Memphis Set To Add Another Elite Recruit

Posted by zhayes9 on September 11th, 2009

At least as far as recruiting prowess is concerned, new Memphis coach Josh Pastner is following in the footsteps of his predecessor.

A program that may have been temporarily crippled by John Calipari’s departure, Latavious Williams bolting for Europe, the Derrick Rose/ACT scandal and the loss of prized recruit Xavier Henry is quickly turning around. Jeff Goodman first reported today that Joe Jackson, the fourth ranked point guard in the nation according to Scout.com, will commit to his hometown Tigers in a press conference later tonight. Tennessee and Kansas were also involved, but most inside recruiting circles felt Jackson vowing to stay home was inevitable.

Joe Jackson/Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Joe Jackson/Memphis Commercial-Appeal

Pastner has been able to quickly rejuvinate a Memphis program suffering from major personnel losses- namely Tyreke Evans, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart- by having Duke point guard Elliot Williams fall into his lap this summer and also securing the commitment of Will Barton, a 6’6 shooting guard ranked by Scout.com as the #1 overall player at his position. Williams, Barton and Jackson in the fray means three McDonalds All-American guards in the backcourt for Pastner in 2010-11.

As a college basketball fan, color me pleased that Memphis seems to be on the upswing yet again. Rather than be left in the dust by Calipari, a young, vibrant coach like Pastner should be able to re-invent the image of a scarred program. While his coaching skills have yet to be evaluated, Pastner appears to be heading on the right track towards another dominant decade-long run in Conference USA by landing such elite recruits against more established coaching mainstays. Their loyal and passionate fan base deserves it.

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RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by zhayes9 on August 27th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

The ACC has been North Carolina’s league for three straight seasons now. With four prolific stars departing from Roy Williams roster, this could be the year Duke re-claims supremacy in the most fabled conference in college basketball. The loss of athletic swingman Gerald Henderson early to the riches of the NBA hurts, but the late inclusion of a young point guard to compliment two potential blue-chip power forwards and the dynamic duo of Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler means Duke has the goods to capture their first ACC regular season title since J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams manned the Cameron Indoor Stadium floor.

465081206020_Duke_at_Michigan[1]

Let’s face it: this program hasn’t quite featured the mystique and aura that normally comes with Duke basketball since the heartbreaking loss to UConn in the 2004 Final Four. Duke’s pinnacle has been the Sweet 16 since that crushing blow and critics are lining up over whether coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s Olympic conquests are hurting the program. Still, a top-two ACC finish and an Elite Eight seem like reasonable goals for this Duke team that only lost Henderson, transfer Elliot Williams, quarterback Greg Paulus and glue guy David McClure. Three top-50 recruits and four of the Blue Devils’ top five scorers return for a squad looking to knock an inexperienced North Carolina team off the mantle.

How does everyone’s favorite hoops team stack up schedule-wise? Let’s examine:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 8. Duke normally doesn’t back down from challenging their team in non-conference play, so their participation in the NIT Season Tip-Off and neutral/road games against Georgetown, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Iowa State and St. John’s doesn’t surprise me. The Blue Devils normally excel in November and their only formidable foe in the NIT tournament this year is Connecticut. They’d match up in the finals if Duke can slide past Coastal Carolina, Charlotte and most likely an Arizona State team that lost both James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. A November 27 final against UConn at MSG would certainly not lack for entertainment. The ACC-Big Ten challenge pits Duke a difficult road game at the Kohl Center, a venue where Wisconsin rarely loses. Neutral floor games against Gonzaga in NYC and Iowa State in Chicago are included, along with a January 30 visit to Georgetown to face a Hoya team that could be a well-oiled machine at that point. Conference USA favorite Tulsa also makes a trip to Cameron in late February, which has the potential to be dangerous for Duke. The non-conference slate certainly presents challenges, and credit Coach K for agreeing to send Duke to places other than Durham for tests that will certainly benefit the Blue Devils come ACC play.

Cupcake City: Only six true cupcakes on the slate for Duke this season as UNC Greensboro, Coastal Carolina (part of the NIT), Radford, Gardner-Webb, Long Beach State and Penn travel to Durham (although I should count Charlotte the way they played last season). A program with Duke’s stature doesn’t have to schedule Gonzaga in NYC or travel to Chicago to play Iowa State, but they do anyway. Unlike Washington, Duke will be battle-tested for conference play and their computer numbers will give the Blue Devils a boost when it comes to seeding debates. Duke is usually in the top-ten in RPI every single season and there’s a reason why.

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It’s Dre Day at Duke?

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2009

Jeff Goodman reported today that Duke recruit and Class of 2010 shooting guard Andre Dawkins is considering enrolling in Durham one year earlier than expected.  Dawkins has completed four years of high school already due to a transfer after his freshman year and is merely one course away from completing all his graduation requirements.  However, his father stated to the Raleigh News & Observer that this was not a ‘done deal,’ and no decision will be made until late August, presumably when they learn whether Dawkins will have passed muster with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

If this occurs, this will be a major coup for Duke and Coach K, as the Devils are facing a near-crisis situation in their backcourt after the losses of Gerald Henderson (NBA) and Elliot Williams (transfer) in the offseason.  Dawkins will provide MUCH-needed depth on the perimeter, turning a paper-thin rotation of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith into a more daunting trio including the 6’4 shooting guard.  While Dawkins isn’t a point guard but instead a shooter with inside-the-gym range, his ability to spell Scheyer and Smith suddenly makes Duke a much tougher team for 2009-10.

We’re not convinced that this solves all of Duke’s problems going into next season, as the Devils still won’t have an elite playmaker in the backcourt, but this may mean that Coach K won’t feel the need to play zone defense after all.  Speaking of defense, reports are that Dawkins doesn’t exactly excel in that area, so if he figures that Duke’s necessity will dictate automatic minutes for him, he’ll still need to address that deficiency in order to satisfy Coach K (much as Elliot Williams did last year).  By any objective measure, however, the potential addition of Dawkins to the 09-10 Blue Devils has no downside, and their fans must be absolutely thrilled with this pleasant surprise.

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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

  • Elliot Williams to Memphis.  Nothing surprising here, as we reported last week that Elliot Williams was leaving Duke to move closer to home to attend to his mother’s illness.  The only school that made reasonable sense was his hometown University of Memphis, and Gary Parrish reported yesterday that Williams will indeed become a Tiger.  If Williams can get the NCAA to approve his hardship waiver so that he can play next season, he should walk right into a starting position at the PG spot for Josh Pastner’s squad.  While we’re on the subject of Memphis getting new players, former Kentucky player (well, he never actually played) Matt Pilgrim is probably transferring to Memphis with the assistance of new UK coach John Calipari.  Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who sat out last season at UK, wasn’t part of the new regime’s plans.  Since he didn’t want to leave Lexington but was no longer welcome, Coach Cal is trying to facilitate a seamless transfer for him.
  • The NCAA Shell Game. Seth Davis wrote an article last week that illustrates just how one-sided the NCAA scholarship system can be.  When new coaches (e.g.,Isiah Thomas and John Calipari) get to their new schools, they often feel the need to run off players (such as Pilgrim, mentioned above) who don’t fit in their lofty plans for the program.  That’s all fine and well for replacing lesser players, but the whole house of cards gets exposed when a coach wants to keep a player who otherwise would like to transfer.  Meet Freddy Asprilla, a 6’10 Colombian center at FIU who had a great freshman year and wants to transfer to a major conference school, but whom isn’t being released by FIU simply because, well, they don’t have to.  There’s an adage about the deck getting stacked somewhere in here.
  • FIU Cheerleading.  We know it’s purely coincidental that FIU is enabling cost-cutting measures by cutting its cheerleaders during the same year that they hired Isiah Thomas to coach their men’s basketball team (Thomas isn’t taking a base salary this year).  Still, the rich irony of FIU wholly dismantling the cheerleading team within months of Thomas’ arrival on campus isn’t lost on anyone.  Sometimes the unintended consequences are more compelling than the intended ones.
  • NBA Draft DetritusGary Parrish: the NBA will find you wherever you play.  Luke Winn: behind the scenes at MSG, and raising legitimate questions as to Ty Lawson and DeJuan Blair’s draft positions.  Jeff Goodman: Brandon Jennings made the right choice to go to Europe.  More Parrish: like RTC, he also thinks Demar DeRozan is going to be a stud.
  • More Quick Hits.  Marquette’s Maurice Acker: done with basketballRenardo Sidney: stop delaying, NCAAJeremy Tyler: headed to Israel Brian Ellerbe: new assistant at GW.  BYU’s Dave Rose: now cancer-free and returning to coach this fall.   William & Mary: considering an asparagus mascotRoy Williams: Aw Shucks… the RW Story, on sale in November.  Antonio Anderson: those Ws are ours!
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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day One

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2009

dynamite

Hello everyone, it’s been a long four days since the last games ended on Sunday evening, but we’re back in earnest and ready for what should be a tremendous set of regional semifinals over the next two nights.  Out of the top sixteen teams entering this Tournament, only two have been dismissed.  The “upstarts” are Big 10 Tournament champion Purdue and a little school from the desert you might have heard from before, Arizona.  We’ll be providing you with all the coverage as the weekend progresses…  here’s tonight’s schedule:

7:07 pm.  #5 Purdue vs. #1 Connecticut
7:27 pm.  #4 Xavier vs. #1 Pittsburgh
9:37 pm.  #3 Missouri vs. #2 Memphis
9:57 pm.  #3 Villanova vs. #2 Duke

9:07 pm.  Apologies to everyone, but real world got in the way and we’re just now getting to where we can start the BGTD tonight.  Hopefully you’ll join us for the rest of the evening.

9:08 pm.  What have we missed.  Two good games, apparently.  UConn-Purdue is nearing the finish line, and it appears the Huskies are going to advance.  We thought there was a possibility of an upset there, but Hasheem showed up tonight for 15/15 and when he puts up those kinds of numbers, there are only a handful of teams in America that can compete with UConn.  Pitt has been fighting off Xavier all night long, only recently getting the lead back for the first time in a while.  From what we’ve seen so far, Pitt continues to shoot threes (not their strong suit and miss FTs.  Xavier is doing enough to pull this upset if they can continue to keep Blair in check (8 pts).

9:14 pm.  Jamie Dixon was right to complain about that shot clock violation there – it was still in XU’s hand when the clock turned to zero.  But what is going on with Pitt’s shot selection?  A fadeaway 18-footer from the corner is NOT their strength…

9:17 pm.  And then a timeout on the throw-in…  this team appears out of sync to us.  UConn is finishing off Purdue on the other channel.

9:19 pm.  Blair got the putback tip to go in there, but can you believe he’d miss such a point-blank shot; and then Jermaine Dixon barely drew iron on a dunk attempt?!?  My God, if Pitt survives this game, it’ll be miraculous.

9:21 pm.  Wow, these two teams are hitting 20% and 25% this half (Pitt higher).  SCORCHING.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Three

Posted by nvr1983 on March 21st, 2009

dynamiteAfter a relatively weak set of 1st round games (except for very late last night), we’re looking to forward to our beloved tournament returning to form with a strong set of 2nd round games. One of the benefits of the lack of shocking upsets in the first round games is that we get a good set of 2nd round games that won’t be blowouts. Right? Anyways, here is your slate of games.

  • 1:05 PM: #6 UCLA at #3 VillanovaRTC Live will be there
  • 3:20 PM: #10 Maryland vs. #2 Memphis
  • 3:35 PM: #9 Texas A&M vs. #1 UConn
  • 5:40 PM: #5 Purdue vs. #4 Washington
  • 5:45 PM: #8 LSU vs. #1 UNC
  • 5:50 PM: #10 Michigan vs. #2 Oklahoma
  • 8:10 PM: #12 Western Kentucky vs. #4 Gonzaga
  • 8:15 PM: #7 Texas vs. #2 Duke

We’ll be starting this post around 3:20 so head over to the aforementioned RTC Live before that time for our coverage of the start of round 2.

3:23 PM: Memphis starts off like they did in the 1st round with a 35-second violation that wasn’t called because Maryland stole the ball as the shot clock expired. Greivis Vasquez just got called for his first foul 57 seconds into the game. That’s definitely something to watch for.

3:27 PM: Nice run by Memphis to silence any of the early doubts after their ugly opening game. This is the Memphis team I put in the Final 4.

3:40 PM: Sorry for the delay. I was busy responding to an e-mail from the NCAA trying to get you coverage from the NCAA East Regional (they’re pretty myopic in Indianapolis). Anyways, back to the game. . . John Calipari has to be  pleased with this start. His Tigers have come out much sharper than they did against Cal State-Northridge.

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NCAA Basketball 2009: The BCS Version

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2009

bcs-fail

With the release of the brackets on Sunday evening there has been quite a bit of controversy (Arizona over St. Mary’s being the predominant gripe) and there have been some interesting moments with Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps ganging up on Dick Vitale and almost bringing him to tears. However, it was nothing compared to the furor that we saw when the BCS released its final poll that determined the BCS bowl games and more importantly the national championship. We thought it would be a fun exercise to try to make a mock BCS basketball system. I used the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls as the human polls and ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI, KenPom.com, and Sagarin’s ratings as the computer polls. There are a couple polls I excluded for other reasons: Kenneth Massey’s (wasn’t updated yet) and Jerry Palm’s (not free). I did not throw out the high and low computer polls for two reasons: (1) we only had 3 available and (2) they were fairly similar with a few exceptions (Gonzaga in the RPI, but they weren’t going to be a factor anyways because of Memphis). ESPN.com’s InsiderRPI didn’t include the games from Sunday, but after looking at the final results they would not have had any impact on the rankings  based on the teams involved. Here are the results:

bcs-2009

If you want to try and follow along, here are the BCS criteria.

Now onto the match-ups. . .

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.15.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2009

dynamiteIt’s officially here. . .Selection Sunday is upon us. Time for a bunch of whining and complaining by grown men about how their team that went 20-12 deserved to get in or for Billy Packer to rip some mid-major for getting in at 26-7 over an ACC team that went 17-15. Thankfully, the slate today is a little lighter to let us get some work done on our NCAA tournament preview. We’ll be covering all 4 games today and we will be doing a separate live blog (RTC Live style, but we won’t be inside the Selection Committee room although give it time). Here are the games today in chronological order and a brief synopsis of what is at stake in each game:

  • 1 PM: #22 FSU vs. #8 Duke on ESPN, Raycom, and ESPN360.com: This is only for seeding purposes. FSU is probably a solid #5 after knocking off UNC yesterday. A win here might be able to move them up to the last #4 seed. Duke is pretty much locked into a #2 seed. There is no way they are getting a #1 seed and they won’t fall to a #3 seed because the two teams above them and three teams below them in the rankings all had worse weeks.
  • 1 PM: Tennessee vs. Mississippi State on CBS: This is the biggest game of the day because of its implications on the bubble. I’m guessing 95% of the people who have any rooting interest in this game will be pulling for Tennessee. The Vols are solidly in the field at a #7 seed in most predictions and I can’t see them jumping much higher, which would essentially mean they should be ranked, if they beat a good, but not great MSU team. The Bulldogs on the other hand can wreck a bunch of teams NCAA dreams by winning the SEC title.
  • 1 PM: Texas-San Antonio vs. Stephen F. Austin on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The winner of this game will end up with a 14 or 15 seed. SFA might be an interesting first round opponent since they actually had a decent RPI for a Southland team (#79) and boast a win over #94 North Dakota State. Honestly though, unless you’re a fan/grad of one of the schools, you’re not going to be watching this over the other two games.
  • 3:30 PM: Ohio State vs. #24 Purdue on CBS: Another game that is about seeding. I think Purdue has moved up about as far as it can after destroying Illinois in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. Ohio State has a chance to move up to a 7 if they can win this after knocking off Michigan State yesterday.

12:20 PM: Ok. Some quick questions for you that ESPN.com posed this morning:

  1. Which teams are the #1 seeds?
  2. Is UConn better off as a #2 seed?
  3. Which conference will send the most teams to the NCAA tournament?
  4. Will the SEC really only put two of its teams into the NCAA field?
  5. Will Arizona’s 24-year bid streak finally end?
  6. Which teams will be seeded higher than you think?
  7. Which teams will be seeded lower than you think?
  8. Which mid-major teams will the big boys hope to avoid in the first round?

Let me know what you think and I’ll give you my thoughts in a little bit.

12:45 PM: Why does CBS drag these Selection Committee people onto the show? I know they’re trying to hype up the Selection Special at 6 PM, but they add absolutely nothing. They just give generic, PR firm answers. I almost prefer the bickering that ESPN has arguing whether or not a team deserves to be in.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 02.28.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2009

dynamite1

Welcome back to Boom Goes the Dynamite.  It’s Noon eastern and it’s Saturday, so that means we’re affixed to the couch for the rest of the weekend.  The day gets off to a little bit of a slow start, but keep in mind that RTC Live will be coming to you from Gampel Pavilion at UConn at 2pm, and we’ll be here for the rest of the action today (all 135 games).  Let’s get it going…

12:17pm. We’ve got Villanova – Georgetown on ESPN and Cleveland St. – Butler on ESPN2 right now.  UNC – Georgia Tech is on CBS, and if you’re really misogynistic, Depaul – St. John’s is on ESPN 360.  Here at the RTC compound we’re going to keep an eye on Butler right now because they don’t get much air time, tracking the others.

12:22pm. Has anyone else noticed that we’re only a week until the end of the regular season, but several of these “national” games are complete garbage?  Who’s making these schedules?  There’s no way UNC – Georgia Tech should be a CBS game on Feb. 28 this year.  Later we get the thrilling Oklahoma – Texas Tech game.  Oh well, at least Blake Griffin is due to return today.

12:27pm. So far it’s a brickfest in Philly at the Georgetown-Nova game, while the UNC-Ga Tech game is (shockingly) lacking defense.  Cleveland St. is giving Butler all they want so far – love the Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Where are Coach Dale, Shooter and Jimmy Chitwood?

12:43pm. Yes, Bucky, it is definitely a whiteout there.  Speaking of white, could Gordon Hayward be the second coming of Adam Morrison (w/o the floppy hair and needle injections during games)?  They both have similar builds and games (from our viewpoint), but Hayward has the superior numbers as a frosh (GH: 14/6 on 48%/83%/46% vs. AM: 11/4 on 53%/73%/30%).  Granted AM played 20 mpg his freshman season versus Hayward’s 32 mpg, but still.  Butler takes a six-pt lead into the half.

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02.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on February 23rd, 2009

We’ll be bringing you these Fast Breaks more frequently thanks our new intern who will be sending me the best of the web, which I will then filter and send out to you, our loyal readers.

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