Morning Five: 01.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2011

  1. Rick Pitino confirmed in yesterday’s news conference that Louisville forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of this season with a groin injury.  The senior has missed the entire season already and would probably be eligible for a redshirt should he choose to pursue one.  Pitino said the problem is that he’s simply not getting any better and it appears that he will require surgery to repair this injury.  In some other injury news, Virginia confirmed that Mike Scott will miss the remainder of its season because he also needs surgery to repair his left ankle.  Scott played in ten games in November/December and was UVa’s top scorer and rebounder in those games.  The senior is right on the eligibility cutoff for a medical redshirt next season, so let’s cross our fingers that he doesn’t have to finish his collegiate career with a broken season.
  2. This report from Percy Allen, the Washington beat writer for the Seattle Times, has a few additional details about the allegation of sexual assault involving a Husky player over the weekend, but it does not name the player nor will the team hold anyone out of practice or games at this point in time.  The article notes that the players are off limits to the press at this time and gives additional details as to the alleged incident.  There are no winners in a situation like this, but if it turns out that the story is true, we certainly hope that justice is served.
  3. You’ve waited for it all year, and it’s back.  Luke Winn’s 2010-11 Style Guide.  From the Reeves Sleeve to Scotty Hopson’s “Fresh Prince” high fade to Marcus Jordan’s accessories, it’s all there.  One of our favorite columns of the year, by far.
  4. Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts from Monday has quite a bit more meat from his interview with NCAA president Mark Emmert over the weekend.  Davis hinted at the primary weakness that the NCAA’s enforcement folks have in the public view right now, and Emmert seems to fail to understand the depth of the problem.  When asked about a seeming inconsistency in the organization’s recent decisions and punishments, Emmert’s response was that these cases (Cam Newton, Ohio State, Renardo Sidney, Josh Selby) were “very different cases with very different facts.”  Undoubtedly true.  We know that the NCAA isn’t a court of law and we don’t have an NCAA version of Lexis/WestLaw to research all the case law pertaining to each situation; but the NCAA needs to establish a core set of transparent jurisprudential guidelines beyond the enigmatic rulebook so that schools and players will have a reasonable basis to know what to expect.  As it stands now, every enforcement proceeding appears to be decided on a “case-by-case” basis, which ultimately means that the guidelines shift so much in the aggregate that nobody can figure out just where the bright lines are.  When Emmert refers to people being “shocked” by a decision on Enes Kanter’s ineligibility, he’s making the same mistake in that he’s looking at the individual facts of that case in a vacuum.  He’s not considering that other, similar cases were decided differently, and the justification needed to distinguish between all of these cases has become downright impossible to discern.  That is what is bothering most people… not the Kanter decision itself (only Kentucky fans care about that).
  5. Jeff Goodman hooks us up with his constantly-evolving midseason transfer list.  Ole Miss appears to be the big winner thus far with the addition of Jelan Kendrick next season; that is, assuming that he doesn’t try to fight everyone on the roster prior to becoming eligible next December.
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VI

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 11th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..someone perfectly expressing everything that pissed me off about the Renardo Sidney decision. Here I was trying to figure out exactly how to denounce such a cowardly, selfish decision by the Mississippi State program, and’s Pat Forde took care of it in this exquisitely-worded blog post. This thing stinks like the three-week-old lettuce sitting in my fridge, and Forde captures each part of that repugnant scent.

I LOVED…..being re-convinced how talented Duke is in seven minutes. I sat down on my couch last week to watch them take on the usually scrappy UAB Blazers, hoping to figure out if the Kyrie-less Dukies still had it. Seven minutes later they were up 26-4, and I suddenly had a free evening to go to the gym. If Nolan Smith keeps playing like this and the outside shooters can make a few, they’ll still be the toughest out come March.

Smith's Excellence Sometimes Gets Lost in the Wake of All the Talk About Singler, Big Toes, the Twins...

I LOVED…..getting a different slice of college b-ball this week when I turned on the much-anticipated Montana State-Billings/Alaska-Anchorage matchup. There’s something exceptionally pure about watching two schools play hard in a gym that is definitely nowhere near the size of the one at my high school. The game was a rout with two minutes left, but guys were still flying all over the place. I only had one issue – really FSN, you really couldn’t find a better close-up shot on the Alaska campus than the sweatshirts being sold inside the student union? I hear there’s some scenic snow up there.

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The Week That Was: Jan. 4-Jan. 10

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

It wasn’t the best of weeks for TWTW. Notre Dame and Kentucky failed to live up to TWTW’s lofty praise heaped upon them. Notre Dame’s defense allowed Marquette to shoot 53.1% from the field and 70.6% from three in a 22-point loss, and the Wildcats lost their SEC opener after TWTW proclaimed them a sure-thing to come close to running the table in conference.

What will TWTW say this week that in seven-days will seem ridiculous? Let’s find out…

What We Learned

Walker Is Still Your Leader In the POY Race. (P. Raycraft/Hartford Courant)

Connecticut probably wasn’t quite in panic mode yet, but no team scored a bigger win than the Huskies with their road win at Texas on Saturday. After a 12-0 start to the regular season, the Huskies stumbled to a 1-2 start in the Big East. UConn barely beat USF at home on Dec. 32, and that game was sandwiched between road losses at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Considering how young the Huskies are (they play six freshmen) and their dependence on Kemba Walker, the slump definitely cast doubts on the Huskies’ bona fides as a national contender. UConn seems to have its mojo back now, as other players proved they can step up in big games. The Huskies received a tremendous effort from Alex Oriakhi (11 points, 21 rebounds), while Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier contributed 13 and 15 points, respectively. UConn even survived one of the most mind-boggling shots in recent history: Smith’s full-court heave with more than 10 seconds left in regulation. If you can win in spite of a play like that, you have to think you’re destined for big things this season.

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Around The Blogosphere: January 11, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on January 11th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • Marquette 79, Notre Dame 57:  “Tonight, with Hayward in the house, YOUR Golden Eagles exacted their revenge and then some, riding a well-balanced scoring attack and a reinvigorated (or perhaps just “invigorated,” since it hasn’t looked this good all year) defense to a 79-57 thumping of the Fighting Irish.” (Anonymous Eagle); “All of that offense is fine but the real difference last night was defense. MU played with an edge defensively and it showed. MU held the sweet-shooting Irish to a paltry eFG% of 42%. Notre Dame came in with a national top 15 offense — averaging over 1.15 points per possession (ppp) — and the Warriors held them to 0.90 ppp, the Irish’s third worst offensive performance of the season. This was easily MU’s finest defensive performance against a quality opponent this year.”  (Cracked Sidewalks)

Pre-Game Analysis

  • Maryland-Wake Forest: “Here’s an unusual phenomenon, at least in conference play: after playing arguably the best team in the country on Sunday, Maryland will turn around and play arguably the worst high-major team in the country. Ah, the joys of Wake Forest.” (Testudo Times)


  • Kentucky Basketball: Fairness “Made In America” For Enes Kanter: “Not anybody can be happy with the NCAA ruling in the Enes Kanter Case.  Not a soul.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Four Things We Learned from the Terps’ Loss to Duke: Reflecting on nearly knocking off the #1 team int the country. (Testudo Times)
  • Who Is The Biggest Big 12 Threat To Kansas?: With the rest of the Big 12 struggling so far the question is who can challenge the Jayhawks. (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • Mario Little Cleared To Play By Bill Self: “This afternoon Bill Self announced that Mario Little would once again be eligible to play for the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team.  Little, as most will recall, has been suspended since December 16th following a misdemeanor arrest in Lawrence.” (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • Does Purdue’s Ranking Matter?: “I saw on Twitter this morning that one of the many fools media types (Gary Parrish) put up his top 25 and he had Purdue at 13th. And that’s fine. It’s worse than their actual ranking will be, but honestly, who cares? Gary Parrish has probably not watched a complete half of Purdue basketball this season, so really, his opinion is nothing. The problem, of course, is that his opinion — and those of other fools like him — actually gets traction simply because of the size of their megaphone (platform). And then other people who haven’t watched 5 minutes of Purdue take their opinions as fact. But does it matter?” (Boiled Sports)
  • UConn getting by, but Walker needs even more help from his friends: “Walker got the most support he’s had from his backing band offensively against a quality opponent since Maui, with three non-Kemba players (Shabazz Napier, Alex Oriakhi, Roscoe Smith) breaking into double-digits, and two more (Donnell Beverly, Charles Okwandu) hitting season-highs. And yet, perhaps the Huskies’ most meaningful win of the season, one that head coach Jim Calhoun labeled “Our best win of the year,” basically came down to a little luck; not only did Walker’s miracle Taliek Brown-esque heave somehow find the bottom of the net, but the Longhorns also opened overtime by missing three free throws.” (The UConn Blog)
  • UCLA Hoops Roundup: Confidence and Conditioning: Recapping where the Bruins stand at this point in the season. (Bruins Nation)
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Morning Five: 01.10.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 10th, 2011

  1. The big news of the weekend other than all the road “upsets” was the NCAA denying Kentucky‘s appeal on behalf of Enes Kanter. As you can imagine, this set off a huge response online, which we will have much more on later, but we were particularly surprised by one notable college basketball personality — Dick Vitale — calling out the NCAA, saying that if Kanter had gone to Washington, where current NCAA president Mark Emmert previously worked, he would not have been declared ineligible. This led to a pretty interesting back-and-forth online, which Seth Davis will apparently answer with a column on SI with direct quotes from Emmert that will appear sometime this morning. We aren’t surprised that somebody mentioned it, but Vitale was just about the last person in the world that we’d have expected to call out Emmert like that.
  2. Vitale’s ESPN colleague Doug Gottlieb put up a column on Saturday morning asking 10 questions that he wasn’t sure about the answer (ESPN Insider required). The questions themselves — (1) Are UNC/Butler/San Diego State legit?; (2) What’s Purdue‘s ceiling?; (3) Does Kemba Walker have enough support?; (4) Will Tennesee survive without Bruce Pearl?; (5) Will Demetri McCamey come through in big spots?; (6) Can Villanova/Syracuse play defense/shoot?; (7) Will Baylor or Kansas State rebound first? — are pretty good, but Gottlieb’s answers are a bit superficial for my liking so we are interested to what you think the answers are to those questions.
  3. A local columnist poses an interesting question about Pittsburgh, asking how the Panthers have changed from a hard-nosed defensive team into a group of sharpshooters. It should be pointed out that most of Pittsburgh’s reputation for being a tough defensive team that wasn’t able to score much comes from Ben Howland‘s time on the sideline there, and that Jamie Dixon‘s teams, to my knowledge, have been better offensively although not to the level of this season’s team. In any case, don’t expect any 47-32 games out of this Pittsburgh team unless you are talking about halftime scores.
  4. By now you may have heard that Roy Williams has a bit of a point guard problem in Chapel Hill. Ever since Ty Lawson left UNC they have been struggling to find someone who would even be described as serviceable. By now, Tar Heel fans have realized that Larry Drew II is not the answer (at least if they want to get deep in the NCAA Tournament) and although Kendall Marshall shows flashes of brilliance, Roy is hesitant to hand over the keys to him. It looks like help may be on the way in the form of Marcus Paige, a top-five point guard in the class of 2012, who has committed to play at UNC. Paige follows in a fairly strong line of Iowans who have committed to play for Williams either at Kansas or UNC with the most recent being Harrison Barnes. For the sake of Tar Heel fans, we hope that Paige doesn’t struggle in adjusting to the college game as much as Barnes has so far.
  5. Finally, our Morning 5 wouldn’t be complete with a shout out to Roscoe Smith for his ill-advised 75-foot heave with nearly 10 seconds left in the game. Honestly, we are shocked that there aren’t around 100 videos on YouTube documenting the funniest shot we have seen in some time. Fortunately for Smith and UConn they were able to escape, thanks to Kemba Walker doing his thing. We have a pretty poor clip below for those of you who missed it, but consider this a plea from RTC to please upload a decent quality clip of this shot.
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ATB: Upset Weekend or Just Conference Play?

Posted by rtmsf on January 10th, 2011

The Lede. Despite the constant presence of NFL football, this weekend just felt like the first “real” weekend of college basketball around the country.  Conference play was in effect almost everywhere, with the three holdout power conferences (ACC, Big 12, SEC) finally jumping headfirst into the family pool.  The takeaway from this weekend’s action is clear — there are no dominant teams.  If Duke gets Kyrie Irving back into the fold, we’ll be happy to re-visit this statement, but each of the top three teams were seriously challenged by up-and-comers and a host of other ranked teams took losses against unranked foes.  This weekend could have been simply an anomaly; or, it could portend that we’re in for a rather wild ride over the next eight weeks of the regular season.  In comparison with last season, the quartet of Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke stayed near the top of the polls from early January onward — will this year’s group of Duke, Ohio State, Kansas and Syracuse enjoy a similar track?  For reasons we can’t yet explain, we don’t think so.

Walker Converted When It Mattered Most Saturday (H-C/P. Raycraft)

Your Watercooler MomentEverybody’s Vulnerable.  Saturday was one of those days where we realized once again (it happens every year) that the margins between teams with a little number beside its name and those without really aren’t that far when you get to conference play.  It’s sometimes easy to forget this maxim of college hoops during November and December when teams roll up vastly inferior teams without breaking much of a sweat, but when we get to a day like Saturday where eight ranked teams lose, we’re reminded that the beauty of this sport is in its relative parity among the top 50-75 teams.  “On any given night” and all that.  Even the most elite teams were not immune — on Sunday the top three teams, all unbeaten, were taken to the wire by schools that on paper didn’t look capable — Duke vs. Maryland, Ohio State vs. Minnesota and Kansas vs. Michigan (you can also include Syracuse vs. Seton Hall on Saturday to bolster the point).  The Terps gave Duke all it wanted  in Cameron Indoor for 38 minutes; the Gophers had a shot in the air to tie OSU at the buzzer; and, Kansas was forced into OT at Michigan.  All of them pulled through to stay unblemished, but our sense after watching these games is that each of these teams is going to suffer a few Ls before March roars into our lives.

For our BGTD analyses of Saturday’s full slate of games, here’s Part I (early afternoon), Part II (late afternoon), and Part III (evening).

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Kemba Walker’s Heroics.  Saturday’s game between UConn and Texas had a little bit of everything: fantastic athletes, big-time shots, powerful finishes, boneheaded plays and a raucous home crowd in Austin to take it all in.  It also had another superb game-winning performance from a guy named Kemba Walker.  His crossover leading into a step-back jumper over an excellent defender in Dogus Balbay was NBA-quality in its execution, and even though he had previously missed two shots for every one that he’d made, it didn’t detract from his confidence to take and make the game-winner.  UConn’s having a gamer like Walker in the clutch cannot be overstated; the Huskies are not good enough to blow many other quality teams out this season, but if they can hang around until the last five minutes of the game, they have arguably the best player off the bounce in college basketball capable of getting points in many different ways.  Walker’s already shown against Wichita State and Michigan State that he can take games over down the stretch, and so long as he doesn’t wear out (34 MPG), Jim Calhoun has at his disposal something that few other teams can boast.
  • Maryland, But Be Careful With the Terps.  We’ve been down this road with Maryland before.  They play great against Duke — either beating or nearly taking down the Devils — and everyone jumps on the bandwagon and expects them to push for an ACC title and make a big run into March.  And then they turn around and lose to someone like Miami (FL), causing Gary Williams’s head to turn purple and nearly explode.  Even though the Terps look great on paper — they defend well and have a beast like Jordan Williams inside to get points and rebounds (23/13 tonight) — we just want to warn you to be careful with this team.  They are prone to offensive troubles when Williams is having an off night, and the best team they’ve actually beaten this year is Penn State (with losses to non-slouches Pitt, Illinois, Temple and BC).  The Terps have the talent to make a run at second place in the ACC, but we’ve said that many times before only to watch them bob and weave to an 8-8 (or thereabouts) league record.  And don’t forget they’re already 0-2 this season.
  • Well, Hello, Mr. Singler.  No team has more offensive weapons than Duke, and luckily for Coach K’s 25-game winning streak, it was Kyle Singler’s turn to step up tonight against Maryland.  His 25/10 represents his best performance of the season against quality competition, and with midseason NPOY candidate Nolan Smith cold on this evening (5-18 FG), Duke needed the preseason NPOY candidate to amp up his game.  We still have issues with Duke’s complete lack of consistent inside play, but they proved last year that in the college game it’s not necessary to have an elite post man anymore.

and Misses.

  • Roscoe Smith.  “Oh God, Roscoe…” was the phrase on everyone’s mind, according to teammate Shabazz Napier, when the UConn freshman corralled a Texas miss with 11 seconds to go in regulation and took one dribble before mis-reading the clock and throwing up an 80-footer that finally came out of orbit with 7.5 seconds still remaining on the game clock.  The boneheaded play was one of the most hilarious mistakes we’ve ever seen in this game — and we’ve watched a lot of basketball over the years — although it was none too funny for UConn fans who were hopeful that the Huskies would have a chance to win in regulation.  We literally had to rewind this play and watch it a dozen times for maximum comedic effect; it’s doubtful we’ll ever see something quite so ridiculous again.  Luckily for Smith, UConn won the game in overtime in no small part due to his contributions (13/6).

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BGTD: Late Afternoon Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on January 8th, 2011

Some mid-afternoon thoughts on today’s games filling the heart of the day…

  • Alex Oriakhi hits the boards. Kemba Walker may get all of the post-game hype after his great finish in UConn‘s big road win at Texas, but for our money the player of the game and the one that we think Jim Calhoun will credit most for the win will be Alex Oriakhi. Calhoun has been all over Oriakhi lately for his lack of rebounding (seven straight games with single-digit rebounds including just one rebound in their loss at Pittsburgh). When I spoke with Calhoun after the Huskies’ New Year’s Eve victory over USF all I had to say was “Alex” before he cut me off and went on a rant about Oriakhi’s lack of rebounding. He was quick to note that Alex was working hard, but that he thought he might have been pressing. After speaking with Calhoun I went back to Alex and asked him about it and he essentially told me that he couldn’t really do anything about rebounding because it wasn’t something that he could do anything about, which I disagree with completely, but he seemed like such a nice kid and seemed troubled enough about it that I didn’t want to tell him that he was wrong (especially since my 5’10” frame and lack of a vertical has been a major hindrance in the progress of my basketball career). He followed it up with an even worse game against Notre Dame where he failed to score a point and only had six rebounds. I wasn’t at the game, but I imagine that Calhoun was very critical of him after that game. Fast forward a few days to today against a Texas team that came in to the game ranked 3rd in the nation in rebounds and one that was expected to dominate the Huskies on the inside with Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson, and Gary Johnson. Instead of getting dominated on the inside, Oriakhi turned in by far his best game since Maui and nearly matched the Longhorn trio in rebound total (22 to 21). Even though he struggled from the field going 5 of 16, Oriakhi more than made up for it on the boards and was probably the star of the game even if the rest of the media is going to focus on Kemba’s late game heroics. UConn is still a flawed team as it relies too much on Kemba to do what he did in overtime and it has too many young players who are still working on learning their roles playing around Kemba, but if Oriakhi can play like this on a more consistent basis the Huskies could be a team that nobody wants to play in March with Kemba on the outside and Alex on the inside.
  • Kemba Walker saves the day. Now that we have talked about Alex Oriakhi, we can get to Kemba Walker who shrugged off a rare off-night (going 8-27 from the field even with his late game heroics including the ridiculous heave to beat the shot clock with a little over 2 minutes left in OT). We have to give the Texas guards some credit for their defense on Kemba throughout the game, but we saw at the end of the game that there really isn’t anybody in college who can guard him. Rick Barnes had Dogus Balbay, who for our money is one of the best defensive guards in the nation, on Walker at the end of the game and Walker just brushed him off to him the game-winner with 5 seconds left in overtime. Walker might lose some of his early lead in the National Player of the Year race if UConn struggles in the Big East and he has plenty of competition particularly from Jared Sullinger and Nolan Smith, but the UConn PR department will probably have plenty of moments like late in today’s game to hype Walker’s candidacy if they choose to do so.
  • Roscoe Smith’s heave. We aren’t even sure where to begin with Roscoe Smith. Although it doesn’t quite rank up there with Jamelle Horne‘s pair of boneheaded plays from 2 years ago Smith’s 75-foot heave with nearly 10 seconds left in regulation is going to be replayed on blooper shows for years to come. We are going to give Smith a little bit of a pass (a very little bit) as I would imagine that the frantic finish and blocked shot by Alex Oriakhi that led to the ball ending up in Smith’s hands would have made it very difficult for anybody to be aware of how much time was left on the clock especially a 6’8″ freshman forward who is probably never asked to touch the ball late in games (and after this probably won’t for some time). I’m not sure words can do justice to just how bad this heave was and we can’t find any video footage of this shot yet, but when we do we will be sure to put it up.
  • Georgia knocks off Kentucky. It has already been a rough weekend for Kentucky. First there was the Enes Kanter ruling then there was the football team getting blown out by a Pittsburgh team that was playing without its recently hired head coach who had been fired after getting arrested on charges of domestic violence. Now their basketball team drops the SEC opener at Georgia. Before the fan base goes crazy (and we are guessing that based on the 4,573 fans on CatsPause at the time we wrote this that they are going crazy) we should point out that that the Bulldog team that they lost to could be very good. They have flown under the radar after losing two games at the Old Spice Classic to Notre Dame and Temple (two very good teams) in Trey Thompkins first games back after an early-season ankle injury. Since that time the Bulldogs have reeled off nine straight wins against some admittedly uninspiring opponents in somewhat unconvincing fashion (four games decided by three points or less). We are not sure if Georgia is a top 25 team, but we should have a better idea by January 18th as they play at Vanderbilt and at home against Tennessee during a three-game stretch. If they come out of that stretch with a 2-1 record don’t be surprised if this team is near the top of the SEC East standings by the end of the season.
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NCAA: Kanter Can’t Play, But He Can Coach

Posted by jstevrtc on January 7th, 2011

The NCAA has issued the final ruling regarding the eligibility of Kentucky recruit Enes Kanter, saying in a statement today that the “new information” issued by Kentucky to the NCAA Reinstatement Committee “did not change the original statement of facts agreed to by the university and the NCAA.” Kanter is therefore permanently ineligible and will not play college basketball. The NCAA statement confirms that this is the final appeal.

Enes Kanter Is Permanently Ineligible To Play College Basketball, According to the NCAA

The “new information” Kentucky based its request for a re-hearing on was the NCAA’s recent decision to let Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton play after it was revealed that Newton’s father had shopped his son to at least one program for around $200,000. The NCAA essentially felt that because Cam evidently didn’t know about any of that, he was free of any guilt and his eligibility was to remain intact. By saying that the “new information” submitted by Kentucky “did not change” anything, the NCAA is saying that they see no parallels between those two situations.

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Morning Five: 01.07.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 7th, 2011

  1. It’s been a very difficult season in St. Louis after its two stars were thrown out of school for disciplinary reasons last fall and Rick Majerus has had to sit out several games with a gash in his leg suffered during a recent game.  Perhaps the tide is turning a little.  Yesterday SLU re-admitted star guard Kwamain Mitchell to the university for the Spring semester, which means he could theoretically suit up this season.  Theoretically.  Majerus has counseled Mitchell to sit out this year to get his life back in order, and the argument makes sense.  At 5-9 and with a loss to Dayton in the A-10 already under its belt, SLU would have a very difficult time making a run at the NCAA Tournament even with Mitchell back in action at 100%.  Furthermore, the school made no mention of the status of his former teammate, Willie Reed, who Billiken fans would hope be allowed to return at the same time as Mitchell.
  2. You know it’s coming every week, so here it is.  The best weekly read that the college basketball scribing industry has to offer:  Luke Winn’s Power Rankings.  Grab your coffee, turn off the phone and relish in the knowledge you’re about to pick up.  It simply keeps getting better.
  3. Next Thursday Oregon will open its brand spanking new Matthew Knight Arena [“the Matt”], the $200M Phil Knight-funded temple to the hopes and dreams of Duck basketball.  Notwithstanding that ridiculous court design, the building looks phenomenal.  Addicted to Quack was privileged to do a tour recently and provided us with this accompanying photo essay.  As soon as Oregon gets their program in a little better shape, we can’t wait to check that joint out.
  4. Some transfer news dropped on Thursday.  Seton Hall forward Ferrokhan Hall announced that he would be heading west to play for his hometown school, Memphis.  He will be eligible to play in December 2012, providing some nice depth to the Memphis front line.  Meanwhile, Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph is looking at a number of destinations, including West Virginia, Oregon, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Niagara.
  5. It looks like we’re finally going to put this Enes Kanter situation to bed soon.  According to Jeff Goodman, the NCAA heard Kentucky’s re-argument about the Turkish center’s eligibility yesterday, and the underlying assumption is that they will rule on this rather quickly (it could be as soon as today).  Honestly, we just want to see it over with so that the “Free Enes” nonsense will end.  Kentucky is already better than most of us thought they would be; if Kanter becomes eligible, you can easily add the Wildcats to the short list of favorites for the 2011 national title.
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Morning Five: 01.06.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 6th, 2011

  1. Do you recall the incident from this past Saturday in which Rick Majerus collided with a couple of  players who were diving for a loose ball, knocking him into the scorer’s table and putting a gash in his left leg? If you saw it, you might remember that the leg bled pretty badly (he’s on blood thinners), and Majerus missed the rest of the game as he received treatment in the locker room. Well, now the leg is infected, and Majerus missed tonight’s A-10 opener against Dayton. He’ll also miss the Billikens’ next two games (Sunday at Temple, Wednesday at Duquesne) while he recovers. Get better soon, coach.
  2. Twelve games in, freshman guard Gary Franklin has decided that he’s had enough of being a California Golden Bear, and will transfer. Not the most efficient option, Franklin didn’t start, but was fourth on the team in minutes and fifth in scoring (8.2 PPG in 25.7 MPG). One interesting fact from that article: that’s seven transfers by players from Santa Ana Mater Dei in the last five seasons.
  3. Even among Kentucky fans, all people cared to know about Josh Harrellson before this season was that he was a backup center and…well, that he was not Enes Kanter. Now, he’s a BMOC (at least in the Bluegrass) and leads the Wildcats in seven different statistical categories, if you throw some tempo-free ones in there. The Frankfort State Journal checks in on him to see how he’s handling his exponentially increased celebrity. Hard work on the boards and 23/14 in a thumping of arch rival Louisville will do that for you in Lexington.
  4. Nobody told Fran McCaffery things were going to be easy at Iowa, and his efforts just took another hit. When sophomore guard Cully Payne went out with a sports hernia (surgeons also repaired a torn oblique muscle) after only five games this season, there was still hope that he would be back later in the schedule. McCaffery painted a less encouraging picture, though, earlier this week. Last year, Payne led the team in assists (3.8 APG) and was fifth in scoring (8.7 PPG), and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.1 to 1 was tops on the Hawkeyes this year.
  5. It was almost a year ago that Texas was the top-ranked team in the land. At that point in the season, we can only assume that Oklahoma and Texas A&M supporters everywhere began sticking pins in their Longhorn dolls, as UT subsequently went 7-10 to end the year. Senior forward Gary Johnson remembers those days: “If you watch any film from last year, the will of being a team just wasn’t there,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. More importantly, he makes a great case as to why he sees no such swoon in store this season for his squad, which seems to be playing progressively better each week.
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