Morning Five: 06.15.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 15th, 2011

  1. Everybody applauded Shaka Smart a few months ago when he turned down the allure of programs with bigger names to stay at VCU with the hopes of building an elite program there. He may do that, but it looks like he will need to do it with a new coaching staff as Radford snapped up VCU assistant Mike Jones and Boston University is apparently strongly considering another VCU assistant, Mike Rhoades. As for Jones, he may have a difficult time cleaning up the mess left by former coach Brad Greenberg, who resigned after numerous irregularities were discovered within the program.
  2. For much of the past year college fans have been inundated by rumors about conference realignment. One move that definitely stayed under our radar was Seattle moving to the WAC. The move that will become official in the 2012-13 academic year will allow the men’s basketball program, coached by former UCLA point guard Cameron Dollar, to compete at the Division 1 level in the first year that they are eligible for the NCAA Tournament. While most fans are not that familiar with the Seattle program, they do have an impressive pedigree if you are willing to go back nearly 50 years. In 1958, led by Elgin Baylor, they made it to the NCAA Championship game before losing to Kentucky, 82-74, and in 1966 they handed Texas Western (yes, the Glory Road team) its only loss of the season in their last game before the NCAA Tournament. The current Seattle team is significantly less talented, but should be aided by the depleted WAC, which will see Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada leave the conference in the next two seasons.
  3. When Missouri hired Frank Haith after the season ended they were widely ridiculed (ok, we were in that group), but it looks like he is making some significant moves with the addition of Auburn transfer Earnest Ross (13.1 PPG and 6.6 RPG as part of an anemic offense last season) and he is reportedly in the hunt for UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Pepperdine transfer Keion Bell (yes, the guy who dunked over seven people). If Haith can land that trio, the media ridicule about the hire may soften although questions about his in-game coaching will remain.
  4. When Dwayne Polee announced that he was transferring from St. John’s several weeks ago we speculated that it might have had something to do with the influx of talent that Steve Lavin was bringing to the Red Storm. Yesterday, Polee announced that he was transferring to San Diego State and was applying for a hardship waiver (his mother has a medical condition requiring surgery) that would allow him to play for the Aztecs next year. Although Polee had a disappointing freshman campaign this is a big signing for Steve Fisher and could help the team transition from Kawhi Leonard era to the future if Polee can find his game again now that he is back in California.
  5. Last night we went on a Twitter rant questioning the public’s anger at LeBron James for not fulfilling his potential (or at least what we perceive it to be), but we won’t question the existence of the widespread hatred of James and his current Heat team. Even before the season began, Sports Illustrated released a list of the top 25 most hated teams of all-time and had the Heat, who had yet to play a game together as the 25th most hated team of all-time. We are sure they would move up the list if it was done again today, but we were surprised to see that three college basketball teams–1983-84 Georgetown at #23, 1991-92 Duke at #12, and 1989-90 UNLV at #9–were rated ahead of the Heat. We aren’t exactly sure where the Heat would rank if the list were done again today, but we are guessing that they would rank higher than all three of those teams.
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Around The Blogosphere: May 23, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 23rd, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

General News

  • Dwayne Polee to transfer from St. John’s: “In a possibly huge blow to St. John’s ability to compete in the Big East next year, returning freshman Dwayne Polee II will transfer from the St. John’s program” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • Luke Hancock will transfer to Louisville: “Former George Mason forward Luke Hancock announced Saturday that he intends to transfer and play basketball at the University of Louisville.” (Card Chronicle)
  • Gottfried strikes again — lands potential starting senior point guard: “Earlier this week, the new Wolfpack coaching staff pulled a surprise when they landed European power forward Thomas de Thaey over Washington and Wake Forest.” (State Fans Nation)
  • UConn’s losing two scholarships, the NCAA will say it’s about bad academics but it’s really about bad basketball: “There are reasonable points to be made about Jim Calhoun bringing in too many guys who can’t cut it at UConn’s level, and we can have that discussion if you want. Just keep in mind that the reason UConn has lost two scholarships isn’t because guys like Eaves and Johnson couldn’t cut it in the classroom. It’s because they couldn’t cut it on the court.” (The UConn Blog)
  • Eloy notches a double-double, leads Reach USA to win: “Eloy Vargas continues to do work on his tour of China, as he posted 10 points and 12 rebounds and added three blocks in a 79-72 win over Lithuania earlier today.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Bobby Capobianco leaving IU, looking to transfer: The forward, who saw limited action, is still considering his options. (Inside the Hall)

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Morning Five: 05.23.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 23rd, 2011

  1. The coaching carousel may have slowed down a little recently, but the player pinball is still operational and making noise. Over the weekend, St. John’s Red Stormer Dwayne Polee announced his intent to transfer to a school closer to home so he can help his family “get through a health issue.” Polee played in all 33 games for SJU as a freshman last season, starting most of them, and averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 boards in 15.5 per contest. We hope the family health issue he cites resolves to the best possible outcome, obviously. Much less importantly: Polee is from Los Angeles, so you may begin your speculation on his eventual college choice at once.
  2. Another player on the move is forward Luke Hancock, most recently of George Mason, and he’s evidently prepared to eschew mid-major life and head off to Louisville. As a sophomore last season, Hancock led the Patriots in assists (4.3 APG, 3rd in the CAA) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), and was third in scoring with 10.4 PPG. He had 18/5 in Mason’s first second-round win over Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, but a gastrointestinal bug kept him out of their next game — that 98-66 spanking administered by Ohio State. Hancock has serious game, folks. This is a nice pickup by the Cardinals.
  3. The official report doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but it looks like Connecticut will lose two scholarships for next season because of a low academic progress rate (APR). In this limited space we won’t get into the goods and bads of APR methodology, but in addition to leaving UConn with ten scholarships next year, one brow-raising factoid from the linked New York Times/AP summary is that the low APR will cost Jim Calhoun almost $200,000, including every dime of his postseason bonus of $87,500 that he received for the run to the national championship.
  4. The Hurleys have done their homeland proud, and we’re not just talkin’ about New Jersey. Dan and Bobby — now head and assistant coach of Wagner College, respectively — and their father Bob, the legendary head coach of Saint Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, were all recently named to Irish Central’s Top 100 Irish Americans for 2011 (um…isn’t it only May?). Dan and Bobby shared a spot on the list, but Bob got his own among the honorees, a list that also includes Regis Philbin, Will Ferrell, and Muhammad Ali. Erin Go Bragh, boys!
  5. Tim Brando had the idea and then John DeShazier of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune ran with it, and the result is this article from yesterday that makes the case for former LSU head coach Dale Brown. What do you think? Pete Maravich’s name is on the home arena. Shaquille O’Neal is getting a statue in front of the practice facility. Does Brown, who led LSU to 448 wins, 13 NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours, at least deserve to have the court named after him? Brando/DeShazier are pretty convincing.
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Conference Report Card: Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 19th, 2011

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor. 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

  • College basketball has never witnessed a season like this year’s Big East. The conference destroyed its own record of eight NCAA bids by placing 11 clubs in the Big Dance this year and also claimed the national champion with Connecticut, which spent most of the season in the middle of the pack in the Big East. The Huskies also gave the conference its first title since the Huskies last did the trick in 2004. While there was not a truly great team in the Big East (including Connecticut), the league was better than any other from top to bottom. Of the five teams that failed to make the NCAA Tournament, only South Florida and DePaul were truly uncompetitive. Rutgers showed signs of improvement while Seton Hall managed to win seven league games and gave some good teams a major scare in the process. Even Providence, which finished 4-14, knocked off Louisville and Villanova in consecutive games back in January. Despite the lackluster NCAA showing by most Big East members, it says here the conference boasted the best player in the nation (sorry, Jimmer) and a deserving national champion. Additionally, ten Big East teams were ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point this season. Say what you want about its postseason performance (it’s certainly fair to bash the league in that regard), but this was by far the best conference in the nation this year.

Jim Calhoun (left) and Kemba Walker will be inextricably linked to UConn's memorable NCAA Tournament run. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Team-by-Team (teams are in order of finish, but grades are based on performance vs. expectations):

  1. Pittsburgh (28-6, 15-3): The regular season was terrific once again for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers but, as has become common over the years, they fell short of their goal–getting to the Final Four. Pittsburgh lost four of their final eight games after starting the season 24-2. A mid-season injury to Ashton Gibbs was thought to bring them down a peg, but Pitt responded with wins at West Virginia and Villanova without him to quiet any doubters. That turned out to be their peak. Dixon did not really test his team out of conference except for two games at Madison Square Garden against Maryland and Texas back in November as part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer event and a “home” game (in Pittsburgh) against Tennessee, which they lost. Looking back, one theory could be that an average non-conference schedule did not adequately prepare this team for the NCAA Tournament which is all about match-ups and teams you haven’t seen before from other leagues. While Big East coaches love to use the strength of the league as a crutch when questioned about a lack of non-conference heft to their schedule, I think this is a theory that has to be taken into consideration. Big East play is obviously rough and tumble every night but that can actually be a detriment come tournament time when games are officiated tighter and you don’t have as much time to prepare for an opponent who you likely don’t know very well, if at all. Pitt will lose Gilbert Brown, Brad Wanamaker, and Gary McGhee to graduation while Gibbs tests the NBA waters. I expect Gibbs to come back to join a very good recruiting class led by five-star forward Khem Birch. Despite the loss of three senior leaders, look for Pitt to be in the thick of the Big East race yet again next season. Dixon has established a culture of winning and I have learned never to doubt him after witnessing the 2009-10 campaign, a season that certified Dixon as one of the best basketball minds in the country. While this year was a great success during the regular season, Pitt’s inability to get to the Sweet Sixteen and eventually the Final Four renders this year a disappointment. GRADE: B- Read the rest of this entry »
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Boom Goes The Dynamite: ESPN’s 24 Hours Of Hoops Marathon 2010

Posted by jstevrtc on November 15th, 2010

PUT. THAT COFFEE. DOWN.

For the third year in a row, ESPN is bringing us what we consider one of the great television events on the sports television calendar, the 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon. That means that for the third year in a row, I’ll be live-blogging the whole thing from start to finish — and this year, we’re climbing this hoops blogger’s Everest without supplemental oxygen. That is to say…I’m going caffeine-free. More importantly, here is the schedule of games for this year’s marathon (all times Eastern):

  • 12:00 midnight — Miami (FL) at Memphis (ESPN)
  • 2:00 am — St. John’s at St. Mary’s (ESPN)
  • 4:00 am — Central Michigan at Hawaii (ESPN)
  • 6:00 am — Stony Brook at Monmouth (ESPN)
  • 8:00 am — Robert Morris at Kent State (ESPN)
  • 10:00 am — Northeastern at Southern Illinois (ESPN)
  • 12 noon — Oral Roberts at Tulsa (ESPN)
  • 2:00 pm — La Salle at Baylor (ESPN)
  • 4:00 pm — Virginia Tech at Kansas State (ESPN)
  • 5:30 pm — Marist at Villanova (ESPNU)
  • 6:00 pm — Ohio State at Florida (ESPN)
  • 7:30 pm — Miami (OH) at Duke (ESPNU)
  • 8:00 pm — Butler at Louisville (ESPN)
  • 9:30 pm — Belmont at Tennessee (ESPNU)
  • 10:00 pm — South Carolina at Michigan State (ESPN)
  • 11:00 pm — San Diego State at Gonzaga (ESPN2)
  • 11:30 pm — Pacific at UCLA (ESPNU)

The first attempt at this resulted in some hallucinations and arrhythmias as the hour got late (I had been up for 16 hours before starting the live blog) and I required a few caffeine-laden beverages. Last year, we had a technical glitch that kept us on our toes, but the live blog survived. This time, to raise the standard yet again, I’ll be sans caffeine. I know that without a webcam (we’re not that kind of site) you have no reason to believe that I’m not pounding sodas and cappuccinos and Five Hour Energy drinks by the blender-full. Since I believe RTC is the only site that’s done this all three years, well…you’ll just have to trust me. After two years, I think our relationship is in that kind of place. I hope you’ll join us right here (the live blog will continue in this post) a few minutes before midnight. Now, for my pre-live-blog meal. How’s a little turkey and wine sound?

11:47 PM Monday — Here we go. The high-def at the RTC Southern Compound is rockin’. We’ve checked the router and the internet connection to the building (which bit us in zee buttocks last year), and it appears solid. The football game is all but over (as it has been since halftime). Let’s go.

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