ACC Morning Five: 02.16.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 16th, 2012

  1. NBA Draft Blog: Ed Isaacson took a look at Austin Rivers and his draft prospects. Isaacson sides with a plurality of experts who think Rivers should stick around for another year of school. He also compliments Rivers’ defense. The one thing that he (and I) think is a current issue for Rivers is his turnovers. He still doesn’t have the court vision or the handle to use a similar number of possessions in the NBA. It’s still unclear to me about Rivers’ draft prospects. He’s one of the few guys who has an NBA-ready skill, and I’m not sure he slips out of the lottery. That said, I think another year would help him move to a top-5 level pick. But I’m no draft expert.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of Rivers, he’s been named ACC freshman of the week seven times (a record). Now he’s been named one of five finalists by the USBWA for the Wayman Tisdale Award. Rivers dominates Duke’s offense and has shown the ability to take over games. In the last 10 years only Luol Deng (2004), Marvin Williams (2005) and Tyler Hansbrough (2006) have won the award from the ACC. I’d still put my money on Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.
  3. ACC Sports Journal: Mark Gottfried is distancing himself from the past at NC State. Not the two national championships, but the school’s recent bout with mediocrity. He rarely talks about last year’s team, opting to call his team of mostly the same players “new” and “different” instead. Gottfried’s tone is serious. He has a job to do. A year of modest improvement doesn’t say much about his future successes, but it’s certainly a start.
  4. Washington Post: Bad news from College Park. Pe’Shon Howard is done for the season. That leaves Mark Turgeon back where he was to start the year. That’s to say he has a hungry Stoglin who struggles to get teammates involved when he plays off the ball, much less on it, or Nick Faust who struggles offensively and with his decision-making. One of them has to play point guard. There aren’t many other options. You know Turgeon can’t wait to get his hands on a recruiting class to deepen that bench that was left bare after Gary Williams departed last season.
  5. Washington Post: You may remember that Jacob Pullen “won’t play basketball in the NIT” (one of the most awesome quotes and follow-throughs since Babe Ruth called his home run). Well Virginia Tech has a slightly different version: the Hokies won’t play basketball in the CBI or CIT. Yeah! Take that! “We don’t need no stinkin’ postseason!” All joking aside, the CBI actually charges teams money to play in it. If the Hokies aren’t selling tickets against conference foes, there’s not much hope for third-tier postseason tournaments. Athletic director Jim Weaver was still optimistic about the team’s chances for the NIT, though I think the Hokies still need a strong run to close out the year.
Share this story

Big 12 Weekly Primer: Week of January 3 – 6

Posted by dnspewak on January 3rd, 2012

With the Big 12 introducing an 18-game schedule for the first time in history, conference play begins a week earlier than usual in 2012. In recent years, the week after New Year’s meant tune-up games with low-major opponents, but this season, Big 12 teams won’t have much time to recover from the holidays. Kansas and Kansas State in particular must be in tip-top shape, as the two state rivals will face each other on Wednesday (January 4).


  • #23 Kansas State (11-1) at #14 Kansas (10-3), Wednesday 7 PM CT

Thomas Robinson Was Unstoppable This Weekend

Kansas State responded from the graduation of Jacob Pullen by ripping through its non-conference schedule, which included wins over Virginia Tech and Alabama, in addition to a Diamond Head Classic championship. The early success has helped Frank Martin‘s team crack the Top 25, but the Wildcats will now face three top-15 teams during the next eight days. It all begins with Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, marking the first meeting of the season between the two underrated rivals. Kansas State may be overachieving, but the Jayhawks are still finding their way after losing games to Kentucky, Duke and Davidson during the first two months of the season. Bill Self doesn’t have a vintage KU team this season, as it lacks depth and still has not executed all that well offensively. That doesn’t mean these Jayhawks can’t ball, though. They can, especially when Thomas Robinson plays like an animal (30 points and 21 rebounds against North Dakota on Saturday) and Tyshawn Taylor takes care of the basketball. Taylor has heard a lot of criticism for his turnovers, but he may be turning his season around in that department. He led KU to a rout at USC by dishing out nine assists and limiting himself to just two turnovers and he’s averaged just two turnovers per game during the last three contests.

Of course, in those games, Kansas did not face the sort of defense it will see out of Kansas State. Martin’s teams are always defined by their intensity on the defensive end, and this 2011-12 team is no different. The Wildcats are deep, athletic and physical, and forwards Thomas Gipson, Jordan Henriquez and Jamar Samuels can test Robinson on the boards a little better than North Dakota did. Bill Self’s teams will always defend, and despite his relative lack of depth, he has more skilled and proven scorers than KSU with Robinson, Taylor and the emerging Elijah Johnson. But if Rodney McGrudercan play like a star and provide some heroics, his team may hang around at the Phog. The junior guard, who leads his team at 12.5 points per game, scored 28 against Long Beach State during Christmas week to win the Diamond Head Classic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Morning Five: 12.27.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 27th, 2011

  1. And the trainwreck continues in Stillwater. Oklahoma State point guard Reger Dowell has announced his decision to transfer, leaving the Cowboys with only one player to man the position. Remember, Fred Gulley already transferred earlier this month, so freshman Cezar Guerrero will now assume the reins. Senior Keiton Page has also apparently seen some time at the point in practice, and that’s part of the reason why Dowell may have left. His decision is interesting considering he said just last week that he would try to “stick things out” at OSU. That’s not going to happen, however, and Travis Ford better cross his fingers that nobody else leaves.
  2. What do you know about Baylor’s Brady Heslip? Before a few weeks ago, even us sharp minds at the RTC Big 12 Microsite could have only told you a handful of things. He’s a guard who transferred from Boston College. And, well, that was about it. But Heslip is certainly on our radar now, as he won Big 12 Rookie of the Week honors by lighting up the scoreboard in Las Vegas in Bear wins over St. Mary’s and West Virginia. It wasn’t even apparent whether or not Heslip would get major minutes this season after his transfer from BC, but he’s already become an integral part of this Baylor backcourt.
  3. Surprise, surprise: Frank Martin‘s Kansas State team is surging, and it most recently swept the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii during Christmas weekend. Without Jacob Pullen, it was easy for bonehead writers like us to write off the Wildcats, but at this point in his program, Martin has established a culture of winning in Manhattan. No matter who is on the roster, Martin finds a way to win, and he does so by pushing his team’s buttons to play hard and smart basketball. This year, Will Spradling has found his calling as the point guard position, Rodney McGruder has learned how to take over games, and Thomas Gipson and Angel Rodriguez have been immediate contributors as freshmen. This team still has work to do in Big 12 play, but Martin has to be in the running for Big 12 Coach of the Year at this point.
  4. Lon Kruger may be a candidate for that honor as well, but that’s not what we’re talking about with OU basketball this morning. Instead, it’s James Fraschilla, an Oklahoma freshman and son of commentator Fran Fraschilla, making news with a bunch of cool trick shots. The video he created was so absurd that some believed it wasn’t real. However, Fraschilla says none of the video is fabricated, and the trick shots all did indeed occur. And the best part of the two-minute video? It’s also a ploy for charity, so everybody wins here.
  5. The Realignment Apocalypse is over now, and it’s time to reflect on what could have been for Texas in particular. According to this article, had UT left for the “Pac-16,” it could have taken a major financial hit. Instead, the school will make almost $20 million dollars in the Big 12 this year, and it still has rights to the multi-million dollar Longhorn Network. There’s always a chance Texas — or any other school for the matter — could still bolt from the league, but the Longhorns seem to be in a pretty beneficial position here in the Big 12.
Share this story

Big 12 Weekend Primer

Posted by dnspewak on December 17th, 2011


  • Texas A&M (8-1) at Florida (7-2), Orange Bowl Classic, Saturday 1:30 p.m. CT
Starting next season, these two programs will battle each other annually in the SEC. Until then, Texas A&M and Florida will settle for playing each other in the Orange Bowl Classic, a neutral-site game set in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies are a wild card in the Big 12 right now, as they’ve built their 8-1 record against mostly inferior competition– and, more importantly, they have played all but two games without All-Big 12 wing Khris Middleton. The 6’7” junior has missed the majority of the season recovering from knee surgery, returning in time for A&M’s most recent victory over Louisiana-Monroe. Although Middleton hadn’t played since the season opener, he seemed perfectly healthy in torching the Warhawks for 24 points. His return gives Texas A&M an entirely different look on both ends of the floor, so much that it would be worthless to judge the seven games it played without Middleton. For instance, A&M fell flat against the best team on its schedule without him, falling behind by more than 20 points in the first half at Madison Square Garden. That’s why Florida will let Billy Kennedy truly gauge his team for the first time in 2011-12. Though forward Kourtney Roberson is still questionable for the contest, A&M could solidify itself as a Big 12 contender by knocking off the Gators in a quasi-road environment.

Texas A&M Will Play A "Neutral" Game in The State of Florida Against the Gators

The key individual match-up is… Dash Harris vs. Erving Walker. Although Texas A&M’s schedule has not been demanding, this team could have really slipped had Dash Harris not played so steadily. The senior point guard is known for his defense, but offensively, Harris has kept the Aggies afloat without Middleton by making good decisions and taking care of the basketball. He won’t score much, but he’s irreplaceable as a distributor in this offense. And as a defensive stopper, he has the skills to slow down Erving Walker. Harris has a few inches on Walker, and he’s as quick as any guard in the nation. No matter the defender, though, it’s up to Walker to rise to the challenge. He looks to score much more than Harris, and at times, he has looked terrific with the ball in his hands. When he has struggled, it has been his own fault: against Arizona, for example, he settled for quick threes and forced up 16 shots. If he doesn’t settle down against Harris, Walker could be in for a tough night.

Texas A&M will win if… it continues to dominate on the defensive end. This program’s attitude from former coaches Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon has carried over to Kennedy’s team. The Aggies are all about defense, rebounding and physicality, but they will have their hands full with the explosive Gator guards. Though Middleton’s blend of size and athleticism is a tough match-up for every team, Florida has excellent backcourt speed in Kenny Boynton, Brad Beal, Mike Rosario, and Walker. A&M has to find a way to lock down those guards and force them into tough shots. In that Arizona victory, Billy Donovan was not happy with the shot selection of his guards. Against a team like A&M, Florida will have to settle down and run its stuff efficiently to have a chance.
Florida will win if… it can control the paint. Texas A&M likes to think it’s tougher than you– David Loubeau and Ray Turner are intimidating physical specimens, and this team rebounds with authority around the basket. UF is no slouch in that category this year. Patric Young might be the best forward on the floor on Saturday, and sophomore Will Yeguete has done a nice job since entering the starting lineup in late November. Neither team is especially deep up front, but A&M could get a big lift if Kourtney Roberson is healthy.
Share this story

Learning Curve Begins for Kansas State

Posted by dnspewak on December 1st, 2011

After losing star guard Jacob Pullen to graduation, Kansas State was one of the more difficult teams to peg during this preseason. Frank Martin has recovered just fine from past departures from Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, and Dennis Clemente, but there’s no question this 2011-12 team is vastly different than the squad that earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

And through three games, Kansas State still hasn’t answered any questions: it overcame sluggish first halves defeat Charleston Southern, Loyola Chicago, and Maryland Eastern Shore. None of the Wildcats’ wins were particularly troublesome, but they weren’t exactly convincing either. They trailed by 14 at halftime to Charleston Southern and led by single digits at the break in its two following wins. What do we make of these Kansas State Wildcats?

Frank Martin Is About to Learn A Lot About His Team

We’ll find out starting tonight, when they host a decent George Washington program at 7 PM. This isn’t the same Colonials team that once ran the table in the A-10 during the middle of the decade, but first-year head coach Mike Lonergan has his team off to an impressive 4-1 start. With a veteran squad returning from a 4th-place team in 2010-11, GW has already knocked off Detroit and Austin Peay, both considered favorites to win their respective conferences.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The Big 12’s New Faces: Kansas State’s Lamont Evans

Posted by dnspewak on October 20th, 2011

Lamont Evans: The Essentials

  • Previous coaching stop: Kansas State, graduate assistant
  • Career overview: Student manager (2008-09), graduate manager (2009-11)
  • Playing experience: Drake University, 1999-2001
  • Accolades: Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year (1999-00), All-MVC (1999-00)

The Breakdown

Entering his fourth year with the Kansas State program, Lamont Evans isn’t exactly a “new face” in Manhattan. The 2011-12 season marks his first, though, as a full-time assistant coach for Frank Martin. Normally, the promotion of a graduate manager to full-time assistant wouldn’t be especially noteworthy, but in this case, Evans has some large shoes to fill. He replaces one of the nation’s top recruiters in Dalonte Hill, who left for an assistant position at Maryland. At KSU, Hill was the highest-paid assistant in college basketball, pulling in more than $400,000 a year. And it’s not as if he didn’t earn that salary — Hill’s AAU ties landed Michael BeasleyBill Walker, Jacob Pullen, Rodney McGruder and others.

Lamont Evans Landed a Promotion This Summer (photo by Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NBA Draft Thoughts From a College Perspective

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2011

The NBA Draft has come and gone with one of the most boring evenings in its televised history.  Maybe it was the arena setting, maybe it was the lack of marquee names, maybe it was the fact that none of the draftees wore anything particularly ridiculous, but the league’s capstone summer event was so uninspiring that even Bill Simmons’ usually-hilarious draft diary felt trite and mailed in.  Still, the draft represents to every major college basketball player the culmination of a lifelong dream to hear one’s name called by David Stern, and it’s worth a quick reflection on how things went last Thursday for many of the players we’ve been watching and tracking for years.

The 1-and-Dones Did Well in This Year's Draft (AP)

The 1-and-Dones.  Generally speaking, the NBA Draft went well for the seven 1-and-done players who declared after their freshman season.  Excluding Enes Kanter, who never played a minute at Kentucky, from the discussion, six of the seven players who left school after one season were drafted, and five of those went in the first round.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, and Tennessee’s Tobias Harris were chosen in the first thirty selections, while Kansas’ Josh Selby was taken in the next thirty picks.  The lone holdout was Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, a player who clearly had a much higher opinion of himself than did NBA general managers (although if you listen to his uncle, delusions of grandeur may extend beyond Richmond to his extended family).  Whether any of the others are “ready” for the NBA is an irrelevant notion in this day and age, but seeing Thompson jumping up to the #4 selection despite not being able to shoot the ball, and Joseph going at #29 despite averaging only 10.4 PPG as a “scorer” has us raising our eyebrows. 

Sneaking Into the First Round... Not Exactly.  We heard time and time again in April that the impetus behind numerous marginal players deciding to enter the NBA Draft this year was because players like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones were not coming out.  The logic was that their staying in school opened up more first round spots for lesser talents, a statement certainly true in theory but in no way a sane justification for a dozen additional players to declare for the draft.  Four doesn’t equal twelve the last time we checked.  Interestingly, three of the four beneficiaries to earn guaranteed first round money were college seniors: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (Texas freshman Cory Joseph was the fourth player to benefit).  As for the players who came out early in an attempt to sneak into the first round of this year’s weaker draft, it didn’t really work out for them.  We’re looking at second rounders like Shelvin Mack (Butler), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Trey Thompkins (Georgia), Darius Morris (Michigan), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Travis Leslie (Georgia), DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington), as well as undrafted guys like Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Jeremy Green (Stanford), Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Greg Smith (Fresno State) and Carleton Scott (Notre Dame).  What’s going to be awesome is in future years when underclassmen have roughly two weeks to gauge their draft prospects before having to commit to the draft or heading back to school — we’re sure this will result in nothing but great decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

While A Nation Celebrates Jacob Pullen Sulks

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2011

Like all of you we spent most of Sunday night and Monday morning celebrating the announcement by President Obama that US troops had killed Osama bin Laden. We spent the night transfixed by our television, the scenes across the nation, and the celebrations on Twitter. It turns out that not everyone was in a celebratory mood. Case in point former Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen:

Pullen’s Twitter account was bombarded by comments from others (like us) who were critical of his comments, but it was pretty clear that Pullen did not mind as the following series of Tweets clearly demonstrates.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Report Card: Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 25th, 2011



Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.

Year In Review

Before the start of the season, pollsters bought into Kansas State as the sexy pick to take the Big 12 in 2011 on the heels of an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. The Big 12 was not overly impressive in non-conference play, as the Wildcats fell hard to Duke in a de facto home game in Kansas City, and Missouri did the same against Georgetown in one of the more thrilling matchups of the early season.

As league play began, the preseason #3 Wildcats disappointed, starting 2-5, and the usual stalwarts of the Big 12, Kansas and Texas, rose to the top. After topping the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in January, the Longhorns looked to be in the driver’s seat, especially after Kansas was blindsided at Bramlage Coliseum to give Texas a two-game lead. However, Rick Barnes‘ team suffered another late-season collapse, going 2-3 to finish the regular season while the Jayhawks dusted off the competition to pull ahead to take their seventh straight conference crown.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Wildcats bounced back to end the season in third place. The middle of the conference wasn’t settled until the latter stages of the season with Missouri falling lat and Texas A&MColorado and Nebraska treading water. Baylor underachieved, given the talented personnel in Waco, and Oklahoma State never really looked in sync. OklahomaTexas Tech and Iowa State all had awful seasons to finish at the bottom of the standings.

In the conference tournament final, Kansas played its best basketball of the season, topping Texas to gain some revenge entering the Big Dance. Colorado was snubbed on Selection Sunday despite beating Kansas State three times, but the Big 12 still managed to get five teams into the NCAA Tournament. However, only the Jayhawks made it out of opening weekend alive, and they fell short of expectations as they lost to Shaka Smart and the Rams’ reign of BCS destruction.

KU's front line of Thomas Robinson (left) and the Morris twins evolved into a strength, and the Jayhawks struggled most when they weren't utilized on offense. (AP/Jamie Squire)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Season in Review: The Best of RTC

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2011

It’s been a great season here at RTC, our Year the Fourth covering this great sport, and before we pack up the boxes and head to our summer hideaways in the Hamptons, Aspen and Santa Barbara, respectively, we wanted to share a little bit of our “best of” for the 2010-11 season.

Some RTC Season Highlights

RTC Live

Through our network of correspondents from coast to coast, we were able to cover a grand total of 295 games at 82 different venues this year.  We saw every single NCAA Tournament team at least once, and 78 other schools just for kicks.  We witnessed the Final Four quartet of Connecticut, Butler, Kentucky and VCU a total of 56 times, and we sat courtside at every one of UConn’s unprecedented 14-0 neutral site victories this season — from Maui to New York, then Washington to Anaheim, ultimately culminating in Houston.  Perhaps most proudly, we managed to send someone to each of the fourteen NCAA Tournament sites this year, an accomplishment we hope is merely the first in a long line of such successes.

We put together a short video encompassing some of the photos we took along the way.  See you on the road next season!

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story