Evening/Morning Five: 24 Hours of Hoops Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2010

  1. Since you’re going to be up all night with us anyway, we thought we’d get a head start with today’s M5 to give you a little bit of reading material before we get started.  As you undoubtedly already know, John Stevens will be BGTDing the entire event from start to finish, but there are a couple of other nuggets we want to throw your way as well.  We will also have a couple of RTC Live events during the day, starting at 2 am ET with St. John’s visiting St. Mary’s in a battle of  Catholic schools with a little something to prove this year (SMC – that they’re not going away; SJU – that they’re back).  Later at Noon ET, we’ll be in Tulsa for the crosstown rivalry game between the Golden Hurricane and Oral Roberts.  So keep an eye out for those good ones. 
  2. Let’s talk some matchups.  Mike DeCourcy took some time yesterday to rank-order the ESPN games from #1 to #12, and although we don’t have any beef with the top three, that St. Mary’s-St. John’s game should be higher.  Come on… the return of Steve Lavin on the sidelines, the burden of expectations, a packed bandbox of a gymnasium…  that’s a top four game.  Our own Zach Hayes also put together a list of some things each team in selected games needs to do to win in his Ball Reversal post that went up on Monday.
  3. We don’t talk much around here about Division II basketball, but this score caught our attention: West Liberty 154, Lock Haven 48.  The West Virginia-based Hilltoppers put nine players into double figures and shot 68% for the game (including hitting 21 treys).  Still, they fell short of the all-time D2 record margin of victory of 118 points set by Mississippi College nearly forty years ago.  As an interesting piece of historical errata, LIU holds the DI record with a 117-point victory over Medgar Evers (presumably more than just him) in 1997, while Purdue holds the record between current Division I teams with a 112-6 win over Indiana State in 1911.  Yes, you read that correctly. 
  4. There was quite a bit written about Opening Weekend, including Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts where he discusses how impressive Illinois has looked so far this young season, and Gary Parrish’s Monday Look Back, where he belabors the fact that there really were very few (if any) great games last weekend.  That’s what tonight’s for, right?
  5. This column by Ray Holloman at Fanhouse has more than you’d ever want to know about Stetson basketball and its relevance to Coach K/Duke and Jeff Bzdelik/Wake Forest, both of whom dropped a game to the Hatters early in their ACC careers.  If you’re lost, it’s because you should be.  While we’re making absurd comparisons, both Krzyzewski and Bzdelik drink water AND brush their teeth with the wet substance.  We’ll have a story up on this tomorrow.
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Morning Five: 10.25.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 25th, 2010

  1. Injury watch — two more players received bad news over the weekend, as Xavier backup guard Brad Redford tore his ACL and will miss the entire season as a result.  Redford is a dead-eye three-point shooter (career: 44.7%) who shot fourteen treys for every two he attempted last season —  in fact, in a total of 417 minutes played in 2009-10, he took a mere eight shots from inside the arc all season.  His ability to stretch the defense will definitely be missed by Chris Mack’s team this year.  In other news perhaps less hurtful to his team’s fortunes, New Mexico’s expected starting center Drew Gordon will have surgery to repair the same meniscus that he injured two years ago at UCLA.  Because he was a mid-year transfer, he wasn’t going to be able to suit up for the Lobos anyway until the semester break in mid-December, but this injury also means that he cannot practice for the next four weeks.  He is, however, expected to recover in time to play in December.
  2. Oklahoma State’s Matt Pilgrim has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Travis Ford for an undisclosed violation of team rules, as he was in street clothes during OSU’s “Homecoming and Hoops” event on Friday night.  Ford characterized Pilgrim’s possibility of getting back on the team as “maybe” and “we’ll see.”  Last May, Pilgrim was accused of rape by a woman who also served him with a protective order, but that order was dismissed in September and charges were never brought against him due to a lack of evidence.  It seems as if trouble isn’t having difficulty finding the 6’8 senior who averaged 8/7  in only 18 minutes per game last year for the Pokes, but we hope for his sake that he gets things together and finishes out his final season in Stillwater strong.
  3. We were wondering why LeBryan Nash committed to Oklahoma State last week — no disrespect intended, but OSU basketball typically doesn’t appeal to out-of-state top ten recruits in the same way that some other schools do.  Well, we thought that until we saw this feature describing the new hoops facilities at the school.  We dunno about you, but the hairdryers built exclusively into the wall at a certain height for big men would do it for us [ed. note: Nash is 6’7, so maybe that was the clincher for him too?].
  4. Gary Parrish gives us his top ten big men in America, and we have to say that we completely agree with who he chooses at #1.  The national media is fixated on Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving with good reason, but Jared Sullinger is going to be just as big a name as the others in very short order.  As for the rest of his list, the only quibbles we have are that Marcus Morris seems a few spots too high, while Trey Thompkins and Perry Jones seem too low.  Oh, and in case you missed it from last week and speaking of Mr. Barnes, here are Parrish’s top ten wing players.
  5. Mike DeCourcy writes a great article examining the timeline for the Bruce Pearl revelations that came out last Thursday night and subsequently taking Tennessee officials to task for being dishonest, misleading and otherwise having engaged in gross misconduct.  Despite all of the top bigwigs in the school and athletic department having full knowledge that Pearl’s contract had been voided on September 9 of this year, not a single person in the room mentioned it during Pearl’s mea culpa press conference on September 10.  Have you ever watched an out-of-control child going berserk and wonder how he could be so obnoxious… that is, until you see how the parents handle themselves?  We shouldn’t wonder why Pearl felt like he could so willfully flout the rules there in Knoxville anymore — wethinks that mystery is solved.
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Morning Five: 10.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

  1. It was an eventful weekend across the college basketball landscape as programs began officially practicing on Friday night with spirited Midnight Madness celebrations ranging from Duke’s banner unfurling to Michigan State’s astronaut theme to Pepperdine’s For Whom the (Keion) Bell Tolls…  in case you were busy with football and/or the MLB playoffs this weekend, be sure to check out our BGTD: Midnight Madness Edition from Friday night as well as our postmortem of highlights we posted on Sunday.  And believe it or not, we’re only twenty-one days from game action, folks.
  2. Like everyone else, we were extremely sad to hear that Purdue’s Robbie Hummel had once again ruptured his ACL, an injury that will leave him on the shelf this season.  You can really feel the pain in Jeff Goodman’s article over the weekend where he discusses just how unfair it is that a great kid such as Hummel seems to have such crappy luck.  For Purdue fans, this is also devastating — the Boilermakers rallied after Hummel’s late February injury last year to sneak into the Sweet Sixteen, but even with the experience of playing without him and E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson returning, we just can’t see a Final Four run in this squad.  Hummel will have one more year to play college basketball in 2011-12, but he’ll return to a team gutted by the graduation of those two stars and although hope springs eternal, we have a feeling that these couple of years will ultimately represent unfortunate missed opportunities for Matt Painter and his program.
  3. Speaking of Goodman, here’s his preseason Top 25 (keep in mind Purdue at #2 was prior to Hummel’s injury); here’s Mike DeCourcy’s at Sporting News; and here’s Gary Parrish’s over at CBS Sports.
  4. Seth Davis checks in with his 10 Burning Questions to start the new season, a great read as usual.  Unfortunately, we already know the answer to the second half of #2, but he brings up a good point about Duke managing to duck much of the ubiquitous hatred last season largely because most pundits (and the public) didn’t start taking the Blue Devils seriously as a title contender until the very end of the season.
  5. Friday was Midnight Madness at most places, but it was also the date of UConn and Jim Calhoun’s hearing in Indy with the NCAA Infractions Committee.  Calhoun reported that the meeting took thirteen hours, but he provided no additional details as to its substance (although a 13-hour meeting is no joke).  The NCAA is expected to make a ruling on this issue by December.  Let’s hope for Husky fans that their season is generally going well by then; otherwise, it could be a particularly cold winter in Storrs.
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Morning Five: 10.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2010

  1. One of the best UConn traditions is called the Husky Run, a 5k amble through the streets of Storrs where the coaches and players “kick off” the basketball season with a spirited jog.  Jim Calhoun has been doing these since he was back in Boston at Northeastern in the 70s, but he was compelled to miss this year’s event for the first time as a result of preparations for Friday’s hearing in Indianapolis in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee.  Friday’s “First Night” event — the UConn version of Midnight Madness — will certainly be muted without Calhoun in attendance, not to mention the ugly specter of possible further NCAA sanctions  hanging over everyone’s head in attendance.
  2. Earlier this week Luke Winn gave us his top sixteen backcourts, led of course by the ridiculously deep and talented Blue Devils.  So who has the best frontcourt for the 2010-11 season?  Would you believe the scintillating group at Purdue led by JaJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel and Patrick Bade?  You should.  Duke comes in at #2, UNC at #3, and Kansas State at #4.  Five schools other than Duke ended up on both of his lists, which should give you a pretty good sense as to who the top contenders for the title will be this season:  Purdue (#1 frontcourt, #12 backcourt); Kansas (#5, #6); Syracuse (#7, #10); Ohio State (#9, #9); Michigan State (#15, #2).
  3. TSN’s Chris Littmann put together an interesting list of the top five Twitter All-Americans for the 2010-11 season.  If you don’t have the following players on your feed, get them on there now… Mizzou’s Kim English (@englishscope24), Washington’s Isaiah Thomas (@isaiah_thomas2), Duke’s Nolan Smith (@ndotsmitty), Illinois’ Mike Davis (@illiniballa24), and Texas A&M’s Dash Harris (@dash5harris).  Personally, we can’t wait to see what Thomas has to say leading up to Maui and a potential game against Kentucky next month.
  4. Hubris, arrogance, mere stupidity — or all three?  Gary Parrish has long harped on the tendency for coaches to repeatedly and egregiously get busted for texting recruits when they’re not supposed to be doing so, but it doesn’t seem to stop their madness.  We can only suppose that these are some of the same guys who, after looking up a bunch of porn on the work computer, think that by simply deleting the search history means they won’t get caught.  You mean pressing “clear history” doesn’t get rid of it?  Huh?
  5. We mentioned this situation in a Morning Five last week, but the schizz hit the fan publicly today when St. Louis’ two stars, Willie Reed and Kwamain Mitchell, were noticeably absent from Photo Day on Wednesday.  The reason is that neither is currently enrolled in the school as a result of a year-long suspension meted by the university’s student court for an as-yet undetermined violation of student conduct (later changed to two months on appeal).  Bryan Burwell spoke to Reed’s father about the suspensions, and although details on the specific allegations are sketchy, the father alleges fairly serious concerns about rights to due process and railroading if what he suggests is true.  Michigan State fans would do well to look at this situation with a certain degree of interest, as there are two unnamed players on their campus possibly facing similar inquiries.
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Morning Five: 10.07.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2010

  1. Has anyone else noticed that the little countdown clock above is down to seven days and change until Midnight Madness hits?  Yeah, thought so.  One of the problems with MM (inasmuch as there can be a problem with something so completely awesome) is that many of the events around the country have become, well, rather boring.  The Maryland blog Testudo Times took the Terps’ 2009 version to task for lacking any forethought or originality whatsoever, and have offered a list of improvements that many other schools should also consider utilizing next week.  The best idea we know of, though, isn’t on there — which is to lose all the 7 pm “family-friendly” start times in favor of actually holding the events at 12:00 midnight.  Back in the mid-90s, ESPN would start with several eastern schools at the witching hour and move west hour-by-hour showing highlights from each event across the country, much as the news channels do on New Year’s Eve.  It was fantastic, especially if you attended one of the early ones then got to go home and watch the rest.  The crowds were raucous and it was compelling viewing for every college basketball fan across the nation.  Nowadays… less so (but still awesome).
  2. In an effort to consistently apply game rules across the 32 different conferences and 347 teams in college basketball, the NCAA has established an LLC to put all of the officials under one platform.  The mission of the new corporation will be “to increase the pool of officials; standardize messaging; more consistently apply playing rules, points of emphasis and mechanics; and remove “entry barriers” to those who are interested in becoming basketball officials.”  Hey, if it means that a Big Ten slugfest is called the same way as a Pac-10 roadrace, we’re all for it.
  3. Get ‘er Dunn?  On Tuesday news broke that Baylor star LaceDarius Dunn had been indefinitely suspended due to a domestic violence incident in August involving his girlfriend for which he was also arrested by Waco police.  Yesterday, said girlfriend Lacharlesla Edwards went on the record stating that what occurred (a punch) was actually an accident and that she has no interest in pressing charges or cooperating with police on the matter.  The local DA will still have the discretion to pursue the charges if he thinks he has the evidence to do so — it’s simply tough luck for Dunn that he doesn’t live in Ingham County, Michigan.
  4. Speaking of our favorite District Attorney in the Wolverine State, the Michigan Messenger continues to come correct with its cage-rattling about sexual assault allegations involving two players on the Michigan State basketball team.  After last week’s police report was released by the paper, the DA publicly provided transcripts of interviews with one of the alleged assailants and the victim to justify its decision to not bring charges against the two.  The Messenger responded by showing the documents to three experts in the field of criminal law — “a former Ingham County prosecutor, a defense attorney and a nationally recognized expert in sexual assault investigation and prosecution.”  Interestingly, the prosecutor said he would hesitate to bring the case, while the other two experts had trouble understanding why, at a minimum, further investigation would not be warranted.  Great stuff.
  5. Amen and pass the ammo we say in response to Gary Parrish’s article yesterday that explains just how tired he is of all the offseason negativity that goes on in the game today.  We don’t really believe that there’s any more bad behavior than there ever was, but it seems as if two things have happened in recent years to make it seem worse.  First, the media has changed, for better or worse.  Through no small part of people and sites like us here at RTC, there’s always another story or angle to dig up and talk about — trust us, we know, as this very feature thrives and depends on that very precept.  That endless chase for stories forces everyone, including the so-called mainstream media of which Parrish is a part, to up their games and talk about the next piece of news, no matter how relatively trivial (social networking makes this even more real-time in nature).  Second, the NCAA has gotten more serious about enforcement, and that means that high school players are increasingly being scrutinized for their associations with agents and other unsavories both before and after their enrollment as a freshman player; and, schools are finding that they need to run a much tighter ship because the days of only a few NCAA gumshoes covering the entire nation are gone.  Ten years ago a story like LaceDarius Dunn’s probably wouldn’t have gotten much run outside of Texas and the various Big 12 outlets; nowadays it’s a major story on every national site covering college basketball.  The landscape has most definitely changed.
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Morning Five: 09.24.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2010

  1. Put.  The.  Phones.  Down.  UT-Chattanooga was placed on two years probation by the NCAA for “major” violations that AGAIN included a situation where the head coach John Shulman was busily texting recruits during a no-contact period.  The Mocs will not suffer a postseason ban as a result of these violations, but we simply cannot understand why coaches continue to fall victim to such an easily traceable mistake.  Every husband in the entire world knows that you don’t text or call your mistress using the phone that your wife can access — yet coaches seem oblivious to this codified man-law, so time and time again we see problems arise in this area.  Gary Parrish discussed this last week, but coaches have proven to be slow on the uptick here.  Get some burners, fellas — hell, use Skype — just stop this nonsense already.
  2. Speaking of Parrish, his latest article captures John Wooden’s mantra of “don’t mistake activity for achievement” really well.  Too many coaches waste too much time trying to recruit prospects that they never had a shot with to begin with.  To continue with the analogies, it’s like the guy who sadly yet consistently shoots for 9s when everyone in the bar knows that he should be focusing on the 6s.  Finishing second or third in recruiting is like hearing the click with five more bullets in the barrel — you end up in the same place regardless.
  3. Scathing.  That’s how we’d describe the latest piece by Fanhouse’s Ray Holloman about the Bruce Pearl/Tennessee recruiting violations that were exposed last week.  Better than any other article we’ve seen written on this situation, Holloman perfectly exposes the true underlying motives of the “executive officers of a multi-million dollar athletic program.”  The lesson here, and we sorta already knew it: treat these guys like politicians or CEOs by assuming that everything that comes out of their mouths is a half-truth or outright lie.  Start there, and then figure out the rest.
  4. We rarely mention women’s college basketball here but this was too bizarre to ignoreUNC-Wilmington head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke (this is not a joke) apologized for a punishment that her assistant Johnetta Hayes put junior guard Julia Finlay through during practice on Monday.  Apparently Hayes forced Finlay to ‘log roll’ up and down the court at least twelve times in a row during a half-hour period as a penalty for getting booted from practice last week.  She’s suffering from plantar fasciitis, so incredulously, Hayes believed this would be an appropriate punishment in place of the normal sprints a player gets as punishment.  Finlay vomited several times during the “puke-and-roll”, and we’re pretty certain that a little piece of America died as a result of this story.
  5. “Dumb Catholic boys.”  Oh, Bob Knight, always making friends.  Just days after enjoying his roast in Hammond, Indiana, Knight took shots at both the NCAA and Notre Dame during a speaking engagement at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana yesterday.  In reference to whether Notre Dame should join the Big Ten, Knight ripped the ND brass, suggesting that being in the Big East in all sports other than football hurts their recruiting.  Surely this will come up at some point during Gameday with Digger Phelps this coming season, although we think we already know how this ends, right?  Do we even need to say it?
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Morning Five: 09.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2010

  1. Delving into the phone call issue in the wake of Bruce Pearl’s self-reported violations last week, Gary Parrish anonymously interviewed ten NCAA coaches across the spectrum, and guess what, they all admitted to making impermissible calls themselves.  We certainly understand the point that several in the article make about the difference between fifteen and two hundred impermissible calls, but with so many of the coaches also agreeing that the calls make little difference in the recruit’s ultimate destination, why do they continue to do it?  Someone in this game once said not to mistake activity for achievement, and we think it might appropriately apply here.
  2. That didn’t take long.  On the Monday immediately following Wake Forest center Tony Woods’ arrest for various kinds of assault, the school suspended him indefinitely.  If the allegations against him are even remotely true, it’s doubtful we’ll ever seen him in the ACC again.
  3. Former UCLA underachiever J’Mison Morgan will be eligible to play at Baylor this winter after the NCAA approved his waiver to be closer to his ill grandmother, his legal guardian.  Normally, a player transferring in who averaged a grand total of two points and one rebound per game over two seasons wouldn’t be cause for celebration, but few players bring the high school pedigree of the 6’10 Morgan — he was a top 25 recruit in the class of 2008 and has the physical tools to be a very good player.  If the new environment suits him and he can get his head out of the clouds, Morgan could legitimately become a major contributor on a very talented Bears front line along with Perry Jones and Quincy Acy in 2010-11.
  4. Steve Lavin is settling in nicely at St. John’s, as this article from the LA Times examines from the perspective of a California boy gone east.  Maybe we’re just suckers for the boyish good looks and eloquence of Lav, but we think he’ll actually be quite successful in NYC.
  5. Would you believe that March Madness darling Northern Iowa could be on the verge of a decision to eliminate all of its D1 sports?  Mere months after the greatest moment in the school’s athletic history (Farokhmanesh!), president Ben Allen stated on Monday that with additional anticipated cuts to the athletic program budget, the school could find itself unable to compete in Division I and would consider such a seemingly drastic move.  It all comes down to dollars (always), but it’s hard for us to believe that a school with a strong basketball program and a nationally competitive football program in 1-AA would be in such dire straits.  Let’s hope the Panthers avoid armageddon on this one.
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Morning Five: 07.20.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2010

  1. The biggest news yesterday came when the NCAA announced that UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway has been tabbed to take over as the chairman of the Men’s D1 Basketball Committee for the 2011-12 season.  He will succeed the current chairman, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, next summer.  This is a peculiar choice given the timing that UConn is currently facing eight major recruiting violations in its men’s basketball program (including a failure to monitor charge, and if you believe this report, a possible 2-3 year probation) and rumors that Hathaway has been considering a move to Maryland, his alma mater.  According to the NCAA, if Hathaway takes the Maryland job, this chairmanship will not follow him.
  2. Ask any middle-aged Duke fan if they remember the name Todd Leary, and without question you’ll get a knowing glance.  In the 1992 Final Four en route to Coach K’s back-to-back titles, Indiana’s Leary gave Blue Devil fans heart palpitations as he single-handedly brought Bob Knight’s Indiana team back from nine down in the final two minutes with three long-balls from all over the court.  Well, from that illustrious moment to this one — Leary pleaded guilty to fraud relating to a mortgage company scheme late last week in Ft. Wayne, and he is on the hook for $300,000 in restitution as well as possible prison time.  Nice.
  3. Did you see Gary Parrish’s summer all-americans?  With three Big 12 players on his first team, it’s going to be another fantastic season in the nation’s heartland.
  4. This is an interesting post from Bylaw Blog (“the unofficial blog of NCAA compliance” — awesome!) that suggests that the NCAA Infractions folks may be reaching a critical mass of knowledge in both football and basketball (about how “the system” actually works) to begin focusing on and targeting the volume cheaters.  We can only hope…
  5. What do Rick Barnes (Big 12), Jeff Bzdelik (ACC), Fran McCaffery (Big Ten), Buzz Williams (Big East), Rick Stansbury (SEC) and Kevin O’Neill (Pac-10) have in common?  These six coaches in the BCS leagues tend to play their starters more than any other coach in that league, according to statistics compiled by Dan Hanner over at YABB in his typically stellar analysis.   (ed. note — Bzdelik’s and McCaffery’s numbers were of course from previous schools)
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Morning Five: 05.06.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2010

  1. Butler will have to deal with the ghoulish specter of Expectations next year without star forward Gordon Hayward, who has decided to remain in the NBA Draft pool.  The Bulldogs should still be very good in 2010-11, but it’s unlikely to expect another run at the national title without the versatile Hayward back on campus.  Ole Miss guard Terrico White has also decided to stay in the draft, forgoing his final two years of eligibility.  This is a questionable decision, as some prognosticators think White may sneak into the bottom of the first round, while others think he’ll be lucky to be drafted.  With the withdrawal deadline looming on Saturday, there will be a number of these over the next few days (we hope) and Northern Arizona’s Cam Jones is one of the first to announce a return to school.
  2. Some coaching news from yesterday as Temple’s Fran Dunphy was rewarded for another NCAA campaign with an extension that will keep him secure through the 2018 season.  At Kentucky, John Calipari responded to the Chicago Bull rumors with an audio tweet stating that he’s only interested in an extension at UK, not a raise.  After the Tim Welsh debacle at Hofstra, the university wasted no time in hiring Mo Cassara, an assistant that Welsh had hired from Boston College, for the top spot.  A month ago he didn’t even have a job — now he’s the head coach.
  3. How about some transfer news today to round out things?  Memphis added New Orleans transfer Charles Carmouche, a scoring guard who will be eligible immediately for his final two seasons as a result of UNO’s self-demotion to Division 3.  Alabama is restricting rising senior Justin Knox’s transfer bid to UAB as a result of what they think is tampering.  Bizarre situation for the 2008-09 SEC men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year who will have already graduated from the school this year.
  4. Oklahoma State forward Matt Pilgrim has been served with a protective order by a woman who is claiming that he raped her on April 12.  Pilgrim was an integral part of the inside game for the Pokes last season (8/7) and undoubtedly was expected to be even more prominent next year.  He posted this on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon: “I can’t take it no more… I always play the victim. (All) I’ve done was work hard to prove people wrong… People lie and every one that know(s) me know(s) my passion to become somebody, but Satan is working overtime on me…. But I’m (going to) let God handle this… I will still work hard to provide for me and the ones I love. Please do (not believe what’s) going on. I just want peace… Sorry to everyone that is affected by this.”  You never know what the details will show in situations like these, so let’s just hope that justice (whatever its form) is served in the end.
  5. Testing the waters is a sham now that the NCAA caved in to several prominent whiners coaches and gives prospective NBA players a mere two weeks during  many schools’ exam period to gauge their stock.  We have a piece up on this today, and Gary Parrish chimed in as well with some of his own research from the NBA side of the ledger (result: most NBA teams aren’t interested in this right now).  If the NCAA has any interest in actually helping its student-athletes make educated decisions, then they’ll admit they flubbed this one and create a more realistic window for kids to get evaluated.  Well, at least they got the important stuff, y’know, like throwing ‘bows, figured out.
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Chatter From the Fourth Estate: NCAA 68

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2010

If you’re like us today, you’re probably feeling a little bit like you do when you realize that the blue lights in your rear view mirror weren’t intended for you even though you were about +15 over the speed limit.  As the friendly patrolman roars by on your left, that adrenaline-fueled fear of getting a ticket (or worse) melts into a somewhat euphoric state of well-being as you realize that you’ve dodged a terribly unpleasant situation.  We all spent the last two months lying hogtied on the tracks watching the 96-team locomotive steaming toward us, and the surprising (shocking?) news that the NCAA will instead move to only a 68-team scenario feels like Clint Eastwood or Rambo or freakin’ Michael Cera stepped in at the last moment to save the day.  Perspective is everything.

NCAA HQ Can Cancel That Security Detail Now

Yet imagine for a moment if we’d never heard about the 96-team debacle from the inner circles of the NCAA.  Without that particularly bilious perspective to abhor, excoriate, lambaste and dread for months leading up to today, the news that the NCAA was expanding to 68 teams would probably have been met with complete and utter derision across the board.  Four play-in games, pfshaw!  Yet when considered against the alternative, today’s news was met with guarded optimism and in some cases downright celebration.  Was this a brilliant strategem of managing expectations pulled off on us, the unsuspecting public, by the cunning NCAA (probably not), or simply a realization that the organization was treading ever so closely to killing off the goose that laid the golden egg (more likely)?  Either way, the decision is a reasonable and defensible one that we can all live with, so let’s get to the business of reviewing it now and analyzing it to death in coming weeks.

Here’s what some of the best in the business have to say…

Luke Winn, CNNSI – More importantly, it represents a major victory for college basketball. The NCAA did the right thing. While I’d prefer a pure, 64-team format without play-in games, 68 teams is immensely more palatable than 96. The sanctity of the NCAA tournament has been preserved for the time being, and that’s something to celebrate, even if Jim Isch, the NCAA’s interim president, admitted that 68 wasn’t guaranteed to be the format for the entire length of the new TV deal. […]  Public reaction had to have played at least some role in them settling on 68 rather than 96. The public’s response to the 96 idea was overwhelmingly negative, and I wonder if Isch, Shaheen, CBS and Turner didn’t want to be regarded as the villains who ruined college sports’ crown jewel.  […]  Eventually, we’ll get back to worrying about how Isch left the expansion door open by saying two words: “for now.” But for now, at least, we can rejoice. The NCAA tournament has been saved.

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News – Turns out, they were listening. Nobody came out and said the public’s revulsion at the prospect of a 96-team field was a factor in settling on 68, but if you’d loved the idea like chocolate-chip cookies, we’d be talking about a far different NCAA Tournament next March.  It wasn’t at the start of negotiations that someone with CBS/Turner suggested a 68-team tournament would be workable with the dollar amounts being discussed. That came after the general public declared 96 teams to be a product no more appealing than the XFL.  […]  How should a 68-team tournament work?  That’s fairly obvious. Although it might be most fair to have the teams at the bottom of the field play for the right to be No. 16 seeds, it’s hard to imagine anyone at CBS or Turner Sports, the networks that just agreed to pay roughly $740 million annually to televise the tournament, being thrilled about showing four games that this year might have involved such matchups as Robert Morris-Winthrop or Morgan State-East Tennessee State.  The solution would be to have the last eightat-large teams play for the right to be seeded into the middle of the field—as No. 12s or No. 11s. This season, that might have meant Virginia Tech-Minnesota and Illinois-Florida.  People would watch those games. CBS and Turner saved us from the dread of a 96-team tournament. They deserve something for their money.

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Morning Five: 01.29.10

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

  1. Today’s completely unsubstantiated rumor is that Kansas will be busing students the 85 miles over to Manhattan, Kansas, for ESPN Gameday on Saturday morning (as K-State tries to set a new record for Gameday attendance).  If there’s any truth whatsoever to this, we fear a little for the lives of those young Jayhawks.
  2. Did Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins “cold-cock” a South Carolina student as they were RTCing after the Gamecocks’ big win over Kentucky the other night?  Video evidence is inconclusive, but at least one radio broadcaster and a student say they witnessed it.  For whatever that’s worth.
  3. Gary Parrish reminds us that in the volatile world of college basketball polling, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the polls around this time of year because they offer a window into the teams that will be left standing in early April.  This is an accurate point to a certain extent, but it’s more fun to take the reverse view and think about which teams in the Top Ten will flame out early in March (best guesses: WVU, Duke, Michigan State).
  4. You may have heard a little about this upcoming Harvard-Cornell game on Saturday night, but did you think an Ivy League battle would ever escalate to a Twitter cage match between the New York Times’ Pete Thamel and SI.com’s Pablo Torres?  Apparently Thamel tweeted Torres out for his soft handling of Harvard’s program in his recent piece on Wooden Award candidate Jeremy Lin, and Torres responded by accusing Thamel of similar kid-glove treatment on one of his pieces about Syracuse’s Wes Johnson.  Must be the full moon….
  5. Finally, UNC-Wilmington fired their head coach last night Benny Moss, with a record of 41-74 in four years at the school, was coming off a 39-point pasting at the hands of Hofstra on Wednesday night, and his teams were making a habit of regularly getting run out of the gym.  Moss is the fifth head coach to lose his job during the season this year, further validating a troubling trend (even at the mid-major level) of ADs impatiently cutting their losses in the middle of the season.
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Boom Goes The Dynamite: 01.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2010

HOLY GUS JOHNSON, there’s a lot of college basketball on tonight.  We usually do our hoops-watchin’ live blog on Saturdays and the occasional Sunday, but we got such a nice response from last week’s special Wednesday edition that we’re going to fire it up again tonight.  We’ll start off focusing on Wake Forest vs UNC and Georgetown vs Pittsburgh.  We’ve got RTC Live going on at Michigan at Wisconsin.  So join us, send us some comments, tell us what’s on your TV, and enjoy the hoops with us.  Because it starts in, like, ninety seconds…

7:02 pm ET: JStev here at RTC’s Southern Compound, and we’re starting off with Wake at UNC, but we’ve got quite a selection already.  So I guess this game is one of those announcer-trade things.  ESPN’s NBA announcers are calling this one.  I don’t know if I’m liking this.  We might get to Pitt/G’town earlier than expected…

7:16: …AND, we’re there.  Faster pace, two ranked teams, and fewer people get the U so this will actually help more folks tuning in.  See?  We’re all about helping people at RTC.  Boy, Georgetown looks comfortable early.  That last move by Greg Monroe was quite tasty.  NBA quality drop step and lay-in, wow.  Up six early.

7:24: Just flashed over to Wake/UNC and L.D. Williams just THREW DOWN an alley-oop, following a three and a previous dunk by Al-Farouq Aminu.  I know it’s mid-first half, but has UNC lost their mystique?  Teams just look more confident against them this year, steadier.  Back on G’town/Pitt, Gilbert Brown was going out of bounds and threw the ball off of Jerelle Benimon, and hit him right in the misters.  Looks OK, though.

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