BGTD: Early Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on December 18th, 2010

We’re back with another weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite.  Keep in mind that we’re trying out a new format this year, so please let us know in the comments if you think it’s working, not working or we should tie bricks to our feet and go jump in the freezing lake.  We’re open to whatever feedback you have.  The idea behind it is that we’ll update after each three-hour (or so) block of games with some instant analysis on what we’ve seen so far today.  So here goes…

  • 64 Nearly No More.   Great game in Lawrence this early afternoon, as Josh Selby made his college basketball debut and in so doing saved a home court winning streak that began at Allen Fieldhouse when he was a mere freshman in a Baltimore high school.  More on Selby’s first appearance of the season below, but for the second time this season, the Jayhawks survived by the skin of their teeth against an inferior Pac-10 team on their home floor.  In an ugly, defensive-minded game favored by USC’s Kevin O’Neill and KU’s Bill Self, it was the inability for Southern Cal to secure two late defensive rebounds on scrambles that led to its loss here today.  On both misses, Kansas didn’t panic and instead rotated the ball to the reverse side of the floor (this made Bob Knight very happy) where  an open three-point shooter named Josh Selby was waiting.  On both occasions Kansas was already down two and had taken a poor shot — had USC gotten the rebound, especially with 26 seconds remaining, you’d have to figure the Trojans were in the driver’s seat to steal this one.  Didn’t happen, and perhaps that’s a reasonable explanation as to why Kansas has won a billion games at home and USC is 0-3 on the road this year.  The Trojans had one more chance down one with five seconds to go but point guard Jio Fontan stepped on the sideline as he made his move.  With the victory, KU has won 65 in a row at AFH, which is just over halfway to the all-time record of 129 that Kentucky put together in the 40s and 50s.  KU should easily get to the brink of #70 and the top ten all-time between now and January 22 and January 29, when Texas and Kansas State come to town on consecutive Saturdays.
  • Josh Selby’s Long-Awaited Debut.  In the most highly anticipated opener in the Sunflower State since Dorothy clicked her heels and found out you can go home again, freshman Josh Selby debuted in a Kansas uniform in Lawrence this afternoon.  And he looked like the Jayhawks’ best player, going for 21 points on 5-11 shooting, including two gigantic threes down the stretch that saved KU’s 65-game home court winning streak.  His five made field goals, in fact, were all threes, and he added five rebounds to go along with four turnovers.  The one area that concerned us was this little factoid: one assist.  Clearly Selby is a scoring point guard, and nobody is confused about that, but with the talent available to him on his team he’s going to have to make sure to pass the ball enough to keep the upperclassmen happy with their touches.  This has been a concern with KU in terms of successfully integrating the talented guard, and after seeing him today, we understand why.  He’s much more Jacob Pullen than Kyrie Irving.  One aside for Maeshon Witherspoon, Selby’s mom…  KU’s colors are crimson and blue with white trim and lettering — not orange.  You might want to hit the student store on the way off campus this afternoon.
  • Mister Fontan Makes USC Better.  USC has really struggled this season with early losses to Rider, Bradley, Nebraska, TCU and now Kansas already.  The problem has been clearly a lack of offense, and that issue is directly attributable to the lack of a serviceable point guard.  Fontan is beyond serviceable — he could be the second-best lead guard in the entire Pac-10 behind Washington’s Isaiah Thomas.  Considering that the Trojans are among the worst teams in America in terms of assists, the addition of Fontan (who only had two assists today, nevertheless) should help Kevin O’Neill’s team greatly with running his team.  With Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson inside, there is enough talent here for the Trojans to make some waves in the mediocre tidepools of the Pac-10, so it’ll be interesting to see how they develop together in the next few weeks.  He certainly felt that his team should have won the game today, as he tweeted after the game:
  • Oakland Hangover.  Just a few days after winning the biggest  game in program history, Oakland played badly in Ann Arbor today and never seriously threatened Michigan in a 69-51 loss.  Keith Benson was alright, going for 11/7/4 blks in 37 minutes of action, but his supporting cast who were so impressive earlier this week didn’t show up today.  Ledrick Eackles and Larry Wright combined for 31 crucial points in Knoxville, but they only came up with four today (on 1-15 FG).  Greg Kampe’s team has played a lot of good major conference opponents this season, but the Golden Grizzlies coach would have loved to have notched a win over a Big Ten on his resume as well — they’ll have one more chance against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State on Thursday.  Beating Michigan would have been easier.
  • Afternoon Games to Keep an Eye On...  Some interesting mid-game scores to keep an eye on the rest of the afternoon:  UCF leads Miami (FL) in an effort to keep their unbeaten record intact; UIC is challenging Illinois in Chicago; and Long Beach State is leading St. Mary’s at the Wooden Classic (RTC Live coverage there).
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ATB: Upset Night in the Mid-South

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2010

The Lede.  Is there such a thing as an RTC Jinx?  Some might think so after a couple of our recent feature articles.  On Monday, we wrote a piece discussing how a couple of coaches who endured fairly miserable offseasons have turned water to wine with their teams so far this year — Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl.  On Tuesday, Zach Hayes split the difference with his Contenders & Pretenders article, putting the Vols as a top contender while categorizing the Cards as a pretender.   Of course, the thematic logic behind these articles still hold — Pearl and Pitino are having good seasons and UT is still a contender — but with both teams suffering pronounced home upsets against true mid-majors tonight, we’re starting to wonder if the RTC jinx is in effect.

Tough Night in Knoxville (GoVolsXtra)

Your Watercooler MomentThe Burden of Expectations Doesn’t Suit Bruce Pearl.  There’s no doubt that Bruce Pearl is a phenomenal coach.  The fact that he’s made Tennessee basketball (on the men’s side) relevant in the sport is all anyone really needs to say.  He’s won 133 games in six years, put up a banner for an SEC regular season championship, gotten the Vols to an Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, and repeatedly knocked off elite teams in regular season matchups.  But he’s at his best when little is expected of him and his team.  During his first year in Knoxville, with UT coming off a 14-17 season the year before, the Vols throttled #2 Texas in an early-season matchup in Knoxville.  A couple of years later, his team went into #1 Memphis’ house and knocked the cocky Tigers off their perch.  Just last year, mere days after his team imploded as a result of the Tyler Smith guns/drugs fiasco, Tennessee knocked off #1 Kansas.  On Saturday, as we all still have fresh in our minds, the Vols blew up #3 Pittsburgh in their own backyard.  When Pearl can convince his team that they’re their backs are up against the wall, that nobody believes in them, that they’re the plucky little underdogs from down south… he’s fantastic.  When instead his team is suddenly thrust in the role of The Hunted, as the Vols are every time they defeat one of the above list of teams, they fall, and they fall hard.  Whether Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, a bad Kentucky team or Oakland, Tennessee just isn’t comfortable playing the part of alpha dog.  And until they shed that mentality, they’ll never become a serious contender for the national championship.

Upset of the Night #1Oakland 89, Tennessee 82.  Obviously, any time a top ten team loses to a mid-major, even one with an NBA draft pick such as Keith Benson on its roster, it’s a major upset.  This had all the makings of a trap game, with Tennessee coming off its huge upset victory over Pittsburgh last weekend, and the Golden Grizzlies entering Knoxville as a two-time NCAA participant having already played the likes of Michigan State, West Virginia, Purdue and Illinois.  They hadn’t actually beaten any of those teams,  although Greg Kampe’s team came painfully close over the weekend against MSU.  Oakland wasn’t fazed when they found themselves down eleven at halftime tonight, nor did they get rattled when Benson cooled off after a 20-point first half (he finished with 26/10).  Instead, they actually got better, using the quickness of Ledrick Eackles and Larry Wright to break down the UT defense and get easy looks for everyone else.  A 13-0 Oakland run in the late second half put the GGs ahead for good, as a shocked Tennessee crowd endured both the men’s and women’s teams losing on the same dark, cold evening.  There are several reasons for this upset win on both sides, but if you wanted to point fingers at something other than the dreaded Letdown, try looking directly at Scotty Hopson.  The UT star who was transcendent on Saturday must have been reading about himself in the interim, because he played more like the same old inconsistent player of old (1-7 for seven points) than this year’s new, improved version.  The other issue tonight was Tennessee’s defense — the swarming spaghetti monster of arms and legs that we saw over the weekend looked frozen in place tonight, and Oakland exploited the Vol statues, hitting for 54%, the season high against the UT defense by far.  As UT’s Melvin Goins said after the game, “the hunger wasn’t there as much [as against Pitt].”  And therein lies the difference between a very good and a great team — the great ones stay hungry, even against schools named Oakland.

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Set Your Tivo: 12.14.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 14th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

A pair of games on the “U” highlight tonight’s schedule, the best of this slow week. Can the two home favorites avoid a letdown after big wins this past Saturday?  All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Oakland @ #4 Tennessee – 7 pm on ESPNU (***)

UT Needs to Avoid the Letdown Bug Tonight

After their huge win over Pittsburgh on Saturday behind Scotty Hopson’s career-high 27 points (10-13 FG), the Volunteers return home to face a 5-5 Oakland team out of the Summit League. Sounds easy, right? Not true, Oakland is not your ordinary .500 team. The Golden Grizzlies are in the midst of a brutal non-conference schedule, one that has already included games against West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan State and still has Michigan and Ohio State to come after tonight’s game. Oakland nearly upset Michigan State on Saturday, falling by just a single point. Tennessee will look to use its speed and athleticism against Oakland as Bruce Pearl features a lineup of versatile guards and forwards. By contrast, Oakland features a solid front line of Keith Benson and Will Hudson. The 6’11 Benson averages 18/12 plus three blocks a game, a dominant force in the paint. Tennessee needs a strong effort out of Brian Williams in order to defend him. Stopping Hudson will also be key to a Tennessee win as he shoots 66% from the floor. Pearl may even look to a zone in order to defend the Oakland bigs or just use a double team on Benson. Tennessee, which shot 7-11 from three against Pitt, has the potential to outshoot Oakland from deep as the Golden Grizzlies rank just #281 in defending the trey. Reggie Hamilton (16 PPG, 4 APG, 39% 3pt FG) has to be on his game along with Benson and Hudson for Oakland to have a chance to win. Oakland doesn’t shoot it well from deep but Hamilton is their biggest threat, though he’s just five for his last 19 (26%). With Hopson and Tobias Harris, Tennessee has two extraordinary weapons at 6’7 and 6’8 that Oakland can’t quite match. Greg Kampe’s team is going to have to get the job done in the paint with his front court duo and that’s where rebounding comes in. Both teams are excellent rebounding units, especially on the offensive end. Each ranks in the top 15 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage though Oakland could only muster 30 total rebounds against Michigan State. Winning the rebounding battle is critical to any success Oakland hopes to have in this game. Turnover margin is the other key battle to keep an eye on. The Vols struggle handling the ball, averaging 17 turnovers a game including 20 against Pitt. Point guard Melvin Goins does a nice job but it’s really the other players that cause most of the turnover problems. They made up for that with 56% shooting against the Panthers but don’t expect that to happen again. Oakland turns it over 16 times per game so they’ll need to pay attention to this as well since they don’t force many turnovers at all. Tennessee gets to the foul line better than anyone else in D1 and Oakland’s starters play a lot of minutes. Combine those two statistics and you have a potential depth issue for the Golden Grizzlies. If players start fouling out, particularly Benson or Hudson, it’s going to be very difficult, almost impossible, to win. Expect an up-tempo game with Tennessee trying to avoid a letdown after Saturday’s terrific performance. If the Vols don’t take this game seriously, Oakland will hang around all night and have a chance to win. If Tennessee plays their game and doesn’t turn the ball over, expect the home team to come away with a nice win.

Drexel @ #20 Louisville – 9 pm on ESPNU (***)

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume II

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 13th, 2010

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..a good comeback story, in this case Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott. Here’s a guy who didn’t play much his first three years and had an issue of some sort last season that caused him to leave the team for a bit. Well he got his chance this year, and the bouncy 6’8 forward has showed big-time versatility while putting up solid numbers in Irish wins against Georgia, Cal and then Saturday against Gonzaga (a career-high 23 points). It’s nice to see someone with obvious talent taking his final chance, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on an NBA roster somewhere next season.

Carleton Scott Deserves a Strong Senior Year

I LOVED…..teams who know how to schedule tough. I’m looking at you, Tom Izzo, and you, too, Bruce Pearl. Game after game you send your guys into hostile environments. This week it was Syracuse in New York for the Spartans, and Pitt in Pittsburgh for the Vols. Yes, MSU has struggled thus far, but these tough games are exactly why that team always wins the close ones in March and makes it to the later rounds. Repeat after me: SOFT SCHEDULERS OF THE WORLD UNITE AND CONFORM, you have nothing to lose but your inflated records, media detractors and early tournament exits.

I LOVED…..the creation of the Champions Classic. Much like ESPN’s little 24-hour marathon to start the year, matching up four elite programs gets fans amped up earlier in the season. No complaints here.

I LOVED…..Illinois using the women’s basketball. Loved might not be a strong enough word. It was hilarious, golden, priceless, whatever adjective you want. If you’re like me, your reaction was something to the tune of: no way……..for seven minutes???…..drop on the floor in laughter. In this day and age of increased replays and greater official oversight in sports, it’s nice to know the zebras can still give us an unthinkable gem like that one. And if you’re  Oakland coach Greg Kampe, you’ve gotta wonder what it says about your team that you were significantly more effective with the women’s ball.

I LOVED…..the disparity between some of the nation’s top freshmen. You have the Jared Sullingers who come out and produce from the first game (props for the 40-spot against IUPUI), but then you have the country’s #1 recruit, Harrison Barnes, struggling to have a big impact. It just shows again that at least one year in college can be an extremely valuable tool for this young talent.

Five Things I Hated This Week

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Set Your Tivo: 11.12.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 12th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Although the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer was granted an exception, tonight is the NCAA-mandated start of the college basketball season. Here are five games to keep an eye on this evening. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

#18 Georgetown @ Old Dominion – 7 pm on Comcast-D.C. and WSKY Hampton Roads (VA) (****)

Georgetown & ODU Re-Convene a Solid Rivalry Tonight (WaPo/J. McDonnell)

 Perhaps the most anticipated game of the night features two teams starting a new era without their best players. Gone are Greg Monroe of Georgetown and Gerald Lee of Old Dominion, but each team returns its four other starters. Both teams are known for playing excellent defense and a slower tempo style, so tonight’s game figures to be in the 50s or low 60s as a consequence of that. Among the Georgetown returnees are Austin Freeman, the Big East preseason POY, and senior point guard Chris Wright. Freeman is a terrific all-around player and a major threat from the three-point line for the Hoyas. If you’re looking for a good indication of the final result during the game, look no further than the enigmatic Wright. In games where he scored ten points or less last year, Georgetown was just 3-7. When he had at least 11 points, the Hoyas were 20-3. In contrast to past Georgetown teams, this group of Hoyas will run their offense almost exclusively through their backcourt. Freeman, Wright and Jason Clark are arguably Georgetown’s best players and none of them happen to be taller than 6’3. That isn’t to say Georgetown has nobody up front. Julian Vaughn returns for his senior season after transferring from Florida State at the conclusion of his freshman year. Last year against Old Dominion, Vaughn had 13 points on 5-8 FG. Gerald Lee was saddled with foul trouble and thus a non-factor in the game (six points and only one rebound). With Lee now departed, Vaughn may have another good game in the paint for Georgetown. For the Monarchs of ODU, four starters return from a 27-win team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Their key players in this game will be Frank Hassell battling inside with Vaughn, point guard Kent Bazemore and Ben Finney who had 13/6/5 assts the last time these teams met. That last meeting was on campus at Georgetown, a game won by the Monarchs. In fact, the visiting team has won every game in this series since it started in the 2006-07 season. Bazemore is an interesting player. He’s a lefty point guard (there are actually two other lefties on the ODU roster) who shot the exact same percentage from the floor and the free throw line last year (48.6%). For Blaine Taylor’s team, free throw and three-point shooting could cause major problems in this game, especially against a defense as tight as Georgetown’s. Keyon Carter is Old Dominion’s best returning three-point shooter and he only shot 34.7% from behind the arc last season. This should be a hard fought, close game that may come down to the final possession. Georgetown was a difficult team to prepare for last year as they had the talent to beat both NCAA finalists Duke and Butler, but also lost games to the likes of Ohio, Rutgers and South Florida. Good guard play and a solid effort from Vaughn should allow Georgetown to grab a nice road win to start the season. For ODU, Hassell must contain Vaughn while Finney and Bazemore have to hold their own against Georgetown’s vaunted backcourt. If Taylor’s team can hold the Georgetown backcourt in check, look for the Monarchs to pull out a win. We hate to go cliché but that’s easier said than done.

Northern Iowa @ #11 Syracuse – 7 pm on (***)

The last time Northern Iowa won a game, this happened. Times have changed as Ali Farokhmanesh, Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder have graduated. This is Kwadzo Ahelegbe’s team now. The senior averaged 10.6 PPG last season and now anchors a relatively young team. Against Syracuse’s strong 2-3 zone tonight, Northern Iowa must work the ball into the paint and free throw line area effectively. To do that, sophomore Jake Koch must start to become the impact player coach Ben Jacobson hopes he’ll be. Playing largely behind Eglseder last year, the Ashwaubenon, WI, native only played 13.6 minutes a game last year. He’ll be counted on for much more this time around, along with Johnny Moran and Lucas O’Rear. For UNI to win tonight the guards must be on fire shooting over the zone and Koch has to avoid foul trouble. The Panthers have nobody else on the roster 6’8 or taller who saw any significant action last season. Look for Syracuse to take advantage of that and eat Northern Iowa alive in the paint. The player most likely to do just that is freshman stud Fab Melo. At 7’0 and 265 lbs, Melo is a force inside for which UNI has no answer. You could see a really big freshman debut for Mr. Melo this evening. Syracuse just has too much up front for Northern Iowa to contend with. Rick Jackson, Melo and everybody’s favorite breakout candidate Kris Joseph should dominate at home for the Orange. The backcourt tandem of Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine only adds to the ‘Cuse’s talent and depth (we haven’t even mentioned their bench). Both can play the point and shoot it well from the arc. All in all, Jim Boeheim’s club just has too much talent for Northern Iowa tonight. We’d be surprised if the final margin was less than ten points.

Oakland @ West Virginia – 9 pm on (***)

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RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.17.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • President Barack Obama picked Kentucky to lose in his bracket’s final game but Coach John Calipari is worried about just getting momentum. “Land the plane. Survive and advance,” Calipari told Chris Low of ESPN. “That’s all we’re thinking about. We’re not worried about the score and who scores and what. Just land the plane and move on.” To that end, East Tennessee State lost by ten to Pitt last year as a #16 seed in the first round. Can they be the first to pull off the historic upset?
  • Perhaps both Texas and Wake Forest should just throw out their recent struggles.
  • Temple is only favored by 4 points over Cornell. Meanwhile Lafayette head coach Fran O’Hanlon has worked with both coaches and is rooting for both.
  • Would professors at Wofford dare to not pick the Terriers over Wisconsin in their office pool? And apparently message boards hounded Badger junior Tim Jarmusz earlier this season as he moved from starting forward to coming off the bench.
  • Washington’s Isaiah Thomas has a broken bone in his shooting hand, which is why he wears a glove.
  • Last year Marquette’s players shaved their heads in solidarity, but this time they got a different haircut.
  • New Mexico’s Darington Hobson is predicting a run to the regional finals. Meanwhile the New York Times has a great profile on Montana’s Anthony Johnson.
  • Is this Mike Anderson’s best coaching job at Missouri?
  • West Virginia is looking to beat Morgan State after losing to Dayton as a #6 seed last year.

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ATB: Conference Chalkiness

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2010

Three More Dance Cards Drawn Tonight.  With tonight’s three conference titles from Butler, Oakland and North Texas, we’re noticing a trend this year that definitely makes all the bubble teams happy.  Even in the one-bid leagues where it doesn’t impact the bubble picture as to who wins the conference championship, it’s predominantly the best teams that are winning titles.  Out of the eleven auto-bids earned thus far, eight of them were the top seed or co-champion in the regular season.  The only true Cinderella we’ve had so far this conference tournament season came from the Atlantic Sun where ETSU as a #5 seed won the bid; even in the Big South and WCC, the teams who won, while not co-champions, were still pretty good teams (Winthrop and St. Mary’s).  With the Big East starting today and the Big 12 and Pac-10 starting tomorrow, will we see all chalk in those tournaments as well this week?  Only time will tell.

Horizon League Championship#12 Butler 70, Wright State 45.  Butler finished off its dream season in the Horizon League by winning its twentieth conference game in a prolonged coronation that erased many of the bad memories from last year’s home loss to Cleveland State at the same point.  The Bulldogs hit 52% from the field and got strong offensive contributions from Matt Howard (14/9) and Shelvin Mack (14/2) to completely outclass Wright State tonight.  With the 18 regular season wins and the two HL Tourney wins, Butler became the sole conference team to go unbeaten all the way through conference play this year.  This will be Butler’s fourth consecutive trip to the NCAAs, but how good is this team?  With an RPI of #17, and the fourth toughest nonconference schedule this year, we’d expect to see the Bulldogs on the #4/#5 line next week.  This would give them a reasonably easy first round game followed by a second rounder against someone like a Temple, Vanderbilt, Baylor or Maryland.  Butler lost two tough neutral games to Clemson and Georgetown earlier this year, but they also beat Ohio State and Xavier, so we know they can beat teams of that caliber.  The question we have is whether the defense will hold when Matt Howard inevitably gets into foul trouble against a big front line — the Bulldog center was better about this down the stretch of the season, but in games against six BCS teams plus Xavier and UAB, he committed 36 fouls, for an average of 4.5 per game.  Butler will need Howard’s offense and rebounding to stay on the floor if they expect to make another run at the Sweet Sixteen.

Butler is Soaring to the NCAAs Again (Indy Star/R. Scheer)

Summit League ChampionshipOakland 76, IUPUI 64.  Oakland head coach Greg Kampe didn’t hold back on confidence when he stated after his team’s championship tonight that he believes Oakland is the best team in the history of the Summit League and that they plan on pushing on through to the Sweet Sixteen in next week’s NCAA Tournament.  It helps when you have someone like Derick Nelson on your side — broken nose and all — when he shoots 15-23 from the field for 36/9 in a career-best performance.  Whatever Nelson wasn’t doing, center Keith Benson was, as he ripped down 17 rebounds and blocked six shots to ensure the school’s second NCAA berth in its history (OU also went in 2005).  The Golden Grizzlies are now riding an 11-game winning streak and have won 20 of 21 since a pasting at the hands of Syracuse just before Christmas.  With a trio of excellent players at the point (Johnathan Jones), wing (Nelson) and post (Benson), Oakland is certainly an interesting team to consider as a first round cinderella next week.

Keith Benson Blocked Oakland into the Dance (AP/E. Landwehr)

Sun Belt ChampionshipNorth Texas 66, Troy 63.  The Mean Green of North Texas earned its second-ever NCAA bid in the last four years by hanging on down the stretch against Troy and getting a key bucket from mighty mite Josh White with 22 seconds remaining to break a tie and send his team on its way.  North Texas switched to a zone in the second half and dominated the boards (+10) which led to numerous second chances that they were able to convert tonight.  UNT is on a bit of a tear now, having won eleven games in a row and setting a new school record for wins in a season with 24.  In 2007, #15 seed North Texas gave #2 Memphis a solid game en route to a fifteen-point loss.  Coach Johnnie Jones is hoping for another similar performance this time around.

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Summit League Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

2009-10 Summit League Standings

  • #1. Oakland                        23-8 (17-1)
  • #2. IUPUI                            22-9 (15-3)
  • #3. Oral Roberts               19-12 (13-5)
  • #4. South Dakota St.       14-15 (10-8)
  • #5. IPFW                              15-14 (9-9)
  • #6. North Dakota St.       11-17 (8-10)
  • #7. Western Illinois         13-16 (6-12)
  • #8.  UMKC                           12-17 (6-12)
  • DNQ   Centenary               8-21(3-15)
  • DNQ   Southern Utah     7-22 (2-16)

Here are my Season Awards; the Summit’s selections shouldn’t be much different…

  • Player of the Year Keith Benson (C), Oakland (16.9 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.3 bpg). Benson edges out his teammate Jon Jones because his work on defense and his rebounding were so far above anyone else in the conference. He was a matchup problem every single night, and his averages against league opponents are worthy of POY.
  • Newcomer of the YearWarren Niles (G), Oral Roberts (12.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg). Niles is the highest scoring freshman in the conference, and he started the last sixteen games for ORU.
  • Defensive POY Keith Benson (C), Oakland

Summit League First Team

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Checking in on… the Summit League

Posted by jstevrtc on January 9th, 2010

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.


  1. Oakland   10-7 (4-0)
  2. South Dakota State   8-8 (4-1)
  3. IUPUI   10-7 (3-1)
  4. Oral Roberts   8-8 (3-2)
  5. UMKC   8-7 (2-2)
  6. Centenary   6-9 (2-3)
  7. North Dakota State    5-9 (2-3)
  8. IPFW   6-8 (1-3)
  9. Southern Utah   5-10 (1-3)
  10. Western Illinois   6-8 (0-4)

Top Stories:

  • Oakland Center Keith Benson earned his third Summit League Player of the Week award while averaging 21 points and 9.5 rebounds in two conference wins. He is drawing a lot of draft buzz as of late, and I don’t see anyone matching up with this guy in the conference. His numbers are going to blow up in the next month.
  • Oral Roberts became the first Summit League team this season to defeat a ranked opponent. On December 23, Oral Roberts dismantled previously unbeaten New Mexico, 75-66. The win becomes even more impressive when you consider the fact that Oral Roberts is suiting up only six scholarship players because of injuries.

Last Week:

The big game of the week was Oakland at Oral Roberts, the two juggernauts of the Summit League. Oakland won the game, 67-64, claiming its first victory at ORU since 2000. Neither team was too impressive. Both teams could easily be upset, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both of these teams failed to make the NCAA tournament. ORU lacks toughness needed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and even though they have impressive wins against Stanford, Missouri, and #12 New Mexico, it just seems like their young players don’t understand what it means to win yet. When it comes down to who wants it more, Oral Roberts hasn’t shown they are that team this season. Oakland has tons of talent, but they are routinely getting outcoached. Greg Kampe has a bad track record when his team is a favorite, and I’m not convinced they can live up to the pressure of being a favorite in this conference. Expect a dark horse team to upset them in the conference tournament and make the NCAA.

Alpha-squads: Oakland, IUPUI

The Contenders: Oral Roberts, North Dakota

The Long-Shots: South Dakota, UMKC

The Bottom-Feeders: IPFW, Centenary, Southern Utah, Western Illinois

Oakland — I could tell you the numbers of the Oakland stars — like Keith Benson and Jonathan Jones — but the bottom line is this team is beatable. If they are focused and locked in, Oakland has five guys that can score at any time. But when they let up, this team can be beat by anyone in this conference. They may win 24 or 25 games, but when the conference tournament comes around, I would be nervous if I was a Golden Grizzly fan.

IUPUI — This team is going to be scary down the stretch. They have been playing well, and I expect them to finish second in this conference. They lost by three at Oakland last week, and forwards Alex Young and Robert Glenn are dominating. The Jags are my favorite dark-horse at this point.

Oral Roberts — This is the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde team. They win on the road in Stanford, they dismiss Missouri and New Mexico at home, but they lose to South Dakota and Oakland with two of the worst basketball games I have ever seen in terms of overall execution. You could blame it of the horrible refs (seven fouls in 30 seconds at one point in the game against Oakland), but in reality Oral Roberts has no one to blame but themselves. Since their win against New Mexico they have shot an abysmal 38% from the field, and 63% from the line. Maturity is needed before the Golden Eagles can be taken seriously.

North Dakota — The Bison really are not that good, but who below them is going to be better? Michael Tveidt is playing well and that may be enough to keep them above the other competition.

South Dakota — This was the team at the beginning of the year for whom I had the highest expectations, and so far — holding a 4-1 conference record — they are living up to them.

UMKC — The days when UMKC was a conference force seems so long ago. Their small lineup gets physically beaten by the top teams. On the bright side, UMKC already has as many wins as they did all last year, standing at eight for the year.

IPFW — They showed some promise on the defensive end, holding Western Illinois to 49 points in their last game. On the other hand, how hard is it to do that? We are talking about Western Illinois. Deilvez Yearby, the lone star on IPFW, has scored in double figures every game this year, and has posted 16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3 BPG so far this season.

Centenary — The Gents are in a tough position, being demoted from D-1 basketball at the end of the year, but they are still playing hard, and that deserves a shout-out.

Southern Utah — It’s hard to find anything good about this team. But they have blocked a shot in every game this season. Always glass half-full.

Western Illinois — Forget what I said about the glass half-full stuff, these guys are bad.

To sum-up the season so far, Oakland is the best team and they should be looking to dominate this conference all the way to the big dance, and they just might. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were upset by a team like IUPUI or even Oral Roberts. I could see the best team in this conference not making the NCAA tournament — in other words, it is still wide open.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #17 – Summit League

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2009


Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Oakland                          22-9        (16-2)
  2. Oral Roberts                  21-10     (15-3)
  3. South Dakota St.            18-11     (11-7)
  4. IUPUI                               17-14     (9-9)
  5. North Dakota St.           14-14     (8-10)
  6. Southern Utah                13-16     (8-10)
  7. Western Illinois             13-16     (6-12)
  8. IPFW                               11-18     (4-14)
  9. UMKC                             9-20        (4-14)
  10. Centenary                      6-23        (2-16)

All-Conference Team:

  • Johnathan Jones (G), Sr, Oakland
  • Garret Callahan (G), Sr, South Dakota St.
  • Dominique Morrison (F), Soph, Oral Roberts
  • Jon Avery (F), Sr, IUPUI
  • Keith Benson (C), Jr, Oakland

6th Man. Hunter McClintock (G), Fr,  Oral Roberts

Impact NewcomerLarry Wright (G), Jr, Oakland.   The junior transfer from St. John’s University, should have an immediate impact on the Summit League. Two years ago he led the Red Storm in three-point field goal percentage, and he should be the perfect replacement for Erik Kangas, The Oakland great who set the all-time single season mark last year with 145 threes. Wright’s long-range shooting could be the key to Oakland’s success.

summit league logoWhat You Need to Know. The Summit League is like the little engine that could. Every year, it produces a scrappy team that creates some hype in the NCAA Tournament. Last year Ben Woodside and his rag-tag boys from North Dakota State challenged the defending national champs (Kansas), and just came up short 84-74. This year’s Summit League has the potential to produce a similar Cinderella story, with teams like Oakland and Oral Roberts reloading with some really talented players. Watch out for Oral Roberts and their newcomer Damen Bell-Holter (Mr. Alaska 2007, top 50 center prospect on who has the potential to dominate the lesser big men in the conference. Defense is the key to winning the Summit League. Last years champ NDSU held their opponents to 69.1 points per game, and Oral Roberts, in their three straight championships from 2006-08, held their opponents to 62.0, 64.9, and 68.1 points per game.

Predicted ChampionOral Roberts (NCAA Seed: #14).  With all the questions about age and inexperience with the Golden Eagles, it seems that Scott Sutton has the answers with his experience and skill level as a coach. Give him talented players, and his team will always compete. If Oral Roberts clinches another Summit league title, it will be their fourth championship in five years. I think a tough non-conference schedule (at Wake Forest, Missouri, New Mexico, Louisville,and Stanford) will be a trial-by-fire, and help their young freshmen mature quickly. The tough schedule also will help the NCAA Selection Committee give them a more favorable seed, especially if they win a couple of those big games (best bets are at home against New Mexico and Missouri). A #14 seed in the Big Dance will give Oral Roberts the Cinderella tag. A first round win is not out of the question for a Scott Sutton-led ORU squad.

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