, has announced that senior basketball player DeQuan Jones can return to competition immediately. In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing joint inquiry, the University will not comment further at this time.

DeQuan Jones Has Been Reinstated To Play For Miami.

What does the addition of Jones mean for the Hurricanes? Most importantly, they get a lot taller. Jones will immediately become the third-tallest player in Jim Larranga‘s rotation behind center Kenny Kadji and back-up center Raphael Akpejiori. But don’t expect Jones to be a savior on either end of the floor. He came to Coral Gables a consensus top-25 recruit based largely on his athleticism (see the video below from his freshman year for evidence), but Jones has struggled to live up to his hype, never having the breakout season many expected of him. However, don’t underestimate the importance of a tall, athletic player on a team that really struggles rebounding the ball. If Jones can be a little more consistent shooting the ball, he could be a very valuable fourth option for this team (once Reggie Johnson returns).

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Morning Five: 12.19.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 19th, 2011

  1. It was a scary Saturday for two of the nation’s top players as both Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones appeared to suffer significant injury. Fortunately, both appear to be ok. Sullinger, who had been dealing with back spasms, injured his left foot during the game at South Carolina. Initially there was some concern that it was a fracture, but the x-rays came back negative and he was diagnosed with a bone bruise. Ohio State hung on to win the game 74-66, but Sullinger’s return remains up in the air. If we were the Buckeye coaching staff, we would probably hold Sullinger out for at least the next two games because of their relatively weak upcoming opposition. The Jones injury, while not as big of a national story, was just as scary at the time as he was writhing on the floor late in the game after a knee-on-knee collision. After shaking it off, Jones returned and added a put back to give him a game-high 28 points and give Baylor a hard-fought three-point victory at BYU. We haven’t heard an official report on whatever temporary injury Jones sustained, but given his sudden return we doubt it was substantial and we do not expect him to miss any playing time.
  2. The most highly touted recruit of the Jamie Dixon era is on his way out after one semester at PittsburghKhem Birch arrived on campus as a McDonald’s All-American, but he left on Friday after averaging just 4.4 points and 5 rebounds per game in 10 games this season. We have not heard any solid reports about where Birch may be headed, but we do not doubt that there will be no shortage of Division I teams looking for 6’9″ McDonald’s All-American with three more years of eligibility left. We also are unaware of what kind of “personal reasons” Birch had for leaving the program, but based on the quotes from his high school coach it seems like Birch had some people in his ear telling him that there were better situations for him to be in than Pittsburgh.
  3. Don’t expect to see a job opening in Gainesville any time soon as Florida signed Billy Donovan to an extension that runs through the 2015-16 season. We didn’t expect to see Donovan going anywhere anytime soon, but this deal, which will pay him $3.5 million annually (or enough to pay for a $2,000 stipend for 1,750 student-athletes) should be enough to keep him in Gainesville. The contract is essentially the same as what he signed in 2007 after winning back-to-back championships and briefly leaving to take over as coach of the Orlando Magic (read: the absolute maximum value that Donovan will ever have). We don’t doubt that there will be some big-name program (like UCLA?) that might come calling in the near-future, but we cannot imagine that there will be many that offer significantly more than what Donovan is getting at Florida ($220,000 in base salary, approximately $2.7 million for media and basketball camp appearances, and the rest coming from bonuses). So if your team is in the market for a new head coach you might want to look elsewhere for your next coach.
  4. DeQuan Jones, who was suspended at the start of the season while Miami investigates a report that Nevin Shapiro paid Jones $10,000 to play there, has hired an attorney and is asking the school to reinstate him. Jones, who had a disappointing first three years at Miami, has continued to deny Shapiro’s claims. While we cannot comment on the case of Jones individually since we do not have the necessary information, it is amusing that the only one who has been punished so far is a student-athlete while none of the administrators or coaches have been punished including Jake Morton, the assistant coach (now at Western Kentucky) who allegedly asked Shapiro to pay Jones.
  5. The damage from the David Salinas Ponzi scheme continues to grow as a booster group affiliated with Houston that helps fund athletic scholarships reportedly lost more than 40% (approximately $2.2 million) of their assets to the Ponzi scheme. The group appears to among the hardest hit in the $39 million fraud that affected more than 100 investors. The group says it will be able to survive the blow and has asked its board members to help contribute so it could continue to give the $250,000 it provides to the school annually. The university says that it will not have a “huge impact” on the school, but for a school that reportedly has struggled financially it could sting a little bit.
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Checking In On.. The ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2011

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer for RTC.

 

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coach K Gets 903: Mike Krzyzewski made basketball history by passing his mentor Bob Knight on the all-time wins list. The record is a testament to Krzyzewski’s consistent excellence over the last three decades. It was an incredible accomplishment and dictated the better part of a week’s coverage.
  • Eligibility and Injuries Plague ACC: The ACC has five players out with eligibility issues, seven are out with significant injuries, and one is out after violating team rules. Alex Len (Maryland) may have his eligibility after he sits out ten games (he’ll be back in late December), but DeQuan Jones (Miami) is out indefinitely because of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into allegations of the Nevin Shapiro scandal; Shane Larkin (Miami) is awaiting word on his eligibility after transferring from DePaul; Thomas de Thaey (NC State) is waiting for his amateur status to be reviewed; and Ian Miller (Florida State) will miss at least first semester due to eligibility issues. On the injury front, JT Thompson and Marquis Rankin (Virginia Tech) are out for the season while Pe’Shon Howard (Maryland), Antwan Space (Florida State), Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson (Miami), and Leslie McDonald (North Carolina) are out indefinitely with various injuries. Wake Forest’s Ty Walker is suspended for violating the team’s honor code but is expected back against Seton Hall. Yikes.
  • Virginia Hype Came Too Soon?: Kellen Carpenter hit the nail on the head in his preview of the Cavaliers. He pointed out lack of offensive balance and inability to make twos as the two biggest questions facing Tony Bennett’s squad. The team has had success from inside the arc in its wins, bu looking at the boxscore from their loss to TCU reveals the Cavaliers shot less than 40% on two-point attempts. Mike Scott was still solid, but the rest of the team struggled a lot. The other problem is Virginia’s crawling tempo makes it very difficult to come back from deficits.
  • Mark Gottfied Can Recruit (and possibly coach, too): Mark Gottfried came into Raleigh with high expectations from the Wolfpack fanbase. So far, he has lived up to all of them. Gottfried has a top-five recruiting class sealed up thanks to signing TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis in the early period; he has another potential star possibly joining the ranks in Amile Jefferson. He also managed to get NC State its best non-conference win in quite a while with a huge comeback against Texas. One of the biggest problems with last year’s team was it could not come from behind. I generally chalked it up to effort or general pessimism that comes with frequent losses. Gottfried seems to have turned things around at least a little. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.11.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 11th, 2011

  1. The biggest news in the Big 12 yesterday happened in the ACC. Miami’s DeQuan Jones will sit out the 2011-12 campaign while the NCAA investigates claims that he received $10,000 in cash from the Hurricanes’ coaching staff. Missouri coach Frank Haith, of course, was the head coach of that team, and his assistant, Jake Morton (now at WKU), was accused in a Yahoo! Sports investigation of delivering the actual cash. Jones sitting out doesn’t prove anything, but it means the NCAA’s investigation is serious enough to sideline him for an entire season of basketball. News like this can only continue to build pressure on Haith, who already faces an uphill battle against the fans in Columbia.
  2. We’ve said it a million times before: Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson are the two most important players on Kansas. Taylor missed the first two exhibition games due to a suspension and Robinson was dealing with an injury, but they’re both ready to go now, according to a recent report. Normally, Kansas is so loaded with talent and experience that a player here and there doesn’t make an enormous difference. In this case, though, Bill Self has a team still trying to find its way with considerable unproven talent. Robinson and Taylor cannot miss much game action if this team expects to compete for an eighth straight Big 12 title.
  3. Though most pundits don’t expect much out of Oklahoma this season, the Sooners could surprise the Big 12 if wing Cameron Clark lives up to his status as a sleeper. According to a recent article, Clark has matured into a leadership role and appears to better understand the demands of Division I basketball. He has all the physical skills, and now he’ll just need to grow into a star. It should only be a matter of time.
  4. If you’ve ever watched Kansas State play in person, the first player you’ll notice during pre-game warm-ups is Jordan Henriquez. He’s a seven-footer, but he looks even taller than that. Henriquez could be a dominant force inside this season if the reports are true about his improved tenacity and aggressiveness. Often, it’s hard for players with physical gifts to truly appreciate them until they’re challenged with adversity. It’s scary to think of how good Henriquez could be if he really learns how to play at this level.
  5. Travis Ford is lucky that his Oklahoma State squad has a number of candidates for starting jobs this year. And although it’s every player’s nightmare to hear this, Ford says there are no starting spots locked up quite yet. The Cowboys are especially deep in the backcourt, where any number of players could emerge as options. Up front, OSU will need immediate contributions from newcomers after losing leading Marshall Moses to graduation.
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Morning Five: Veteran’s Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2011

SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of FanDuel.com to tip off the season. The league, which is completely free to enter, starts on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and features $200 in prizes. Even better, if you beat our trained monkey that we’ve assigned to make our picks (username: RTCmonkey), you’ll win even more. Test your college hoops knowledge to win! Click here to enter.

  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance who has given their time and energy during their lives to help this nation stay safe, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back — trust us, they’ll appreciate it. This year’s Veteran’s Day has a particularly deep meaning for our purposes, as it also doubles as the official ‘unofficial’ opening night of the college basketball season. Several teams have already gotten under way in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but most everyone else begins this weekend. One hundred thirty-one games dot the schedule this evening, including 19 of the RTC Top 25 teams in America. The headliner game on this holiday is that curious little aircraft carrier game down in San Diego involving the consensus #1 team, North Carolina, and a perplexing but always-dangerous Michigan State squad. But there are several other noteworthy games tonight, including a talented Belmont squad visiting Duke at 9 PM on ESPNU and a rising Oregon team visiting a Vanderbilt program harboring massive expectations in Nashville. For a complete list of view-worthy games, be sure to click on our Nightly Nonsense tab above here, and check back this afternoon for our weekend version of Set Your TiVo, which will outline all the interesting games for the next three days.  As of tonight, we can say it without qualifying language — college hoops is back, baby…
  2. And what about that game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson? The temperature will be in the mid-60s and winds are expected to be in the 10-15 MPH range this evening in San Diego, but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting about the players is that every one of them has played outdoor pickup ball at one time or another. Sure, it’s not the same as playing in the controlled environment of a gym, but who hasn’t experienced the unique situation of having to slightly adjust your jumper to account for the breeze? Many of these players probably developed their games on the playgrounds across America. The players will probably be more jittery because President Obama will be there rather than dealing with the sun and wind.
  3. The NBA could be on the verge of a return with a 72-game season, or none at all, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the 2011-12 college basketball season as written for NBA fans, Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus is your man. It’s an intriguing look at the collegiate game in that the perspective changes when one’s only use for NCAA hoops is as a finishing school before the big time. While we’re on the subject of the pros, the current deal offered by the owners to the players has not yet addressed the ‘ancillary’ issue of a minimum draft age. We wonder that if the players cave here on the revenue split whether that will embolden them to ask for and receive concessions with respect to the draft age (among other things). From the perspective that a two-year minimum is better for the game of college basketball, it might actually be better in the long run if the players refuse the owners’ latest offer.
  4. Miami’s DeQuan Jones has been suspended by the university for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his alleged involvement with improprieties relating to his recruitment by Frank Haith, as uncovered by Yahoo! Sports during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Shapiro stated in interviews that Haith arranged for $10,000 to be paid to Jones’ family to secure his commitment in 2008. Given that the Hurricanes could potentially lose a number of wins if Jim Larranaga now played Jones and it was later determined that he was an ineligible player, this is a smart move. Still, it doesn’t help with the Hurricanes’ current glaring lack of depth, as UM will now have only seven scholarship players available heading into tonight’s opening game against Tennessee Tech.
  5. Finally, it’s time for the SI Crystal Ball, where Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner make their preseason picks on the 2011-12 Final Four, NPOY, surprise team, flops, and so on. Would you believe that the only category of consensus among the trio came when picking their Best Mid-Major team? We’ll give you three guesses to see if you can get it right… As always, it’s a good read, but even the best in the business (as these guys are) are lucky to bat just above the Mendoza line with their predictions — in last year’s Crystal Ball, for example, the three picked a grand total of zero Final Four teams (including darkhorses). College basketball prognostication is more art than science, we’ll readily admit, but we’re totally on board with Davis and Glockner’s darkhorse team this season (hint: it starts with an “X”).
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