Chris Lofton Is Not Impressed

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2009

Earlier today a report came out that Tennessee junior Wayne Chism played against Oklahoma State with a broken thumb. During the game, I noticed that Chism wasn’t as productive as he normally is, but it didn’t seem like there was anything out of the ordinary. Although his line (11 points on 4/14 FG and 6 rebounds) was a little below his typical production it just seemed like an off-day. Still, I’m sure plenty of Volunteer fans will be asking themselves whether Chism’s injury, which was sustained during practice two days before the game, cost them a chance at making a run deeper in the tournament.

May or not be Chism's actual x-ray. . .

May or not be Chism's actual x-ray. . .

Regardless, this would be the 2nd straight year where the Volunteers title hopes were significantly affected by an injury or illness that was not revealed until after the season was over. Although we’re pretty sure Chism was in significant pain, it pales in comparison to what Chris Lofton endured last year.

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Ty Lawson Injured

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2009

We just received a report from our sources in Chapel Hill that Ty Lawson had to leave practice early yesterday on crutches after injuring his left big toe. Initial x-rays did not reveal a fracture and UNC still has not announced the diagnosis or extent of Lawson’s injury, but if he isn’t able to play against Duke on Sunday the Tar Heels could be in trouble.  If it is anything more serious that hampers the mobility of the Tar Heels lightning quick point guard for a longer period of time (e.g. turf toe) it would be a devastating blow for the Tar Heels’ chances of winning the national title. We’ll keep you updated on this story as it unfolds.

Update: Now we’re hearing that the plan is for Lawson to practice today and play tomorrow unless something changes, but a final decision will probably be made after today’s practice.

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UNC Picks Up Another Piece

Posted by nvr1983 on February 17th, 2009

Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports is reporting that UNC freshman Tyler Zeller will be returning to the Tar Heels lineup most likely in time for tomorrow night’s game against North Carolina State. According to Steve Kirschner, the Associate Director of Athletics for Communications at UNC, “It’s 99 percent that he’ll play tomorrow night.”  Zeller, who broke his wrist while being fouled on a breakaway dunk (see below) against Kentucky, played well in his only game of the season as he scored 18 against Penn in the Tar Heels season-opener playing in place of the injured Tyler Hansbrough.

UNC fans were expecting to have a formidible interior with reigning national POY in Hansbrough, junior Deon Thompson, and the two freshman (Zeller and Ed Davis). Hansbrough has been Hansbrough although not as dominant as we expected (more on that in a post later this week), Thompson has played well in stretches, and Davis has been UNC’s best interior defender. However, both Thompson and Davis have had a drop-off in their production recently. Zeller may not add a lot to the Tar Heels interior defense, but he can certainly contribute offensively.

zeller

When combined with the announcement yesterday that UConn‘s Jerome Dyson was done for the season, this seems to shift the balance of power over to UNC although Pittsburgh fans may disagree after their performance on the road yesterday. In any case, it definitely makes the Tar Heels a tougher out in the tournament as they now have the strongest inside game in the country to go along with a lightning fast point guard in Ty Lawson and a sharpshooter who has found his range in Wayne Ellington.

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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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Bad break for Rodrick Stewart

Posted by nvr1983 on April 4th, 2008

It looks like Andre Allen won’t be the only senior reserve to miss the Final 4. At the end of the Jayhawks practice session today, several players were attempting dunks. Unfortunately, for KU senior Rodrick Stewart one of his dunk attempts went awry and he fractured his patella.

Sad way to go out. . .

Although the article doesn’t specify if it was just a routine dunk at the end of practice, I really hope he wasn’t trying to show off for the fans attending the practice. Having witnessed the tank job that was the Boston Celtics 2006-2007 season, I can’t help but think back to Tony Allen’s knee injury, which occured well after the whistle had blown.

At that point in the season, the Celtics weren’t going anywhere, but Allen was developing into a solid NBA player. He appears to be recovering from the injury and has contributed at times this year for the Celtics, but his numbers are well off his production before the injury (note: may have something to do with less playing time because the Celtics are slightly better this year). We hope Stewart a speedy and full recovery as the Final 4 would likely have been his last meaningful basketball games (2.8 PPG in 11.6 MPG this year as a senior).

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ATB: Heytvelt Back on the Shelf

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.11.07

Story of the Night. Our preseason F4 picks are UNC, UCLA, Indiana and Gonzaga, so it’s no surprise that we really like the Zags this season. Imagine our own surprise, however, when we learned just before tipoff of today’s #16 Gonzaga-Montana game that Josh Heytvelt will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. Given what we know about these sorts of things, we wonder just how effective he’ll be when he gets back. Obviously, without Heytvelt, the Zags have no chance to reach their first F4. Or do they? Heytvelt’s replacement, 6’10 freshman forward Austin Daye, put on a show in his first game, going for 20/10/2 blks on 8-13 shooting and 2-2 from long range. Daye’s performance along with Jeremy Pargo’s high-wire act (he totally went B-Diddy on one of his dunks) and 17/5/5 asts were more than enough as Gonzaga put down Montana without much of a problem. If Heytvelt can come back healthy in January, this team is going to be a major player next March. (Gonzaga 77, Montana 54). One other comment from this game’s coverage on FCS Pacific – commentator Craig Ehlo needs to go back to guarding MJ or something; dude is terrrrible.

Things We Saw. We got to see pieces of five other games today, and here were our impressions. #4 Kansas once again showed just how good they can be, while never actually showing us how good they are. We never had a moment where we thought they were playing all that well, and yet they still won by 23. There were four missed dunks by the Jayhawks during the game, tons of missed foul shots (16-31), and still… UMKC was never really a threat to win in Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers was the lone bright spot, going 8-13 (6-9 from three) for 23 pts, but Bill Self said they have to get better at many phases of the game if they expect to do anything significant this year (Kansas 85, UMKC 62). Another game we watched was #11 Oregon v. Pacific. Judging by tonight, if there was any doubt as to whether Tajuan Porter can take over for Aaron Brooks, let that notion be put to rest. Porter was scintillating with 28 pts on 10-15 shooting (5-8 from three) and acted as much a leader as we had previously seen from him. Malik Hairston added 20/6 and Maarty Leunen contributed 17/10 in a well-balanced attack against a Pacific team that hung in there. We’re expecting big things from the Ducks this year (Oregon 80, Pacific 64). The Pittsburgh-St. Louis game was a little boring, but it showed us (once again) just how good of a coach Rick Majerus is, as the Panthers didn’t put the game away until a minute to go. If SLU can play like this all season, they’ll be a factor in the A10 race (Pittsburgh 69, St. Louis 58). We didn’t catch as much of the #17 Stanford-UCSB game as we would have liked, but we noted that Stanford once again handled business without much sweat, as Anthony Goods (23/6) outplayed Gaucho star Alex Harris (18/2) in the battle of the guards (Stanford 67, UCSB 48).

Upset Alert. Two minor ones. Nevada will need to win these games if it expects to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time (UCF 63, Nevada 60). And Cincinnati dropped its second home game in a week tonight – the Bearcats are a long way from “Big East competitive” at this point (Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67).

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Again. Only 30/14 tonight in a 29-minute, 5-foul performance against Pittsburg St., a D2 team. It should be noted that K-State was down 40-38 at halftime to this team, though.

On Tap Today (all times EST). 43 games, including Indiana’s debut and a solid test for Duke at home (i.e., not NC Central).

  • Indiana (-24) v. Chattanooga 7pm – Eric Gordon makes his long-awaited debut.
  • Duke (-17) v. New Mexico St. (ESPN2) 7pm - if Duke is playing with a chip this year, they’ll win this by 30.
  • Syracuse (-15.5) v. Siena (ESPNU) 7pm – looking forward to seeing freshmen Flynn and Greene(oh wait, we don’t get ESPNU).
  • LSU (NL) v. SE Louisiana (ESPN FC) 8pm – Anthony Randolph, anyone?
  • Missouri (-14.5) v. Central Michigan (ESPN FC) 3pm – year 2 of 40MoH begins.
  • Oklahoma (NL) v. Alcorn St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – more Blake Griffin.
  • Texas (NL) v. Texas-San Antonio (ESPN FC) 8pm – DJ Augustin is our favorite PG.
  • Ohio St. (-15.5) v. Wisconsin-Green Bay (ESPN2) 9pm – first game since the Findlay debacle.
  • Oregon (NL) v. W. Michigan (ESPN FC) 10:30pm – third game in three nights – any tired legs?
  • UCLA (-28.5) v. Youngstown St. (ESPN2) 11pm – first chance to watch K-Love’s superb outlet passing – haven’t you heard?
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10.10.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2007

Lots of MSM content coming out this week…

  • But first, have you heard that Stanford’s Brook Lopez can’t pass calculus?  He’ll be out until he figures out derivatives (presumably Dec. 19, after nine games).
  • Along the same lines, the NCAA cleared Marquette big man frosh Trevor Mbakwe to play this season.
  • New Mexico swingman and all-Mtn West selection Tony Danridge had surgery on his broken left leg, and is expected to be back by January 2008.   Arkansas forward Sonny Weems is due back from his hand injury within the next couple of weeks.    
  • A hoops pollster explains why college football polling is misguided
  • Shawn Siegel lists the top 25 players in the ACC. 
  • CSTV claims Louisville and UConn have the top 2008 Big East recruiting classes so far. 
  • We already know why George Mason will get an at-large bid next spring – one name: Tom O’Connor
  • DeCourcy goes with Chris Lofton as his preseason POY, but there’s no way we think he’ll win it. 
  • Catching up with coaches…  Parrish looks at how Dan Monson is adjusting to life at Long Beach St.  Katz examines how Jim Calhoun is recovering from his worst season ever.  And the AP reports on John Beilein not knowing what to expect at Michigan.
  • Luke Winn also has an interesting Q&A with Jerel McNeal, defensive dynamo at Marquette. 
  • Finally, the offense that’s taking over the nation – Memphis’s AASAA
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Bama Steele-ing for the NIT Again

Posted by rtmsf on September 18th, 2007

Quick, during which of the last two seasons did Alabama have a better record?

Before answering, fans would be wise to remember the following two facts:

1) In 05-06, the Crimson Tide overcame a midseason knee injury to big man Chuck Davis, and led by point guard Ronald Steele regrouped to a 10-6 SEC record and NCAA berth (defeating Marquette 90-85 and pushing eventual national runner-up UCLA before losing 62-59).

2) The 06-07 Tide was a chic preseason pick for the F4 and even reached a national ranking of #4 during early December. But after starting 13-1, injuries to Steele railroaded the promising season, ultimately culminating in a first round NIT loss to UMass.

So it should be a little surprising that the 06-07 Tide ended with a record of 20-12, while Coach Gottfried’s previous edition was only 18-13. This illustrates how expectations define perceptions. Little was expected of the 05-06 Tide after all-SEC first-teamer Davis got hurt, so Bama’s subsequent run to the NCAAs and defensive standoff with the Mighty Bruins in R2 engendered the perception that Bama had a successful season. Conversely, last year’s squad was burdened with high expectations from the beginning, and even though the team managed to get 20 wins without the services of a healthy Ronald Steele, the 06-07 season was deemed a failure.

Which brings us to the news today that Ronald Steele will be redshirting the 07-08 season to rehab his knees, and the value of the heady point guard to this team.

Ronald Steele pic

Consider Steele’s numbers and resultant effect on the Tide’s fortunes in the 05-06 season:

Ronald Steele Stats 7

Steele Steps Up. As you can see rather starkly, Steele (and Bama’s) fortunes rose considerably in 05-06 after Chuck Davis’s injury. Despite only a small rise in minutes played (Steele was a veritable ironman that year), his key stats increased across the board – most notably, his scoring and shooting percentages were considerably better in Davis’s absence.

Unfortunately for Alabama, 06-07 was a lesson in the importance of one player. Steele gamely played through injuries to his ankles and knees, but the ironman of the previous season was no longer available. In twelve of Bama’s thirty-two games, Steele either did not play or played well below 30 minutes. Even in the games where he played starter minutes, he wasn’t nearly as effective. Here are his stats for 06-07:

Ronald Steele 8

Lack of Explosion. It’s easy to see where Steele’s “explosive” stats dropped in 06-07 – PPG (he could no longer get to the rim and finish); RPG (he couldn’t jump); SPG (he couldn’t cut off passing lanes); FG% (less athleticism = tougher shots). But it’s also apparent of his value as the Bama floor leader in the wins/losses column. Bama was 13-7 with a less-than-healthy Steele in the lineup, and the 06-07 nonconference schedule wasn’t exactly Clemson-lite either – the Tide went 4-1 against Iowa, Xavier, NC State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The harshest evidence of his steadying influence comes, however, when looking at how Bama finished the season – as Steele missed games and played sparingly during the last few weeks, the Tide limped into March losing five of its last six games.

Mark Gottfried is facing a difficult situation in 07-08 without his all-american point guard, but all is not completely lost. At least this year Alabama will know to move forward without Steele in the lineup, thereby giving other players a chance to step up much as he did two years ago upon Chuck Davis’s injury. Forwards Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix provide an athletic pair of wings, and Brandon Hollinger and Rico Pickett may yet prove capable in the backcourt. Even so, it’s difficult for us to believe that Bama will be able to overcome an injury to a player of this importance enough to make the NCAAs. Yet another tough break for Gottfried and Bama basketball.

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