Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On November Rituals, Head-Scratchers, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 13th, 2012

Brian Otskey is a regular contributor for RTC. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. In what seems to have become an annual November ritual, fans and members of the media tend to overreact in making bold statements about teams and players after just one or two games have been played. While I recognize that is the nature of the “what have you done for me lately?” society we live in, fans and the media alike must take a step back. While some early season wins may appear to be huge and some losses head-scratching, we all must remember that the college basketball season is a long, evolving process. The NCAA Tournament doesn’t begin for another four months. Most teams will play 12 non-conference games before they begin 16 or 18-game conference schedules.  It’s OK to say something nice about a team that came up with a great early season win or to be skeptical of a school coming off a loss you might never have expected, but making statements such as “Florida State is a bust because it lost to South Alabama!” is just plain foolish. While a loss like that certainly gives you pause, we’ve seen this movie before time and time again in November, especially as the college season has started earlier and earlier over the years. A loss to South Alabama is hardly a definitive indicator of how Florida State will perform in 2012-13. It’s just one of 30+ games the Seminoles will play this season. With that said, I do have a couple of questions about FSU. One, does the team miss the steady point guard presence of Luke Loucks from a season ago (nine assists, 17 turnovers against USA)? Two, is Leonard Hamilton’s defense not as strong as we are accustomed to seeing? South Alabama shot 9-of-15 from deep and Buffalo shot 50% overall from the floor in FSU’s second game on Monday. Those are examples of legitimate concerns, but not affirmative statements about how Florida State’s season will turn out. The Seminoles have plenty of time to come together and fix their weaknesses. Just don’t bury Florida State, or any other team for that matter, before Thanksgiving for crying out loud.

    How Much is FSU Missing Luke Loucks Right Now? (Reuters)

  2. There were quite a few of those aforementioned head-scratchers over the first four days of the season. In addition to Florida State, teams such as Mississippi State, Virginia, Rutgers, South Florida, Purdue, Drexel and Georgia all started the season on the wrong foot. Other schools including Oklahoma State, Texas and Providence struggled with inferior opponents but managed to hang on and win. In some circumstances like those faced at Mississippi State, Virginia, Georgia and Purdue, these are teams rebuilding after critical personnel losses. While it’s unfair to blast their November performance, these losses could be a sign of things to come. On the other hand, you could say a team like Drexel just had a bad night. The Dragons are a talented bunch and the overwhelming favorites in the depleted Colonial Athletic Association. Above all, however, the worst loss of them all belongs to North Texas. The Sun Belt favorites, who boast the talented Tony Mitchell, lost to Division II Alabama-Huntsville on Monday night. What does this mean? Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things but it underscores how important it is for teams to put forth maximum effort every time out. The instances in which a team can get away with an off night have shrunk over the years due to parity and better talent assembled on non-power six rosters. When trying to analyze a team at this early stage of the season, don’t dismiss a disappointing loss but don’t throw the team under the bus at the same time. There is a very long way to go. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 11.17.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2010

  1. Wow.  We know of quite a few writers, bloggers, television personalities, gadflies and ne’er-do-wells who are hurting in a big way this morning.  After a 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon that once again did not fail to disappoint, the hangover is here.  We’re guessing that #cbb on Twitter won’t be this quiet again until sometime in May, as everyone around the country comes off their hoops-gasm and starts calculating the actuarial ratios of all-nighters to lost months of life.  Still, seeing all the different schools and fans and courts and cheerleaders and announcers and studio hosts and analysts around the country all day yesterday was pretty awesome, wouldn’t you agree?  As much as we’ve ripped apart the opening week’s haphazard trickle-out of games, this made-for-television event is brilliant and is quickly becoming one of the best regular season must-sees that the sport has to offer.  God help us all during the random future year when the 24HoH mimics a day of the NCAA Tournament and 75% of the games come down to the last possession — the WWL suits had better already have ESPN Legal working on its tort defenses.  Oh, and our guy John Stevens?  Over 11,000 words and untold hallucinations in 25+ hours of BGTDing, without a single drop of caffeine in his system (perhaps crystal meth, but certainly no coffee/soda).
  2. The biggest non-ESPN 24HoH news from the day came from Turner Sports, as the cable network announced that it will provide some of its wildly popular NBA on-air talent such as play-by-play announcer Marv Albert and the brash-but-hilarious Charles Barkley as part of its joint coverage of the NCAA Tournament with CBS.  The general consensus is that this is going to be a very good thing, and given that we are intimately familiar with the chemistry of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Barkley on Inside the NBA (the best sports show on television by far), we think that they’ll pull it off.  Our only reservation — and admittedly, it’s a small one — is that we’ve watched (and listened) in horror to Fox when NFL announcers with their play-on-Sunday focus call college football games during the BCS bowls and it’s obvious they don’t even know or understand the key rule differences between the two sports.  We found this experience exceptionally painful.  Since none of the Turner channels (TBS, TNT, TruTV) are covering college hoops during the regular season, we’re a little concerned that even knowledgeable folks such as those listed above might have trouble making the transition.
  3. And this article is why NBA fans are different in many ways from college basketball fans.  Mr. Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register: in our sport, it actually IS about the names on the front of the jerseys.  Carolina fans will go crazy for their team whether they have a future lottery pick like Harrison Barnes or a four-year guy like Tyler Hansbrough leading the way; Kentucky fans showed as much passion for one-year man John Wall in the blue and white as they did for Tayshaun Prince; Michigan State fans loved consistently-tough guy Charlie Bell as much or more than Zach Randolph.  Here’s our suggestion.  Get out of the suburban and basketball wasteland known as the OC and high-tail it to a Missouri or K-State game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.  While you’re in the Midwest, catch a game at Hinkle before heading over to Rupp for a Louisville or Florida game.  Detour down through Tobacco Road and venture into Cameron Indoor Stadium before your soul goes completely cold; then, since you’re on the east coast, head up to the Palestra for an epic Big Five battle.  Report back to us afterward if you gave a damn whether you actually knew the names of the players who you were watching — that is, assuming you actually enjoy the sport of basketball and not some bastardized version of star-watching.
  4. Gary Parrish takes a look at the oft-bizarre world of AP/Coaches poll ballots in his weekly column, The Poll Attacks.  Every time we read a column like this one, we thank our lucky stars that these flawed polls that reflect current perception are for entertainment purposes only.  Teams will get a chance to settle their real rankings on the court.  What some sportswriter in Eugene thinks about Villanova is about as important as what a Floridian believes concerning a local dogcatcher race in Wyoming — it’s irrelevant.  And we love it that way.
  5. Gregg Doyel examines the case of Enes Kanter and his eligibility through the prism of the NCAA rulebook and asks the question of when a pro is (or isn’t) a pro?  As he correctly points out, the NCAA has drawn a bright line with the apples/oranges comparison between sports, as in the cases of Josh Booty, Chris Weinke and current Clemson QB Kyle Parker, all of whom played professional baseball prior to becoming amateur NCAA football players.  But why have they drawn a distinction — what is the fundamental difference here?  It would be interesting to review the NCAA legislative history on this issue to see what the thinking was.
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Morning Five: 08.17.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2010

  1. Let us introduce you to the Crossroads Classic, a new four-team event beginning in 2011 that will feature the major college basketball programs in the state of Indiana in a made-for-TV doubleheader — Purdue, Butler, Indiana and Notre Dame.  The 2011 and 2012 events will take place at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, with IU playing Notre Dame and Purdue taking on Butler in the first edition.  Indiana and Purdue will switch opponents in 2012, presumably leading to a back-and-forth matchup cycle for the life of this event.  We’re not old enough to remember the original Hoosier Classic that featured these four teams from 1948-60, but we do recall the “Big Four Classic” event in Indy from the late 80s/early 90s that matched IU and Notre Dame against Kentucky and Louisville in alternating years, and that was pretty cool.  Let’s hope this becomes a new annual holiday tradition with some staying power as well.
  2. Former Purdue head coach Gene Keady has been chosen as one of the 2010 recipients of the Joe Lapchick Character Award, annually given to coaches who have shown character traits over their career mimicking that of the former St. John’s legend.  At Purdue, Keady won six Big Ten championships and was invited to seventeen NCAA Tournaments, but he was never able to push through to the promised land of the Final Four, twice reaching the Elite Eight and losing in that round.  Still, he is widely regarded as a man of great integrity, pushing his players to a 90% graduation rate throughout his career, assisting USA Basketball and acting as president for the NABC at one point.  Bob Hurley, Sr., head coach at Jersey City St. Anthony’s, and Jody Conradt, women’s coach at Texas, will join Keady in accepting the award at the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York on November 18.
  3. In a cost-savings measure, the NCAA announced yesterday that it would be cutting some of its drug-testing program to more effectively target the higher-risk sports and athletes for testing.  In other words, profiling.  Translation: if you play football, baseball, run track or lift weights, expect to see more of those nerdy-looking people in the white coats asking for urine samples.
  4. We hope to have more up on the ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops spectacuganza soon, but what if Transformers/The Rock/Armageddon director Michael Bay got his hands on the direction of this event?  Andrew Sharp of SBNation takes a look, and if nothing else, the photoshops are kinda funny.  Especially the one involving Bruce Pearl (paging Tyler Smith…).
  5. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is already thinking outside the box, in that he actually wants his team to have a nice locker room at its home arena, Madison Square Garden.  Imagine that!  Apparently the Red Storm have traditionally used an auxiliary locker room at MSG, but officials are exploring the possibility of allowing Lavin’s team to use the Knicks’ locker room for their home games.  And how long has it been since the Red Storm has been relevant?  We probably shouldn’t be amazed by this news, but we kinda are.
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Morning Five: 11.17.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2009

morning5

  1. Isiah Complains About Class; Fans of Irony Celebrate.  We touched on this this in yesterday’s recap of Tulsa-FIU, but the national media caught up with it today in several different places and we wanted to give our take.  Our correspondent Eli Linton was at the game and witnessed the entire mixup right in front of him on press row.  Here is his recounting of the incident:  the trouble started in the second half when Tulsa continued to play a ball-denial defense on the perimeter, and kept  their starters in. At first Isiah tried to send subtle signals to the bench (e.g., a glare during timeouts), but at about the ten minute mark he called a TO and looked to the opposite bench, obviously ticked off, raising both hands palms up and staring at TU bench.  A couple of minutes later Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik subbed in Ben Uzoh while continuing to play Jerome Jordan, putting his two best players on the floor at once with a huge lead. Thomas called a TO right away and shouted at the TU bench, “No class, No class!” and that was all for the outbursts. TU subbed out Jordan and started to lay off on defense after that point. After the game in the press conference, Thomas was all smiles and had nothing negative to say about TU of Wojcik, and he even showed an interest to invite Tulsa to play FIU next year in Florida.
  2. It’s already started, but The Sporting Blog lists its top ten things to watch for in the ESPN 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon.  Are you taking work off today for this?  No?   And you call yourself a real fan…
  3. Keep him in!  Duquesne guard Melquan Bolding will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist that he suffered in last Friday’s game against Nicholls State.  Why is this newsworthy?  Well, he only scored a career-high 25 pts in the game, even though he broke the wrist in the first five minutes.
  4. As you know, we’re getting into the heart of the holiday tournament season (or “The Unveiling,” as he calls it), and Luke Winn does his best to break down these tournaments which we’re sure you’ll all be watching over the next two weeks.
  5. BiaH: we like it.  Keep ‘em coming.
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Buzz: ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Slated for November 17

Posted by rtmsf on September 8th, 2009

We received a tip today and felt compelled to believe it because it comes from a reliable source and it makes sense.  ESPN will be kicking off* its 2009-10 season coverage with another marathon 24 Hours of Hoops session beginning at midnight EST on November 17.  You remember last year: our very own John Stevens live-blogged the entire thing from start to finish, and probably cost himself a few months of life in the process (RTC is currently in negotiations to get John back for another go-round this year).  As for the teams involved, all we know so far is that the primetime games are set – Louisville vs. Arkansas at 7:30 pm EST on ESPN2, and Kansas vs. Memphis at 10 pm EST on ESPN.  Both of these games are part of the Hall of Fame Showcase, which is a little peculiar since the Basketball HOF in Springfield, Massachusetts, is 1100 miles away.  Nevertheless, RTC will post the entire schedule as soon as it’s formally announced, and we’re certain that you’ll be right there with us slurping up the sights and sounds of every game during the marathon.

* not really true

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