Debriefing the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Predraft Camp ended Friday in Chicago, and as we mentioned last week, there were twelve underclassmen who were still on the fence about whether to stay in the draft or return to school.  Given that this is a college basketball site, those are the players we’re interested in.  So let’s take a look at what we’re hearing about each of the dozen and how that may have impacted their decisions.  Thanks to ESPN’s Chad Ford, DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony, and NBADraft.net for their reports, which we borrowed liberally from.

fence-sitters

Derrick Brown, Xavier – Brown is not returning to school.  He officially announced his intentions on the first day of the camp, but he says that he’s known for several weeks.  He’s already graduated from school and with the move of his head coach Sean Miller to Arizona, he wasn’t interested in starting over with a new coach.  In drills, his mechanics apparently looked poor, but he has freakish athleticism and will hover in that guaranteed-money cutoff between the first and second rounds.

Austin Daye, Gonzaga – Daye measured out very well at 6’11 in shoes with a 7’3 wingspan, but at 192 pounds he might get blown away by a stiff breeze.  He also excelled in the workouts, showing a strong fundamental basis and a sure stroke from everywhere on the court.   There are still concerns about his relative strength, but according to Chad Ford, a couple of lottery teams were willing to give him another look after his workouts.  Probably leaning draft after this camp.

Taj Gibson, USC – Also measured well, standing 6’10 in shoes with an absurd 7’4 wingspan.  Given that Gibson will be 24 on draft day and he’s on the fence of the first round, he’s probably not returning to school.

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame – ‘Gody did not measure well, standing only 6’8 in shoes, a full inch-and-a-half shorter than his counterpart Tyler Hansbrough.  According to this report, though, he may have the best jumpshot in the entire draft class.  Still, he’s painfully unathletic and it would be a surprise to see Harangody stay in the draft.

Jrue Holiday, UCLA – Another winner in the measurement department, as Holiday showed he’s a big point guard (6’4 in shoes) with a long wingspan.  He was also extremely impressive in workouts, with one scout saying, “that’s the kid we fell in love with in high school.”  Given the exceptional workouts he was having in Chicago, Holiday was getting more buzz than any other guard there and is unlikely to return to Westwood.

Damion James, Texas – James must not have impressed much because most reports failed to mention him.  Given that he’s a projected second-round pick at this point and he told Andy Katz that he’s looking for a guarantee, he would probably do himself well to return to school another year.

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech – Lawal showed explosiveness and good size for a PF prospect, but according to Andy Katz, he may not be willing to take the chance unless he can secure a first round guarantee.  Not sure he’s going to get that, which would mean probably a better than even chance that Lawal would join Derrick Favors and Iman Shumpert back in the ATL next season.

Jodie Meeks, Kentucky – Meeks is another player looking for a first round guarantee, and he’s unlikely to get it.  He looked like he’s in tremendous shape and he shot the ball well in the camp, but there are still visible holes in his game (most notably, defense).  This Wildcat is probably heading back to Lexington to play off-the-ball with John Wall in 2009-10.

Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s – Mills impressed scouts with his speed and shooting mechanics, but his size makes him a borderline first rounder.  He said that if he is going to be a second round pick, he’ll return to St. Mary’s for his junior season.  It says here that we don’t think that’ll be a problem.

Tyler Smith, Tennessee – Measured in at only 6’6 in shoes, so what position is he at the next level?  Shot the ball well in drills, but remains on the fence depending on whether he’ll be a first or second round pick.  Sound familiar?

Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – Gone.  Says he’s leaving Wake Forest so long as he’s a first rounder, and he assuredly is one.  Athletic point who had a longer wingspan and reach than expected, which helps to explain how a 6’1 guy can throw down such ridiculous dunks in transition.

Greivis Vasquez, Maryland – Vasquez measured well for a combo guard, and his quotes made it sound like this was just for show.  He has little to no shot at the first round this year, and it appeared that he acknowledged as much.  He should be back in College Park next season.

So of the twelve players still sitting on the fence, we’ve got the following staying in the draft: Brown, Daye, Gibson, Holiday, Mills and Teague.  Really only Daye seems to be questionable at this point.  The other six: Harangody, James, Lawal, Meeks, Smith and Vasquez are largely hoping for a first round guarantee that will not be forthcoming (Lawal excepted  in this group).

Once the measurements including the athletic combine stats come out (vertical leap, speed, etc.), we’ll re-visit the 2009 Predraft Camp.

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Welcome to the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

Starting today, 52 NBA hopefuls will descend upon Chicago to go through a battery of athletic drills, medical testing and interviews in the hopes that an NBA team will see something dreamy along the way.  For our purposes at RTC, the twelve players we’re primarily interested in, the early entries who are still on the fence, are listed below in red.  It’ll be very interesting to see how these players perform in these tests, especially considering that unlike past years, there will be no five-on-five games where players can show their wares in a full-court setting.

In individual drills, we’d expect smooth athletes like Daye, Holiday, Mills and Teague to shine, but you never really know with these things.  It’ll be interesting to listen to the reports coming out of Chi-town the rest of the week with respect to these players.  According to Andy Katz (provider of the below list), this week will probably not determine the decisions of Teague, Lawal, Holiday, Mills, Gibson and Brown, but he expects Vasquez, ‘Gody, Meeks and Smith back in school soon.  He also says Damion James is expected to remain in the draft, but has nothing to say about Daye.   Stay tuned.

  • Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
  • Rodrigue Beaubois, Cholet (France)
  • DeJuan Blair, Pitt
  • Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Derrick Brown, Xavier*
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona
  • Nick Calathes, Florida
  • DeMarre Carroll, Missouri
  • Omri Casspi, Maccabi Elite (Israel)
  • Dionte Christmas, Temple
  • Earl Clark, Louisville
  • Darren Collison, UCLA
  • Dante Cunningham, Villanova
  • Stephen Curry, Davidson
  • Austin Daye, Gonzaga*
  • DeMar DeRozan, USC
  • Toney Douglas, Florida State
  • Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
  • Tyreke Evans, Memphis
  • Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
  • Taj Gibson, USC*
  • Danny Green, North Carolina
  • Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
  • Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
  • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame*
  • James Harden, Arizona State
  • Gerald Henderson, Duke
  • Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga
  • Jordan Hill, Arizona
  • Jrue Holiday, UCLA*
  • Joe Ingles, Melbourne South Dragons (Australia)
  • Damion James, Texas*
  • James Johnson, Wake Forest
  • Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech*
  • Ty Lawson, North Carolina
  • Eric Maynor, VCU
  • Jack McClinton, Miami
  • Jerel McNeal, Marquette
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky*
  • Patrick Mills, Saint Mary’s*
  • B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
  • Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State
  • A.J. Price, Connecticut
  • Tyler Smith, Tennessee*
  • DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
  • Jermaine Taylor, Central Florida
  • Jeff Teague, Wake Forest*
  • Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
  • Marcus Thornton, LSU
  • Greivis Vasquez, Maryland*
  • Terrence Williams, Louisville
  • Sam Young, Pitt
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05.26.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

It’s been a while since we updated things (Wall to Kentucky), so let’s get caught up this evening…

  • RIP Wayman. You’ve undoubtedly heard the sad news about 44-year old Wayman Tisdale’s passing on May 15.  Obviously, we never met Tisdale, but everyone agrees that he was a person who touched the lives of many through his athletic and musical career.  ESPN takes a look back here, and CNNSI reflected on his legacy in the state of Oklahoma here.   Jeff Goodman tells a story about Tisdale following through on a promise to a budding jouralist (him).   Tisdale’s public memorial service was last Wednesday.
  • Smoke, then Fire.  We mentioned previously that it’s unfathomable to us that USC wouldn’t take Renardo Sidney, given their astonishing and proven ability to look the other way.  Maybe they knew that Rodney Guillory’s associate, Louis Johnson, was chirping like a parrot to anyone who will listen that he witnessed Tim Floyd handing Guillory a cool grand in return for the delivery of OJ Mayo.  Now Mayo’s talking to the feds about Guillory, and at least one writer thinks the whole darned ship is going up in flames.  The million-dollar question is whether the NCAA investigators have the sack to do it.  (our response: yes, but half-assed).  Update: Noel Johnson, a 2009 signee, left the program today, leaving Dwight Lewis, and um, Lil Romeo?
  • Transfers. Iowa’s Jeff Peterson (11 ppg) will transfer to Arkansas for the 2010-11 season; Indiana’s Nick Williams (9/5) will return to the South to play for Ole Miss (he was the Alabama POY in 2008); and, Clark Kellogg’s kid, Alex, will leave Providence for Ohio University (Bobcats, not Buckeyes) to play his senior season.  In corollary news, Oklahoma’s Juan Pattillo was shown the door by Jeff Capel for undisclosed team violations.
  • NBA Draft News.  Duke’s Gerald Henderson made it official and signed with an agent, forgoing his final year in Durham.  Xavier’s Derrick Brown, a borderline first-rounder, is highly unlikely to return to XU next season.  Meanwhile, word last week was that Florida’s Nick Calathes signed a contract for $1.1M/year (+ a home, car and tax credits) to play in Greece (where he holds dual citizenship), and Clemson’s Terrence Oglesby is leaving school after his sophomore year to pursue a pro career in Europe (he’s also a dual citizen with Norway).  Southern Miss’s Jeremy Wise will not return either.  BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari decided to wise up and will return to the Cougs for his senior season, as will Arkansas leading scorer Michael Washington.  FYI, now that the draft lottery is set (Clips win!), the new mocks are coming out.  Here’s NBADraft.net’s Top 14.
  • Obligatory Kentucky News.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, as three scholarship at Kentucky are given the pink slip to make room for Calipari’s motherlode of talent.  The buzz is already loud for Kentucky as the preseason #1 next year, but we’re a little surprised Jodie Meeks hasn’t made his decision yet (he’s unlikely to move up to the first round).
  • Coaching News.  Illinois top man Bruce Weber got a $500k raise and a three-year extension based on his stellar work in Champaign last season.  Villanova’s Jay Wright talked to and then withdrew from the search for a new Philadelphia 76ers head man.  Wazzu’s new man Ken Bone signed with the school for seven years and $650k per year, according to school records.   Michigan’s John Beilein will chair the NCAA’s Ethics Comittee, featuring Johnny Dawkins, Jeff Capel and the omnipresent Dave Odom…  does anyone else find it odd that Beilein’s charge here is to clarify the rules as written, even though he used legal loopholes to get out of his stated buyout with WVU when he left for greener pastures?   Finally, here’s a rather-suspect list of the top ten coaches in America today – it omits Bill Self and John Calipari, which leads us to believe that the author did not watch the 2008 national championship game.
  • Other Errata.  CJ Henry is officially enrolled at Kansas and will get to play with his brother, super-wing Xavier Henry, next season in Lawrence.
  • Former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith (whom Coach Bruce Pearl kicked off the team in 2008) was arrested for robbery (the holy trinity: money, guns and marijuana) last week, and he’s currently awaiting trial.
  • Luke Winn gives us a glimpse at what Mississippi St. will look like next year (with John Riek and Renardo Sidney in the fold).
  • Please tell us that some irate Kentucky fan with rivers of money will buy these and burn them.
  • What WILL we do with those nefarious message board posters!?!?
  • Campbell University will rejoin the Big South (its former home until 1994), leaving the Atlantic Sun after the 2010-11 academic year.
  • The Big Sky is moving to a Friday/Saturday conference weekend model to save costs beginning next season.
  • This is a sad story, but we’re glad that the authorities found this Olympic champion safe and sound.
  • Well, sucks for them (next, USC?).
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Breaking Down the 2009 Early Entries…

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Draft Early Entry list is now official, and there are 75 collegiate players with eligibility remaining who think they have a shot at the League this year.  Keep in mind that there are only 60 picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, and the above number doesn’t even include graduating seniors as well as foreign players.  Mathematically speaking, it would serve a number of these players with stars in their eyes well to return to school for at least one more season.  Let’s evaluate each of them.

Players With Agents
First, the players who have already signed with agents, effectively ending their collegiate careers.  For the most part, this group is first-round material, but Brandon Costner, Eric Devendorf, Daniel Hackett and Dar Tucker must know something about their draft status that nobody else does. 

2009-ees-agents

Likely to Stay in Draft 
Next, we have a much smaller group of players who are very likely to stay in the draft, but they have yet to sign with an agent, and there’s been no official word yet.  All five of these players are probably first rounders, but with Nick Calathes, Jrue Holiday and Patty Mills, there remains a possibility of a return to school next season. 

2009-ees-likely

On the Fence
These thirteen players will decide the complexion of college basketball in 2009-10, much as Lawson, Ellington and Green did this season.  For example, if Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson return to Kentucky, that’s a top five team.  If Jeff Teague returns to Wake Forest, same thing.  Derrick Brown at Xavier, Austin Daye at Gonzaga, Luke Harangody at Notre Dame, Gani Lawal at Georgia Tech, Tyler Smith at Tennessee, Jarvis Varnado at Miss. St., Greivis Vasquez at Maryland.  Each of these players is all-american caliber.  This group of players could break a lot of hearts in the next six weeks.

2009-ees-fence-v2

You Gotta be Joking
This group of players has a fair mixture of guys who just want to get evaluated (even though Parrish points out most won’t actually get evaluated) for next season’s draft and players who have no idea what their true value is in terms of NBA scouts.  There are also several who have nowhere else to go, having worn out their welcomes elsewhere.  This list always makes RTC feel a little sad, yet as we now know, the NCAA has enacted a new rule making it so there will be even more ill-informed choices such as these in the future.  Thanks, guys.  Way to look out…

2009-ees-joking

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04.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2009

There are only FIVE DAYS left to declare, kiddies!  Get your early entry paperwork in NOW!!!

  • At least one report states that Duke’s Gerald Henderson will enter the draft.  And we thought we already knew this (about Tyreke Evans).
  • Xavier’s Derrick Brown, Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal and Mr. Game Winner, Scottie Reynolds, will all test the waters.   All three should be back in college next season. 
  • Steph Currystill thinking
  • One dude who will not go pro this year is John Wall.  Luke Winn dissects his recruitment, while Gary Parrish all but pushes him down the aisle to explore the opportunity for him to go pro.  In a separate article, Winn discusses how John Calipari’s move to Kentucky impacted numerous top players in this year’s top 50.  Speaking of which, the final Scout top 100 list is out.
  • Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct for his now-admitted verbal and physical abuse against a Cincinnati cabbie in late December.   What did it cost him?  40 hours of community service and no further “enrichment” of his current contract with Ole Miss.  Interesting.  The civil cases should be phenomenal theater. 
  • What’s going on in Gator-Land?  Alex Tyus‘ departure (transfer, not NBA) is the seventh player Billy D. has lost in the past calendar year.   
  • Purdue’s starting PG Lewis Jackson got community service and will await his punishment from Matt Painter for his recent DWI arrest on April 12. 
  • Jason Whitlock nails at least one part of this Isiah to FIU piece – the part about the strip clubs
  • Andy Staples takes a look at the boxed-in problem that side deals to the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent are causing.  Paging DeMarcus Cousins…
  • Gary Parrish believes that the 09-10 season will be much stronger across the board thanks to the return of numerous lottery picks as well as an influx of prep talent who will have instant impacts (unlike this year, for the most part).
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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on March 4th, 2009

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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By CCT Staff | March 2, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Damian Hollis (Jr.), George Washington

Hollis had a memorable week in what has been a rather forgettable season for the Colonials, averaging 20 points and 14.5 rebounds over two contests.  The junior led GW to two wins, as he scored 25 points and pulled down 13 rebounds against Charlotte and then tallied 15 points and hauled in 16 boards against Richmond.  The junior showed off his hot hand by shooting 57% over the two games, connecting on 12-for-21 from the floor.  Hollis also was efficient from deep, hitting three of his five attempts from behind the arc.

HONORABLE MENTION:   Ahmad Nivins (Sr.), Saint Joseph’s; Kahiem Seawright (Sr.), Rhode Island

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2009

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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By CCT Staff | February 4, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lavoy Allen (So.), Temple

Allen had perhaps his best week as a collegiate player, averaging 19.5 points and 14.5 rebounds over a two game span. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was sensational from the floor, shooting a sparkling 74% (14-of-19) during the stretch. In his most impressive game of the season, Allen shot 8-of-8 from the floor, scoring 20 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in a win over St. Bonaventure yesterday. The two double-doubles this week were the ninth and tenth of the season for Allen, as he helped lead the Owls to two victories.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Anderson, (So.) Richmond; Ahmad Nivins (Sr.) Saint Joseph’s; Damian Saunders (So.), Duquesne

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10″ each Monday morning.)

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 18th, 2009

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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By CCT Staff | February 16, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chris Wright (So.), Dayton
For Wright, winning the Player of the Week is about more than just numbers. In Dayton’s resume-building victory against nationally-ranked rival Xavier, Wright powered the Flyers with a 19 point, six rebound effort. In the process, Wright shouldered – as a star must – the additional burden for a Dayton squad without the services of valuable contributor Rob Lowery. Wright wouldn’t let his Flyers suffer a letdown after that rivalry win either, following up the Xavier effort with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in Dayton’s triumph over Richmond. Wright averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and an impressive three blocks per contest for the week.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tony Gaffney (Sr.), Massachusetts; Mike Moore (So.), Fordham; Lamont Mack (Sr.), Charlotte

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Set Your Tivos: 02.11.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 11th, 2009

Set Your Tivos

First, welcome to the “new and improved” Rush The Court. This is pretty much the same interface we were using before, but there are a few minor differences so it may take us some time to work the kinks out. Anyways, there are some note-worthy games tonight. You may have heard about a little game going down in Durham, North Carolina tonight.

Game of the Night
#3 UNC at #5 Duke at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Yeah. I know it’s not exactly the scoop you were expecting from us, but this is probably one of the 5 best match-ups so far this season so I’m not going to go with another game just to be contrarian. The big match-up in this game is on the inside featuring Tyler Hansbrough and Kyle Singler. The Blue Devils will need a big game out of Singler who has struggled lately who is only 9/38 FG in his last 3 games. The other key match-ups will be on the perimeter with Ty Lawson against Greg Paulus at the 1 and high school teammates Wayne Ellington and Gerald Henderson going against each other. UNC should win this game fairly easily with the way that Duke has been playing lately. If Coach K wants to knock of Hansbrough in his last game at Cameron, he will need Singler to play like he did earlier this year and Jon Scheyer to be hitting any open looks he gets.

Other Games to Watch
#22 Syracuse at #1 UConn at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: On almost any other night this would be our “Game of the Night”, but there is that small rivalry we mentioned before. Jim Calhoun‘s team is starting to look like the team that some thought could threaten this year’s G.O.A.T. UNC team with the emergence of Hasheem Thabeet as a black hole on the inside. Syrcuase will need a huge game out of Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf against the UConn guards (Jerome Dyson, A.J. Price, and Kemba Walker) because Arinze Onuaku isn’t going to be shooting 70% with Thabeet lurking on the inside. I’m going with the Huskies by double-digits in this one.

#13 Xavier at Dayton at 7 PM on ESPN Classic: I’m guessing that both teams were caught looking ahead to this game as both lost their last game to inferior opponents. These two teams are probably the class of the Atlantic 10 so this might end up being a preview of the conference championship game although St. Joseph’s and Duquesne may spoil the party. If Dayton wants to pull off the upset (and have a “Rush the Court” situation), they will need to contain Derrick Brown and B.J. Raymond. Normally, I might lean towards Dayton to pull off the upset, but I think the Musketeers will be too focused after losing to Duquesne in their last game.

#2 Oklahoma at Baylor at 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: This is a game that Baylor needs to win if they are going to have a chance to make the tournament. It probably isn’t fair to make a game against the #2 team in the country and national POY (yes, I’m calling the race) Blake Griffin a must win, but it isn’t fair to lose 5 straight in conference and still make the NCAA tournament. If the Bears are going to pull off the upset, they should focuse on limiting Willie Warren because they aren’t going to stop Griffin and hope that Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn both have big games.

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 4th, 2009

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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By CCT Staff | February 4, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

B.J. Raymond (Sr.), Xavier

The versatile guard-forward had a superb week for the A-10 leaders, averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two wins.   Raymond posted a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds in Xavier’s dismantling of Charlotte.   In a tight win over UMass, Raymond scored 22 – several of them clutch - and grabbed five boards.  For the week, Raymond shot the ball at an incendiary 69.5% clip.

Kahiem Seawright (Sr.), Rhode Island

Seawright anchored the Ram attack, leading Rhode Island to a 2-0 week as they knocked off Temple and La Salle.  The forward averaged 21 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals in the frame.  Against Temple, the senior led the way for Rhode Island, netting 17.  In the Rams’ overtime win over La Salle, Seawright paced his team once again, scoring 25 points and hauling in eight rebounds.  The forward shot 62.5% in the two contests; 15-for-24 from the floor.

HONORABLE MENTION:  David Gonzalvez (Jr.), Richmond; Andrew Nicholson (Fr.) St. Bonaventure

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 01.24.09

Posted by nvr1983 on January 24th, 2009

dynamite1After my trip to Chapel Hill last weekend where rtmsf handled all of the duties for Boom Goes the Dynamite while I mingled with ESPN personalities and college basketball stars, I will be in charge of today’s edition while rtmsf does relationship stuff with his significant other. Pretty weak if you ask me. . .

11:00 AM: Although we are a men’s college basketball site, we feel that it’s appropriate to mention the passing of Kay Yow, the former NC State coach, to breast cancer (or more precisely complications related to breast cancer). We can’t really do justice to her impact on the women’s game so it’s probably better just to refer you to a chronology of her life.

11:10 AM: The Notre Dame GameDay crowd looks a lot larger than what I saw last weekend at UNC. I am not sure if it is just a bunch of camera tricks by the GameDay crew, but they definitely have more signs. It may be that UConn is much, much better than Miami was last week or that the UNC crowd may be a bit jaded, but the Chapel Hill crowd was not as into the GameDay experience as I expected them to be.

11:45 AM: Digger Phelps has been doing a good job of working the crowd, which he also did last week at Chapel Hill (even off camera), taking the homer pick of Luke Harangody as his choice of tough player after the other analysts picked Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, and Stephen Curry to boos. As expected the crowd went wild with Digger’s pick. A little later in the show, the crowd gave the stereotypical college crowd response to a Duke segment by chanting “overrated”. Not surprisingly, the analysts all defend Duke. Appropriately enough, Bobby Knight calls out the Notre Dame students by questioning their education. It looks like he is getting more comfortable with his role on ESPN.

11:50 AM: Another awful half-court shot. Where does ESPN find these guys? He deserved to be embarrassed like that on national TV for popping his collar. Someone should tell him that hasn’t been cool since. . .actually it has never been cool. Congrats on the airball.

Noon: Wow. All of the GameDay guys except Knight picked LSU to beat #13 Xavier. I guess it’s in Baton Rouge, but Xavier is definitely the better team. Least surprising pick of the day: Digger picks Notre Dame. Knight abstains from picking a team.

12:15 PM: Duke is off to a good start against Maryland after Jon Scheyer opens the game with two 3s. What’s going on with Brian Zoubek? He actually looks like a legitimate center today. I have seen him play several times this year and he certainly has improved from last year, but he has never played like this. If he can do this even for spurts this year, Duke might have a legitimate chance to win the title this year instead of their usual great regular season and flop in March.

12:20 PM: Villanova is tied at 10 with USF 6 minutes into the game. Dante Cunningham has 8 of Villanova’s 10 points. I don’t have much else to say about this game since I don’t have ESPN360 available since I am out of town. If anybody has this game on TV, let me know if anything interesting happens.

1:00 PM: Duke goes into halftime with a 25-point lead despite having one of the ugliest possessions I have ever seen to end the half. Do you remember when the Duke-Maryland games used to be the best games of the season? I still remember trying to figure out where I could go to watch the game on TV my freshman year of college. (My school didn’t believe in providing cable to dorm rooms.) Meanwhile in Tampa, Villanova is struggling against USF (tied at 32 at halftime).

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Set Your Tivos: Super Saturday Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2008

Super Saturday is a term usually reserved for the final Saturday of the US Open where the two men’s semifinals and the women’s final are played, but this Saturday of college basketball trumps any day at Flushing Meadows (unless we could somehow get a Kournikova-Ivanovic final). Normally I would cover all the interesting games on the docket, but today is so good that I’m only going to cover the ones featuring ranked teams matched up against each other.

No naps this Saturday afternoon

No naps this Saturday afternoon

The Undercard: On any other Saturday, these games would be the headliners, but today they are merely an appetizer to get you ready for the even bigger match-ups to follow.
- #22 Michigan State at #5 Texas at 2 PM on CBS: Tom Izzo’s Spartans come into Saturday badly in need of a victory against a quality foe. Although Michigan State comes in with a respectable record of 7-2, they have been underwhelming and certainly nowhere near the level they were predicted to be coming into the season (AP #5 back on November 24th). On the other side, the Longhorns have been surprisingly strong with their only loss coming against Notre Dame (81-80) in what was the best game of the Maui Invitational. Texas has responded well to the setback with wins over 2 ranked teams in December (UCLA and Villanova). The last time Michigan State played a team of this caliber was in their much-anticipated match-up against UNC (clearly Texas isn’t quite at that level), they were blown off the court in a virtual home game. Tom Izzo will need a big game from Raymar Morgan and hope that his defense can contain A.J. Abrams and Damion James if he hopes to steal one in Austin.

- #20 Davidson vs. #18 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS: Both teams are all but assured of NCAA tournament bids. However, neither team has a signature win yet. Davidson certainly has the marquee value with national POY contender Stephen Curry, but they lost their only game against a ranked team (82-78 at #14 Oklahoma on November 18th). While the Wildcats can hardly be faulted for losing a road game against Blake Griffin and the Sooners, it still leaves them without a win they would need to merit a potential 5 seed or better. If they are unable to win today in Indianapolis, their only other chance to beat a top 25 team will be on January 7th against Duke at Cameron (ESPN might be hyping that game a little bit in the time leading up to the BCS title game). The Boilermakers are in a similar situation albeit without a star anywhere close to the level of Curry. The Boilermakers lost their only games against ranked teams back-to-back (87-82 in OT against Oklahoma on November 28th and 76-60 at home against Duke on December 2nd) and after tomorrow they don’t have a game against a currently ranked team until February 3rd against Ohio State. This game will likely come down to how well the Boilermakers can contain Curry (31.9 PPG and 6.8 APG) and limit his sidekick on the inside Andrew Lovedale (13.9 PPG and 10.7 RPG). The Boilermakers will counter with a much more balanced attack (4 players averaging between 9.9 and 15.6 PPG).

National POY?

National POY?

- #11 Syracuse at #21 Memphis at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The Orangemen (other than Jim Boeheim) responded well to their crushing loss at the buzzer on Monday night. However, they will be without Eric Devendorf for at least 2 games so Jonny Flynn will have to hope that Paul Harris and/or Arinze Onuaku can pick up the slack as John Calipari will almost certainly be focusing on Flynn on the perimeter. The Tigers could use a quality win here as they have lose both of the games they have played against quality opponents (Xavier and Georgetown). Tyreke Evans and Shawn Taggert will need to play well, but this is a game that the Tigers should win.

The Title Bouts: These games are as good as you will find any time this season (in-conference or out-of-conference) until we get to March.
- #7 Xavier vs. #6 Duke at 2 PM on CBS: Although this game is a “neutral” site game and quite far away from North Carolina, East Rutherford, New Jersey has become a de facto home for Coach K and the Blue Devils over the past 20 years. Despite that edge, I don’t think Coach K will be starting his bench (including everybody’s favorite whipping boy Greg Paulus) like he did in the Blue Devils last game against UNC-Asheville. Sean Miller didn’t have quite the same luxury in Xavier’s last game as they had to fight hard to beat crosstown rival Cincinnati 76-66 a week ago. Both teams rely on a balanced scoring attack, but the outcome of the game will likely be decided by Duke’s ability to hit the 3. The Blue Devils don’t shoot a particularly high percentage from 3 (32% for the season), but they are such high-volume shooters (20.6 attempts per game compared to 15.3 attempts per game for the Musketeers) that it becomes a major factor in all of their games. Their only loss this year was their rematch against Michigan in Ann Arbor where they opened the game hitting 3 of their first 27 attempts for 3 point range before hitting 4 in a row late to close the gap. The key match-up in this game should be Kyle Singler versus Derrick Brown, which should be interesting to watch if Singler tries to pull Brown away from the basket with his outside shooting. This should be a close game, but look for Duke to win this one as they have had a tendency to pull out big games before conference play starts.

- #2 UConn vs. #7 Gonzaga at 4 PM on CBS: This game could have very easily been a 2-4 match-up if Gonzaga hadn’t slipped up last week against Arizona in Tucson. One of the interesting subplots, which I’m sure that CBS will cover repeatedly, is that it was match-up that introduced the nation to Gonzaga basketball less than 10 years ago and propelled UConn to its first Final 4 trip. While I remember the game for its significance for Gonzaga’s program, I had completely forgotten that it gave UConn its first Final 4 trip ever (won the title that year in a nail-bitter over Trajan Langdon’s Blue Devils). This Gonzaga team is significantly different than the one you might see on ESPN Classic. They are no longer just the team that relies on exceptional skill and execution. Now they have the athletes to compete with anybody in the nation. However, UConn has been playing better than anyone in the nation not wearing baby blue so Gonzaga will have its hands full trying to keep up with the Huskies, who have a balanced scoring attack led by Jerome Dyson, Hasheem Thabeet, and Jeff Adrien. Dyson leads the Huskies in scoring at 15.4 PPG and provides Jim Calhoun with a versatile one-on-one scorer. Thabeet, his counterpart on the inside, has finally started to show some of the promise that has had NBA scouts salivating over him in the past as he has started to score on a consistent basis to compliment his always strong defensive presence. The one area that the Huskies need to improve upon if they want to compete for the national title (read: challenge UNC) is for A.J. Price to step up as an elite college PG. His 35% FG and 36% FT isn’t going to cut it in March and may even be a liability in Big East play, which may be more competitive than the NCAA tournament itself on a nightly basis. The Bulldogs have also been playing exceptionally well this year with the exception of their loss last week to Arizona last week. They also come in with a balanced attack, but they are led by PG Jeremy Pargo whose scoring is slightly down (12.1 PPG to 8.9 PPG) from the past 2 season as he has focused more on running the team (3.4 assist:turnover ratio compared to 1.8 last year). To beat the Huskies, Mark Few will need everybody–Pargo, Austin Daye, Josh Heytvelt, and Matt Bouldin–to be near the top of their games. In the end, the Huskies depth and superior interior defense will probably be too much for Gonzaga to overcome.

Tyler who?

Tyler who?

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