Award Tour: Anthony Bennett is the New No. 1 Freshman, the Five Worst D-I Teams, and an Ode to the Big East Conference…

Posted by DCassilo on December 14th, 2012


David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Farewell, Big East. As a Villanova grad who grew up in New Jersey, you were always close to my heart. I’ll miss the prime time Saturday night final. I’ll miss the coaching legends. I’ll miss the physical play that would be called for a foul in any other league. I’ll miss the afternoon games of the Big East Tournament. I’ll miss being sponsored by Aeropostale. I’ll miss record crowds at the Carrier Dome. I’ll miss seeing Carnesecca and his sweater sitting behind the St. John’s bench. I’ll miss Mick Cronin being displeased with his team. I’ll miss West Virginia fans throwing stuff. I’ll miss looking at the newspaper and saying, “Wow, DePaul won.” I’ll miss Madison Square Garden. I’ll miss the weird dimensions of the RAC. I’ll miss Seton Hall thinking its good. I’ll miss Providence’s mascot. I’ll miss UConn breaking the rules. I’ll miss Pitt’s illegal screens and 30-year old point guards. I’ll miss Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami. I’ll miss Pitino’s press conferences. I’ll miss people saying Villanova is Guard U when it rarely sends a guard to the NBA. I’ll miss Georgetown running the Princeton offense. I’ll miss the overachievers at Notre Dame and Marquette. I’ll miss that time South Florida was good. I’ll even miss the double bye, Burr and Higgins. Now let’s end this league in style.


10. Brandon Paul – Illinois (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 19 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.5 APG

Illinois is going to need a big effort out of Brandon Paul at Indiana. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Brandon Paul tore apart Gonzaga. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

With 35 points at Gonzaga last Saturday, Paul officially declared his candidacy in the Player of the Year race. The major improvement in his game this year comes down to his shooting. He never cracked 40 percent from the field in his first three years but is up to 46.8 percent this season.This week: December 16 vs. Eastern Kentucky

9. Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 12.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 10.4 APG, 3.8 SPG

There’s no doubt that Carter-Williams does more to fill up the stat sheet than any player in the country, but it’s his passing that has been second to none. He leads the nation in APG and has 37 dimes in his last three games. A high turnover rate (3.8 per game) and poor three-point shooting (22.2 percent) hold him back from challenging for the top spot. This week: December 15 vs. Canisius, December 17 vs. Temple

8. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 5.6 BPG

After blocking five shots against Colorado last Saturday, Withey has swatted the ball at least that many times in six of his team’s eight games. His defensive dominance coupled with the rise of freshman Ben McLemore has the Jayhawks thinking of a return to the title game. This week: December 15 vs. Belmont, December 18 vs. Richmond

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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Outduels Deshaun Thomas for Top NPOY Spot, COY Top Five Debuts…

Posted by DCassilo on November 30th, 2012

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Up until Wednesday, nobody deserved to be atop the player of the year list. There had been some strong performances by great players, but no one had grabbed the reins of this year’s race. But when Duke and Ohio State took the court on Wednesday, it became obvious that the two best players in the country were on the floor: Deshaun Thomas and Mason Plumlee. A deep three-pointer from Thomas would be followed by a monster dunk from Plumlee. It was fun theater to watch in what might go down as the most memorable non-conference game of the season. In the end, Plumlee took those reins with 21 points and 17 rebounds, while Thomas was limited to 16 points by early foul trouble. And now, we have our front-runner. Even a bad week won’t necessarily knock him off the top spot. Plumlee made his move. It’s time for the rest of the country to respond.


10. Sean Kilpatrick – Cincinnati (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 21 PPG, 6.7 RPG

Perhaps the nation’s most underrated player on the nation’s most underrated team, Kilpatrick came up big in the rather anonymous Global Sports Classic. Against Iowa State and Oregon, Kilpatrick averaged 24 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He can beat you in a number of ways, as he has already hit eight three-pointers and 16 free throws in separate games. This week: Dec. 1 vs. Alabama, Dec. 6 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

9. Le’Bryan Nash – Oklahoma State (Last Week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 19.2 PGG, 6.4 RPG

Nash or Smart? The battle rages for who is the better Cowboy. (AP)

Deciding who is better between Nash and Marcus Smart can be a difficult task, but the sophomore has proven to be a tad more consistent this season. In all five games he’s played, Nash has tallied at least 16 points and five rebounds. This week: Dec. 1 at Virginia Tech, Dec. 5 vs. South Florida

8. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.2 BPG

Notching a triple-double will surely get our attention at Rush the Court, and that’s exactly what Withey did against San Jose State. The senior had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks in the victory. A defensive stalwart, it was the second time this season he had at least 10 blocks in a game. This week: Nov. 30 vs. Oregon State

7. Isaiah Canaan – Murray State (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG

As noted last week, Canaan was bound to have some monster scoring games once he could get his three-point shot to fall, and that’s what happened this past week. With the help of 55 percent shooting from deep, Canaan scored 30 points against Old Dominion and 32 points against Lipscomb. Expect much more of this to come. This week: Dec. 4 vs. Bethel

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 21 PPG, 7.3 RPG

McDermott finally got his scoring going with 80 points in his last three games. Still, he needs to shoot more, as he has attempted 11 shots or less in four of seven games despite being Creighton’s only real scoring threat. If he does so, he could really start putting up some big numbers. This week: Dec. 1 vs. Saint Joseph’s, Dec 6 at Nebraska

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Award Tour: Shabazz Muhammad Is Out, So Who’s In?

Posted by DCassilo on November 16th, 2012

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Take a second to play out a hypothetical situation. John Doe is a top recruit. He is probably going to play for Basketball College. A booster for that school’s biggest rival, Hoops University, knows this and gives Doe $1,000 to come visit Hoops. A year later, the NCAA finds out, and who gets punished? Not the booster and Hoops but Doe and Basketball College. This is the insanely stupid can of worms that the NCAA has opened up in the Shabazz Muhammad ruling. To make matters worse, recent reports say the NCAA had it out for him before they even learned of this. It brings to focus a larger issue that still does not get enough play – the student-athlete has no rights. Unlike professional sports, there are no unions. It’s just the NCAA and powerful universities versus tiny student-athletes. For now, Muhammad doesn’t play, and that shakes up both of our top 10 lists. Hopefully by including these players below, they haven’t become susceptible to another NCAA violation.


10. Pierre Jackson – Baylor (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 23.3 PPG, 8.7 APG

Welcome to the race Mr. Jackson (AP)

As you’ll see throughout this list, it might just be the year of the point guard. Jackson is a special one, as he’s already poured in 27 points and 31 points this season. The assists are there too, making him one of the toughest players to guard in the country. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Colorado, Nov. 18 vs. St. John’s/Murray State

9. Kenny Boynton – Florida (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 16 PPG, 6 RPG, 4 APG

A near inclusion on this original list, Boynton makes it in there after a stellar start to the season. While he took a backseat role against Wisconsin, being the engine that drives one of the top teams in the country will only help his candidacy. This week: Nov. 18 vs. Middle Tennessee St., Nov. 20 vs. Savannah State

8. Allen Crabbe – California (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 30 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3 APG

After averaging 15.2 PPG as a sophomore, Crabbe has opened the eyes of many with a 27-point and a 33-point game to open the season. It’s impossible to shoot this well (60 percent from the field, 66.7 percent from 3-point range) all season, but he seems to have the tools to contend for the nation’s scoring title. This week: Nov. 16 vs. Denver, Nov. 22 vs. Drake

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Award Tour: Setting the Candidates For the 2012-13 Season

Posted by DCassilo on November 9th, 2012

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

It’s a brand new season of college basketball, and what better way to celebrate than a brand new weekly feature on Rush The Court. Every Friday this season, I’ll be updating the races for Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and Coach of the Year. But don’t think of this as just a list of 10 players each week with a few sentences attached. There’s more that we love about college basketball than its players and coaches. There are the fans, the venues, the announcers and the madness, and each week I’ll be looking at something different that makes November through early April the most exciting time of the year.

We’ve waited long enough, though, so without any more delay, here’s a look at the top 10 candidates to succeed Anthony Davis as college basketball’s top player.


10. Mike Moser – UNLV, junior
2011-12 stats: 14 PPG, 10.5 RPG

Mike Moser, UNLV

Mike Moser is On Everyone’s NPOY Radar This Season (photo credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP)

A double-double machine, Moser is the only player on a Top 25 team to average at least 10 points and 10 rebounds last season. Consistency was his biggest problem last season. For every 34-point game, there would be a four-point dud a few nights later. With a light non-conference schedule, Moser should be able to pad his stats early on. This week: Nov. 12 vs Northern Arizona

9. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh, senior
2011-12 stats: 21.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG

It’s not too often that a Patriot League player is considered one of the nation’s best, but it’s just the latest stereotype that McCollum has dispelled at Lehigh. His run in the NCAA Tournament last season made him a big enough name to remove any small school bias. He could finish the season with the best scoring average in D-I. This week: Nov. 9 at Baylor, Nov. 12 vs. Robert Morris, Nov. 13 vs. Pittsburgh/Fordham

8. James Michael McAdoo – UNC, sophomore
2011-12 stats: 6.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG

A ranking based more on potential and opportunity than anything else, McAdoo is expected to be the No. 1 option on the Tar Heels. With North Carolina’s deep roster last season, he took on a reserve role but averaged 11.8 PPG in just 19.3 minutes per game in the NCAA tournament. Remember, he was MVP of the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. This week: Nov. 9 vs. Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11 vs. Florida Atlantic

7. Jamaal Franklin – San Diego State, junior
2011-12 stats: 17.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG

Forget national player of the year, the race between Franklin and Moser for conference player of the year should be fun enough to watch. After averaging 2.9 PPG as a freshman, Franklin exploded onto the scene last season. Still, not many people have heard of him, but they might after Sunday’s game against Syracuse. This week: Nov. 11 vs. Syracuse, Nov. 13 vs. San Diego Christian

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Night Line: Player of the Year Award is Anthony Davis’ To Lose

Posted by EJacoby on February 8th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

On Tuesday night, the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats continued its run of complete domination in SEC play, defeating No. 8 Florida by the score of 78-58 at Rupp Arena in a game that was never in doubt after about 12 minutes. The game featured another commanding performance by Anthony Davis, who tallied 16 points, six rebounds, four blocks, and two steals and, as usual, essentially eliminated any Gator offense at the rim. The freshman center not only dazzles fans with his spectacular dunks and blocks, but he’s become the pre-eminent defensive force in college basketball that truly alters the strategy of opposing offenses during every game. He’s also displayed impressive offensive efficiency to become a perfect fit on both ends of the floor. At 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds (second in the SEC), 1.5 steals (eighth in the conference), and 4.8 blocks per game (leads the nation), and as the best player on the top team in America, it’s safe to say that Davis is now the front-runner for National Player of the Year.

This Kentucky Freshman is Must-See TV and the Current Player of the Year Favorite (AP Photo)

In addition to his impressive per-game averages, Davis has an incredible efficiency to his game that is visible to everyone watching as well as all the statistics gurus that measure these kinds of things. Davis’ offensive rating of 137.8, which measures the amount of points a player would produce per 100 possessions, is the second-best number of any player in the country. This essentially means that every time a Kentucky possession features Davis making a play (either shooting or off the first pass), it’s wildly successful. Of course, this also plays out like that because he is so infrequently used in the offense. His shot percentage of 18.2% doesn’t even crack the top 50 of SEC players. But he’s nearly unstoppable on lobs and putbacks, and UK has used him perfectly for maximum effectiveness in these areas. You also must give Davis the credit for not forcing his offense and looking for easy baskets, as his 66.3% field-goal percentage and 61.0% free throw rate are both tops in the conference. His 70% free throw percentage is also solid for a player his size (6’11”) and will only get better as he improves the fundamentals of his shot. Those were just his offensive numbers; we don’t even need to break down his defense for you. At 4.8 blocks per game, he’s the most dominant college defender we’ve seen in years, and it takes just five minutes of watching UK play to understand how great his impact is on that end of the floor.

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