30 Days of Madness: Blake Hoffarber Channels Laettner

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so for the next five days, we’ll be re-visiting some of the timeless moments from Championship Week.  Enjoy.

Championship Week

Dateline: 2008 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals – Indiana vs. Minnesota

Context: It was Kelvin Sampson’s imploding Indiana Hoosiers versus Tubby Smith’s bubble-worthy Minnesota Gophers in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 Big Ten Tournament.  Indiana came into the game having lost two of three after a 24-4 start, while Minnesota was simply trying to accumulate wins to improve a 19-12 resume.  After blowing a sixteen-point first half lead, Minnesota still appeared in decent shape when IU’s best player, Eric Gordon, was fouled with 3.4 seconds remaining and the Hoosiers down two points.  Gordon could not convert the first, so he intentionally missed the second foul shot, leading to forward DJ White gathering the offensive board and laying it in… plus another foul.  White then missed his FT attempt, yet amazingly he got his own rebound off the carom and was fouled again with two seconds left.  He missed the first but converted the second.  For those of you scoring at home, that was four missed FTs, two offensive rebounds and a 1-point IU lead, all in the span of about two seconds.  On the ensuing inbounds play, Minnesota’s Travis Busch heaved a 75-foot pass to the other end of the court, where Blake Hoffarber caught, spun and shot the ball toward the rim before the horn.  Swish.  With the Laettner-esque shot, Minnesota moved on to the Big Ten semis where they lost to Illinois and ultimately were sent to the NIT, but the name Blake Hoffarber still resonates.  What made this moment so particularly compelling was that Hoffarber was already in basketball lore at the high school level for his 2005 Minnesota state championship-winning shot while sitting on his rear at the high school level.  We’ve added that one below just for good measure. 

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2008 NBA Draft Live Blog

Posted by nvr1983 on June 26th, 2008

Well this is sort of unplanned, but rtmsf asked me to do this and I’ve got nothing else to do tonight so I figured I would throw up a live blog of the events.

7:30 PM: Everybody’s favorite commissioner/megalomanic David Stern walks to the stage. Pretty weak response from the crowd. Minimal booing and almost no response to a mention of the WNBA. I think Isiah and Dolan have broken the New York fans.

7:38 PM: Stern announces the Bulls’ selection of Derrick Rose. Kind of anti-climatic, but surprising how quickly the consensus swung from Michael Beasley to Rose in such a short time without anything really big coming out (other than Beasley being shorter than advertised, but the decision was already made at that point).

7:40 PM: ESPN shows some highlights of Rose winning the state championship game 31-29 in OT. Yes, 31-29. I guess the lack of offense in the Big 10 goes all the way down to the high school level.

7:42 PM: Stern comes to the podium with the Miami Heat’s pick. . .Michael Beasley. For all the talk about going with O.J. Mayo I always thought this was a no brainer. I mean they could have dropped down to the #5 pick, but I don’t buy the whole Rudy Gay + #5 for #2 trade. There’s no way Memphis would have done that. Does Pat Riley think Chris Wallace is an idiot? Oh wait. . .

7:45 PM: The interviews have been pretty tame so far. Beasley could have at least pulled the dead rat “joke” on Stephen A. Smith. The Stephen A. Smith guys better have something good planned for the draft because this is pretty weak so far.

7:48 PM: Minnesota is up. Time for Kevin McHale to shine. And the pick is. . . O.J. Mayo! Why do I have flashbacks to KG and Stephon Marbury. Stu Scott fills us in on O.J.’s full name. Thanks for that since we haven’t seen it in every single article written about him (except on RTC). At least O.J.’s time in Hollywood got him prepared for the bright lights of Minnesota. Wait, Minnesota?

7:50 PM: If you’re reading this after the draft and wondering why the writing sucks, blame it on the stupid 5 minutes between picks. There’s no way Bill Simmons live blogs this stuff. It’s impossible. He has to take 3-4 hours after the draft to put something together.

7:53 PM: Wow. Six picks for Seattle. Stu Scott with the quick math (6/60 = 1/10th). I’m not sure why they didn’t do some kind of big package to try and get some help for Kevin Durant.

7:54 PM: Stern with the pick. . .Russell Westbrook! Our first surprise of the night. I had heard Westbrook might be top 5, but never really believed it. The guy’s athletic, but I just don’t see how he’s considered the 4th best prospect in this draft. If you’re just going on athleticism, I’d take Eric Gordon over Westbrook. As for his “great” defense, I don’t remember it against Memphis and Rose. Plus I don’t buy Westbrook as a NBA point guard.

7:58 PM: Commercial break. Weak start to the draft so far. At least we have the comedy of the booing of the Knicks draft pick to look forward to in 2 picks.

8:00 PM: Bilas is pushing for Memphis to take Kevin Love. Stern with the announcement. And it’s Kevin Love. Nice call by Bilas even if Love basically gave it away on PTI earlier this week. I’m pretty sure the first time that anybody has ever had the Color Me Badd facial hair in Memphis.

8:03 PM: Pretty routine breakdown of Love. Good court sense/knowledge of the game, passes well, good range, and can’t run the court. Can we have someone disagree with a pick? I just want to see the player’s reaction (not to mention what their mom will do).

8:05 PM: Waiting for the Love family interview to finish so I can see the Knicks screw up their pick. This is the highlight of the night. . .

8:07 PM: Stern walking to the podium with the Knicks pick. . .(dramatic pause). . .Danilo Gallinari. BOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sorry. Just had to join in the fun. I don’t really buy Gallinari, but hey the YouTube video looks decent and that worked out well for guys like Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry worked out great, right? (Yes, I know that was before YouTube).

8:08 PM: Fran Fraschilla offers the most important piece of news of the night (for those of us who read Deadspin or The Big Lead). “Gallo” is apparently the Italian word for “rooster”. If you’ve read the posts on either site yesterday, you’ll know what that’s important.

8:12 PM:  The Clippers select Eric Gordon. I feel bad for the guy. He goes from the most dysfunctional program in the country to the worst franchise in pro sports. Love the guy’s game, but he’s just too inconsistent at times. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

8:15 PM: Our first horrible suit of the night. Gordon with the combination of white coat and navy blue pants. Not quite Karl Malone level, but you would figure his high school agent could have gotten him something nice.

8:18 PM: Joe Alexander to Milwaukee. At least it won’t be much of a culture shock going from Morgantown to Milwaukee although Joe won’t be seeing as many burning couches.

8:23 PM: MJ and Larry Brown are on the clock. It seems like Brook Lopez is the choice here. The Bobcats certainly have enough college talent on that team being veterans of the lottery process (tip of the hat to the legend Elgin Baylor).

8:24 PM: Jay Bilas and Mark Jackson agree with me.

8:25 PM: But apparently MJ and Larry do not. The Bobcats take D.J. Augustin. Looks like Raymond Felton is going to have some competition. This seems like a good pick for a trade.

8:27 PM: I still don’t get it. Of course, MJ was also the mastermind behind the Kwame Brown selection so maybe I shouldn’t.

8:28 PM: So it looks like Brook Lopez here to New Jersey. They can’t take Jerryd Bayless since they already have Devin Harris. This will be an interesting pick since they just traded away Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

8:30 PM: Brook Lopez at #10 to New Jersey. Solid pick especially this far down. I’m surprised that he fell down this far. A 7-footer with a mean streak and solid fundamentals. Usually guys like this go too high and typically don’t slip. Not sure what is going on.

8:33 PM: Wow. Looks like our first classic draft moment of 2008. Apparently Jeff Spicoli dressed up as a 7-foot tall guy who went to Stanford. I wish I had been there for Brook’s Stanford interview. What? You mean he didn’t go through the regular admissions process?

8:35 PM: Bayless at #11. I like Bayless at #11, but does Indiana need another guard? Jamaal Tinsley, T.J. Ford, and Bayless. Looks like Tinsley and his gun collection are moving out of Indiana.

8:42 PM: Sacramento takes Jason Thompson. Our first real surprise pick of the draft. I’m actually ashamed to say I have never seen this guy play. Bilas says he’s pretty good so I guess I’ll have to go with that.

8:46 PM: Portland at #13. . .Brandon Rush. Interesting pick. He’ll probably fit in well with this team. He isn’t a star, but they have enough young talent that they don’t need him to be more than a solid role player. He’ll probably back-up Brandon Roy for the next couple of years.

8:50 PM: Golden State is on the clock. This is the part of the draft where teams have a lot of choices. Let’s see what the Warriors do.

8:51 PM: Stern with the pick: Anthony Randolph. 3rd team All-SEC member. Even the LSU blogger doesn’t believe in him. Not sure what else I have to say about this pick.

8:54 PM: Dick Vitale ripping the international. Comparing Gallinari to Darko Milicic. Ouch. Not a surprise since Dickie V loves all things college (as do we, but we don’t rip on the other stuff).

8:56 PM: Phoenix takes Robin Lopez at #15. I’ll admit it. I’m hitting the wall here so I’m probably only going to make it through the first round. I actually like this pick. Robin isn’t an offense force, but is a pretty good defender, which Phoenix is lacking.

9:03 PM: With the 16th pick, Philadelphia selects Maureese Speights. Seems like a talented player. It will be interesting to see how he works with Samuel Dalembert. Wow. Stuart Scott just compared FG% in college to FG% in the NBA as if it’s the same thing. I don’t even know what to say to that.

9:08 PM: Toronto selects Roy Hibbert at #17 for Indiana (part of the Jermaine O’Neal trade). This makes sense. Hibbert will “replace” O’Neal. It’s too bad that Hibbert fell this far. He would have been a top 10 pick last year. He didn’t get injured or play poorly, but because he never exploded like NBA scouts hoped he would he fell far enough down that it probably cost him a few million dollars.

9:12 PM: JaVale McGee at #18 to Washington. Looks like Lebron has another guy to dunk on.

9:15 PM: Pretty interesting trade. Indiana gets Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush for Ike Diogu and Jerryd Bayless to Portland. Bayless and Roy make a really scary potential backcourt dishing the ball off to Greg Oden and company.

9:19 PM: Cleveland is on the clock. This pick is big for Danny Ferry because it might go a long way to keeping Lebron in Cleveland and out of Brooklyn. Darrell Arthur is still sitting in the Green Room. . .

9:21 PM: The Lebrons select J.J. Hickson and Darrell remains seated.

9:26 PM: Charlotte’s on the clock at #20 and take Alexis Ajinca. I’ll turn to Stuart Scott here, “Who is this guy?”

9:28 PM: Wow. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the economy ever was mentioned in the NBA Draft. Fran informs us that the fall in the dollar’s value will affect Ajinca’s decision whether to stay in Europe. (Side note: Josh McRoberts is part of the Portland-Indiana deal. He’s not worth his own post.)

9:33 PM: The Nets go with Ryan Anderson at #21. Darrell is still sitting. . .

9:38 PM: Looks like Orlando goes with another guard by taking Courtney Lee. I loved Jeff Van Gundy’s analysis. Basically, Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis are the only two guys he likes on the team–a team that’s coached by his brother. More importantly, what does this do to everybody’s favorite Zima drinker, J.J. Redick?

9:42 PM: Utah takes Kosta Koufos. It will be interesting to see how Koufos fits in with Utah’s bigs (Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Millsap). He’s a skilled big guy who was really hyped coming in, but was too inconsistent to stay in the top 10. Playing for Jerry Sloan will either toughen him up or turn him into AK-47 (and cry during the playoffs).

9:49 PM: Seattle takes Serge Ibaka. Fraschilla says he’s good and he’ll be here in 3-4 years. Yeah. . .

9:50 PM: Doris Burke interviewing Darrell Arthur. Pretty tame interview. No tears. Not much to say.

9:55 PM: Houston takes Nicolas Batum. Fraschilla compares him to Rudy Gay, which I guess is good. Fran also says he needs to work on his ball-handling and he’s only 20 years old. Since when do people learn how to dribble after they turn 20?

9:58 PM: Ric Bucher announces that Darrell Arthur has a kidney problem, which he says explains why Arthur hasn’t been selected. Sounds like a HIPAA violation somewhere along the line.

10:00 PM: George Hill from IUPUI? Well apparently he plays great defense and has 3% body fat (thanks for that Stuart).

10:08 PM: New Orleans Portland ends the madness and takes Darrell Arthur. Nice moment as the New York fans clap. Nice pickup here. He should be able to come in and spell the big guys for a few minutes here and there immediately.

10:15 PM: Memphis selects Donte Greene. Seems like he’ll be playing behind Rudy Gay for a while. Well at least they got something for giving away Pau Gasol.

10:22 PM: Detroit selects D.J. White. Nice pickup at this position. Productive player who should be a solid guy off the bench for stretches.

10:31 PM: Mercifully, Boston with the last pick of the first round. J.R. Giddens. Wow. What a long ride it’s been for that guy. The former big-time recruit at Kansas who transferred to New Mexico.

Well it’s been a long first round. We’ll be back tomorrow with a more in-depth (and hopefully shorter) analysis.

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Introducing the Hoosiers new coach. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2008

According to reports on ESPN, Indiana is on the verge of signing Tom Crean as their new head coach. I think this is about as good as Indiana can expect since they are losing D.J. White (and most likely Eric Gordon), kicked 2 other starters off the team today (Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis), and face potential NCAA sanctions for the Kelvin Sampson fiasco.

Crean has done an excellent job after taking his first job as head coach at Marquette (previously was an assistant at Michigan State, Western Kentucky, and Pittsburgh). After struggling to stay above .500 his first 2 seasons, Marquette quickly became a national power during the 2001-2002 season going 26-7. Crean’s career at Marquette reached its apex in 2003 when he took his team to the Final 4 (Dwayne Wade may have had a little to do with that too). After that season, Crean’s teams spent 2 years in the NIT before getting back to the NCAA tournament.

Can Crean lead Indiana back to glory?

It appears that Crean will leave Marquette in good shape as they finished 5th in the loaded Big East this year. The Golden Eagles ended their season in the second round with an 82-81 OT loss to Stanford on a Brook Lopez leaner with 1.8 secs left.

I think Crean will be an excellent hire for Indiana. The big question now is what kind of damage control he can do. His first order of business will be to get his new program on the same page. I’m not sure what kind of process he will have to go through with Bassett and Ellis, but I don’t think he can afford to lose them and stay competitive. Keeping Eric Gordon will be a stretch, but Gordon probably dropped at least 5 spots with his awful performance in the last month or two of the season. After that, he will be at the mercy of the NCAA as they decide the programs fate for the next few years.

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East Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2008

As I stated earlier during my live blog of the selection show, the East Regional definitely seems likely the toughest of the four regions, which seems a little unfair to #1 overall seed UNC. I also included links to the team’s ESPN pages that includes schedules and rosters.

Teams
#1 UNC: Despite all the hype that the analysts are giving UCLA, I still think UNC is the team to beat as they have Hansbrough, the most reliable player in the nation on a team that doesn’t have a #2 guy who lay a 0-for-14 in a big game, a very good if not great yet perimeter player in Ellington, and one of the best PGs in the nation in Lawson (still unsure when he will be back to his prior form). They also have Roy Williams, who despite his record of losing tournament games with superior teams has also won a national title before so at least he knows how it is done. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Tennessee: Out of all the #2 seeds, the Vols definitely got the short end of the stick. For all the talk of Wisconsin being cheated out of a #3 seed, I would almost prefer to be in Wisconsin’s position rather than Tennessee’s. The Vols have one of the most exciting/athletic teams in the country, but sometimes they just don’t show up. I’m still waiting for Chris Lofton to turn into the potential national POY that he was hyped as coming into the season. Even though their first round game should a cakewalk, the second round will be a challenge as they will end up with either Butler (much, much better than its 7th seed) or South Alabama (the game is in Birmingham, AL). This is a pretty rough bracket for the team that most would consider the best #2 seed especially since Wisconsin didn’t even get a #2 seed. Schedule/Roster.

#3 Louisville: Despite their horrendous early-season start, Rick Pitino (and the team recovering from injuries) turned the season around and has Louisville at a very respectable seed. While they lack the star power of some of the top teams, Louisville makes up for it with their depth. Their most explosive scorer (Sosa) comes off the bench and they also have solid (if somewhat anonymous) play out of the backcourt to compliment Padgett, Character, and Palacios, who actually started on their Final 4 team. Normally, I would give this group a good chance to make the Final 4, but with UNC and Tennessee in their bracket they will be hard-pressed to make it to San Antonio. Schedule/Roster.

#4 Washington State: It’s hard to believe that earlier in the season this team was ranked #4 and now they are probably getting the 4th most hype out of the Pac-10 teams in the tournament. With tons of experience and solid play from Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, the Cougars should be competitive with almost any team in the tournament, but their lack of firepower and depth will probably cost them if they get deep into the tournament. I’m sure that all of you are also looking at Winthrop as a potential Cinderella based on their prior performance so the Cougars also have that to worry about. Schedule/Roster.

#5 Notre Dame: Led by Big East POY candidate Luke Harangody, the Irish were one of the big surprises for us out of the Big East. We didn’t get to see them play much, but when we did they looked very good. Part of their success seems to be related to their home-court winning streak. It’s too bad for the Irish the tournament isn’t played in South Bend. They play the 2006 Cinderella George Mason in the first round, which should be an interesting matchup (we’ll leave the Irish/Cinderella commentary/jokes to someone else). Like Duke, the Irish rely on the 3 although they are not completely lacking an inside presence. This makes them dangerous on a given night, but also subject to an early upset. Schedule/Roster.

#6 Oklahoma: It looks like that whole Kelvin Sampson leaving thing didn’t turn out so bad for the Sooners. Somehow they ended up a higher seed than Sampson’s more recent previous team. The Sooners are led by Blake Griffin who managed to put up big numbers (15.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG) despite injury both knees this season. Jeff Capel has done a good job replacing Sampson on the sideline while staying off the cell phone (we hope). The Sooners aren’t a force offensively so they have to rely on their defense. While that normally is a good thing for a team, we wonder how far this team can go with all the offensive firepower in this region. Schedule/Roster.

#7 Butler: Seriously, this is unbelievable. 29-3. Ranked #10 or 11 depending on which poll you believe. They’re a #7 seed?!?!? Normally with a balanced attack (4 guys average double figures), experience (a Sweet 16 trip last year), and several impressive non-conference victories, we would expect the Bulldogs to outperform their seed, but Committee Chairman Tom O’Connor must think Butler head coach Brad Stevens looks like a bitch because. . .well you know the rest of the line. This is one of the all-time great screwjobs. They play #10 seed South Alabama in the first round in Birmingham, Alabama. If they survive that, the Bulldogs will likely face Tennessee, the best #2 seed in the tournament. Schedule/Roster.

#8 Indiana: Honestly, this is the most surprising seed that I can remember. I wouldn’t have pictured the Hoosiers as anything lower than a 6. It’s amazing that the team with the Big 10 POY (DJ White) and possibly the best freshman in the nation (Eric Gordon) along with a host of other solid players could be a #8 seed. I realize they lost 3 of their last 4, but one was in OT and the other was on a last second miracle shot (I wonder if Tubby got the idea after hearing about it so much while he was at UK). We would pick the Hoosiers to go deep in the tournament, but they have lost to every elite team they played this year (Xavier, UConn, and Wisconsin). Perhaps, Dakich can work some of his magic or Dick Vitale will be calling for the return of Robert Montgomery Knight. Schedule/Roster.

#9 Arkansas: Led by new coach John Pelphrey (look for him in the background of rtmsf’s favorite March moment), the Razorbacks have had an impressive season after a few bad non-conference losses. Much like Nolan Richardson’s teams (although not nearly as good), the Razorbacks like a quick pace. After a nice run to the SEC tournament finals, Arkansas might be a trendy pick to make a run, but they have a killer draw (Indiana then UNC if they want to make the Sweet 16). While this stat won’t help you make your picks, watch for how the Razorbacks start the game for a hint at the outcome. During the regular season, they were 18-0 with a halftime lead and 2-10 when trailing at the half. Schedule/Roster.

#10 South Alabama: After failing to win the Sun Belt tournament, South Alabama was on the edge of not making the tournament. The good news: they’re in and their pod is in Alabama. The bad news: to make it out of the sub-region they will have to be Butler and Tennessee. If they are going to make a run, they will have to feed off the home crowd and need a big performance out of star Demetric Bennett. Schedule/Roster.

#11 Saint Joseph’s: Led by Pat Calathes (older brother of UF star Nick Calathes), the Hawks made the tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, St. Joe’s was on the verge of a perfect regular season and almost made the Final 4. It’s also hard to believe that Jameer Nelson and Delonte West played at St. Joe’s at the same time. If Phil Martelli wants to survive the opening weekend, the Hawks will need to step up their defense. Fortunately for them, they start off with Oklahoma, a team that isn’t know for being high-scoring. Schedule/Roster.

#12 George Mason: The Patriots (Final 4 Cinderella in 2006) are back and they start off against Notre Dame. We don’t see the Patriots making a deep run this year, but then again we never would have imagined they could beat a loaded UCONN team back in 2006. Schedule/Roster.

#13 Winthrop: If the Eagles are to pull off another upset, they will need a big night out of Michael Jenkins (14.3 PPG). Before you go out and make the Eagles a Cinderella you should realize this is a different team, which is most noticeable when you see they have a new coach on the sideline.Schedule/Roster.

#14 Boise State: It looks they know one thing at Boise State and we’re not referring to the hideous blue football field that makes you try to adjust your TV every bowl season. Like the football team, the basketball Broncos can light up the scoreboard averaging 81.2 PPG (12th nationally) and shoots 51.5% from the field (2nd nationally). They are led by first team All-WAC Reggie Larry (19.3 PPG and 9.1 RPG) along with 2 other forwards who average double figures. Side note: We loved watching replays of their Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma (didn’t see live because I had to be in the hospital at 4 am for an orthopedic surgery rotation) and would love for them to meet in the 2nd round of the tournament so we can root for that. Schedule/Roster.

#15 American: I’m not going to put much time into this because well they aren’t going to be spending much time in the tournament. They like to slow the game down and they shoot 40.9% as a team from 3. Unfortunately, both of their starting guards are under 6′ tall. The result is that they might hang with the Vols for 10 minutes then it’s over. Schedule/Roster.

#16 Mount Saint Mary’s / Coppin State: Honestly, we don’t know anything about either of these teams except that Coppin State is the first 20-loss team to ever make the tournament. Nothing against either of these teams, but a detailed analysis of these teams isn’t really worth the time since they will likely be gone 5 minutes into their game with UNC. Mount Saint Mary’s Schedule/Roster. Coppin State’s Schedule/Roster.

P.S. Kelvin Sampson must love this region with his two former teams in it. I wonder how much he will be mentioned during their games. We know it’s pretty much impossible, but we would love the possibility of an Indiana-Oklahoma Elite 8 match-up.

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Night in Review: March 14, 2008 (Part 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2008

Back for the second part of the review after a short 2+ hour nap.

Pac 10
- We’ll get the late game over with first since it was past our East Coast bedtime (had to get up to watch a bunch of 9 year-olds “run” a 5k at 8 am). #11 Stanford beat #22 Washington State 75-68 behind Brook Lopez’s 30/12/3 for the third time this year. Basically the Cougars don’t have anybody who can match Lopez inside and not even a 12/20 showing from 3 could save them. Not much to say here except it sets up a rematch of the most controversial game we have seen this year.
- In the most exciting game we saw all day, UCLA hung on to beat USC 57-54 when OJ Mayo’s last second hesitation 3 was a little long. This was a pretty exciting game to watch and UCLA didn’t even need the refs giving them a 6th man to win this game. It was a back-and-forth affair all night. In the early going, USC controlled the game behind their freshmen (Mayo and Jefferson) who are almost as old as Dwight Howard is. Ben Howland’s vaunted defense looked terrible early as UCLA decided they didn’t want to defend off the screen. Down 6 at half, UCLA woke up and Kevin Love scored 11 of his team-high 19 during a Bruin 15-2 run coming out of half. UCLA built up a pretty good lead going into the closing minutes, but OJ Mayo took over and started to show flashes of what made him the most-hyped recruit in his class for most of high school as he beat up on UCLA and Pac 10 Defensive POY Russell Westbrook hitting a 3 and a tough left-handed layup. Then on the last 2 possessions, he showed us why he dropped off his perch as the next Lebron (not sure how anybody ever saw that) and fell to probably the #3 guard in his class behind Rose and Gordon. On the first possession, he dribbled into traffic and was stripped from behind by Westbrook. Then on the final possession, he had a good look at a 3 from the top of the key to tie it, but added an unnecessary hesitation which may or may not have thrown off his timing to cause a miss. Daniel Hackett grabbed the offensive rebound, but did not have enough time to get off another 3 as Mayo did not leave his team with enough time for another shot. Perhaps the bigger news for UCLA was the loss of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who sustained a sprained ankle. I haven’t heard anything definitive about how long he’ll be out but I wouldn’t expect to see him for a while as he had a similar injury recently.
- Prediction for tonight: Stanford gets revenge for getting screwed on the call at the end last week at Pauley. The match-up down low should be one to watch as the Lopez twins battle Love who will be without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (see above).

Big 10
- This seems like it was a pretty interesting set of games unfortunately I somehow missed all of them, but I’m making up for it today by watching MSU-Wisconsin as I am typing this. First, the routine stuff with Wisconsin crushing Michigan 51-34. We’re reserving judgement on the Beilein experiment for another year or two given how unique his offense is and the players it requires. Also Michigan hasn’t been Michigan the past few year, but this year wasn’t that encouraging. Now onto the important games. We’ll start with MSU beating OSU 67-60. It seems like MSU controlled this game as OSU only had the lead once at 32-30, but MSU could never really pull away with their biggest lead being 9 points. OSU will probably make the tournament (one of Lunardi’s last 4 in) unless some “locks” in small one-bid conferences lose and cost the majors a few middle-of-the-pack teams. The two other games were arguably the most exciting of the night not involving falling roofs (we can joke since nobody was hurt, right?). In one game, Illinois continued its push for an improbable auto bid with a 74-67 OT win over #17 Purdue. The Illini were led by Demitri McCamey’s 26 points and now stand 2 more win away from returning Bruce Weber to the NCAA tournament. This road was made slightly easier by the shot of the night by Blake Hoffarber pulling a Christian Laettner with a turnaround off a full-court pass at the buzzer to beat the up-and-down Hooisers 59-58. DJ White did his part for the Hooisers with 23 points, 13 boards, and 4 blocks, but super-frosh Eric Gordon was off as he finished with 16 on 4/13 FG and 5 turnovers. All-in-all, a very satisfying day for Illini fans who made the trip to Indianapolis. With the loss, Indiana might be positioning itself as the scariest #7 seed in a long time (probably a #6 now, but depending on how the other games work out they make drop a seed given their Jekyll/Hyde act the past few weeks). On a sidenote that I’m sure all of you have heard a hundred times already today, Blake Hoffarber is no stranger to miraculous last second shots as his most famous one makes the turnaround last night rather routine.

First, the ESPN highlights from last night:

Which gives me a reason to post the Laettner shot (and to piss off rtmsf):

And it was shown as a flashback in the first clip, but it won and ESPY and won a state title so here is Blake Hoffarber’s most famous shot:

- Since there is still 3 minutes left in the 60-57 MSU-Wisconsin game, I guess I can still make my predictions for the Big 10: MSU and Minnesota.

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Checking in on… the Big Ten.

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2008

When we started this post, we were thinking that the Big 10 was one of the better leagues.  What we were smoking?  Here’s our midseason check-in on our midwestern friends:

Big 10 Midseason Check-In

F4 CaliberIndiana and Michigan St. are the only two possibilities, and we believe that Indiana is the more likely of the two based on their unmatched inside/outside tandem of DJ White and Eric Gordon. 

Most Likely to Collapse.  Purdue.  It’s not that we think the Boilers are a bad team disguised with a solid record, it’s just that they’re so incredibly young and the Big Ten death matches can take a toll on anyone. 

Most Likely to Rise.  Illinois?  Surely they’re not this bad – we know Bruce Weber can coach a little bit, even if he can’t recruit his way out of a paper bag.  0-4 in the Big Ten is fairly pathetic. 

Biggest Disappointment.  Michigan.  Expectations weren’t high for John Beilein’s first year in Ann Arbor, but this team is a complete disaster.  When your best win after sixteen games is versus Brown, you have to be disappointed. 

Biggest Surprise.  Minnesota.  The Gophers won all of nine games last year, and with largely the same roster, they’re already 12-3.  Having found the right environment for his coaching style, he’s well on his way to another successful first season at a new job. 

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ATB: Exhale, Hoosier Fans

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2007

ATB v.4

12.03.07

Game of the Day.   None.  As one of  the commenters alluded to, tonight’s games were, um, lacking in interest.  What, you didn’t watch the Wisconsin-Wofford game either?  The only notable  piece of news from the night was that Indiana’s E-Giddy hurt his lower back on a foray to the rim, but x-rays proved negative.  No doubt there was considerable angst and concern in HoosierLand for a couple of hours tonight, though, because Gordon didn’t return to the IU bench after the nasty spill.   According to Kelvin Sanctions, he should be ready for the  Kentucky game on Saturday.  Oh, and in E-Giddy’s absence, DJ White showed he can still play (29/13/4 blks).  Indiana 84, Tennessee St. 72.

Notable Scores.

  • Florida 88, Jacksonville 72.  Calathes with 24; Speights with 16. 
  • Arkansas 70, Missouri St. 51.  Solid mid-major win for the Hawgs.
  • Wisconsin 70, Wofford 43.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

On Tap Today (all times EST).  

  • Notre Dame (-5.5) v. Kansas St. (ESPN) 7pm – Michael Beastley in the Big Apple for Jimmy V.
  • Boston College (-8) v. St. Louis  7pm.  BC should expect a fight from SLU after their raping on Saturday.
  • UNC (-25) v. Penn (ESPN2) 7pm - this is not the year for Penn to host UNC at the Palestra.
  • Tennessee (-14.5) v. Chattanooga (ESPNU) 7pm – UT continues to underwhelm us – they could lose this road game if Lofton continues to sputter.
  • St. Joseph’s (NL) v. Holy Cross  7pm – this is a really compelling matchup that we won’t get to see.
  • Michigan St. (-3.5) v. Bradley (ESPNU) 9pm – we have a hunch MSU is going to drop this game.  Just a hunch…
  • New Mexico St. (-1) v. New Mexico (ESPN FC) 9pm – how important is home court in this series?  The 3-6 team is a one point favorite over the 7-1 team.
  • Memphis (-8) v. USC (ESPN) 9pm – USC is coming on lately – can Memphis be challenged?
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ATB: Mon/Tues Night Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.26.07

Detroit Sucks. Monday was an extremely light night, with no ranked teams playing (not that we could see it anyway amidst our hand-to-hand mouth combat with feral dogs and a thermostat that randomly alternated between blistering and frostbite conditions) . There were a couple of interesting games on the board, however, and the one that caught our attention the most was the early SoCon showdown between Davidson and Appalachian St. Why they’re playing in November, we have no idea, but if Davidson were to lose any conference games this year, we figured that away at App St and at UNCG are the most likely candidates. Well, Stephen Curry made sure that wasn’t going to happen, as he blistered the Mountaineers for a 26-pt first half en route to a final tally of 38/6/4 stls with nine (!) threes in an eleven-pt victory. From our perch, this was a clear statement by Curry and the Davidson program that they aren’t to be trifled with at the mid-major level – they have their eyes set on regularly competing with the UNCs and Dukes of the world. #21 Davidson 71, Appalachian St. 60. The only other notable game of the night was the “play-in game” of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge between Iowa and Wake Forest. Wake got 15/8 from a BWS named Chas McFarland (seriously, he’s named Chas) and gutted out a road win in an ugly, ugly game (eFG% combined = 37%, incl. 3-30 from three). We’re not convinced Wake is any good this year, though, as the Deacs always seem to win this game (7-1 in the Challenge) no matter how the rest of the season goes. Wake Forest 56, Iowa 47.

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11.27.07

There were too many games to cover here, so let’s hit the broad highlights:

ACC/Big 10 Challenge. #9 Indiana 83, Georgia Tech 79. IU got the only win of the night for the Big 10 at home in a tightly contested game versus the Yellowjackets. We caught a little bit of this one and all we could think is that this is yet another example of never knowing what to expect from Georgia Tech. Times like tonight they look like they can compete with anyone in the country; then they’ll turn around and lose to Georgia St. next week. E-Giddy went for 29 (8 TOs, though), but the key player for IU was DJ White (18/14/3 blks). #10 Duke 82, Wisconsin 58. We feel like we’ve all watched this game a million times. Duke hits a three, takes a charge, hits another three, Crazies going wild, pressure D causes opponent time-out. That was this Wisconsin game in a nutshell. The Badgers were on their way out of it by the second tv timeout. Meanwhile, Coach K is clearly on a mission to re-invent how basketball is played at the collegiate level. The closest analog we can remember in recent history to this Duke team was the Villanova teams of recent vintage of Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi and Randy Foye, but even they played with a post man in Curtis Sumpter. Duke isn’t even bothering with the Sumpter role, and don’t give us Kyle Singler either. We still say this smallball strategy will ultimately catch up with the Devils when they play a team with athletic bigs and defensive guards, but that day hasn’t come yet. Duke put five players (led by Paulus’ 18) in double figures, but where did Taylor King come from (5 threes)? #24 Clemson 61, Purdue 58. We didn’t see much of this one, but what we saw exhibited a Purdue team filled with hustling guards who wouldn’t let Clemson pull away. Had the Boilers shot it a little better from three (2-12), they could have taken this one. Take nothing away from Clemson, though – they’re well on their way to another 17-0 start. Virginia 94, Northwestern 52. This is why the Big 10 never wins these competitions – the ACC almost always defends its home courts. Sean Singletary had 18/10 assts in the win. Florida St. 75, Minnesota 61. To wit, same as above. Tubby takes his first loss as the Minny coach.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #1 Memphis 104, Rider 82. Derrick Rose with a great game (19/12 assts) as Memphis rolls again.
  • #7 Tennessee 93, NC A&T 59. UT was up thirty at halftime; Lofton with 24 and Tyler Smith with 17/12.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 80, Boston Univ. 53. Another balanced attack from Pitt (all five starters betw. 9 and 15 pts).

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PAN shAM Team Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2007

As we mentioned yesterday, Team USA’s Pan Am squad got off the plane in Rio and promptly found itself down 0-2 with losses to Uruguay and Panama, which effectively ended any chance for a medal at the tournament. Let’s say that again – Uruguay… and… Panama. If you thought losing to Serbia was bad… Uruguay? This small nation of 3.3M people stuck somewhere in South America between Brazil and Argentina is best known in hoops circles for putting only one player in its history, Ernesto Batista (Atlanta Hawks), into the NBA. As for losing to Panama, what else can be said? They’re known for a corrupt former dictator and an important canal – not exactly backdoor cuts and alley-oops.

Uruguay

This is All We Care to Know About Uruguay

At least Team USA rallied to win their next three games vs. Argentina, the US Virgin Islands and Panama (revenge is ours, Noriega!) to take 5th place at the tournament. (FYI – Brazil was the champion.) The more things change, the more they stay the same… Sigh… Doug Gottlieb writes today that “we stink” when it comes to international basketball, and he’s absolutely, positively, most definitely and completely right on that count:

We are Team USA, and we can not win the gold in any competition. The Pan Am team has not won gold since 1983. The Under-19 team has not won gold since 1991. The men’s national team has not won the world championship since 1994. The last Olympics gold came in 2000. We are the standard bearers for hoops across the globe, but in comparing our own image of how good we are to our overall performance, we stink.

He blames our international woes on the different styles of play and officiating, and no doubt that explains some of it. But from the non-player side of things, we still believe that our AAU-bred emphasis on 1-on-1 play over basic fundamentals such as passing, shooting and help defense is a more significant factor. When we were winning every international competition 20+ years ago, we were still more athletic than everyone else – that part hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the world has gotten significantly better (obviously), but more importantly, the US players have not. More athletic – definitely. More talented at one-and-one play – assuredly. More talented at team basketball – not even close. As Gottlieb suggests and we agree, this problem isn’t going away.

Doug Gottlieb

Gottlieb is a Doppelganger for an Intl. Hoopster

With that tirade over, we wanted to take a moment to look at the stats from the players on this Pan Am team to get some idea of whether any might have breakout seasons in college next year.

Pan Am Stats 3

According to the numbers and coach Jay Wright:

  • DJ White (Indiana) was the class of this team, nearly averaging a dub-dub, shooting 59% and leading the team in steals in only 24 minutes per game. If Eric Gordon is worth half of his hype next year, IU could really turn some heads in the Big Ten and nationally.
  • Wright slurped Roy Hibbert (Georgetown) for his mobility, but we were a little surprised he only managed eight blocks in five games.
  • And what the hell happened to Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)? We could be looking at a second coming of the Human Cannon (aka Dion Glover) here – 21% (8-37 FG; 4-19 3FG) shooting and a boatload of turnovers to boot. Memo to Reynolds – you had a nice freshman year, but just b/c the coach of your school coaches the team does not mean you have the green light on every possession.
  • Speaking of shooting, Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.) and Shan Foster (Vanderbilt) both shot poorly in the tournament, which is unsurprising considering neither is a pure shooter.
  • A pair of Pac-10 players, Derrick Low (Washington St.) and Maarty Leunen (Oregon) seemed to act as solid versatile “glue guys” that are so important for any team, according to Wright.
  • Joey Dorsey (Memphis) made a name for himself when he called out a Uruguayan center named Gregorio Odento and was summarily dunked on (or maybe we’re getting that confused with something else).
  • Guards Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Eric Maynor (VCU) both got hurt early, so we never really got to see what they could do.

DJ White

DJ White Ponders His Senior Year

All in all, it sounds like another uninspiring performance from Team USA. We’re definitely going to be keeping a closer eye on DJ White this upcoming season, though.

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04.18.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2007

  • Sixteen games of root canal basketball weren’t enough.  Big Ten will expand its conference season to 18 games next year.   
  • Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert may both return to Georgetown.  Minor quake felt in central NC as Franklin St. collectively shudders. 
  • Indiana could be legit next year.  DJ White plans on returning to play with super frosh Eric Gordon.
  • UCLA backcourt remains half intact, as Darren Collison stays in Westwood another year. 
  • Nick Young makes it official that he is leaving USC. 
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