It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 25th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson getting so high on this alley-oop against Michigan State on Sunday that he was literally staring at the rim when he got the ball. That would have been enough, but then he chose to hammer home right on a poor Michigan State defender – just for kicks. Definitely one of the more impressive athletic plays I’ve seen this year.

Sam Thompson is not shy about attacking the rim

I LOVED…. the hilariousness that is Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on set. In this week’s gift from above, Raftery comically asks Bilas if he’s “ever been ridden” before. Take a look – it’s just too much.

I LOVED…. everyone realizing that Miami can be very, very average – or in this case, downright bad in a loss to a Wake Forest team that was 4-9 in the ACC going into Saturday. If Miami and Gonzaga somehow play their way into #1-seeds, I don’t think it’s overkill to say that they could be two of the more susceptible #1-seeds ever for a first-round upset. And Miami could even be the likelier of the two because of how much they love the three-ball.

I LOVED…. glancing at the Georgetown schedule and having my jaw slowly drop lower and lower as I looked at their defensive efficiency during this very impressive nine-game winning streak. Check it out – since losing to South Florida on January 19, the Hoyas have allowed 47, 51, 52, 56, 63, 55, 55, 66 and 46 points. That’s pretty stingy, and it bodes well for a Tournament run if they can continue mustering enough offense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 12.26.12 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 26th, 2012


  1. After beating eighth-ranked Florida on Saturday, Kansas State made its debut in the AP Top 25 poll on Monday, coming in at #25. Oklahoma State jumped from #24 to #22, and Kansas\’ road win at Ohio State vaulted the Jayhawks from ninth to sixth in this week\’s poll. With the Cowboys off this week and only American and UMKC on the schedules of Kansas and Kansas State, respectively, all three teams should remain ranked into the new year.
  2. Last week, Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated wrote about his favorite college basketball stories of 2012. Not surprisingly, Kansas\’ 87-86 overtime win over Missouri on February 28 made the list. Missouri won the first meeting at home and held a 19-point second half lead in Allen Fieldhouse, shocking the 16,300 Kansas fans into silence. As everyone remembers, Kansas came back, forced overtime, and won possibly the greatest game the border rivals had ever played. Now with Missouri in the SEC, that rivalry is on hold probably until the teams are someday matched up in the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish listed their 10 National Player of the Year Candidates yesterday on, and Kansas center Jeff Withey came in currently at No. 4. They call him \”arguably\” the best defensive big man in the nation, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the post better defensively. He is averaging 8.3 RPG and 5.0 BPG to go along with his 14.1 PPG. He leads the country with 3.9 blocks per foul and has yet to commit more than three fouls in a single game this year, meaning that he\’s on the floor when KU needs him the most.
  4. High school superstar Shabazz Muhammad has yet to live up to his preseason hype, but he finally cracked the Freshman of the Year watch yesterday at No. 5. The Big 12 has two of the five representatives on the list: Kansas guard Ben McLemore is second after scoring 22 points and six rebounds in Saturday\’s 74-66 win over Ohio State. He is averaging 16.5 PPG on the season. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart follows McLemore at third, averaging 12.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 5.1 APG. He is also averaging 2.7 SPG and has led the Cowboys to a 10-1 record so far this season.
  5. Jay Bilas has never been afraid to voice his displeasure with the NCAA, and Saturday\’s broadcast of Texas-Michigan State was no different. Before the game the NCAA had announced that sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo\’s season-long suspension had been reduced to 23 games. As usual, Bilas held nothing back with his criticism, noted here in a USA Today article from the weekend. Kabongo will be eligible to return on February 13 against Iowa State, and whether that is too late to mesh with his teammates remains to be seen.
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Big 12 M5: 11.08.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 8th, 2012

  1. With the election now in the rear-view mirror, Matt Norlander over at wondered if the presidential race was decided by states with the best basketball programs. Norlander’s sample size is comprised of his site’s preseason top 26 because he felt it wouldn’t be as compelling if states like Alaska, Hawaii or Wyoming were put on a level playing field with say, Indiana and Kentucky. It was a close “race” between the number of red states and blue states but the electoral vote count will remind you of the results from Tuesday. It is also worth noting that each of the Big 12 teams in their top 26 are in red states. I’m just saying.
  2. USA Today Sports‘ Eric Prisbell and Nicole Auerbach give us a list of coaches with the most to prove this season and two of them are Kansas State’s Bruce Weber and Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford. While these coaches do have some work to do this year to justify their positions, they’re at different levels on the totem pole. Weber is in his first year of a new job while Ford is a bad season away from losing his job. The article also lists UConn’s Kevin Ollie as another coach with a lot of pressure this year, so if you’re going to list guys who have limited head coaching experience with limited time with which to work, Chris Walker of Texas Tech would be as good a candidate as any.
  3. We now know how long Oklahoma State forward Michael Cobbins will be sidelined. Travis Ford announced he’ll be out “about a month” after suffering an injury in Monday’s exhibition victory versus Ottawa University. Le’Bryan Nash threw an alley-oop pass to Cobbins but the pass went over his head and he fell on an Ottawa player. This, of course, is bad news for a coach already without two key pieces in his rotation — Phillip Jurick who is still recovering from an Achilles injury and J.P. Olukemi who is dealing with a knee injury. Guard Brian Williams, of course, is also out for the season. Get well, Cowboys.
  4. Tuesday night West Virginia dominated its exhibition game like any good program, beating Glenville State, 95-53, and head coach Bob Huggins isn’t happy. As a team the Mountaineers shot 50% from the floor, Deniz Kilicli dropped 19 in an efficient 8-for-10 shooting night, Aaric Murray had 13 points, nine boards, and two blocked shots, while Juwan Staten had 16 points, six dimes and zero turnovers. So what does Huggins think? “We’re going to look at how we didn’t run any offense.” Riiiight, coach. I see what you did there.
  5. Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale are two of ESPN’s most visible college basketball personalities and while they have had moments of disagreement over the years, they have finally agreed on one thing: Oklahoma and Lon Kruger are on the rise this season. I don’t like the fact that Kruger doesn’t stay at places very long but what Vitale says is true: He can flat-out coach. Take a good coach like Kruger, the returns of Steven Pledger and Romero Osby, the arrival of Amath M’Baye, an emerging point guard in Sam Grooms, and I believe they will hear Greg Gumbel call their name out on Selection Sunday.
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Morning Five: 07.23.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2012

  1. One of the more interesting aspects of summer is the media hype over the next big superstar that comes out of various camps. The latest “next big thing” appears to be Andrew Wiggins, who already was the #1 recruit in the class of 2014, but may have taken over the title of the top high school player in the country that left numerous college basketball pundits sounding like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. With Jabari Parker, the #1 player in the class of 2013, sitting at home nursing a foot injury that he tried to play through earlier this summer Wiggins took on Julius Randle, the player many consider to be the #2 player in the class of 2013. What happened during their match-up was described as “mass destruction” in the words of Jeff Goodman and he may have been the most reserved observer in attendance. We tend to take all of the summer events with a grain of salt and are not ready to anoint anybody yet, but Wiggins appears to be a player worth keeping an eye on for the next few years.
  2. With the ugliness of the Penn State scandal mostly behind us we had hoped that we would be done with news reports about schools being investigated for their handling of such charges, but it turns out that Syracuse may be next in line to be put through the wringer if Gloria Allred had her way. The celebrity lawyer, who is representing Bernie Fine accuser Bobby Davis, has asked the New York State Attorney General to investigate Syracuse for not reporting Davis’ allegations to the police. Citing the Clery Act, a law with which we have become all too familiar with thanks to Penn State and Syracuse, Allred claims that Syracuse failed to live up to its obligation to report the accusations. This story will probably be hanging out in the background while people continue to pontificate on the situation at Penn State, but watch for it to come back to the surface as basketball season draws near.
  3. We have not been to Rick Pitino‘s personal site since we stumbled upon this gem a few years ago, but perhaps we should check it out more often as he posted a blog post on Saturday where he suggested that ESPN analyst Jay Bilas should be the next commissioner of the Big East. We are not sure if Pitino is being serious here or if he is joking around because Bilas does not have any of the credentials we would expect from a conference commissioner, but then again there have been quite a few conference commissioners who seemed to lack the necessary credentials. For his part Bilas has dismissed the idea in his typical flippant fashion. We doubt that anything will come of this as we all know it is much easier to be critical from the outside than it is to effect change from within.
  4. The money each year may not be surprising for a Division I coach, but the length of the contract extension that Akron coach Keith Dambrot signed after he agreed in principle to a 10-year deal that is estimated to have a base salary of $400,000 per year (a 25% raise from his prior contact). Dambrot, who is still best known for being LeBron James‘ high school coach, has compiled a record of 184-87, a MAC regular season title, two NCAA Tournament appearances, and three NIT appearances in eight seasons with the Zips. We are not aware of any source that keeps track of these sort of things, but we doubt that there are many Division I coaches with contracts that run that long.
  5. Jeremy Lin may not be returning to Madison Square Garden (outside of a yearly visit), but the NIT Season Tip-Off and the NIT will be for at least the next three years after reaching an agreement with the NCAA. While the Season Tip-Off has retained some of its luster as it occasionally attracts big programs that have good teams, the NIT, which had historically been a rival to the NCAA Tournament, has become an afterthought in college basketball as it fields teams that are mostly disappointed to be there. Still the event remains synonymous with New York and if it generates some travel dollars for New York we can understand it to a degree. We are interested in seeing what happens to MSG’s stock price today to see how the market reacts to the news of the NIT staying in Madison Square Garden.
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Night Line: Louisville Starting to Find Their Form in Big East Play

Posted by EJacoby on February 7th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games.

Monday night saw Louisville completely dominate Connecticut in the second half during an 80-59 victory, and while the major focus was on the Huskies’ sorry effort, the Cardinals deserve credit for another impressive win after a horrible start to conference play. Monday’s victory was the team’s fifth straight, all of which have come by nine or more points. Louisville was clearly overrated when they were ranked in the top 10 during an undefeated start in December, but Rick Pitino’s team is starting to come around and establish themselves as one of the more talented teams in this year’s muddled Big East. Plenty of difficult matchups remain on the schedule, but the talks of the ‘Ville being on the NCAA Tournament bubble are long gone, and this team is looking to peak at the most important time of the season.

Chane Behanan is Improving with Each Game for Surging Louisville (AP Photo/K. Srakocic)

Back on December 23, Louisville had finished its non-conference schedule without a loss and was then ranked #4 in the AP Poll, but quickly crashed down to Earth once the competition ramped up. The team lost five of its next seven games, including home defeats to Notre Dame and Georgetown, and it was unclear if the Cardinals were even a top 10 team in their conference, much less the entire country. But collective intensity and defensive effort was never an issue during that midseason slump, and the Cards are now gaining confidence offensively that could make them a sneaky dangerous team down the stretch.

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Happy Thanksgiving From RTC…

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2011

Rush the Court would like to wish everybody around college basketball nation a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Now, pass the mashed potatoes, Bilas…

It's a Festive Turkey Day Around the RTC Household (image inspired by TNT's Inside the NBA Goin' Fishin' series)

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SEC Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 21st, 2011

  1. Kentucky was not especially impressive in its 62-52 gutty win over Old Dominion on Sunday. The Wildcats’ subpar performance brought out the critics who said that Kentucky is too young to dictate how it will win in every game, and the Cats aren’t tough enough to handle really physical teams inside. Even coach John Calipari can be counted amongst the critics of the Cats after their sloppy play in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. For my two cents, the Cats have to take better care of the basketball. Freshman point guard Marquis Teague lost the ball six times contributing to 21 total turnovers for the Wildcats on the day. Sloppy play could be part of the reason that the Cats couldn’t get Terrence Jones more involved in the offense. He was 3-9 on the day, finishing with just six points. Jones has to get more touches near the basket, as he simply wasn’t a key component of Kentucky’s offense on Sunday.
  2. Kentucky fans are known to overreact every once in a while, and many Wildcat fans have been quick to torch Teague for his poor play. UK fans are quick to forget how often freshmen John Wall and Brandon Knight turned the ball over in their first year, especially at the beginning of the season. Knight had eight turnovers in the Maui Invitational last year against Washington, and had as many turnovers in his first four games in 2010-11 (18 TOs) as Teague has through four games this season. Knight averaged over three turnovers per game for the season, while Wall averaged over four. All three players are super-quick and excellent in transition, but playing quickly can lead to sometimes being out of control. Teague will settle into his role running the Wildcat offense, just like Knight and Wall did before him, and just like he did in the second half of Sunday’s matchup with ODU. Teague turned the ball over only once in 19 second half minutes against the Monarchs.
  3. Speaking of harsh critics, nobody is tougher on his guys’ early season struggles than Kevin Stallings is on Vanderbilt’s defensive woes. “We have to play better defensively,” Stallings said. “We’re a pretty good offensive team, but we suck on defense. Until we get better defensively, it doesn’t matter who we put out there. We’ve got to get better defensively. Period.” It’s true, but Vandy is without their best defensive player in center Festus Ezeli. “Festus ain’t here,” Stallings said. “He ain’t gonna be here Monday. He’s not going to be playing Friday or the following Monday. If they’re sitting around and waiting for him to come back, then we got more problems than just our defense.” Vanderbilt hasn’t held an opponent under 47% from the field in its first four games this season. If the Commodores can play consistently better defense, they have the offense to compete with just about any team in the country.
  4. Arkansas received bad news when star forward Marshawn Powell went down in practice with what is being called a “serious” knee injury. “We don’t know if it’s a sprained knee or something worse in there,” coach Mike Anderson said. “He had worked so hard in the offseason to get himself in the best shape he’s ever been in. It’s a tremendous loss.” Powell was limited by a foot injury last year as his averages dropped to 10.8 PPG and 4.5 RPG. In two games this season, he was averaging 19.5 points and six rebounds per game, including a 20-point performance against Oakland last week. Powell will undergo additional tests on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Regardless, the news is a huge blow to Anderson and the Hogs, as they could use the scoring and leadership that Powell provides for this young team. Arkansas lost to Houston by the score of 87-78 in Powell’s absence.
  5. There is some debate as to how good of a Tennessee Volunteer team will take the court on Monday for a Maui Invitational matchup with Duke. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas says, “I don’t think people can reasonably expect great things this year given all the program has been through in the last year. But they have some capable players and they go as hard as anybody.” Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose Tigers are also in Maui for the tournament, disagrees. “Everyone thinks Tennessee is going to fall off, I told everyone, ‘hey, they still have really good players,”’ Pastner said on Sunday. “Cuonzo Martin, can obviously flat out coach, there is no denying that, and he is going to get really good players.” Some of this could be typical coachspeak from Pastner, but Martin’s Tennessee squad will take the court on Monday for a first impression for folks outside of Knoxville. The Vols, picked to finish 11th in the SEC, beat UNC Greensboro and Louisiana-Monroe easily, but Duke will present a far more difficult challenge. The Maui Invitational has an extremely strong field this year, which could be advantageous for a Tennessee team looking to determine its standing amongst the nation’s best. UT will play either Michigan or Memphis (the loser of their game) on Tuesday, following its game versus the Blue Devils.
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20 Questions: Is Coach K the Greatest Coach in NCAA History?

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference and an ACC microsite staffer.

Question: Coach K will become the all-time winningest coach soon. Is he the greatest coach in NCAA basketball history? If not, where does he rank?

Yes, but with a disclaimer. Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach of the modern era. You can define that era in many ways: the expansion of the NCAA Tournament (either when in 1975 it expanded to 32 teams, or when in 1985 it expanded to the truly modern 64 teams); the adoption of the shot clock (1985-86); the addition of the three-point line (nationally in 1986-87); or the advent of ESPN (1979 NCAA Tournament).

Truthfully, the best interpretation is somewhere in between, for all four of these events led to the game we know and love today. The expansion of the Big Dance made the NCAA Tournament more difficult both because more games separated teams from the championship and because at-larges increased the overall talent of the field. The shot clock redefined offenses and frankly made the game more exciting. The three-point field goal introduced statistical “noise” that created large swings in performance and allowed for more upsets (basically, a 40-minute game is a small enough sample size that even a horrendous shooting team like Florida State to go 9-19 from three and a good shooting Notre Dame team to go 7-30 from downtown). Finally, ESPN’s consistent coverage of college basketball symbiotically raised the popularity of both ESPN and men’s hoops.

Krzyzewski Will Pass Bob Knight for the Most Wins in Men's Division I History Early this Season

But to suggest that Coach K is a better coach than John Wooden would be too presumptive. There are plenty of arguments, but no sound logic can definitively put Krzyzewski over the Wizard of Westwood: Wooden won ten national championships in 12 years including an 88-game winning streak that is without a doubt the most dominant stretch of college basketball ever. If you still want to try to argue Coach K over John Wooden, read that one more time. I am not saying that Wooden would see that success now, but it is not like we are dealing with similar resumes. Wooden has as many titles as Coach K, Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams, and Tom Izzo (or Bill Self) combined.

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Where 2011-12 Happens: Reason #18 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2011

Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!

#18 – Where Mid-Major Public Enemy #1 Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.

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ESPN’s Toughest Arenas Survey: Analyzing Coaches’ Responses

Posted by rtmsf on September 7th, 2011 had an interesting series of stories that went up today regarding various folks’ favorite college basketball arenas to visit and the toughest ones to play in.  As always when you read blurbs of primary source information, it’s enlightening to see the reasoning behind their choices.  For example, we never knew that NC State’s old home was such an ACC snake pit, but ESPN commentators Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis both independently cited Reynolds Coliseum as the toughest arena they ever played in. Davis even claimed that he never scored “on the opposite basket away from our bench in the first half” due to the flustered situation he found himself in all four years he visited Raleigh.

A number of media types also weighed in with their favorite places to experience a game, and several of the old faithfuls represent well here — Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium (3 votes), Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse (2 votes) and the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden (2 votes) — along with a few other tried-and-trues including Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stanford’s Maples Pavilion, Penn’s Palestra, and UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion (1 vote each).  But it was the list provided by Dana O’Neil (excellent usage of “sepia,” by the way) from her interviews of several head coaches back in July on the recruiting trail that really caught our eye. First, here’s her list:

Fifteen prominent coaches chose nine different arenas between them.  Three of those are already retired to the dustbin of history, and three others are clearly a personal house of horrors to specific coaches.  Not many people in this business will choose a place like Murray State Arena over somewhere like the Kohl Center or Breslin Arena, but Big Ten coach Bruce Weber did.  The remaining joints are again places we’re all familiar with as incredibly difficult to walk out with a win, but we quickly noticed that there was something peculiar about the responses among O’Neil’s interviewees.  Take a closer look — of the 15 coaches, only one of them gave an answer that includes a site where his team must regularly play games.

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