ACC M5: 12.12.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on December 12th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Charlotte Observer: Good article from Barry Jacobs on Jordan Vandenberg‘s emergence as an important contributor this season for NC State. The seven-footer from Melbourne, Australia, spent his first four years riding the pine thanks to a combination of depth, conditioning and readiness for the college game. But this season he’s in much better shape and is proving valuable on both ends of the floor thanks to his 70 percent shooting and lack of turnovers along with (awkward) shot-blocking on the other end of the floor. His transformation is Brian Zoubek-ian in some ways, although Vandenberg’s rebounding lags behind substantially.
  2. Gobbler Country: I’m not sure how many road conference games Virginia Tech will win this year, so it’s important to document them all. And the Hokies are now guaranteed to be tied for the top spot for the first three weeks of conference play! I also like rewarding thorough recaps that give a game context (through individual grades). That said, the Hokies are better than I expected and they were definitely the better team versus Miami over the weekend. I’m with Gobbler Country in that I want James Johnson to play Cadarian Raines more. That said Raines also tends to disappoint my lofty expectations, but I really do think he’s got the tools to be the second or third option for this team. But I’ve said that before to no avail. The good news is that Jarrell Eddie is excelling in the go-to guy role, which is especially important considering the rest of the roster.
  3. One Foot Down: In a more timely but less optimistic tone, Notre Dame lost at home to a good (certainly not great) North Dakota State team last night. Slowly that’s becoming the hallmark of the ACC, as everyone but Duke, Syracuse, Florida State and Pittsburgh owns a loss to a plucky mid-major squad. Notre Dame’s interior defense was abysmal, as NDSU’s Marshall Bjorklund scored 26 points on 14 shots. Jerian Grant finally put up a stinker at the worst possible time, making zero field goals for the game. It looks like the Fighting Irish were way overvalued coming into the season, alhough the team still has a couple of shots to get a marquee non-conference win.
  4. USA Today: Nicole Auerbach does a good job writing about the frequent comparisons between Jabari Parker and Grant Hill. Both are in the running for most talented Duke players ever (although there’s no comparison between their accomplishments). It’s interesting that Coach K stressed that Hill was “graceful” but that he wants Parker to be “powerful.” The two certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but it may point to where Krzyzewski would like to see Parker play more as the season progresses. Logically, it makes sense to play Parker out of the post: Duke has a plethora of guards (and Rodney Hood) who can all shoot the three, and Amile Jefferson hasn’t given the team much post balance. Parker in the high post should be lethal against a zone as he continues to make better decisions.
  5. AP (via Sports Illustrated): Sidney Lowe pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns while the head coach at NC State, which brings one of the more puzzling stories of recent memory to a close. Lowe could not have been a more public figure (he coached at North Carolina’s largest university) and he was employed by the state, so it’s not possible he thought the state wouldn’t notice. Lowe was given a suspended sentence (meaning he’ll likely avoid jail time if he avoids breaking the law over the next year), along with $79,000 in restitution.
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Morning Five: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 6th, 2013

morning5

  1. We have not heard of many players deciding to transfer so far this season, but it is getting to the point in the season/academic year where we would expect to start hearing a lot more about that. Alex Murphy is the first player from a major program this season to announce his intention to transfer as he plans to leave Duke at the end of the semester. Murphy, a redshirt sophomore, reclassified from the class of 2012 in his final year of high school and entered college in the class of 2011 so even though he is a redshirt sophomore he is only 20 years old. We would expect that Murphy, who averaged just 2.1 points in 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman, will have plenty of suitors although Florida (where his brother Erik played) or Providence/Rhode Island (his home state) would be the favorites.
  2. It seems like this ridiculous conference realignment period will never end. After seeing what seems like nearly every school change conferences we are starting to see some schools go back to their former conference. Yesterday, Oral Roberts that it will be rejoining the Summit League after leaving it for the Southland Conference in 2012. The Oral Roberts administration cited the Southland’s more recent expansion as being opposed to the school’s goals of reducing travel costs and strengthening rivalries. Although we hesitate to praise anybody for changing conferences (admitting that we understand the economic realities of college sports) it is nice to see Oral Roberts do this if their stated reasons were the actual reasons for their move.
  3. Apparently George Mason officials take a different view of stepping on an opposing player’s chest than college basketball historians. Yesterday, the school suspended forward Anali Okoloji indefinitely after he was called for stepping on South Florida’s Anthony Collins during their game on Wednesday night. The move should not effect the team too much as he was only averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season although their next two games are against Oklahoma and Iowa State so they could probably use all the help that they can get. For his part, it appears that Okoloji is taking the right approach publicly by agreeing with Paul Hewitt’s decision.
  4. With all of the focus on Duke’s current freshman star Jabari Parker, many media members have been comparing him to former Duke star Grant Hill. While Hill’s NBA career was derailed by a series of unfortunate injuries it appears that he is doing well based on his interview with Ryan Fagan that touches on a variety of things including his thoughts on his alma mater, some of the current stars, and his philanthropic work. It also appears that Hill has been active working on a financial career as he has an interesting post-basketball career path in front of him.
  5. Finally, it is hard to believe that Dick Vitale has been working at ESPN for 34 years as a college basketball analyst. Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of his first ESPN telecast and the people at ESPN dug into their vault to pull out his first telecast. While we understand that he has become a polarizing figure to some because of his loud personality and his perceived favoritism of some teams it is hard to argue with his impact on the game and how he has helped popularize it with a national audience. For those of you who may not be familiar with his older work the video shows a little bit about how he has changed (hair isn’t that different though) although we did find Joe Boyle’s facial expressions when Vitale started to talk amusing.
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ACC M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ESPN: With ACC play officially over, you can expect more of these pieces to pop up. Here’s a cool one from JA Adande (though Grant Hill probably contributed just as much) on talking to Hill about his career. Something younger fans might be surprised by is that Hill owned 29 (!!!) triple-doubles during his first five NBA seasons (and none since) before his career-defining injury took hold, which until recently was good for second most among active players. Hill is a guy that, should he want to be, could become a great coach. But there’s something about him that makes you think he’d probably be pretty good at whatever he ends up doing.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: USA Today released its annual coaching salary spreadsheet, but Brian Barbour noticed an oddity with Roy Williams‘ pay: North Carolina’s coach was listed at a remarkably cheap $1.7 million dollars a year (significantly under other top-tier coaches) despite other estimates of Williams’ salary being north of a couple million per year. This begs the question as to exactly where the data comes from and whether it takes into account the many sources of income coaches have. For instance, I expect Mike Krzyzewski‘s jaw-dropping $7.2 million figure includes everything. The figure reported for Williams may not include all of his extra income (bonuses, speaking engagements, basketball camps, Nike deals, etc.). But all told, North Carolina is getting a phenomenal deal with Williams. Per dollar as reported here, you couldn’t find a more accomplished coach in the country.
  3. Testudo Times: If you’re looking to catch up on Maryland hoops, this is a good round-up of links mostly covering the loss to Iowa but also talking about the future of Terrapins basketball. Maryland is a really interesting team going forward and it’s really unfortunate it won’t be in the ACC down the stretch of the careers of Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. I think all four will be three- or four-year guys, and the group represents a phenomenal base for Mark Turgeon to build this program.
  4. State of the U: Speaking of looks towards the future, here’s a really optimistic take on Miami going forward. I agree completely that Shane Larkin‘s return is absolutely critical, but I think Miami will really struggle to get an at-large bid unless Tonye Jekiri just explodes this offseason (I think he’s a couple of years away though). Larkin is a really interesting take. His situation is very similar to Trey Burke’s last offseason, as an undersized point guard oozing with skill. The only difference — which, granted, is a huge difference — is that instead of a top-10 or top-five team coming back, Miami loses almost everything from this year’s team. I lean towards Larkin leaving Coral Gables, but if he gets specific criticism back from the official NBA Draft board there’s a good chance he’ll return.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State fans can back away from the ledge. TJ Warren will be back for his sophomore season to show off his skills as the number one scoring option on the team. Warren might have been the highest drafted of the Wolfpack players entering the draft had he gone, but he has the potential to break into the lottery if he has another year of high-efficiency numbers (with more teams focusing on him). Now the Wolfpack can move on towards filling out the rest of their roster instead of trying to keep everyone home.

EXTRA: This is a phenomenal take on the complexity of Mike Rice‘s “situation.” And the complexity doesn’t begin with Rice, it’s coaches who use similar tactics. Expect more on this later.

VIDEO EXTRA: In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Draft Express gave North Carolina and Duke McDonald’s All-American signees a place to vent some trash talk.

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ACC M5: 01.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. CSNChicago.com: Duke commitment Jabari Parker reached out to a couple of pros for advice on his budding career. On recruiting, he talked to fellow Chicago Simeon HS graduate Derrick Rose, who pointed Parker toward the coach who would most push him instead of coddling him. For injury advice, he sought out Duke alumnus Grant Hill, who stressed the importance of patience. Their advice certainly isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s cool to see someone use those connections to make these kinds of life decisions. It also probably didn’t hurt Duke to have a guy like Hill indirectly (and unofficially of course) representing the school.
  2. Run The Floor: In case Ken Pomeroy’s numbers didn’t give you a full clue into how much better Duke has been than the rest of the ACC, Michael Rogner made up an ACC “Power Rankings” based on efficiency margins. Visually, it’s stunning just how much more impressive Duke has been in the early goings and explains why Pomeroy’s simulations have Duke winning nearly 90% of the time. Duke has the best offense and the best defense in the league by fairly significant margins. And the other schools with an elite offense (really only NC State) or defense (Georgia Tech and Virginia) are very one-dimensional.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Speaking of the Yellow Jackets, Georgia Tech is off to an impressive 10-2 start this season. But while their record should come with a grain of salt, it’s not like Brian Gregory played a schedule of world-beaters in non-conference play last season when his team started 7-7. Georgia Tech’s improvement is mostly on the defensive end, where they’re shutting opponents down and doing a solid job covering the defensive glass. Last year the Yellow Jackets needed a miracle game out of Glen Rice, Jr., to have a chance. This year they might be able to surprise a few teams along the way.
  4. CBSSports.com: Florida State‘s recent “disappoint in the non-conference but force the Selection Committee’s hand with a couple of great conference wins” MO may fall somewhat short this season. In large part, the Seminoles can blame the second item on this list, as there just aren’t that many great wins within the ACC to get this season. Sure, beating Duke in Tallahassee would go a long way, but apart from their one shot at the Blue Devils the Seminoles don’t have any real margin for error. The team just hasn’t gelled defensively, and it shows.
  5. Washington Post: Jontel Evans is out of his boot and may return against North Carolina on Sunday. Assuming Evans fits back into the team seamlessly (and there’s no reason to assume he won’t), Virginia may very well be the second best team in the ACC. Their loss to Old Dominion notwithstanding, the Cavaliers play very tough defense that will only get better when Evans returns to the lineup. Don’t expect too many minutes against the Tar Heels though, as the Cavaliers don’t want to re-aggravate Evans’ foot injury.

EXTRA: Former North Carolina governor Jim Martin wrote a letter to the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer to comment on the criticisms of his recent report about the UNC academic scandal. Long story short, he did everything that was in his power to illuminate the scandal and reported his findings. Unfortunately, without subpoena power at his disposal, though, he couldn’t force anyone to cooperate on the record, a major limitation.

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Kentucky State Senator Wants UPS To Pull Its Christian Laettner Ad

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2012

By now, you have probably already seen the UPS ad featuring Christian Laettner‘s iconic shot in the 1992 Elite Eight to propel Duke to the Final Four (and eventually a repeat championship) over Kentucky. If you have not, you soon will, but the ad throws up a bunch of physics formulas and shows the play from beginning (the Grant Hill pass) to end (Laettner running around like a madman) in slow-motion and excruciating detail as part of their ongoing and irritating “Logistics” campaign. When we first saw it, we figured that Kentucky fans would not be pleased, but that they would get over it.

Don't Base Your Ad Campaign Around Laettner In Kentucky

It turns out we were wrong. At least one Kentucky fan was very unhappy with it. Now, all fan bases have their fans that get a little too emotional about things, but usually those fans do not have a platform to air their grievances. Enter Ernie Harris, a state Senator from Kentucky, a UPS pilot, a Kentucky graduate, and chairman of Kentucky’s Senate Transportation Committee. Harris has already voiced his displeasure to a UPS lobbyist in the state and while he stopped short of saying he would take any action against the company, which is trying to pass two bills in Kentucky, others do not appear to be quite as forgiving.

Gene McLean, a lobbyist, Kentucky fan, and former writer for The Lexington Herald, has already sent out e-mails to many of his friends and others in the legislature urging a boycott of UPS. For their part, UPS is defending the ad in their blog. We imagine in the long run this “controversy” will not have any effect on UPS in the state of Kentucky, but if you read some of the comments and how some readers do not understand that UPS is an international company and not just one that does business in Lexington you might change your mind.

H/T to Dennis Yedwab for pointing this out to us on Twitter.

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ATB: Damen Bell-Holter Hits the Reverse Laettner Shot

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2011

Monday’s Lede. The story of tonight was supposed to be that there was no story. With only a few games on the schedule, and that handful of matchups involving the likes of Dillard, Arcadia, Coastal Georgia, and St. Joseph’s (Brooklyn), there wasn’t even going to be an ATB this evening. The beauty of this sport, though, is that it always finds a way to test our assumptions and surprise us. And the payoff is that on a dark and rainy December Monday, we’re rewarded with one of the most compelling buzzer-beaters you’re sure to see — eat your heart out, Indiana.

Your Watercooler Moment. Oral Roberts Hits the Reverse Laettner Shot.

When Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Steve Shields drew up his team’s final play with three seconds remaining in a tie game tonight against Oral Roberts, he went with the tried-and-true Hill-to-Laettner play. The premise: Have senior guard Tramar Sutherland fire the ball the length of the court to the opposite foul line where his teammates would converge and grab the pass, turn, dribble and shoot to win the game. The only problem is that ORU junior forward Damen Bell-Holter must have seen that play somewhere before — he intervened in UALR’s plans by snatching the long pass out of the air, taking two quick dribbles upcourt, leaving his feet as a defender ran at him, and rifling the ball at the opposite rim. Glass, rim, bottoms, bedlam.

In one of the most unlikely turns of fortune we’ve ever seen on the basketball court, Oral Roberts won the game. Had they been playing at home, this would have definitely been RTC-worthy. How unlikely was it? In addition to the broadcaster on the above feed, even the ESPN gametracker thought the game was headed to overtime!

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ACC Morning Five: Countdown To 903 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 15th, 2011

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is going for his 903d win to hold the record for D-I men’s college basketball wins outright tonight against Michigan State. We covered the milestone and its implications in our preseason coverage, but the rest of the collective college basketball media will pay tribute to Duke’s legendary coach over the next few days. In preparation for Coach K’s big game at Madison Square Garden, today’s Morning Five is dedicated to the occasion.

  1. New York Times: Krzyzewski may be 64 years old, but you’d never know it from watching him on the sideline. Whether the game is against UNC Greensboro or North Carolina, the fiery coach still expects the best out of his team. He up until the wee hours watching film before a big game only to be “shot out of a cannon” for practice the next day. Will he get to 1,000 wins in the next few years? Former assistant Mike Brey thinks so, and it’s hard to argue with him.
  2. The Sporting News (interviews with Grant Hill and Nolan Smith): Grant Hill might be the best player Krzyzewski has ever coached and Nolan Smith etched his name in Duke history (and probably his jersey in the rafters) after leading the Blue Devils to the 2010 National Championship. The Sporting News caught up with both former players and the interviews give an interesting look at Coach K and the evolution of his coaching style over the years. Hill remembers a speech from his freshman year two decades ago where Coach K guaranteed, “we’re going to win the national championship this season.” Nolan Smith, on Krzyzewski’s strategy: “Make plays, be a player.”
  3. Associated Press: In 1994-95, Coach K offered his resignation after sitting out most of a season with back surgery: “When I did that, I knew I couldn’t lead my team, and I just think that comes from the military,” Krzyzewski said. “If you’re not [able], there should be a different leader.” Luckily, Tom Butters didn’t accept the resignation. He has downplayed the record consistently, pointing out that the game against Michigan State means more to this team than his career. In a sense he’s right. One regular season game of hundreds is insignificant, but 903 wins represents an unprecedented level of continued success among men’s basketball coaches in Division I.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Duke Basketball Report takes a look at 17 of the most important games of Coach K’s storied career. Not all of the games are wins. In fact three are embarrassing losses: A beat-down at the hands of Ralph Sampson and Virginia in 1983; the worst defeat in the history of the Final Four against UNLV in 1990; and a loss to Clemson in 1995 that punctuated a short season for Krzyzewski. After the 43-point shellacking from the Cavaliers, at dinner “one of the diners raised his glass and said ‘here’s to forgetting tonight.’  Krzyzewski fixed him with a glare and said ‘here’s to never forgetting tonight.’”
  5. Fayetteville Observer: I’ve linked this before and I’ll probably do it again because Dan Wiederer’s three-part profile of Coach K from 2010 is incredible. The piece is one of the rare instances where you get what feels like a three-dimensional perspective on Krzyzewski and his life. He’s simultaneously revered and vilified by college basketball fans, often at a personal level. This profile captures a man far more complex than the saint or sinner portrayed by most fans. It manages to find a touch of gray in the man with the jet-black hair.
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Who’s Got Next? Pangos All-American Camp, Perry Ellis News, Archie Goodwin Injury and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on June 7th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

The stars were out to shine this weekend as the best players in the country went at it during the Pangos All-American Camp. The top two prep players in the country, centers Andre Drummond (#1) and Isaiah Austin (#2 — Baylor) put on a show Friday and two of the best power forwards in the country, Mitch McGary and Robert Carter (#34), battled it out at the Under Armour Best of the Best Camp. However, amidst all the big men competing against each other, one wing player stole the show at Pangos and showed why he could be considered the best player in the Class of 2012. There is also a lot of new news today regarding new lists, new timetables and when top prospects will take visits so make sure you don’t miss the latest Who’s Got Next? column.

What They’re Saying

Five-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson has many great things to say about Archie Goodwin (#19).

  • Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson on junior Archie Goodwin (#19): “Archie’s gonna be a special player. I think he’s far ahead of where I was going into the 12th grade, so I was really surprised. He makes great plays that can’t be taught. The sky’s gonna be the limit.”
  • Sonny Parker on where his son, sophomore Jabari Parker (Watch List), wants to play college: “I asked him if he had a top five, and he said, ‘Dad, wherever I’m going to get an opportunity to play.’ Let’s put it this way, he’s an elite player, and he’s going to go to an elite school. Whatever school he goes to, I know he wants to win a national championship.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) who he’s recruiting: “I’m really working on [class of 2012 point guard] L.J. Rose (#20)… we’re trying to get him at my high school (Montrose Christian) and at UVA. Right now, we’re really pushing for him.”
  • Junior Shabazz Muhammad (#3) on who he’s been talking to lately: “I talked to [Arizona head] coach [Sean] Miller two days ago, I talked to [Duke head] coach [Mike] Krzyzewski two days ago, I’ve been e-mailing [Kentucky head] coach [John] Calipari, I talked to [UCLA head] coach [Ben] Howland, I talked to Memphis.” On his visit to Arizona: “I enjoyed myself a lot, it was a great experience for me. All in all it was a great time and I had a great experience their.”
  • Junior Anthony Bennett on the schools that are recruiting him the hardest: “Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, West Virginia, Florida.” On when he will make a decision: “Probably late next year.”
  • Sophomore star Nerlens Noel (Watch List) on a timetable for hist list: “I think I’m going to put out a list by the fall, maybe after this summer.”

What the Ellis Family is Saying

Do you see the resemblance between Grant Hill and Perry Ellis (#10)? Coach K does.

Fonda Ellis, the mother of Class of 2012 power forward Perry Ellis (#10) said many interesting things a couple of days ago when she talked to National Recruiting Spotlight about her son’s interest in Duke (to see more analysis of this make sure you check out the “What You Missed” section). Perry also said a couple of noteworthy things so we compiled the best quotes that the two recently said.

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Morning Five: 03.30.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2011

  1. For most of the past two weeks we have seen Seth Davis manning a CBS/TNT/TBS/TruTV NCAA Tournament desk, but in between covering games for the four networks he has also had some time to write his regular “Hoops Thoughts” column. In this week’s column he delves into two rather controversial topics–further expansion of the NCAA Tournament and whether VCU deserved an at-large bid. There are plenty of other good things in there, but we assume that these two topics will generate the most debate.
  2. Jalen Rose has been in the news quite a bit over the past month as the result of the “Fab 5″ documentary he helped produce and the comments he made about how he felt about the Duke team that they lost to their freshman year. The first prominent Blue Devil to respond was Grant Hill in a New York Times op-ed piece and now Mike Krzyzewski has chimed in calling the remarks insulting to all African-American students while taking a shot at the Fab 5′s  ”legacy”. We are sure that Rose is probably ignoring these comments now, but what he cannot ignore is the DUI charges against him stemming from an incident on March 11th (the day before the documentary was released). We are surprised that this didn’t come out earlier and that Rose didn’t tone down his rhetoric after this happened as it was bound to become public at some point.
  3. Jordan Williams has decided to test the NBA waters by entering his name, but not signing with an agent. The Maryland sophomore does not appear to be a lock to even be drafted so we expect that he will be back with Gary Williams next season joining an intriguing incoming freshman class that should help put the Terrapins back in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, this isn’t a certainty as we have seen college players make worse decisions.
  4. While most of the rumors about coaching moves have been false alarms (including the idiotic Bob Knight-to-Purdue rumor started by Jason Whitlock) one that has been gaining quite a bit of momentum is current Boilermaker coach Matt Painter heading to Missouri. The two sides reportedly met yesterday in Orlando where Painter was on vacation and Painter will reportedly announce his decision by noon today. Based on the figures that have been reported Painter would get a slight pay raise (the $1.3 M to $2 M per year that has been reported ignores the fact that Painter got $1.9 M this year after factoring in performance-based incentives) so we are not exactly sure what would compel Painter to leave Purdue in the fertile recruiting territory of Indiana for Missouri, which is quite frankly a decent sized step down in terms of basketball prestige. Unless the difference in salary is more significant than has been indicated we don’t see a great reason for Painter to leave Missouri.
  5. Finally, we prefer not to link to “pay” articles, but sometimes we feel compelled to do so. In this case, John Gasaway of Basketball Prospectus takes a look at Butler and attempts to answer the question of whether they are good or just lucky as they are on the verge of returning to the national championship game for a second consecutive year.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.19.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 19th, 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

  • George Mason took out a fizzling Villanova in the first round, and continues to carve its own identity separate from the 2006 Final Four squad. The Wildcats’ season is over, and considering it lost 11 of its last 16 games, including its final six, perhaps it’s for the best.
  • The blistering performance Marquette put on Xavier Friday night sent a big message to its doubters. The Golden Eagles shot 57% on their end, and put the clamps on star Musketeer Tu Holloway. Next for Buzz Williams‘ team is Syracuse, a team Marquette beat earlier this season.
  • The Tar Heels broke out in the second half to pull away from Long Island. The high-scoring final outcome, 102-87, didn’t take long to become a polarizing talking point between tempo-free stat-heads (UNC gave up 0.89 points per possession) and traditional analysts (87 points allowed to a lower-tier mid-major)
  • Syracuse stuck to its game plan of feeding Rick Jackson and polished off Indiana State. The game ended at 12:41 AM local time in Cleveland (more on this later), and set up an intra-conference battle with Marquette on Sunday (this too).
  • For Lorenzo Romar and company, winning away from home has been a large concern, but it shook off the stigma, if only for one night, in their win against Georgia. Is it open season on Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox?
  • West Virginia may mix in a 1-3-1 look on defense today when the Mountaineers clash against Kentucky. The game is a rematch of last season’s regional final in Syracuse, when WVU bested John Calipari‘s team in the Carrier Dome.

Southeast

  • The Southeast region has a full slate on Saturday, including a battle between Florida and UCLA. Though the rosters have turned over, UCLA can exact revenge from elimination at the hands of the Gators in the 2006 and 2007 Final Fours.
  • Gonzaga faces the same question posed to the 35 teams on BYU‘s schedule to this point – how do you stop Jimmer Fredette? It seems like there’s nothing out of the realm of possibility from 30 feet in for Fredette, so Gonzaga’s defenders need to be on high alert.
  • Free throw proficiency has been a major factor to Wisconsin‘s success this  season, which is on the line in Saturday’s game against Kansas State. The Wildcats need to show patience in defending Wisconsin’s attack, and play smart defense.
  • Butler guard Ronald Nored had to swallow his pride and accept a late-season move from a starting to role to a contributor off the bench. Will he provide a spark against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers?
  • For all the attention Jacob Pullen receives (and deservedly so), Rodney McGruder is one of Frank Martin‘s more underrated players. Six-foot-four guards who average six boards a game don’t fall out of the sky.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 03.17.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 17th, 2011

  1. There has been quite a bit of talk about the “Fab 5″ documentary that ESPN aired about the Michigan teams of the early ’90s in particular their inflammatory comments about Duke. One of the players that they went after was Grant Hill and talked about their dislike of him at the time and the perceived elitism of Duke and his traditional upbringing. Hill responded yesterday with a biting attack at Jalen Rose. To be fair to the Michigan players it seems like their statements were in reference to how they felt as teenagers about their opponents rather than the 30-/40-somethings that they are now. We are still somewhat amused that Michigan students would play the elitism card with anybody.
  2. We often laugh at the concept of a “vote of confidence” that administrations give to coaches in an attempt to convince the public that they aren’t going to fire the coach any time soon although they often do. Having said that the response that the Tennessee administration gave to a question about Bruce Pearl‘s job status should be considered ominous. We suspect that Pearl might be contacting a real estate agent in the Knoxville area pretty soon.
  3. Last year we were all impressed by the NCAA’s decision the create The Vault, which was a collection of full-length video of classic NCAA Tournament games. This year the NCAA has decided to build on that technology to create an interactive bracket pairing games against each other until they select the greatest game of the past 30 years (note: it looks like they are only missing the full-length video for the 1973 UCLA-Memphis State game). We have to say that the “First Four” games in this bracket are something we could definitely get behind.
  4. Speaking of great games. . .Most of you are probably going to be pretty busy today working watching the first round, but we highly recommend the recent piece by Time about Princeton‘s upset of defending national champion UCLA in 1996. It’s a rather long article, but definitely worth your time and if you get their early enough it should pump you up for the day’s games and the possibility of another historic upset.
  5. Yesterday we gave you what we provided you with a link to a bracket by LeBron James. It turns out that LeBron actually has two brackets, but the one on his personal site has Duke not Ohio State winning it all. Taking a quick glance at his bracket it looks like LeBron is a big fan of chalk for his brackets as well as pre-game routines.
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Doc’s Kid to Duke: Austin Rivers Commits

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2010

Big news on the recruiting front today, as the nation’s top player in the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com has committed to Duke.  Austin Rivers, a 6’4 whirlwhind of a point guard and the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc, made his decision on Wednesday night and informed coaches Bill Self and Roy Williams at his other two finalists, Kansas and UNC, this morning.  Rivers cancelled on-campus official visits with both schools, as UNC was set to welcome him with open arms this coming weekend and Kansas was scheduled for later in October.  If Rivers’ ranking holds through his senior season, he will be the first top overall recruit that Duke has inked since 2005 (Josh McRoberts) — let’s hope for Rivers’ sake that he turns out a little better in a Blue Devil uniform than McBob did. 

Nobody Should be Surprised at This Decision

It was an open secret that Coach K was considered the favorite to land Rivers, as he regularly was spotted sporting Duke gear in the last year or so (the above photo may or may not be real).  Krzyzewski certainly has plenty of success to hang his hat on, but we wonder if his “coolness” factor has translated better with the younger generation of recruits since he took on the reins as the head coach for the US National Team.  For better or worse, 16- and 17-year old basketball players are going to be more impressed by stories about coaching LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the Olympics than they are about seemingly-ancient tales regarding Christian Laettner and Grant Hill.  Rivers originally committed to home school Florida as a high school freshman when the Gators were still awash in the glow of back-to-back titles, but he re-opened his recruitment a year later and says that he fell in love with Duke during a visit there last fall.

Coach K’s greatest teams always have elite point guards, from Tommy Amaker in the 80s to Bobby Hurley in the early 90s to Jason Williams a decade ago.  While last year’s national champion Blue Devils assuredly had stellar point guard play from senior Jon Scheyer, he wasn’t the caliber of player of the others on this list.  This year’s incoming lead guard, Kyrie Irving, and presumably next year’s (Rivers), most certainly are.  In 1991, Duke won the national title somewhat accidentally; UNLV was far and away the best team (34-0 and defending champs), but the Devils caught the Runnin’ Rebs on the right night and ultimately cut down the nets “a year early.”  Their 1992 team was the dominant one, and it’s entirely possible that we could be looking at a similar situation for Coach K in 2011 and 2012.  So long as the Plumlees and Ryan Kelly can maintain the paint on defense and the boards, the next two years of Duke backcourts with Irving/Rivers, Nolan Smith (2011), Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins looks phenomenal.  Just imagine if Coach K can convince Irving that two seasons in Durham is a good thing — the 2011-12 backcourt of he and Rivers could be one of the most talented the game has ever seen.

Uber-recruiters Thad Matta, John Calipari, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Bill Self and others should be on notice — Coach K never really left the recruiting circuit, but with Irving and now Rivers coming to Durham, the 63-year old coach has once again served notice that he will continue to be reckoned with.

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