ATB: Marquette’s Dominic James Out For the Season

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

RTC Intern Mike Lemaire contributed to tonight’s ATB.

Marquette Loses Their Heart & SoulConnecticut 93, Marquette 82.  Marquette announced at halftime that their senior leader and heart/soul of the team,  PG Dominic James, had broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and will not play again this season.  He hurt it on a seemingly innocuous play just four minutes into the first half, but the x-rays don’t lie, and this is a potentially devastating blow to the Golden Eagles as we approach the postseason.  James had re-invented his game this year, becoming less of a scorer and more of a set-up man (#31 nationally in assists and #22 in steals) with the ascent in production from Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews.  Marquette will need to regroup quickly with games at Louisville, at Pitt and vs. Syracuse in the next ten days.  As for this game, AJ Price was the other story – he was simply phenomenal, with 36/6/6 assts, including one ridiculous ankle-breaking move (see below) that crystallized the kind of night he was having.  Hasheem Thabeet added 14/15/5 blks and Stanley Robinson contributed 19/10.  When UConn is playing like this, they are the best team in the nation – the problem is that we don’t always see this level of effort from the Huskies.  McNeal and Matthews combined for 46/9/9 assts to pick up some of the slack from James’ injury, but Maurice Acker (and his 2.2 ppg) will be asked to carry the load that James is leaving behind.  No easy task.

Operation ScheyerFace Didn’t WorkDuke 78, Maryland 67. You have to hand it to Maryland – when Grievis Vasquez picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the second half, you had to wonder where Maryland’s offense would come from. But they showed a lot of heart by matching Duke basket for basket in the second half. In the end there was just too much Gerald Henderson for the Terps to handle. Freshman Sean Mosley did a good job on Henderson man-to-man, but the Blue Devils did a great job of setting screens and getting Henderson free for open looks. Vasquez’s absence finally caught up to the Terps in the final four minutes of the game as the team (with the exception of Landon Milbourne) struggled to get good looks as the Blue Devils clamped down on defense. Maryland was a completely different team from the guys we saw blow big leads in the first half of the season, but Duke showed a lot of grit by stuffing the Maryland momentum coming off their huge upset of UNC.  As for Maryland, they have two winnable road games (@ NCSU; @ UVa) and Wake at home – they can still get to 9-7 in the ACC with a strong finish, but their margin of error is thin the rest of the way.  Speaking of screens, check out this pick on Nolan Smith that had the sophomore hearing bells the rest of the game.

Some Other Games of Interest.

  • Northwestern 75, Indiana 53.  Northwestern ended 41 years of futility in Bloomington with this win tonight.  Tom Crean said his undermanned Hoosiers are running out of steam at this point in the season.
  • Texas 87, Texas Tech 81.  UT got 24 from AJ Abrams and 20/11 from Damion James, but Texas Tech hung around until the final minute in this one behind ten three-pointers.
  • Utah 70, UNLV 60.  Utah continued to pace the Mountain West with another home win to go 11-2 in the conference behind Luke Nevill’s 19/13.
  • Notre Dame 70, Rutgers 65.  ND survived a closer-than-it-shoulda-been game despite Luke Harangody’s 20/15.  The Irish’s Saturday game at UConn will be huge for this team.
  • Davidson 70, UNC-Greensboro 49.  Stephen Curry dropped 20/10/5 assts as the Wildcats rebounded from their loss to Butler with a convincing SoCon win.
  • Rhode Island 93, Dayton 91 (OT).  Dayton dropped its second consecutive game due to Marquis Jones’ driving flip layup at the buzzer which pushes UD one game behind Xavier and Temple in the A10 standings.
  • Virginia Tech 80, Clemson 77.  Huge bubble road win for Va Tech behind Malcolm Delaney’s 26/4/6 assts and AD Vassallo’s 21/5.  Clemson got double-doubles from Trevor Booker and KC Rivers, but Va Tech made the plays down the stretch in a game that went back and forth all night.
  • South Carolina 77, Kentucky 59.  UK now probably needs to win its last three games to force the Committee to leave them out.  SC, on the other hand, probably only needs one more win to become a lock.  Sam Muldrow had seven of SC’s school-record sixteen blocks tonight.
  • Villanova 74, Depaul 72. Depaul got closest to its first Big East win of the year than any other previous loss, but it still wasn’t to be as the Blue Demons moved to 0-15.  Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham each had 18 pts for Villanova.
  • Michigan St. 62, Iowa 54.  MSU never really put Iowa away, but Iowa never really threatened either.  Tom Izzo didn’t think his Spartans played all that well, but they’re now 1.5 games ahead of Purdue in the Big Ten race anyway.
  • Missouri 94, Kansas St. 74.  Mizzou moved to 17-0 at home behind DeMarre Carroll’s 21/14.  The streaking Tigers go to Kansas this weekend and will host Oklahoma in Columbia next Monday.
  • Tennessee 81, Mississippi St. 76.  In this bubblicious game, UT held off the Bulldogs behind Scotty Hopson’s 21 pts.  MSU’s bubble is close to bursting, having now lost four of their last five games.
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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Until Tuesday night, it was a relatively uneventful week in the Big East. The teams that should have won got the Ws, while the teams that were supposed to lose generally lost. That is, until Providence knocked off Pitt in front of packed house at the Dunk (for the record, Friar fans had one of the best ‘rushings of the court‘ that I have seen in a long time – they absolutely swallowed up the three Friar players in the center of the court).

Back to the point, not only were there not many upsets during the week, their weren’t that many outstanding performances. Weyinmi Efejuku of  Providence had 31 in a loss to Notre Dame. Ryan Ayers scored 28 in that same game, but earlier in the week struggled as the Irish lost to West Virginia. Luke Harangody had 26 and 13 in the Irish loss, but was non-existent until the final few minutes (when the game was decided) against Providence. DeJuan Blair’s 20 and 18 against DePaul (which should technically make the performance not count … it’s DePaul) is overshadowed by his 17 and 8 (and 5 turnovers and 5 fouls) in the loss to Providence.

You get the point.

Why should I be pointing that out to you? What is the significance of it? Is it just so I don’t look like a fool making my Player and Team of the Week picks?

Not exactly. It should show you that no team or player in the Big East (save for Providence, the damn Friars ruined my whole column) is stepping up to make a run at the NCAAs. As of this moment, the league should expect seven teams. After this win, Providence may be the eighth.

But Cincinnati, Notre Dame, and Georgetown all still had a realistic chance to get in by winning. Cincy’s loss to Louisville gives them a two game losing streak. A win at South Florida is not going to be enough for the Hoyas, who have now lost 9 of 11. Even Providence had lost two straight before the upset of Pitt.

Notre Dame is the only team that looks to have a little bit of life left in them. They have now won three of four, including wins over Louisville and Providence, with the loss coming at West Virginia. If the Irish can keep up their winning ways, there is a good chance the Big East could actually end up with nine tourney teams.

For the record, I’m sick of everyone talking about the Big East as the toughest conference in the country.

It isn’t.

Let it go.

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RTC Aftermath: Providence 81, Pittsburgh 73

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2009

Normally, I would assume that most of you have seen the #1 team in the country getting knocked off, but thanks to some horrible TV scheduling only 2% (all numbers are estimates) of college basketball fans ended up seeing Providence beat Pittsburgh at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (DDC) on Senior Night. While the 11,187 in attendance and a few fortunate television viewers were able to witness what makes college basketball our favorite sport, we know that many of you were less fortunate. That’s where RTC Aftermath comes in. As part of our RTC Live coverage we answer questions from fans and also bring those questions to the players and coaches to answer. Last night, we were at the DDC for the fourth installment of RTC Live. Our first three games (Wake Forest at Boston College, Miami at UNC, and Clemson at Boston College) were all solid games, but I don’t think any of them would qualify as memorable games from a pure basketball standpoint. Being in the Dean Smith Center for an ESPN GameDay was a fun experience, but nothing like last night.

Site of the game of the night
Site of the game of the night

Pre-Game: The Friar fans (at least the ones in the student section) got there pretty early. The Friar fans were a lot more intense than I expected, but looking back on it I seem to remember some PC grads telling me that their student section was pretty crazy. I think they were even more amped up than usual though because they were facing the #1 team in the country (even if the SportsTicker fax at the game still had them at #4) and it was Senior Night (something I wasn’t aware of until they started the ceremony). After the ceremony, which went on for quite a long time (8 seniors), the Friars and their fans made it clear pretty early that they weren’t going to go quietly on Senior Night.

McDermott introduction
McDermott introduction

First Half: As I mentioned in last night’s After the Buzzer, the Friars got out to a quick start jumping out to a 15-4 lead after the first 5 minutes. The primary reason that they were able to do this was  a strong opening 5 minutes by Jonathan Kale, who scored 6 points on 3/3 FG to open the game, and their ability to force Pitt into 5 turnovers that they converted into 9 points during that stretch. The Panthers were able to cut the lead to 6 with 5:01 left in the first half thanks to Ashton Gibbs who hit two 3-pointers, but the Friars then proceeded to blow the game open with 13-1 run to close the first half. At that point, the crowd and Rush the Court (who had thought that it might have been a mistake to travel over an hour down to Providence as opposed to 15 minutes down Commonwealth Avenue to the FSU-Boston College game) began to sense that something special might be happening at the “Dunk”.

GameCast
GameCast

Second Half: Pitt was able to cut into the Providence lead (up to 20 just 17 seconds into the 2nd half) getting it down to a 10-point game with 13:50 left in the game. The Panthers were able recover from the awful ball-handing (at the 15:26 mark of the 2nd half they have 5 assists and 12 turnovers compared to Providence with 14 assists and 3 turnovers) and seemed to have the momentum, but that quickly changed with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game when DeJuan Blair picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in a 17-second span that sent the Friar fans into a frenzy. With the low-post player that they couldn’t match-up with out of the game, Providence was able to get the lead back to 17 with 6:30 remaining. The Panthers were able to mount a furious comeback that nearly silenced the rabid Friar fans after Blair tipped in an Ashton Gibbs miss to make it a 5-point game with 50 seconds remaining. The Friars managed to hold them off despite not making a field goal in the last 4:21 of the game thanks to a lot of trips to the free throw line (18-of-25 in the 2nd half).

Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul
Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul

Rushing the Court
When you name your blog “Rush the Court”, you are expected to stay there (and possibly join in) when the fans rush the court. We managed to do just that (the only media entity to not run in fear, much less join in). Some of the better pictures are below (try rushing the court with a laptop in your hands sometime). If you have some pics, send them into rushthecourt@gmail.com.

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Set Your Tivos: 02.24.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 24th, 2009

Set Your TivosI’m back with another edition of Set Your Tivos, which should be daily now until the NCAA tournament where you won’t need your Tivo because you’ll be glued to your couch for 3 weeks. Obviously the big game of the night at RTC East will be our RTC Live coverage of #1 Pittsburgh at Providence, but there are a lot of games for you to watch when you are not following our coverage and sending in your questions/comments to us courtside.

#1 Pittsburgh at Providence at 7 PM on The Big East Network, Fox Sports, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: As I mentioned before, this will be the site of the 4th installment of RTC Live so we’ll be covering this game from the lay-up lines until they turn out the lights. The Friars come in needing a signature win (beating a depleted Syracuse team in Providence doesn’t qualify) to bolster their chances of getting an at-large bid as I can’t remember seeing any “bracketologist” with the Friars in the NCAA tournament right now despite the fact that they have an 8-7 record in the Big East going into their game tonight. Pitt comes in as the #1 team in the country following their win at previous #1 UConn in a game where DeJuan Blair destroyed Bill Russell Hasheem Thabeet. After all the talk by Jim Calhoun and ESPN about how Thabeet was the Big East POY, Blair has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential Big East POY candidate. Blair, who is averaging 15.8 PPG and 13.0 RPG, has 22 points and 23 rebounds against the Huskies and followed it up with 20 points and 18 rebounds against DePaul. Providence coach Keno Davis will counter with. . .ok, he has nobody who can guard Blair if the Pitt big man avoids dumb fouls. Providence doesn’t really have an athlete of the caliber of Sam Young that Jamie Dixon has, but few teams in the country do. Davis does have a fairly deep rotation with seven players averaging more than 8.0 PPG. Davis will have to hope that Weyinmi Efejuku has a big game and that Sharaud Curry can give Levance Fields (still over 4 to 1 for his assist to turnover ratio) some trouble. The Friars will probably keep the game close for 30 minutes to keep this RTC co-editor entertained, but in the end the Panthers should have enough

Penn State at Ohio State at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This is a pretty big game for both teams. They both are probably in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today, but both could use a little work on their resume to guarantee a bid and move up a seed line or two. Penn State has bounced back to a 3-game losing streak to pick up two solid wins (Minnesota and at Illinois) while Ohio State has struggled recently losing their last 3 games by a combined 10 points. We’ll be watching two potential first team Big Ten members (Evan Turner and Talor Battle) as the winner of that match-up will probably determine the outcome of this game since this game will likely come down to the last few minutes. In any event, we’re just hoping that this game will be slightly more aesthetically pleasing than the last time Penn State took the court.

Northern Iowa at Illinois State at 8:05 PM on GameTracker: After dominating the Missouri Valley Conference for most of the season, the Panthers have fallen apart losing 3 straight and 4 of their last 5 games falling into a tie for the conference lead with Creighton. The losing streak has taken them out of consideration for an at-large bid so they need to right the ship before the MVC tournament (covered by Rush the Court). The Redbirds are coming off a BrackerBusters loss at Niagara and will be looking to rebound against a Northern Iowa team that it lost to by 4 points on the road at the end of January. Neither team really has a superstar player you should focus on, but they both have  a lot of depth. UNI has 5 players averaging between 9.0 and 11.6 PPG (Adam Koch, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Jordan Eglseder, Ali Farokhmanesh, and Johnny Moran) while Illinois State has 5 players averaging between 9.1 and 14.9 PPG (Champ Oguchi, Osiris Eldridge, Lloyd Phillips, Emmanuel Holloway, and Dinma Odiakosa).

I couldn’t find this one listed on any TV stations so I threw up a link for GameTracker. If any of you know what channel(s) this game will be televised on, post the info in the comment section and I will update this.

Florida at #18 LSU at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: LSU is running away with the SEC regular season title and a win here would essentially clinch it for them unless they lose their last 3 (at Kentucky, home against Vanderbilt, and at Auburn), which I don’t think will happen. Billy Donovan‘s Gators are most likely in, but could use a marquee win to solidify their resume for the Selection Committee. [Side Note: What happens to Donovan's reputation if his team fails to make the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years immediately after winning back-to-back titles?] Nick Calathes (18.6 PPG) will have to have a big game as LSU has 2 guys who can fill it up in Marcus Thornton (20.5 PPG) and Tasmin Mitchell (16.8 PPG). I’m expecting this one to be close, but for LSU to pull away in the last 2-3 minutes.

#25 FSU at Boston College at 9 PM on ESPNU: FSU is already in the tournament and BC is most likely in as well (wins over UNC and Duke should guarantee you a spot even if you do blow a game against Harvard) so both teams are playing for seeding right now. One interesting thing about this game that a lot of people might not be aware of is that FSU still has a shot of catching UNC for the ACC regular season title. Even though FSU has been the more consistent team (see the aforementioned BC loss to Harvard), I think that Tyrese Rice and Jeff Trapani will be enough to overcome Toney Douglas, who is amazingly the only double-digit scorer (20.5 PPG) on a top 25 team.

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Santa Clara’s John Bryant: Q&A With John Stevens

Posted by jstevrtc on February 20th, 2009

John Stevens is a featured writer for Rush The Court.

You’ll have to excuse John Bryant if he doesn’t exactly dwell on the past, these days.  Why should he?  When you’ve got as much going on as this guy, the past is something from which you’ve become expert at taking whatever lessons you can, and then letting it fall away.

Wait, what’s that name?  John Bryant?  Right now you are likely wondering why that name sounds familiar.  You are wondering exactly where you’ve heard it before.  In a moment, I’ll tell you.

The best player you dont know.  (credit: tucsoncitizen.com)
The best player you don’t know. (credit: tucsoncitizen.com)

Bryant plays center for Santa Clara University.  And he doesn’t just play center — he’s one of the best big men in the nation.  He currently has 21 double-doubles (points and rebounds) on the year, a mere one behind likely player-of-the-year Blake Griffin’s 22.  Yes, that’s more than some other guys you might hear more about, like Harangody, Thabeet, Blair, and Hansbrough.  Bryant is second in the nation in rebounds per game (an unreal 13.8), not to mention tied for 14th nationally with 2.6 blocks per game, and is now the all-time leader at SCU in that category.

But that’s not where you know him from.

In the middle of finishing up his senior season, including leading the Broncos to wins in seven of their last eight games, John was good enough to find time to answer some of my questions:

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Would You Like Some Fries With Your Neil Fingleton?

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009

big-mac-cartoon

You know that you’re coming to the end of the regular season when the McD’s Burger Boys are announced.  This annual rite of late winter signals that it’s time to hunker down and prepare for some warmer weather and a little thing called March Madness, and this game always gives us a peak of some of the next few years’ stars to watch.  Last year’s F4, for example, featured freshmen Kevin Love, Cole Aldrich and Derrick Rose – all three were Burger Boys in 2007, not to overlook Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and James Keefe from the 2006 game, and Tyler Hansbrough, Bobby Frasor, Danny Green and Super Mario Chalmers from the 2005 game.   In all, a total of twelve McDonald’s All-Americans played in last year’s Final Four, and you can expect a multitude most seasons.

2009-mcds-all-americans

Keep in mind that aside from the top ten or so consensus players (this year, guys like Boynton, Henry, Sidney, Cousins and Favors are on that list), there is a fair amount of political posturing that goes into these selections.  Don’t believe us?  Then check some of the names of the last ten McD’s games and their career stats (you’ll notice a lot of “rep” schools on this list:

  • Rolando Howell – 2000 (South Carolina): 10/6 in 4 yrs
  • Neil Fingleton – 2000 (UNC/Holy Cross): 3/2 in 3 yrs
  • Michael Thompson – 2002 (Duke): 5/2 in 4 yrs
  • Travis Garrison – 2002 (Maryland) – 8/5 in 4 yrs
  • Ivan Harris – 2003 (Ohio St.): 6/2 in 4 yrs
  • Jawan McClellan – 2004 (Arizona): 8/3 in 4 yrs
  • Bobby Frasor – 2005 (UNC) – 4/3 in 4 yrs
  • Eric Boateng – 2005 (Duke/Arizona St.) – 3/2 in 3 yrs
  • Lance Thomas – 2006 (Duke): 5/3 in 3 yrs
  • James Keefe – 2006 (UCLA): 2/3 in 3 yrs

Another thing to remember is that while the McDonald’s game annually has many of the best players, it’s not the end-all.  Here’s a list of this year’s collegiate stars who never sniffed the grease, special sauce and Ronald’s creepy smile while still a prep star, yet turned out ok.

  • Hasheem Thabeet – 2005 (UConn) – ranked #64
  • Terrence Williams – 2005 (Louisville) – ranked #44
  • Jerel McNeal – 2005 (Marquette) – ranked #57
  • Jack McClinton – 2005 (Miami) – unranked
  • Sam Young – 2005 (Pittsburgh) – ranked #58
  • Luke Harangody – 2006 (Notre Dame) – ranked #83
  • DeJuan Blair – 2006 (Pittsburgh) – ranked #40
  • Stephen Curry - 2006 (Davidson) – unranked
  • Jodie Meeks – 2006 (Kentucky) – ranked #57
  • E’Twaun Moore – 2007 (Purdue) – ranked #23
  • James Johnson – 2007 (Wake Forest) – ranked #43
  • Patty Mills – 2007 (St. Mary’s) – unranked
  • Jeff Teague – 2007 (Wake Forest) – ranked #58
  • Isaiah Thomas – 2008 (Washington) – ranked #85
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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

Player of the year.

How do you define it. Who put up the best stats? Who is the best player on the best team? The most valuable player? Maybe the guy that, if you were to have a draft involving every player in the league, you would pick first?

My criterion is simple – who is the best player? Easy enough, right?

As of now, there are only four players that should be considered for the award, and another few that deserve a mention in the conversation.

  1. DeJuan Blair, Pitt – 15.7 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 5.8 Orpg, 60% FG
  2. Jerel McNeal, Marquette – 19.9 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 spg, 44% 3PT
  3. Terrence Williams, Louisville – 12.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.93 a/t
  4. Hasheem Thabeet, UConn – 13.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 4.3 bpg, 64% FG

Others deserving mention: Luke Harangody, Jonny Flynn, Jeff Adrien, Levance Fields, and Da’Sean Butler.

Right now, I have no idea who deserves the award. Two weeks ago, I thought McNeal would run away with it. Last week, I thought Thabeet would made a run at national player of the year. This week, well, just scroll down and read about the player of the week.

There are great arguments to be made for each of these four, as well as the five players deserving mention (I mean, Luke Harangody is the only player in the country to be in the top five of points and rebounds per game, and barely cracks the top five for Big East POY?).

What it is going to come down to is who leads their team to the Big East regular season title. Each of the four players listed are the MVPs of the four teams currently tied (in the loss column) atop the Big East.

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Game Night: Pittsburgh at UConn

Posted by nvr1983 on February 16th, 2009

Obviously, the big game tonight is #4 Pittsburgh (23-2) at #1 UConn (24-1). We were unable to obtain a media credential for this game, but in our quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage anywhere (that doesn’t require any broadcast equipment) we’ll be covering the big game from the RTC penthouse in Boston.

Preview
I’ll keep this short since there are already a ton of experts out there who have offered their thoughts on this game. Although I believe the news that Jerome Dyson is out for the season is a big deal long-term for UConn, I don’t think it should be a major factor today as the Huskies did not expect to have him in the lineup today anyways. From my perspective, I think this game comes down to 3 key match-ups: Hasheem Thabeet versus DeJuan Blair, Jeff Adrien versus Sam Young, and A.J. Price versus Levance Fields. While there are several other role players (Kemba Walker, Craig Austrie, and Stanley Robinson for UConn and Jermaine Dixon, Ashton Gibbs, and Brad Wanamaker for Pitt) who could potentially have a big impact tonight, I believe that whoever wins 2 out of the 3 big match-ups should win the game.

Thabeet vs. Blair: Thabeet’s ability to block and alter shots has been discussed ad nauseum already this season and we have just crossed the midway point in February. Needless to say, he has a big presence in the paint. One of the interesting things that most people don’t realize is that when Thabeet goes outside of the paint to try to block a shot, it leaves a huge gap under the basket for the opposing team to clean up. Take the Huskies win against Seton Hall on Saturday. Everyone has been raving about Thabeet’s 25 points, 20 rebound, and 9 blocks, but most people have completely ignored John Garcia‘s 22 points, 13 rebounds (6 offensive), and 6 blocks for the Pirates. While I can’t hold Thabeet responsible for Garcia’s 6 blocks, the offensive numbers Garcia put up are pretty startling especially since he is a mediocre player (8.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG). I think Thabeet has an advantage over Blair when they are matched up one-on-one, but watch out for Blair picking up a lot of “garbage” points and rebounds when Thabeet goes after a block.

Adrien vs. Young: This is probably the least hyped of the three match-ups I am featuring, but these two are the leading scorers for their respective clubs. Their numbers are pretty similar with Young having the edge in points and Adrien having a big edge on the boards, but their games are very different. Adrien likes to bang on the inside (only 1 3-point attempt this year) while Young likes to play on the perimeter (95 3-point attempts this year) although he doesn’t mind bringing it inside for the highlight reel finish (see below). Normally, I’d give the edge here to Young, but with Thabeet inside to clean up Adrien’s mistakes, I think it will come out being closer to a draw between these two.

Price vs. Fields: With the two other match-ups probably being pretty close tonight, the match-up at point guard will likely decide the game. Neither guard is a great scoring guard, but both teams have enough talent that they don’t need their point guards to score. Price has a respectable 1.6 to 1 assist to turnover ratio while Fields is currently at an absurd 4.2 to 1. These two guards are fairly evenly matched and it probably would be a draw (or even a slight edge to Fields) if I had to match them up without allowing them any substitutes, but Jim Calhoun‘s ability to utilize Walker or Austrie shifts this match-up in favor of the Huskies. Jamie Dixon has some solid perimeter players in Dixon (9 PPG) and two 3-point threats in Gibbs (49.1% from 3) and Wanamaker (45.2% from 3), but nobody of the caliber of Walker or Austrie.

Prediction: UConn by 5 in a close one that comes down to execution at the end. I’d expect Thabeet to end up with at least 1 block in a frantic final minute of action.

Live blog after the jump.

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Jerome Dyson: Done for the Season

Posted by nvr1983 on February 16th, 2009

We just came across the news that UConn guard Jerome Dyson is done for the rest of the year. It looks like the meniscal tear he suffered against Syracuse was more serious than it was originally thought. For more on the injury in general (trust us, we could go on for a long time on the topic), we’ll refer you to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons page on the meniscal tears.

Some UConn fans believe that losing Dyson won’t affect the Huskies as much as some in the media think because of UConn’s outstanding perimeter depth with Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie picking up the slack, but the bigger problem may come on defense. Dyson has been one of the Huskies best defenders averaging 1.8 steals per game this year. Walker isn’t that far behind at 1.0 steals per game, but any time you lose a defender like Dyson who can create that much havoc it has to be a blow for the team. I’m assuming that Jim Calhoun would have A.J. Price on Levance Fields for most of the game against Pittsburgh tonight and the Huskies may be able to get away with it because the Panthers do not have a great perimeter scorer. However, against a team like UNC, which has 2 legitimate perimeter threats in Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, Dyson’s injury may come back to bite the Huskies in late March or early April.

The one positive thing for the Huskies is that this should lead to more driving by the opposition and more shots for Hasheem Thabeet to block.

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Boom Goes The Dynamite: 02.14.09 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 14th, 2009

bgtd

Good afternoon, college hoops fans, and welcome to another version of Boom Goes The Dynamite.  What does that mean?  If there’s a game on my television, I’m watching it.  I’m even monitoring games on about five different online game-trackers.  John Stevens, here, holed-up in the RTC Midwestern Compound.  Normally you have to wait until Tuesday for me to force my opinions and exert my influence on you in my weekly column; on this particular Saturday, NVR1983 (the Zelig of college basketball fandom — the man can literally pop up anywhere in the country with a press pass and do a live broadcast and duck out before you’ve noticed he’s been there, and probably eaten half your food) is probably somewhere setting himself on press row for a game tonight, and RTMSF (the guru of RTC) is, from what I understand, probably laying under a big pink blanket watching Mad About You or Sex And The City DVDs with his wife at a spa somewhere.  Poor b—ard.

(Just kidding, Mrs. RTMSF…)

Anyway, where I am in the Midwest, it’s cold again, it’s grey, and it’s starting to snow.  Sounds like good basketball-watching weather (but what isn’t?).  I’ve got a television, I’ve got a cooler, and I’ve got a couch.  Let’s watch some hoops.  I invite you to join me. 

We’re getting a little bit of a delayed start because of a techincal difficulty on my end (long story — suffice to say, I am easily distracted and/or confused by things like shapes and colors), but now that we’re up and rolling, in a moment we’ll catch up on what’s happened so far in today’s games.  Welcome!

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ATB: Hansbrough and Green Go Unbeaten at Cameron

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2009

Statement Game #1. UNC 101, Duke 87. The UNC seniors mentioned above joined a pair of former Deacs (Tim Duncan and Rusty LaRue) to become the only players to ever win all four of their games at CIS during their careers.  This year’s version of UNC’s win reminded us a little of last year’s, where UNC had an early lead only to watch Duke get hot and take the lead deep into the second half before UNC went on another late run to seal the game away.  Of course, the key similarity is that both years UNC has had the better team, and anyone who is buying into Duke as a legitimate title threat simply hasn’t been paying attention.  UNC carved up the Duke defense to the tune of 55% shooting, particularly during a devastatingly effective stretch where Ty Lawson got to the rim at will (wouldn’t you if Greg Paulus was defending you?) and the Carolina offensive juggernaut blew the doors off the place.  All five UNC starters hit for double figures, and although we certainly wouldn’t give the Carolina defense against Duke any major props, they were good enough in the second half to shut down the threes that the Devils were hitting in the first stanza (6 of their 8 were in the first half).  We believe that Duke still has 2-3 more losses ahead of it on its schedule, but the Heels seem to be finding their swagger again – they may only lose one more game the rest of the regular season.  Oh well, at least the Dookies won the Wiki battle (h/t Hugging Harold Reynolds)…

traveling-wiki

Statement Game #2Connecticut 61, Syracuse 47.  UConn pulled away in the second half of this game, once again in large part due to Hasheem Thabeet’s defensive presence in the middle.  The big man had 8/16/7 blks on the stat sheet, but he influenced numerous other Syracuse possessions by forcing players to alter shots or simply think better of entering the lane.  We’ve never been high on Thabeet, but even we have to admit that the past month or so he’s been spectacular, and UConn looks like the best team in the country when he’s doing his thing inside (similar to 2000 Cincinnati with Kenyon Martin in the post).  Is Syracuse in trouble, now at 6-6 in the Big East?  Home games against Georgetown and Villanova the next week are key to ensuring that Syracuse doesn’t get itself into trouble with the NCAA Tourney Cmte. – they need a minimum of one, but preferably both of those.

Upset of the Night #1. NC State 82, Wake Forest 76.  Is it an upset anymore if Wake loses to a bottom-dwelling ACC opponent nowadays?  Apparently Dino Gaudio’s team is looking to become this year’s Clemson by becoming the last undefeated team who then falls into the NIT.  Impossible you say?  Consider that Wake is now 5-4 in the ACC with road games still at Duke, Maryland and Virginia… if this snowball turns into an avalanche, the Deacs could end up 7-9 or so going into the ACC Tourney and squarely on the bubble.  Just riddle us one question – how does an offensive talent like Jeff Teague play 36 minutes and only get three FGAs (he made two)?  Things are not right with this team.  Brandon Costner had 23/9 for NC State.

Upset of the Night #2Dayton 71, Xavier 58. In an entertaining game in the A10 tonight that Dayton led from start to finish, the Flyers ended a six-game losing streak against the Musketeers behind a balanced effort featuring Chris Wright’s 19/6.  Xavier had trouble shooting the ball from deep (3-14) and from the line (9-17), which resulted in a game where they could never quite get over the hump.  This was a huge win for Dayton in terms of the A10 standings, as now both teams are 8-2, only behind St. Joseph’s at 7-1 in the league.

  • Oklahoma 78, Baylor 63.  Baylor hung around for a while, but it was the same old story as OU won its 30th in a row against Baylor behind Blake Griffin’s 21 dub-dub of the year (18/10).  At 3-7 in the Big 12, the Bears are essentially finished at this point.
  • Kansas St. 85, Texas Tech 73.  K-State continues to surge, winning its sixth in a row behind a huge first half where the Cats ran out to a 49-25 lead.
  • Utah 67, San Diego St. 55. The Utes took a one-game lead on surprising SDSU in the Mtn West race with a home win where Shaun Green came off the bench for 21/10.
  • Purdue 61, Penn St. 47.  Purdue held conference scoring leader Talor Battle to zero points on 0-7 shooting in a convincing (and needed) win by the Boilermakers, now tied with Illinois and OSU for second place in the league at 7-4.
  • Drexel 62, Northeastern 58.  Drexel used a key second-half run to drop the CAA leaders to three losses, pushing Northeastern into a tie with VCU
  • Vermont 75, Boston U. 47.  UVM took control of the top of the Am East standings with a key home win behind Marqus Blakely’s 12/13/4 assts.
  • Memphis 63, Tulsa 37.  The Memphis defense is hitting on all cylinders right now, holding Tulsa to 36% shooting and forcing 24 turnovers in this shellacking.
  • LSU 97, Mississippi St. 94 (2OT).  Probably the game of the night, as Tasmin Mitchell blew up for 41/11/5 assts including a late three-point play that gave the Tigers their 20th overall win and to go 8-1 in the SEC.  Is LSU the best team in this sorry league?  They’re certainly playing like it.
  • Wisconsin 69, Iowa 52.  Wisconsin won its third straight to get to 6-6 in the Big Ten and put that nasty six-game losing streak well behind them.
  • Tennessee 79, Georgia 48.  UGa is right there with Indiana, Depaul and Oregon as the worst BCS conference teams in America.  There are now four SEC East teams at 6-3 in the league.
  • Northern Iowa 81, S. Illinois 55.  UNI shot 54% in a pasting of the Salukis to go to 12-2 in the Valley.
  • Creighton 79, Bradley 65.  Creighton kept the pressure on UNI by winning a wild game involving a cheerleader getting knocked out cold by P’Allen Stinnett, who contributed 15/3 tonight.

On Tap Thursday (all times EST).

  • Louisville @ Notre Dame (ESPN) – 7pm. Let there be no question about this game for Notre Dame – it’s a must-win.  Seven in a row cannot become eight.
  • Temple @ St. Joseph’s (ESPN360) – 7pm. A key A10 game between Big 5 rivals that could potentially result in a three-way tie at the top of the league.
  • Robert Morris v. Sacred Heart (ESPN360) – 8pm.   Your NEC game of the year!  Can SH pressure 11-1 Robt. Morris?
  • UCLA @ Arizona State (ESPN) – 9pm. The Bruins have been rolling lately, but will be put to the test in the desert against the team that last beat them.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (ESPN360) – 9pm.  The Illini are in a battle for the #2 seed in the Big Ten, so they can’t afford to drop this one.  Of course, in their last two road games, they’ve scored a total of 86 pts.
  • USC @ Arizona (FSN) – 10:30pm.  These two teams are probably the most confounding in America this season.
  • Oregon St. @ Washington (FSN) – 11pm. OSU has been a lot more competitive than anybody expected this year, so UW should be vigilant here.
  • Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (ESPN2) – 11pm. This was supposed to be an RTC Live event but SMC is apparently too world-renowned to give media access to “blog sites” such as RTC.  Wonder if that will still be true when Patty Mills is playing for pay and the Contra Costa Times won’t even show up? Patty Mills isn’t playing – go to bed.
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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by nvr1983 on February 11th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

It is time to stop talking about the Big East as the best conference in college hoops. In the current installment of Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, the Big East is getting seven teams in. That’s one fewer than the ACC and one more than the Pac-10. In fact, if we are talking in terms of percentage of league members to get a bid, the Big East slides all the way down to fourth as the Big Televen sends five teams.

Of course, if you look a little deeper, things could turn around pretty quickly. Cincinnati and Georgetown are Lunardi’s first two teams out while Providence is his sixth team out. He also has teams like Kansas State, Arizona, USC, and Boston College currently in the field. Maybe I’m a Big East homer (I don’t think I am) and maybe I just don’t know enough about the other teams and conferences (believe me, not true), but I find it tough to believe that those four teams are going to continue to win at the rate they currently are.

My question is why has the Big East gone from the “toughest conference in the history of conferences” to one with only the fourth highest percentage of teams into the dance this season?

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