RTC Aftermath: Providence 81, Pittsburgh 73

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2009

Normally, I would assume that most of you have seen the #1 team in the country getting knocked off, but thanks to some horrible TV scheduling only 2% (all numbers are estimates) of college basketball fans ended up seeing Providence beat Pittsburgh at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (DDC) on Senior Night. While the 11,187 in attendance and a few fortunate television viewers were able to witness what makes college basketball our favorite sport, we know that many of you were less fortunate. That’s where RTC Aftermath comes in. As part of our RTC Live coverage we answer questions from fans and also bring those questions to the players and coaches to answer. Last night, we were at the DDC for the fourth installment of RTC Live. Our first three games (Wake Forest at Boston College, Miami at UNC, and Clemson at Boston College) were all solid games, but I don’t think any of them would qualify as memorable games from a pure basketball standpoint. Being in the Dean Smith Center for an ESPN GameDay was a fun experience, but nothing like last night.

Site of the game of the night
Site of the game of the night

Pre-Game: The Friar fans (at least the ones in the student section) got there pretty early. The Friar fans were a lot more intense than I expected, but looking back on it I seem to remember some PC grads telling me that their student section was pretty crazy. I think they were even more amped up than usual though because they were facing the #1 team in the country (even if the SportsTicker fax at the game still had them at #4) and it was Senior Night (something I wasn’t aware of until they started the ceremony). After the ceremony, which went on for quite a long time (8 seniors), the Friars and their fans made it clear pretty early that they weren’t going to go quietly on Senior Night.

McDermott introduction
McDermott introduction

First Half: As I mentioned in last night’s After the Buzzer, the Friars got out to a quick start jumping out to a 15-4 lead after the first 5 minutes. The primary reason that they were able to do this was  a strong opening 5 minutes by Jonathan Kale, who scored 6 points on 3/3 FG to open the game, and their ability to force Pitt into 5 turnovers that they converted into 9 points during that stretch. The Panthers were able to cut the lead to 6 with 5:01 left in the first half thanks to Ashton Gibbs who hit two 3-pointers, but the Friars then proceeded to blow the game open with 13-1 run to close the first half. At that point, the crowd and Rush the Court (who had thought that it might have been a mistake to travel over an hour down to Providence as opposed to 15 minutes down Commonwealth Avenue to the FSU-Boston College game) began to sense that something special might be happening at the “Dunk”.

GameCast
GameCast

Second Half: Pitt was able to cut into the Providence lead (up to 20 just 17 seconds into the 2nd half) getting it down to a 10-point game with 13:50 left in the game. The Panthers were able recover from the awful ball-handing (at the 15:26 mark of the 2nd half they have 5 assists and 12 turnovers compared to Providence with 14 assists and 3 turnovers) and seemed to have the momentum, but that quickly changed with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game when DeJuan Blair picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in a 17-second span that sent the Friar fans into a frenzy. With the low-post player that they couldn’t match-up with out of the game, Providence was able to get the lead back to 17 with 6:30 remaining. The Panthers were able to mount a furious comeback that nearly silenced the rabid Friar fans after Blair tipped in an Ashton Gibbs miss to make it a 5-point game with 50 seconds remaining. The Friars managed to hold them off despite not making a field goal in the last 4:21 of the game thanks to a lot of trips to the free throw line (18-of-25 in the 2nd half).

Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul
Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul

Rushing the Court
When you name your blog “Rush the Court”, you are expected to stay there (and possibly join in) when the fans rush the court. We managed to do just that (the only media entity to not run in fear, much less join in). Some of the better pictures are below (try rushing the court with a laptop in your hands sometime). If you have some pics, send them into rushthecourt@gmail.com.

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RTC Live: #1 Pittsburgh @ Providence – Tuesday Night 7pm EDT

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2009

rtc_live

Newly-minted #1 Pittsburgh, fresh off their huge win over Connecticut on last week’s Big Monday, will return to the Northeast Tuesday night to take on the bubbling Providence Friars.   Keno Davis’ team, sitting at 16-10 and 8-7 in the Big East, probably need to win their last three games to secure an NCAA Tournament bid – anything less and they’re sitting right on the fence come Selection Sunday.  Getting a big fish like the Panthers on their “quality win” resume would be a great first step toward that goal.   Pitt, on the other hand, looks like a surefire #1 seed in next month’s Dance, and they don’t want to drop a game to a middling Big East team with Marquette and UConn coming up soon.

Blair & Co. Are Happy to be #1 Again

Blair & Co. Are Happy to be #1 Again

Be sure to check in with us Tuesday night at 7pm EDT live from the Dunk in Providence.  Dejuan Blair will be there.  Sam Young will be there.  Sharaud Curry will be there.  Heck, we might even run into Katz again.

RTC will be liveblogging the game from courtside and will be taking questions and comments from fans to ask players and coaches in the locker room afterwards.  You want to know how a Hollywood guy like Jamie Dixon gets such toughness out of his players?  Ask away.  You want to know if Jeff Xavier’s bro is still attending games at PC?  Feel free.  You want us to ask the Pitt coach whether he intends on giving any of his salary back to the state of Pennsylvania…?  Ok, maybe we won’t ask that one.

Pics from the first half below.

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Checking in on the… Big East

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2009

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

I’m not sure if anyone actually noticed, but Checking in on the… Big East was absent from RTC last week (amazing the blog could survive, right?). Long story short, I work in the restaurant industry in DC, and last week there was some big, citywide party for some guy who just won some election or something. Did anyone hear about that? Needless to say, I was a bit short on time, which meant my blogging efforts took a serious hit.

But you can sleep easy kiddies and kiddettes. Your favorite RTC correspondent is back to fill you in on the inner-workings of the biggest and baddest conference in all the land. We’re going to mix things up a bit this week, as a lot has happened in the past two weeks and, frankly, I was a little bored with the old format. So without further ado, let’s get you caught up on all the Big East action:

The way that I see it, there are ten teams that can seriously be considered for a spot in the NCAA’s. Of those ten teams, there are essentially two tiers they can be broken into – UConn, Louisville and Pitt (and maybe Marquette, but more on this in a second) in one; Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, West Virginia and Notre Dame in the other.

To be completely honest, the teams in that second tier all are beginning to look very average. The question I am stuck trying to answer is whether these teams are actually mediocre on a national scale, or if it just seems that way because they are getting pounded by excellent teams night in and night out in the Big East.

Take Notre Dame as an example. Once thought to be a top ten team, the Irish have dropped out of the AP Poll after four straight losses. But those losses are to Louisville, Syracuse, UConn and Marquette and the Irish also own a win over Texas and Georgetown (again, more on the Irish in a bit).

As the conference season moves on, one thing everyone needs to be keeping in mind is the way the Big East Tournament is going to work this year. All 16 teams are going to reach Madison Square Garden, but it is not going to be a typical 16 team tournament. The way it is scheduled is that teams ranked 9-16 will all play on Tuesday (9 vs. 16, etc.). On Wednesday, the winners of the Tuesday games will play the teams ranked 5-8 (8 vs. 9/16 winner). From there on, the tournament bracket is normal (1 vs. 8/9 winner, etc.).

Looking at the conference standings, it is going to be tough for anyone to crack the top four and get the double bye.

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Lesson Learned: Get Your Money’s Worth Next Time

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

Remember a couple of weekends ago when the brother of Providence player Jeff Xavier nonchalantly ambled out of the crowd, climbed over the PC bench, and proceeded to give the ref the whatfor over a non-call on a drive involving his sibling?  Just to refresh your memory of this bizarre incident, here’s the video:

Guess what? 

We know you’ll be floored by this news, but big bro Jonathan Xavier is currently on probation for three drug convictions in Rhodie in 2005.  He served eight months in the state clink and has spent the rest of the time trying to keep himself out of trouble.  Until two Saturday nights ago.  Now, according to the Providence Journal, he’s being held without bail until he appears at a preliminary hearing to determine whether he violated the terms of his probation on Feb. 10.   And it doesn’t look all that good for him.

“The baseline condition of anyone’s probation is to keep the peace and be of good behavior,” Healey said. “In plainspeak, stay out of trouble. So what’s driving this is the attorney general’s belief that Jonathan Xavier’s conduct was not only offensive but dangerous and, therefore, cannot be tolerated.”

AP/Michael Dwyer)

Xavier Didn't Get His Money's Worth (photo credit: AP/Michael Dwyer)

With over five years remaining on Xavier’s original sentence, his little stroll to politely inquire about a foul may end up costing him way more than he could have imagined.  Frankly, for that much hard time in the pipeline, he should have decked the ref, the offending player from Marquette (Joseph Fulceand Buzz Williams for good measure.   

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Excuse Me, Mr. Referee, A Word With You, Sir…

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2009

One of the most bizarre incidents of the last few years occurred during tonight’s Providence-Marquette game, when PC’s Jeff Xavier was inadvertantly scraped across the face during a drive to the hoop causing him to hit the floor holding his face and writhing in pain.  After Xavier was assisted to his bench and while his teammate Geoff McDermott was shooting foul shots as a result of the foul from the ensuing loose ball, a man later identified as Xavier’s brother, Jonathan, came down out of the stands, climbed over the Providence bench and proceeded to leisurely stroll into the paint to discuss his feelings with referree Todd Williams.  From the Providence Journal:

AP/Winslow Townson)

It's Good to Have Family Loyalty (photo credit: AP/Winslow Townson)

The man was later identified by Dunkin’ Donuts Center general manager Larry Lepore as Jonathan Xavier, a brother of Jeff Xavier. The man began to yell at the referee but never touched him before security guards finally grabbed him and pulled him off the floor. Lepore said Jonathan Xavier was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.  PC’s Davis, as well as Marquette coach Buzz Williams, could not believe their eyes.  “Scary,” said Williams. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I just wanted to pull my team off the court and get them away from that.”  Davis was equally amazed. “I’ve seen some interesting things,” he said. “I’ve been going to games since I was born so I’ve seen some really unusual things but that one probably doesn’t even make the list.”

We can’t decide what our favorite part of this incident is – a) that Jonathan Xavier was so blissfully nonchalant in his approach to the referee; b) that, even though it was the second half, he still had his parka on inside the building; c) that he chose to climb over the bench rather than, you know, go around like everyone else, or d) that he gave the ref a gigantic WTF pose when he got out there.  All four are brilliant.  Or, maybe, it’s just the fact that he walked onto the court DURING PLAY of a Big East game because he felt that his brother got fouled.  Well done, bro, well done.

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