Four Teams Up…

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2010

David Ely is an RTC contributor.

Every year teams come out of nowhere and burst into the top 25, while sports writers run to their keyboards to type the requisite “Where Did Team X Come From” story. I mean how many people saw Cornell coming last year? Who said last October that Butler would go on to lose the national championship game by just a couple of inches?  Conversely, there are teams that look great on paper in the preseason but fail to live up to the hype once the season starts. Think North Carolina last season. Why did the Tar Heels begin the year in the top 10 again?  Allow us to sort through the mess and pull out this year’s Cornells and North Carolinas for you. Missouri fans, get ready to be excited. West Virginia fans, start thinking of things to say in your hate mail.

Today we’ll take a look at four teams that will be up this season as compared to where they were in to 2009-10.  Wednesday we’ll look at four teams that will be down.

Four Up

#1) North Carolina

Drew Will Have a Superstar to Get the Ball To This Year

I know, I know, you’ve seen this script before. The Tar Heels enter the season ranked in the top 10. They don’t have many players on their roster that have accomplished anything in the college ranks, but they boast a highly touted incoming freshman class. Sound familiar? That was last year’s UNC squad, and we all know how disastrous the 2009-10 season was in Chapel Hill. So why the reason for optimism for Roy Williams & Co.? Two words: Harrison Barnes.

In Barnes the Tar Heels have the top freshman in the nation, and a guy many foresee as next year’s No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. The 6’8 forward gives UNC the kind of scorer last year’s offensively challenged squad lacked. He’ll instantly become the primary option in Williams’ offense, and his inside-outside game should have the Tar Heels back in the NCAA Tournament as a dark horse Final Four candidate. In addition to Barnes, the Tar Heels have a rookie point guard in Kendall Marshall who should provide the competition in practice to make Larry Drew II a better floor general, and at the very least should give UNC two capable ball handlers. The lone reason to be concerned is North Carolina’s lack of depth along the front line. UNC lost Deon Thompson (last year’s top scorer) to graduation, Ed Davis left for the NBA and David and Travis Wear transferred to UCLA during the offseason. If center Tyler Zeller suffers another injury this season, North Carolina might be in trouble, but the Tar Heels definitely won’t suffer another NIT season.

#2) Missouri

Kim English is Ready to Take Mizzou Deep Again

It didn’t take long for Baylor to lose its momentum from last season’s run to the Elite Eight. All it took to bring the Bears back to earth was LaceDarius Dunn’s arrest for aggravated assault and indefinite suspension from the team coupled with Ekpe Udoh’s decision to enter the NBA draft. And the team that gained the most from Baylor’s drama? Missouri.  The Tigers are well equipped to jump into the Big 12 elite and it’s all because of head coach Mike Anderson. Anderson is 88-46 in his four seasons at Missouri and reached the Elite Eight in 2009. Last year the Tigers made it to the Round of 32, and Anderson’s squad is predicted to finish fifth in the Big 12 this year.

Personally, fifth seems a little too low. The Tigers’ brand of basketball (the “fastest 40 minutes in basketball”) that Anderson learned at Arkansas under Nolan Richardson is incredibly tough to prepare for and usually leaves the opposition bent over in exhaustion by halftime. And if that’s not enough, the rest of the Big 12 has to account for preseason Wooden All-America selection Kim English and five-star recruit Phil Pressey. If Anderson’s other five-star signee, Tony Mitchell, ever becomes eligible then the Tigers will have the frontcourt presence necessary to post Anderson’s best season in Columbia.

#3) Florida

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Five Teams Nobody Can Quite Get a Handle On…

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2010

Zach Hayes is an RTC editor, contributor and bracketologist.

As the pre-Midnight Madness polls trickled out last Friday, it became glaringly obvious to us that consensus was more the exception than the rule. Aside from Duke at the top, teams like Butler and Kentucky somewhere in the middle and a precipitous decline for Purdue following Robbie Hummel re-tearing his ACL, agreement was about as prevalent as a British parliament session. Examining polls from a handful of websites that compiled a top 25 to prepare for the start of practice — ESPN’s Andy Katz, TSN’s Mike DeCourcy, CBS’ Gary Parrish, Fox’s Jeff Goodman and yours truly here at RTC — we found five teams with a noticeable amount of dissent attached to their name in the preseason. Let’s examine those schools and break down what they need to do to match optimistic projections and how they can avoid sinking to the depths of other predictions.

Team #1: Syracuse (Preseason Rankings: #7, #10, #13, #19, #20)

Overrated at #7 if: the Orange are unable to replace the leadership, chemistry and production provided by fifth year seniors Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku and fourth year junior Wes Johnson. At times last season, Syracuse was a well-oiled machine on both ends of the floor. Players embraced their roles offensively and Jim Boeheim had the perfect roster at his disposal to stymie opponents with his patented 2-3 zone. The jury’s still out on whether Kris Joseph will be able to step into Johnson’s shoes and replace that versatility on the wing. Scoop Jardine was that sparkplug off the bench last season — will he be able to channel that effort for 35 minutes per night rather than 21.3 MPG? As many accolades as Fab Melo and Dion Waiters achieved in the high school ranks, depending on freshmen can be risky business. Asking them to drop just three spots in the polls after losing that considerable amount of production seems unreasonable and unrealistic.

When Boeheim Speaks, We Should Listen (TSN/B. Leverone)

Underrated at #20 if: Remember last summer when Boeheim hyped up that transfer from Iowa State named Wes Johnson? He’s been doing the same with Fab Melo, telling SI.com’s Seth Davis that his seven-foot freshman will be “a strong contender for national rookie of the year.” Plus, let’s face it: storied, winning programs like Syracuse prefer to reload than rebuild. Last October, we were wondering how the Orange would replace Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris (in hindsight, that looks foolish, but it was true at the time). Why should we believe any differently this time around? NBA scouts have tabbed Joseph as a future lottery pick, Jardine and Brandon Triche shot well enough in 2009-10 to believe they can pick up Rautins’ slack, and Melo is an immediate upgrade offensively over Onuaku. In a conference that lost personnel across the board, Boeheim has a shot to put together back-to-back Big East title squads.

Team #2: Missouri (Preseason Rankings: #8, #12, #13, #16, #16)

Overrated at #8 if: Missouri’s returning talent isn’t that good in the first place. The Tigers return their top three scorers from a season ago, but it’s not as though Missouri lit the world on fire in 2009-10: they lost games to Oral Roberts, Oklahoma and Nebraska before garnering a #10 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s also concern about the Tigers frontcourt — Laurence Bowers, Ricardo Ratcliffe, Justin Safford and Steve Moore -- regarding their ability to contain the behemoths that face them in the Big 12. Any team that takes care of the basketball, keeps the action in the halfcourt and boasts legitimate scoring big men can negate Mike Anderson’s chaotic full-court press and take the Tigers out of their comfort zone. The prized recruit of Anderson’s class, 6’8 power forward Tony Mitchell out of Texas, is dealing with eligibility concerns and hopes to join Missouri in time for the bulk of Big 12 play, but that proposition is in serious jeopardy.

Underrated at #16 if: people underestimate the ability of Anderson to get the most out of his team. He’s positively giddy about the prospects of this year’s roster. There’s scoring punch on the outside with Kim English and Marcus Denmon, a dynamic point guard duo with Mike Dixon and Paul Pressey and plenty of candidates to thrust themselves into stardom in the frontcourt, especially Ratcliffe, the ultra-talent top junior college recruit. The Tigers full-court press keeps them in any game against any opponent if they’re able to force turnovers and impose their will. Anderson has the speed, versatility and athleticism to pressure opponents into oblivion. English is a phenomenal scorer and potential all-conference performer. If he develops more of a well-rounded game and improves efficiency, Anderson also boasts a go-to scorer when the Tigers need a clutch bucket.

Team #3: North Carolina (Preseason Rankings: #6, #9, #12, #14, #14)

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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

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

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Ed Davis

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2010

Player Name: Ed Davis

School: North Carolina

Height/Weight: 6’9, 227

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late lottery

Overview: At one point, Ed Davis was seen as a top-five, even top-three, draft pick. While Davis is still a likely lottery pick, his stock has fallen since that time. After winning a national championship with the Tar Heels as a freshman (and adding 11 points and eight rebounds in just 14 minutes in the national championship game), last season had to be major disappointment for Davis. Aside from his team’s season-long struggles, Davis’ season was also ended early, following a broken left wrist, even more of a problem given that Davis is a lefty. Davis was dominant for stretches (he had a 12-game streak from late November to early January where he averaged 17.2 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 3 bpg), but was inconsistent at times, often due to his raw offensive game. Perhaps some of Davis’s struggles can be attributed to less-than-stellar guard play on the Carolina squad, but he does still have plenty of work to do on his game before he can live up to his potential as a definite prospect.

Ed Davis is a Bit of an Enigma

Will Translate to the NBA: Davis’ listed height is a little on the small side for an NBA power forward, but his 7’0 wingspan and bouncy athleticism more than makes up for the lack of an inch or two. Davis uses his great length to clean the glass on both ends of the floor very effectively, and his work on the offensive glass is one of the strong points of his offensive game, as he is an excellent finisher inside. Davis is also a terrific on help defense, coming over from the weak side to block a ton of shots. He possesses good quick footwork for a man his size, capable of defending face-up and perimeter power forwards through his combination of lateral quickness, length and hard work.

Needs Work: Davis has a boatload of potential, but he’ll need to put in a lot of work to reach his ceiling. While Davis has added some strength and weight since we last saw him, he will need to continue to get stronger in order to defend post players at the next level. His lack of strength is also a problem on the offensive end, often allowing him to be rooted out from good post position. But, lack of strength is just the tip of the iceberg for Davis’ offensive weaknesses; he has virtually no offensive game outside of eight feet. His face-up game is non-existent, as he is a poor ballhandler and has a poor jump shot (he shot just four jumpers in 641 minutes in his sophomore season). Even when Davis can get good post position, he has awkward and mechanical footwork and, outside of a good left-handed jump-hook, limited post moves.

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Roy Williams Can Totally Fix The Oil Leak

Posted by jstevrtc on June 2nd, 2010

Forget all this James Cameron-to-the-rescue talk.  Given the speed with which he can plug holes, BP should hire Roy Williams.

Yesterday brought news that James McAdoo, a 6-8 power forward and the third-ranked player in the ESPN-U 100 for the high school class of 2011, might decide to shorten his senior year of high school and enroll at North Carolina a year early, meaning he’d be available to play for the Tar Heels in the upcoming season, giving them the help that they need down low.  McAdoo had already committed to UNC as a class of 2011 member, but needs only to finish some summer courses to meet the NCAA’s requirements for scholarship eligibility.

His name should sound familiar.  His uncle, Bob McAdoo, played a year for North Carolina back in the early 70s and went on to a Hall of Fame NBA career that included three scoring titles, two world championships with the Lakers in 1982 and 1985, and an MVP award in 1975.  He virtually created the concept of a big man who could shoot effectively from the perimeter.

James might hit Franklin Street a year earlier than expected.

On May 25, we learned that Alabama’s Justin Knox will transfer (sort of) to North Carolina after finishing his degree over the summer.  Knox happens to be a 6-9, 240-pound forward, and, because he’ll have finished his degree before next season begins, he will not be required to sit out a season before playing a final year in Chapel Hill as long as he chooses to enroll in a graduate program that Alabama does not offer.  The University of Alabama’s Graduate School offers more than 120 graduate degree programs.  Call us optimistic, but we’re betting Knox miraculously finds one out of UNC’s 89 that Alabama just doesn’t have.

Just a few weeks ago, Tar Heel fans were lamenting an emerging vacuum in the post, having lost Deon Thompson to the passage of time, Ed Davis to the NBA, and then the Wear boys defected.  It’s true, a lot of teams would relish a “problem” like having Tyler Zeller and John Henson as part of their front line.  But while that might be a talented duo, it’s still a duo, and you can’t survive in the Patriot League, let alone the ACC, with just two post players.

The hand-wringing was probably never as bad as it was made out to be, since top high school stud Harrison Barnes had committed to UNC a long time ago, and we’re sure he’ll provide more than his share of immediate excitement in Chapel Hill.  Still, in hopes of shoring up the workforce in the paint, UNC made last-minute overtures to high schooler Kadeem Jack, but those went unfulfilled when Jack decided to go to prep school for another year.  Tar Heel supporters were left thinking…What now?

They can now sleep soundly, for those holes in the paint have been successfully been filled.  Seriously, can somebody please make sure that Roy Williams has Tony Hayward’s number?

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Wear Twins Hear The Highway Calling

Posted by jstevrtc on May 6th, 2010

In a move that’s caught a lot of Tar Heel fans — not to mention teammates and coaches — by surprise, David and Travis Wear are both transferring out of North Carolina.  The two 6’10 Tar Heel forwards finished their exams this week, went back home to Huntington Beach, California, and their father called UNC head coach Roy Williams on Wednesday evening to inform Williams of the transfer.  Having lost Ed Davis to the lure of the NBA and Deon Thompson to graduation, the Wear brothers’ departure leaves UNC with only two returning players taller than 6’6: 7’0 Tyler Zeller and 6’10 John Henson.

There weren't many signs or omens that said they were going.

That size deficit will be mitigated somewhat by the arrival of 6’8  forward Harrison Barnes, the top-ranked high school senior from this past year who announced — or rather, Skyped — several months ago that he’d be attending UNC in the fall of 2010.  The Wears have not publicly commented on their transfer, but it’s doubtful that this was a playing time issue.  Both Travis and David averaged about ten minutes a game last year, and Barnes is the only post player in the Heels’  incoming freshman class.  With Zeller and Henson splitting minutes at center and Barnes at one forward, there were minutes to be had at the other forward spot.

This had been circulating on some message boards for several days, but now that it’s happened, the question arises as to where these fellows will land.  Their California roots suggest the Pac-10 will benefit, and UCLA, Arizona, Stanford and Washington were listed as the other finalists for their services besides UNC when they were high school seniors.  The UCLA option is particularly interesting; the Bruins have 6’9, 320-pound forward Josh Smith arriving on campus for next year, and the addition of the Wear boys after their mandatory transfer sit-out season would make Ben Howland a very happy man.  Of course, there’s always the chance that they’re tired of being called “The Wear Twins” and will each choose their own school in hopes of forging their own unique path.  Wherever they end up, the program(s) that signs them will be getting, by all accounts, a couple of quality kids in terms of character and work ethic as much as basketball potential.

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Comings & Goings: Early Entry Madness

Posted by rtmsf on April 12th, 2010

Lots of goings today…

  • Syracuse all-american forward Wes Johnson will enter the NBA Draft after one season with the Orange.  He burst onto the national scene with two scintillating performances in Coaches vs. Cancer games versus California and UNC at Madison Square Garden, and for a few fleeting moments in November and early December he was considered the frontrunner for NPOY.  Prior to February injuries to his back and shooting hand, Syracuse was playing as well as anyone in the country.  He will sign with an agent, a good move considering that he will likely become a high lottery pick in June.  He also expects to graduate later this summer.
  • UNC forward Ed Davis will also enter the NBA Draft.  After a superb freshman campaign where he was a key contributor to the 2008-09 national championship Tar Heels, Davis had an up-and-down sophomore year that ended with a broken wrist suffered in a game against Duke.  He averaged 13/9/3 blks per game prior to that injury, but there was a lingering feeling among folks that he could be doing more with his ample athletic gifts.  Nevertheless, he is still viewed as a lottery pick in the draft.  Finally, remember the flap about Davis supposedly signing with an agent back in February?  Trust us, today’s news shocked nobody.
  • It’s draft day for forwards apparently, as West Virginia’s Devin Ebanks also declared his intention to go pro today.  The 6’8 swing player who averaged 12/8 in his sophomore year really distinguished himself as an elite defender this season, and could probably play at the next level on that talent alone for many years.  Mock drafts have Ebanks falling into the middle of the first round at this point.  He plans to sign with an agent.
  • In a mild surprise, Purdue center JaJuan Johnson is reportedly planning to announced that he too will enter this year’s NBA Draft but he will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open for a return to school next season.  Boiler Nation awaits his final decision (by May 8) with baited breath.  Unless JJJ is dead-set on going pro, he’s a likely candidate to return because most experts have him as a late first-rounder at this point.
  • Mountain West POY and New Mexico guard Darington Hobson also plans on evaluating himself over the next few weeks before making a final decision as to whether to enter the draft, as ESPN.com reports that he will make a formal announcement tomorrow.  He has some work to do, as he’s considered a second rounder by most experts, and could stand to spend another season honing his game (particularly strength) in Las Cruces.
  • Memphis guard Elliot Williams‘ strong sophomore season (18/4/4 assts) has resulted in his decision to declare for the draft today as well.  We suppose it was not only a good decision to leave Duke for his family concerns but also for his professional career — he is projected as a mid-first rounder.
  • Finally, Illinois junior guard Demetri McCamey also declared today, but he is expected to be only testing the waters as he will not sign with an agent.  He is currently projected as a late first/early second round pick.

Another going involves two Missouri playersMiguel Paul and Tyler Stone — who are transferring out of the program.  Neither player saw much run for Mike Anderson, averaging sixteen minutes per game combined in 2009-10.  With the spring signing period starting later this week, we’re sure Anderson has a couple of athletic replacements already in mind.

It’s not a coming or a going, rather a staying, but Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury has reportedly turned down the Clemson job vacated by Oliver Purnell.  This is interesting given that the ACC is more prestigious in basketball than the SEC West, but Stansbury has built a solid program in Starkville and he may have the services of Renardo Sidney next year at his disposal.

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ATB: Dayton Wins the (Last?) NIT

Posted by rtmsf on April 2nd, 2010

The Day the NCAA Tournament Died.  Heading into a weekend where we should all be celebrating a great NCAA Tournament with multiple upsets, surprises, twists, turns, shakes and shimmies… we’re all rightfully excoriating the NCAA after its even-feebler-than-imaginable explanation of why Expansion 96 is probably going to happen, as soon as next year.  We’re too depressed to write much more about it right now, but our very own John Stevens says more than enough here on our behalf.

Dayton Flyers: NIT Champs (AP)

NIT ChampionshipDayton 79, North Carolina 68.  In what may have been the final NIT after over seventy years of history, Dayton ran out to a 45-32 halftime lead and was able to hold off a late UNC charge to win its second-ever title.  UD’s Marcus Johnson had 20 points and teammates Chris Wright and Chris Johnson both added 14/9.  With arguably the Flyers’ top two players set to return in 2010-11 (the two Chrises), this could serve as a great building block for Brian Gregory’s team heading into next year.  As for Carolina, Roy Williams admitted that it was a disappointing season for his team afterward, but he thought that his team started playing hard in the postseason and will have a foundation to build on next season.  This year’s 17 losses (vs. 20 wins) is the second-most in the program’s long and illustrious history of basketball.  The Heels will lose seniors Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard and quite possibly sophomore Ed Davis to the NBA Draft, but his team should be healthier next year and welcome another sick recruiting class that includes the #1 player in America in Harrison Barnes.  It’s unlikely that UNC will be back in this event next year, even if it continues to exist.

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Tyler Zeller To Return Today Versus UNC

Posted by nvr1983 on February 20th, 2010

News out of Chapel Hill indicates that Tyler Zeller will be returning to action for UNC today at Boston College after sitting out a month with a stress fracture in his right foot. By now, everyone is familiar with the Tar Heels woes this season, which will most likely end in the NIT assuming they manage to win two of their last five games (yeah, it does sound crazy that they could actually finish below .500 and not qualify for the NIT). However, when Zeller injured his foot just prior to the Heels game against Clemson, they were 12-4 and #9 in the country despite a shocking (at the time) loss to Charleston. Following Zeller’s injury the Heels were blown out by the Tigers losing 8 of 10 games and reached a point where Roy Williams compared this season to the earthquake in Haiti.

Carolina Really Needs This Guy Right Now

With the loss of Ed Davis and Travis Wear for the rest of the season, the Heels could use Zeller on the inside even if his game and minutes will be a shell of what they were earlier in the season. While we don’t agree with Williams who said of his team, “There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m still confident [Ed. Note: We’re not exactly sure what that phrase actually means] we can go on a run and be in the [NCAA] tournament,” UNC fans could use a bit of good news and seeing Zeller have a solid return should give them hope for next season when they return most of their team except for Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson while they add a solid recruiting class that is headlined by Harrison Barnes.

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Morning Five: 02.19.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2010

  1. The twitterati was abuzz yesterday with the discovery of UNC forward Ed Davis’ name and photo as a client on a sports agent’s website.  The site is down now, but  Sports Agent Blog captured a screenshot and PTA Sports Management has given a statement to reporters that suggests there may have been some contact with the player at some point in time, but that this whole thing was a “mistake.”   Color us extremely cynical, but we think we all know what happened here.  And when we find out next month that Davis is submitting his name to the NBA Draft, it’ll make sense.  But one quick retort before it even gets started…  if Davis signs with another agent, it doesn’t at all prove that there were no illegal contacts here.  All it proves is that Davis has enough sense to fire an agent who could be so ridiculously stupid as to put his name and face on their website before he’s formally made the decision.
  2. UCLA’s James Keefe will have shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season, effectively rendering the senior’s career over.  He only averaged 2/2 throughout the course of his career, but Howland was enamored with his defense and toughness, so he played in 111 games in his Bruin tenure.
  3. Seth Davis gives us his weekly mailbag, and he devotes more than a third of it to questions about the ACC.  We have to agree that one thing that really ticks us off about modern-day conferences is the loss of round-robin schedules, but that’s unfortunately true for every major conference except the Pac-10 (oops, we said major conferences, didn’t we) these days.
  4. Answer: USC’s hearing in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee that took place yesterday.  Question: things that are more pleasant than what Tiger Woods will do in front of the world later this morning.
  5. Gregg Marshall of Wichita State can get a little testy at times, and this video where he attacks local reporter Bob Lutz for putting “negativity” in the minds of some Shocker fans is a joy to watch.  The video is below, and you can read Lutz’s original article here and his retort here.  Justified?

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ATB: UNC and UConn Running on Empty

Posted by rtmsf on February 11th, 2010

Syracuse Survives#3 Syracuse 72, Connecticut 67. Widely considered the undercard for another rivalry game later in the evening, this one was utterly predictable for about the first 28 minutes.  Isn’t this close to the pattern you assumed, as well?  Connecticut would keep it close for a half, a Syracuse run somewhere in the middle of the second half would put it away, and the announcers would lament for the duration about UConn’s disappointing season and the effects of the loss of Jim Calhoun while the home viewers got their refreshments ready for Duke/North Carolina.  Sound about right?  Connecticut played their role perfectly until there were 14 minutes left, the score 50-34.  The Huskies got themselves back in it with a fantastic 17-4 run over a six-minute period, and Jerome Dyson (19/8/5/2 stls) completed the comeback with a three-pointer to tie it at 65 with 2:38 remaining.  You’ll hear a lot about a controversial time-out that was credited to Syracuse at this juncture, and who knows.  Eyes belonging to supporters of each team will see it differently, but it’s our stance that it wouldn’t have mattered in the end.  Connecticut still had a Dyson three in the air to take the lead with 22 seconds left at 67-65, but it was Kris Joseph (14/6/2 stls) who pulled down the rebound and managed to hit his next four free throws to help the Orange finish it.  The big questions from this game: is Syracuse one of the top four teams in the nation (i.e., deserving of a one-seed)?  Did Connecticut show themselves to be one of the top 64?  As concerns the Orange, the answer is yes, and their status as a presumptive #1 seed is not news.  That probably wouldn’t have changed even with a loss.  As far as Connecticut goes, it’s more an issue of a golden chance squandered.  They have seven games left and stand at 14-10 and 4-7.  This would have been the ultimate signature win, and it would have come on a night when other bubble teams around the country also hurt their own causes.  As it stands, just to get to .500 in the conference race, UConn has to go 5-2 over a stretch that includes four road games — and they haven’t won on the road all year (0-6).  And that would only have them at 19-10 and 9-9 going into the Big East Tournament.  They have one more chance for a win that would give the NCAA committee something to think about: this Monday at Villanova.  Lose that one, and it’s Big East Tournament or bust.

Boeheim Hasn't Had Many of These Looks (AP/Kevin Rivoli)

Carolina is Cooked#7 Duke 64, North Carolina 54.  This game had little of its usual luster given the troubles that Roy Williams’ Tar Heels have endured in recent weeks.  UNC came into this game having lost three in a row, and six of seven, and the conventional wisdom surrounding this game was that Carolina needed to win both Duke games (and a whole bunch in-between) in order to have enough of a resume to make the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year.  Didn’t happen, and wasn’t ever going to happen.  Sure, the game was close for 34 minutes of action, but eventually the better team started making their shots, and as soon as that happened it was lights-out for the home team tonight.  Jon Scheyer led the Dookies with 24/5/4 assts and Kyle Singler added 19/9, but the game was an ugly affair, as both teams shot the ball in the low- to mid-30s in terms of percentage.  The difference was marginal, as Duke did things just a little better than Carolina, whether it was rebounding (+11), taking care of the ball (-4 TOs) or hitting their long-range bombs (9 vs. 5).  A few questions came to mind in this one as we once again watched UNC struggle to put up points.  First, who decided that Larry Drew II (11/4/4 assts) is the go-to guy?  LD2 chucked fifteen shots at the rim, making only four (and 1-8 from three), and often times it appeared that he really believed that the best available play was to call his own number.  By the same token, how Ed Davis (4/5/6 blks) only gets four shot attempts (making two) is beyond comprehension.  Drew in fact took more shots than his entire starting frontline of Davis and Deon Thompson (10/4 on 3-7 FGs), both of whom have more offensive abilities in their kneecaps than Drew does.  It was reported today that Roy Williams made a horrible analogy comparing his team’s struggles this year to the disaster that killed nearly a quarter-million people in Haiti, but it seems that he may want to spend a little more time explaining to his players what a good shot actually looks like rather than making silly comparisons about what will likely be his first non-NCAA Tournament season in his coaching career (when eligible).

Roy Could Use This Guy Back (credit: Robert Willett)

The Wacky A10Dayton 75, Charlotte 47 Despite holding the A10 lead alone coming into this one, Charlotte was a popular pick to be the most likely team out of the top five in that conference to be left out of the NCAA Tournament, failing an Atlantic 10 Tournament title.  They didn’t help their cause tonight.  Rather, Dayton helped their own.  Chris Wright just exploded for a career-high 30 points and fueled a 23-7 run over the first part of the second half for which the 49ers had no answer.  Dayton was up by only three at the half, 30-27, but Wright had no intention of letting this one stay close, accounting for 15 of Dayton’s first 18 points of the second half with three three-pointers, two dunks, and a pair of free throws.  All is not lost for Charlotte, who now stands in a three-way tie with Richmond and Xavier at 8-2 in the conference; there are four other teams (including Dayton) within a game and a half of those leaders in a conference race that’s going to be a thriller to the very last.

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Travis Wear Sprains Ankle, Looks Forward To Some RICE

Posted by jstevrtc on February 10th, 2010

North Carolina’s Travis Wear was seemingly gaining confidence and comfort with his role on the current UNC squad with every game in which he appeared as the season progressed.  Through a combination of his own progression as a player and some team injuries, Wear had worked his way up to being Roy Williams‘ first or second option off the bench.  That’s going to have to wait, now, since Wear went up for a rebound during practice on Tuesday and came down on a teammate’s foot, spraining his left ankle badly enough to where he will not play against Duke on Wednesday.  Imaging showed no fracture, but he’s said to be out indefinitely.

The hits just keep coming for the Tar Heels. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

We’re guessing, though, that “indefinitely” in this case won’t be very long.  We’re assuming this is a simple inversion sprain (where the ankle “rolls” and the bottom of the foot goes inward) as opposed to the slightly more serious eversion sprain (where the bottom of the foot goes outward as the ankle gives way).  We know there’s no fracture.  That said, Wear is looking at several days of what doctors (and eighth-grade health class teachers) call RICE therapy.  That is: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  Put less elegantly, Wear will stay off the ankle, ice it down, wrap it up in something like an ACE, and keep that baby on a couple of pillows as he watches practice or chills in his room.  Throw in some anti-inflammatories, a couple of tricks from the UNC medical staff  — make no mistake, these trainers and team docs are a crafty bunch — and some exercises to get back the flexibility and strength to the area, and we bet Wear will be good as new in no time.

You know what else helps injuries heal?  Winning.  We’re wagering that if UNC pulls off a stunner against Duke tonight and then grabs another win at home against North Carolina State this Saturday, that ankle will feel immediately better.  We’re not saying Wear is milking the injury at all.  We’re saying that if UNC reels off a couple of big wins and is suddenly back in the NCAA Tournament conversation, he’ll want to get back as quickly as he can to help.

Either way, this means Heels like Deon Thompson, William Graves, and Ed Davis will have to play a few more minutes and avoid foul trouble, or a couple of Travis Wear’s fellow freshmen — specifically John Henson and Travis’ brother David Wear — have just become more important to the Tar Heel cause.

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