Morning Five: 02.09.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 9th, 2015


  1. The word legend is overused, but college basketball lost a legend on Saturday night as Dean Smith passed away at the age of 83. Smith, who belongs on any Mount Rushmore you want to make for the sport, was a universally loved and respected figure in the game, which is a rarity. Some of that may have to do with the way he comported himself, but it also has do with his off-the-court work including being a vocal advocate of integration not only in the ACC, but also in the state of North Carolina. We won’t rehash all of his accomplishments, but would  highly recommend that you read some of the pieces that are being written about him now particularly the ones that talk about his work outside of basketball.
  2. The second biggest news from this weekend happen in Charlottesville where Virginia junior Justin Anderson fractured a bone in his left hand. He underwent surgery yesterday and is expected to miss at least three weeks, but could be out for as long as six weeks. Exactly how long he will be out could be a big factor in determining how far the Cavaliers will go in the NCAA Tournament. Anderson’s emergence as a consistent outside threat makes the Cavaliers a legitimate NCAA title threat. They still could conceivably when the title without him or even with him not at full strength, but the task would be significantly tougher.
  3. Normally the NIT is a forgettable event that we only watch if we happen to accidentally stumble upon it. This year promises to be different (ok, we probably still won’t watch it) as they will be experimenting with various rule changes. The most prominent of these changes is trying a 30-second shot clock that is already proving to be controversial. The other significant move will be to increase the size of the restricted area, which could reduce the number of questionable charges that are called. We will wait after the event is over before passing judgement on either change, but can’t see a downside to increasing the restricted area (within reason). We just hope that the powers that be are paying attention.
  4. Providence coach Ed Cooley was briefly hospitalized at a Cincinnati hospital after feeling ill during their game against Xavier. Very little information regarding the hospitalization was released, but it seems like they observed him for hypertensive urgency although his reported symptoms wouldn’t necessarily fit with that diagnosis. From what we have read this does not appear to be a chronic/recurrent problem for Cooley, which is reassuring. Cooley, who left the team with an 8-point lead that they surrendered immediately with Xavier going on an 18-2 run, is planning on returning for the team’s next game, which is on Wednesday against Villanova.
  5. Mike Krzyzewski has company in the 1000-win club. Less than two weeks after Krzyzewski became the first coach to win 1,000 men’s college basketball games, Philadelphia coach Herb Magee won his 1000th game too. While Magee generated much less attention doing it at the Division II level, it is still a remarkable accomplishment particularly when you realize that Magee did it all at one school. During Magee’s 48 years at the school, he has led them to a national championship (1970) and has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. Regardless of the level of competition, Magee’s longevity and consistent success is remarkable.
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Morning Five: 12.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 5th, 2013


  1. It won’t settle any arguments about which conference is the best (we still think it is the Big Ten), but the Big Ten/ACC Challenge did yield some interesting results. The most obvious of which was North Carolina‘s surprisingly comfortable win at Michigan State. At this point, we have no idea what to make of a young Tar Heel team that is missing the two players who were supposed to be their two best players coming into the season. And of course there is the question as to how the Spartans laid such a big egg with all of their apparent advantages, but we will give them a pass because it was so out of character. On the other end of the spectrum was a game we wish we could unsee: Wisconsin‘s 48-38 win over Virginia that was eerily reminiscent of a Big Ten rock fight in 2009. Some of the highlights from the box score: the team’s shot 28.8% and 23.4% respectively from the field, 21.7% and 9.1% from three-point range.
  2. The majority of the discussion regarding the new rules being implemented this year has been based around the number of fouls being called. One area that has been largely overlooked is how it encourages zone defense. As Ben Cohen notes there has been a fairly substantial increase in the use of zone defense so far this year. The percentage of plays that it is being used on is interesting at some level, but the number of programs that are starting to use it or considering use it might be more impressive. While the trend is impressive we will be interested to see how this changes as the season progresses.
  3. Dante Exum is one of the more intriguing recruits in the class of 2014. The problem is that the Australian point guard probably won’t enter play a college game. At least that is what fellow Australian Andrew Bogut is suggesting to Exum. According to Bogut, Exum should not go to college and risk injury since he is a likely top-5 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Although we would expect the schools that are recruiting him (basically every big-name program that you can think of) to try to push  the benefits of a year of college we have a hard time disagreeing with what Bogut is saying. Forcing players to spend a year in college is obviously beneficial to the college game, but if the player can go straight to earning millions of dollars we would have a hard time telling a player to turn that down. That’s the same thing each of these programs say they tell their players when they are deciding whether or not to return to school so it will be interesting to see if they do the same with a player that they are recruiting.
  4. We are not sure how we missed this and we are even more unsure of how Rob Dauster of all people appears to be the only one we have seen point this out, but with Tuesday’s win Mike Krzyzewski tied Herb Magee for the all-time men’s wins record with 964 career wins although Magee overtook Krzyzewski with a win last night. As Dauster notes, with Krzyzewski coaching more games each season (and to be frank winning a greater percentage) the record should be his as long as Magee doesn’t coach for many more years than Krzyzewski does. As for the all-time college wins record, that appears to be pretty safe for the next few years as Pat Summitt has a comfortable lead at 1,098 wins.
  5. Over the past few years we have heard a lot of complaints from individuals in print media about how online media was destroying their careers. So it was interesting to read Seth Davis’ piece on Dick “Hoops” Weiss and how he reinvented himself after being laid off. Some might argue that Weiss was fortunate to have a connection that enabled him to land such a job, but based on what others have said about him and our limited interaction with him (about 10 minutes back in 2009) we don’t think it has that much to do with luck.
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Morning Five: 08.08.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 8th, 2011

  1. John Pelphrey’s doing fine, thanks, and he appreciates your asking. The firing from Arkansas still stings a little, but he’s back at Florida as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a position he’s held before to considerable acclaim. While he seems happy to be back in a familiar place doing a job he loves, being a head coach again at a “network conference” school is something he won’t (and shouldn’t) allow to fall off his radar. We like following the career arcs of coaches in situations similar to the one Pelphrey’s in right now, to see how and where they bounce back.
  2. Last week,’s Luke Winn stepped up with yet another tour de force, this time an in-depth examination of the “commitment behaviors” of players listed as top-100 recruits in the recruiting rankings. Winn and his staff put some serious time into this investigation, so we don’t want to give away all of his findings, but his data revealed — and this is just one interesting factoid among many in the article — that kids who transferred high schools were almost twice as likely to eventually back out of a college commitment. Fascinating stuff here in the midst of these days of extreme college basketball “fickleness,” as Winn describes it.
  3. It’s only a matter of time until those rudimentary free markets and the walls at, say, People’s Basketball Collective #17 are awash with Duke merchandise and photos of the inestimable Mike Krzyzewski, if they aren’t already. We hope they’ve packed their guidebooks and downloaded those vocal translator apps, because the Blue Devils are off to China next weekend with a little side jaunt to Dubai thrown in there, too. Not only will the 13-day trip help Coach K see how his five new incoming frosh fit in with his returning charges, but, as Krzyzewski says, it also helps forward their “initiative to become a global entity.” Wait, you mean…they weren’t one?
  4. Last month, Notre Dame incoming freshman Eric Katenda was in Washington DC playing a pick-up game. He went up for a rebound, came down, and an opposing player went for the ball, but hit Katenda in the left eye…severing his optic nerve. While there’s plenty of research out there aimed at regenerating optic nerve tissue after it’s been cut, medical science isn’t far enough along right now to help Katenda regain his vision in that eye, so his college basketball career is already in question and he hasn’t even fully enrolled yet. We hate hearing things like this and we can’t imagine the disappointment Eric is feeling, but we were happy to read that Notre Dame still plans to honor the young man’s scholarship, whatever happens.
  5. Herb Magee has amassed 922 wins in his coaching career, ALL at Philadelphia University, and as of 48 hours ago he assumed his rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. We’re sure you’ve already heard of Coach Magee and his coaching excellence, and how he’s known as The Shot Doctor. But that’s not just because he’s good at helping others with their form from distance. In his day, Magee could — actually, he still can — make it rain. He scored 2,235 points in his career (that’s 24.0 PPG) and was known as Baby Jesus, a nickname you don’t earn in Philly unless you deserve it. If he’d have had the three-point line, his numbers would have been even more impressive. The Philadelphia Inquirer did a great piece on Magee and his shooting prowess a day ahead of his HOF induction, and we recommend it highly. We love how Magee’s friends rib him about how his #4 jersey that hangs in the gym’s rafters isn’t so much his jersey number as it is his career assist total. Outstanding.
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Morning Five: 03.01.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 1st, 2010

It’s all over in Vancouver, and we admit that when there was no college hoops to be found, we caught a couple hours of it.  So we’ll sort of miss those tape-delayed images of Shaun White doing tricks, Bode Miller occasionally zooming down hills, Apolo Ohno whizzing around ovals, and Lindsey Vonn doing…well, doing just about anything. But this month, above all others, belongs to college basketball.  Welcome to March, people...

  1. Even though Philadelphia University’s Herb Magee is reeling him in for this particular title, Northern State’s Don Meyer is considered the winningest NCAA men’s basketball coach of all time because the NCAA counts ALL wins at all four-year colleges as long as the coach spent at least ten years at NCAA schools.  Meyer, who announced a week ago that he would retire at the end of this season, coached his final game on Saturday night — a loss to Southwest Minnesota State.  Meyer retires with a record of 923-324. Much respect, sir.  Godspeed and good health to you.
  2. Temple got seven threes from Juan Hernandez in leading Temple to a 65-53 win over La Salle on Sunday, but the victory didn’t just improve the Owls’ record to 24-5 and keep them in a tie with Xavier atop the Atlantic 10 (both 12-2).  Their perfect 4-0 record against the other member schools won them the Big 5 title for this year.  If you don’t think that means anything to anyone, consider the Big 5 creed: “They say there is no real prize for winning the Big 5.  They must not be from Philly.”
  3. A day ahead of his team possibly taking over the top spot in the rankings, Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson is enjoying the ride, and admits that he never could have predicted that the Orange would have ever been considered the #1 team in the land this year in a Skype interview he did with Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman on Sunday.
  4. In an article by Lexington Herald-Leader writer Jerry Tipton, Kentucky chief John Calipari claims that a couple of his players were “sleepwalking” through the whole game.  He doesn’t specifically name the somnambulists, but — careful not to take anything away from the Volunteers’ effort — he cites a combination of the quick turnaround from Thursday’s late game against South Carolina and (more alarmingly) what he feels is inexperience among some of his players in preparing themselves for important games.  Given Calipari’s recent statement about just wanting to “get on to the tournament,” it’s a legitimate question to ask:  has ennui crept into the Wildcat camp?
  5. Seriously, Steve Alford?  Yes, you are hearing correctly, Alford really does call Jonathan Tavernari that name right at the end.  This sure makes the chance of a New Mexico-BYU rematch in the finals of the Mountain West tournament an exciting prospect.  In the meantime, maybe someone can get Alford to echo his mentor by saying, “If Tavernari wants to sit down and talk with me…I’ll explain things to him!”  Come on, Coach.  You’re better than this.

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ATB: 903 for Herb Magee

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

#903. Philadelphia 76, Goldey-Beacom 65.  It’s not D1, but we don’t really care.  Anyone who wins 903 games deserves all the accolades he can get, and RTC is happy to oblige (especially when their fans oblige us with a well-deserved RTC).  With local coaching luminaries such as Villanova’s Jay Wright and Temple’s Fran Dunphy in attendance, the 68-year old coach Herb Magee thrilled an SRO crowd by avenging the school’s only CACC conference loss as he officially became the all-time leader in NCAA wins, passing Bob Knight’s 902.  His Rams move to 23-6 overall and 15-1 in the conference as they look to make another run in the Division II Tournament next month.  Magee won a national title at the school in 1970 and has averaged over twenty victories a year ever since, yet he says he has no plans to slow down as long as he’s healthy, inviting everyone back in “four and a half years” for the next celebration at 1,000.  After the game fans were given t-shirts with Magee’s name and the number 903 on the front — if anyone can send us one of these, we’d be exceptionally grateful.  Congratulations, Coach Magee — a class act, through and through.

Fans RTC After Magee Won his 903d Game Tonight (Phila. Inquirer)

The Wild and Wonderful Big East#13 Georgetown 70, Louisville 60.  As soon as you think you have this league figured out, it surprises you again.  Come on, who wasn’t saying at halftime of this game tonight that the Cards were surging and the Hoyas were cooked.  It’s ok, you don’t have to admit it to us, but that’s what we were thinking too.  Um, we guess the Hoyas weren’t thinking that.  Georgetown used a 24-5 run to start the second half and silence the Freedom Hall crowd behind Austin Freeman’s 29/4/4 assts, the vast majority of which came in that half.  The rest of the game was academic, as Rick Pitino’s team fell back into its old habit of Edgar Sosa (24/8 assts) and Samardo Samuels (11/6) doing most of the shooting (and scoring).  Both of these teams are now 9-6 and one game behind West Virginia for magical double-bye that the Big East Tournament offers its top four seeds.  Georgetown has two winnable home games vs. Notre Dame and Cincy sandwiching a tough road game at WVU, while Louisville has three pretty tough games remaining (UConn and Marquette away, Syracuse at home).  As for the long-term viability of these two teams, both have warts, but Georgetown’s better offensive balance and big-game ability carries a lot more weight with us — if having to choose now, Louisville looks like a first-round upset waiting to happen, while the Hoyas are a Sweet Sixteen team so long as their starters stay on the floor.

Upset of the NightEvansville 55, #24 Northern Iowa 54.  How badly must suspended UNI center Jordan Eglseder feel now?  Although the Panthers are still safely within the NCAA field even if they lose in Arch Madness next week, this loss to the hapless Evansville Purple Aces will have a serious impact on their seeding two Sundays from now.  Evansville, who has won only two games in the MVC all season but beat the top two teams (UNI and Wichita State) on their home court, held Nothern Iowa to 33% shooting and only 5-27 from three, one of their three worst performances of the season.  The few Evansville fans who were there actually RTC’d, but we haven’t yet found any photographic or video evidence of this yet.

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Morning Five: 02.22.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 22nd, 2010

  1. Appropriately, we begin with D2 Philadelphia University’s head coach Herb Magee winning his 902nd game on Saturday, which ties Bobby Knight for first place on the all-time NCAA victories list for a men’s basketball coach.  Magee, to whom the guys from our Backdoor Cuts feature devoted their column last week, has been at Philadelphia for 50 years — as a player from 1959-63, an assistant coach from 1963-67, and head coach since then — but his record-tying win wasn’t secured until the game’s very last second, when Philadelphia U.’s Jim Connolly hit a three-pointer to win it over Post University, 70-67.  Magee will go for win #903 at home against Goldey-Beacom College on Tuesday.
  2. Great stuff here from The Big Lead.  If you’re a college basketball player, it’s always important to listen to your coach, right?  Especially in a very important late-February game between a conference’s two best teams.  That can be tough, depending on what distractors are in the area.  In Saturday’s intense Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt game, while John Calipari was drawing up a play during a time out, the Wildcats’ DeMarcus Cousins was busted eyeballing an undeniably strong distractor in the form of a certain ESPN sideline reporter, not that we’re castin’ any stones…
  3. New York Times college sports reporter (and excellent tweeter) Pete Thamel had the privilege of spending his Saturday in Tempe, Arizona, the site of the secret little talks going on between USC and the NCAA’s infractions committee.  He logs an excellent summary here, with the reactions of two USC coaches (one current, one former) catching our eye:  1) we were moved to downright guffaws by the moral ascendancy Tim Floyd appears to be claming, as he opined that appearing before the committee was “the right thing to do,” and 2) we loved Lane Kiffin’s admission after the three-day hearings, proclaiming “I’ve never moved less in a 72-hour period,” which was only slightly shorter than his tenure in Knoxville.
  4. We also give Mr. Thamel an assist on this one, which we started checking out because of a tweet of his (seriously, he’s really good)…but it just keeps getting worse for Binghamton.  They’re now down to two coaches, now that assistant Marc Hsu has been placed on leave following a report by the school alleging that Hsu gave money to a player and did coursework for several members of the team.  Hsu hasn’t been on the bench for the last three games, and this suspension is indefinite.
  5. Oklahoma’s Willie Warren missed Saturday’s loss to Kansas State due to mononucleosis, a diagnosis that also caused him to sit out the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State two games ago.  Warren played in the loss at Colorado this past Wednesday, which struck us as odd, given the debilitating nature of mono and the fact that the older you are when you get it, the worse you usually feel.  If you’ve never had it, it causes flu-like symptoms but it absolutely drains you of energy.  What’s worse, in some cases it can cause enlargement of the spleen, an organ you don’t want to bust open, which is why kids and adolescents with mono are told to stay away from contact sports/ballet/wrestling with siblings/etc until further notice — usually at least a month.  You can also still spread it (through saliva) anywhere from six to 18 months after having it, and even though most people recover to full strength, the only treatments are the tinctures of time and rest.  The Sooners aren’t going dancing this year, and Warren’s health comes first, so we couldn’t blame the OU program if official word soon came down that Warren was going to miss the rest of the year.  Mononucleosis is no picnic, despite the fact that it gets glossed over quite frequently, so we hope Warren is back to his old self soon.
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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. X

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys riff on an underappreciated legend from outside the ranks of high-major college hoops.

DAVE ZEITLIN: If there’s one thing I know about you guys, it’s that you love upsets. Well, if you need your fill, you don’t have to wait until March Madness. One of the greatest upsets of all-time is going to unfold next week, and hardly anyone is talking about it.  Bob Knight, one of the most recognized coaches in the world, will soon be passed as the NCAA all-time wins leader by Herb Magee, a man who probably wouldn’t even be recognized in his own city. On Saturday, the 68-year-old Magee, who coaches at Division II Philadelphia University, won his 900th career game. He now has 901 and should surpass Knight’s 902 wins as early as next week.

Philadelphia U Students Celebrate the 900th Win

Of course, some might say that coaching at the Division II level is a whole different ballgame. And it is. But that’s what makes Magee’s story so unique. He’s passed up many offers to coach at a higher level for weird reasons like not wanting to uproot his family and avoiding sleazy hanger-ons. Check out this line from a 2006 Sports Illustrated story: “Magee’s aversion to change means that he’s passed up incalculable amounts of money. But by staying at Philadelphia U, he’s also passed up recruiting wars, street agents, glad-handing, boosters, call-in shows, reality-deprived expectations, nonstop travel and websites devoted to his firing.” Here’s another gem from the same piece:

John Nash, a longtime NBA executive and childhood friend, once called Magee late at night asking why he wasn’t more interested in ascending the ladder.

“What are you doing right now, John?” Magee asked.

“Watching film,” said Nash.

“Me too,” Magee responded. “Mine’s called Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Now let’s think about the man he is going to pass. While Knight should be commended for always running a clean program, let’s be honest: he’s a bully. I’m sure he’s a fun guy to be around if you crack his inner circle, but it’s hard for any writer to like a man who consistently chastises the media (even though he’s now joined it) and once said, “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” (As if writing a column for Rush the Court isn’t the GREATEST thing.) Magee, on the other hand, has always been gracious with the very few media members he talks to, even as he conducts interviews in the hallway between his small gym and smaller office.

Now let’s think about the number for a second. 900. Look at the man. He looks like he could run a marathon with two basketballs tied to his back. I bet Magee, who’s nickamed the “Shot Doctor” (which, I must add, is a lot more tolerable than “The General”) would beat Bob Knight one-on-one, 11-0, blindfolded. (Magee scored over 2,000 points in college and was selected in the NBA draft; Knight was a reserve at Ohio State.)  Are the comparisons between these two fair? Probably not. And I’ve been told the two coaches have great respect for each other, with Magee once buying a $2 pamphlet called “Let’s Play Defense” from Knight when the two were younger — which has techniques that he still uses today.

Still, if you like upsets … if you like nice people more than mean people … if you like cute puppies more than this … then you should root for Magee to set the NCAA record. And since I doubt either of you two “Division I fans” know much about Magee, I’ll open the floor. Let’s hear some other underappreciated stories, places of people in the world of college basketball. And no, the St. Joes’ Hawk flapping its wings for an entire game doesn’t count.

MIKE WALSH: I pass …

Frankly, nothing I could come up even holds a candle to Magee, and this achievement is so noteworthy that I don’t think we have even begun to scratch the surface. And, I’m always down for a little Bobby Knight bashing, although my wife’s Indiana-based side of the family might disown me.

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03.02.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

We have a weekend full of links for you today as I was sort of busy over the weekend. On Saturday there was the RTC Live from Storrs, CT on Senior Night/Day, which was followed by RTC Aftermath that recapped the event. On Sunday, I was busy running Boom Goes the Dynamite and making some new friends from Duke (see the comment section).

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