Morning Five: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 18th, 2013


  1. Friday’s major commitments turned out to be a case of the rich get richer. The big announcement was the simultaneous commitment of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones to play for Duke next year. As we said on Friday morning just the addition of those two should give Duke the #1 recruiting class in the country this year and quite possibly make them the preseason favorite for the 2015 national title. In perhaps the most controversial move of the day Cliff Alexander selected Kansas, but not before picking up an Illinois hat, putting it down, and then finally putting on a Kansas hat. The move generated a fair amount of criticism with many Illini fans and possibly the coaching staff thinking that they had the inside track on Alexander, an Illinois native. We doubt that the two teams will play next season, but we imagine the reception that Alexander would receive would not be unlike what Eric Gordon received on his only trip to Illinois. In the wake of the other news, Stanley Johnson‘s commitment to Arizona got lost in the shuffle, but the addition of another Mater Dei star (Aaron Gordon is also from there should help the Wildcats reload and help ensure that they will still be a force when Gordon presumably leaves Tucson after this season.
  2. In a reminder that fans should not be too hard on a recruit when he spurns your school, Quentin Snider announced that he was backing out of his commitment to Illinois (Friday was not John Groce’s finest day) and recommitting to Louisville. Snider originally committed to Louisville in August 2011 before backing out of that commitment at the end of July 2013 and chose Illinois in September 2013, but when Jaquan Lyle backed out of his own commitment to Louisville the Cardinals needed a point guard for the class of 2014 and Snider decided to return to his original commitment. Although Snider never officially announced it, Lyle’s committment and backing out of his committment at Louisville likely played a large role in Snider’s vascillation.
  3. The case involving Duke Mondy and Dante Williams that led the two Oakland players to temporarily be arrested on rape charges before being dropped. Without getting into too many details (you can go to TMZ for that, seriously) it appears to be a case of the players getting involved with a woman after their curfew while on a road trip and the woman becoming upset at the end and accusing the players of rape. While the players were able to avoid any serious legal repercussions it appears that they may be facing a rather stiff punishment from the school.
  4. At this point in the season we do not know what to think of Florida with their ever-changing roster. While Billy Donovan did reinstate Dorian Finney-Smith, who responded with 17 points and nine rebounds in his first game back, they are still without Damontre Harris, who remains off the team. With all of the uncertainty around the Gator lineup they remain one of the harder teams to get a handle on early in the season. Having said that if Donovan can get some semblance of a rotation by Christmas time they could be a tough out in March once again.
  5. Last year, Jack Taylor made international headlines with his 138-point performance. This year, he barely gets a mention in the Morning Five with his 109-point outburst yesterday. Taylor’s performance yesterday is third all-time trailing just his effort last year and a 113-point game in 1954. His stat line (and his output) would be a solid five game stretch for most players: 35-of-70 from the field, 24-of-48 3, and 15-of-17 from the  free throw line. Perhaps our favorite part of the game summary is the school mentioning the “big games from others” who scored between 10 and 15 points. For perspective, Taylor scored 53 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
Share this story

Morning Five: 01.11.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 11th, 2013


  1. After the RPI came out most people spent the next few days picking it apart for which teams were ranked too high and too low. Seth Davis took a different tact as he opted instead to look at which teams benefited the most from their nonconference schedule and which were hurt the most by their nonconference schedule. The results are probably about what you would expect if you pair the teams that played the toughest nonconference schedules with those that many thought were ranked too highly by the RPI and vice versa, but it does stress the point that coaches don’t seem to get–if you want to work the system you have to play good teams. When Selection Sunday rolls around don’t be surprised to see those that played tough nonconference schedules getting the benefit of the doubt over those that didn’t.
  2. We still have a couple of months left in the season, but Michael Rothstein is already looking forward to the National Player of the Year race and is back with his straw poll where he gets 63 individuals who have voters for the various national awards and asks them to fill out ballots. The first straw poll of the season has Mason Plumlee leading by a fairly comfortable margin. Now we are going to have a hard time ever calling someone who plays for Duke as a bit of an underdog, but coming into the season you would not have found many college basketball analysts willing to put Plumlee in the discussion of top contenders (and that is including some of the notable Duke homers), but thanks to a significantly improved game Plumlee is currently ahead of his more hyped peers. As Rothstein notes Anthony Davis was only fourth in the initial straw poll last season before running away with the award at the end of the season so there is still plenty of time (the entire conference season) for these rankings to change.
  3. You will not be seeing any ridiculous box scores from Grinell gunner extraordinaire Jack Taylor in the near future as he is out for the rest of the season after breaking his right radius in a game on Wednesday night. Taylor, who gained national notoriety when he scored 138 points in a single game on 52-108 from the field including 27-71 from three-point range (and having zero assists). While Taylor has not come close to that total again (the next highest in NCAA history is “only” 113 points) he was still leading the nation at 36.3 points. Fortunately for Taylor he still has at least two more years of eligibility left and although his overall professional prospects are somewhat limited he should see some action overseas if for nothing more than a marketing tool as the guy who scored 138 points in one game.
  4. Coming into the season most observers expected the two powerhouses on Tobacco Road to have relatively down years, but while Duke has managed to exceed expectations so far their rivals at North Carolina have continued to struggle and have failed to even live up to those lowered expectations. While there are plenty of potential explanations for why the Tar Heels have struggled so much this season Mike DeCourcy thinks three things–having talented players commit to them too early, the effect of the Kentucky recruiting monster, and the early departure of Kendall Marshall–are to blame for their struggles this season. While the last two points are things that almost everybody agrees upon (especially the Marshall point), the first reason is somewhat novel and not something I have heard others complain about although it is intriguing. Of course, given how successful the Tar Heels have been during the Roy Williams era we would not be the least bit shocked to see them in the Final Four in a few years.
  5. After several years of dreaming of NCAA Tournament glory-not winning it just making it–Northwestern will not have to worry about a late season collapse to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament as they have no chance of making it. However, help is on the way and it comes in the form of the individual who is probably most responsible for their disappointing play this season: JerShon Cobb. Cobb, who was suspended for the season due to a variety of issues most notably poor grades, has returned to the team, but you won’t see him leading the Wildcats against Big Ten opposition as he is only on the scout team. As much as we are interested to see what these games look like particularly if Bill Carmody lets Cobb loose. With Cobb having supposedly improved his grades and presumably taken care of whatever “team rules” issue he had, Northwestern fans have two more seasons with Cobb to look forward and dream the impossible dream–making the NCAA Tournament.
Share this story

College Basketball By the Tweets: Feast Week Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 28th, 2012

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

I’ve always felt that the overall excitement level of college basketball is, more than any other sport, contingent on how relevant its bluebloods are. Even if you love to hate them, if Duke were to disappear from the Top 25 for a season, it would stink. With the renaissance of Indiana now almost fully developed, I think we can all rest easy that one of the game’s great programs is back where it belongs, and it’s for the betterment of the sport.

#108Shots | #0Assists

In a week that is designed to allow fans to sit back and start to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of their favorite Division I teams, it was a puny sophomore guard playing for Division III Grinnell College garnering the most attention And sides were taken as polarizing as our country’s two primary political parties.

First, naturally, as the news trickled, the response was positive shock and awe.

But then the story went mainstream, as Taylor was talking with morning TV shows and being praised for his record-breaking feat. Meanwhile, true sports fans grumbled, pointing out the gimmicky style of Grinnell and how there was obvious disregard for real basketball being played in an effort for Taylor to hurl up enough shots to get his name into the record books.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.21.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 21st, 2012

  1. With Maryland having already committed to play for the Big Ten, the announcement that Rutgers would be following them was merely a formality. Yesterday, Rutgers made it official that it would be leaving the Big East for the Big Ten and the riches of its upcoming college football contract. With both schools brushing aside exit fees that were in the not too distant past considered exorbitant it raises the question of how high these fees will have to get to become a legitimate deterrent to schools considering an exit from their conference. Clearly $50 million isn’t enough — so with the size of these television contracts continuing to grow, fees may need to approach $100 million to keep future schools from leaving.
  2. Now that he has finished informing the nation on which candidate would be our president for the next four years, Nate Silver is back to deal with the important stuff — sports. Yesterday, Silver looked at the potential impact of Maryland and Rutgers entering the Big Ten. Utilizing Google search traffic data for the search term “college football,” Silver looked at 210 major media markets and determined that Rutgers may actually be a more valuable commodity than Maryland, but not by as much as many are claiming due to its location within the New York market. Our issue with this analysis, which we think we have mentioned in this space before, is that hardcore fans aren’t searching for such generic terms, but he at least makes the effort.
  3. Penn State struggled through much of last season, but the Nittany Lions were usually worth checking out on occasion because of Tim Frazier, one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten. This year promised to be a better one for PSU, but now that Frazier is done for the year after rupturing his Achilles tendon the Nittany Lions may be in for another long season. Frazier, a first-team All-Big Ten guard last season, plans to apply for a medical redshirt. While we didn’t expect much from Penn State this season, the injury is a tremendous setback for Frazier’s chances of playing professionally. We wish Frazier the best of luck in his rehab and look forward to seeing him back in a Nittany Lion uniform soon.
  4. It took a while for the national college basketball writers assembled in Brooklyn last night to realize it, but the biggest news of the evening had nothing to do with #1 Indiana’s overtime win versus Georgetown (and, seriously, how many different Georgetown columns can this group write?). Rather, it had everything to do with a 5’10” sophomore named Jack Taylor from Division III Grinnell College in Iowa. Playing in a wild offensive system (unimaginatively called “The System”) developed by head coach David Arseneault, Taylor hoisted 108 shots on his way to an NCAA record 138-point evening, going 52-for-108 from the field including a ridiculous 27 threes (on 71 attempts). Let’s hope that this kid is ready for the whirlwind because he’s already been on Sportscenter and all of the morning and late night talk shows surely can’t be far behind.
  5. On Monday, we mentioned how ridiculous it was that North Carolina was essentially getting a free pass from much of the media surrounding its growing academic scandal. It seems like someone was listening. The only thing is that it was not someone at the NCAA, but instead a North Carolina state senator who is calling for a criminal probe into the situation. While we think that this merits a formal inquiry at the state level, we doubt that there will ever be any criminal proceedings as a result of it. Still, given the apparent breadth and reach of this sham, we would not be opposed to seeing a few heads roll at what is supposed to be an institution of higher learning.
Share this story