Big 12 Season Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2014

Throughout the preseason, the Big 12 microsite will preview each of the league’s 10 teams, from worst to first. Today: Kansas.

Kansas

Strengths: Coaching and talent. It sounds simple, but when you’ve won 10 straight conference titles, why complicate things? Consider this: Last season, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 by two games and had two of the top three picks in the NBA Draft, yet the season was considered by many to be the most disappointing of Bill Self‘s tenure (and not just because of the early NCAA Tournament flameout to Stanford, though that certainly had a lot to do with it). That’s a major testament to Self’s ability to coach and develop talent, but it also speaks to the annual expectation his track record breeds. The Jayhawks reload yet again, with Kelly Oubre replacing Andrew Wiggins on the wing and Cliff Alexander taking Joel Embiid’s spot down low. Wayne Selden is back with a healthy knee and Perry Ellis is a reliable stalwart in the post. Add a high-ceiling wild card in Svi Mykhaliuk, who Self says is sometimes the best player on the floor in practice, and you’re looking at yet another Kansas team that will be expected to win the Big 12 and, come March, should be among the smartest picks to make a run to Indianapolis.

The Cliff Alexander hype train is already leaving the station. (The Kansas City Star)

The Cliff Alexander hype train is already leaving the station. (Rich Sugg/The Kansas City Star)

Weaknesses: The Jayhawks have enjoyed tremendous success since Sherron Collins left the program in 2010, but ask fans and people close the program and they’ll tell you they’d feel even better if their team had steady play at the point guard spot. It’s definitely not for a lack of trying, though. Since Collins’ departure, the Jayhawks have been connected in various degrees to several of the top floor generals available, including Emmanuel Mudiay, Tyus Jones, Mark Lyons, Gabe York and Cat Barber. For assorted reasons, though, all of them found other landing spots, leaving Kansas to make do with a group of which each had their share of moments and headaches — Josh Selby, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe. The Jayhawks have proven that they can succeed in spite of the point guard issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s a preferable position. Additionally, Kansas needs to rebound from a pedestrian defensive showing (by their standards). The Jayhawks finished last season with their worst defensive efficiency ranking of the KenPom era (#31), due to a combination of a brutal schedule, inexperience, injuries and uncharacteristically poor backcourt defense. This year’s non-conference schedule isn’t less daunting nor is this year’s team significantly more experienced (if at all), but on the other hand, it’s tough to imagine a Self team letting him down on the defensive end for a second straight year. Still, Kansas will have to quiet those concerns if it is to live up to its potential.

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Morning Five: 04.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 26th, 2013

morning5

  1. We will start off today by offering our best wishes to ESPN analyst Digger Phelps who revealed that he had surgery and will be treated for bladder cancer. Most of America knows Digger for his work on ESPN including his matching tie and highlighter combinations, but he was also an outstanding coach at Notre Dame from 1971 to 1991 as he was able to knock off the #1 team in the nation seven times during that stretch (a record he shares with Gary Williams) including ending UCLA’s record 88-game winning streak. We do not know much about the stage of the cancer and subsequently the prognosis, but we wish Digger the best as he continues to undergo treatment.
  2. In what might end up being the biggest early-entry decision this year, Doug McDermott announced that he will be returning to Creighton for his senior year. There have been several players with more NBA-level talent than McDermott who made early-entry decisions over the past few weeks, but none of them will have as profound an impact on their school, conference, and the national landscape as McDermott will. The Bluejays will be losing some key pieces (Grant Gibbs and Greg Echenique), but McDermott’s return should make them competitive in the new Big East and a dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament. We are not sure how much McDermott will help his NBA Draft stock by returning, but as Andy Glockner points out the move to the new Big East should give McDermott the ability to showcase his skills against more high-level talent than he had in the Missouri Valley Conference.
  3. The other notable early-entry announcement yesterday came from Baylor where Cory Jefferson announced that he would be returning for his senior year. Jefferson, who showed a dramatic improvement last season, is essentially the polar opposite of McDermott as a NBA prospect in that he is a ridiculous NBA-level athlete, but his offensive game is very limited. We are not sure that Scott Drew is the best person to work on that–at least based on what we have seen from him in terms of in-game adjustments–but an extra year of college basketball should give Jefferson enough time to round out his game to make him a better NBA prospect and a probable first-round pick although with how deep next year’s NBA Draft could be Jefferson needs to continue his upward trajectory to ensure himself a first-round spot.
  4. One of the things that we always have a hard time understanding is the hype surrounding transfers. One example of this is Hunter Mickelson, who is transferring from Arkansas to Kansas. Mickelson was a highly recruited 6’10” Arkansas native who tried to get out of his letter of intent when the coaching change at Arkansas occurred, but was not released by the school only averaged 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season in just 16.6 minutes per game. His 2.3 blocks in 17.1 minutes per game as a freshman was impressive, but we are not quite buying the hype on Mickelson yet even if his block per minute numbers compare favorably with what Jeff Withey was able to do (see Jesse Newell’s excellent analysis for a more detailed breakdown of what Mickelson brings to Lawrence). Like Mickelson, Jabari Hinds was a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, but struggled during his two seasons at West Virginia before eventually finding himself on the bench late last season. Now Hinds appears to be headed for Massachusetts where as Jeff Eisenberg points out he could benefit from playing against lower-level talent. Perhaps the most perplexing case of all is Tarik Black, the Memphis big man who put up unremarkable numbers–8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds–last season yet finds himself being heavily recruited by Duke among others. As Gary Parrish points out some of this is supply and demand. At this point there are not many big men who have proven they can play at a high-major level so now there are “at least 20 other high-major programs are all lined up and working like they’re the last 25 dudes in a bar with just one moderately attractive girl”. The part that Parrish leaves out is that the one “lucky” dude/program has to wake up the following morning next to the moderately attractive girl.
  5. With all the movement in the coaching carousel there will inevitably be a few recruits who change their minds about where they want to go to school (see Mickelson above). Two of the bigger moves in the coaching carousel this season were at UCLA and Rutgers both of whom were involved in some recruit movement yesterday. In the case of UCLA they released Allerik Freeman from the national letter of intent he signed last November when Ben Howland was still the coach at UCLA. We are not sure if this decision was mutual or if Freeman was the sole driving force, but given how quickly this went down we would be surprised if Steve Alford was not ok with having an extra scholarship available. On the other end of the country and spectrum was Rutgers who picked up its first recruit of the Eddie Jordan era when junior college guard Craig Brown committed to the school. Rutgers obviously has a very long way to go to be a national-level program again and picking up a junior college guard will not turn many heads in New Jersey, but the speed with which Jordan picked up the commitment is impressive.
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SEC Transition Basketball: Arkansas Razorbacks

Posted by Brian Joyce on August 21st, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: Arkansas.

State of the Program

In year one of the homecoming of Mike Anderson, he had the Razorbacks on the brink of returning to the NCAA Tournament as they stood 16-6 on February 1 with an RPI inside the top 50. The final month doomed the squad, however as they won only two of their final 10 games. After starting 16-1 at home, they limped in with a 1-3 record in front of the home faithful, defeating only bottom-dweller South Carolina in that stretch. Inexperience and untimely injuries proved too much for the Razorbacks to overcome.

Mike Anderson is back in Fayetteville with enough talent to make the Razorbacks a contender in the SEC

The young Hogs return eight players from last season’s team including junior Marshawn Powell, who was averaging 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and second-team All-SEC sophomore guard B.J. Young, who led SEC freshmen in scoring.  The Razorbacks return 69 percent of their offense and 55 percent of their rebounding from a year ago. Returners made 125 of the 160 starts with only Marvelle Waithe (eight starts) and Michael Sanchez (27 starts) graduating. Many thought that Arkansas’ talent and new style could push the Razorbacks into the surprise team of the SEC last season. While the Hogs never made that push, the secret is out, and they won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season.

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SEC Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 26th, 2012

  1. The SEC will expand to at least 18 games next season, and a 19-game schedule is a strong possibility. The additional games would enable the league to keep the same scheduling format, and help SEC teams add marquee home games (and potential TV games on ESPN and CBS) to the schedules. Every team (sans Kentucky because of the potential to be forced to discard a marquee game with North Carolina or Indiana) is likely to favor the additional league games. Expanding the SEC format should help keep the conference strong in the RPI category, by playing in-conference games against Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Missouri or Florida rather than Radford, South Carolina State or Alabama A&M.
  2. Kentucky and Florida are two of just nine schools that will unveil new Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms during one conference game this season. According to Nike, these aren’t just for the futuristic look, but are “designed to create a new level of performance based on superior innovation.” The uniforms will feature “advanced ventilation and a unique platinum color that speaks to the exclusivity of those chosen to wear it.” And don’t you worry, fans will be able to purchase t-shirts from the new Elite Platinum brand. Both schools have chosen to wear their new unis against Tennessee. Kentucky will unveil its new duds on January 31, while the Gators will break them out on February 11. Why Tennessee? Maybe it’s a coincidence, but the Volunteers have a strong relationship with Adidas. Well played, Nike… well played.
  3. Vanderbilt’s 65-47 drubbing of Tennessee on Tuesday night showcased again what a solid season senior Jeffery Taylor is having for the Commodores. Taylor put up an impressive 23 points, nine rebounds and four steals, bringing his averages to 17.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on the season. Most SEC fans consider junior guard John Jenkins to be the premier three-point shooter for Vanderbilt and the entire conference, but Taylor is second in the league with a 48.6% three point rate. In fact, Taylor hasn’t shot less than 50% from beyond the arc since a January 2 win over Miami (Ohio), and was a perfect 3-of-3 from long range against the Volunteers. His recent play reminds us how important center Festus Ezeli is to the Vanderbilt offense. Ezeli’s return to the lineup coincides with Taylor’s improved play because of the attention given to the big man inside. The Commodores have won nine out of their last 10 contests after a disappointing 6-4 start.
  4. Arkansas freshman Hunter Mickelson enjoyed a breakout game against Michigan with 11 points off the bench. Mickelson’s contributions are much needed considering the Razorbacks’ thin frontline. Coach Mike Anderson was happy with what he saw from Mickelson, but hopes for more. “Sometimes when you make that first shot, man, you get confidence,” Anderson said. “I thought that relaxed Hunter. He looked more relaxed than anything else in the game against Michigan. Hopefully we’ll see much more of that Hunter Mickelson.” And we just might. Arkansas has just three healthy scholarship players in its frontcourt after the injury bug hit the Razorbacks hard. Forward Marshawn Powell is gone after a season ending knee injury, and forward Marvell Waithe is doubtful for Wednesday’s game after a calf strain sustained in the Michigan win.
  5. When coaches say to take each game “one game at a time,” it is really more of a practice of the old saying “do as I say, not as I do.” Gator Zone takes an interesting look at the scouting habits of the Florida Gators. The effects of the quick turnaround (Thursday/Saturday combination) of conference games has forced the Gators’ coaching staff to be more prepared for upcoming games. Florida’s staff is looking five to 10 games out as each coach has an assignment to scout a future opponent. Billy Donovan wants what he calls “absolutes,” which means, “we absolutely have to do these things to win the game.” Just because scouting requires a lot of patience and energy doesn’t mean Donovan just accepts what his staff comes up with. “I ask a million questions,” Donovan said. “My favorite is, ‘Why?’ I want to hear why. I want them to explain to me why we’re going to do that. I want answers.” The article is an interesting read on an area of the game that we don’t often hear much about, and displays an inside look in how the Gators took down the Tigers on Saturday.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 28th, 2011

 

 

 

 

  1. The injuries keep coming for the SEC and college basketball. Florida‘s starting forward Erik Murphy has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely according to The Gainesville Sun. Murphy injured his knee in practice on Thursday. “It does appear he has some form of a meniscus tear,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “How severe or how long he will be out, we’d probably find out a lot more on Monday. He’s out for the game (against Stetson) Monday and I’d assume he would be out for the next week as well.” Florida has a big game this week against Syracuse in the Big East/SEC challenge on Friday. The Gators played Ohio State earlier this season in an another top 10 match-up, and Murphy was crucial to Florida’s offense. He scored 14 points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes of play against the Buckeyes. Donovan seems optimistic that Murphy will return soon.
  2. Another SEC team that has been hit hard with injuries is looking to its freshmen to lead the way. BJ Young, Rashad Madden, Hunter Mickelson, and Devonta Abron combined to score 53 points for Arkansas in their win over Grambling State. All four posted career-highs in points, and Mickelson grabbed a career-high eight rebounds as well. “When those guys came off the bench, I thought they took the tempo up a notch for us and really got us into our transition game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “They got the most minutes of any of the guys out there, so to me, that’s a reflection of their play. I thought they were at times pretty impressive.” The development of the Hogs’ four freshmen is key as Arkansas is left with only nine scholarship players this season. All four will get plenty of opportunities moving forward as the Razorbacks’ leading scorer and rebounder, Marshawn Powell, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ligaments in his knee.
  3. Kentucky recorded only four turnovers in an 87-63 win over Portland on Saturday night. The four turnovers are the lowest for the Wildcats since a 1993 NCAA Tournament game against Utah (two turnovers). Much has been made of freshman Marquis Teague‘s ability to lead Kentucky at the point guard position, but he led the way with eight assists and zero turnovers. Teague added 14 points and four steals, and looked increasingly more comfortable in his role. That is a good sign for the Wildcats as they prepare for a big week with a matchup against St. John’s on Thursday and the much anticipated game against North Carolina on Saturday.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari sent out shock waves in Big Blue Nation on Sunday as he asked a (hypothetical?) question to Cats’ fans. Calipari asked via his website CoachCal.com which non-conference team the Kentucky faithful would like to see dropped from the schedule if necessary. The SEC could add two additional conference games to each team’s schedule with the addition of two league members beginning next season. Calipari writes, “If we had to – and this doesn’t mean we have to at this point because we still have 16 league games – but if we had to drop one series and there were no other options, who would it be? Would it be North Carolina, Indiana or Louisville?” For what it’s worth, college basketball is better with these high powered non-conference games, but it’s understandable if that is not in the best interests of Kentucky basketball. Regardless, Kentucky and Louisville is one of the best rivalries in the game, and it has to keep going if for nothing more than the drama of Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.
  5. Auburn set a school record with 17 blocked shots in their win on Friday night against Nicholls State.  Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi led the way with five blocks each. Kenny Gabriel blocked four more. The 17 blocks put Tigers tied for second with Kentucky (17 blocks against Morehead State in 1998) for the all-time single-game SEC list. Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was impressed, but wants to keep seeing improvement. “We still, as a program, have to grow and develop that confidence,” Barbee said. “The only way you do that is by winning. These guys are hungry, but I want them to be better and they know that. We can be better.” The Tigers improved to 3-0 with this win, and face a rebuilding Seton Hall team on Friday. The Tigers have been a solid club defensively, but offensively are still a work in progress. According to KenPom.com, Auburn ranks 170th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Barbee will have to find some scoring to continue to see his team accumulate victories.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 25th, 2011

 

 

 

 

  1. Did anybody try cooking for Thanksgiving? It’s okay, sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how you planned. I’m sure everybody grinned and ate it anyway. Well, LSU‘s season isn’t turning out how coach Trent Johnson planned either. In their most recent game, they fell to South Alabama despite building a 12-point lead. “Like I told the team, you just can’t show up and expect to win a game, whether you are at home or on the road,” Johnson said. “The one thing that sort of concerns me is that although we had 17 assists and 11 turnovers, and when we got up 10, I thought we had some guys try to go off on their own a little bit.” LSU came into the game with a two-game win streak, but were out-rebounded by the Jaguars 42-31. This is the Tigers third loss of this early season. The problem for Johnson and the Tigers is that nobody is grinning and pretending to enjoy what is happening to this LSU team.
  2. The Georgia student newspaper, the Red and Black, says coach Mark Fox is optimistic about how his young Bulldogs are coming along. Fox was impressed with how his team responded after a difficult loss to California with a hard-fought win over Notre Dame the following night. But Georgia’s schedule just gets tougher from this point forward. “This schedule is challenging and for a young team, it’s extra challenging,” Fox said. “You gotta learn how to beat good teams and you don’t learn how to beat good teams by just playing bad ones. So we’re gonna have to grow up on the job. We’re gonna have a lot of teachable moments like we had against Cal and Notre Dame. There is just so much for this group to experience.” Georgia will get plenty of opportunities to grow up on the job as they play Xavier, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Southern California over the next few weeks. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has filled in to produce some much needed scoring with 13.2 points per game so far. The Dogs are counting on Caldwell-Pope to increase his field goal percentage (40.4%) as he gets more experience throughout the season.
  3. Arkansas is still learning to deal with the injury of leading scorer Marshawn Powell. Freshman Devonta Abron started in place of Powell against Utah Valley on Wednesday night and finished with three points and three rebounds. The entire frontcourt really struggled in Powell’s absence. Abron, Hunter Mickelson, Michael Sanchez, and Marvell Waithe combined to score six points and grab 13 rebounds. “We have to work with what we have now,” 6’2″ guard Madracus Wade said of Powell’s injury. “The young guys have to step up. … We’ve all got to get in there and rebound.” Arkansas won 67-59, but it is clear that Mike Anderson’s up-tempo system can’t run entirely on guard play. The Razorbacks have to find frontcourt production soon to avoid a major letdown in Anderson’s first year at the helm.
  4. Tennessee‘s narrow losses against #6 Duke and #8 Memphis have the Vols confident that they can play with anyone in the nation. A big reason for the Volunteers success in Maui was the outstanding play of power forward Jeronne Maymon who scored 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Memphis. The performance was the first time a Division I player has scored at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Blake Griffin in 2009. “We know we’re good enough to play against anybody on any given night,” Maymon said. “Each night we go to practice like we’re getting ready for the No. 1-ranked team.” Maymon and Tennessee proved, despite losing two close games, that they were highly underrated with the potential to be an NCAA Tournament team. The Volunteers were picked to finish 11th in the SEC in the preseason and it is seems clear that the Vols will finish much higher than that.
  5. The Clarion-Ledger has a few observations from the first five Ole Miss games of the season. The most interesting note is just how bad the Rebels’ offensive efficiency has been this year. They are 17-97 (17.5%) from beyond the arc, bad enough for 340th in the nation. The Reb’s two point percentage is 49.8%, which is significantly better at 125th in the nation. Andy Kennedy seems to be struggling to replace do-it-all guard Chris Warren, who averaged 19.1 points per game last year. Terrance Henry is the Rebels leading scorer thus far with 12.2 points per game, but he is shooting at an alarming 41.2% from the field. The Rebels wins thus far are a bit misleading. While the Rebs are 4-1, a 30-point loss on Sunday to Marquette signifies that unless Kennedy can solve their offensive woes, more difficult times lie ahead for Ole Miss once they take a step up in competition.
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Analyzing the Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2011

Posted by zhayes9 on October 7th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

In this era of one-and-done, where every touted freshman and blue-chip prospect must lace up the sneakers in college for at least a season, recruiting has never been more important.

As recently as a decade ago, programs were built, legacies were formed and trophies were hoisted on the basis of developing and grooming four-year players. In 2003, freshman Carmelo Anthony bucked that trend by carrying his Syracuse team to a national title. When David Stern instituted an age limit to participate professionally, impact players such as Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose may have only dipped their toes in the collegiate water, but the Final Four berths won’t soon be forgotten.

This upcoming season, college basketball hasn’t been gutted as dramatically as in the past. Assumed lottery picks passed on the immediate NBA riches whether in fears of a prolonged lockout or simply to accomplish goals left unmet. A plethora of battle-tested seniors also make their dramatic return. Despite this welcomed development, freshmen will still have their say in who grabs the four all-important #1 seeds and who ultimately graces the hardwood in Indianapolis next April.

Here are the ten teams primed to receive a substantial contribution from their talented newcomers this upcoming season:

1. Kentucky- Brandon Knight is the latest Calipari-coached freshman to bolt early for the pros. Luckily for Big Blue, their coach’s recruiting skills hasn’t eroded in the least bit. In pretty much any other freshman class in the country, Kyle Wiltjer would top the list; in Lexington, he’s easily the fourth-best rookie on the squad. The headliner is center Anthony Davis, the early favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  The Chicago native reminds many scouts of a young Kevin Garnett with his tremendous versatility, remarkable athleticism and exceptional rebounding abilities. Formerly a lightly-recruited guard prior to a timely growth spurt, Davis is more than comfortable handling the ball around the perimeter. Taking over at point guard for Knight is Marquis Teague, a lightning-fast lead guard and the younger brother of former Wake Forest and current Hawks reserve Jeff Teague. Teague is a better fit for Calipari’s preferred dribble-drive motion offense than the ball-screen dependent Knight. The third potential freshman starter is St. Patrick’s own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gilchrist is an intense competitor and will be absolute joy for Calipari to coach. Witjer should prove a valuable backup big man with a refined perimeter game.

Anthony Davis/kentuckysportsradio.com

2. Duke- Losing your three most productive players – two face-of-the-program seniors and a point guard that just happened to be chosen #1 overall — would result in a multi-year rebuilding process at most schools. Most schools aren’t Duke, and the Blue Devils are once again expected to compete in the top ten. The biggest reason why is Austin Rivers. Easily the best scoring guard in the freshman ranks, Rivers is a legitimate threat to average 17-20 PPG during his first (and likely only) season in Durham. Rivers does possess the ability to create his own shot, but could struggle to get opportune looks until Seth Curry develops a comfort level at point guard. Oak Hill’s Quinn Cook is expected to compete for minutes at the point once he recovers from a knee injury. He appears destined to be Duke’s floor general of the future. Cook is a born leader that has one priority: to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. How deep Coach K opts to utilize his bench will determine the playing time of wings Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy, along with the third Plumlee brother, Marshall Plumlee. All three will be regular contributors down the road. Once Murphy develops some strength, he could be the best of the lot as a scoring threat with sneaky athleticism.

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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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