Understanding the Key Difference Between Dez Wells’ and Michael Dixon’s Transfer Cases

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 5th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

When Dez Wells was cleared to play for Maryland last season after transferring from Xavier without sitting out the customary holdover year, a precedent was set. A player accused of sexual assault and expelled from his former university not only bypassed legal prosecution entirely – he managed to cut through the NCAA’s thorny web of restrictions to earn a waiver and essentially forward his college hoops career without missing a beat, unencumbered by the questionable circumstances surrounding his departure. Wells was painted as the victim of a false accusation; when the NCAA heard his request, it was sympathetic to the impassioned backing of a local prosecutor who publicly blasted Xavier school brass for unfairly bringing down the iron fist on Wells. There was also the suspicion, true or not, that Xavier was using Wells to demonstrate its hardline stance against sexual impropriety on campus, an issue the university had received no small measure of scrutiny for in the months leading up to the Wells incident. The whole saga – which, thanks to Wells recently filing a lawsuit seeking damages for Xavier’s allegedly specious expulsion of him, continues to percolate in the backdrop to the sophomore guard’s burgeoning stardom at Maryland – seemed nebulous and sinister and sketchy. It was a unique case, and it lay the groundwork for yesterday’s news from CBS Sports columnist and Memphis hoops informant Garry Parrish that former Missouri guard Michael Dixon – suspended and dismissed from the Tigers last November after a second allegation of sexual assault – had been granted a waiver to play right away this season.

It's important to understand the differences between Dixon's situation and Wells' (Getty Images).

It’s important to understand the differences between Dixon’s situation and Wells’ (Getty Images).

All summer, as people speculated about Dixon’s chances of being cleared to play, they pointed optimistically to Wells’ case – as if the same logic absolving Wells of potential NCAA punishment would lead to Dixon being granted the final season of college hoops he no doubt wanted to play. That’s how case law, the legal philosophy underpinning the American judicial system, works. A precedent is set and similar cases are adjudicated in a manner compatible with previous decisions. It’s the general idea here, too, but there’s one crucial distinction between Dixon’s and Wells’ cases that everyone seems to be glossing over. Wells, like Dixon, eluded a criminal charge, but he was also defended loudly and bombasitcally by a local prosecutor. Reasoned legal officials were behind him the whole way, blasting Xavier for what looked like school administrators using a high profile student-athlete to prove, once and for all (even if it meant overstretching their punitive reach), that sexual malfeasance would not be tolerated on Xavier’s campus. Wells was defended vehemently and unconvincingly – it was impossible not to get the impression, given the reaction from court officials, that Xavier had overstepped its bounds.  Then there’s Dixon, who – let’s be clear – likewise avoided criminal punishment. Here’s the key point of delineation: After Dixon was kicked off the team in November, Missouri officials did not speak fondly of (and certainly never came to his defense) Dixon’s conduct when interested schools came calling about the possibility of adding Dixon for his senior season. One unnamed Division I head coach, in fact, told ESPN’s Jason King in June that Tigers’ athletic director Mike Alden “shredded him [Dixon] to my AD.” Meanwhile, law enforcement was notably silent on the matter – neither condoning nor speaking out against Missouri’s decision to dismiss Dixon.

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Morning Five: 08.22.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 22nd, 2013

morning5

  1. When you have the facts, pound the facts. When you have the law, pound the law. When you have neither, pound the table. The NCAA would do well to remember this old legal axiom as it enters a dangerous stage of its lawsuit over image and likeness rights collectively known as the Ed O’Bannon case. On Monday of this week, the organization requested a 15-month continuance of the opening date of the trial — currently scheduled for June 9, 2014 — in a shamelessly transparent attempt to solidify its position by distancing itself from one of its most embarrassing gaffes in the past few years. Jay Bilas, anyone? EA sports and Collegiate Licensing Co., co-defendants in the case along with the NCAA, interestingly enough only requested a five-month continuance for the start of the trial. The federal judge overseeing this lawsuit, Claudia Wilken, had requested that the defendants come to a mutual agreement on trial date by Monday, but their inability to come to simple terms on that question may only serve to anger her as she weighs a number of important motions on class certification and other items that will seriously impact the case.
  2. And the hits just keep on coming. Mere days after a social media-fueled firestorm over the NCAA’s initial decision (subsequently reversed) to deny former US Marine Steven Rhodes from walking on to play football this year for Middle Tennessee, another controversy has enveloped the organization over an eligibility question that strains the limits of common sense. As The Star-Ledger‘s Tom Liucci writes, Iowa State transfer Kerwin Okoro was recently denied a waiver to play for Rutgers in 2013-14 because his medical hardships — Okoro’s father and brother each passed away last winter — are not current. The rule on receiving a medical hardship waiver states that the player must show “medical documentation of a debilitating injury or illness to a student-athlete’s immediate family member that is debilitating and requires ongoing medical care,” technically precluding Okoro from the benefit. But how about some big picture common sense here? While it’s true that Okoro will not be required to care for his now-deceased relatives, there are other compelling reasons involving his family’s overall healing process that should also be considered in such a decision.
  3. We’ve long known that Division I college basketball players are some of the best all-around athletes in the world, what with the core components of elite “athleticism” — speed, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina — all very well-represented in our sport. Several athletes who perhaps weren’t skilled enough for professional basketball found their way into other athletic sports — we’re thinking about NFL tight ends such as Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates here — but, as The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg writes, a lesser-known version of football played in Australia is looking at college basketball as a nice pipeline to find its next generation of ruckmen. A what, you say? Well, a ruckman is someone in Australian Rules Football who is tasked with securing possession for his team after dead balls and scores through a modified jump ball situation. Who better than to fit that need for our friends Down Under than undersized big men with explosive hops and a knack for getting their hands on the ball. As the world becomes flatter in economics and sport, we imagine that we’ll start to hear more stories like these as the rest of the planet discovers just how athletic our basketball players — even those outside the NBA — actually are.
  4. One of the most discouraging stories of last offseason has resurfaced in a big way with the news on Wednesday that former Xavier-turned-Maryland guard Dez Wells, he of the rape allegations so absurd that the local prosecutor publicly stated they were “fundamentally unfair,” has decided to sue his old school for damage to his reputation and a good old-fashioned apology. In an environment where seemingly every semi-public figure claims that he will sue to protect his good name after getting blatantly caught telling bold-faced lies, it’s encouraging to see a situation where the justice system will be used to mete out some actual justice. Xavier expelled Wells from its school last summer, citing a decision made by its Conduct Board (and upheld on appeal) that predated the related criminal grand jury investigation; as a result, Wells has since suffered mightily from the school’s rush to judgment. That he’s bringing this case while he’s still playing NCAA basketball is rich with storyline possibilities — could he somehow face his legal adversary in a postseason match-up for the ages between the Terps and Musketeers? We can only hope…
  5. A lot of schedules have been releasing over the past couple of weeks, and the most notable in the last 24 hours were from a couple of conferences. First, the SEC released its conference-only schedule, featuring a bunch of mediocre teams that nobody pays attention to until February a solid balance of Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday night games with the standard Saturday smorgasbord but lacking the Kentucky-Tennessee battle in Knoxville that has produced so many great contests over the years. A special thank you goes out to Texas A&M and Missouri for that omission. On the other side of the continent, the WCC also released its conference schedule, which means that the only two games of true importance in this league — Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s, Acts I and II — should already be inked into your calendar (January 2 and March 1). Many more of these releases to come in the next few weeks.
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Unfairly Judged, Dez Wells Continues Quest To Reclaim His Good Name

Posted by BHayes on August 21st, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

With the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit pending and the “should college athletes be paid?” debate becoming increasingly commonplace at the water cooler, the American public is acutely aware of the supposed slights facing college athletes (particularly those playing football and basketball). The absence of stipend or salary for players, who are obviously the main contributors to this multi-billion dollar industry, will always be seen by most as the least fair element of the whole college athlete gig. Without forgetting all the benefits to being a college athlete – scholarships and exposure prime among them, let’s also make sure we remember how challenging sudden fame would be for any young adult.

Dez Wells Is Happy At Maryland, But His Controversial Expulsion From Xavier A Year Ago Continues To Linger

Dez Wells Is Happy At Maryland, But His Controversial Expulsion From Xavier A Year Ago Continues To Linger

Dez Wells knows better than most. Wells, now a junior at Maryland, was the victim of his own campus celebrity at Xavier a year ago. Even putting aside the fact that it was likely his status as a basketball player that induced an allegation of sexual assault (by all accounts and actions, the claim has been dismissed as a fabrication), Wells’ public figure prompted the Xavier administration to take a hard stance on the issue (for PR reasons), with Wells’ right to a presumption of innocence being thoroughly ignored throughout the process. Tuesday, almost exactly a year to the day he was expelled from XU, Wells filed a lawsuit against his former school, as first reported by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. A year ago, it didn’t take long for many to come to the conclusion that Wells got a raw deal, but the escalation of the matter still left his name in national headlines next to the words “sexual assault”.

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Rushed Reactions: North Carolina 79, Maryland 76

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after the ACC Tournament semifinal between North Carolina and Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team's loss.

Turgeon sounded as positive as ever, despite his team’s loss.

  1. Maryland Looked NCAA Good: This hasn’t been the case most of the year, but Maryland looked like an NCAA tournament team this weekend. The past couple of weeks, the Terrapins have looked much better. They’ve improved as much as any group in this league other than possibly Boston College. After the game, Mark Turgeon heaped the praise on Nick Faust, but credit also goes to the more active Alex Len and Dez Wells. Turgeon’s team — known to be very turnover prone — only finished with 10 turnovers against a very active defensive team (Faust, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen combined for three between them). This team may not make the Big Dance, but there’s a lot to be positive about in College Park going forward.
  2. North Carolina Rebounding Struggles: The biggest concern people should have coming out of the game about the Tar Heels is one that will certainly rear its head against Miami. North Carolina couldn’t keep Maryland off the offensive glass. Despite only a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass, the Terrapins owned a remarkable 24-4 advantage in second-chance points. Charles Mitchell had three offensive rebounds in 12 minutes. Jake Layman added two in 14 minutes. Len added three more. That could kill North Carolina against a team as big as Miami.
  3. Layman’s Reduced Role: After playing most of the game against Duke and acting as the Ryan Kelly stopper, Jake Layman saw his role dramatically reduced (even after starting) against North Carolina. Mark Turgeon turned to Logan Aronhalt instead, looking for another shooter and not needing Layman’s size. However the shift showcased Maryland’s youthful depth. Not only can the Terrapins execute hockey-style front line changes with Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell, they have the ability to adapt their backcourt as well.

Star of the Game: Reggie Bullock deserves a ton of credit. He shut down Dez Wells for much of the game with terrific defense, and ended up tied as North Carolina’s leading scorer with 15 points on 10 shots, four assists and no turnovers. Bullock is the best player North Carolina has on both ends of the floor. He’s a ballhawk on defense and the most consistent shooter on the roster. The only thing missing from Bullock’s game is the attitude that he needs to shoot more and take over games. 

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 83, Duke 74

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after tonight’s Maryland-Duke game from the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Three Key Takeaways:

Ryan Kelly didn't magically fix Duke's defense.

Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense.

  1. Maryland’s offense is fine*: That disclaimer is provided if the Terrapins hit open shots. Maryland torched Duke most of the night, knocking down shot after shot. Duke deserves much of the blame for faulty rotations and miscommunications, but many of Maryland’s struggles this season have come from its inability to take advantage of the opportunities teams present to them. As a team Maryland went 40% (8-of-20) from three and a crisp 23-of-25 from the free throw line. Also Maryland had fewer turnovers than Duke (something that only happened three times in 18 conference games). That’s how to hold onto a lead — especially late in the game. The game wasn’t without mistakes, but those mistakes were far less prominent than usual.
  2. Ryan Kelly didn’t magically fix Duke’s defense: A popular narrative the past two weeks or so is that Ryan Kelly fixed Duke’s issues on defense, but that’s not true. Dez Wells showed that an athletic player with the ability to knock down shots and penetrate can still wreak havoc on Duke’s defense. It wasn’t just Duke’s inability to stay in front of Maryland that was the problem, though. Duke also rotated poorly and when help defense did come, it was often ineffective. Unfortunately because of the small sample size of Duke’s recent games with Ryan Kelly, it’s hard to tell if this game was an anomaly or a crack in the foundation. Duke’s defense is better than this showing (teams aren’t typically going to shoot 92% from the free throw line), but it’s also a cause of concern looking towards the Big Dance.
  3. Freshman poise: Freshmen for both teams played very well for their first time on the ACC Tournament stage. For Maryland, Mark Turgeon got very valuable minutes from Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, Shaquille Cleare and Seth Allen. They didn’t score tons of points, but all contributed in other ways. Layman in particular was instrumental in guarding Ryan Kelly (who finished 3-of-11 from the floor) for most of the night. Layman also sneakily led the game in rebounding. On Duke’s side, Rasheed Sulaimon kept the Blue Devils in the gym during the first half. He was the only aggressive Duke player, finishing the half with 12 points in 15 minutes. Surprisingly, Mike Krzyzewski sat Sulaimon for the first five minutes of the second half.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells, hands down. As Dave Telep pointed out late in the game, Wells is from Raleigh and never got much interest from Duke. Whether or not that was the reason, Wells played like a man possessed, going 9-of-13 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line for 30 points to go with six boards and three assists. Duke couldn’t stop him and every time Maryland needed a bucket, he stepped up big. He’s carried Maryland in both of its ACC Tournament games.

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Rushed Reactions: Maryland 75, Wake Forest 62

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Thursday evening’s Maryland-Wake Forest game from the ACC Tournament.

Three Key Takeaways:

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Devin Thomas and the Wake Forest frontline made Alex Len a nonfactor. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

  1. Close for 32 minutes: At the under-eight media timeout in the second half, it was all tied up 54-54. Over the course of the next six minutes Wake Forest went 4-of-10 from the charity stripe, turned the ball over twice (and would have a third time if the possession hadn’t pointed in its direction), and missed all six of its free throw attempts. Needless to say, Maryland pulled out to a double-digit lead and the game was over. Down the stretch the Demon Deacons just didn’t look invested. They had poor body language and settled for ugly jump shots. The lethargy carried over to their defense in a nasty cycle of bad play. The negative body language is troubling. Wake Forest hasn’t had any success away from home under Jeff Bzdelik (his teams have won one conference road game and no postseason games), which plays into it. But somehow the Demon Deacons have to break out of the cycle.
  2. Pe’Shon Howard saved the day: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year offensively — like he’s made three of 25 attempts from beyond the arc in conference play. He hit his only deep attempt today, and it turned out to be where momentum really shifted to Maryland. Right after Travis McKie and Arnaud Adala Moto combined to go 1-of-4 from the free throw line, Howard buried a three to put Maryland up four and the Terrapins never looked back. If Howard is hitting shots, Maryland is a much better basketball team.
  3. Devin Thomas will be a great ACC player: Devin Thomas is going to be a very very good ACC player. He’s a worker for Wake Forest in the paint and has the frame that should add pounds during the offseason. In 18 minutes, Thomas finished with eight points, four rebounds, two steals and a block. He’s got a long way to go in terms of developing an arsenal of moves, but right now he plays a little like James Michael McAdoo. He doesn’t have the physical gifts that McAdoo does, but he does a lot of the little things that win games.

Star of the Game: Dez Wells kept Maryland close to start the second half, scoring seven of the Terrapins’s first nine points. He finished the game with 21 points on 10 shots with four rebounds and a steal to boot. Wells also had to guard Travis McKie much of the night, and did a good job on the perimeter.

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Night Line: More ACC Road Woes For Maryland: Are the Terps Down and Out?

Posted by BHayes on February 28th, 2013

nightline2

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The chaotic final weeks before the NCAA Tournament have everyone clamoring for clarity, and as simple and as fun as it would be to announce that yes, you did hear a giant “POP” coming from Atlanta this evening, the reality is that Maryland’s at-large hopes haven’t completely vanished. Yet. With games growing few and their ACC record worsening, a 78-68 loss to Georgia Tech tonight has slid the Terps one step closer to the bubble chopping block. Three regular season games remain for Mark Turgeon’s bunch, with two road dates involved (at Wake Forest and Virginia) and a home finale against North Carolina. If Maryland wants to hear its name called on Selection Sunday, they would be well served to snag all three — no easy feat, but when you consider that accomplishing it would triple Maryland’s ACC road win total, a hard road starts to feel nearly impossible.

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

Mark Turgeon Was At A Loss For Words After Another Maryland Road Loss

February 7, Blacksburg, Virginia – Maryland won a game on a basketball court not inside the Comcast Center, an accomplishment that had not occurred since November, and has not happened since. A difficult fact to process considering the Terps were likely on the right side of the bubble after the seismic Duke victory on February 16, but it’s hard to make a case for your NCAA Tournament inclusion when you can’t win more than a single road game.

Give Georgia Tech credit tonight, as the Jackets made a lot of plays they don’t normally make. Brian Gregory said it was the best 40 minutes his team has played all season, and Turgeon was effusive with praise for the home team. “Tech was good tonight, they were really good” he admitted, but he couldn’t quite seem to put his finger on what ailed his team — both tonight and on the road all season. Sure, there were criticisms – poor point guard play, a lack of toughness in the paint, too much 1-on-1 offensively – but you could tell that even Turgeon felt at a loss for answers. “I did think we tried hard,” he concluded, but with a resignation in his voice that suggested a full awareness that effort alone will not get his team to the Dance.

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ACC M5: 01.25.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 25th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Wilmington Star News: NC State became the second of the Triangle teams to call a players-only meeting lately (and based on Duke’s performance against Miami, its players won’t be far behind). Lorenzo Brown pretty bluntly outlined the reason behind the meeting: “”There’s been a lot of nonsense going on between us, but we’re all grown men [...] We sat down and talked it out, so we’re perfectly fine now.” My guess is that some of that nonsense has to do with people failing to play defense. Some more probably comes from TJ Warren retweeting Thomas DeThaey ripping Mark Gottfried. With a more polished North Carolina looming on Saturday, the Wolfpack need to get their minds right, and fast.
  2. USA Today: Dickie V. has a well-earned reputation for loving Duke. But I wasn’t shocked at all when Vitale was ripping the Blue Devils’ performance against Miami. First, Duke deserved the tongue-lashing. If there’s one thing Dickie V. (and most other commentators) have to say about Duke under Mike Krzyzewski, it’s that the Blue Devils outwork opponents. That didn’t happen in Coral Gables Wednesday night. Although I’m not sure I should waste too much effort responding to an author who thought it was newsworthy to post North Carolina fans chanting “go to hell Duke” during their win over Georgia Tech. Duke, North Carolina and NC State chant about their rivals in every game — this is nothing new.
  3. Washington Post: Right now Maryland is still evolving offensively. It’s a little surprising to see a coach of Mark Turgeon’s stature struggling so much to find the right offensive roles for his players, but he’s trying everything at this point. This idea seems like a good one: Dez Wells will handle the ball more. He’s a very different player (who plays very different defense), but Maryland might be well-served treating Wells a little like Duke treated Austin Rivers last season. The only thing Maryland has to watch out for is focusing on getting Alex Len the ball.
  4. AP (via Sports Illustrated): Another wrinkle in the NCAA-Miami saga is starting to unfold. Nevin Shapiro’s lawyer, Maria Elena Perez, is going to tell her side of the story. In a short statement, Perez called herself “a victim of their [the NCAA's] enforcement staff’s misconduct,” passively adding, “The dubious party is not me. What I have done is 150 percent above the board.” Her statements come after Mark Emmert’s nebulous comments appeared to imply she took money to question people under oath. If you haven’t already, you’ll definitely want to grab some popcorn over the coming weeks as this story develops.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Luke DeCock nails the result of an ACC full of parity. Home court advantage is massive this year, as home teams are 22-10 in league play thus far this season. The Florida duo alone have five road wins between them. Duke and North Carolina? There’s only one road win to be found. The only teams to truly trust on the road at this point are Miami and Florida State. Duke may grow into one of those teams once Ryan Kelly is back (and it has played the top two teams in the league), but it’s not there yet. But apart from the top few teams, road wins are going to be a rarity.
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ACC M5: 01.09.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 9th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. NBC Sports: Rob Dauster nails why Virginia was able to shut North Carolina down over the weekend. I don’t necessarily agree with his first point (that Virginia didn’t take bad shots), but the fact that the Cavaliers showed no interest in offensive rebounding made up for any bad shots that could have lead to a Tar Heel fast break. Tony Bennett prepared his team to shut Roy Williams’ break down, and it worked well. The good news for North Carolina is that most teams won’t be able to match up as well in transition (with the initial or secondary breaks). But the bad news is that this team just isn’t as good at running the system as most of Williams’ better teams.
  2. Run the Floor: Moving down Tobacco Road to Durham, Duke fans have cause for concern. Mason Plumlee‘s free throw percentage has been trending downward since the beginning of the season (and continued its inaccurate nature against Clemson last night). Duke fans will never know whether it was a lack of confidence (possibly thanks to an airballed free throw against Ohio State) or just the fact that he has reverted to the same line-drive arc. Poor free throw shooting may kill his NPOY campaign, but as long as Plumlee stays aggressive in other aspects of the game, the Blue Devils should be just fine thanks to the number of other pieces surrounding him.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Speaking of the pieces surrounding Mason Plumlee, Ben Swain paid tribute to the great season Quinn Cook has been having (in honor of Cook’s bizarre zero-point, 14-assist game against Wake Forest). Cook summarily dropped 27 points, six assists and grabbed five boards against Clemson last night. But it’s pretty amazing to look at the turnaround Cook has seen since last year when he was mostly an afterthought, especially on defense where he was prone to frequent lapses. Cook is one of Duke’s best players and may be its most important in terms of the stability he provides the Blue Devils. Not many people saw that coming.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: On the topic of defensive lapses, Virginia Tech has had plenty of them. Where Seth Greenberg generally made the Hokies into a respectable defensive team (a physical one, if nothing else), James Johnson’s Hokies are quite poor on defense so far this season. They’re allowing 74.6 points a game and are ranked a full 180 spots below their average defensive ranking (#50) by Ken Pomeroy since joining the ACC. The problems? Bad interior defense, not forcing turnovers, and a failure to rebound.
  5. Washington Post: When people talked about Dez Wells as the difference-maker for Maryland in the preseason, I tried not to scoff because he had only joined the team in August. How is that enough time to get to know new teammates, much less fit in with them? But Wells has proven the believers right with his play so far. He’s already one of if not the most outspoken leader on the team, and when the Terrapins need a bucket in a tough situation, it’s never a bad guess that the ball will be in Wells’ hands. Props.
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Set Your DVR: Week of 12.18.12

Posted by bmulvihill on December 18th, 2012

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

We are in the midst of the calm before the conference season storm. Students are finishing up finals and preparing to head home for the holidays. We have a few interesting match-ups to keep an eye on this week, so make sure to put them on as you finish up your holiday wrapping. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Last year's Cincinnati-Xavier brawl was ugly, so now everyone loses next season (AP Photo)

Let’s Hope We Don’t Have Another Scene Like This in the Xavier-Cincinnati Game on Wednesday (AP)

Stanford at North Carolina State  9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Last season, Stanford was outshot by NC State but ended up winning the game at the free throw line. It’s not reasonable to think they can pull the upset this year on the road given the offensive struggles the Cardinal is having. Since Johnny Dawkins took over the Stanford program in 2009, the Cardinal have never experienced a two-point field goal percentage over 50%. This year is no different, as the team is currently at 46% from two (26% from three). I don’t know the road record of teams shooting under 50% from inside the arc, but I have to imagine it’s not good. With losses to the three best teams they have faced thus far — Belmont, Missouri, and Minnesota — the Cardinal are in desperate need of a signature win prior to the Pac-12 conference season. The shooting and talent gap with NC State may be too difficult for them to overcome, especially in Raleigh. NC State is shooting the ball extremely well and is led by talented offensive threats like C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown. You will still want to keep an eye on the free throw situation, though. In both of their losses this season, the Wolfpack put their opponents on the line much more than they were able to get there. If Chasson Randle is pushing the action and driving to the hoop, Stanford can stay in this game. If the Wolfpack can play solid defense without fouling him, it should be curtains for the Cardinal.

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ACC M5: 12.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 10th, 2012

  1. Boston Globe: Steve Donahue is trying to figure out how to best rebuild Boston College, but after losing to Harvard for the fifth straight year (and in non-competitive fashion), he called off practice. He assessed what the team is good at and what it isn’t, and, long story short: shooting and defense, respectively. With that in mind Donahue changed the look of the Eagles. He went out against St. Francis looking to score 75 or 80 points, and focused the defense on aggressiveness instead of implementing complex schemes. When the first half wasn’t going well, Donahue benched his star player Ryan Anderson for most of the second half. If the Eagles start looking better, we might look back and see coaching genius. If they don’t, we’ll see desperation.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Richard Howell may be the most important player on NC State’s roster this season. He’s definitely not the most talented, but the senior consistently outworks everyone on the floor. Most people expected Lorenzo Brown or CJ Leslie to take the helm of this Wolfpack team, but Howell has been the guy who refuses to quit — he’s the guy that sparks the team and steps up in the big moments. This isn’t to say Howell is perfect, as he still attracts fouls at an alarming rate and lacks the polish to really be an offensive centerpiece. But he’s the type of guy who could bring the talented freshmen into the fold and build on the success Mark Gottfried’s team had to end last season.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Justin Anderson is going to be a special player for Tony Bennett if he stays all four years. Right now, he’s an incredibly athletic wing who adds a little flash to the slowest team in college basketball. But his greatness still comes in spurts. He’s taking too many threes, especially considering his skill set. Anderson is a guy who is going to give some very good teams fits during his career. Combine him with Bennett’s muck-it-up pack-line defense that keeps things close, and it certainly looks like a recipe for success.
  4. Washington Post: Mark Turgeon is still figuring out his rotation. Mostly Turgeon is trying to find his most effective combinations. Right now the Terrapins are playing a caliber of opponent that allows Turgeon to tinker a lot with very little risk. Even though he wasn’t on the team last year Dez Wells had a quote that certainly harkened back to a certain elite Terrapin from last season:

    “Nobody cares about who scores the points, nobody cares about the Terp of the Week, that stuff. That’s good for the team, and that’s good for the school, because they’re really behind us, but as a team we’re not worried about the accolades, we just want to win. Whether somebody scores 50 points or somebody doesn’t score at all, we’ll continue to pick that person up.”

  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Duke isn’t the only ACC team struggling to crash the boards this season. Georgia Tech has struggled with rebounding margin as well. Somewhat surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets’ advanced splits from Ken Pomeroy don’t back up Brian Gregory’s concerns. It’s true Gregory’s team is in the second half of the country in rebounding its own misses, but the team is actually a solid defensive rebounding team. But stats never give the whole picture, and it’s clear Gregory wants the team to box out more aggressively.

EXTRA: Brian Zoubek is still living the dream as a deluxe cream puff chef based in New Jersey. He planned on giving Duke a sampling of his craft after its trip to the Izod Center to play Temple.

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ACC M5: 12.06.12 Edition

Posted by EMann on December 6th, 2012

  1. ESPN: North Carolina guard/forward PJ Hairston has been playing a new position this year, the power forward spot. Robbi Pickeral discusses how in North Carolina’s small lineup (three guards plus Hairston with James Michael McAdoo), Hairston enjoys his new role because it creates mismatches and allows him to stretch the floor with his outside shooting ability, something atypical from a player at his position. Roy Williams expects to use this lineup often in the future, as it was successful against UAB last weekend. Hairston also plans to take the ball to the basket more to take advantage of his handling skills instead of settling for threes, and he has also gained some additional confidence because of this move. His numbers are so far much improved from last year, and if UNC continues to use this smaller lineup, they can stretch the floor with several three-point shooting options, something a bit out of the norm for a Roy Williams lineup.
  2. Washington Post: Maryland has a renewed focus on defense this season, as typical scouting sessions are focused on closely observing opponents’ offensive tendencies on film. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that the Terps’ victory over George Mason last weekend was the first time he has been happy with his team’s defense all season. One of the most important tasks Turgeon has undertaken is getting his freshmen on board with the team’s defensive focus. Alex Len and Dez Wells have especially bought into the defensive schemes that Turgeon hopes will become contagious amongst his younger players. At the moment, Maryland is ranked 78th in Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings largely due to their opponents very rarely turning over the ball, so that is one area where the Terrapins will need to improve.
  3. While maybe not as important to the average Seminole fan as the triumph over the Seminoles on the gridiron two weeks ago, Florida’s evisceration of Florida State in Tallahassee last night was a sure sign that the Seminoles have a long way to go this season. Yes, Florida is one of the very best teams in the country but FSU was nowhere even near competitive with the Gators, something that they were even in 2006 and 2007 when Florida won their consecutive national championships. In the 25-point defeat (and it didn’t even seem that close), Florida State shot only 35% from the field and committed 22 turnovers, while Florida shot 49% and ran out on the Seminoles from the opening tip. Michael Snaer was the only Seminole in double figures, so if this game does not serve as a wakeup call for Leonard Hamilton’s team after the home embarrassments to South Alabama and Mercer, nothing will.
  4. Local radio voice Mark Thomas was inspired by NC State’s effort in its victory over Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic two nights ago. The most important takeaway, according to Thomas, is that Mark Gottfried and his team appear to have realized that while they are a very talented, they are not good enough to just roll the basketball out there and out-talent the other team. The game against UConn showed the importance of topping that talent with strong effort, and NC State’s performance in the second half was certainly indicative of that. While it may be tough for NCSU to match Duke in the ACC this season, performances like this one will definitely remind observers as to why they predicted NC State to win the conference in the preseason after all.
  5. Duke extended the contract of athletic director Dr. Kevin White through the end of June 2019. White, since coming from Notre Dame in 2008, has overseen three national titles (including the 2010 men’s basketball title) and 12 ACC titles. Duke’s athletic teams have also been exceptional in the classroom, with only one team earning a GPA below 3.0 last semester. Duke’s athletics have also placed in the top 2o in the Director’s Cup (which measures performances in all sports) in each year during White’s tenure. While no one knows when head coach Mike Krzyzewski will step down, with White seemingly in place for much of the next decade, he may be the one officially making the extremely difficult call on who will replace the sport’s all-time leader in victories, a very difficult call indeed for even an AD with White’s pedigree.
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