Big Ten Season Grades: Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on April 18th, 2014

Continuing our season-ending analysis, we look at the performances of Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. Earlier this week, we handed out grades for Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue.

Ohio State

Grade: C-

This season (25-10, 10-8): What would be a successful season for most programs was a relative disappointment for the Buckeyes. Ohio State did not capture a Big Ten regular season or tournament title for the first time since 2008-09, and similar to that season, they were also bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in their first game. The issue for the Buckeyes – which was a clear problem area in the preseason – was generating offense without Deshaun Thomas in the lineup. Thomas’ replacement, LaQuinton Ross, almost doubled his scoring average, but the Buckeyes failed to find reliable offensive firepower anywhere else. In the end, Aaron Craft and Ohio State’s excellent showing on defense wasn’t enough to overcome the team’s offensive woes.

Thad Matta had a let-down of a season relative to his own success. Don't expect it to continue next season. (Gettyl)

Thad Matta had a let-down of a season relative to his own success. Don’t expect it to continue next season. (Getty)

Next season: The Buckeyes lose Craft, Amedeo Della Valle, Ross, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. They welcome in an elite recruiting class that includes D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop, and Jae’Sean Tate; and they also will get graduate transfer Anthony Lee from Temple next year. These additions along with several talented players already on their roster should have no one worrying about the state of the program going forward. This season was merely a hiccup in the Thad Matta era.

Iowa: C

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A Quality Performance Today in Indianapolis is a Must For Iowa

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 13th, 2014

You could make a case for any number of Big Ten teams really needing to show out at the Big Ten Tournament if they hope to make a run in the bigger March tournament. Minnesota is situated squarely on the bubble after finishing with a conference record of 8-10. Nebraska was inhabiting the same patch of bubble real estate until their win over Wisconsin. They should be in the field of 68 now, but another win would be nice for their collective peace of mind. Michigan State wants to prove that they are worthy of the preseason hype they generated with their team all back from their different injuries. Indiana and Illinois need to win four games in four days to get there. But Iowa has the most to prove out of anybody in the field. They’ve plummeted from a potential #3 or #4 seed, to a team that with an early loss, could be looking at double-digit territory. So how do the Hawkeyes fix things to get back on track?

Gabriel Olaseni and Josh Ogelsby need big games for Iowa to advance in the Big Ten Tournament. (John Schultz/Quad City Times)

Gabriel Olaseni and Josh Ogelsby need big games for Iowa to advance in the Big Ten Tournament. (John Schultz/Quad City Times)

  • Fix the Defense Immediately: Here’s a quick breakdown of what the Hawkeyes have given up in their last six games in terms of points per possession: 1.22, 1.32.1.12, 1.06, 1.26, and 1.12. Even in their lone victory in the bunch over Purdue, they still allowed the Boilermakers to shoot 49.1% from the field. On their KenPom page under defensive footprint, it says inconclusive. Nothing sums up their lack of a defensive identity better than that. They do a decent job blocking shots and Roy Devyn Marble and Mike Gesell do a pretty good job getting into the passing lanes and getting steals. But in their recent rough patch they’ve given up far too many easy baskets in the paint. Whether it means extending their zone press and getting more aggressive with it (which they have the depth to do), or just hanging back and sticking to either a man-to-man or a zone, Iowa needs to pick a style and go with it. I don’t know if their is confusion about what their responsibilities are, or that they just don’t care because they think they can outscore people. Either way, what they’re doing right now isn’t working, and hasn’t for a number of games. Read the rest of this entry »
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Weekend Game To Watch: Iowa Looking For Its Signature Win At Wisconsin

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on January 5th, 2014

The game to watch this weekend is, without a doubt, today’s match-up of Iowa visiting Wisconsin. It’s the only Big Ten contest this weekend where both teams are ranked, and the Badgers are a robust eight-point favorite according to KenPom.com. This isn’t surprising given that the Badgers have been the most impressive team in the conference and Madison is a tough place for any team to visit. It would therefore seem as if this game is all upside for Fran McCaffery’s group as it has nothing to lose. Thus far, Iowa has been good enough to break into the AP Top 25 and steadily move up the rankings, but not great enough to convince skeptics that the Hawkeyes are poised to battle the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State for the conference title. Iowa needs an impressive road win to convert those doubters and start to make a case for a coveted high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their best hope for doing just that today is to capitalize on the few defensive vulnerabilities of the Badgers.

Aaron White may need a big game on Sunday to get a win in Madison (Brian Ray, The Gazette via AP)

Aaron White may need a big game to get a win in Madison (Credit: Brian Ray/The Gazette via AP)

It will be no small task to get a win at Madison — both teams are highly efficient at scoring (Wisconsin scores 1.17 points per possession vs. Iowa’s 1.16) and the Badgers have the edge on defensive efficiency (0.92 PPP vs. 0.94). Bo Ryan relies on excellent man-to-man defense to deny the other team good looks at the basket; still, Iowa can look to exploit several facets of the Badgers’ defense. More specifically, the Badgers’ lack of a true shot blocker has resulted in a low block percentage of 8.6 percent (206th nationally). If McCaffery can set up Roy Devyn Marble and Jarrod Uthoff on cuts to the basket to draw weak side defenders, even slightly, they can dish it off to Aaron White, who is shooting a blistering 75 percent under the basket. Another flaw in Wisconsin’s defense is that it does not cause many turnovers. This is good for Iowa since it is not turnover-prone itself but does cause opponents to give up the ball at an above-average rate (19.5 percent of possessions).

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Examining Volume Shooters in the Big Ten: Why Jarrod Uthoff Should Shoot More

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on December 14th, 2013

Who among college basketball fans hasn’t been frustrated by a volume shooter on their team? We all know the volume shooter, right? That player who hasn’t seen a shot he didn’t like. He starts off the game, seemingly, unable to buy a bucket. But then, all of a sudden, he gets hot and makes everything, maybe even the game-winning shot. Wash, rinse, repeat. The emotional roller coaster a volume shooter puts his fans through, while frustrating, is another example of the up-and-down nature of college basketball that diehards love about the sport. But how many players are really “volume” shooters? To clarify, how many players become more efficient the more often they shoot the ball? According to the numbers, the answer is not many, and they’re likely not the players you’d expect.

Jarrod Uthoff is the type of player who gets more accurate the more shots he puts up.

Jarrod Uthoff is the type of player who gets more accurate the more shots he puts up.

For this post, we did a quick analysis to determine the Big Ten’s volume shooters. To start, we only looked at players averaging double-figure points per game and measured player efficiency by using true shooting percentage to take into account the full spectrum of scoring opportunities: three-pointers, two-point field goals, and free throws. We used “true” shots (the denominator of true shooting percentage) as the measure of quantity or “shots taken.” Next, we counted each game as one observation and plotted each player’s game efficiency and quantity of shots on a graph. Lastly, we ran a simple regression analysis for all players to determine which ones had the most positive relationship between efficiency and the number of shots taken. From this analysis, we found that Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff (10.3 PPG), Wisconsin’s Ben Brust (12.0 PPG), and Frank Kaminsky (14.7 PPG) were the three players with the most positive relationship between efficiency and shots taken. To illustrate this, the graph below maps each player’s regression line with one another. As a comparison, we included the regression lines of the Big Ten’s leading scorers: Michigan’s Nik Stauskas (18.9 PPG) and Penn State’s D.J. Newbill (18.5 PPG). Keep in mind that a regression line maps a player’s expected efficiency given the number of shots he takes in a game. Click on the graph for a larger view.

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Previewing the Holiday Tournaments: A Big Ten Perspective

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 21st, 2013

The holiday tournaments tip off today and college coaches are huge fans of their teams participating in these events. With the quick turnarounds and neutral court sites, the events give players a glimpse of what their conference and postseason tournaments will feel like. From the prestigious eight-team Maui Invitational to the four-team Barclays Center Classic, each tournament provides valuable experience for teams and coaches alike to prepare for a postseason atmosphere. Along with gaining that precious experience, teams can also improve their non-conference resumes just by showing up. A couple of good performances or a holiday tournament championship looks pretty attractive to the selection committee in March. This year, the Big Ten has nearly the entire league competing in some sort of holiday tournament (Illinois and Ohio State are the two absentees). Let’s break down each of them, starting with the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Charleston Classic and 2kSports Classic, beginning today.

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-Butler vs Illinois

Illinois Jump Started its NCAA Tournament Season A Year Ago in Maui

Puerto Rico Tip off: November 21-24

  • Teams: Michigan vs. Long Beach State, VCU vs. Florida State, Georgetown vs. Northeastern, Charlotte vs. Kansas State
  • Favorite: VCU
  • Projected Michigan Finish: 3rd
  • Michigan Player to WatchDerrick Walton Jr.
  • The Skinny: In the eight-team field, Georgetown, VCU, and the Wolverines are the clear front-runners. Georgetown lucked out as they are on the opposite side of the bracket of both Michigan and VCU. This means that a match-up of last year’s NCAA Tournament third round game between the two schools is likely in the semifinals. Last year, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. shredded Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” defense on its way to a huge victory. Now, Walton is set to run the offense for Michigan and go up against a veteran VCU backcourt. This game could spell major trouble for John Beilein and his staff, but could also be an important teaching moment.

Charleston Classic: November 21-24

  • TeamsNebraska vs. UMass, UAB vs. New Mexico, Georgia vs. Davidson, Clemson vs. Temple
  • Favorite: New Mexico
  • Projected Nebraska Finish: 5th
  • Nebraska Player to WatchTai Webster
  • The Skinny:  The Cornhuskers play UMass and then either New Mexico or UTEP in the next round. New Mexico is a top 20 team while UMass is expected to compete for a NCAA bid out of the Atlantic 10. Chaz Williams for UMass is an explosively fast guard who can distribute the ball well and shoot lights out from three. Tim Miles will have his work cut out to try and stop Williams, and the freshman Webster will get a nice welcoming from the “Chaz Master.”

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Big Ten Analysis: Iowa Overperforming, Northwestern Underperforming

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 18th, 2013

It’s been over a week since the season started and all 12 teams have at least three games under their belts. Michigan State is as good as advertised after beating #1 Kentucky (even if they followed it up with a lackluster performance against Columbia). But what can we conclude from the other teams’ performances, where most games have been lopsided victories against inferior opponents? This makes it difficult to gauge which team has under- or overperformed so early in the year, but we here at the RTC Big Ten microsite are always up for a challenge. Prior to the first tip, we recorded each team’s predicted outcome using KenPom.com. To measure how teams have performed thus far, we will now compare their season performances against their preseason expected outcomes.

The table below illustrates each team’s performance in games already played against what they were expected to do, helping us evaluate their consistency and long-term projections.

big ten analysis 11.18.13

The table above displays each team’s performance for each game relative to their expected preseason expected outcome.  For example, if a team was expected to win by 10 points, but ended up winning by only five points, then that team underperformed by five points (shown as -5 in the table). If that same team had won by 20 points, then that team would have overperformed by 10 points. Underperformances are marked in red and overtperformances are marked in green.  The average and standard deviation of each teams’ differential performances are calculated to measure their overall consistency so far.  Finally, the far-right column in the table shows the change in total wins for the season that KenPom is projecting. For example, if a team was initially expected to win 18 games, but is now expected to win 21 games, their record difference is shown as +3.  This metric not only takes into account each individual team’s season performance thus far, but also the performance of all its opponents.

Here are our five takeaways from this analysis:

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Big Ten M5: 11.15.13 Edition

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 15th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Friday at 4:00 PM ET marks a huge day for Illinois as five-star forward Cliff Alexander will announce his college decision — he is down to Illinois, Kansas, DePaul, and Memphis. The Chicago native has his decision in mind and most believe it will be either Illinois or Kansas. Kansas has long been the favorite for Alexander, with Jayhawks’ assistant Jerrance Howard recruiting him since he was an eighth-grader. But Illinois and John Groce have made a late surge and have some momentum. If Alexander puts on the Illini hat Friday, it will not only represent Groce’s growing recruiting presence in Chicago, but will also signal that Illinois is ready to get back to being a national power.
  2. Along with Alexander, elite Class of 2014 prospects Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Stanley Johnson will also announce Friday afternoon. Besides Illinois for Alexander, no other Big Ten team is in the running for these three recruits. But that doesn’t mean the Big Ten is done recruiting top prospects this year. Indiana is heavily pursuing point guard JaQuan Lyle, a former Louisville commitment. Minnesota and Rashad Vaughn have mutual interest. Vaughn, a shooting guard from Golden Valley, Minnesota, would be Richard Pitino’s first major recruit during his short tenure as a head coach. Also look out for Ohio State to continue to pursue consensus top five player Myles Turner, a center who has been compared favorably to former NPOY Anthony Davis.  The Buckeyes already have one of the nation’s best 2014 recruiting classes and all that is missing is a talented big man like Turner.
  3. Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans are coming off a huge Tuesday night victory over Kentucky. Despite the monster win, Izzo is not pleased with his team’s effort on the boards. Adreian Payne battled foul trouble in the second half and that limited his effectiveness. Izzo desperately needs either Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling or Alex Gauna to become a consistent rebounder who the Spartans can lean on to average at least seven boards a game beyond Payne’s production. Gary Harris is another player who Izzo wants to see increase his rebounding activity.  He only averaged 2.5 rebounds per game last season.
  4. Iowa has found a stud player via the transfer hub in Jarrod UthoffWith two scholarships open for the class of 2014, head coach Fran McCaffery said he might turn to the transfer trail to fill them again. Transfers have become increasingly important to college programs, especially when they can get waivers to play right away. Don’t be shocked to see Iowa possibly pick up two graduate students for next season who will be granted immediate eligibility.
  5. There are two major games involving Big Ten teams this weekend. First, #10 Ohio State goes to Milwaukee to take on #17 Marquette Saturday. Look out for the important match-up in the post between Amir Williams and Davante Gardner. Gardner was a first team all-Big East preseason selection and will be a handful for Williams, who has never lived up to his McDonald’s All America hype. On Sunday, #7 Michigan travels to Ames to take on Iowa State. Both teams will each be without a key player, though — Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim is out with a bad left knee and Michigan’s Mitch McGary is not expected to play due to a nagging back injury. It’s not a huge deal now, but each team clearly needs its respective injured player to get healthy by the time conference play starts.
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Evaluating Four of the Top Big Ten Sixth Man Candidates

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 6th, 2013

Ed. Note: this list isn’t meant to be inclusive. Every team will have at least one solid sixth man candidate. These are meant to highlight only four of them.

Last year’s Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Will Sheehey provided a huge spark to Indiana off the bench, averaging 9.5 points per game to go along with nearly 35 percent shooting from three. The Hoosiers lost four starters from last year, so that means not only will Sheehey need to start but also a new winner for for this award will be crowned. Here’s a look at some of the players who have a great shot to capture it this season.

Shannon Scott Leads a Strong Group of Big Ten Sixth Men This Season

Shannon Scott Leads a Strong Group of Big Ten Sixth Men This Season

  • Shannon Scott - Ohio State, junior point guard – Scott possess all the skills of a starting point guard in a big time conference, but due to Aaron Craft starting at the position, Scott begins the game on the bench. He still sees plenty of playing time, as his defensive guard skill set is a perfect complement to Craft’s. Both guards allow head coach Thad Matta to pressure the opponents’ guards up and down the floor, making even dribbling the ball past half-court a difficult test. Matta is also not afraid to use Scott on the offensive end with Craft playing off the ball. Last year the Buckeyes frequently enabled a lineup of Craft, Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Deshaun Thomas and Sam Thompson. That is a small lineup, but it creates match-up nightmares as all five players can score from the perimeter. Scott will need to pick up his scoring average (4.9 PPG) as well as his 33 percent three-point average to make him an even more valuable offensive player off the bench.
  • Denzel Valentine - Michigan State, sophomore small forward – Comparisons of Michigan State great Draymond Green have been made with Valentine’s all-purpose game. But Valentine has not shown he can be the type of inside-out post player Green was. Keith Appling will be backed up by Valentine, who is a very good ball-handler for his size. He has shown in flashes that he can contribute in a number of ways for Tom Izzo, like when he put up nine points, six rebounds and six assists against Memphis in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Valentine’s 4.1 RPG and 2.4 APG should increase this season, but the main area he needs to develop is his three-point shot.  He shot a dismal 28 percent from deep last season and the Spartans really need someone to become a three-point threat other than Gary Harris. If Valentine can push his percentage up to around 35 percent, it will be hard for Izzo to keep him off the court.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 05.09.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on May 9th, 2012

  1. Plenty of Big Ten programs have undergone change in the last few months, and that includes Tubby Smith’s program at Minnesota. The most important news is that Trevor Mbakwe will return for another season, giving the Gophers a shot at finishing near the top of the conference standings next season. They’ll return some good young talent, and with a new athletic director at the helm, this group could finally be ready for a break-through. Amelia Rayno helps to catch us up.
  2. Indiana is such a hot spot now that it’s become a game of musical chairs to find open scholarships. Matt Roth seems to be the odd man out at the moment, though he still remains hopeful that something will open up for his fifth season with the Hoosiers. As Terry Hutchens points out, Roth is eligible for another season as a medical redshirt, but a scholarship would have to become available on a roster that is already over-committed by one player. His other option is to walk on and pay out-of-state tuition.
  3. It looks like Michigan State‘s modus operandi of scheduling some of the top non-conference opponents in the country will continue yet again for Tom Izzo’s group. It was announced recently that the Spartans will host Texas at Breslin Center this upcoming season.  The Spartans, who have played Rick Barnes’ team semi-regularly over the last decade or so, already also have Kansas on the schedule as part of the Champions Classic in Atlanta on November 13.
  4. There’s no area more important to Illinois recruiting than Chicago, so there may not be an assistant coach more valuable to John Groce’s staff than Isaac Chew. Per this Chicago Tribune story, Chew has become Groce’s go-to man in the Windy City. The Chicago native has quickly risen through the ranks at Murray State and Missouri, and now has the opportunity to make his mark — and help Groce do so, as well — in Champaign.
  5. Wisconsin and coach Bo Ryan received some unwanted attention this spring with the news surrounding Jarrod Uthoff and his desire to transfer elsewhere. The issue was finally resolved, but not until after the program’s image took a significant public relations hit. The Journal Sentinel‘s Jeff Potrykus recognizes that fact, but still believes Ryan and the program can recover quickly from the incident.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 04.25.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on April 25th, 2012

  1. Wisconsin has been in the news quite a bit over the last week or two, and it’s not good offseason publicity for coach Bo Ryan’s program. Ryan and Jarrod Uthoff became embroiled in a very public and heated controversy about Uthoff’s options after a transfer from Wisconsin. After Ryan tried to place a number of restrictions on Uthoff’s transfer, he made a few important gaffes over the airwaves and via social media, and eventually the coach lifted all restrictions except for schools in the Big Ten. Think Wisconsin fans are ready for games to start already?
  2. Tom Izzo is another coach who has seen some ugly offseason incidents over the last few years, and there’s already been a hiccup this year in East Lansing. Derrick Nix, who became a big contributor in the post this year and figured to be a prominent leader for the Spartans next season, pleaded guilty to impaired driving and had a marijuana possession charge dropped in East Lansing. Nix and his coach addressed the media after the incident and Izzo — after suspending Nix indefinitely — said the center would be reinstated to the team under some specific to-be-determined guidelines. Stay tuned.
  3. There will be no surprises this yearJared Sullinger will not return to Ohio State for his junior year. What does that mean for the Buckeyes? We’re not entirely sure, but we know what it will mean for Amir Williams, who is likely to eat up a lot of Sullinger’s minutes in the post. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged just 1.7 PPG and 2.1 RPG  in 6.6 MPG as a freshman, but says he’s ready to make that leap to becoming a big-time contributor.
  4. Tubby Smith has a new boss at Minnesota and that could mean huge improvements for the Golden Gophers’ program. Smith has long said that the university needs to have Big Ten-type facilities to keep up with the conference’s elite such as Ohio State and Michigan State, two programs that boast some of the very best in the country. Norwood Teague said he recognizes the importance of those facilities and, coming from VCU where basketball was ever-important, his word could go a long way toward helping Smith’s recruiting pitch.
  5. Things are moving a mile a minute for new Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, who is doing all he can to catch up and progress in Lincoln at the same time. He’s been spending time with his family in Colorado, getting acquainted with folks in Nebraska, and burning hours upon hours recruiting all over the road. Miles seems excited, and he feels that the Nebraska fan base equally shares his enthusiasm. “The response has been incredible,” he told the World Herald. “People are hungry. This is how you play the game, being out there. Putting the program in the forefront. But the talking part is easy.”
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Morning Five: 04.23.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2012

  1. Last week, Wisconsin’s Jarrod Uthoff became perhaps the most well-known non-contributor in college basketball, as the redshirt freshman’s public fracas with head coach Bo Ryan over his transfer made headlines and sparked debate throughout the college basketball world. If you were vacationing in Bali last week, the long and short of it is that Uthoff ‘s request to transfer was met with a list of 26 schools (including the entire Big Ten and ACC) to which he was restricted. Bo Ryan’s version of events, as told to Seth Davis, suggests that he was merely minimizing the chance that Uthoff would play against Wisconsin in a future game and that he was doing nothing different than any other head coach would do in a similar situation (the list was later trimmed to include just the other 11 Big Ten schools). To that last point, ESPN Radio interviewed three prominent coaches on Friday about this — John Calipari, Mark Few, and Jim Boeheim — and if you can believe their hypotheticals, the trio generally think that they would have handled Uthoff’s transfer differently.
  2. As for Uthoff’s specific situation, Fox Sports Wisconsin reported over the weekend that the player disputes Bo Ryan’s contention that the head coach had offered to return early from vacation to meet with him about his transfer options. He also publicly wondered why Ryan had not reached out to him after his scheduled return from vacation on April 14, even going to so far as to offer up his phone records as proof that Ryan had never made an effort to talk to him. One thing is for sure — it’s clear that the relationship between coach and player is beyond repair at this point. Uthoff has visits to Creighton and Iowa State (one of the originally restricted schools) scheduled in the next few weeks, so let’s hope that things calm down and everyone ultimately gets what they want from this crazy situation.
  3. Transitioning to a transfer candidate that fans had actually heard of prior to last week, Connecticut’s Roscoe Smith announced on Saturday that he would become the fifth Husky to leave Jim Calhoun’s suddenly-sinking program in the last month. Recall that on the heels of the announcement that UConn would not be eligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of a low APR rolling average, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb announced they were going to the NBA while teammates Alex Oriakhi and Michael Bradley let everyone know they were transferring. This leaves the Huskies extremely thin up front next year, with only marginal contributors Tyler Olander (4/4 in 18 MPG), Niels Giffey (3/2 in 12 MPG) and DeAndre Daniels (3/2 in 12 MPG) returning on the front line. Call him overly optimistic, but head coach Jim Calhoun believes that his program will be just fine next season regardless of all the defections. As he put it, UConn has had 25 years without a losing season and he expects it to go to 26. He also notes that Bradley may be wavering on his decision to transfer now that Smith appears to be gone.
  4. Sticking to transfer-mania, Xavier’s Mark Lyons is being forced out of the program, according to a weekend report from CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman. Lyons is a fourth-year junior who is scheduled to graduate this year, so he could transfer without penalty to another program for his senior season, or he could opt to enter his name into the NBA Draft by next Sunday evening. Combined with the losses of Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease from a group that won three Atlantic 10 regular season titles and made three Sweet Sixteens in the last four years, Chris Mack will have some substantial rebuilding to do next season. The trio including Lyons averaged 42 PPG and 13 RPG last season, but if there’s any non-power conference program that makes replacing star players look easy, it’s Xavier.
  5. It’s the offseason so clearly it’s time for schools to haphazardly jump around again. And you thought this M5 would only focus on player transfers? A report by the New York Post’s Lenn Robbins on Friday afternoon claimed for the second time in a month that CAA stalwarts George Mason and VCU were preparing to move to the Atlantic 10 as soon as early May, and that Horizon League and national power Butler is also ready to join a new and improved A-10. At this point, all interested parties are publicly denying everything, but if we’ve learned anything in the past two years of conference realignment madness, such denials are virtually meaningless. Assuming that Xavier and St. Louis aren’t headed anywhere, the top of the Atlantic 10 could be poised to become one heck of a basketball league for years to come.
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Morning Five: 04.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2012

  1. With the media starting to come down on the Wisconsin program for its handling of Jarrod Uthoff‘s attempt to transfer Bo Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands and went on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning for what most thought would be a creampuff interview. We have been critical of the show in the past, but M&M managed to make Ryan’s claims seem questionable even if the interrogation would not have reminded anybody of the work of Jack McCoy. While we give Ryan credit for stepping up to the media to answer questions (something his colleague Phil Martelli still has not done), we think that the Wisconsin public relations department might want to give Ryan a few lessons before he is steps in front of a microphone again. Notwithstanding his on-air performance Thursday morning, the school decided to ease its restrictions on Uthoff later in the afternoon. Whereas previously he was not allowed to transfer to 26 different schools (the entire ACC and Big Ten, plus three other schools on Wisconsin’s schedule), he will now be allowed to transfer to any school outside of the Big Ten.
  2. We have heard quite a few creative excuses trying to explain recruiting violations, but to our knowledge Memphis coach Josh Pastner is the first to blame his wife for the violation. Pastner, who has been forced to do more work after a member of his staff moved on, claims that he was trying to do an Internet search, but instead tweeted “Tony parker” on the official Memphis Tiger basketball account. The tweet was deleted a few minutes later, but Pastner had to report himself for a secondary recruiting violation relating to Tony Parker, the uncommitted senior out of Georgia . In his defense, Pastner claims that he had been trying to do too many things at once and his wife was yelling him for being too loud while on the phone, which had woken up the rest of the house, leading to his gaffe. While this seems possible and plausible, we would have gone with the excuse that we were tweeting about the San Antonio Spurs guard, who was having a spectacular game against the Los Angeles Lakers although the game had just tipped a few minutes before the tweet.
  3. We have heard of some outrageously expensive food items over the years, but never a $301 taco. That is until Florida‘s Erving Walker decided to steal one from a street vendor in Gainesville at 1 AM on March 30. Walker, who later said he was “just playing around”, took the taco without paying then ran from police before being caught. The judge in the case ordered Walker to pay the fine by September 27 after Walker pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft charges. Walker, who finished as the school’s all-time assist leader, may wind up playing basketball internationally as we doubt he will see NBA action for anything more than an occasional 10-day contract.
  4. ESPN is continuing to post columns by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and while they leave something to be desired (we were kind of hoping for the crotchety old man to take shots at the current system) it is interesting to read what he has to say about today’s one-and-done system especially in a year where his alma mater UCLA has at least one and possibly two such players who may lift the school back into the national spotlight. Essentially Abdul-Jabbar says that we live in a very different age and that it is unrealistic to harbor the romantic ideal of everybody staying four years because of the way society has changed. It is not exactly an earth-shattering statement, but it is something that some fans may need to be reminded of and Abdul-Jabbar may have enough gravitas to make that point stick.
  5. Some pundits may not believe it, but as Luke Winn points out there are a few talented players who stick around after their freshman season. Winn focuses on five rising sophomores with two who played major roles last year, another two who were productive if not spectacular, and a fifth who saw limited action due to a loaded frontline ahead of him. Interestingly, the one who saw the least time on the court may be the most desirable in the eyes of NBA scouts. The progression of these five players may end up determining next season’s national championship.
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