Morning Five: 11.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 5th, 2012

  1. We are just four days away from the start of the college basketball season and by now you have probably read a ton of preview columns (you can always catch more here), but if you want the latest updates to all of those articles, CBS had the Jeffs (Goodman and Borzello) put together a comprehensive list of injuries and how long the players are expected to be out. As you can tell some conferences and some teams have been hit harder than others, but it is worth checking out because outside of the major injuries and NCAA issues there are quite a few players who may not be starting the season with their teams that you were probably unaware of before seeing this list. We are hoping they keep this updated, but even if they don’t it is a good piece to bookmark for the first week of the season.
  2. Of course with the start of the season there is the annoying performance issue. Coaches and administrators can no longer rely on hype from the media and message boards and instead have to produce on the court. In some situations that can lead to precarious job status and Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish have picked out 12 coaches who are sitting on the proverbial hot seat. All but two of the names on the list come from power conferences and for the most part we agree with everybody on the list, so it should be interesting to see how long some of these guys last. We are assuming that all of them will make it through the season as they all come from established programs, but we are particularly interested in seeing what happens to the pair out in LA where one could win a national title or be fired and the other is apparently a “trip to talk with.”
  3. In a move that we are ambivalent towards, but will probably generate a fair bit of discussion (we have already seen a fair bit of yellow journalism on the topic) the NCAA modified its guidelines for transfer waivers as it relates to players looking to be closer to home to be with an ailing family member. The move is an attempt to standardize a protocol given the growing number of transfers requesting waivers for this reason. It should be noted that all of these modifications only apply to those seeking to compete immediately after transferring. For the most part the modifications make it easier to obtain a waiver (it has to be a debilitating injury not just life-threatening injury, be involved in regular care rather than be the primary caregiver, etc). The only thing here that limits the student-athlete’s ability to transfer is a requirement to be within 100 miles of the ailing family member whereas in the past there was no such boundary. While this may be an issue for individuals who come from hometowns in sparsely populated areas, it seems like a reasonable rule to prevent people from using a relative’s illness as an “excuse” to transfer without having to sit out a year. In situations where there is not a reasonably well-situated school within that 100-mile radius, we are assuming the NCAA will decide on a case-by-case basis.
  4. We are not used to seeing a Luke Winn column without some statistical analysis in it, but since nobody has played any official games yet we will cut him some slack as he unveiled his tiers of potential Wooden Award winners. We have heard criticism from some writers for championing Winn’s work, but we instantly like his list better than what the committee releases since his list includes freshmen. It is worth noting that his list is not in order and instead just has numbers by the players to help keep track of how many players are in each group. Even though Winn lists 50 players we can only see 10 at most having any shot of being National Player of the Year and that is giving the incoming freshmen more credit than they probably deserve.
  5. Last week we mentioned how there was something strange going on at Detroit Mercy. It turns out that we were on to something as after the school’s Athletic Director and an assistant coach resigned, another assistant coach — Carlos Briggs – did not attend practices on Thursday and Friday. Neither the school nor anybody on the coaching staff will comment on the situation although they stated that the other assistants were still with the team. We cannot say much about the situation other than it is not ideal for a school about to start its season and that where there is smoke…
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Night Line: A Reminder That Dickie V Represents the Good of the Game

Posted by EJacoby on December 6th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. You can find him @evanJacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

Few people in the history of college basketball will ever be as memorable and beloved as the man that was honored on Monday night in Detroit. Detroit Mercy honored its former coach, one Richard Vitale, by naming its basketball floor in his honor. Before he became the color broadcasting legend we all know today as Dickie V, the honored Vitale coached for four seasons at the school in the mid-1970s. He remains college basketball’s most devoted and entertaining commentator, but many fans don’t realize the full gamut of contributions he’s made to the game in his Hall of Fame career. Tonight’s appearance in Detroit was a reminder of why Vitale is truly one of the game’s all-time greatest ambassadors.

That's Right, Vitale Was Actually a Successful Coach Once Upon a Time (Detroit Free-Press)

Younger generations may only know Dick Vitale for his passionate broadcasting work, full of unique analysis and outrageous calls such as this one. But Vitale also coached the Titans to the Sweet Sixteen in 1977 before suffering a narrow defeat to Michigan. That season,Vitale also led his team to a road win during the regular season over Marquette and Al McGuire, the eventual national champion. He then spent a year as Detroit’s athletic director before taking the head coaching job with the Pistons in 1978. He only lasted a little over a season in the professional ranks, but he was a respected coach with an unmistakable passion for the game that led to a quick ‘temporary’ hire at ESPN when he was looking for work in the winter of 1979.

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Detroit Mercy Names Court In Honor Of Vitale

Posted by jstevrtc on June 15th, 2011

As of early December, the basketball court in Calihan Hall at Detroit Mercy will henceforth bear the name of Dick Vitale, it was announced today.

Vitale coached at the school from 1973-77 and amassed an unquestionably respectable 78-30 (.722) record before becoming athletic director for a year. After coaching the Pistons to a 30-52 mark in the 1978-79 season and leading them to a 4-8 start in 1979-80, he was let go as their coach and made his debut just a few months later as a college basketball announcer for a little startup called ESPN.

 

Coach Vitale Shows How He Can Go Left, And Now He Can Do It Whenever He Wants On a Court That Bears His Name

The official honor will take place on December 5 when UDM hosts St. John’s. That will be 32 years to the day that Vitale called his first college hoops game (DePaul 90, Wisconsin 77).

Normally, a 78-30 record over four years for a college coach gets you a tasty contract extension and means that you’ll be mentioned for every bigger coaching job that comes open until you take one of them. But a court named after you? Not exactly. Obviously, this tribute to Vitale is a response to the distinction he’s achieved as a broadcaster and his service to the game, and we fail to see how anyone could have a problem with that. You might tire of his catch-phrases and you may (as we have on occasion) call him out on his lack of objectivity as it pertains to certain ACC schools, but you’ll have to search pretty hard to find anyone who cares more about college basketball than Dick Vitale. In addition to the 30-40 games he calls during a season, there are the countless other media appearances, the fundraisers, the philanthropy, the lectures he gives to players, and so much more that we don’t see, things he does when there aren’t any cameras around. So once again, we say Bravo, Coach. We can’t wait until the unveiling of Dick Vitale Court, an honor richly deserved.

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Past Imperfect: The Tournament We Forgot

Posted by JWeill on March 18th, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Each week, RTC contributor JL Weill (@AgonicaBossEmail) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the lost, great 1998 NCAA tournament.

The 1998 NCAA tournament is the most exciting, bracket busting, nerve-wracking, well-played tournament in the modern era. And yet, no one seems to remember it. It’s sandwiched right there between “Simon says, ‘Championship,’” and Khalid El-Amin atop the scorer’s table. Can you see it? Look closely, it’s there. It’s the one with the two weird teams in the Final Four, the North Carolina squad coached by the old guy (no, not Dean Smith, the other old guy) and the first-year black coach at Kentucky. Oh, I know what will help…it’s the one where the coach’s kid hits that shot. Oh, now you remember.

It’s a shame, too, that no one remembers the 1998 tourney in toto. From beginning to end, the tournament was riveting, nip-and-tuck, gut-twisting basketball. And it didn’t take long at all to shake things up. On the first day, before many people were probably even aware that games were afoot, an out-of-the-way locale provided fans with some of the tournament’s most in-your-face moments, courtesy of a few names fans would become very familiar with over the next decade but who at the time were little known outside of the basketball community. But strange things can happen in Boise.

Ben Howland, then coach of the 15th-seeded Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, had his team on the cusp of history, all even at 62 apiece with Bob Huggins’ two-seed Cincinnati with just seconds remaining. Northern Arizona was the nation’s best three-point shooting team that year, so it was doubly cruel when Cincinnati’s D’Juan Baker buried an open three to win the game with just 3.6 seconds left to save the Bearcats’ skin. But Cincinnati’s flirtation with late-game disaster would come back to bite them the next round when, this time against West Virginia, Baker again hit a deep three-pointer to give his team the lead and then strutted down the court, only to watch helplessly as Mountaineers guard Jarrod West – yes, Jarrie West — threw up a prayer that was answered with eight tenths of a second left. West’s tipped three-pointer hit the backboard and went through the net, turning Baker’s sideline strut into a slumped-over disbelief. Live by the buzzer beater, die by the buzzer beater.

Meanwhile, in Sacramento, Tennessee fans got their first glimpse of a coach they’d become all too familiar with in a few years, when Kevin Stallings-coached Illinois State ruined the Volunteers’ sunny trip West on a running layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime. While the Redbirds would get blasted in the second round, that was small consolation for Tennessee fans. Because just a season later, Stallings would take the job at intra-state rival Vanderbilt.

Valparaiso guard Bryce Drew hit a classic buzzer beater in Round 1.

But the action wasn’t all left to the Left Coast. Back in D.C., President Bill Clinton wasn’t the only one issuing denials. Washington denied Xavier a spot in the second round on a Deon Luton game-winner, while three-seed South Carolina saw B.J. McKie’s last-gasp attempt fall short, keeping the Gamecocks on the outside looking in at upset king Richmond moving on. Oh, and for good measure, Indiana needed extra time to top Oklahoma as well. Had enough? Too bad. Because if Thursday seemed like enough excitement for any single round, things were just getting started.

All across the country, the tense moments and close games continued on Friday. In Lexington, a gruff Syracuse senior from Lithuania named Marius Janulis buried not one but two three-pointers to help the Orange squeak by Iona. Then Chicago turned into Boise, with Detroit Mercy upsetting St. John’s by two and Western Michigan sending Clemson packing by three. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, UCLA outlasted Miami (Fl.) on four straight free throws in the final seconds. And then, it happened.

It would be a shot for all time. It would be replayed so often it has become an indelible part of the very tournament itself. Like Christian Laettner’s turnaround jumper, like Jim Valvano running around looking for someone to hug, the miracle shot by Valparaiso guard, and son of his coach, Bryce Drew was the artistic flourish on a first round of gripping drama. Drew’s deep three, coming on a designed play whereby a half-court pass is touch passed to a streaking Drew, was the most memorable moment on a whole tournament’s worth of memorable moments.

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Team of the 2000s: #6 – UConn

Posted by nvr1983 on August 13th, 2009

teamof2000(2)

Ed. Note: Check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

As we mentioned in our earlier posts, when we were putting together our list of the top teams of the past decade it became pretty clear that there were definable clusters of teams meaning that a solid case could be made for moving a team up or down a few positions depending on how much weight you put on various elements of a program’s resume (overall excellence versus a big tournament run or 10 years of excellence versus 1 year of greatness). As we mentioned yesterday, now that we have moved into the top seven we have crossed into the truly elite programs.

#6 – UConn

team2000uconn

Overview. In a little over two decades, Jim Calhoun has turned the Huskies from an also-ran into one of the premier programs in the country. In fact if the parameters of our decade were shifted just one year to include the 1999 season, the Huskies might end up in the top 3 with the inclusion of their 1999 title. Even without that title, the decade has been a solid one for Husky fans even if some of Calhoun’s teams haven’t lived up to expectations. The Huskies get the nod over UCLA because of the fact that they won a national title (and haven’t had a losing season), which makes up for the fact that they have 1 less Sweet 16 and Final 4 appearance than the Bruins. The thing that keeps the Huskies out of the group right above it is that they failed to make the NCAA tournament twice including one season where they didn’t even make the NIT (more on this in a bit).

okafor uconn

Pinnacle. This one is pretty simple. As much as we like to act like college basketball gurus, we aren’t going to try to outsmart ourselves here. The answer is the 2004 national championship. Even though the team did not live up to the preseason hype in terms of how it would rate all-time (“only” going 33-6), this team beat Duke and Georgia Tech in the Final 4 to claim Calhoun’s 2nd title.  While we normally would celebrate  a team  that wins a national title unconditionally, we have this weird feeling that a group featuring Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, and Charlie Villanueva should have been more special. Having said that, the group managed to pull it together at the right time winning its last nine games to capture the Big East and NCAA tournament titles. During the NCAA title run, they only had one truly competitive game, which happened in the national semifinal against Duke in a game that the Huskies won 79-78 following a spread-busting 3-point heave by Chris Duhon at the buzzer. All three of the previously mentioned Huskies from that team have gone on to have solid if not spectacular NBA careers.

Tailspin. There are actually more choices here than you would expect for a program of this caliber, but our pick is the 2006-07 season where the Huskies went 17-14, losing in the 1st round of the Big East tournament as the 12th seed. That’s right. The 12th seed in the Big East Tourney. This was one of the worst teams of the past 20 years for Calhoun. When you compound that with the fact that the previous year one of Calhoun’s most talented teams ever lost in the Elite 8 to George Mason it is enough to “top” two other low points in the program’s history: losing in the second round of the 2001 NIT to Detroit-Mercy and the Nate Miles scandal.

How Much More Does Calhoun Have in the Tank?

How Much More Does Calhoun Have in the Tank?

Outlook for the 2010s: Grade: B-. Speaking of that scandal, that is just about the last thing we heard about the Huskies other than their flop against Michigan State in the Final 4 (and Calhoun’s bicycling adventures). We don’t have that much faith in the NCAA following up on the outstanding work by Yahoo! Sports, but there is always the possibility that the NCAA may come to its senses and actually punish a program for once (ok, I didn’t expect this to happen to a midwestern titan as I was writing this post). As for more realistic threats, we are concerned about UConn’s ability to stay at this level in the next decade. Even though the Huskies have a solid incoming class, we aren’t that confindent in the program’s ability to succeed AC (After Calhoun). Although Calhoun hasn’t set a definitive retirement date, given his well-documented health concerns and his age (67 years old), we can’t imagine that he’ll be coaching all that much longer. When he retires, we doubt that UConn will be able to find somebody to replace him in terms of status and recruiting prowess on the sidelines in Storrs. Nothing against the good people in Storrs, but without Calhoun the program (and the area) would appear to lack the appealing factors a recruit would look for when deciding where they want to spend the next four (ok 1-2) years.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #11: Remember the Titans

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2009

memories

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Mercy Mercy Me (submitted by Ryan Pravato of College Fast Break)

UDM Star Rashad Phillips

UDM Star Rashad Phillips

Detroit Mercy was quite possibly the first ‘dog in the fight’ I ever had in the NCAA tournament.  Thanks to my dad’s efforts of introducing me to Titan basketball in ’98, I became enamored with Rashad Phillips’ flashiness and grit and thoroughly impressed with Perry Watson’s calm nature on the sidelines. Growing up an hour from Detroit gave me great leeway at jumping on any Michigan-based team’s bandwagon at any time.   It didn’t hurt that at that point in my life (age 9) I was gung-ho about underdogs anyway. I also had an uncanny knack for memorizing player’s names and heights, so much so that I was told countless times to ‘calm down’ and ‘zip it’ by my dad days prior to the game because of my constant regurgitation of the info I had read in the newspaper about the Detroit players. Apparently during the game I kept quiet enough, since I do remember that my dad allowed me to stay up late and watch the entire thing with him.

A ‘little’ school like Detroit actually knocking off a powerhouse… that completely hooked me on the sport. It didn’t seem true at the time, it seemed more like something I would have conjured up in my mind the night after the brackets were announced (is that not the best night ever?). All I know is that I owe my dad something really really nice one of these Father’s Days.

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05.07.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 7th, 2008

Today’s rantings of a wild man…

  • Duke promoted former Devil (96-01) Nate James to assistant coach in Johnny Dawkins’ old spot, ensuring that K’s bench is now filled with former underachievers feisty players.
  • Lots of bad things happening at Arizona these days.
  • South Carolina’s Devan Downey apparently decked someone on campus last week (he has been suspended). 
  • Transfers – Jeremiah Rivers (Doc’s son) is leaving Georgetown, and Indiana’s Eli Holman (of potted plant fame) is following an assistant coach (Ray McCallum) to Detroit Mercy. 
  • Bob Huggins’ new contract with WVU stipulates he can be fired for habitual intoxication.  Habitual intoxication…  is that three or four times a week?
  • Billy Gillispie has his eye on a few more middle schoolers besides Michael Avery for the class of 2012.
  • There were 69 early entries this year, many of whom are only “testing the waters.”  Goodman says this puts coaches in a bind. 
  • The Jewish Jordan (Zach Feinstein) seeks to top the NBA Draft this year…
  • Alabama St. (mostly football) and Florida International show that not only the big boys are cheating these days. 
  • We missed this a week or so ago, but Dan Hanner at YABB has some great data (regressions are fun, kids!) on coaches and how well they recruit and perform in the regular season and NCAA Tournament. 
  • M2M is counting down the top 10 most embarrassing moments in college basketball history.  Some good stuff on there. 
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