Dick Vitale Goes Off On The Dan LeBatard Show

Posted by nvr1983 on August 19th, 2011

Yesterday, Dick Vitale went on The Dan LeBatard Show to discuss the scandal at Miami and the implications it could have on college sports. After LeBatard started off the interview with a few fairly benign questions about the Miami scandal, to which Vitale gave the expected media-speak answers (other than his assertion that Donna Shalala must step down as president of the University of Miami), LeBatard asked him about John Calipari and the scandals that have followed him at Massachusetts and Memphis. Vitale brushed it aside, saying that the NCAA has never implicated Calipari. LeBatard’s co-host Jon Weiner (aka Stugotz) then chimed in with the statement/question: “Best guess, Dick. Best guess. I know you are friends with him, but best guess. John Calipari has cheated at some point in his life.” Vitale responded first with silence, then said “Alright, let’s go to the next point.” After some discussion where LeBatard cleared up the fact that it was his co-host who had asked the question, Vitale suggests that there should be laws against boosters like Nevin Shapiro.

When Vitale went on to state that none of the major coaches he knows would have tolerated what happened at Miami (citing Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, and Bob Knight as examples), Stugotz suggests that every coach or program has committed at least one NCAA infraction even if only unknowingly. After Vitale got upset at him and brought up the prostitutes, Stugotz clarified by saying that he never implied that other programs were using prostitutes or doing things as big as Miami is accused of doing. Despite this clarification, Vitale becomes increasingly infuriated at the radio hosts and hangs up. Partial clip below:

While Kentucky fans are widely applauding Vitale for defending Calipari, it seems more like Vitale is on a crusade to defend college basketball, or college sports as a whole, instead of a single coach or program. Although Stugotz’s initial question/statement about Calipari was indelicate, his follow-up questions about programs unknowingly violating rules are valid ones. Unfortunately, it seems that Vitale was so incensed by the earlier question or the storm surrounding the NCAA right now that he was unwilling to hear it. Perhaps if Vitale had stayed on the phone long enough to engage in a reasonable conversation, they could have discussed Krzyzewski’s “controversial” phone call to Alex Poythress or Sam Gilbert’s association with John Wooden‘s UCLA dynasty (OK, maybe that would have set him off). In any event, although many college basketball fans (particularly Kentucky fans) will support Vitale in this case, he does come off as petulant and condescending here.

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RTC Summer Updates: Horizon League

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 17th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Horizon League correspondent, Jimmy Lemke.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • End of an Era - Homer Drew may have done his best work in the Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League), but that doesn’t bar the Horizon League community from recognizing the tremendous stature of the now-retired Valparaiso coach. He’s done it before – briefly retiring earlier in the decade to pave the way for son Scott Drew and promptly retaking the reins after Scott took the very difficult job at Baylor – but this time you could tell it was final. His ability to recruit overseas is second to none, and we will always remember the feel-good story of his1998 team. Speaking of that year, the coach to now replace him? None other than his other son, all-time Crusader great Bryce Drew.
  • Dickie V. Rules In Motor City - The Detroit Titans made a big splash this summer by deciding to name their court for former Titans coach and renowned broadcaster, Dick Vitale. While he spent only four years as head of the Titans before taking over as coach of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, Dickie V’s exploits on behalf of college basketball are immeasurable. Dick Vitale IS college basketball, regardless of how you feel about him. As a longtime follower of the Milwaukee program, I see the court naming as a disappointment for Perry Watson, who coached the Titans for a considerably longer stretch and was very successful in that time, but there’s no doubting the decision from the future point of view. This season, St. John’s will play at Detroit on ESPN following a ceremony celebrating the honor, and I’d be willing to bet the Titans are banking on any Dick Vitale anniversaries falling on Detroit’s home schedule with a visit from ESPN.
  • Big Names DepartBrandon Wood took a highly-publicized transfer to Michigan State and will be able to play immediately because he finished his degree at Valparaiso where his graduate program isn’t offered. Shelvin Mack declared for the draft and stayed put, going early in the second round to the Washington Wizards. But the biggest move in the conference is from the graduating senior class. Nearly every big team lost multiple big time competitors. Butler, of course, lost Mack, but they also lost Zach Hahn, Shawn Vanzant and, most importantly, Matt Howard. Milwaukee loses Anthony Hill and streaky-but-dangerous shooter Tone Boyle. Wright State, already on the downturn, lost Cooper Land, Troy Tabler, Vaughn Duggins and N’Gai Evans. Cleveland State waved a heartfelt goodbye to perhaps the most talented of them all, Norris Cole, now with the Miami Heat. Put simply, eight of the ten 2010-11 all-Horizon League team members have exited the conference, with only two remaining: Ray McCallum, Jr. and Eli Holman, both of Detroit.

Brad Stevens Led The Bulldogs To Another Title Game Appearance, But He Faces Life Without Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack in the 2011-12 Season.

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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Tom Brennan, Part II

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2011

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Yesterday we brought you Part I of our One on One interview with the always-entertaining Tom BrennanIn addition to learning that integration helped knock him out of a starting spot at Georgia and that his athletic director at Yale all but pushed him out the door to Vermont, we re-discovered that the man simply loves to tell stories.  Whether it involves him telling his new boss that he’s already fulfilled all his career goals or thinking he had coaching all figured out at the tender age of 27, he had us riveted to each and every word.  Part II is only better.

Ed. Note: Brennan uses some colorful language during this interview, so if you’re sensitive to such things, you may want to skip past this one.

Rush the Court: Guys like us who study the sport knew you were pretty good in ’03 and ’04, but most of America, though, didn’t know about you guys until that ’05 season.  The ESPN program helped with that, but then of course the NCAA Tournament run built upon it.  You guys really caught lightning in a bottle in terms of national coverage, and with Taylor Coppenrath, TJ Sorrentine, and yourself, you all became national names almost overnight.  What was that like?

Tom Brennan: We were pretty.  We really were pretty.  I had this radio show every morning during morning drive-time.  It was like something out of a novel.  Sorrentine was the little street kid from Pawtucket [RI], you know, who was the leader and had his hat on sideways.  And Coppenrath was like Lil’ Abner; he was from a town of 200 people, and they loved him.  They loved him!  He never complained; he was really a treat.  And then I had three or four other guys that just really blended in.  I always say this — like, David Hehn — the first year we won [in 2003], we won at BU, and he made a jumper with about five seconds to go to win the game.  So now, it’s Vermont’s first championship, we win it on the road.  Everybody’s nuts, but then we had Coppenrath and Sorrentine.  You know, Sorrentine was out that year, and he’s coming back and he’d been the MVP.  And the year he was out, Coppenrath was the MVP.  So now I got these two studs, and they’re both really good, but I also have to manage all this sh– to make sure everybody is on the same page.  Like Hehn went from a superhero to A Chorus Line — he went back, “just let me guard the other team’s best player.”  But if any of those kids had ego problems, I think we could have blown up.  They were just so good about it, and everybody really was into the idea that we’re all better if we’re together, and we’re all better if we don’t care who gets the credit and that kind of stuff.  As cliched as it sounds, it really was the truth.  Coppenrath and Sorrentine were both ultimate teammates, and the other three guys were as well.  And we were tough!  We’d been around — all the same guys — for three years, then ESPN got interested.  ESPN The Magazine did a big story on us, and Sports Illustrated.  It was off the hook, and it’s such a little state and we’re the only Division I school, and people just went crazy about it.  Really, those guys were like the Beatles — they really were.

The Vermont Rock Stars Knowns as Brennan's Catamounts (Getty/J. McIsaac)

RTC:  So let me ask you about those three NCAA Tournaments.  In succession, you went up against Lute Olson, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo.  [laughter]  There’s no break there, right?  What was that like?  Olson’s now retired — he coached until he was about 150, but these other guys continue to get it done even as they advance well into their coaching careers.  What is it about these coaches that makes them so successful?

TB:  I always said, “if God had another son, he would look like Lute Olson.”  It was remarkable what Calhoun did last year — he finished ninth in their league!  And it’s not like he’s going to rally them — he’s a bad-ass.  You know, he gets in those kids’ faces; he doesn’t take no for an answer.  I mean, he’s just ruthless, and yet, man, they did it.  They did it.  I was always impressed with that, and what happened was… it was funny.  I was so in awe of Lute Olson — it was just unbelievable, because, again, the guy was like a god to me — and I didn’t know him, but I just knew of him, and what he’d done and what he’d accomplished and how he looked and he was always so gracious.  And so I’m walking down, we’re getting ready to play them, and what happened was that his wife had died a while back, and then he ended up with this woman from Pennsylvania [Christine Olson] — I don’t even know how the hell it happened, but she was like a Republican leader, some big deal from Pennsylvania — and I read this thing where he was very happy.  That he’d met this woman and she’d really made him happy, so I didn’t think much of it, but when I was walking down to say hello to him, I was so nervous.  Honest to God, I wasn’t even nervous about the game, I was nervous about him!  Because I knew, they’re a #1, we’re a #16 — I mean, they had [Andre] Iguodala, they had all kinds of players on that team.  We had been stuck in the snow, we didn’t get to Salt Lake until 1:30 in the morning, and we played at 11.  It was crazy.  It was just crazy.  Our kids were like, “f—, look where we are.”  And that’s the thing, by the time the second year came around [against UConn in 2004], we really weren’t that shook, and by the time the third year came around [against Syracuse in 2005], we knew that we could win.  We really knew we were good enough.  So, anyway, I go up to Lute Olson, and he said, “Coach, how are you?”  And I said, “Coach, I just wanna say that I’m just so happy that you’ve found peace in your personal life.”  I’m thinking to myself, “what the f— are you saying?!?!”  I’m hearing these words come out, and I’m thinking, “you a–hole!”  I didn’t even know what to say to him; I was so awestruck, honest to God.  So he said, “well, thank you.”  And I just turned and ran like a rabbit, and thought “jeezus… good first impression, there.”  But you know what, when I retired, he wrote me the nicest letter.  He wrote me a beautiful letter, and so it was nice.  But you know, we never had a chance.  [Vermont lost 80-51.]  I have a picture on my cell and we were up, like 7-6, got it blown up and put it on my wall.  But then, and this is a cute story too.  We got stuck in the snow, and I went on [Tony] Kornheiser’s show, PTI or whatever it was — I guess it was his radio show at the time — and I said, “you know, this is ridiculous.”  I said, “they make billions of dollars on this thing, and they can’t get us from Denver to Salt Lake City?  If you think this was Duke in this hotel, we’d still be here.”  I wasn’t even finished, and the AD knocked on the door: “hey, yo, that’s enough about that.”  [laughter]  So that was enough about that.  So then anyway, but what happened was, we did get tapped out, and to take us home, the NCAA felt so bad and I guess my rant had a little bit to do with it, they sent us a plane that [Bruce] Springsteen uses, the Rolling Stones use, and you couldn’t even tell it was a plane.  So now, my wife and I are standing at the back, and the captain comes down, and he says, “are you the coach?”  I said, “yes, sir.  I’m the coach.”  He said, “well, you come with me, I’m going to take you to Mick Jagger’s suite.”  So I turned to Lynn [Brennan, his wife], I said, “hey, you gotta turn into a Brazilian model by the time we get to the top of the stairs.”  [laughter]  It was wild.  But it was a great experience; it was a great experience for our kids.  And I knew that we had a chance to keep going, that we had this group that was good.  So then the next year we played UConn, played them tougher than anybody as I recall, on their march to the championship.  [Vermont lost 70-53.]  I think they beat us less than anybody else, and then the next year we got Syracuse.     

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Morning Five: 06.16.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 16th, 2011

  1. Yesterday was a busy day for former UConn forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel as he not only received a deal from a judge allowing him to enter a state-run drug education program that would leave him without a criminal record (outside of the Internet) and he announced that he would be transferring to Hofstra where he will join former UConn assistant Patrick Sellars (the one who was thrown under the bus in the Nate Miles fiasco).
  2. We are only week away from the NBA Draft and most pundits expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to select Kyrie Irving with the #1 overall pick. Even though most people consider this a weak year overall there are a few people who are quite high on Irving. Basketball Prospectus is apparently high enough on him to write an a post comparing him to Derrick Rose. We don’t think that Irving is even close to the prospect that Rose was coming out of his freshman year (the comparison is probably based on most similar game rather than potential), but it is an interesting analysis.
  3. Over the years Dick Vitale has become somewhat of a lightning rod for fans upset about perceived biases against their teams so much so that they often forget that he was a pretty good college coach (and a lousy pro coach). Detroit, the school that he coached at from 1973-77 and led to the NCAA Tournament in 1977, has announced that it will be naming its court as “Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall” during the school’s nationally televised game against St. John’s on December 5, 2011 (more on it here from RTC). We are sort of on the fence with this one. On one hand the program does not have a great track record of success and Vitale got them to the NCAA Tournament, but on the other hand it could be interpreted to be a desperate plea to garner some national attention.
  4. We have been writing about “package deals” for several years now dating back to the sketchy Michael Beasley-Dalonte Hill deal, but assumed that they were going to be less frequent with the NCAA trying to be more vigilant on all fronts. It turns that belief might have been a bit premature as some are questioning a potential assistant coaching job offer to the father of 2012 recruit J-Mychal Reese. According to some reports J-Mychal’s father has offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and LSU. Although he does have nearly a decade of experience as a high school coach some are questioning it and it should be worth following over the next year.
  5. UTEP rising sophomore John Bohannon got himself into a mess over the weekend with an anti-gay tweet stating “#letsbereal it is NOT cool to be gay! (Zro voice) *jordan shrug*.” Bohannon subsequently deleted the tweet and posted another tweet stating “To those who were offended by my tweet a few days ago- Didn’t mean any disrespect by it as I do not judge anybody by their sexual preference and would hope you would not judge me by one tweet. Thank You.” UTEP has not issued a comment other than that Bohannon reportedly issued the original tweet in reference to a lyric by rapper Z-Ro that stated “Seems like today, it’s cool to be gay.” Within the UTEP student community response has been mixed, but mostly negative, which is not too surprising. We are sure that Bohannon will be reminded of this at a more than a few road games during his college career.
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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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Morning Five: Memorial Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 30th, 2011

Happy Memorial Day to everyone around the country, whether you’re honoring our fallen soldiers and/or the family members who are no longer with us. It’s a day worthy of reflection and memory, and we hope that your day will be spent in equal parts pouring out an ounce of liquor and cooking up some tasty barbecue.  After all, life is here to be lived, even while we’re remembering those who are gone.

  1. As if five full days of the hoops extravaganza known affectionately as the Big East Tournament wasn’t already enough, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said late last week that he wants to see the tournament expand to 17 teams (or further upon additional expansion) when TCU formally enters the league in 2012-13.  His justifications — that teams (such as UConn last year) can win five games, and that every player in the conference deserves a chance to play in the Garden at the league’s marquee event — sound reasonable enough to us.  Although the idea of a #16 vs. #17 play-in game between DePaul and TCU on Monday night seems about as enticing as talking derivative markets over at the Harvard Club.  The setup Boeheim suggests, though, would be more workable if the league ultimately expands to 20 teams and could have a “First Four” of its own then.
  2. Speaking of Big East expansion, maybe someday soon the University of Memphis will get a long-desired invitation to the league, but in the meantime we’ll have to settle for a home-and-home series between the Tigers and longtime rival and nemesis Louisville scheduled to begin next season at the KFC Yum! Center.  The two schools who battled for decades in the old Metro Conference and later in Conference USA (when it was still relevant) have not played in six years since Louisville left CUSA (the infamous Darius Washington game) but, needless to say, the two are still not friendly.  This will be a great series, and we hope that even if Memphis doesn’t join the Big East in the coming few years, that the two will continue this series indefinitely.
  3. Say what you want about Dick Vitale as an announcer past his prime or a shameless homer for certain east coast schools where he’s friendly with the head coaches… but never question the man’s commitment to improving the lives of the people around him through his relentless advocacy to fight cancer in his role as a spokesman for the Jimmy V Foundation.  As Andy Staples writes in this piece on Friday, Vitale has leveraged his name within the sporting community to raise over $100M at his gala in just the last six years, a ridiculous number in philanthropic contributions when you think about it.  Someday, when this very site or its replacement is writing the obit for one Richard Vitale, the first sentence shouldn’t mention the word ESPN, or Duke, or even basketball — it should focus on the consuming passion that he has given into the fight against cancer and how his tireless efforts in the “fourth quarter” of his life helped make the world a better place.
  4. The LA Times published a piece over the weekend examining the odd situation of three southern California kids all returning back home to play for UCLA after spending at least one season all the way across the country at UNC.  Larry Drew II, Travis Wear and David Wear each returned to LA after finding Chapel Hill not to their liking for one reason or another, and are looking to regain some of the form that made each of them elite recruits coming out of high school.  Considering that very few players leave Roy Williams’ teams to transfer elsewhere (only seven in over 20 years of head coaching), it’s a weird coincidence that four of those players came from the sunny skies and endless avenues of Los Angeles (Alex Stepheson was the other).  Good news for Tar Heel fans: none of the players on the 2011-12 UNC roster is from SoCal.
  5. It continues to amaze us that South Park is still on the air, but it is, and it continue to push the envelope with its politically incorrect jabs at just about everything anyone considers holy and sacred.  It’s been a long time since anyone considered the NCAA sacrosanct, but SP’s recent episode, “Crack Baby Athletic Association” skewers the governing organization in a parody that likens modern student-athletes to slaves in a for-profit scheme run by a select few.  South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s alma mater, the University of Colorado, comes off as particularly complicit in this show as the school the boys visit in an attempt to ply their exploitative trade.  We could go on, but don’t take our word for it — the entire unedited episode is here.
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XV

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 14th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse asks who the best prototype player in the game is, backs the Princeton Tigers, and laments his bad bracket luck. Yeah, Jesse…tell it to Coach Greenberg.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..trying to figure out a unique question. I was having a debate with someone about Connecticut, and in the course of that argument said that “you have to remember, the Huskies don’t have five Kembas.” Well, my buddy (RTC’s own David Ely) asked which player I would take five of in order to form a team that would be the most competitive against a full squad from another school. Think about it, it’s a really interesting question. They have to be able to handle the ball if a team pressed, have to be big enough to compete on the boards (is 6’4 or 6’5 big enough?), have to shoot well enough to keep a D honest, have to be a versatile defender, etc. I think Jordan Hamilton from Texas might be my pick, but here are some of players that came to mind: Harrison Barnes (he’s the prototype you’d think of, 6’8 with some guard skills), Kyle Singler, Derrick Williams, Daniel Hardy, Brad Wanamaker, Scotty Hopson, DeAndre Liggins, Brandon Knight, Cory Joseph. Who would you take?

Is Barnes the Best "All-Rounder" of a Player?

I LOVED…..two perfect buzzer beaters. Kemba Walker and Washington’s Isaiah Thomas gave us a couple of doozies to salivate over this week, and I liked them for different reasons. With Kemba, it was the ridiculous move. Yes, he had a post player on him, but that stepback was so comically absurd (Pitt’s Gary McGhee fell down) that the only critique might be that he exerted too much energy getting more space than he needed. He’s still my POY, by the way. With Thomas, it was the perfect setup. It was an incredible game (a TITLE game), overtime, swings for both teams…and a perfect ending. Thomas played the clock absolutely perfectly, and the backboard lit up just as his J swished through the hoop. Oh, and by the way, Gus Johnson was on the call (watch to get excited for this coming week): “Thomas….shake….crossover….stepback…..AHHHHIAAHHHH!!!!! AT THE BUZZER!!! YOUNG!!!…..ZEKE!!! (someone told Gus that Thomas was named after the NBA great PG)…….. COLD!!!! ….. BLOODED!!!!!”

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIV

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 7th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse digs a rout out west and credits the Thompson men in their handling of Klay’s mistake, and tells the Longhorns and Hokies what he thinks of ‘em.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED..…Rick Pitino saying that there were no hard feelings about the Louisville cheerleader who gave Pitt a chance to tie the game last Sunday by running onto the court and hurling the ball skyward, earning a technical. He went on to say that the overzealous student should “enjoy your moment of glory.” But while Rick might have been all chummy the next day, that frankly was not the case after the game. Click this link and listen to the audio of his press conference: “I’m sure it was unintentional, but you could actually lose a game that way …. But hopefully he’ll learn the rules of basketball next time.” Pitino might have been in his happy-go-lucky PR mood after taking 24 hours to calm down, but his gut reaction is pretty hilarious – don’t EVER touch my ball.

Pitino Showed His Mellower Side During Cheerleadergate

I LOVED……a subconscious admission of a classic Duke flop tactic (P.S., I’m neutralizing the upcoming Duke hate by giving Nolan Smith mad props for single-handedly keeping the Devils in the game against UNC this weekend). While watching the UK/Vanderbilt game this week, I saw a guard draw a three-shot foul by sticking out his legs on a jumper and acting his way into the call. The side announcer (I want to say it was Jimmy Dykes) proceeds to say, “Over the years, Duke’s shooters. You go back to even guys like J.J. Redick. So good and so clever. (Jon) Scheyer. Nolan Smith right now…just enough of a foot out when you’re in the air to draw contact.” THREE Duke players, NO ONE ELSE! It was quite humorous, and come on – you’ve got to give credit first and foremost to Best Actor nominee Reggie Miller, who invented that move long ago.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 14th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse jumps on the St. John’s bandwagon, reminisces about his UNC vs Duke days, and wishes Ohio State hadn’t lost.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..this tweet from North Carolina freshman Kendall Marshall this past Tuesday, just two days after tearing apart Florida State’s defense: “Just got turned down for Valentine’s Day. Confidence is low right now lololol.” As a buddy of mine phrased it, come on Chapel Hill – 16 assists doesn’t cut it for the ladies?

I LOVED…..the biggest shot of the weekend coming from college basketball’s version of Carrot Top. Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz splashed a monster three from the top of the key with the shot clock running down to seal Ohio State’s first loss of the season. It’s hard to miss his fire-colored curles on a telecast, and even harder when he’s front-and-center in the game’s biggest moment. A few more of those shots and Bruesewitz will have a cult-like following from the fad hair lovers in America.

I LOVED…..a good ‘ol fashioned Duke-UNC throwdown. I was around the rivalry for four years during college, and I’ll never for one second believe that there’s a better annual game than the regular-season matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Like no other rivalry, records seem to go out the window and emotions reach some sort of twisted, chaotic climax. This year we even had the UNC chancellor hatin’ on the campers of Krzyzewskiville — via Twitter no less. Alas, we now have to wait 51 more weeks for the next edition at Cameron.

Take Heart, Kendall. Your Rising APG and the Love of the UNC Nation Will Keep You Warm

I LOVED…..St. John’s continuing its resurgence under Steve Lavin. There’s something extremely cool about reviving a program that has such an amazing history and plays in MSG, the Mecca of basketball stadiums. New York City is so connected with our game’s history that it’s fun to see an energetic coach put some excitement back into the program. Let’s hope this isn’t a one-season deal.

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The Night Dick Vitale Gave Us A Baby

Posted by jstevrtc on January 12th, 2011

He’s mo-bile, probably not very a-gile, but definitely not fra-gile. Dick Vitale, one of the best friends the game of college basketball has, signed a contract extension with ESPN today that will keep him telling us about PTPers and diaper dandies through the 2014-2015 season. That’s right — at least an Olympiad more of Dickie V.

We needle Vitale on here quite a bit. But we wouldn’t have been disappointed if ESPN had locked him up for forty more years as opposed to four. Not becuase we like ribbing him, but because you gotta love the guy.

In Celebration of His Contract Extension, We Won't Call That Clearing Left Arm.

The first time I “met” Dick Vitale I was a sophomore in college. I won’t tell you where or when (heh heh) this was, but there were no college basketball blogs then. A couple of friends and I had attended a Vitale-called game at our beloved institution of higher beer consumption hitting on girls learning, and we stayed around for the head coach’s live post game radio show. When it was over, my buddies and I saw Vitale, who had just completed his post-game duties for ESPN, walking up the stands with an undeniably imposing security guard in front of him. We figured we wouldn’t get too many chances like this in later life, so, like star-struck fanboys, we speed-walked (okay, ran) up the bleachers towards him, calling him “Dickie V!” as if we’d known him for most of our lives.

The school had given out those cardboard cutouts of Vitale’s smiling face on a stick (actual size), similar to the ones they use on Pardon the Interruption. We still had ours and brandished them as we approached him. The security guard turned, put out a halting hand, and told us, “No, gentlemen. Thanks, but Mr.Vitale is finished working for the night.”

Actually, he only got out half of “finished” before Vitale, in long coat and gloves and obviously wanting to get back to his hotel and rest, turned around, removed his gloves, and shook our hands. With his usual enthusiasm and only slightly reduced volume, he asked us, “Hey, what’d you fellas think of that game? Man, that press took care of [the opponent] tonight, they had no answer! I mean, it was like there were ten of ‘em out there!…” We didn’t even have time to answer. If he was just assuming “Dickie V-mode” and performing for us, he was doing a pretty convincing job.

One of my friends was from Maryland and loved his Terrapins despite being very far from home. When he could get a word in, he asked Vitale, “Hey, Coach, when’s your next trip to Maryland to see my Turtles?”

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The Week That Was: Jan. 4-Jan. 10

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

It wasn’t the best of weeks for TWTW. Notre Dame and Kentucky failed to live up to TWTW’s lofty praise heaped upon them. Notre Dame’s defense allowed Marquette to shoot 53.1% from the field and 70.6% from three in a 22-point loss, and the Wildcats lost their SEC opener after TWTW proclaimed them a sure-thing to come close to running the table in conference.

What will TWTW say this week that in seven-days will seem ridiculous? Let’s find out…

What We Learned

Walker Is Still Your Leader In the POY Race. (P. Raycraft/Hartford Courant)

Connecticut probably wasn’t quite in panic mode yet, but no team scored a bigger win than the Huskies with their road win at Texas on Saturday. After a 12-0 start to the regular season, the Huskies stumbled to a 1-2 start in the Big East. UConn barely beat USF at home on Dec. 32, and that game was sandwiched between road losses at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Considering how young the Huskies are (they play six freshmen) and their dependence on Kemba Walker, the slump definitely cast doubts on the Huskies’ bona fides as a national contender. UConn seems to have its mojo back now, as other players proved they can step up in big games. The Huskies received a tremendous effort from Alex Oriakhi (11 points, 21 rebounds), while Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier contributed 13 and 15 points, respectively. UConn even survived one of the most mind-boggling shots in recent history: Smith’s full-court heave with more than 10 seconds left in regulation. If you can win in spite of a play like that, you have to think you’re destined for big things this season.

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Morning Five: 01.10.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 10th, 2011

  1. The big news of the weekend other than all the road “upsets” was the NCAA denying Kentucky‘s appeal on behalf of Enes Kanter. As you can imagine, this set off a huge response online, which we will have much more on later, but we were particularly surprised by one notable college basketball personality — Dick Vitale – calling out the NCAA, saying that if Kanter had gone to Washington, where current NCAA president Mark Emmert previously worked, he would not have been declared ineligible. This led to a pretty interesting back-and-forth online, which Seth Davis will apparently answer with a column on SI with direct quotes from Emmert that will appear sometime this morning. We aren’t surprised that somebody mentioned it, but Vitale was just about the last person in the world that we’d have expected to call out Emmert like that.
  2. Vitale’s ESPN colleague Doug Gottlieb put up a column on Saturday morning asking 10 questions that he wasn’t sure about the answer (ESPN Insider required). The questions themselves — (1) Are UNC/Butler/San Diego State legit?; (2) What’s Purdue‘s ceiling?; (3) Does Kemba Walker have enough support?; (4) Will Tennesee survive without Bruce Pearl?; (5) Will Demetri McCamey come through in big spots?; (6) Can Villanova/Syracuse play defense/shoot?; (7) Will Baylor or Kansas State rebound first? — are pretty good, but Gottlieb’s answers are a bit superficial for my liking so we are interested to what you think the answers are to those questions.
  3. A local columnist poses an interesting question about Pittsburgh, asking how the Panthers have changed from a hard-nosed defensive team into a group of sharpshooters. It should be pointed out that most of Pittsburgh’s reputation for being a tough defensive team that wasn’t able to score much comes from Ben Howland‘s time on the sideline there, and that Jamie Dixon‘s teams, to my knowledge, have been better offensively although not to the level of this season’s team. In any case, don’t expect any 47-32 games out of this Pittsburgh team unless you are talking about halftime scores.
  4. By now you may have heard that Roy Williams has a bit of a point guard problem in Chapel Hill. Ever since Ty Lawson left UNC they have been struggling to find someone who would even be described as serviceable. By now, Tar Heel fans have realized that Larry Drew II is not the answer (at least if they want to get deep in the NCAA Tournament) and although Kendall Marshall shows flashes of brilliance, Roy is hesitant to hand over the keys to him. It looks like help may be on the way in the form of Marcus Paige, a top-five point guard in the class of 2012, who has committed to play at UNC. Paige follows in a fairly strong line of Iowans who have committed to play for Williams either at Kansas or UNC with the most recent being Harrison Barnes. For the sake of Tar Heel fans, we hope that Paige doesn’t struggle in adjusting to the college game as much as Barnes has so far.
  5. Finally, our Morning 5 wouldn’t be complete with a shout out to Roscoe Smith for his ill-advised 75-foot heave with nearly 10 seconds left in the game. Honestly, we are shocked that there aren’t around 100 videos on YouTube documenting the funniest shot we have seen in some time. Fortunately for Smith and UConn they were able to escape, thanks to Kemba Walker doing his thing. We have a pretty poor clip below for those of you who missed it, but consider this a plea from RTC to please upload a decent quality clip of this shot.

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