AAC M5: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on October 16th, 2013


  1. On the eve of today’s AAC media day in Memphis, Tampa Bay Times writer Joey Knight contends that media predictions pegging USF at or near the bottom of the league have proven “more galvanizing than toxic” for the Bulls. According to senior Victor Rudd, some dismissive predictions are stapled to player lockers, and junior point guard Anthony Collins said that they instill some motivational indignation in returning players and newcomers alike. The Tampa Tribune’s Joey Johnston notes that Stan Heath’s AAC media day delegation of Collins and Rudd represent the only remaining players from USF’s 2012 NCAA Tournament team. Heath admitted, “I can understand how people might look at our team and say, ‘Well, they lost Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, they lost Shaun Noriega, they lost Jawanza Poland… and they couldn’t score anyway.’” The former Big East Coach of the Year downplayed the low expectations, noting “we’ve proven to be pretty good in the underdog role in the past. We’re fine with it.”
  2. We can count (Newark) Star-Ledger writer Brendan Prunty among those who aren’t buying into Stan Heath’s squad, after he pegged the Bulls last in his AAC preseason predictions yesterday. While acknowledging USF’s stingy defense, Prunty points out that the Bulls only scored an average of 58.8 points last season, while every other AAC squad managed at least 64.5 per contest. Beyond echoing the popular top three of Louisville, Memphis and UConn, Prunty takes a more generous stance on UCF than some other pundits, projecting Donnie Jones’ senior-laden group to finish sixth. He cautions that the bottom half of the conference remains, for the time being, an undifferentiated monolith of teams surrounded by question marks.
  3. The AAC acquitted itself well in a list of the top-100 college players released yesterday by the knowledgeable folks at CBS Sports, as the league’s players accounted for 10% of the list. Louisville led the way with four players, two of whom captured the highest rankings of any of their peers (Russ Smith, #4; Montrezl Harrell, #16), while Memphis and UConn placed three and two of their talented guards into the group, respectively. Outside of those three rosters, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick was the only other AAC player to make the list, which raises the question of whether the rest of the conference has enough elite talent to compete with the league’s upper echelon in 2013-14.
  4. In light of news that the AAC has elected to host its women’s basketball tournament at the Mohegan Sun casino, Mike DiMauro at The New London (CT) Day asks, “Has Hartford, specifically the XL Center, ever been more irrelevant?” The aging downtown arena, which hosts some UConn men’s basketball games as the alternate venue to the smaller, on-campus Gampel Pavilion, has now lost bids for both the men’s and women’s AAC basketball tournaments, and one women’s coach at media day described it as “a dump.” On its surface, this most recent development is of little consequence to men’s basketball, but the underlying issues of general dissatisfaction with and mismanagement of UConn’s off-campus athletic facilities should raise red flags for state and university officials.
  5. Louisville guard Terry Rozier is especially eager to play his first college game –– even more so than a typical freshman –– after spending an interim year at Hargrave Military Academy between signing with the Cardinals in high school and suiting up for them this fall. Rozier averaged 29.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 5.6 APG while playing alongside fellow Louisville freshman Anton Gill, and said the rigors of the pressing defense his coach employed there have helped him adjust to Rick Pitino’s system. He’s also apparently arrived with the maturity to take Pitino’s intensity in stride: “He can say anything to me. He’s a Hall of Fame coach. I can accept that, I accept the coaching and that’s what will get me far and what makes our relationship off the court great.”
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Big East M5: 02.27.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 27th, 2013


  1. Jim Boeheim was saying things in front of a microphone again and, after a tough road loss to Marquette in which his team led for the better part of the game, he was entertaining as always. He was cranky with reporters and didn’t seem to like a few of the questions that were tossed his way. He had good reason for his attitude, too, as Jeff Goodman points out. The Orange have been erratic as of late and they don’t look like a team that is ready to challenge for a spot in the Final Four, so Boeheim isn’t necessarily keen on fielding questions about his team’s abilities and his coaching decisions. Of course Boeheim can get cranky with reporters all he wants but if Syracuse doesn’t find some outside shooting and consistent effort for 40 minutes, it will be the team and their chances for postseason success that will start to become the issue.
  2. Goodman clearly came correct in the last two days because his other story out of the Marquette and Syracuse tilt was also an excellent one. This one focused on how Marquette is tired of hearing about how hard they play, which struck a chord, because just yesterday I mentioned how the Golden Eagles owed much of their success to how hard they play. The fact of the matter is that Marquette doesn’t have NBA talent on its roster aside from perhaps Vander Blue, and they have wildly overachieved this season in a ruggedly competitive conference without their best two players and leading scorers from last season. They don’t have the talent to be this good, so they make up for it with heady play and excellent depth at multiple positions… oh, and how hard they play. Goodman makes sure to rightly give coach Buzz Williams much of the credit for the sustained success and the way the Golden Eagles play is really just an extension of the way Williams coaches — with intensity, competitiveness, and grit.
  3. Williams isn’t the only coach who deserves a fair amount of credit for helping his team overachieve this season. Georgetown has been another conference success story this season behind star player Otto Porter and a slew of useful role players who can step up in big moments, but a primary reason for their success has been the coaching job of John Thompson III. The Hoyas didn’t win pretty early in the season, but they won often, and when second-leading scorer Greg Whittington was suspended, the team was supposed to struggle but instead has gone 11-1. The lineup tinkering has worked, young players have developed on schedule, and the Hoyas are playing some of their best basketball of the season with a big assist from the man in charge of making all those things work.
  4. I said it yesterday and I will say it again, UConn is going to come to play tonight when they get a visit from Georgetown for what will be the biggest remaining game on their season. Huskies’ coach Kevin Ollie is yet another coach helping his team overachieve and he has done a masterful job keeping his team focused and motivated. Of course the players deserve some credit for the team’s success this season as well, and if they can’t get fired up to try and upset a Top 10 team, then they shouldn’t be playing this sport. The Hoyas will not be able to afford to come out flat, because Gampel Pavilion will be rocking and if the Huskies start fast and the Hoyas struggle to keep up, the team and the fans in the arena will quickly smell blood in the water.
  5. The best part about the Big East this season has been how evenly matched the top six teams are. At this juncture in the season, there are plenty of teams still mathematically alive in the hunt for the regular season title and one of those is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish were a trendy pick to compete for the title this season because of their returning experience and despite some rough patches earlier in the season, they find themselves right in the thick of the race with just a couple games left. Now, their chances at winning the regular season title are quite slim, but that doesn’t mean the team isn’t committed to winning out and doing their best to keep the pressure on the teams above them.
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Night Line: Cincinnati’s Talent and Toughness Has the Bearcats Rising to Success

Posted by EJacoby on January 19th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor and correspondent. 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.

After No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Syracuse, it’s still unclear exactly who the second best team in the Big East Conference is. But after Cincinnati defeated No. 12 Connecticut on the road on Wednesday night in impressive fashion, we might have an answer to that question. With their 10th victory in 11 games, the Bearcats have improved to 5-1 in the Big East with three road wins, including two over top competition in UConn and Georgetown. This team has already gone through enough adversity for an entire season and is now starting to peak after all of it. Cincinnati is identified first for its ugly brawl with Xavier on December 10, but with the way this team is now playing, it might soon be recognized instead as an excellent basketball team.

Sean Kilpatrick & Yancy Gates are Finally Smiling for Streaking Cincinnati (AP Photo)

Cincinnati has been a fairly mediocre team during the Mick Cronin era. They hadn’t finished above 10th place in the Big East standings until last season’s sixth place finish, and they have won 20 games just once in the past six years. Despite rumors of their coach being on the hot seat, the program has had faith in Cronin and his hard work in recruiting and teaching is finally paying off with these talented Bearcats. Then came the fight with Xavier last month, which threatened to ruin this team’s chances yet again. Instead, the lessons learned from that day seem to have awakened this team. While nobody in the program would wish for that nasty fight to be a catalyst for success, the fact is that the Bearcats are playing at a more functional, higher level right now than they have in years. Having star caliber players in Sean Kilpatrick and Yancy Gates doesn’t hurt, but when you consider how good this team is right now after everything it’s gone through, it’s safe to say Cincinnati is one of the most intriguing teams in the country.

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Set Your TiVo: 01.18.12

Posted by EJacoby on January 18th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor and correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

There are lots of good conference matchups tonight across the country. We will give you full breakdowns of the two best games to watch, including a big-time Big East matchup early in the evening. Check the comments section for other games to track tonight!

Cincinnati at #12 Connecticut – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (****)

Yancy Gates and UC Are Trending Up, Up, Up (AP)

  • Cincinnati is an impressive 4-1 in true road games this season, including victories at Georgia, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown. They have played at an increasingly high level and are 9-1 since the brawl against Xavier that left several players suspended. At full strength now, the Bearcats will not be intimidated in Gampel Pavilion and will look to establish their physical defense early in the game. Mick Cronin’s team gives up just 58.8 points per game on the season and is strong with the ball, averaging a +5.5 in turnover margin. On the offensive end, Sean Kilpatrick has developed into a true scorer this season (16.2 PPG) and will look to establish an inside-out game with Yancy Gates (12.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG) to put the UConn defense in a difficult position. Establishing their brand of physical game early on will give Cincinnati a chance to win another big road game.
  • UConn has had their ups and downs this season, though the Huskies are still undefeated at home and have perhaps the most talented roster in the Big East. It’s looking like Ryan Boatright will not be available tonight as he’s being investigated by the NCAA, which could be a significant blow to the Huskies’ offense. The freshman, averaging about 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists per game, is adept at creating his own shot, but then again UConn has been dealing with suspensions and off-court issues all season and should be fine without him. Stud big man Andre Drummond continues to improve and gain confidence, averaging 15 points, 12 boards, and 2.5 blocks in his previous two games. Going inside early and often has been working for the Huskies, allowing Jeremy Lamb (17.9 PPG) to create his own shot without the defense keyed in on him all the time. Allowing just 36.8% field goal shooting in conference, UConn can match the defensive brand of basketball that Cincinnati brings to this game.
  • There are some great matchups to watch in this game, including Kilpatrick vs. Lamb on the wing as explosive scorers and Gates vs. Drummond inside as a clash of interior styles. Who wins tonight could come down to who is making the most shots, which seems obvious, but really applies here between two teams with similar physical defenses and offensive playmakers. Give Connecticut the advantage at home.
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Where 2011-12 Happens: Reason #2 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2011

Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!

#2 – Where Campus Hysteria Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.

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