AAC M5: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on December 10th, 2013

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  1. With a #9 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll, UConn is back in the top 10 for the first time in two years. It’s hard to believe, but the last time the Huskies were this highly ranked was midway through the 2011-12 season, on the heels of Jim Calhoun’s third and final national championship. The good times didn’t end there for Kevin Ollie’s team yesterday, as Shabazz Napier won his second consecutive AAC Player of the Week honor. Despite scoring in single digits in limited minutes against Maine, Napier’s superhuman performance last Monday against Florida was enough to put him over the top again. Oh, and did I mention that the Huskies are the only remaining undefeated team in the AAC? Not a bad way to start the week. Napier and company will continue building their case as the league’s team to beat if they can take care of business this week against Stanford and at Washington.
  2. College Basketball Talk lists Memphis sophomore Shaq Goodwin among the 20 most improved players in college basketball this season, noting that “on a team with a stable of perimeter weapons, Goodwin’s emergence [as] a presence on the block is key.” In addition to averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, the athletic big man has improved his field goal percentage from 46.6 percent to 65.4 percent, and among AAC players is second only to UConn’s Niels Giffey in that statistic. On a more intangible level, he’s contributed a degree of toughness and decisiveness to the Tigers that he often didn’t deliver as a freshman.
  3. Just when it may have appeared as though Rutgers had washed its hands of the Mike Rice abuse scandal, reports surfaced yesterday that former player Derrick Randall has filed a lawsuit against the university in connection with his misconduct. The complaint, filed in federal court last Friday, names Rice and a number of present and former university officials as defendants, including president Robert Barchi, former athletic director Tim Pernetti, and former assistant coach James Martelli. Randall, who received a waiver to play immediately at Pittsburgh this season, is seeking damages for assault and emotional distress, among other things, and his complaint cites “violent screaming, cursing and other humiliation tactics, including the use of homophobic slurs and other shockingly derogatory and discriminatory name calling.” He was one of four players to transfer after Rice’s firing, and is – at this point – the only one to file suit against his former coach. Fallout from the scandal and its aftermath has reportedly cost Rutgers an estimated $4 million already — it’s hard to say how much bigger that figure might get.
  4. As good as USF forward Chris Perry has looked starting alongside fellow freshman John Egbunu in the Bulls’ last two games, coach Stan Heath stands by his decision to not start Perry in five of his first six games. “I guess early on, I still feel like we did the right thing just bringing him along where he can get his feet wet first, and I think it’s paid dividends for us,” said Heath. “It’s made him a little hungrier in practice.” The extra motivation seems to have indeed paid off, as Perry averaged 14 points and 12.5 boards per game in close wins over George Mason and Alabama last week, earning him AAC Rookie of the Week honors. The 6’8” freshman acknowledged that his team is finally “learning to play together,” which is a scary thought for other AAC frontcourts given that Perry and 6’10” center Egbunu are each imposing enough on their own.
  5. Houston ended a two-game losing streak with a decisive 89-58 win over Alcorn State last night, after the Cougars reportedly got “tired of losing.” Star junior forward TaShawn Thomas said his team had become especially frustrated by its tendency to blow leads, a problem that never presented itself as the Cougars more than doubled the halftime margin in the second half against a dismal Alcorn team. It’s hard to say how much we can draw from this game given the poor competition, but it was still encouraging to see highly-touted sophomore Chicken Knowles heat up the way he did. In only 20 minutes of action, Knowles scored a career-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, after scoring only two total points in previous losses to San Jose State and Texas A&M.
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Morning Five: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 10th, 2013

morning5

  1. With almost a month in the books for the college basketball season we have heard plenty of pundits and even a few coaches weigh in on the new rules. The one person we had not heard from, but were interested to hear from about the new rules was John Adams, the NCAA’s supervisor of officials. Dana O’Neil caught up with Adams, who in our experience has been forthright, and asked him about how he felt about how the rules were being implemented. It may not surprise you to hear that he felt the rules were being enforced properly (at least in the game tape he reviewed with O’Neil), but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to more controversial calls that are made when the entire nation is watching in March.
  2. It took longer than we expected, but yesterday a former Rutgers player–Derrick Randall–announced that he is suing the school and Mike Rice in relation to the abuse Rice unleashed on his players. Randall, who transferred to Pittsburgh, is seeking punitive damages in a lawsuit filed in federal court. According to reports, Randall is also claiming that Rice’s actions were a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act as Randall is claiming that he falls under this category to an undisclosed learning disability. Given the public relations disaster that the school has endured we would expect them to settle out of court rather than let all the messy details of Rice’s time become public.
  3. We are getting very close to the start of conference play (yes, we know that there have been a few conference games already), but it might be too early to jump to conclusions. As Dan Henner points out some coaches have a tendency to see their teams improve either on offense or defense (part 1 and part 2). Obviously some of these trends have to do more with the players on a team (freshmen vs upperclassmen), but it probably has more to do with a coach’s system and how well he implements adjustments. So if your favorite team is struggling right now there may be some hope for the future.
  4. Over the weekend we caught a few games that should probably be significant local rivalries. Unfortunately, many of these games are hurt by poor attendance. Of these games this weekend, we were mainly focused on the Maryland-George Washington game, which turned out to be a highly entertaining finish, but was sparsely attended. As Jerry Carino points out, this was also the case in the Seton Hall-Rutgers game and he has a very good explanation for why that is–timing. If schools want to create significant local rivalries they would be best served to try to get the games to happen at a time when fans would be put in a position when they would realistically consider coming.
  5. Gary Parrish’s Poll Attacks can be biting at times, but are almost always supported by a pretty strong argument. This week’s Poll Attack focuses on Scott Wolf, an AP voter who ranked Colorado and Kentucky ahead of Baylor despite Baylor owning neutral court wins over both of them. This is amusing by itself, but the more interesting aspect is something that Parrish mentions in the column and discussed more in-depth on the CBS Podcast yesterday: people seem to think it is popular to criticize Scott Drew’s coaching. We will admit to occasionally doing it (for his non-existent in-game adjustments), but it serves to point out the fact that popular narratives are interesting confounders when looking at where a team is ranked.
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Big East Summer Capsules: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Posted by mlemaire on August 17th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Last but not least is Rutgers.

1. Wally Judge is ready to play, but is he ready to replace Gilvydas Biruta?

Just when it seemed like coach Mike Rice had the rebuilding train rolling, the wheels started to wobble a bit. The Scarlet Knights weren’t awful last season and they seemed poised for a winning season next year considering that it appeared they would return pretty much every worthwhile contributor. Then, right after the season ended, third leading scorer and second leading rebounder Gil Biruta announced he was transferring out of the program. Despite all of his physical gifts and ability, Biruta often displayed a poor attitude and was a frequent target of Rice’s wrath, but still, it isn’t easy replacing 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, especially when you consider Biruta added toughness and physicality to the young team. Replacing Biruta’s production now falls on the shoulders of Kansas State transfer Wally Judge. A highly touted recruit coming out of high school, Judge may actually be more talented and athletic than Biruta, but now the question is whether he can turn that talent and athleticism into production. The DC native averaged 5.5 points and  3.8 rebounds per game in 17 contests as a sophomore for the Wildcats, but as one of the Scarlet Knights’ only viable interior players, he will be asked to do a lot more than that this season. By all accounts Judge has put in the work and is impressive in team workouts and summer games, but time will tell whether he can become the immediate presence that the Scarlet Knights so desperately need in their frontcourt.

2. Rutgers has a point guard problem, except it’s the good kind of problem.

Rutgers Coach Mike Rice Has His Hands Full Deciding Which Of His Three Talented Guards Will Play

It’s probably not a reach to say that the three best players on the Scarlet Knights’ roster are sophomores Myles Mack, Jerome Seagears, and Eli Carter. The only issue is that all three of the tantalizing sophomore basically play the same position — point guard. Rice knows he will need to find a way to make sure all three players are on the floor as often as possible, which will likely mean that the head coach is going to do some rotation juggling this summer. Carter, the team’s leading scorer last season, is a high volume shooter and probably belongs off the ball where his shooting ability can be put to better use. Mack, the smallest of the trio, also has a propensity for chucking but seems like the most natural fit to assume the role of primary ball-handler. Seagears, the team’s leading assist man last season, is a smaller combo guard who will probably get plenty of opportunities to play on and off the ball. Common sense dictates that Rice should play all three of his star guards at once; after all, plenty of other Big East teams have had success employing similar lineups. The only issue is that the Scarlet Knights do not have a lot of size up front or experience for that matter, so is Rice really willing to sacrifice all that size just to get his best lineup on the floor? The best-case scenario is that this situation sorts itself out with each player becoming comfortable in his role and helping the team in a number of different ways, but Rice will need to do an incredible job of finessing this situation, otherwise someone might end up upset.

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Big East Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 8th, 2011

  1. Georgetown basketball players are making news off the court this week, but settle down Hoyas fans, it’s actually light-hearted news and not some sort of suspension or legal issue. Ballin Is A Habit unearthed a video in which a bunch of Georgetown students sing Handel’s Messiah. Yes, those three rather tall men in the back row are in fact senior captain Jason Clark, sophomore Nate Lubick, and walk-on John Caprio, and kudos to them for being involved in something so potentially embarrassing. John Thompson, III‘s team certainly has plenty to celebrate this holiday season as the Hoyas are exceeding expectations and look like a legitimate contender in the conference.
  2. It’s no secret that Rutgers coach Mike Rice has his work cut out for him turning the Scarlet Knights into a conference contender, but injuries to some key freshmen like Kadeem Jack and the slow development of freshmen big men like Derrick Randall has meant that Rice is playing a good deal of rotation roulette as he tries to fill in holes. Even if some of the freshman get healthy and mature quickly, the Scarlet Knights still can’t really be considered contenders this season. But it would certainly improve their chances for next season if their freshmen could get some additional seasoning and experience.
  3. After yet another nailbiting win, it is only right we give some love to Marquette‘s best player, guard Darius Johnson-Odom. The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel alerted us to the ESPN Sports Science segment featuring the Golden Eagles’ star and its focus was on his quickness. Long story short, they established that Johnson-Odom is really quick.  Like, NBA-caliber quick. It certainly isn’t shocking news to anyone who has watched the team play this year, but it is fun to see how far Johnson-Odom has come in his time in Milwaukee. There must be something in the water up there, because not many teams develop lightly regarded combo guards quite like Marquette.
  4. It was good to see a reader call out Sports Illustrated‘s Seth Davis for his critique of Syracuse freshmen Michael Carter-Williams and Rakeem Christmas and it was just as good to see Davis acknowledge he might have jumped the gun on saying the players are developing too slowly. As I noted on this blog earlier, the Orange are unbelievably deep, and they really don’t need Carter-Williams or Christmas to be impact players right away, a luxury few teams have when it comes to talented freshmen. In one sense, it could hurt their growth in that Boeheim has given them spotty playing time, but their talent is evident, and I wouldn’t worry about these two just yet. Neither player has one-and-done potential and they will undoubtedly get their chance to prove themselves on the court. My guess is it happens before the end of this season.
  5. It is a good thing Louisville is so good defensively, because, as Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal points out, the Cardinals are going to struggle to score points. Rick Pitino was not at all happy despite the fact that his team scored 90 points in a win over IUPUI last night, and his team seemed to understand his frustration. Some of the struggles can be attributed to the fact that the rotation has fluctuated because of injuries and early-season development issues, but this team’s biggest weakness is that it doesn’t have a go-to scorer. Peyton Siva is the closest thing, but he also needs to handle the point guard duties and Kyle Kuric is more of a shooter than a scorer. The Cardinals might be the best team in the conference, but if they want to make a Final Four run, they will need to find some more consistent scoring options.
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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.27.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2010

After a prolonged absence from the summer circuit it appears like Sonny Vaccaro, who was once quiet possibly the most powerful man in AAU basketball, is making his triumphant return. As Gary Parrish notes, Vaccaro should make things more interesting.

  • It’s already almost a week old, but ESPN released its team recruiting rankings and you will be shocked to see who is #1.
  • Arizona was able to land some big names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson over the past few weeks, but as we pointed out last week their haul would be coming to an end soon due to the Lute Olson-era sanctions against the program. Now we see the results as Sean Miller has told super recruit LeBryan Nash that there isn’t any room for him in Tucson.
LeBryan isn’t welcome in Arizona
  • Speaking of the Wildcats, last week we mentioned the refreshing case of Norvel Pelle who was just starting to do in-house visits, but now Pelle has moved ahead to planning official visits as he recently expressed interest in St John’s, UTEP, UConn, and “the whole PAC 10 except Arizona according to a phone interview with Adam Zagoria, although Pelle has not committed to any official visits yet.
  • In yet another reaction to Arizona’s filling its scholarships already . . . Quinn Cook, who had been high on Arizona before Turner’s surprise commitment, is now considering Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Villanova, and UNC. In a rather unsurprising surprising comment, Steve Smith, his new coach at Oak Hill, says Cook is “comparable” to Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson, Marcus Williams (hopefully leaving the laptops out of it), and Brandon Jennings who all played at Oak Hill. Cook is a talented prospect, but outside of Williams I think Smith might be stretching the truth a bit. To be fair, I can say my paycheck is comparable to John Paulson’s paycheck, but Paulson made way more than I did (at least before the RTC royalty checks get processed).
  • Last week we noted that Austin Rivers had taken Florida off his list of potential schools and now it seems like he has set dates for his official visits: UNC (October 1st), Duke (October 15th), and Kansas (October 22nd). You can guess that the basketball coaches will be especially interested in the football team’s performances those weekends against East Carolina (could be challenging for the depleted Tar Heels), Miami (this one could be ugly), and Texas A&M (depends on the week for the inconsistent Jayhawks).
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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 08.02.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 2nd, 2010

It was a relatively quiet week for recruiting after the crazy week last week in Las Vegas, but we should start to get more news over the next few weeks as recruits start narrowing down their list or even committing to schools.

  • Austin Rivers got the headlines in Orlando this week, but we hope that everyone paid attention to a solid performance from Trevor Lacey, who had 22 points to Rivers’ 24 points, as they combined to lead their team to victory. The game was supposed to be a showdown between Rivers and Michael Gilchrist that was scrapped when Gilchrist’s mom shut him down for the summer, but there was still plenty of star power as Rivers and Lacey knocked off Ben McLemore and Bradley Beal.
  • Speaking of Rivers…by now you have probably already read it, but for those of you who haven’t, FanHouse has a pretty lengthy profile on Rivers, his dad’s influence on his game, and the schools he is looking at.
  • It seems like a weekly thing now, but we have another update for Anthony Davis. The talented power forward has apparently expanded his list to include DePaul. Even though that is his hometown team I’m sure the Illinois faithful are wondering why Bruce Weber can’t elicit any interest from an in-state recruit like Davis.
  • Maurice Harkless is starting to turn some heads especially after his solid performance at the Fab 48 and after beating out a number of big names for MVP honors at the Desert Duel. Harkless, who had previously committed to UConn, will be releasing his list later this month and if the names of the coaches watching him this summer are any indication the list should be full of big names.
  • Dayton received a commitment from Percy Gibson, a 6’8 big man from Detroit who the Flyers reportedly had as their #1 big man target. [Ed. Note: Does a school ever pick up a player who wasn't their #1 target?]
  • Meanwhile, Rutgers added its own big man in Derrick Randall, who has stated that he will try to bring his AAU point guard (and St. Anthony’s recruit) Myles Mack with him.
  • With so few highly rated big men in this year’s class, every solid interior player is drawing a lot of interest and Johnny O’Bryant is no exception, as he is drawing interest from big names like Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville.
  • Nick Kerr, son of former NBA sharpshooter Steve Kerr, won’t be following in his father’s footsteps at Arizona, opting to stay in California (where the family resides now) and committing to play at San Diego. Like his father, Nick possesses a sweet jump shot (41% from 3-point range and 85% from the free throw line as a junior) and has not been heavily recruited out of high school.
  • Although this isn’t what you normally think about when you consider recruiting, Andy Glockner brings us an analysis of incoming transfers who are basically new recruits. Teams are unlikely to get game-changers like a star freshman, but some of these transfers could give their teams just the little bit extra they need to get over the hump whether it is into the NCAA Tournament, into the Sweet 16, or cutting down the nets in San Antonio in April.
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