Morning Five: 08.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 29th, 2013

morning5

  1. It’s not very often that a piece of random news floors us, but the revelation that former Washington State, Iowa and USC head coach George Raveling has in his possession a copy of one of Martin Luther King’s original “I Have a Dream” speeches is nothing short of astonishing. CBS News reported on Tuesday that the 76-year old coach and media personality — then an assistant coach at Villanova — was one of the volunteer security marshals standing on the Mall near King 50 years ago when he delivered his rousing speech, and that King handed him a copy of it as he stepped off the podium. One expert on genuine historical documents estimated that Raveling’s copy could be worth as much as $20-25 million on the open market, given that King’s most famous speech was given at the height of the civil rights movement. It is sometimes so beautifully strange how life intersects with itself.
  2. And on that note, we move to eligibility issues. The NCAA ruled Wednesday on the case of former Louisville and Florida International forward Rakeem Buckles, a fifth-year senior who had applied for a transfer waiver (based on FIU’s postseason ban) to play at Minnesota this season. If his appeal is denied, Buckles will be forced into a precarious situation where if he stays at Minnesota he risks gambling that the NCAA will allow him a sixth year of eligibility in 2014-15 (no slam dunk), or he will have to return to FIU this season to play in a no-win situation there. For Minnesota, a team facing a significant rebuilding project inside after losing most of its frontcourt talent, Buckles was expected to help man the interior for new head coach Richard Pitino. Now all he can do is cross his fingers and hope for the best.
  3. We mentioned the Lindy’s top 10 rankings in yesterday’s M5, and that created a bit of a firestorm on Twitter as a result. But the truth is that in today’s college basketball environment there are no teams in any year that don’t come in with weaknesses. The most experienced teams are short on talent; and the most talented teams are short on experience. As a result, your preseason top 10 might look a good bit different than ours, and even splitting the difference, there’s a better than reasonable chance that both of us will be completely wrong. The Sporting News yesterday released its 16 regional magazine covers, in the process also unveiling its preseason top 10, and needless to say, there were fewer surprises than with Lindy’s. Mike DeCourcy took time to break down each team’s glaring weakness, and as we’ve said before, even using the dreaded slideshow format, he gives great analysis that makes it worth the click-throughs. Although we’re still not sold on North Carolina, fellas, just for the record.
  4. One of the teams we do believe in next season is Duke, and it goes without saying that Mike Krzyzewski will mold his personnel into a tightly-knit unit that maximizes the talent it can put on the floor. One of K’s all-time great point guards — and there have been several — was Bobby Hurley, and as the standard by which most of the others are measured, he is about to begin his first season as a Division I head coach at the University of Buffalo. ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil writes that Hurley the head coach is truthfully in no hurry to get his young charges started on their first season with him at the helm — in fact, he wants as much time as possible to set goals and expectations. Of course, there’s no telling whether the superb floor game and team leadership that Hurley possessed in spades at Duke can effectively translate to players two decades later who have barely heard of him, but if there’s any of the brand-new coaches we’d be willing on betting on, it would probably be this one. The guy has always been a winner.
  5. Where is Canada? We feel like there’s a South Park reference in that question somewhere, but that didn’t stop Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker from doing an ad lib Jaywalking-style Q&A with his teammates about all things above the border. It’s more cute than clever, but we will give it up for the #goodjobgoodeffort of somehow bringing Ryan Gosling into the mix.  But that’s enough from us, enjoy your Thursday, the starting date of the college football season, and feel free to start it off with the video.

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Pac-12 M5: 04.03.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 3rd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Five-star combo forward Aaron Gordon ended the suspense on Tuesday morning and announced he’d be signing with Arizona. Gordon chose the Wildcats because of an immediate chance to win a national championship, and for the fact that head coach Sean Miller has a reputation of developing rough-around-the-edges bigs into NBA-ready wings. Gordon has shown a high motor and basketball IQ while playing for Archbishop Mitty (CA), and his ability to dominate any position on the floor made him a huge get for Miller’s program. He joins small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and shooting guard Elliott Pitts in the 2013 Wildcat recruiting class. To view what our very own Parker Baruh wrote on the addition of Gordon to an already stacked Arizona team, click here.
  2. The Ed Rush story remained fluid on Tuesday, as Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced that Rush wouldn’t be fired for the comments he made to Pac-12 officials on the Thursday and Friday of the Pac-12 Tournament. Scott provides some context into which the comments were made in the article above, and while they certainly make things look better, Rush still has to go. Bottom line is, ethical lines were crossed, the integrity of the conference’s officials, the people that we count on to be fair, was compromised, and this will be in the back of everyone’s minds whenever a questionable call is made for years to come. Adam Butler breaks down what we probably all had going through our minds the past couple of days here.
  3. Only in America would a college athletic director be upset over a hashtagged phrase that originates from a Tyga song. I seriously thought this was a joke when I started reading it, an April Fool’s prank that came a day late. But no, Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh was dead serious when he complained about USC using the phrase #DunkCityUSC, coined by the Trojans after hiring away FGCU coach Andy Enfield. Perhaps Kavanagh should focus more of his time on finding a new coach instead of getting in a ridiculous fight over a cute phrase. Just a thought.
  4. Washington State announced on Tuesday that former head coach George Raveling would be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on November 24 later this year. One of the winningest coaches in Cougars history, Raveling took WSU to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and developed such greats as Craig Ehlo and James Donaldson in his 11 years on the Palouse. The current director of international basketball for Nike will be inducted in Kansas City along with six other coaches, teams, players, and contributors.
  5. After an afternoon interview with commissioner Larry Scott, new UCLA head coach Steve Alford was introduced in Westwood at a press conference broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks. It’s a new era for the Bruins, who hope that their 13th head coach will lead them to success seen in the early years of the Ben Howland era, and not in the controversial and frustrating last few. Alford was very humble throughout the conference, calling the job a great challenge while also being gracious of his time in Albuquerque.
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Morning Five: 02.18.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. On Friday the Naismith Hall of Fame announced the 12 Finalists for the class of 2013. Almost by definition there are plenty of big names on the list, but three stand out for us as a college basketball site: Guy LewisRick Pitino, and Jerry Tarkanian. Pitino’s induction should almost be a formality with his national championship and being the only coach to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four. We are not sure why Lewis has not gotten in yet with his 592 wins (all at Houston), five Final Four appearances (separated by a generation) as the only thing we can see missing from his resume is a national championship, but it seems like five Final Four appearances would make up for it. As for Tarkanian, we pointed out his omission from the Hall of Fame thus far may be the most notable omission that we can think of. Based on his credentials–729 wins and a national championship–he is more than qualified, but his off-the-court (sometimes in court) issues might make a few voters squeamish. We hope that the voters can look past that and finally put the original Shark (sorry, Mark Titus) in the Hall of Fame.
  2. Many of our younger readers may not be familiar with George Raveling, but those of us who have followed the sport for years are no doubt familiar with his contributions. And on Friday he was recognized for that work as he was awarded the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award. Named after John W. Bunn, the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee, the award as its name suggests is given to recognize an individuals work in the game of basketball anywhere from the high school to the professional or international level. For those of you who are not familiar with Raveling’s work his website has an excellent biography that is worth checking out including his involvement with Martin Luther King Jr. that led to Raveling owning the original “I Have A Dream” speech.
  3. It seems like we talk about conference realignment and the Catholic 7 too frequently in this section, but John Feinstein’s article detailing the Catholic 7’s expansion plan is one of the better inside looks we have read. Outside of the usual posturing about the relative strength of various conferences Feinstein points out why if the conference decides to stay completely “Catholic” it would mean going from adding Butler to adding Detroit and why Creighton is not even in the discussion at this point. There are also a few interesting notes on the leadership of the budding conference, which may be of interest to those of you into the behind the scenes action that is going on before the conference officially forms.
  4. If you were on Twitter this week you saw a lot of tweets originating from Indianapolis where a group of writers gathered for the annual mock bracket selection. As you can see the from the mock bracket the mock committee had no issues handing the number #1 seeds to ACC and Big Ten. Of course, this may have changed with this weekend’s results from the ACC. One of the most amazing things about the process is the anger it creates in some fan bases that feel that they have been wronged. With one of our co-editors having taken part in this (last year) we can assure you that it is much more complex than in looks. Plenty of people can try to poke holes in the mock bracket for individual teams, but it any move creates a ripple effect and in general it is there for a reason.
  5. This weekend (actually the entire week) was filled with countless articles on Michael Jordan both on the man, his accomplishments, and his impact on the game. Outside of the outstanding inside look at Jordan by Wright Thompson, the one piece that really caught our eye was from Luke Winn, who took a look at Jordan the college player through advanced statistics. One of the things we feel has not been talked about enough is how good of a college player Jordan was. He was obviously an excellent player having won a Player of the Year award, but looking back at the era he was hardly the force that he became in the NBA even early in his career. While Winn’s piece does not exactly answer that question it does provide a better glimpse at the type of player he was in college even if the comparison players may make some critics roll their eyes.
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The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Lefty Driesell

Posted by nvr1983 on October 14th, 2010

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Few college coaches have had careers with as much success at as many different venues as Charles “Lefty” Driesell. After playing at Duke under Harold Bradley, he coached a few years of high school basketball in Virginia finishing with a 57-game winning streak at Newport News High School before accepting a head coaching position at Davidson where he coached for nine seasons compiling a 176-75 record leading the Wildcats from the bottom of the Southern Conference to the Elite Eight in back-to-back seasons (yes there was basketball at Davidson before Stephen Curry). Following the 1969 season, Driesell moved to Maryland, which is where most basketball fans associate him with. After a rough start his first two years in College Park where his teams went a combined 27-25 (10-18 in the ACC), Driesell quickly turned things around making it to the NCAA Elite Eight twice more and winning the NIT in a span of four seasons at a time when only the ACC Tournament champion was awarded a bid to the NCAA Tournament.  This hit the Terrapins especially hard in 1974 when they were a top five team who lost what many consider to be one of the greatest college games of all-time, a 103-100 loss in overtime to David Thompson and eventual national champion North Carolina State. It was just prior to the start of that run in 1971 that Driesell instituted what would come to be viewed as the predecessor of Midnight Madness when he gathered his team a few minutes after midnight on the first day of practice for a training run around the track. In the subsequent 39 years, the tradition has transformed from a humble event into a media spectacle. Following that four-year run, Driesell’s most notable success came in the mid-1980s when the Terrapins re-emerged in the national consciousness with the play of Len Bias and his subsequent passing just after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. After leaving Maryland in the wake of the Bias scandal, Driesell was away from the sidelines for two years before returning to coach at James Madison and later Georgia State, making the NCAA Tournament three more times including a 2001 win at GSU over Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. For his contributions to the game, Driesell was inducted into the University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Earlier this week we caught up with him to discuss the origins of Midnight Madness and other issues relating to the current state of college basketball.

Driesell Helped Build Progams at Four Schools

RTC: You started “Midnight Madness” in 1971 based on a 1.5 mile run, which it seems like you continued all the way through your Georgia State days. Could you talk a little bit about your motivation for coming up with the idea and what your thoughts are on what it has become today?

LD: My thought at the time was to make sure that the guys, when practice started on October the 15th [were ready]. We didn’t have all this conditioning and weightlifting like they have now. Until October the 15th you couldn’t have anything to do with the players. Right now they start conditioning with four hours per week for team practice or something. You know what I’m saying. Back then you couldn’t do anything until October the 15th. You couldn’t hold meetings. You couldn’t lift weights with them. You couldn’t run or condition them. It was a way for me to encourage them to get in shape for October the 15th when practice started. I always ran them a mile on October the 15th. That kind of messed up my practice on that day. So George Raveling and I were talking and we said why don’t we just run the mile at 12:01 and then we can practice at 3 o’clock that afternoon. So that’s what we did for the first year. You know we had cars on the track with lights on so nobody would cut the course, but I heard that [Len] Elmore did. So I don’t know if we did that one year or two years, but Mo Howard said, “Hey Coach. Why don’t we just have a scrimmage at midnight next year?” because they wanted to get out of the running. So I said, “Yeah. Alright we can do that.” So we did the next year. We had a scrimmage and had seven or eight thousand kids. . . In fact we had a lot of kids watching us run that night [in 1971]. It was like my second year at Maryland. We were going to have a good team. We had [Tom] McMillen and Elmore coming up as sophomores. We had our undefeated freshman team the year before so everybody was excited. We had a lot of people just watching us run that first year so Mo said “Let’s have a scrimmage at midnight next year” so we did and we had about ten thousand people show up and from then on we filled it up. So that was kind of the way we got it started. It let us get a jump on everybody. I told them we’re going to practice before anybody else in the country and we’re going to be playing on the last day in the NCAA Finals. You know just a little motivational thing.

From the Oct 16, 1971 edition of The Virgin Islands Daily News

RTC: Could you talk a little bit about its evolution and what it has become now? It’s on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, all of the ESPNs, and a lot of other channels. What are your thoughts on that?

LD: I think it’s great. It has helped promote basketball. It gets the students and the fans thinking basketball in the middle of football and baseball and everything. I think it’s great. The only thing that I don’t like is that they let them have it at 5 o’clock in the afternoon instead of midnight. I think midnight created more interest because kids like to stay up late. I think one of the best teams I ever had was at James Madison and we played a game at midnight. I see that a couple teams play games at midnight this year. I think that’s great because college kids like to stay up late when they should be in bed. At least they are better off at a basketball game than somewhere else. I wish it was still at midnight. A lot of people call it “Basketball Madness,” but it really is “Midnight Madness.”

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RTC Book Club: “When March Went Mad”

Posted by nvr1983 on March 26th, 2009

With today being the 30th anniversary of the 1979 national championship game, I figured I would finally release my long-awaited review of “When March Went Mad” by Seth Davis. Seth and his publisher were also nice enough to grant us an interview which is right after the review.

If you are a regular reader of our site, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the 1979 NCAA championship game, which featured Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and is widely cited as the seminal moment out of which modern basketball was born. Although I don’t profess to be a scholar of that game, I always thought my knowledge of the major moments in modern college basketball history (since the 1960s) was pretty respectable so when I received an e-mail for an advance copy of a book about the topic I wasn’t particularly excited (outside of the fact that I had never received an e-mail like that before). When I read through the e-mail and saw that Seth Davis, one of my favorite college basketball writers and a regular reader of Rush the Court (about 2/3 the way down), had written the book I became a little more intrigued so I decided to give it a shot.

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One of the first things I realized when I started reading the book was that despite the significance of the game there has not been a lot written about it. The game and the events leading up to it lack the literary canon of some of the other important events in college basketball history such as the John Wooden era and the Texas Western-Kentucky game. In fact, most of my knowledge from the game comes from watching documentaries about Bird and Magic that make the actual championship game seem more like it was simply foreshadowing their great NBA careers rather than the spectacle that it was at the time. In the book Seth Davis goes into detail discussing the lives of both legendary players and provides the reader with background information that helps explain a lot about their personalities and the way they approached the game. Davis traces Magic’s life story including details about how he ended up at Everett High School instead of his original school (and preferred choice) J.W. Sexton High School as a result of busing mandates in East Lansing, MI. He also examines details of Bird’s life that the casual fan (or one outside of Boston–hard to say since I live here) might not be aware of such as his distrust of outsiders and almost pathological shyness early in his career.

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