Big East M5: 12.19.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 19th, 2013

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  1. In joining the Big East, Creighton hoped that the better competition and brand-name league would help raise the program’s status, and vault successful Bluejays outfits to more advantageous seeding come March. While the Big East is undoubtedly an upgrade in many regards from Creighton’s old home, the Missouri Valley, the league hasn’t quite panned out as many had hoped thus far. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi only has four teams from the Big East currently in his field, including Marquette, the league’s preseason favorite, in a play-in game. While no Big East team is truly out of the running yet this year, fans would have probably hoped for more from the top of the conference, but today Villanova is really the only squad really making a name for itself on a national scale. 
  2. While Creighton has dropped a few games it would like to have back, the team seems to be building depth behind star Doug McDermottEthan Wragge and Will Artino have swapped positions in the starting five, with Wragge entering the lineup as the Bluejays’ second leading scorer at 12.5 points per game and Artino more effective as a reserve, totaling 27 points in his last three games (after 40 through his first seven). Avery Dingman and Devin Brooks have also stepped up as of late, each filling the scorebook in a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Coach Greg McDermott was effervescent in his praise of the two players, who have made great strides in recent weeks: “Avery Dingman has had three of the best days as a Bluejay as he’s ever had. His last two days of practice and today’s game, he’s shown more confidence and urgency to his play… Devin is getting better every single day. There’s no question from the start of practice until today, he’s our most improved player… I’m really proud of him, and that’s a credit to him.”
  3. Rysheed Jordan was the crown jewel in Steve Lavin’s freshman class at St. John’s, but until the last few games, he had yet to find himself in the college game. Sunday’s match-up with New York rival Syracuse and one of the nation’s top freshman point guards, Tyler Ennis, brought out the best in Jordan, who scored a season-high 13 points. Jordan followed this game up with another strong performance — 10 points and four assists — against San Francisco on Wednesday night. St. John’s is among the most talented teams in the Big East, and if Jordan can break out to go along with established players like JaKarr Sampson, D’Angelo Harrison, and Phil Greene IV, the Johnnies will be quite dangerous in time for postseason play.
  4. Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin has put together an incredibly diverse, eclectic staff with men of all ages and backgrounds, including 77-year old college basketball legend Gene Keady as a special advisor. Keady, who helped launch Lavin’s coaching career by putting him on his staff at Purdue, brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to the group, and players and coaches agree that his basketball acumen has paid off. Forward JaKarr Sampson describes the impact that Keady has on everyone in the program: “Whenever he talks, everybody listens, even Coach Lav. With Coach Lav, I feel like he’s still learning from him. It’d be foolish not to listen to what he’s got to say.”
  5. Providence has been playing this season under a cloud of injuries and suspensions, and it is still uncertain when freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock will be allowed to suit up for the Friars. Without the highly touted Austin, the scoring burden for the Friars has fallen to veteran Bryce Cotton, whose importance to his team grows with every game that his team spends without the freshmen. According to head coach Ed Cooley, he is taking this leadership responsibility in stride: “What everybody has to know is our team has really taken on the heartbeat of Bryce. I have seen him grow unbelievably in the last two, three weeks. Vocally, his spirit, his energy. We knew he’d play well today based on how he prepared. I’m really proud of the man he is becoming. He has grown so much.”
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Morning Five: 07.31.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2013

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  1. Last year’s Armed Forces Classic between Connecticut and Michigan State on an air base in Germany may not have brought the same razzle-dazzle that the original aircraft carrier game in 2011 did, but it was easily the most compelling opening night game last season for any number of reasons. The weird midnight local time tip, the aircraft hangar setting, the wild military crowd in attendance, Kevin Ollie’s first game as a head coach, the start of UConn’s “lost season,” a Jim Calhoun appearance, and yeah, even a pretty good game. Next year’s event seeks to do us one better, as Andy Katz reported on Tuesday that the 2013 version will be held at US Army base Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, resulting in the first college basketball game to be played in Asia since Ralph Sampson’s Virginia group was about to lose to Chaminade. The participants will be Georgetown and Oregon, with both teams expected to be good next season and hoping to get an early non-conference quality win. Georgetown certainly hopes this trip goes a little better than the last time it visited Asia, while Oregon’s representation continues the Pac-12′s ongoing push to marketing its products on to the other side of the Pacific Rim. We can’t wait. 
  2. Speaking of Pac-12 schools in the Beaver State, Oregon’s rival could be coming apart at the seams. Already on the hot seat for a middling 77-88 (31-59 P12) record in five years in Corvallis, Craig Robinson was hoping to have his most talented and experienced team returning intact next season. With the news released on Tuesday that starting frontcourt mates Devon Collier (13/6) and Eric Moreland (9/10) were suspended indefinitely for undisclosed team violations, there is valid reason for concern that the Beavers are facing a meltdown 2013-14 campaign. The good news is that the pair will be allowed to continue their strength and conditioning training as well as summer workouts, so perhaps these suspensions are merely of the ‘send a message’ variety. There’s one thing we can bank on, though. If Robinson doesn’t have Collier and Moreland at his disposal next season, he’d best polish off that financial services resume for a pending move back east.
  3. How about some better news? The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2013 earlier this week, and the names include some of the all-time greats in our sport. The headliners are 1968 NPOY Elvin Hayes (Houston) and 1975 NPOY Marques Johnson (UCLA), along with six-time NCOY Gene Keady (Purdue) and Villanova national championship head coach Rollie Massimino. Wichita State superstar Xavier “X-Man” McDaniel was also selected, in addition to Tom McMillen (Maryland), Bob Hopkins (Grambling), and a unique team inclusion: the entire 1963 Loyola (Chicago) national champions. That team was notable in that it started four black players on its title team, some three years before the more-ballyhooed Texas Western squad won its Brown vs. Board of Education game against all-white Kentucky. Former Washington State and USC head coach and Nike representative George Raveling was also chosen to the Hall for his work with the shoe company (a “contributor,” they call it). The ceremony will occur as part of the CBE Classic in Kansas City on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. A deserving group.
  4. Among the latte-sipping class, you’ve pretty much arrived if you’re mentioned in The Economist. The high-brow publication from the United Kingdom has long been considered one of the most cogent analytical voices on international economic matters in the world, and particularly so among US policy-makers and business leaders. Rarely do sports, especially college sports, find space on the magazine’s pages, but last week the rest of the world was introduced to Ed O’Bannon and his lawsuit against the NCAA. Many people reading this kind of material are likely clueless about the history and importance of the NCAA, but the tone of the piece again shows how, as a matter of public perception, the organization has already lost the coasts. People all across America still love college sports — the eastern and western edges of the continent included — but the growing consensus among the educated and wealthy concentrated in those areas is that the NCAA is exploiting 18-22 year olds for its unjust enrichment. The O’Bannon case has a long way to go still, but don’t think that the judge and principals involved didn’t notice The Economist’s wandering eye.
  5. Every once in a while Deadspin comes up with some sort of analysis that doesn’t involve genitalia jokes or athletes (and their wives, sorry, WAGs) doing dumb things on Twitter. Last week Patrick Burns wrote up a comprehensive analysis of watching an entire year (2012) of the 11 PM ESPN Sportscenter to see which sports, teams and personalities received the most coverage. There were no surprises at the top of the list, of course, with the NFL (23.3% of all available minutes) and NBA (19.2%) in dominant positions, followed by MLB (16.8%) and college football (7.7%). But perhaps surprisingly given how pigskin drives all the money-making decisions at the school and conference level, Sportscenter spent nearly as much time talking about college hoops (6.8%) as it did on the gridiron. The most talked-about team, as you can imagine that year, was Kentucky (0.9% of all minutes). True, Sportscenter is but a single proxy for the importance of American sports culture, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.22.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 22nd, 2012

  1. Whatever they did, it worked. The Detroit News’ Rod Beard takes you inside Michigan‘s intense preparation for Northwestern‘s unique style of play ahead of the Wolverines’ overtime win in Evanston on Tuesday night, helping to keep Michigan on pace in the conference standings. It details coaches’ late hours, the film review, and how the Wolverines planned to attack Northwestern leading scorer John Shurna. The senior finished with just 14 points, well below his average, and Michigan held him in check during the late stages Tuesday night. Looks like all that prep paid off.
  2. Speaking of Shurna, he may not have been on his game on Tuesday night, but the Chicago Tribune‘s David Haugh points out that there’s a lot more to Shurna than just putting the ball in the hoop. The Wildcats senior and Northwestern all-time career scoring leader re-reads the Harry Potter books and is a big believer in humanitarian efforts, for starters. It’s safe to say he’s got a pretty full resume.
  3. It seems Tubby Smith is going to keep tinkering with his Minnesota lineup until he sees something he really likes. With the Golden Gophers on the bubble and hosting Michigan State on Wednesday night, it’s a prime opportunity for Minnesota to make a statement. It looks like that means another lineup change. Amelia Rayno from the Star Tribune writes that fans are likely to see the ninth different starting lineup on Wednesday. Smith didn’t say who the new five would be, but Rayno has good insight into who may be coming and who may be going.
  4. The list of things that may have Bruce Weber in scalding-hot water after Illinois wraps up this disappointing season is a long one. But Ken Thompson of the Lafayette Journal-Courier says straying from the principles of his mentor was part of Weber’s downfall. Thompson writes that Weber — who spent 18 years under Gene Keady at Purdue — never instilled the mixture of toughness and affection that Keady had with his Boilermakers team, and it cost him at Illinois.
  5. As for Purdue nowadays, it’s going to have to change with the departure of Kelsey Barlow. The Boilermakers are trying to reach the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season, but their task is tougher since coach Matt Painter kicked Barlow off the team last week. Painter said it depends on the match-ups, but you can expect to see Lewis Jackson, Terone Johnson, Ryne Smith, and D.J. Byrd all step up and expand their roles. With four games remaining on the Big Ten regular season schedule and the Big Ten Tournament ahead, those players have the opportunity to make the most of their enhanced roles.
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Big Ten Mount Rushmore

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 21st, 2012

When the Big Ten recently added Nebraska and thus broke into two six-team football divisions, fans and pundits alike broke out in disdain over the “Legends” and “Leaders” distinctions. But while every conference has its legends, the Big Ten’s leaders are the men who rise to the top and would adorn its Mount Rushmore…

The man they called “The General,” as fierce and unique a competitor and coach the game has ever seen.  One of the greatest student-athletes (Jerry Lucas) in the history of college sports, and another coach who lives for the month of March every single season (Tom Izzo).  We only wish we could take credit for the Wizard of Westwood, as the legendary John Wooden — you could mold a Mount Rushmore consisting of Wooden’s students alone — spent his playing days at Purdue. Alas, we think we’ve got a pretty good group without him.

Bob Knight

There are very few coaches in all of basketball at any level that demand the complete respect of the players and Bobby Knight is one of them.  Basketball in the state of Indiana has been well-documented for decades but Knight took it to a different level during his tenure in Bloomington.  Every father in Indiana hoped for his son to play for the IU coach because of what he meant for the state and the game.  Three National Championships over his tenure are just the tip of his accomplishments.  What meant more to the state and rest of the Big Ten was how he went about his business.  He had an incredible graduation rate with his players and they played the tough-nosed basketball that has been a staple of the Big Ten brand for decades now.  In addition to his championships, he is the last coach to lead a team to a perfect season (1975-76) and also added a couple more Final Fours to his name.  His knowledge of the game is a treasure to all of college hoops and there was no better representative of the Big Ten’s message at the national stage than Knight.  He dominated Big Ten conference play as his teams won 11 regular season championships during his tenure, and, did we mention that he graduated from Ohio State? He is a true Big Ten icon.

Jerry Lucas

The Ohio State University is known for their football legends – Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin just to name two of them.  But Jerry Lucas left Columbus as the second most influential Buckeye upon graduation in the early 1960s, right behind Jesse Owens.  Lucas’ individual accomplishments include being named the Big Ten MVP three times and as a first team All-America for three years.  He led his team to three NCAA final games including one championship.  He was as good as Oscar Robertson during his college career and he topped it off with an Olympic gold medal in 1960.  He dominated the game during his era and was a great ambassador for Big Ten basketball.

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Robbie Hummel: Back In Action But Not the Same Player?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 1st, 2012

As North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland held onto his foot in extreme pain two weeks ago against Virginia Tech, every Tar Heel fan knew that their chances to get to the Final Four decreased immediately.  Purdue fans can relate to that feeling.  They experienced the same drop in their heart rate on February 24, 2010, when star forward Robbie Hummel tore his ACL in Minneapolis.  To make matters worse, the Basketball Gods were really upset with West Lafayette because Hummel injured his knee again just before the 2010-11 season.

Robbie Hummel's Resurgence Is Worth Rooting For

The Baby BoilersE’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Hummel couldn’t finish what they had started out to do as freshmen in 2008 – to play during the last weekend of the college hoops season.  It couldn’t happen due to Hummel’s injuries. Hummel returned to the court after an 18-month strenuous rehabilitation process.  His buddies are gone but he remains one of the top scorers in the conference – averaging 15.2 points per game.  His offensive production hasn’t changed much from the 2010 season (15.4 PPG) but there is just something different about him on the court. He looks the same and he generates enough offense but his arsenal of moves has been affected by the injuries.

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Morning Five: 06.27.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 27th, 2011

  1. Evidently former Texas star Jordan Hamilton feels he should have gone higher than 26th in Thursday’s NBA Draft, and he thinks his former coach may have had something to do with that. After the draft, a writer asked Hamilton how he felt about going lower than he’d been projected. Hamilton tweeted the writer back, saying that “(Coach Rick Barnes) called some teams and said that I probably wasn’t coachable and things like that.” Whether it’s true or not, it’s likely not the first time that such critiques have reached Hamilton’s ears; that opinion was put forth often enough last season by journalists, bloggers, and certainly UT fans. What’s important now is that Hamilton take advantage of this new beginning and make it so nobody can grade him in that fashion ever again.
  2. Hamilton’s complaint will fall on deaf ears, if those ears belong to former Notre Dame star Ben Hansbrough. The reigning Big East Player of the Year went undrafted on Thursday and has signed to play professionally in Germany for a year. Interesting move, and quite shrewd. You’d think an undrafted player who still harbored realistic NBA dreams would want to stay as near to the league as possible, and would hang around the D-league or at least play summer ball here. With an NBA lockout looming and the summer league cancelled, a quick jaunt to Europe for a year to get paid while keeping the skills sharp — and hey, we hear the beer’s good — seems a smart play.
  3. First it was the Celtics and Lakers, and maybe more recently…the Timberwolves? It looks like the Minnesota franchise may — or may not — have contacted Mike Krzyzewski about filling their recently-vacated head coaching spot. He’s not going. You know you’re a legend when people report that it’s possible someone contacted you about another job and you’re not taking it and nothing’s changing. Watch this space, because a little later we’ll have an update on the condition of former Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
  4. Meteorologically speaking, it was a strange spring in the midwest; there was an extended winter followed by a much bigger-than-usual onslaught of tornadoes followed by a heat wave followed by more unrelenting rain. Gene Keady Court inside Purdue’s Mackey Arena has felt the effects, and in fact has been rendered unfit for use. All is not lost, however, as MSNBC’s Mike Miller points out.
  5. Yesterday would have been the 10th birthday of Emma Key, the daughter of Houston Baptist assistant coach Steven Key. Today is the birthday of Steven’s wife/Emma’s mom, Sherry. A couple of months ago, SI.com’s Andy Glockner wrote a story about Emma’s death and the effect — God, what an insufficient word — it had on not just the Key family but the HBU program, as well. We saw the author’s tweet from Sunday about Emma’s birthday, and that he included the link to Coach Key’s Twitter account, so we hope it’s OK that we choose to re-link Mr. Glockner’s story here today. If you didn’t read it back in May, please do so, right now.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 24th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • Often overlooked due to the star power that Ohio State has accumulated during his career, David Lighty has been the heart and soul of this season’s Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior will leave Columbus with three Big Ten championships, an NIT championship, and four trips to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes that other programs “Want to be us. Not beat us.” While that statement may seem a bit arrogant, it does make sense when thinking about the pageantry and tradition that goes along with the Wildcat basketball program.
  • While he does provide Marquette with some scoring, swingman Jimmy Butler prides himself on being a defensive stopper for the Golden Eagles. His coach, Buzz Williams, calls Butler, “the smartest player I’ve ever coached.” High, high praise.
  • North Carolina junior center Tyler Zeller has finally been healthy all season after missing significant time during his first two seasons. A healthy Zeller has been beneficial to the Tar Heels, as he has contributed 15.2 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds. Without Zeller’s presence in the post, UNC would probably not be a Sweet 16-caliber team.
  • Despite already having a tremendous season, Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight believes he is just finally living up to the high expectations that come with playing point guard for John Calipari. Interesting enough is that those expectations are not from Calipari, but from Knight himself.

Southeast

  • Growing up in the shadow of Gene Keady and Bob Knight has not turned Butler head coach Brad Stevens into the same type of loose cannon as the two legendary coaches. Instead, Stevens is known for his calm, steady, and studious approach that he takes to coaching the game of basketball.
  • Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor has been an elite performer all season for the Badgers. This is not surprising when considering that the junior craves for pressure situations where he can showcase his bravado.
  • Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons has gone through quite the maturation process, which has allowed him to fulfill his vast potential. Despite his success, Parsons continues to raise expectations for his team and himself.
  • There is not a team in the nation that is held to the strict honor code that Brigham Young is held to. Despite the loss of big man Brandon Davies due to a violation of this code, the rest of the Cougars have learned to live by its precepts and focus primarily on winning basketball games.
  • After resting his ankle earlier in the week, Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton believes he is “100 percent” for Thursday’s game with Brigham Young. Boynton will be an important player for the Gators in slowing down the BYU guard attack.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.15.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 15th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East:

  • Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim discusses the Orange’s history in the Final Four with columnist Bud Poliquin.
  • Indiana State is using creativity as the Sycamores practice for Syracuse on Friday.
  • A possible distraction for Georgia: Mark Fox being mentioned as a candidate at NC State.
  • Balance and consistency have been keys for Washington this season.
  • Wright State head coach Billy Donlon is happy for his former boss, Clemson‘s Brad Brownell.
  • Can Kentucky make a run to the Final Four?

 Southeast:

Southwest:

  • Illinois guard DJ Richardson crossed paths with several UNLV players when he spent his final high school season at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.
  • Vanderbilt‘s opening round survival against Richmond could hinge on bench production.
  • Kenneth Faried‘s tenacious rebounding style draws comparisons to Dennis Rodman, according to first-round opponent Rick Pitino.
  • The matchup that almost wasPurdue coach Matt Painter is relieved that the scenario of facing St. John’s wouldn’t come up until the Final Four. Painter played at Purdue for current Scarlet Knight coaches Gene Keady and Steve Lavin.
  • 15-seed Akron will hope to contain Notre Dame with some overbearing size down low.
  • USC coach Kevin O’Neill learned a valuable lesson after his suspension from a verbal confrontation with an Arizona booster during the Pac-10 Tournament last week.

West:

  • An update on college basketball’s most-watched toe indicates there’s a chance that Kyrie Irving will return for Duke at some point in the tournament.
  • Hampton has a shot at one-upping its memorable upset of two-seed Iowa State in 2001.
  • An emphasis on perimeter defense is the norm this week in Tennessee‘s practices as it preps for Michigan.
  • A Q&A with Arizona‘s Derrick Williams discusses a variety of topics, including being recruited by his first-round opponent, Memphis.
  • Sticking with the feline motif, Missouri will try to buck a foreboding trend against Cincinnati, as Big East teams have ended the Tigers’ last two seasons.
  • Teammates will rally around Temple junior guard Ramone Moore, who has been instrumental in providing a leadership element to the Owls’ season.
  • Kawhi Leonard may be an NBA prospect for the Aztecs, but DJ Gay is San Diego State‘s Iron Man, having played at least 39 minutes in his team’s last seven games, without the benefit of a single overtime.
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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.

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Floriani: Behind The Scenes At Big East & A-10 Media Days

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 25th, 2010

Ray Floriani of NBE Basketball Report and College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC, but he also covers many events and games in the NYC metropolitan area. He had the opportunity to attend the Big East and Atlantic 10 Media Days last week and snap a few photos.

Big East Media DayWednesday, October 20 – New York City

The media days are upon us, a sign as indicative of the first leaves falling that the opening tip is not far away. Last Wednesday, the Big East had their day at Madison Square Garden.

The media days often provide a host of scripted quotes. “We have a big challenge… our seniors must step up… there are no nights off in the (fill in your league) conference…” Despite their regularity, they serve a purpose of promoting the conference and they afford the chance to renew acquaintances. For us media types,  it is great to see friends you haven’t seen since March and to discuss the game with the coaches in a calm environment. All coaches are 0-0 and optimistic (for the most part) about the upcoming campaign. With games a few weeks away, you can actually get a chance to engage in some small talk if there isn’t a big media crush at that coach’s table.

The day started with everyone in a theater-type seating area. Commissioner John Marinatto gave a short “state of the conference.” Marinatto opened with a call to remember Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand, injured a few days ago, in everyone’s thoughts. Marinatto said renovations at MSG will make the “Big East postseason tournament the premier conference tourney in the country.” The commissioner also noted that since expanding to 16 teams, NCAA bids have increased by 20% for the Big East. Austin Freeman of Georgetown, the preseason Player of the Year choice, addressed the group on behalf of the players.

Marquette head coach Buzz Williams fields questions at the Big East’s Media Day at Madison Square Garden

The working media session was broken into two parts. Each school had its own table where the head coach and a few players were present to field questions. The first half saw eight coaches interviewed by electronic media as TV affiliates. The other half stayed at their tables with a few players from their team as print media ascended. After about 90 minutes, the procedure was reversed. Following the work session a luncheon was provided before everyone adjourned.

A few short notes from someone in attendance:

  • Buzz Williams’ methods of attention to detail and organization always intrigued me, as the Marquette leader is an advocate of maximizing each possession, even if it means limiting them. We discussed the concept of possessions and points per possession. As I discussed the four factors often seen on this site, which include free throw rate, offensive rebounding percentage, turnover percentage and effective field goal percentage, Williams dutifully made extremely meticulous notes in his book. Turnover rate is something of paramount importance to the Marquette mentor. “We have been outstanding in taking care of the ball,” Williams said. “It is something we emphasize.” Looking at the turnover rate (percentage of possessions ending in dreaded TOs) the last two seasons, Marquette’s TO rate has been 15.3% and 14.8%. I noted that 20% is the threshold that teams want to avoid; hitting it, or even worse, exceeding it, is unacceptable.  “If one-fifth of your possessions end in a turnover, your offense is not good,” Williams added. Amen.

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Morning Five: Midnight Madness Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2010

  1. It’s been approximately 190 days since we last saw collegians take the floor in their uniforms, but as you surely noted above on our countdown clock, we’re almost down to all zeros.  Tonight is Midnight Madness or whatever people are calling it these days, but the primary concern to everyone reading this site is that COLLEGE HOOPS IS BACK, baby.  For a guide to many of the major events that will be scattered throughout the country tonight and in future weeks, here’s our post outlining the when and where.  ESPNU will be showing the proceedings tonight starting at 9pm ET at several of the schools on the list including Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis and Kansas State, so lock yourselves in this evening and get ready for another great season ahead.
  2. Good work if you can get it…  Former legendary Purdue head coach Gene Keady will join Steve Lavin’s new staff at St. John’s in the role of grandfatherly advisor/executive assistant.  Lavin was an assistant under Keady at Purdue from 1988-91, during which time the Boilermakers went to the NCAA Tournament twice (Keady went back fourteen more times at Purdue).  For some reason we love seeing these kinds of situations when the student brings back his mentor.
  3. Wake Forest’s Tony Woods, the 6’10 junior center who was relieved of his duties as a player for the Demon Deacons, isn’t suffering for suitors as to his next stop.  Jeff Goodman reports that Louisville, Kentucky, WVU, Georgetown, Auburn, Xavier, Cincinnati and others have expressed interest in bringing on the talented but heretofore underachieving player.  We’re all for second chances around here, but there’s clearly no honor among thieves — lots of young people make “mistakes,” but how many of them kick and fracture the spine of the mother of his infant?  Good things seem to find those who have pro size and can occasionally rebound and score a few points, eh?
  4. In what we cannot even possibly begin to describe as anything other than awkwardly hilarious, Ole Miss students, faculty and alumni on Thursday voted that their new mascot should be the Rebel Black Bear, earning 62% of the vote to beat out the Hotty Toddy and the Land Shark.  Colonel Reb has been officially retired, but does anyone else find the use of skin/fur color to describe a cartoonish bear inspired by William Faulkner as something better left to schools without such a violent and ugly racial history?  Just sayin…
  5. Yesterday was  John Wooden’s 100th birthday, and although the Wizard of Westwood wasn’t with us to celebrate it, the UCLA family and his own relatives held their own parties to honor his legacy.  We’ve said this before, but we think it would be a fantastic commemoration of the man and his contributions to the game of basketball if the entire 2010-11 season was dedicated to Coach Wooden — the NCAA and its media partners could easily make this happen, so they should.

Wooden's New Portrait Was Unveiled at UCLA on Thursday (LA Daily News/H. Gutknecht)

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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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