Examining Ed DeChellis: Why Are Some Coaches Trading Down?

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2011

Monday’s announcement by Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis that he was resigning from his position in order to take another job isn’t the kind of thing that normally surprises anyone.  After all, fifty or so Division-I head coaching jobs change hands in a given offseason, and DeChellis is coming off one of the best seasons of his coaching career.  His Nittany Lions finished fourth in the Big Ten last season and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade (losing by two points to Temple in the Second Round).  That he’s taking another job isn’t buzzworthy in itself; it’s that he’s not moving on to greener pastures as the new guy at Miami (FL) or Missouri, to name a couple prominent openings this year.  It’s that he’s resigning from a Big Ten school to take the head coaching position at Navy.  As in… the US Naval Academy, a Patriot League program that hasn’t been relevant since the Reagan Administration (and a gangly center named David Robinson was enrolled in Annapolis).

DeChellis Isn't the First Coach to Move Down the Ladder

It’s certainly an open secret among Penn State faithful and Big Ten watchers that DeChellis, despite PSU’s run to the NCAAs this season, was already on rather thin ice.  His eight-year career in Happy Valley resulted in more losses than wins and his relationship with the Penn State AD, Tim Curley, had reportedly deteriorated to a breaking point.  Still, by walking away from a Big Ten position — even one in the basketball wasteland known as central Pennsylvania — to take the helm at a struggling mid-major, he’s leaving at least a half-million dollars or more on the table, and essentially giving up on every coach’s dream to win and win big at the highest level of college basketball.  We’re not about to sit down and perform an analysis of the last couple of decades of coaching changes to test the theory, but in at least the last couple of offseasons, there seems to be a growing trend of coaches moving laterally or even downgrading themselves for one reason or another.  Here’s three who instantly came to mind.

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Morning Five: 05.25.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 25th, 2011

  1. Could have sworn there was a thunderclap after we first read this one. Jim Calhoun’s prediction for the Big East is that “I think you’ll see a separation” of the conference along the fault line of those BE schools that play football and those that play everything but football. Also interesting is that he thinks it’ll happen “within the next couple of years, four or five years down the road,” and adds, “I don’t think I’ll see this.” Calhoun leaving Connecticut in that time frame wouldn’t surprise anyone, but it’s still odd to conceptualize.
  2. A day after Ed DeChellis said adios to Penn state, PSU athletic director Tim Curley began the (not at all expected) search for a new head coach. For you speculating Nittany Lion backers, put names like Brad and Shaka out of your minds. Fran Dunphy would be a total coup and ain’t gonna happen, either. Curley says DeChellis left the program in an “excellent state,” but there’s no doubting he needs a name, here, or at the very least a young shark to get the student body excited. So, place your bets: Pat Flannery? Bruiser Flint? Ron Everhart? Joe Paterno?
  3. Mark Titus became a pretty famous guy a few years ago with the website Club Trillion, his blog about his adventures as a last-man-on-the-pine walk-on on the Ohio State basketball team. Regarding the recent allegations involving the football team and Jim Tressel, Titus recently posted on his site that he noticed how cars driven by football players were always nicer than those driven by basketball players, leading him to deduce that either the football players were awarded larger stipends, were better at managing money, came from wealthier families, or “received discounted and/or free cars.” The OSU faithful, many of whom were probably once Titus’ biggest fans, aren’t happy, as evidenced by the comments section [h/t: Lost Lettermen].
  4. Arik Armstead is the #1 high school football player in the country, according to Scout.com. He’s verbally committed to play at USC. So why is he making a visit to the University of Nevada with an eye toward playing college basketball? Well, he says he’d rather play hoops, and ESPN.com says he’s the 33rd best power forward in the country. And his father is good friends with Wolf Pack head coach David Carter. USC says he can also play basketball for them if he wants, and having the Song Girls cheer for you in two sports is a preposterously enticing deal, but Armstead throws in a quote at the end that makes us think he may actually be considering the roundball.
  5. Gentlemen of Villanova, get your passports ready. Jay Wright’s going all Clark W. Griswold on us and taking his team on a ten day European vacation in August. Because Wright has only two starters returning next season, it’s a good chance for the Wildcats to bond while playing some quality clubs just ahead of their 2011-12 campaign and after two straight years of disappointing NCAA Tournament results. Make sure to look both ways twice when crossing those streets, fellas.
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Morning Five: 05.24.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 24th, 2011

  1. The Zeller family (of Luke, Tyler, and Cody fame) runs “DistinXion,” which is, as they call it, “a basketball/cheerleading and character training camp.” Yesterday, new Indiana signee Cody posted on the organization’s website his 10 favorite NCAA recruiting rules, with personal tidbits on how he and his family have dealt with them as coaches have made their cases to the boys over the years. It’s definitely worth a read, if only to hear Cody explain how programs can get around the phone-call restrictions, how some schools sent him empty envelopes in the mail, how Old Dominion made a great impression, and why everything he’s written for his family’s site has to be removed after he enrolls at IU.
  2. Yesterday it was player pinball, today it’s more of the coaching carousel. With Billy Kennedy off to Texas A&M, Murray State decided to promote from within and move assistant coach Steve Prohm into the honcho position. While we’re sure Prohm has his own way of runnin’ things, we’d say future Racer teams will look similar to those under Kennedy, since Prohm had a 12-season association with Kennedy over three schools. Why mess with success?
  3. The move that turned some heads yesterday was Ed DeChellis leaving Penn State and going to…Navy. Yes, that Navy. Why would a coach at a major-conference program that made the Big Ten Tournament title game and the NCAA Tournament last season leave his alma mater for a place that has virtually no hoops tradition, offers a smaller salary, and possesses admissions criteria that make it near impossible to put together a team that can win at the D1 level? Despite this past season’s “success,” next year was going to be another tough one for PSU, a place that barely acknowledges its basketball program, anyway, so perhaps DeChellis was just getting out a little early on his own terms to a place that genuinely wants him.
  4. Maryland, it’s your tax dollars at work. The Baltimore Sun offered a breakdown of the highest-paid state employees yesterday, an interesting discussion for a couple of reasons. Most of the people who make more than the governor (who makes $150K) work for the university system, or are doctors employed by the state’s (rather alarmingly named) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The highest-paid state employee in 2010? Gary Williams, who pocketed $2.3 million, though most of that came from endorsements/appearances, etc, added onto a base of over $450,ooo.
  5. Let’s give a shout to Kenneth Lyons of the University of North Texas. Not familiar? Well, he’s the all-time leading scorer for the Mean Green and he’s in the school’s athletics hall of fame. He left the program after four years in 1983 without a degree, and the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him, but he never played a single game in the NBA. In 2000, he returned to UNT (it was North Texas State when he played hoops there) — not as a coach or a graduate assistant, but as a student. Tuition money has been hard to come by at times, but two weeks ago, 32 years after he started it, Lyons finished his degree in sociology. If you think college basketball has changed a lot in 32 years, just consider how different life in a classroom is now compared to then.
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Set Your Tivo: Selection Sunday Edition

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 13th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

We finally made it. It’s Selection Sunday and one of the best Championship Weeks ever played concludes today. I’d like to thank any reader out there who has read even just one of these daily features this season. I hope you enjoyed it and maybe even learned something you didn’t know about a team(s) from following Set Your Tivo. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

ACC Championship (at Greensboro, NC): #5 Duke vs. #6 North Carolina – 1 pm on ESPN (*****)

Barnes and the Heels Could Snag a 1-Seed Later Today With a Win

The greatest rivalry in college basketball for the third time this year on the last day of the season? Sign me up. In an ACC year full of mediocrity, the two top dogs stepped up and have successfully found their way to the title game today. As you know, these teams split the regular season series with each winning on their home floor. The rubber match will be in Greensboro today, about an hour west of each campus and right in the heart of Tobacco Road.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking in on… the Big Ten

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 1st, 2011

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

A Look Back

The NCAA Tournament is right around the corner and the middle of the Big Ten doesn’t know what to do about it. This week features a bunch of big games for teams like Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Minnesota as they make a last-ditch attempt to get into the field of 68. Last week, there wasn’t much separation because few games were played and teams continued to play right into their current three-tier stratosphere.

  • Team of the Week: Ohio State: With none of the bubble teams doing anything particularly impressive, the Buckeyes went about their business and dispatched of Illinois at Value City Arena and Indiana at Assembly Hall. The two wins helped the Buckeyes reclaim top dog status after their loss at Purdue.
  • Player of the Week: JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue: Johnson scored 20 points in two Purdue road victories last week. He also had nine boards against Indiana and then followed it up by adding 17 rebounds and 7 blocks against Michigan State. The game against the Spartans was a performance that put him right back in the middle of the National Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year conversations.
  • Newcomer of the Week: Tim Hardaway, Jr., G, Michigan: Hardaway had another excellent week as he continues to come on late and help drive Michigan towards an unexpected NCAA Tournament berth. He’s scored in double-figures in his past 11 games and scored 16 points against Wisconsin and 22 points at Minnesota as the Wolverines split a pair.

Power Rankings

This week’s power rankings focus a bit on what the Big Ten teams need to do to get prepared for the NCAA Tournament, or what they might be thinking about come the off season.

1. Ohio State (27-2, 14-2) – The Buckeyes have been in the NCAA Tournament since about the first day of the season. They’re concentrating on grabbing a #1 seed and possibly the #1 overall seed. To do it, they’ll have to beat Wisconsin at home and then make a deep run into the Big Ten Tournament. Star freshman Jared Sullinger seems to be slowing down. He only played 12 minutes against Indiana and scored five points, his lowest total of the season. That’s okay though, because Ohio State has another talented freshman, Deshaun Thomas, who isn’t afraid to shoot. He stepped right in and scored 22 points against the Hoosiers.

2. Purdue (24-5, 13-3) – Matt Painter’s crew hasn’t felt losing since February 1, six games ago. Purdue hasn’t really been challenged during that time period either, with the hardest game being an eight-point win over Wisconsin at home. The Boilermakers look to be in a solid position for a #2 or #3 seed come Selection Sunday.

3. Wisconsin (22-6, 12-4) – This is the best offense in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy, but the Badgers can’t seem to put people away. Still, it’s been an impressive run for Bo Ryan’s club. Jon Leuer’s 26 points against Northwestern helped the Badgers seal that victory. Wisconsin looks in line to be a protected seed as well come Selection Sunday and a team nobody should want to face.

4. Michigan (18-12, 8-9) – The Wolverines weren’t expected to contend for an NCAA berth this season, but a young team has grown up quickly, and with a win on Saturday over rival Michigan State, John Beilein’s team would definitely have a case. Most bracket projections have the Wolverines in the tournament or just barely out at the moment. If they miss, two recent close losses at Illinois (54-52) and versus Wisconsin (53-52 on Josh Gasser’s miracle three) will be cruel deciding factors. Of course, beating Michigan State on Saturday and securing at least one victory in the Big Ten Tournament would do a lot.

5. Michigan State (16-12, 8-8) – Another team from Michigan that has played an incredibly difficult schedule and now finds itself on the edge of the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Spartans could use the road win in Ann Arbor, but they first have to get past a trap game versus Iowa. There’s no way a team that finishes 10-8 in the Big Ten would get left out, but with such a soft bubble, even 9-9 might be enough for Tom Izzo to get a chance to work his magic. Michigan State’s biggest problem? It’s second-best win is against a quickly fading Washington squad.

6. Illinois (18-11, 8-8) – The Illini are who they are; they blow out anything up to mediocre teams at home and struggle against everyone on the road. Thus, it’s pretty easy to project that Illinois will finish 9-9 in conference. Non-conference wins over North Carolina and Gonzaga will help get them safely into the tournament, but their seed line will be determined by how they play in the Big Ten Tournament.

7. Penn State (15-12, 8-8) – It was a festive day on Thursday for Talor Battle as he became the first player in Big Ten history with 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. He said after the Nittany Lions beat Northwestern that he’d give it all back if Penn State could make the NCAA Tournament. Well, two winnable games remain as Ohio State comes to the Bryce Jordan Center and then Penn State finishes on the road at Minnesota. What it really comes down to is the game against the Buckeyes. Penn State has been close against good teams, but only has a home win over Wisconsin to carry their resume. Adding Ohio State to that list would be a clincher.

8. Northwestern (16-12, 6-11) – The Wildcats have no chance of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. They’re barely hanging on to NIT status right now. Bill Carmody has a number of juniors and there are a lot of seniors in the league, so next year should be brighter. Unfortunately, Northwestern will say goodbye to the player that always did show up in the big games, Michael “Juice” Thompson. He’ll play his final home game at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday against Minnesota.

9. Minnesota (17-11, 6-10) – Minnesota has lost seven of its last eight games and has dropped off the bubble. The Gophers haven’t been able to weather the loss of senior guard Al Nolen. You can’t play basketball without a point guard, and while Blake Hoffarber has tried admirably to fill in, he can’t play both backcourt positions at once. Minnesota has two winnable games remaining at Northwestern and home against Penn State, but 8-10 in the conference won’t be enough for an NCAA berth.

10. Iowa (10-18, 3-13) – The Hawkeyes are looking to play spoiler now. Their best chance to really throw a wrench into someone’s plans is on Wednesday when Michigan State comes to town.

11. Indiana (12-14, 3-10) – Tom Crean will be lucky to escape the conference basement as the Hoosiers finish with two difficult games. A last-place finish in the conference might make his seat awfully hot.

A Look Ahead (all times EST):

  • 3/1 – Illinois at Purdue, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • 3/1 – Ohio State at Penn State, 9 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 3/2 – Minnesota at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 3/3 – Wisconsin at Indiana, 9 p.m., ESPN
  • 3/5 – Michigan State at Michigan, 2 p.m., CBS
  • 3/5 – Purdue at Iowa, 4 p.m., ESPN
  • 3/6 – Penn State at Minnesota, 1 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 3/6 – Wisconsin at Ohio State, 4 p.m., CBS

Fun with Efficiency Margin and KenPom: I’d actually like to use this space this week to posit a few thoughts about other random topics around the conference.

  • There are four coaches in the conference whose names have come up as being on the “Hot Seat” at some point this season: Bruce Weber at Illinois, Bill Carmody at Northwestern, Tom Crean at Indiana and Ed DeChellis at Penn State. DeChellis will obviously be safe if the Nittany Lions make the NCAA Tournament, but I also expect at least two of the three others will be back next season as well.
  • The top five teams in the Big Ten receive automatic byes to the quarterfinals. 6 plays 11, 7 plays 10 and 8 plays 9. That 8-9 game is the one that intrigues me. Right now it would be Minnesota vs. Northwestern. But if you were the 6 or 7 seed, a loss in the first round would almost certainly kill your NCAA Tournament hopes. The 4-5 game is in the second round. Right now that’d be Illinois versus Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions another chance for a good win. Just some things to think about.
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Talor Battle Cannot Check Richie Sambora

Posted by jstevrtc on February 2nd, 2011

Penn State hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in ten years. They’ve finished better than .500 in the Big Ten just twice in the last 18 seasons. After Tuesday’s loss at Illinois, the Nittany Lions are 5-5 in conference play this year, and 12-9 overall. They’ve been playing better than anyone expected, recently knocking off three ranked opponents (including home wins against Illinois and Wisconsin), and losing road games at Ohio State and Purdue by a total of three points. With eight games remaining and opportunities for further signature wins coming up on the schedule, PSU has even popped up in recent NCAA Tournament talk as an outside contender for an at-large bid. Certainly, the last thing head coach Ed DeChellis and his team need right now is a big distraction or inconvenience to come along and screw up their mojo, right?

Sorry, gentlemen. Bon Jovi needs to practice.

Good Luck With the Rest of the Season, Guys. Now Get Out.

While that won’t necessarily come as news to you, they specifically need practice time to prepare for their upcoming tour, innovatively titled “Live 2011.” It kicks off a week from today at the Bryce Jordan Center — the Nittany Lions’ home arena.

So, with Michigan coming to town on Sunday, as Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com explains, if the Lions want a little practice time on their home floor before that game…they can’t have it. Bon Jovi took over the BJC on Tuesday for a week of rehearsal and will not relinquish their hold on the place until after the concert next Wednesday.

The Lions normally practice both in the BJC and at a nearby practice gym, but like to get in a workout in the arena the day before a game to get reaccustomed to shooting with the deeper background that the BJC entails and to feel even more at home on their own floor. Too bad. For the next week, the only picks the Bryce Jordan Center will see are the kind that pluck guitar strings. It’s drum rolls, not screen-and-rolls. Power chords will take precedence over power forwards. The Nittany Lions will be relegated to the gym where students play pick-up games. And while the players don’t seem too fazed, DeChellis isn’t pleased at all.

“I don’t care if it’s my granddaughter coming in to see Disney On Ice,” he told Brennan in the linked article. “It’s a problem for us in mid-February, not to be able to use your home facility for that many days in a row when you’re trying to make your run.”

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Checking in On… The Big Ten

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 11th, 2011

John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten conference.

RTC is interested in learning how to improve our Checking In On… series in each conference.  Let us know in the below poll where we can improve this weekly piece (feel free to add specific comments).  Thanks.

A Look Back

  • The Big Ten powers continued to dominate this week, as Illinois, Purdue and Ohio State are a combined 10-0 in conference. The other teams though are starting to look very vulnerable. Michigan State’s loss at Penn State revealed some problems with the Spartans’ attack, while Minnesota doesn’t seem to have the firepower to hang with the top teams in the conference. And where is Wisconsin going to be when this all shakes out? The Badgers are the conference’s biggest enigma.
  • Oh and Northwestern’s NCAA Tournament hopes? They were probably dealt their deathblow on national television at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Illinois. Matt Norlander wrote a lovely obituary over on CBS’ new college basketball blog. That said, maybe life support is the better analogy as the Wildcats did beat a reeling Indiana team on Sunday night.
  • Team of the Week: Purdue – Two blowouts over inferior opponents get the Boilermakers the team of the week award this week. If Saturday showed us anything it’s that winning on the road in conference isn’t easy and Purdue won at Penn State, where Michigan State went on to lose, and also blew out Iowa at home. This team is really coming together and looks to be a dangerous NCAA Tournament style squad.
  • Player of the Week: Rhyne Smith, G, Purdue: Smith scored a team-high 18 points on 6’9 three-point shooting in Purdue’s victory over Iowa. He also was leading scorer in the Boilermakers’ victory over Penn State with 20 points on 5-5 three-point shooting and 5-7 free throw shooting. He’s a catch-and-shoot scorer who thrives off the open looks that come from playing with two All-Americans.
  • Newcomer of the Week: Melsahn Basabe, F, Iowa – Basabe went for 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks on Tuesday against Ohio State. He was held to eight points, with four turnovers, against Purdue.

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (16-0, 3-0) – The Buckeyes are showing a disturbing trend of letting teams back into games. Iowa and Minnesota both played them close before falling late. This could come back to haunt Thad Matta’s team at some point. Jared Sullinger had a double-double in both games this week with 24 and 12 against Iowa and 15 and 12 against Minnesota. The first team to stop him is going to have a legitimate chance to knock off the Buckeyes.
  2. Purdue (15-1, 4-0) – Check out the player of the week section about Ryne Smith. Players like Smith, Lewis Jackson and Terone Johnson are starting to step up for Purdue and are making this team even harder to beat.
  3. Illinois (13-3, 3-0) – If the Illini continue to shoot as well as they have in Big Ten play, they’re going to be unbeatable. Northwestern got shellacked at Assembly Hall as Illinois shot 70.5 percent from the field. The one weakness for Bruce Weber’s squad is that they turn the ball over too much. Even in the 25-point victory, it was evident, as the Illini turned it over 22 times. Of course, Mike Davis and Demetri McCamey both had seven assists on the way to a team total of 25.
  4. Wisconsin (12-3, 2-1) – Jon Leuer gets a lot of the press, but Jordan Taylor is the guy that drives the Badgers’ offense. He’s in the mold of other Wisconsin point guards like Devin Harris and Trevon Hughes where he just gets his points. Taylor scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Wisconsin’s 66-50 victory over Michigan. That’s 66 points in 54 possessions, by the way. This offense is absolutely deadly.
  5. Michigan State (10-5, 2-1) – It’s time to accept that this Michigan State team isn’t that good right now. The Spartans barely escaped at Northwestern and then lost to Penn State. Kalin Lucas had an okay week scoring the basketball, but the assists aren’t there right now. If he doesn’t have more games like the one against Minnesota where he had seven assists and two turnovers, the Spartans are going to struggle in league play.
  6. Minnesota (12-4, 1-3) – While a three-point loss to Ohio State isn’t a big deal, the Golden Golphers suffered a bigger loss off the court when Devoe Joseph, who started 25 of 76 games in his Minnesota career, was granted his release by the team on Wednesday. Joseph clashed with head coach Tubby Smith. The versatile guard had averaged 11.2 points per game this season and his departure will prove to be a big loss moving forward. The team needs a lot of depth to play Smith’s system and doesn’t really have it right now. One player benefitting is freshman Maverick Ahanminsi, who had a total of 25 minutes of time in the games versus Indiana and Ohio State after just three total minutes in the games against Wisconsin and Michigan State.
  7. Michigan (11-5, 1-2) – Man are the Wolverines going to be wishing they beat Kansas come Selection Sunday, but still, a 67-60 overtime loss to the No. 3 team in the country isn’t bad. Zack Novak played a strong game with 12 points and 11 boards to follow up on a 15-point performance in the loss to Wisconsin earlier in the week.
  8. Penn State (9-6, 2-2) – Penn State seems to be a dangerous team in league play. The Nittany Lions really struggled in the non-conference, but they’re slowly getting better. Even though Talor Battle didn’t have his best game against Michigan State, Penn State still won because Jeff Brooks stepped up with 17 points and 12 boards. Of course, Battle eventually hit the clutch shots down the stretch that allowed Ed DeChellis to get a big league win. Big Ten teams are locking in on Battle, who shot 6-22 against Purdue and 3-14 against Michigan State, so someone else will have to continue to step up for the Nittany Lions.
  9. Northwestern (10-4, 1-3) – John Shurna’s ankle is still bothering him, but he did manage to drop 24 on Indiana. I’m sure all the Wildcats want to forget the game against Illinois, but freshman JerShon Cobb did score 18 points in that game and followed it up with 11, on 3-4 three-point shooting, against the Hoosiers.
  10. Iowa (7-8, 0-3) – While the Hawkeyes can be dangerous at home, they’re going to struggle on the road, especially when teams like Purdue can shut down Matt Gatens and force other players to score points. Before Penn State’s victory over Michigan State, Iowa near miss, 73-68, against Ohio State was the most shocking score of the week.
  11. Indiana (9-8, 0-4) – Not much is going right for Indiana right now. The Hoosiers were down big to Northwestern before making the margin more respectable. Freshman Will Sheehey played well against the Wildcats with nine points and another freshman Victor Oladipo started and scored 13, but it’s hard to win Big Ten conference games relying on freshmen. The game against Northwestern was Oladipo’s fifth in a row in double-figures.

A Look Ahead

While every game is big in conference play, here are the key match-ups to keep an eye on in the upcoming week (all times EST). It also includes one special non-conference CBS Sunday afternoon treat.

  • 1/11 – Wisconsin at Michigan State, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • 1/12 – Ohio State at Michigan, 6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 1/12 – Northwestern at Iowa, 8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 1/13 – Purdue at Minnesota, 7 p.m., ESPN
  • 1/15 – Illinois at Wisconsin, 3 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 1/15 – Michigan at Indiana, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network
  • 1/16 – Purdue at West Virginia, 1:30 p.m., CBS

Fun with Efficiency Margin and KenPom: Three teams, Purdue (0.27), Illinois (0.18) and Ohio State (0.13) have efficiency margins greater than 0.10 during conference play. That’s very impressive.  Of course, those numbers will come down once they start playing each other, but each has been dominant thus far. The Boilermakers are just tearing things up on a per possession level.  On the other end of the spectrum are three teams: Indiana (-0.17), Michigan (-0.18) and Iowa (-0.19), all below -0.10 per possession. Michigan is at the level even with a win because of two blowout losses. The Wolverines’ game against Wisconsin is especially troublesome because the 16-point loss came in just 54 possessions as the offense disappeared in the second half. Michigan has shown in non-conference play that it can be very competitive against elite teams, so maybe this is a hiccup that will be corrected as the conference plays some more games and things even out.

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Ten Burning Questions On The 2010-11 Season

Posted by zhayes9 on November 6th, 2010

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

With the season tipping off on Monday, there’s a few questions rolling around the minds of college basketball fans regarding the upcoming season. Let’s tackle the ten most pressing questions, from Duke’s expected dominance to a battle at the top of the Big East and one special freshman:

It's prudent Johnson does even more with Hummel out

1. What’s Purdue’s season outlook without Robbie Hummel?

Purdue fans don’t need to read another rehash of Hummel tearing his ACL for the second time in eight months, so we’ll skip the gory details. With that setback in the past, the question now becomes: is Purdue still a legitimate contender to cut down the nets in Houston? The short answer is probably not. Hummel was the most important piece to the Boilermakers’ puzzle — a gritty, tough-minded, versatile scoring threat and can rebound and defend. The haunting memory of Purdue’s 11-point first half performance against Minnesota in the absence of Hummel is still fresh in some minds. The hoppers off the Boilermakers bandwagon have been countless, the injury considered so devastating that ESPN’s Andy Katz dropped Purdue from #2 to #23 in his Preseason Top 25.

Although the impact of Hummel’s injury shouldn’t be diminished, it is in no way a crushing blow to Purdue’s entire season and absolutely does not deserve a 21-spot decline in the preseason polls. Take a step back and remember that Matt Painter still has two all-Big Ten players on his roster even in a grueling year for the league- preseason All-American center JaJuan Johnson and scoring guard E’Twaun Moore. Those are building blocks the majority of major conference coaches would bend over backwards to have at their disposal. Point guard Lewis Jackson is finally 100% and ready to build on an encouraging freshman season before his foot injury. Kelsey Barlow is a multi-positional threat while secondary players D.J. Byrd and Ryne Smith have practiced for weeks knowing they’ll be thrust into a larger role. Most of all, it’s Matt Painter’s insistence on defending aggressively in the halfcourt keeps Purdue in any contest no matter the talent differential.

This isn’t Purdue unexpectedly thrown into limbo when Hummel tore his ACL last February. The Boilermakers enter the season knowing who must step up to prove the doubters wrong. Even in an unforgiving Big Ten, I expect Purdue to be a mainstay in the top 15 all season long.

2. Who is this year’s first round Cinderella?

If you picked Ohio over Georgetown in last year’s NCAA Tournament, congratulations. That’s a pick you brag about to your buddies for years. The majority of the tournament pool participators did not have such a keen eye for upsets, though. Searching for this year’s preseason candidate to shock the hoops world and knock off a major conference powerhouse as a #13 or #14 seed? Look no further than the Southern Conference and the Wofford Terriers.

Start with the fact they took Wisconsin down to the wire last March in their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Sure, the Badgers play a style that can produce closer outcomes against weaker opposition, but degrading that accomplishment is unfair. It’s the building block for what could be a special 2010-11 campaign with Noah Dahlman, Tim Johnson, Cameron Rundles and Jamar Diggs all back in the fold. Don’t overlook the urgency factor with ten seniors and juniors knowing this is the Terriers last chance to secure a NCAA Tournament victory.

Ranking #41 in the nation in defensive efficiency a season ago, head coach Mike Young has instilled a lockdown mentality on that end of the floor. Dahlman returning is also a huge deal.  The best player in the SoCon, Dahlman is a double-double threat and extremely efficient scoring the basketball. He’ll be a handful for Wofford’s first round opponent and one of those names that won’t soon be forgotten around the college hoops landscape. Young challenged his team with a brutal schedule with road games at Minnesota, Clemson, Xavier, South Carolina and VCU in the non-conference, so we’ll see fairly quickly whether the Terriers can challenge stiff opposition this season.

3. How many games will Duke lose this season?

Couple Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith’s decisions to return for their senior years with a down year in talent around the ACC and the potential is there for a remarkable season in Durham. Although the ultimate goal will only be reached in March, the Blue Devils could run off a season similar to what Kansas and Kentucky did in 2009-10. The backcourt is the best in the nation with Smith, Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins all expected to see minutes (not to mention Singler’s guard-like skills), a group that should allow Coach K to run, run, run, run and run some more. Prepare yourself to see Duke total 100+ points on more than a few occasions this season.

Just how good can Duke really be? Do they have a chance to go undefeated? With a frontcourt that lost key cogs Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas, it’s extremely unlikely. If one of the Plumlee brothers falls into foul trouble and Duke has to play the inexperienced Ryan Kelly or freshman Josh Hairston too many minutes, a forward-oriented squad may knock them off. I have two games circled as losses for Duke: at NC State and at Virginia Tech. If the Wolfpack could pull the upset last year with a cellar-dwelling team, they have a fighter’s chance to beat Duke again with Lorenzo Brown, Tracy Smith, Ryan Harrow and C.J. Leslie. The contest in Blacksburg should produce a raucous environment with the Hokies granted a golden chance for a signature win that has evaded Seth Greenberg the last couple seasons.

Other possibilities include the CBE Classic when Duke runs into Kansas State or Gonzaga in the final. Of course, the Blue Devils could fall to North Carolina in Chapel Hill on the season’s last Saturday, but I expect Duke to squeak by with a memorable win. It was immediately a possibility when Singler opted to return for one last hurrah that Duke would lose only two or three games all year long. Barring injury, I predict they’ll do just that.

4. Could the Pac-10 actually be worse?

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10.08.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2009

Like the first trickles of a flash flood, the verbal barrage about our beloved sport really started picking up this week.  There’s a lot more previewing, interviewing, writing, talking and salivating going on around the college hoops blogosphere.  Let’s take a look at some of the items that are catching our interest…

  • Dissecting Duke’s Recruiting.  Gary Parrish wrote an interesting article last week about Duke’s recruiting over the past five seasons and we had to comment on it because it fairly accurately depicts what the substantive problem with Duke has been in the postseason (i.e., away from CIS).  We’re on record as saying that Duke hasn’t had a true game-changing stud since Luol Deng graced the gothic campus with his presence for one season in 2003-04.  This is not to say that Duke has been without very good players during that time.  Shelden Williams, JJ Redick and Gerald Henderson all come to mind as great collegians.  But none of those players, and certainly none of the laundry list that Parrish mentions as some of K’s other ‘top’ recruits (McBob, Singler, etc.), are the kinds of elite NBA-level talent that gets teams through the regionals and into the Final Four.  There are of course notable exceptions (George Mason in 2006 is the most obvious), but this is Duke, and Duke is always taking a team’s best shot.  They’re going to be very well coached, but Coach K and his staff know that well-coached moderate talent will lose out to elite talent more often than not.  This is why when Parrish says that Duke needs to secure commitments from Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving in order to compete with UNC, Kansas and now Kentucky on the national stage again, he’s right.  The Jon Scheyers of the world are great to have on your team, and will win you a lot of games over four years; but they’re not the players who can carry a team through rough spots en route to the Final Four.  If you don’t believe us, check out who was the MOP of the 2004 Atlanta Regional, leading the team in scoring in both regional games and literally saving the team on more than one occasion with clutch buckets (hint: it wasn’t the more celebrated upperclassmen).    Box scores here and here.  If Duke is serious about getting back to the big stage again before Coach K retires, he needs players like Barnes and Irving to get it done.  Fundamentally, Duke fans probably realize this, which is why each of these visits makes for tense moments in Durham.
  • Midnight Madness.  So we’re only eight days away from the start of basketball practice, and thankfully the NCAA closed the loophole that meant we were having these things all month of October, like last year.  But ESPNU will be back with coverage from 9pm to 1am EDT next Friday, with a simulcast from 8:30-9pm EST on ESPN.  There will be coverage from nine schools this year, including Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog, Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness, UNC’s Late Night With Roy, and several others (Michigan St., Duke, Washington, Georgetown, UConn and North Dakota St.).  RTC will hopefully provide live coverage in some fashion, but we’re still working out what that will be.  Make sure to check back early next week for more details. 
  • Prodigious Previews, Batman.  From Goodman, the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC and Big East.  From Parrish, his final Top 25 (and 1) and his preseason all-americans.  Some players getting early-season pub are Gani Lawal, Isaiah Thomas, Alex Stepheson, Lance Stephenson, and the entire Mississippi St. frontline.  Mike DeCourcy answers five questions about his season preview.   
  • Quick Hits.  Patrick Patterson: his junior year at UK will be his last.  Kevin Laue:  great to see things working out for him at Manhattan (RTC flashback).  Contract Extensions: Ed DeChellis at Penn St. and Louis Orr at Bowling Green (Parrish calls BS on these).  Zach Spiker: the new head Cadet at Army.  James Keefe: UCLA F injured shoulder, out 4-6 weeks.  Len Elmore: has UNC, Michigan St., Kansas and Michigan in his F4BinghamtonNancy Zimpher was listening to us after allCAA: silver anniversary teamSeth Davis: an interesting read on overworked college officialsChris Taft: remember himRivals Team Recruiting Rankings: early list for 2010 is out

 

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Mid-Atlantic Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 9th, 2009

impactplayers

Last week we took a look at the five impact players in the Northeast Region, so now we’re ready for the second installment of our ten-week RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

impactplayers mid-atlantic

Mid-Atlantic Region  (NYC, NJ, PA, WV, MD, DE)

  • Scottie Reynolds – Sr, G – Villanova. There might be players in this region who can score more points or dish out more assists or shoot a higher percentage from the floor than Reynolds.  There might be more physically imposing and athletically gifted players than the 6’2 guard from Northern Virginia.   There could even be a few ‘upside’ guys you’d pick before him if you were starting an NBA franchise.  But is there any player as capable of putting his team on his back and doing this (ok, maybe Vasquez, but he hasn’t done it yet)?  Is there another player on this list who you’d prefer to have the ball in his hands as the clock is ticking down, knowing that he’ll give your team a superb chance to win?  Reynolds is the player that every coach loves to have on his team – he plays heavy minutes, never misses a start, shows great leadership and clearly has a calming effect on his team whenever he’s on the floor.  This is a long way removed from the early days of his career, where the ‘Nova legend has stated that he had trouble seeing the ‘big picture’ due to trust issues with coaches and other players.    There are no such issues now, as everyone in the Big Five (and the Big East, for that matter) understands who the top dog in the Philadelphia area is.  If things come together right for Reynolds and VU in 2009-10, he could look back on a collegiate career that includes three all-Big East nods, an all-american selection, the second-most number of steals (he needs 58), and the most points (Kerry Kittles) in the long history of the Villanova program (he needs 624).  Considering all that, Reynolds will captain the best team in the Big East and may also have another Final Four appearance in his sights.
  • Da’Sean Butler – Sr, F – West Virginia. If there’s a team that should challenge Villanova (on paper) as the class of the Big East in 2009-10, it should be West Virginia.  The biggest reason for that is Butler, the 6’7 wing set to replace Pitt’s Sam Young as the most multi-dimensional player in the conference.  Butler scores (17.1 ppg), rebounds (5.9 per game) and even finds time to play the passing lanes (1.7 spg).  Last season he seemed to really find his groove in the conference slate, as his numbers all rose, culminating in his 43-pt explosion during a blowout win against Villanova on Friday the (Feb.) 13th.  But it was his performance over the summer at the World University Games that really caught our eye – on a team with shooters such as Robbie Hummel and James Anderson, it was Butler who led the squad in three-point percentage (55%) by nailing nearly two per game.  His perimeter shooting has always been solid (~35%), but if his shot improves next season to the 38-40% range to replace Alex Ruoff’s deadly range, Butler’s ability to get to the rim and finish becomes even more of a threat.  With sophomore Honorable Mentions Devin Ebanks’ size and rebounding, Truck Bryant’s scoring and playmaking, plus the addition of two five-star recruits to the roster, it’s clear why WVU looks to improve on last year’s 23-12 record and first round NCAA exit.  Mountaineer fans have an expectation of a top ten team in Morgantown and it’s understandable why they think so – it’ll be up to their star Butler to deliver on those expectations.
  • Jeremy Hazell – Jr, F – Seton Hall. Jeremy Hazell’s inclusion on our Mid-Atlantic all-region team was the toughest decision we had to make.  There’s absolutely no question that the 6’5 guard/forward who blew up on the Big East last season has talent.  You don’t score 20+ against sixteen Big East defenses without the ability to score the ball from every which way (22.8 ppg).  The primary issue was that it’s difficult to claim to be an impact player if your team isn’t very good, and last year, the Hall finished 7-11 in the conference with all seven of those wins against fellow bottom-feeders.  Nevertheless, we recognize that past results do not necessarily predict future outcomes, and with three impact transfers arriving (Herb Pope, Jeff Robinson and Keon Lawrence) amidst a much leaner Big East landscape, it wouldn’t surprise us if Seton Hall, led by Hazell, made a run at the NCAAs this year.  Getting back to Bobby Gonzalez’s star player, his scoring numbers might actually decrease this season depending on how well the new players orient to North Jersey, but with fewer shots (he took 32% of SH’s shots last year) he could become a more complete player by improving his shooting percentages (43%/36%) and offensive efficiency (28th in the Big East).  Regardless of how this season goes, Hazell is undoubtedly one of the most talented players the nation has yet to hear about.
  • Talor Battle – Jr, G- Penn State. While the electric Penn State point guard Talor Battle may have been known within Big Ten circles and around Happy Valley, national attention wasn’t forwarded his way until one performance on February 1 in East Lansing, MI. The heavily favored top-ten ranked Spartans, a team that would reach the championship game just months later in Detroit, fell to the underdog Nittany Lions, who were 0-16 in their Big Ten history at the Breslin Center. During that game, Battle emerged as one of the top scorers in the conference and the nation. In a league where hard-nosed defense on every possession is the norm, Battle averaged 16.7 ppg, including seven 20+ point performances in conference play. And on that night in East Lansing, Battle scored 29 points on 11-19 shooting and 6-12 from three, leading Penn State to a 72-68 upset win. Battle certainly has some areas to improve – namely shooting 34% from deep and hitting just 70% of his free throws – but the scoring guard truly has the capability to put up 30+ points on any given night. With Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle no longer at PSU, the onus lies almost completely on Battle to lead the way for Penn State and coach Ed DeChellis if they have any hope of reaching postseason play again. Considering such a lackluster supporting cast, one could argue Battle will have the most singular impact of any player in this entire region, as on many nights Penn State will completely rely on Battle’s scoring potential to win basketball games.
  • Greivis Vasquez – Sr, G- Maryland. Love him or despise him with every bone in your body, there’s no denying the talent of Greivis Vasquez. There’s also no denying that Vasquez’ decision to stay at Maryland for his senior season rather than enter the NBA Draft had the greatest impact of any April decision in the country, vaulting the Terrapins from a likely-NIT team to a possible top-six seed and ACC contender. Much like Battle’s performance against Michigan State, one 2008-09 performance from Vasquez defined his season and launched the fiery Venezuelan into Maryland basketball lore – a 35-11-10 triple-double in an 88-85 overtime win against #3 North Carolina in College Park when Maryland was lingering around the bubble. Vasquez backs up his never-resting mouth with impressive play on the court, notably being named to the all-ACC second team for the second straight campaign and, in Oscar-like fashion, leading his Terps in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and minutes, becoming just the sixth player in ACC history to accomplish said feat. The main knock on Vasquez during his first two seasons in College Park was a recurring propensity to commit foolish turnovers, but that criticism is quieting after Vasquez finished third in the conference in assist/turnover ratio a season ago. There’s no argument against Vasquez making a tremendous impact for Maryland and Gary Williams once again this season.
  • Ryan Thompson (MM) – Sr, G- Rider. In doing research for this feature, I have yet to find one thing that Ryan Thompson does not do well on the basketball court. The younger brother of Kings forward and fellow Bronc Jason Thompson, Ryan is surely creating his own identity as a bona fide NBA prospect.  A first team all-MAAC performer a season ago as a junior, Thompson did it all for Rider: ranking second in the conference in scoring, first in minutes played (he played 40+ minutes in nine games), second in three-point percentage, seventh in assists, eighth in field-goal percentage, eighth in free-throw percentage and eighth in rebounding. That’s right, Thompson can shoot from deep, score inside, rebound, pass and play nearly every minute. While the competition doesn’t always rank with other elite performers in college basketball, one could argue Thompson is the top all-around player in the game this season. He also plays his best when the stakes are high, totaling 57 points and 17 rebounds in two conference tournament games for his Broncs, including a bucket with 3.4 seconds left to knock off Siena last year. The sky’s the limit for Thompson in 2009-10, an already immensely talented individual playing with motivation as Rider has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament in his three seasons in Jersey, and coming off of a rare and disappointing seven points on 2-13 shooting against Liberty in his season finale.

impact players mid-atlantic

Honorable MentionLavoy Allen, Temple.  Sean Baptiste, FDU.  Jamal Barney, Loyola (MD).  Darryl Bryant, WVU.  Jermaine Dixon, Pittsburgh.  Devin Ebanks, WVU.  Corey Fisher, Villanova.  Darrin Govens, St. Joseph’s.  Rodney Green, Lasalle.  Charles Jenkins, Hofstra.  Anthony Mason, Jr., St. John’s.  Herb Pope, Seton Hall.  Mike Rosario, Rutgers.  Damian Saunders, Duquesne.  Corey Stokes, Villanova.  Devin Sweetney, St. Francis (PA).

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