The 2011-12 ProZach Awards

Posted by zhayes9 on November 8th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @zhayes9.

Every August, ESPN college football guru Kirk Herbstreit releases his Herbie awards, a grab bag of honors and predictions about the upcoming season covering everything from quickest running back to hardest-hitting linebacker. The Herbies are so popular they even resulted in their own half-hour show hosted by Herbstreit and Erin Andrews. With no equivalent in the hoops world, I volunteered to step up to the plate. Some of these awards are Herbie knock-offs, some are 100% original and all are intended to be fun. Whether they look ridiculous by March…well, the jury is out. Here are this year’s Pro-Zach awards, passing out happy pills since 2011:

Washington's Terrence Ross is ready to make the leap

All-Next Chapter

  • Team Irreverence: Players Who Don’t Get Enough Respect – GOLD: Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), SILVER: Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion), BRONZE: Doug McDermott (Creighton)
  • Shhh, Don’t Tell: Best Kept Secrets – GOLD: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), SILVER: Alex Young (IUPUI), BRONZE: Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts)
  • Forwarding Address: Top Transfers – GOLD: Mike Rosario (Florida), SILVER: Royce White (Iowa State), BRONZE: Brandon Wood (Michigan State)
  • Fresh Approach: Top True Freshmen – GOLD: Anthony Davis (Kentucky), SILVER: Austin Rivers (Duke), BRONZE: Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
  • Off and Running: Ready To Take It To The Next Level – GOLD: Terrence Ross (Washington), SILVER: Keith Appling (Michigan State), BRONZE: Michael Snaer (Florida State)

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SEC Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 27th, 2011

  1. In last night’s annual Kentucky Blue vs. White game, Sophomore Terrence Jones went off for 52 points setting a record for most points scored in the intra-squad scrimmage. While just an exhibition game, the barrage of points has to be encouraging for Wildcat fans hoping for a new and improved Jones. Freshman Anthony Davis guarded Jones for most of the evening, but it didn’t seem to matter who was on him as he scored from just about everywhere on the court. Jones was 24-31 from the field, finishing with 16 rebounds and six assists. Scrimmage or not, 52 points is impressive. Jones displayed an ability to score in a variety of ways — knocking down threes, taking it strong to the rim and even finishing with his much-discussed right hand. Eight Kentucky players scored in double figures overall as freshman Kyle Wiltjer finished with 27 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc and sophomore, Doron Lamb also scored 31 points.
  2. Memphis coach Josh Pastner has a message for all SEC teams — don’t ask to play his Memphis Tigers in a non-conference game. Pastner says it won’t happen on his watch. He singled out Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Florida as teams he does not want to play in order to avoid giving a recruiting advantage for those looking to recruit in Memphis. He says the solution, however, is simple. Invite Memphis to play in the SEC. Pastner says, “That will solve everything. You don’t have to ask me; we would play twice. If you’re coming in here, if you want to play Memphis, go to your presidents and vote Memphis in the SEC. That’s the easiest way to do it. If you’re asking me for a non-conference game, it’s not going to happen.” Pastner is either making a good case for Memphis to be considered for expansion to the SEC or he is setting the Tigers up to be the most hated non-conference rival by the entire league.
  3. Several SEC teams will be taking part in secret scrimmages over the next couple of weeks to prepare for opening games. Why the secrecy? Well, nobody seems to know, but you may want to delete your browser history if you click on the link. Better safe than sorry. The SEC teams taking part in the secrecy and their mysterious opponents are: Virginia @ Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech @ South Carolina, LSU @ Rice, Arkansas-Little Rock @ Ole Miss, Georgia @ Clemson, UCF @ Florida and Western Kentucky vs Alabama. Anybody with super-spy abilities, we need video and/or pictures. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
  4. Ole Miss junior Murphy Holloway has been cleared to play immediately for the Rebel Black Bears. Holloway played two seasons for the Rebs before transferring to South Carolina to care for his daughter. After sitting out a year with the Gamecocks, Holloway decided to transfer back to Mississippi. He had to apply for a waiver with the NCAA to avoid having to sit out another year. The waiver was granted and Holloway will be allowed to play this season. He provides an immediate post presence for Ole Miss as he averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his sophomore year. Andy Kennedy’s squad will get an impact player with SEC experience.
  5. Tennessee‘s athletic program boasts that their men’s basketball coaching staff has more than 5,000 career college basketball points during their playing careers. In fact, they claim to have more than 1,000 more college points than any other Division I staff. Here’s to hoping that this sets up an SEC coaching staff battle between former players. Rod Strickland vs. Anthony Grant. Orlando Antigua vs. Cuonzo Martin. Billy Donovan vs. John Calipari. John Pelphrey vs. Darrin Horn. Tony Barbee vs. Tracy Webster. Rick Stansbury vs. Kevin Stallings… Okay, maybe not that last one. Having a coaching staff with this much experience can give the Tennessee players a slight boost of confidence, but shouldn’t be much of an advantage otherwise. It is fun to think about a pick-up game of epic proportions at the next SEC media days. Battle royale style.
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SEC Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 26th, 2011

  1. Mississippi State’s big man Renardo Sidney is still talking about his transformation into a good citizen. He spoke to the Starkville media and had this to say, “I think I’ve done changed more than I ever did since my first two years. Attitude’s done got better, my work ethic’s gotten better.” Everyone rest assured, Renardo Sidney has “done got” better. Sidney has even seen a counselor to help with anger issues. He said, “they taught me how to keep my anger inside, count to ten. I’m not crazy, but sometimes I get overheated.” If you don’t trust Sidney then just listen to Arnett Moultrie, who had this to say about his teammate, “he’s like a whole new different person. His attitude has changed a whole 360.” See, I told you so… Sidney is back to his old ways. Although a 360-degree change is probably more accurate, I believe Moultrie probably meant to say that Sidney has done a 180-degree turnaround.
  2. Expansion-apocalypse is still upon us. With Missouri heading to the SEC and West Virginia heading to the Big 12, nobody seems to be sure what will happen next. But if you find yourself complaining about conference realignment, just think, at least the SEC doesn’t have to endure TCU basketball. A TCU to the SEC discussion is an interesting tidbit that came from Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in his article entitled “Missouri needs to say no the SEC.” Engel cites “a couple of TCU sources” as saying, “the SEC inquired about TCU.” Really? Why? As if he could read my mind, Engel goes on to say, “seriously. Not kidding.” Still don’t believe him? Not sure I do either, but you can check out the article here for further confirmation.
  3. Ballin’ is a Habit released their much anticipated “All-Name Teams” and the SEC had a significant amount of representation. Congratulations to Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli for making the All-Name Team Honorable Mention. In the “That’s-Not-a-Real-Name Team” category, Mardracus Wade of Arkansas made the first team while his teammate Julysses Nobles made the fourth team. The SEC must be disappointed to not be represented on the “All-Sounds-Like-a-Disease Team” or the “All-SEC Frathouse Team,” despite the award being named after the conference. Also, special shout-outs to Stacey Poole of Kentucky for making the Second Team “All Gender Confusion” list and Steve Tchiengang of Vanderbilt for Second Team “All-Awesome-Last-Name-Team.” Congratulations to all award winners, including several other SEC players. Please leave your snubs list in the comments section for the ultimate nerdfight.
  4. The Lexington Herald Leader‘s Jerry Tipton spoke with Kentucky sophomore Doron Lamb who said he is playing as a backup point guard in practices. Lamb said, “I like it. I’m getting better at it.” Teammate Terrence Jones noted Lamb’s improved ballhandling skills while endorsing him as the leading candidate to relieve freshman Marquis Teague. Lamb is working hard to improve his game. He said, “I’m working way harder after practice, before practice. I get here an hour early before practice. After practice I’m the last one to leave.” That is exactly what Kentucky fans want to hear.
  5. Set your DVR’s for HBO. Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is featured in an HBO Sports Documentary called “Prayer for a Perfect Season.” His high school basketball team, the St. Patrick’s (NJ) Celtics, were the subject of the documentary because of their quest for an undefeated 2010-11 season. The film, which premiered last night, focuses on the lives of Kidd-Gilchrist and Derrick Gordon, a Western Kentucky University commitment, as well as the pressure and difficulties of playing for a team in search of the perfect season.  It’s the perfect movie to pass the time while waiting for college basketball to begin.
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SEC Morning Five: 10.25.11 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on October 25th, 2011

  1. The Southeastern Conference’s official preseason media poll was released yesterday. You know what that means: Time for Nerdfightin‘! It is hard to argue against Kentucky being picked as the overwhelming favorite to win the conference championship. Receiving 18 (of 23 total) first-place votes, the Wildcats topped Vanderbilt (four first-place votes), Florida (one first-place vote) and Alabama (no first-place votes). South Carolina was voted the last place team.
  2. Also ripe for your nitpickin’ and message board forum fighting: the media’s All-SEC Teams. Kentucky sophomore Terrence Jones was voted SEC Player of the Year and joins Vandy’s John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor, Alabama’s JaMychal Green and Mississippi State’s Dee Bost on the First Team All-SEC list. Three more Kentucky players — senior Darius Miller, sophomore Doron Lamb and freshman Anthony Davis — join Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli and Florida’s Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker as members of the six-player Second Team All-SEC. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish threw the first nerdfight punch when he complained that Anthony Davis (like former Kentucky player John Wall before him) should be on the preseason First Team since Davis is arguably the most-talented player in the conference. We tend to agree and wonder why if there can be a six-member Second Team why there couldn’t be a six-member First Team?
  3. Hope you didn’t miss our piece on Christian Laettner‘s appearance in Rupp Arena last night. Another player with more recent Kentucky history made an appearance during the Big Blue All-Stars exhibition game: Former Wildcat Enes Kanter. The Turkish-born Kanter was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for accepting benefits above an allowable amount while part of Turkish club team Fenerbahce. At last, Enes was freed, but his first game at Rupp was slightly underwhelming. Kanter looked out-of-sorts with the pace of the game and his NBA peers. Eager to involve the big man, All-Star teammate Rajon Rondo tried working with Kanter on several pick-and-roll plays; Kanter was surprised at the speed of Rondo’s bounce passes and lobs. Eventually Kanter settled into cleaning up offensive rebounds, made some mid-range jumpers and finished with 14 points and 10 boards. But his performance was not the kind of dominating debut Kentucky fans were hoping to see of the highly-sought big man.
  4. Free Missouri! The school seemingly wants to join SEC Expansion 2011: ALL YOUR TEAMS ARE BELONG TO US. Though in a meeting of Big 12 presidents and athletic directors Monday evening, Mizzou did not formally withdraw from the conference. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas told the Kansas City Star that, “a strong desire for the University of Missouri to maintain its Big 12 affiliation was expressed” at the meeting. Yet when asked after the meeting about the Big 12, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said, “I wish them the best and all that. So we’ll see where that goes.” Sounds like where that is going is the SEC offices in Birmingham.
  5. One of Missouri’s concerns about a move to the SEC is how it would affect Kansas City. The Big 12 will likely no longer hold its annual basketball tournament in KC. When Mizzou’s Board of Curators directed Brady Deaton to explore other conference options, they gave him explicit instructions to set up a holiday tournament for Kansas City. There is some pessimism regarding the success of a team-oriented tournament; ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote, “few power-six schools play in these non-exempt two-game tournaments anymore. … Most non-elite tournaments have shut down because of the difficulty of scheduling these games.” We think the next best option is to make a semi-home conference game in Kansas City with a familiar foe: Texas A&M. The two schools could promote the game as “The Battle for the Greener Pastures“.
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SEC Morning Five: 10.19.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 19th, 2011

  1. Jason King wrote his first article since joining the ESPN crew on what he knows about college basketball. He wrote, “The Big East will (again) be the country’s top conference this season, but I’m more excited about the SEC. Kentucky, Florida and Vanderbilt are Final Four contenders, and no team intrigues me more than Mississippi State.” I couldn’t agree more. It will be a great season to be an SEC basketball fan.
  2. Gary Parrish of CBS turned in his 50 player ballot for the Naismith Award. Lots of SEC love as ten conference players made the list, including five Kentucky players. The SEC list consists of Brad Beal (Florida), Dee Bost (Mississippi State), Anthony Davis (Kentucky), JaMychal Green (Alabama), John Jenkins (Vanderbilt), Terrence Jones (Kentucky), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky), Doron Lamb (Kentucky), Jeffery Taylor (Vanderbilt) and Marquis Teague (Kentucky). If you love lists, and since you’re reading one now I bet you do, you will love the excellent coverage at CBSSports.com as they have also unveiled a list of the Top 100 players in college basketball and a Preseason All-America list. Of course, the SEC is well represented on both with Vandy’s Jenkins placing as a first team All-American. However, it was Jeff Goodman’s placement of Terrence Jones on his fourth team All-America list that sent mobs of angry Kentucky fans Goodman’s way. Goodman placed Thomas Robinson of Kansas on his first team over Wildcats Anthony Davis and Jones. I ask you, loyal SEC fans, is the best power forward in the country from the SEC?
  3. Not sure whether to add ESPNU to your cable package? Well, ESPN released its television schedule with more than 1,450 regular season and Championship Week games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN4… sorry, I got carried away. The release is a 23-page document with 11,122 words in it, so make sure you have a couple of hours to go through it all. Just want the highlights? College Gameday will visit the SEC once in Nashville for the Kentucky/Vanderbilt matchup on February 11. Super Tuesday returns with a Big Ten/SEC doubleheader on ESPN, and an ACC/SEC doubleheader on ESPNU. That should make your decision on ponying up a few extra bucks for the U a little easier. Finally, the SEC Tournament semifinals and championship games will be televised nationally on ABC.
  4. It was initially believed that Florida may violate NCAA rules by using two basketballs during game action to ensure they have enough shots to go around for their ball-hoggin’ backcourt, but a Gainesville Sun article says Billy Donovan is impressed with the unselfish behavior of his guards. He pointed out that point guard Erving Walker has taken the third fewest shots on the team in the early going of practice. Donovan said, “he has really tried to grasp and understand who he is playing with on the floor. His assist to turnover ratio has been really good. I think he has an idea of the challenges in front of him.” Donovan has challenged his point guard to lead the SEC in assists this season. We’ll have to wait and see if Walker accepts that challenge, but he seems to be distributing the ball well in the early going.
  5. Kentucky fans who have been clamoring for more Dribble Drive Motion Offense will finally get their wish. On his website, John Calipari wrote his six observations from the first six days of UK’s practice. In number six, Cal wrote, “this may be a Dribble Drive team. Instead of using it 30 percent of the time, we may use it 70 percent of the time. They’re reacting quickly and they’ve got a feel for what’s going on. They’re doing pretty good with it.” The outspoken head Wildcat has never been one to hand out too much praise for his Wildcat teams, especially early on, but he’s been nothing but positive to start out this year. He even agreed with former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall when Hall said that this year’s team is “way ahead of where we were a year ago.” That’s great news for Cat fans who will be quick to remind us that last year’s Final Four team wasn’t too shabby.
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2011-12 RTC Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on September 14th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

Recruiting rankings are a tricky science. For every Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and Tyreke Evans that rightfully hold fort among the upper echelons of nearly every recruiting publication, there’s a Gerald Green, B.J. Mullens or Lance Stephenson that fades into the abyss rather than catapults into the spotlight. Scouts spend countless hours on the recruiting trail and still whiff just as often as they discover the next diamond in the rough. When rankings, lists, stars or other overly effusive praise is heaped upon immature 16 or 17-year olds, throwing caution to the wind is usually a good strategy.

If the recruiting gurus have it right this time around, then the incoming class debuting at Kentucky this fall may be the best of John Calipari’s coaching career.

No, Marquis Teague has not directed his first half-court set. Anthony Davis hasn’t dunked over SEC-caliber big men. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t defended an explosive scorer on the wing, nor has Kyle Wiltjer had to fight for a rebound against 270-pound centers. But there’s a reason why the most respected in the recruiting world have these four incoming freshmen all placed in the top three at their respective positions, and surely we’re going to see those reasons sooner than later on Rupp Arena’s hallowed hardwood.

Throw in another future lottery pick in Terrence Jones, the purest of pure shooters in Doron Lamb, a do-everything senior starter on the wing in Darius Miller and a coach that patches together top-10 defensive teams year in and year out despite absurd turnover, and there’s plenty of reasons why most have Kentucky one line under North Carolina as the 2011-12 season approaches.

Of course, it’s only a ranking, a number, a list. What really counts begins in November.

Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas represent the lone seniors for Kentucky

Team Outlook: Kentucky is loaded with talent and, unlike last season, blessed with depth. Whereas Josh Harrellson, not exactly a model for prime conditioning, had to play upwards of 35 minutes per game deep into Kentucky’s run to the Final Four a season ago, Calipari has the luxury of shuffling Davis, backup center Eloy Vargas and even the 6’9 Wiltjer at the center position. Davis’ upside is nearly unlimited, drawing Kevin Garnett comparisons because of his versatility, mid-range capabilities and rebounding instincts. Calipari also has a plethora of capable wings at his disposal. Kidd-Gilchrist is the most complete incoming freshman in the country and the sophomore Jones is a future top-ten pick who showed glimpses of stardom before fading in the second half of his debut season. Doron Lamb shot a remarkable 49% from three despite the consensus that freshmen struggle to make shots and he’s almost an afterthought given the incoming freshmen and Jones’ return. The real test will be whether rookie Marquis Teague can continue Calipari’s point guard assembly line. There may be headaches and learning moments early, but given Calipari’s track record, Teague should prove himself more than capable.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 8. Possibly engrained in his line of thinking from days at UMass and Memphis where non-conference duels often provided stiffer tests than in January and February, Calipari has always scheduled aggressively and this season is no different. It’s a perfect storm for a predominantly young Kentucky squad with both North Carolina and Louisville, two teams most consider top-10 outfits, traveling to Rupp. Their SEC/Big East Challenge opponent is also at home against a likely-overwhelmed St. John’s team. The possible road/neutral tests: Kansas in NYC, Old Dominion in Connecticut and a true road game at Indiana. Although the Hoosiers appear to be making slow strides back to relevance on the floor and major leaps on the recruiting trail, I suspect Kentucky will dispatch the upstart Hoosiers in similar fashion to their contest two seasons ago.

Cupcake City: Major props should be extended to Calipari for testing his team regardless of their youth, but, like any other coach from a blue-blood program, buy games are part of the equation. Out of the schedules I’ve seen thus far, the order of Kentucky’s slate is the most appealing from a strategic standpoint (unlike, say, Michigan State, who opens with some teams named North Carolina and Duke). Kentucky welcomes Marist as a warmup for Kansas. They mix in Radford and Portland before St. John’s, UNC and Indiana. They take their foot off the gas to avoid burnout before the intensity that Louisville provides. It’s precisely how I’d structure my schedule as a coach of an elite program with sky-high expectations.

Toughest Early Season Test: It’s the game of the century. Okay, maybe that’s ridiculous hyperbole, but barring an unforeseen upset, Kentucky will welcome North Carolina to Lexington for a possible national title preview that will feature as many as nine first-round draft picks, two coaching celebrities that manage the most recognizable programs in the nation and a national TV audience on CBS. Keep an eye on how the wily veteran Miller handles the daunting task of defending Harrison Barnes and if Davis can hold his own down low against Carolina’s length.

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Around The Blogosphere: August 9, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 9th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Calipari: “Doron Lamb is our best basketball player.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • USA Midwest, Harris win Nike Global Challenge: “The USA Midwest team, featuring 2012 IU recruiting target Gary Harris, beat Canada 99-94 last night in Hillsboro, Oregon to win the Nike Global Challenge.” (Inside the Hall)
  • Epic Kenner League Playoffs Recap: A summary of the playoffs of the Georgetown summer league. (Casual Hoya)
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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 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 SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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Morning Five: 05.26.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 26th, 2011

  1. By Michigan State standards, last year was a tough one to say the least. They could use some good fortune, but they’ll have to wait a little longer. Yesterday they learned that Russell Byrd, a 6’7 freshman guard with reliable three-point range who missed last season with a left foot injury, will have surgery on that same foot tomorrow. He should be back and ready in time for the start of practice in October, but MSU had hoped to have Byrd healthy and up to speed by now.
  2. Penn State has hired former South Carolina and Vanderbilt head coach Eddie Fogler to assist with their coaching search. You know, ’cause he helped with previous coaching searches at…Auburn and Georgia Tech. Yeah. Can you imagine this call from PSU AD Tim Curley to former coach Fogler? Curley: “Hey, Eddie, you know we have a coaching vacancy here, right?” Fogler: “Yeeeees…” Curley: “Well, we were wondering if…” Fogler (smiling in anticipation): “YEEEESSSS??” Curley: “Do you know anyone who might be interested?”
  3. “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” Couldn’t agree more with the great Lefty Driesell, who was inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame this past Tuesday. Before moving on to Maryland, Driesell posted a 176-65 record at Davidson over nine seasons, went to the Sweet 16 three times and the Elite Eight twice, won five regular season titles and three conference tournament crowns. He hasn’t totally removed that coaching hat — he regularly advises his son Chuck, head coach at The Citadel. Chuck’s choice for the most important piece of advice his father has given him: “Recruit daily or perish.”
  4. Ryan Harrow decided to leave North Carolina State after his freshman year and the ouster of Sidney Lowe, and late last night he decided that he’ll head to Lexington and play for Kentucky. The 6’0 and 160-pound point guard was rated as the 39th-best overall player on the ESPNU 100 for 2010, and the eighth-best point guard. He averaged 9.3 PPG and 3.3 APG for the Wolfpack in his only season there, and led the team with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’ll sit out the 2011-12 season while learning to guard the likes of Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb in practice every day, and will eligible to play in 2012-13.
  5. Four years ago, North Carolina mascot Jason Ray was hit by a car and killed right in front of the team hotel in New Jersey before his team’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game. He was an organ donor. Because of that, he helped save the lives of four people. One of them was Ronald Griffin of Franklin Township, New Jersey, who received Ray’s heart. Griffin lived for four more years. That’s four more birthdays, four more NCAA Tournaments, four more anniversaries, four more whatevers — and everything in between. 1,461 more days he got to enjoy the privilege of breathing, walking, perceiving. Mr. Griffin, who became a big Tar Heel fan after learning whose heart he received, died this week, aged 62. We have nothing to add to this, other than to express our condolences to Mr. Griffin’s family, and our respect to Jason Ray.
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An Early Look At North Carolina vs. Kentucky 2011: #1 vs. #2

Posted by zhayes9 on May 12th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Let the anticipation begin. Let the hype build. Let the #1 vs. #2 talk commence.

Okay, so the annual Kentucky vs. North Carolina clash is still a distant seven months away. But as soon as Harrison Barnes turned down lottery millions to return to a loaded roster at North Carolina, and fellow first round guarantee Terrence Jones followed in his path, every college basketball fanatic had an identical epiphany: UK vs. UNC, 2011 edition, could be the biggest non-conference clash since Memphis battled Tennessee in February of 2008. From a pure talent level, nothing has approached it since Memphis battled UCLA in a national semifinal (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Darren Collison, Chris Douglas-Roberts) or Carolina met Illinois for the title in 2005 (Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams, Sean May, Luther Head, Rashad McCants).

Granted, success at the professional level isn’t guaranteed, but Kentucky vs. North Carolina in December could produce seven lottery picks and ten total first-round selections: Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and James McAdoo from the Heels and Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb from the ‘Cats (if only DeAndre Liggins or Brandon Knight had opted to return). In a one-and-done era where coaches are often hesitant to pit their teams against other loaded contenders early in the season, that type of talent accumulation in one game is extremely rare today.

Terrence Jones surprising return to school boosted UK's chances of another FF

To conjure up our collective college hoops juices at the start of a painfully long offseason, here’s a glimpse at what we can look forward to in early December from a matchup-by-matchup standpoint, followed by an initial verdict in the ongoing debate over who should be considered the premiere team in the land for 2011-12.

Point Guard: Kendall Marshall vs. Marquis Teague

The point guard matchup is the standout reason why this game has so much appeal. Marshall and Teague are extremely similar in their styles, strengths and perceived weaknesses. Both operate effectively in the open floor where they can push tempo.  Teague should mesh seamlessly in John Calipari’s dribble-drive attack and Marshall in Carolina’s favored secondary break. Born floor generals blessed with advanced court vision at such a young age, both will be asked to remain in their comfort zone and play the role of creator for the multitude of talented weapons each has at their disposal. Marshall and Teague will also defend each other in similar fashion by sagging defensively and forcing jump shots. Marshall receives the edge mainly because we’ve seen his magic on full display at the collegiate level already, but while Teague won’t be quite as explosive or dynamic as his predecessors at the position under Calipari, his importance is no less vital to the success of Kentucky next season. Edge: Marshall.

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UK Trio Puts Their Names In The NBA Draft

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2011

After several weeks of speculation Kentucky freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones and junior DeAndre Liggins have put their names in the NBA Draft although none of them has signed with an agent yet, leaving open the possibility that they could all return to Lexington next season. Although we noted the interesting trend (is three players a trend?) of several of this year’s top freshmen deciding to stay in college at least one more year, it appears that will not be happening in Lexington. The allure of NBA riches has been tempered for some potential picks by the impending NBA lockout, which from what we have heard is more a matter of when than if, but many have speculated that agents will help the players get through the lockout without any financial difficulty.

Will Jones, Knight, and/or Liggins end up leaving Kentucky?

Knight and Jones are both predicted to be lottery picks this year after solid freshmen campaigns. Knight averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists per game while leading the Wildcats to the SEC Tournament title and a Final Four appearance. Knight was also named as a freshman All-American and the East Regional Most Outstanding Player. Jones, who started off extremely well with a spectacular performance at the Maui Invitational then saw his production taper as the season progressed, averaged 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Like Knight, Jones also picked up several individual awards along the way as he was named a freshman All-American and SEC Freshman of the Year. Liggins is a slightly more interesting case as most mock drafts have him going in the second round if he is even drafted. As a junior, Liggins averaged 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, but his biggest contribution to the Wildcats this season came on the defensive end as he received recognition from several media outlets for his defensive play as he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and to several national All-Defensive teams.

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Conference Report Card: SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 18th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • It was a good year for the Southeastern Conference. After a weak showing in the NCAA Tournament last year, the SEC was the only conference with multiple teams (Kentucky and Florida) in the Elite Eight. The SEC also got five teams into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. It was a major improvement over the sad slump that was 2009 when the SEC only qualified LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi State at 8, 9, and 13 seeds, respectively.
  • When the season started, I predicted the conference could get five and possibly six teams in the tournament and I still contend that Alabama was snubbed.  But regardless of that, five teams is a good showing and a sign of improvement for a conference that lost a little respect as an elite conference in the past few years.
  • Florida was consistent all year, winning close games by playing calmly even when trailing late, but the biggest turning point for the conference came when Kentucky finally was able to win those same close games.  The Wildcats were sitting at 7-9 in conference play and likely facing a first-round game in the SEC when they won close games against Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee finishing the regular season 10-6 and easily marching through the conference tournament.  Kentucky was the favorite at the Final Four in Houston, but poor shooting likely cost the Wildcats their eighth national championship.  And the debate about John Calipari’s ability to win it all with young teams goes on.
Brandon Knight came up big for John Calipari when he needed the star freshman guard the most.

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