AAC M5: 01.03.14 Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on January 3rd, 2014

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  1. It looks more and more likely that former Louisville forward Chane Behanan will try play college basketball again, just not at any other AAC school. Behanan received a conditional release from Louisville that states he can’t transfer to any AAC schools. When dismissed from the team for breaking university rules (repeatedly), Pitino said Behanan had two options: transfer or get with a trainer and prepare for an attempt at the NBA draft. It appears Behanan has expressed interest in pursuing opportunities at other schools. A few schools have reportedly reached out to Behanan, including Arizona State, Nortwestern, Utah, Gonzaga, Delaware, Oregon, and Iowa State. Behanan could have a full season of eligibility left, after sitting out next season, if he waits to transfer at the end of the year. First, Behanan will head to Houston to get help from John Lucas, former NBA player and coach, who runs a drug and alcohol treatment program for athletes and coaches.
  2. Connecticut’s hot start has quickly faded and one game into the conference season they find themselves already looking up at teams ahead in the standings. The Huskies have lost two of their last four including a loss at Houston in the conference opener. Connecticut reached the top 10 by winning close games showing toughness and poise, but none of that was to be found in the first half versus Houston when the host built a 21 point lead. Kevin Ollie said he has to figure something out and do some soul-searching. The Huskies made the short flight to Dallas to prepare for Saturday’s match-up with SMU.
  3. One of Houston’s all-time great players and current radio analyst Elvin Hayes thinks the AAC could help Houston return to its glory day status. Hayes watched Connecticut in person for the first time on New Year’s Eve, in what was a statement win for Houston in an otherwise lackluster start to the season. Hayes said Houston and head coach James Dickey have been able to keep local talent at Houston, building a foundation. Hayes, along with Don Chaney, was the first African American to play at Houston and scored the winning points in the first nationally televised college game ending UCLA’s 47-game winning streak. He was selected on the NBA’s 50th anniversary team.
  4. Houston showed a couple of never before seen traits this season in the New Year’s Eve upset of Connecticut: dominance and grit. Coach James Dickey said the Cougars played hard and played as a team. Houston led by as many as 21 in the first half before Connecticut roared back to take a three point lead. Houston didn’t fold however, and made all the necessary plays down the stretch to win, something it didn’t do much of in the non-conference collecting an uninspiring 8-5 record.
  5. Rantsports.com says Memphis will finish the AAC season with a 13-5, splitting with Louisville, SMU, and Cincinnati while losing both contests to Connecticut. I don’t know what the writer sees in Connecticut to think Memphis won’t be able to handle the Huskies at least in Memphis, especially after Connecticut’s loss to Houston. He does go on to say the Tigers have the athleticism to win the conference. He predicts the Tigers to also lose in the non-conference tilt with Gonzaga at home and finish 24-8 overall.
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Morning Five: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 26th, 2013

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  1. When we mentioned Junior Etou in this space earlier this season we were talking about his NCAA eligibility and figured after we would never mention him here again. It turns out we were wrong, but not for a reason that we could have ever predicted. Now it appears that Etou (or more specifically his high school) misrepresented his age and he was playing high school basketball as a 20-year-old. From the little that we have read about this case it does not appear to be as egregious as the infamous Jerry Joseph case, but it makes Bishop O’Connell High, a nationally respected high school program, look bad. It appears that this development is completely unrelated to the issues that led to his six-game suspension, but the start to Etou’s college career has been one of the more bizarre ones that we have seen.
  2. Towson’s turnaround under Pat Skerry has been nothing short of remarkable. After a 3-2 start that includes a win over Temple, the Tigers will have to overcome a bit of adversity after they suspended starting point guard Jerome Hairston indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team”. Hairston, a sophomore was a CAA All-Rookie selection last season, has seen his scoring drop from 9.9 points per game to 5.5 this season. While the loss of a starting point guard is never a good thing, the timing works out well for the Tigers as they have almost six weeks until they start conference play.
  3. While most people have been focusing on fouls and the new rules, one of the things that has caught our eye is the change in pace at Wisconsin. As Seth Davis notes the up-tempo attack is not new to Bo Ryan even if most people associate him with a slow, methodical style based on his time at Wisconsin. Ryan is probably right in that he builds his game plan around his personnel, but he also has some say in what time of player he recruits. We will be interested to see in the coming years if Ryan continues with this trend and personnel going forward or if he reverts to the style that has served his so well during his time in Madison.
  4. We are just getting started with the 2013 version of the Maui Invitational, but on the 30th anniversary of one of the best in-season tournaments around it is as good a time as any to look back at the history of the event. In a weird way, the defining moment of the event has been Chaminade knocking off #1 Virginia in 1982 in a game that was not part of the tournament, but served as the impetus for it. However, to limit the event’s history to a game that wasn’t even part of the event would be greatly underselling the magnitude of some of the early-season games played there. So we were happy to see that they seem to have put together an outstanding field for 2015, which will be headlined by IndianaKansas, and UCLA. Between those three schools, they have 18 championships, which tops any event that we are aware of including the so-called Championship Classic.
  5. There were so many things happening over the weekend that we neglected to mention that Sunday night was the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the class of 2013. Given the depth of accomplishments of those getting inducted we hesitate to call anybody the headliner, but if we had to select someone it would probably be Elvin Hayes. It seems like as time has gone on Hayes’ place in history has largely been diminished because he does not fit into any of the neat historical narratives even if he did knock off Lew Alcindor and UCLA in the “Game of the Century” back in 1968. We want to congratulate all nine individuals and the team (1963 Loyola-Chicago) that were inducted for their accomplishments.
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Morning Five: 07.31.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2013

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  1. Last year’s Armed Forces Classic between Connecticut and Michigan State on an air base in Germany may not have brought the same razzle-dazzle that the original aircraft carrier game in 2011 did, but it was easily the most compelling opening night game last season for any number of reasons. The weird midnight local time tip, the aircraft hangar setting, the wild military crowd in attendance, Kevin Ollie’s first game as a head coach, the start of UConn’s “lost season,” a Jim Calhoun appearance, and yeah, even a pretty good game. Next year’s event seeks to do us one better, as Andy Katz reported on Tuesday that the 2013 version will be held at US Army base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, resulting in the first college basketball game to be played in Asia since Ralph Sampson’s Virginia group was about to lose to Chaminade. The participants will be Georgetown and Oregon, with both teams expected to be good next season and hoping to get an early non-conference quality win. Georgetown certainly hopes this trip goes a little better than the last time it visited Asia, while Oregon’s representation continues the Pac-12′s ongoing push to marketing its products on to the other side of the Pacific Rim. We can’t wait. 
  2. Speaking of Pac-12 schools in the Beaver State, Oregon’s rival could be coming apart at the seams. Already on the hot seat for a middling 77-88 (31-59 P12) record in five years in Corvallis, Craig Robinson was hoping to have his most talented and experienced team returning intact next season. With the news released on Tuesday that starting frontcourt mates Devon Collier (13/6) and Eric Moreland (9/10) were suspended indefinitely for undisclosed team violations, there is valid reason for concern that the Beavers are facing a meltdown 2013-14 campaign. The good news is that the pair will be allowed to continue their strength and conditioning training as well as summer workouts, so perhaps these suspensions are merely of the ‘send a message’ variety. There’s one thing we can bank on, though. If Robinson doesn’t have Collier and Moreland at his disposal next season, he’d best polish off that financial services resume for a pending move back east.
  3. How about some better news? The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2013 earlier this week, and the names include some of the all-time greats in our sport. The headliners are 1968 NPOY Elvin Hayes (Houston) and 1975 NPOY Marques Johnson (UCLA), along with six-time NCOY Gene Keady (Purdue) and Villanova national championship head coach Rollie Massimino. Wichita State superstar Xavier “X-Man” McDaniel was also selected, in addition to Tom McMillen (Maryland), Bob Hopkins (Grambling), and a unique team inclusion: the entire 1963 Loyola (Chicago) national champions. That team was notable in that it started four black players on its title team, some three years before the more-ballyhooed Texas Western squad won its Brown vs. Board of Education game against all-white Kentucky. Former Washington State and USC head coach and Nike representative George Raveling was also chosen to the Hall for his work with the shoe company (a “contributor,” they call it). The ceremony will occur as part of the CBE Classic in Kansas City on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A deserving group.
  4. Among the latte-sipping class, you’ve pretty much arrived if you’re mentioned in The Economist. The high-brow publication from the United Kingdom has long been considered one of the most cogent analytical voices on international economic matters in the world, and particularly so among US policy-makers and business leaders. Rarely do sports, especially college sports, find space on the magazine’s pages, but last week the rest of the world was introduced to Ed O’Bannon and his lawsuit against the NCAA. Many people reading this kind of material are likely clueless about the history and importance of the NCAA, but the tone of the piece again shows how, as a matter of public perception, the organization has already lost the coasts. People all across America still love college sports — the eastern and western edges of the continent included — but the growing consensus among the educated and wealthy concentrated in those areas is that the NCAA is exploiting 18-22 year olds for its unjust enrichment. The O’Bannon case has a long way to go still, but don’t think that the judge and principals involved didn’t notice The Economist’s wandering eye.
  5. Every once in a while Deadspin comes up with some sort of analysis that doesn’t involve genitalia jokes or athletes (and their wives, sorry, WAGs) doing dumb things on Twitter. Last week Patrick Burns wrote up a comprehensive analysis of watching an entire year (2012) of the 11 PM ESPN Sportscenter to see which sports, teams and personalities received the most coverage. There were no surprises at the top of the list, of course, with the NFL (23.3% of all available minutes) and NBA (19.2%) in dominant positions, followed by MLB (16.8%) and college football (7.7%). But perhaps surprisingly given how pigskin drives all the money-making decisions at the school and conference level, Sportscenter spent nearly as much time talking about college hoops (6.8%) as it did on the gridiron. The most talked-about team, as you can imagine that year, was Kentucky (0.9% of all minutes). True, Sportscenter is but a single proxy for the importance of American sports culture, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
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2011 Bracket Nonsense: Phi Slama Jama Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2011

It’s our third season of running the Bracket Nonsense pool and we’re hoping to see every single one of our Twitter followers in this year’s contest.  Here’s the relevant sign-up information.

NameRTC 2011 Bracket Nonsense
Group ID# 65846 (there is no password)

We always try to tie in our prizes to the location of the Final Four — you certainly recall that two years ago in Detroit we offered an American-made jalopy, and last year in Indianapolis the prize was a Hickory High letter jacket (word to Howard Hochman) — but other than oil, it’s not so easy to come up with a basketball-oriented prize associated with the great city of Houston, Texas.  So we got creative and decided to honor the venue by harking back to one of the more creative nicknames for a team that the sport has ever seen.

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