Morning Five: 06.17.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 17th, 2011

  1. Earlier this year Washington‘s Venoy Overton was involved in a salacious case where he was accused of statutory rape before local police decided not to pursue the case further. Now it appears that Overton has found himself in trouble again as he was arrested yesterday afternoon for promoting prostitution. According to police reports, an 18 year-old female was questioned for “prostitution activity” and told police that her boyfriend, Overton, brought her there and told her to engage in prostitution. According to the female, Overton gave her specific instructions on what acts to perform, what to charge, and what percentage he took. Lorenzo Romar, who took quite a bit of heat this season after letting Overton return to the Huskies after his prior run-in with law, issued the following statement: “I have been informed of the arrest of Venoy Overton and I am extremely disappointed.  My staff and I spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy attempting to mentor Venoy prior to his recent graduation, so this news is especially troubling.” Overton, who graduated on Saturday with a degree in American Ethnic studies, is expected to appear before a judge today.
  2. The guys at Lost Letterman caught up with former prep star Lenny Cooke recently. For those of you who not aware Cooke was one of the premier high school players in the country in the Class of 2002 and considered by many to be at the same level as two more well-known players in his class–Amar’e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony. Through a series of bad decisions and unfortunate events Cooke never played a minute in college or the NBA. Today, Cooke’s legacy will probably come from the 2001 ABCD Camp where Cooke, a rising senior, was matched up against a hyped rising junior named LeBron James in what was supposed to be a match-up for the ages. Unfortunately for Cooke, LeBron, who was already demonstrating his knack for coming up big in big moments (wait, what?), destroyed Cooke on both ends of the floor to start the LeBron hype machine going full force while Cooke began his rapid fall.
  3. It appears that Virginia coach Tony Bennett may almost be ready to turn the Cavalier program around with a solid group of recruits. Virginia, which had been one of the better programs in the ACC during the 1990s, has only made the NCAA Tournament once in the past decade. After a 7-9 record in an admittedly weak year for the ACC, Bennett could have the Cavaliers primed to be a sleeper in the conference and could challenge the second tier of teams (the ones not named Duke or UNC) in the very near future.
  4. Earlier this week we linked to a column by Dana O’Neil talking about the difficult jobs of college basketball assistant coaches. Yesterday, Ohio State‘s Brandon Miller, considered by many to be one of the top assistant coaches in college basketball, stepped down citing a need to spend more time with his family. Although it isn’t an ideal time to try to find a new assistant coach with the summer recruiting season about to heat up, the Buckeyes recruiting should not suffer too much as Thad Matta already has two experienced assistants in Jeff Boals and Dave Dickerson and could potentially promote newly hired video coordinator Greg Paulus to take Miller’s place.
  5. When Oliver Purnell took over at DePaul last year it was widely considered one of the tougher rebuilding projects in America, but had some potential with the ability to recruit local Chicago high school players. While Purnell did have some success in his first year (winning the school’s first Big East game after a 24-game losing streak and its first road conference win since 2008) it was a very difficult year again for the Blue Demons. Things may get even tougher for Purnell as he will have to replace both Devin Hill and Eric Wallace who have decided to leave the program with Hill leaving for Loyola and Wallace leaving for Ohio State.
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Morning Five: 05.27.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 27th, 2011

  1. Greg Paulus started for three years at Duke, played a year of quarterback at Syracuse, was an assistant coach at Navy last season, and already has landed his fourth gig. Thad Matta hired Paulus as Ohio State’s new video coordinator yesterday, which makes that Big Ten-ACC matchup that has the Blue Devils traveling to Columbus next season all the more interesting. Wonder if Coach Matta will be hitting up Greg for a little insider breakdown of Duke game film ahead of that little get-together?
  2. Props to the PROP! And by that we mean the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Yesterday they approved the addition of an arc to be drawn on the floor three feet out from the basket inside of which a charge will not be called on an offensive player. There are also now two categorizations of certain types of hard fouls. Flagrant 1 means an intentional foul, and Flagrant 2 signifies a flagrant foul. As for the arc, we’re glad they added it, but are we to assume it theoretically extends to the baseline as well? And if so, why not just draw it? Guarantee you that will come up in at least one big game before New Year’s. And what’s the official name? The “three-foot arc?” We think that’s the best (and only real) option.
  3. A few weeks ago we posted an article about how researchers at the University of Washington found that Division I men’s basketball players had a greatly higher incidence of sudden cardiac arrest compared with college athletes in any division or any other sport, a fact that speaks to the necessity of pre-participation screening as well as availability of automatic defibrillators in gyms/arenas. Next month, researchers from several sites in Kansas will publish a study on student-athletes they screened (though it doesn’t look like any of them were college basketball players) that resulted in the same recommendation. We haven’t got our hands on their data yet, but we hope solid research and public outcry both continue to force schools’ hands on this.
  4. Mac Engel writes a sports blog for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Yesterday he published a conversation he recently had with Louisville head honcho Rick Pitino about how schools like TCU joining the Big East adds value to both Louisville and TCU, explaining to Engel that, “When I came to Louisville we were a top 10 program. In terms of value according to Forbes, there is only one basketball program among the top 50 money-making athletic programs in the country that is basketball. The rest are all football. We’re the one.” That’s not exactly true. That would mean U of L is the nation’s most valuable college hoops program, and, according to Forbes (which Pitino cited), the value list has gone 1) North Carolina, 2) Kentucky, and 3) Louisville for the last three years. Louisville has been the most profitable team in several Forbes surveys, but UNC recently took that distinction as well.
  5. St. John’s would love to tell NCAA bylaw 11.4.2 where to stick it. It’s been a tough week for Steve Lavin and that particular provision; first, Arizona transfer Lamont “MoMo” Jones was prohibited from transferring to SJU because of that rule. Yesterday it was revealed that incoming big-time recruit Maurice Harkless might not be able to play there, either, because of the same rule. Harkless played a little AAU ball with the New York Gauchos, a team that employs St. John’s Director of Basketball Operations Moe Hicks as an administrator. Rule 11.4.2 says a school that employs someone associated with a prospective player “in any athletics department noncoaching staff position” can’t recruit that player for two years. Still, St. John’s is optimistic they’ll be able to smooth this over and welcome Harkless in the fall.
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Morning Five: 08.03.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 3rd, 2010

  1. Your Pitino/Sypher trial update…the biggest news from Monday was that Sypher’s ex-husband stated on the record that Sypher told him that she turned down a plea bargain because she wanted to “take Pitino [down] with” her.  The brilliance of this woman should not be understated, folks — she very well may end up imprisoned and penniless, while Pitino simply continues on about his business coaching his team and making millions of dollars (although she might counter with “15 seconds,” FTW).  To that end, CNNSI’s Dan Shaughnessy believes that Louisville should can Pitino for such a public embarrassment, while Seth Davis implores all of us to consider that, while Pitino is many things — including cad, adulterer and narcissist — he’s also a victim in this mess.
  2. Two former prominent collegiate point guards joined coaching staffs yesterday, with 1995 national champion Tyus Edney returning to his alma mater UCLA to join Ben Howland’s staff; and Duke basketball/Syracuse football star Greg Paulus joining Billy Lange’s staff at the Naval Academy.
  3. The fourth installment of the Flourishing Five finds Texas at #2 on the strength of Mack Brown and Rick Barnes’ programs.  That means that Florida will be #1 when the final installment is released later this week.  How do you guys feel about this?  Certainly we understand that the last five years have been phenomenal for both UF programs (titles in basketball in 2006 and 2007; football in 2006 and 2008).  But now, at exactly this moment in time?  UT hoops is  clearly ahead of Gator basketball, but can we say that UF football is right now that far ahead of Texas pigskin?  Not sure about that.
  4. Believe it or not, but practice has already started…at Kentucky.  And this isn’t some loophole that John Calipari has found in the NCAA rulebook, either.  Since UK is taking a mid-August trip to Windsor, Canada, the Wildcats get ten days to break in all of their new players over the next couple of weeks.  One player who won’t be joining the team on the Canada trip or at any point next year (according to Calipari) is Darnell Dodson, the top returning scorer on last year’s team (6.0 PPG).  Another projected top 25 team taking advantage of this mid-summer opportunity to get better is the Pittsburgh PanthersJamie Dixon’s team is in Ireland at the moment as part of a six-game trip over the next week-plus, and they’ve destroyed the two Gaelic teams they’ve faced so far.
  5. This is an interesting article by Pete Thamel at the NYT about World Wide Wes (aka William Wesley) in his newish role as an advisor for Creative Artists Agency (CAA).  There are questions as to the amount of access WWW will be able to have with blue-chippers now that he’s formally associated with an agency, but if we know anything about World Wide, he’ll probably figure out a way.
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Final Four Game Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on April 2nd, 2010

RTC will break down the Final Four games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are Saturday evening’s national semifinals…aka…THE FINAL FOUR!

6:07 pm – #5 Michigan State vs. #5 Butler The winner of this game will have a built-in motivational mechanism, since this game is popularly considered the “Who will lose to West Virginia or Duke on Monday?” game.  Best be careful, because as we know, there’s almost no better way to get your guys ready to play than to tell them that it’s them against the world.  That nobody respects them.  That everyone expects them to lose and lose big.  In the case of Butler, I know I wouldn’t want to face a team playing in their home city and with that motivational tool.  A lot is being made of the home crowd advantage that Butler supposed to enjoy this weekend, but I ask you: because people love the storyline of a mid-major getting to the Final Four, in what city could you play this thing where Butler wouldn’t have most of the fans in the arena rooting for them?  I’ll tell you — East Lansing, Durham, and Morgantown (or anywhere else in West Virginia).  Well, we’re not in any of those towns.  Let me just add this…walking around this downtown area, I see mostly Butler fans, which is understandable.  But it’s not like the Duke, Michigan State, and West Virginia fans stayed home.  It’s Lucas Oil Stadium, people.  It seats over 70,000 (it must, to qualify to host this thing).  The freakin’ Colts play here.  The Butler cheers might be loud, but the other squads will have their supporters, too.  As to what’s going to happen on the floor, watch the boards.  This will be a rebounding battle for the ages, because it’s the biggest disparity between the two teams.  It’s not something Butler does particularly well, and it’s Michigan State’s greatest strength.  Brad Stevens knows his boys have to swarm the glass to have a chance.  They’ve done everything else he’s asked of them in each tournament game, not to mention the rest of the season, and I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll see them turn in their biggest effort on the boards this whole year on Saturday evening. Can Butler do it but still stay out of foul trouble?

We only picked against you three times, Coach Izzo. And we're sorry. (AP/Al Goldis)

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RTC Conference Primers: #2 – ACC

Posted by rtmsf on November 6th, 2009

seasonpreview

Steven Moore is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. North Carolina (13-3)
  2. Duke (12-4)
  3. Clemson (10-6)
  4. Maryland (10-6)
  5. Georgia Tech (9-7)
  6. Wake Forest (8-8)
  7. Boston College (8-8)
  8. Virginia Tech (7-9)
  9. Florida State (6-10)
  10. Miami (5-11)
  11. Virginia (5-11)
  12. North Carolina State (3-13)

All-Conference Team (with 2008-09 per-game averages):

  • Greivis Vasquez (G), Sr., Maryland – 17.5 points, 5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 33% 3-pt
  • Malcolm Delaney (G), Jr. Virginia Tech – 18.1 points, 4.5 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 35% 3-pt
  • Kyle Singler (F), Jr., Duke – 16.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 39% 3-pt
  • Trevor Booker (F), Sr., Clemson – 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Ed Davis (F), Soph., North Carolina – 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks

6th Man. Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech – 15.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

Impact Newcomer. Derrick Favors, F, Georgia Tech

acc logo

What You Need to Know.

With Tyler Hansbrough off saving puppies in cell phone commercials, and Greg Paulus quarterbacking a sub-par college football team, who is left to watch in the ACC this year?  Well, as you might have expected, the prime candidates will both wear a shade of blue and still play on Tobacco Road.

But don’t sleep on those in purple, red, or even Yellow Jacket gold.

North Carolina and Duke set a new record for ACC equality this season when they equally shared the top spot in the coaches’ preseason poll. Their Feb. 10 showdown in Chapel Hill is already circled on every hoop fan’s calendar, while their season-ending tilt in Durham (March 6) already has Dick Vitale in a tizzy. The reigning National Champs lost not only Hansbrough, but also Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. And still, they are expected to win the ACC, thanks to a new shift of power to the frontcourt (more on that later). Duke also may rely heavily on its big men, which is a change of pace, since jump-shooting, floor-slapping guards usually reign supreme at Cameron Indoor.

Without those big names, you might think the ACC is lacking in star power this season. But if you want to be the smartest guy (or girl) in the room, tell your friends to watch Greivis Vasquez play. Make them sit down and watch a Maryland game. Just do it. The guy is pure energy, and always looks like he’s having the time of his life. Kyle Singler and even Trevor Booker might be the names you hear in 2010 NBA Draft projections, but Vasquez will have more to do with his team’s success than any other player in the conference.

While the Heels and Devils battle it out, the most interesting ACC subplot may lie in the race for NCAA Tournament berths. Don’t be surprised to hear Digger and Bilas discussing as many as eight or even nine possible candidates come February. While Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest seem like prime candidates for dance tickets (and even top-6 seeds) come March, Virginia Tech, Florida State and even Boston College and/or Miami could be in the conversation with a few key wins.

That’s the one great equalizer for the lower-tier teams in a conference like the ACC. Steal one or two big wins against the Dukes, North Carolinas and Clemsons (especially on the road), and you’ll be hard to ignore in that selection room.

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Kyrie Irving to Duke?

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2009

Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog is reporting tonight that Kyrie Irving, the #9 rated player in the class of 2010 and considered a player with huge upside in the mold of Chris Paul or Deron Williams, has committed to Duke.  The 6’2, 175-lb scoring point guard from Elizabeth (NJ) St. Patrick just returned from a recent weekend at Kentucky for its Big Blue Madness event, but he has reportedly been leaning toward Duke for some time.

Irving tonight denied this report, as he stated below on Twitter:

kyrie irving tweets

We know Zagoria doesn’t go around making things up, though, and he cited three separate confirmations from assistant coaches at rival schools who claim that Irving’s recruitment is over because Duke has locked him up.  We’ll go with Zagoria on this one, as it’s more fun to speculate anyway, but we’ve been saying for a while that if Duke has plans on becoming Duke again, players like Irving and forward Harrison Barnes are must-gets.

Since Luol Deng arrived on campus as the #2 player (Rivals.com) in the class of 2003, the top ten players that Duke has signed are Kyle Singler (#5 in 2007), Josh McRoberts (#2 in 2005) and Shaun Livingston (#2 in 2004, but went NBA), while Greg Paulus (#11 in 2005) and Gerald Henderson (#11 in 2006) were near-misses.  Of that group, none have had the game-changing NBA-quality ability that earlier-era Dookies such as Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Shane Battier and Jason Williams shared, and not coincidentally, Duke hasn’t sniffed the Final Four since Deng left campus.

Assuming Irving has already committed to Coach K and he manages to lure Barnes to Durham as well (Barnes is expected there this weekend), the 2010-11 Blue Devils could be shaping up as a nasty team, with the following starting lineup:

  • PG – Kyrie Irving, Fr.
  • SG – Seth Curry, So.
  • SF – Kyle Singler, Sr.
  • PF – Harrison Barnes, Fr.
  • C – Ryan Kelly, So./Mason or Miles Plumlee, So./Jr.

The weak spot is at the center position, but we’re assuming one of the three-headed monster of Kelly/Plumlee/Plumlee will have stepped up by then.  Still, that’s a very powerful projected lineup, and one that with tonight’s news should be sending shivers up and down the Atlantic seaboard for fear that Duke is one step closer to becoming a powerhouse again.

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Greg Paulus Debuts at Syracuse, Throws Game Away

Posted by rtmsf on September 5th, 2009

We promise we won’t do this every week he plays, but we wanted to post about Greg Paulus’ debut as the starting QB at Syracuse today.  Considering that he hadn’t played competitive football in five years, his overall performance was pretty astounding (19-31 for 167 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT).  Most of his success was in the first half, though, as all twenty Orange points and the majority of its yardage came before the break.  Syracuse led 20-14, but in the second half, Paulus’ offense sputtered as the Orange managed only three first downs the rest of the way.

Paulus Had His Ups and Downs Today (AP/Kevin Rivoli)

Paulus Had His Ups and Downs Today (AP/Kevin Rivoli)

However, it was what happened in the overtime that will mark Paulus’ first game as disappointing.  At third and goal from the Minnesota five, Paulus peeled left and threw into triple coverage in the end zone rather than dumping the ball into the stands.  The pass was intercepted by Nate Triplett, setting up Minnesota’s FG to win the game 23-20 on its next possession.  This will be written off as a rookie mistake by a player who had an otherwise solid debut game, but to our untrained eyes it was vaguely reminiscent of several end-of-game scenarios involving a young Paulus at Duke (this one especially).  Rather than making the smart, simple decision, he choked on it at a critical juncture and ended up hurting his team.

It’ll be interesting to see how Paulus plays the rest of the season and if he learns from this mental error.  At minimum, Syracuse appears better than they were last year, which has to give Orange fans something to rally around.

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09.03.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2009

On the eve of college football’s start…  let’s get caught up on the news and notes from the last week in roundball.

  • Preaching to the Choir.  Gary Parrish wrote an article that was ostensibly about the A10’s financially-motivated decision to move from its ancestral home of Philadelphia to its Sun Belt environs of Newport News, Virginia, but morphed into a scathing critique of the rapidly increasing revenue gap between the power conferences and the mid-majors.  We liken this a little bit to what has happened in major league baseball over the past twenty years or so.  It’s not an issue of there once being equality where now there is none; it’s more an issue of relative inequality being much larger than it ever has been (and only increasing).  The Yankees and other major market franchises in MLB always had more money to spend on players, marketing, etc., and were summarily rewarded with larger media deals and ticket prices.  This is similarly true for the power conferences in football and basketball.  But in the modern era of 100-million dollar contracts for baseball players and billion-dollar contracts for media rights, what we’re witnessing is an acceleration of the revenue gap between large and small to a future point that is completely unsustainable.  As an example of the disparity, the $2.2B television contract that the SEC has with ESPN is probably worth more than the contracts of every mid-major league in existence has ever had, combined.  Seriously.  As Parrish points out, this sort of exposure leads to recruits, and the cycle starts all over again.  We’re really uncertain as to how the NCAA plans to deal with this over the next decade, but if we know anything about the entity at all, we’re betting that they’ll be completely behind the curve when something happens.        
  • Vegas Watch: Big 12 PreviewWe mentioned this in a previous FBs, but Vegas Watch is leading an exercise previewing each of the six BCS conferences using last year’s Pomeroy rankings, this year’s incoming recruits, and the sharp eye of his respected cronies (Money Line Journal and Sports Investments).  He invited RTC along for the ride this time around, and we tried to provide some value where we could.  Keep an eye out for the remaining installments over the next several weeks.  (note: not even a regression analysis is needed to determine KU is #1 in the Big 12)
  • Get Creative, SEC Schools.  Look, it’s not every year that a player named Nimrod Tishman comes into your league as a freshman, assuming that the NCAA clears his amateur status in the next few weeks.  But Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators picked up the 6’6 Israeli to replace Nick Calathes and you should expect to see his curious name all over the place next season.   So here’s our request of the other 11 SEC schools – get creative.  Come up with some really clever signs and chants for when Florida visits your house this winter.  If we hear a school derisively chanting his first name with no further thought or effort put into it, we’re going to be extremely disappointed.  Come on, UK and UT fans, we know you’ve got something up your sleeves – an opportunity like this only comes around once a decade. 
  • SI’s 25 Things We Miss in Basketball.  This wasn’t exclusively a list of college basketball memories, but the ones chosen by Grant Wahl, Seth Davis and others were exceptional.  It’s not every day we can honestly say we learned something completely new about the modern era of CBB, but the piece about Bo Ellis designing Marquette’s national title year “untucked” jerseys indeed was (image here).  It was so ugly that the NCAA banned it a few years later.  We also enjoyed the pieces on great team nicknames, Len Bias and the SEC in the 80s.  Give it a read.  You won’t regret it.
  • Closing Out Pitino/Sypher.    An awful lot of bandwidth was used writing about the Pitino/Sypher Scandal, and presumably there’s more to this story coming down the road.  But the best piece we read last week was this one on CNNSI by Pablo Torre, who attempts to describe Pitino’s inner circle and how intertwined they all are.  The worst one was this abomination by Jason WhitlockThen there was this hard-hitting interview from WLKY in Louisville… 
  • Comings and GoingsJ’Covan Brown was cleared to play at Texas this season.  Ditto with Mississippi St.’s John Riek, who will sit out the first nine games of the season over extra benefits.  Pitt’s Gilbert Brown, on the other hand, will be sitting out the fall semester due to academic troubles.  South Carolina picked up a heckuva transfer in walk-on Malik Cooke, who averaged 9/5 for Nevada last season.  Darryl “Truck” Bryant’s legal troubles don’t appear to be too burdensome – he’ll face no jail time after leaving the scene of an accident and striking a WVU student with his vehicle in separate incidents this summer.  What’s that get you under Huggins?  A one-game suspension?  Finally, in the let’s-keep-our-fingers-crossed dept., BYU’s Dave Rose got a clean bill of health after his pancreatic cancer surgery earlier this summer.  He’s hopeful that he’ll be back on the court this season (his next scan is in two weeks).
  • Quick HitsJohn Wooden: On death, penises and politicsCalipari: disappointed in Memphis penaltiesNCAA Selective Enforcement: we need as many people writing as many articles about these inconsistencies as possible.  Tom Crean: Marquette HOFerKevin Stallings: forgoes $100k raise for team trip Down UnderGreg Paulusstarting QB at CuseGoodmanimpact transfers for 09-10.  Patrick Christopher: the new JJ RedickEric Bledsoe: better than WallScout: summer all-americans and class of 2011 rankings.   Delaware: looks like NFL parlays or nothing at all, folks.  Arizona: can the Cats scratch their way to 26 in a rowBilly Clyde: the least hirable coach in America?  FIU: caves, will play UNC after all.  Jarvis Varnado: heading home, but what caused his sudden illness?  Ed Davender: ticket scammerBBall Prospectus: careful slurping that class of 09 just yet…  Nebraska: inventing new ways to hold scholarship playersTeddy Dupay: 30 days in jailNCAA Ethics: John Beilein is the head man, and here’s what coaches want to seeBank Robber Recruit: Anthony DiLoreto signs with Utah St. 
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RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Duke Blue Devils

Posted by zhayes9 on August 27th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

The ACC has been North Carolina’s league for three straight seasons now. With four prolific stars departing from Roy Williams roster, this could be the year Duke re-claims supremacy in the most fabled conference in college basketball. The loss of athletic swingman Gerald Henderson early to the riches of the NBA hurts, but the late inclusion of a young point guard to compliment two potential blue-chip power forwards and the dynamic duo of Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler means Duke has the goods to capture their first ACC regular season title since J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams manned the Cameron Indoor Stadium floor.

465081206020_Duke_at_Michigan[1]

Let’s face it: this program hasn’t quite featured the mystique and aura that normally comes with Duke basketball since the heartbreaking loss to UConn in the 2004 Final Four. Duke’s pinnacle has been the Sweet 16 since that crushing blow and critics are lining up over whether coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s Olympic conquests are hurting the program. Still, a top-two ACC finish and an Elite Eight seem like reasonable goals for this Duke team that only lost Henderson, transfer Elliot Williams, quarterback Greg Paulus and glue guy David McClure. Three top-50 recruits and four of the Blue Devils’ top five scorers return for a squad looking to knock an inexperienced North Carolina team off the mantle.

How does everyone’s favorite hoops team stack up schedule-wise? Let’s examine:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 8. Duke normally doesn’t back down from challenging their team in non-conference play, so their participation in the NIT Season Tip-Off and neutral/road games against Georgetown, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Iowa State and St. John’s doesn’t surprise me. The Blue Devils normally excel in November and their only formidable foe in the NIT tournament this year is Connecticut. They’d match up in the finals if Duke can slide past Coastal Carolina, Charlotte and most likely an Arizona State team that lost both James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. A November 27 final against UConn at MSG would certainly not lack for entertainment. The ACC-Big Ten challenge pits Duke a difficult road game at the Kohl Center, a venue where Wisconsin rarely loses. Neutral floor games against Gonzaga in NYC and Iowa State in Chicago are included, along with a January 30 visit to Georgetown to face a Hoya team that could be a well-oiled machine at that point. Conference USA favorite Tulsa also makes a trip to Cameron in late February, which has the potential to be dangerous for Duke. The non-conference slate certainly presents challenges, and credit Coach K for agreeing to send Duke to places other than Durham for tests that will certainly benefit the Blue Devils come ACC play.

Cupcake City: Only six true cupcakes on the slate for Duke this season as UNC Greensboro, Coastal Carolina (part of the NIT), Radford, Gardner-Webb, Long Beach State and Penn travel to Durham (although I should count Charlotte the way they played last season). A program with Duke’s stature doesn’t have to schedule Gonzaga in NYC or travel to Chicago to play Iowa State, but they do anyway. Unlike Washington, Duke will be battle-tested for conference play and their computer numbers will give the Blue Devils a boost when it comes to seeding debates. Duke is usually in the top-ten in RPI every single season and there’s a reason why.

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Greg Paulus Named Starting QB at Syracuse

Posted by nvr1983 on August 18th, 2009

Most Syracuse fans seemed to think it was a no-brainer, but it wasn’t official until Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone made the announcement last night that Greg Paulus, everybody’s favorite whipping boy at Duke, will begin the season as the Orange starting QB. Given the fact that he hasn’t played competitive organized football in 4 years the announcement may be surprising to some, but when you remember that Paulus was the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year and that today’s Syracuse program is not the program it was when Donovan McNabb was under center it isn’t that shocking. We wish Paulus the best in his 2nd college career and want to remind him that flopping doesn’t work in football.

gregpaulus

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Team of the 2000s: #4 – Duke

Posted by nvr1983 on August 17th, 2009

teamof2000(2)

Ed. Note: Check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

As we mentioned in our earlier “Team of the 2000s” posts, we felt that the top-tier programs fell into a few clear clusters. There was some debate amongst the RTC braintrust about where certain teams fell within those clusters so we can understand if you disagree with where a team is ranked (that’s what the comment section is for). Teams in the top five either have made it to every NCAA tournament this decade (a sign of at least being respectable every season) or have a 2nd championship to bolster their case.

#4 – Duke

team2000sduke

Overview. This will be the most controversial selection on the list because it is Duke. Love them or hate them (and I’m pretty sure that most college basketball fans hate them), the Blue Devils remain the standard that other programs are judged against. That is not to say that they are the best program of the decade (there are still three teams ahead of them), but much like the New York Yankees, who are experiencing a similar title “drought,” every fanbase judges their success against what the guys in Durham are doing. To be completely honest, I ranked Duke lower than any of the other voters, but in the end their consistency (particularly during the regular season) won out and put them ahead of some of the other elite programs. The case for Duke being ranked above the teams below it in our countdown: 82.6% (regular season winning percentage–Gonzaga is the only other team to crack 80% and they don’t play in the ACC); 7 post-season and 4 regular season ACC titles (just an absurd number when you are competing against UNC although UNC’s inconsistency helped inflate this); 10 NCAA tournament trips (look at the above summary to see how often many excellent programs have missed the NCAA tournament this decade); 8 Sweet 16 appearances (maybe Duke hasn’t been that successful during the 2nd weekend, but they have gotten there more than anybody else); and 1 national title (more on this in a bit). The case against the Blue Devils? I alluded to it earlier, as Coach K’s teams have struggled mightily in the NCAA second weekend making it to the Final 4 “just” two out of the eight times they made it to the Sweet 16. In addition, Duke’s absence of a 2nd title prevents it from claiming a spot in the top 3. Out of the team’s below it, Tom Izzo‘s Michigan State Spartans have the best argument, but Duke’s vastly superior winning percentage (82.6% vs. 72.1%) and huge edge in conference titles combined with playing in a better conference (the ACC may be down, but you never see an abomination like this come out of the ACC) and NCAA-best 8 trips to the Sweet 16 (versus 6 for the Spartans) are just enough to make up for Michigan State’s edge in Final 4 appearances (4-2 although both teams were only able to seal the deal once).

battier j-will duhon

Pinnacle. As it is with any team that won a single title this decade, the choice here is simple: the 2001 title. After coming up just short with one of the most talented teams in recent history in 1999, Coach K reloaded with a class featuring Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Carlos Boozer. Although not quite as dominant as the group that left just before they came in (Elton Brand, William Avery, and Corey Maggette – I know he was a year after the other two, but I wasn’t going to include Chris Burgess in there), the former was able to do something the latter failed to do – win a title.  Together with Shane Battier, who led the Blue Devils emotionally and in taking flops, this group made it to the Sweet 16 in 2000 before being upset by Florida. The following year the Blue Devils were able to give Coach K his 3rd title, but not before surviving three marginally tough games (vs. USC in the Elite 8, vs. Maryland in the national semifinals, and vs. Arizona in the championship game) to claim the title. The defining moment of that title game was Dunleavy Jr.’s 3-point barrage (three 3-pointers during an 11-2 run) that re-established Duke’s control of the game. One thing that will stick with Blue Devil fans forever though is their four games against Maryland, which were some of the best college basketball games you will ever see, the most memorable being the 10-point comeback in the last minute at College Park (although we are willing to debate with someone who argues that the 22-point comeback in the national semifinals might be better).

[Warning: Maryland fans may want to avoid this video.]

Tailspin. Other than the two UNC titles? The 2006-07 season. A rather mediocre Duke team went 22-11 in a season that included two separate four-game losing streaks. The latter of those losing streaks came to finish the season with the final insult coming courtesy of Eric Maynor and VCU. Much has been made on this site and others about the lack of elite talent in Durham lately, but fielding a team whose four best players were DeMarcus Nelson (junior),  Josh McRoberts (sophomore), Greg Paulus (sophomore), and Jon Scheyer (freshman)… you are in big trouble. The primary explanation for this was that outside of Shelden Williams and J.J. Redick, the Blue Devils had a long string of McDonald’s All-American busts from 2002 on, with Shavlik Randolph, who left prior to that, being the most famous example.

Outlook for the 2010s: Grade: B+. Duke is still Duke and can land 5-star recruits, but it’s not like it was at the end of the last decade when Duke had its choice of McDonald’s All-Americans. Back then, one of the big controversies was if Coach K made the right choice taking Mike Dunleavy Jr. instead of Casey Jacobsen (for the younger generation of readers trust us when we say they were both actually very good college basketball players). Now it is a big deal when Duke lands the #3 shooting guard in next year’s class instead of John Wall. Duke will still be able to get a couple of top-notch recruits every year because of their tradition (it goes back to before Coach K, youngsters), Notre Dame-like TV deal with ESPN, Coach K’s stature, and the fact that it’s one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country (mothers like to brag about the Duke degree even if it is for the infamous Sociology major). However, the Blue Devils have fallen a notch below UNC in the hearts and minds of elite recruits and that will only get worse when Coach K retires (gasp!) as their is no clear successor in line for his throne.

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08.11.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 11th, 2009

With the rate of news coming out these days, this’ll feel a little more like slow breaks…

  • Academic Headstart.  This got almost no play over the weekend, but it should have because it has the smell of something that ends up being more important than anyone previously thought.  The NCAA Basketball Academic Enhancement Group (chaired by Derrick Rose?) recommended a requirement that each school should make an academic assessment of its incoming freshmen each season to determine whether the student-athlete is adequately prepared for college-level schoolwork.  If they are not (presumably using some objective measure other than the Jim Harrick, Jr., test), then they’ll be required to take six hours of classes over the summer (‘bridge’ summer coursework data shows a higher incidence of long-term academic success).  The big carrot is that, while they’re in summer school (and all players can attend if they like), they can work out for up to eight hours/week in athletic activities.  The catch, however, is that they must pass at least three of those hours to gain eligibility for the fall semester.  Should this recommendation come to pass (and it probably will), each school will have to balance a  fine line between the player assessment and player eligibility.  God forbid that the next Michael Beasley gets his high school grades and test scores in order, shows up at his school amidst great fanfare, only to fail college algebra over the summer and have to sit until December because the coach wanted those eight hours per week of court time.  It’s an interesting dilemma and it imposes a certain level of accountability on the schools themselves to take the academic side of things more seriously, which is a good thing.  Props to the NCAA for getting creative here. 
  • Vegas Watch ACC Preview.  We’ll be sure to come back to this when we put up our conference previews later this fall, but we wanted to make sure that you guys alll have a chance to read the first installment in a really innovative series of posts breaking down each of the BCS conferences.  VW ran several regressions on the last three seasons to determine a fairly accurate predictor for future success using Pomeroy ratings, returning minutes and production and incoming recruiting rankings.  Looking at the projected 2010 rankings, it appears that those riding the Terrapin bandwagon have reason to believe, as Maryland is projected third, while those of us who were high on Georgia Tech (even prior to losing K. Holsey) may want to re-think that a little bit before October.  Keep an eye on this series because it’s fascinating stuff. 
  • Deron Washington Hurdles into Eternity.  If, for some reason, you haven’t seen what Virginia Tech has done with its new practice facility yet…  It’s really too bad that Syracuse football doesn’t play Virginia Tech this year, or Paulus would have a fair opportunity to exact some revenge (he’s the third-string QB for the Orange as of this week). 

deron washington over paulus

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