Big 12 Morning Five: 01.05.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 5th, 2012

  1. You’re sick of hearing about Tyshawn Taylor‘s turnovers, and we’re all sick of writing about them. But after Kansas’s point guard turned the ball over eight times in a win over Kansas State last night, we simply cannot ignore the magnitude of the statistic. Sam Mellinger’s column provides the best analysis of Taylor’s situation. Instead of focusing solely on the turnovers, Mellinger argues that both “Good” Taylor and “Bad” Taylor go hand-in-hand at this point. You cannot separate the two identities — as Bill Self says, ““He makes plays you can’t coach, and he makes plays that look like he’s never been coached.” And that, folks, is how you sum up Tyshawn Taylor in 17 words.
  2. Four years ago, writers all across the nation put the spotlight on a young freshman named Kim English, a contributor for an Elite Eight team who was most famous for sleeping at Mizzou Arena in order to get shots up in the morning. But by his junior year, English had transformed from Lovable Kimmie to Frustrating Kimmie. He struggled through a tough 2010-11 campaign, but he’s back on everyone’s good side now. English, who scored 23 points against Oklahoma on Tuesday, is shooting 55% from three-point land and might be the most intriguing revitalization project in college basketball. Frank Haith‘s new coaching style is clearly having positive effects on English in particular, and he looks more energized and athletic this season. He’s throwing down dunks with ease this season, and most importantly, his smile is back.
  3. Speaking of Missouri, we’re a little late here with this news, but redshirt freshman forward Kadeem Green announced his decision to transfer earlier this week. No, Green was not a major contributor for Haith, but he had seen a little more playing time recently as a backup to Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore. Down the road, Green seemed to have a bright future as a shot-blocker with his long wingspan, but he’ll now take those talents elsewhere. Green says he’d like to be closer to his hometown of Toronto, and Columbia, Missouri, is certainly not anywhere near Canada. So although he leaves MU with just two scholarship forwards on the roster, the move is understandable. If Ratliffe or Moore find themselves in foul trouble at the same time, though, Frank is going to wish he had Green at the end of his bench.
  4. SI‘s Seth Davis included a few Big 12 squads in his Buy/Sell article this week, and here’s a big surprise: he’s buying Baylor. So are we. The Bears haven’t played particularly well yet this season, which sounds insane considering they are still undefeated. That’s probably why BU seems to have so much potential. Once Perry Jones finds his game, this team could be every bit as good as the 2009-10 team that reached the Elite Eight. As long as Pierre Jackson shows a little more consistency, BU has the guard play this year to win the Big 12.
  5. Finally, since we’re struggling to find a final piece of news for you, Big 12 country lost a fine man in Gene Bartow. No, Bartow did not coach at a Big 12 school, but he is a Missouri native who coached at several Midwestern schools such as Central Missouri, Valparaiso and Illinois. Bartow, most famous for succeeding John Wooden at UCLA in the late 1970s, is a graduate of Truman State University. He won more than 600 games during his career, and UAB‘s arena is named after him. Even if the Big 12 cannot claim him as its own, it would certainly like to.
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Morning Five: 01.05.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 5th, 2012

  1. Legendary coach Gene Bartow died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Bartow, who may not be well-known to younger or more casual basketball fans, was an iconic figure in college basketball compiling a 647-353 record while making it to a national championship game at Memphis State (now Memphis) and another Final Four appearance at UCLA. In addition to those accomplishments, Bartow was also known as “The Father of UAB Athletics” and for being the man who had the unenviable job of following John Wooden at UCLA. While we tend to get a flood of media members and coaches complimenting the recently departed, the outpouring this time seemed unusually large and came from all over including people such as John Calipari who made a post about Bartow’s impact on his life.
  2. With the start of their ACC schedule right around the corner, North Carolina got a little boost as junior guard Leslie McDonald returned to practice for the first time since he tore his ACL this summer. While there is no timetable for McDonald’s return as he is practicing for short periods and essentially getting worked back into shape, his return could be a key piece for the Tar Heels in March as he would give them another outside shooter that they desperately need. Despite a relatively high three-point percentage at 38.8%, which is #34 nationally, the Tar Heels only take 21.5% of their shots from beyond the arc, which ranks #343 out of 345 teams nationally. With all the attention that UNC’s interior players get McDonald would have plenty of open looks and with his shooting ability he might be make the difference between a team that makes a deep run in March and one that cuts down the nets in New Orleans in April.
  3. We are sure that many Oklahoma State fans are aware of this, but we imagine that most of the rest of you were not aware that Travis Ford has lost his entire recruiting class from 2009. As Jeff Goodman notes this isn’t the first time that Ford has basically lost an entire recruiting class as this also happened when Ford was at Massachusetts and he had nine commitments in 2007 that he got almost nothing out of them. We are not sure what it is about Ford that has led to this happening twice in a relatively short period, but we suspect that it is something that his Big 12 recruiting rivals will be sure to point out to their common targets.
  4. Yesterday, The Naismith Hall of Fame announced its list of the 20 finalists for the Cousy Award that is given to the nation’s top point guard. We discussed the list in detail yesterday, but it is worth reviewing a couple key points regarding the list. The biggest one is that there was not a horrendous omission like there was last year when Jordan Taylor was initially left off the list of finalists. We imagine that the inclusion and exclusions of certain names will rile up some fan bases, but nothing close to the level of Taylor last year. The other that this appears to be a three-horse race although Scott Machado is a very intriguing mid-major darkhorse.
  5. Saint Joseph’s has been taking a beating in the court of public opinion, but even they have a fell-good story as Dana O’Neil showed us with her story on C.J. Aiken. Aiken who is probably known to most of the nation as a premier shot-blocker and one of the players who ended up taking minutes away from Todd O’Brien before his well-documented transfer attempt, but the reality is that there is a lot more to Aiken’s story. After enduring surgery and chemoradiotherapy for Burkitt’s lymphoma before he entered second grade, Aiken became more introverted and had to be coaxed into playing basketball by his mother. Now he is thriving as a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s and is one of the most electrifying and efficient players in the country.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.04.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 4th, 2012

  1. Washington is the talk of the Pac-12 this week, after having swept the Oregon schools in impressive fashion the opening weekend of conference play. And while Tony Wroten, C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross and Abdul Gaddy impressed offensively, the Huskies understand that it was their success on the defensive end that is most responsible for their 2-0 record. Wroten cited the Huskies loss to South Dakota State as the wake-up call they needed to get their act together on the defensive end.
  2. Ben Howland admitted on Tuesday that the only chance UCLA has of earning an NCAA Tournament bid is to win the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Sure, this isn’t exactly a newsflash to anybody who has paid attention to the Bruins’ struggles this season, but some UCLA fans see this as Howland already waving a white flag. Realistically, it is simply a rational, truthful assessment of where the Bruins stand right now and Howland knows that the remainder of the UCLA regular season schedule is aimed simply at getting his team ready to play its best basketball of the season over four days at the Staples Center in early March. Other Pac-12 coaches may not have admitted as much, but certainly Howland is not the only Pac-12 coach facing similar circumstances.
  3. UCLA’s next challenge comes Thursday in a homecoming for Arizona’s Solomon Hill, when the Wildcats face the Bruins in Anaheim as part of the Wooden Classic. Hill, who graduated from Fairfax High School (not exactly all that close to the Honda Center, where the game will be played), has struggled with the pressure of road games against his hometown schools in years past (just 14 points and 15 rebounds in 94 minutes in his four road games against the Southern California schools the past two years), but he’s playing his best ball of his career now and is a catalyst for Sean Miller’s team.
  4. Anybody who has watched Utah play this season knows that Larry Krystkowiak needs new talent on that squad – and fast; what you may not have realized was just how quickly he needs the talent. With several Utes out with a variety of injuries, the team has been forced to use assistant coaches in their practices just so they can have enough bodies to go five-on-five. So, as a result, Krystkowiak is considering holding open tryouts among the student body to find some warm bodies with which to practice. And considering the depths to which this proud program has sunk, it is not out of the question that somebody could find themselves suiting up from that pool for a Pac-12 game in the near future.
  5. Lastly, some sad news, as former UCLA head coach Gene Bartow passed away at the age of 81 on Tuesday following a two-year battle with stomach cancer. Bartow took over for the legendary John Wooden at UCLA in 1975, went 52-9 in two seasons in Westwood including a trip to a Final Four, before leaving to begin the athletic program at UAB. Bartow was not only the athletic director at UAB but also the basketball coach for the Blazers for 18 years, racking up 340 wins and nine NCAA Tournament appearances there (including seven straight trips and a run to the Elite Eight in 1982). He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and as of today, Bartow is 48th on the list of the all-time winningest college basketball coaches, with a career record of 647-353. Bartow’s son Murry succeeded his dad at UAB and is now the head coach at East Tennessee State. Our condolences go out to the entire Bartow family.
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Past Imperfect: The Reign of Doughnut Man

Posted by JWeill on February 3rd, 2011

Past Imperfect is a new series focusing on the history of the game. Every Thursday, RTC contributor JL Weill (@AgonicaBoss) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the sine-wave career arc of Doughnut Man.

It’s still one of the NCAA tournament’s most indelible moments: disheveled Princeton coach Pete Carril grinning in disbelief moments after his backdoor-cutting Tigers stunned defending national champion UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament. Replayed over and over through the years, the moment resonates because it captures the essence of what college basketball’s great March tradition is all about: little guy beats big guy, Cinderella at the dance, etc. But lost in all those good vibes for the white-haired coaching legend is that the other side in that game, the losing coach seen congratulating Carril on his career-defining victory, in its own way represents college basketball, too. In many ways, perhaps more so.

Pete Carril and Sydney Johnson celebrate the win over UCLA.

No one fathomed at the time that the upset loss would be Jim Harrick’s last as head coach of the UCLA Bruins. A year removed from the school’s first national title in two decades, flush with a contract extension, with a bevy of blue chip recruits on the verge of replenishing his team’s talent level for years to come, Harrick looked to have it all working. Then, in the course of a few months, it was all over. Harrick was out. Assistant Steve Lavin, with no head coaching experience at all, was in as interim coach.

How did it all go south so quickly? The answer is a tale of two coaches, of lies and deception, of risks taken and undying myths writ large. It’s an ugly story, without much grace and lacking humility. It is, in short, the story of college basketball at the highest levels.

*      *      *

It is amusing now to go back and look at statements of outrage former coach Jim Harrick made about his abrupt dismissal by UCLA in 1996. At the time, Harrick was the man who’d brought UCLA back from the ether. The West Virginian had been all smiles hoisting the national championship trophy along with Ed O’Bannon, Tyus Edney and the victorious Bruins. And rightfully so. Harrick had taken a job a slew of previous coaches had tried to tame and done the only thing he’d been hired to do: win a national title again. Favorite sons Walt Hazzard, Gary Cunningham and Larry Farmer didn’t do it. Future coaching legends Gene Bartow and Larry Brown couldn’t do it, either. But the onetime UCLA assistant – the guy who never even played college basketball – did it. And he did it his own way, with style.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 11.23.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009


  1. UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic was arrested and subsequently suspended by head coach Ben Howland for felony assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert last month.  This is the second physical-force-related arrest for Dragovic in the past two seasons, as he was also arrested on suspicion of shoving his girlfriend during an argument last year.  He was not prosecuted for that allegation, but we’re starting to have serious reservations about the talented Serb’s anger management.  UCLA is not off to a good start at all this season, including numerous injuries, a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and now an arrest to one of their top returnees all within the first five weeks.
  2. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined this year’s inductees to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, along with several other luminaries of the game, including former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote, Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale, all-time NCAA leading scorer Travis Grant, former UCLA/UAB coach Gene Bartow, USA Basketball leader Bill Wall, and Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA.
  3. To that end, here’s a Bird/Magic story you probably don’t already know.  From the KC Star, the two players were invited to compete on a World Invitational Tournament team coached by then-national championship Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall.  Astonishingly, both players were put on the second string by Hall, and shockers, neither of them particularly liked that.  Read about the whole story at the above link.
  4. A lot was written after the Syracuse second-half bombardment of North Carolina on Friday night, including here.  Some of the better pieces were from Jeff Goodman, Seth Davis, and Adam Zagoria.
  5. In case you missed it, the #1-rated power forward in the class of 2010, Tobias Harris, committed to Tennessee at the end of last week.  The 6’8 player who likes what Tyler Smith has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is the highest-rated player UT has ever signed.  He also considered Maryland, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.
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04.15.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 15th, 2009

Happy Income Redistribution Day, everyone!

  • Who?  Depaul’s Dar Tucker (Mr. 0-18, with an agent) and Southern Miss’ Jeremy Wise (no agent) have decided to throw their hats in the early entry ring as well. 
  • More Greg Paulus.  Thought we were rid of this guy.  So…  he’s not good enough to play for Duke at QB, but he might be at Michigan?  Wow, Rich Rodriguez has a lot further to go than we thought. 
  • The Man Who Replaced Wooden.  Former UCLA and UAB coach Gene Bartow was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer, and will begin treatment immediately. 
  • Dolla Dolla Bills.  Mizzou’s Mike Anderson parlayed 31 wins and an Elite 8 appearance into seven more years on his contract at a minimum of $1.35M per. 
  • Isiah Will Work for Free (sorta).  FIU introduced Isiah Thomas as their new head coach today, and he will not take a salary of $200-300K this season (the Knicks are still paying him $12M for his final two years on his contract).  Jeff Goodman thinks there’s a reasonable chance it might work out for Isiah there, maybe he took some of those sleeping pills as well?  Mike Freeman has a slightly different take.
  • Let’s Get Wattaded.  Georgetown guard Omar Wattad will transfer out of the program, destination unknown. 
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