Morning Five: 09.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 17th, 2013


  1. If the pressure was not already on Steve Alford to land a point guard at UCLA before, the announcement that Kyle Anderson was planning on declaring for the NBA Draft after this season certainly should. Coming after Anderson’s solid, but uninspiring freshman year the announcement (by his father) seems somewhat strange and we are not sure what purpose it serves. At this point he is a borderline first round pick at best and that is primarily based on his potential (length and skills). If Anderson shows significant improvement he could be a potential lottery pick because of that potential, but “declaring” this early serves no purpose other than to create disharmony within the Bruins locker room.
  2. There has been quite a bit of speculation that there is a growing movement that would bring about changes that would eventually lead to college athletes being paid. If you didn’t believe our warnings that it would not be happening any time soon, perhaps the comments made by NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday stating that there was very little support behind the movement to pay college athletes from administrators. Emmert may be the public face of the NCAA and subsequently the target of most of the hatred directed at the organization, but he does raise some salient points. Whatever your opinion is on the subject of paying athletes, Emmert’s comments should further our previous statements that we are still a long way away from paying college athletes becomes a reality.
  3. Mike Krzyzewski‘s comments yesterday voicing his disapproval of transfer waivers has managed to create a fair amount of controversy. It should be pointed out that none of his comments are unique and appear to be the party line for the old school. As several people have noted Krzyzewski was never asked if a player should be granted a waiver if his coach leaves. Of course that would also encroach upon the third rail of the transfer discussion–coaches moving around freely and players being taken advantage of when it is time to sign with schools. We would also be interested to see how Krzyzewski would react if be were given the opportunity to get a high-impact transfer that could obtain a waiver, which is a position that we believe he has never been in.
  4. It has been a year since Jim Calhoun abruptly stepped down as head coach at Connecticut and as you would expect the local media reached out to him to discuss what he has been up to in the interim. The part of the article that will generate the most buzz is that “little itch” that Calhoun says he still to coach basketball. While we do find that interesting on some level, we doubt that he would ever come back to coach in any capacity at his age with his medical history. Having said that it is good to see that Calhoun is involved with the school and the players at some level.
  5. Many college basketball fans have been focusing on the reported recruiting package deal of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones and for good reason as the are rated #1 and #3 overall in ESPN’s recruiting rankings. However, they should also keep an eye on reports that Cliff Alexander and Jaquan Lyle are now also a package deal. The reports are based on a tweet that Alexander, the #2 overall recruit according to those same ESPN rankings, sent out saying that he and Lyle< the #22 overall recruit, would be playing in college together. While there are several teams on both players “lists” it is worth noting that Lyle said said that he favored Kansas recently and Alexander is also believed to be a Kansas lean at this point.
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Season In Review: Connecticut Huskies

Posted by mlemaire on May 1st, 2013

Despite the fact that there was no postseason at the end of the tunnel thanks to the academic sins of those who came before them, UConn put together quite a remarkable season that should have Huskies’ fans excited about the future of their program. The year started with question marks on everything from who would play in the frontcourt to whether interim coach Kevin Ollie would become Jim Calhoun’s permanent successor. It ended with Ollie as the team’s head coach for the future and the squad winning a mildly surprising 20 games, including a 10-8 mark in Big East play, en route to somewhat of a feel-good story for coach and program. Let’s go deeper inside UConn’s season:

Preseason Expectations

The Huskies were one of the easier teams in the conference to predict but our scribes at the microsite proved at least slightly more accurate than the coaches as we pegged the Huskies to finish 8th, which is where they finished (the coaches pegged them 9th). The expectations were easy once it became clear that the team was going to play hard all season for Ollie. Many figured that their issues in the frontcourt and no prospect of the postseason would put the Huskies near the bottom of the conference. But they also understood that in Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, and DeAndre Daniels, there was enough talent in place for UConn to compete with most every team if things went well — which is pretty much exactly what they did.

Shabazz Napier Was A Big Reason UConn Stayed Competitive This Season

Shabazz Napier Was A Big Reason UConn Stayed Competitive This Season

The Good

First things first, this season could have just as easily gone off the rails if the Huskies couldn’t stay motivated, so head coach Kevin Ollie deserves major kudos for the job he did with his new team and apparently the school agreed because midway through the season UConn removed the interim tag from his position. Not only did Ollie keep the team motivated (they only lost two games by more than 10 points and one was to that Louisville buzzsaw), but he helped the squad become an above-average team on both ends that was truly only hampered by its inability to rebound and defend the post. He has also already proven his recruiting chops and should continue to be a more-than-capable replacement for Calhoun. Napier (17.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.4 RPG, 44.1 FG%) became a more judicious shot-taker, an excellent free throw shooter and one of the best floor generals in the conference, setting the stage for what should be a tremendous senior season. Boatright (15.1 PPG, 4.4 APG, 42.9 FG%) also saw an uptick in his numbers, although that had something to do with his more prominent role in the offense and an increase in shots attempted. If he can cut down on turnovers and improve his three-point shooting a bit, there will be little doubt which team has the best backcourt in the conference next season. But the man who showed the most improvement was sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels. A non-factor in limited minutes as a freshman (3.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 34.1 FG%), the Huskies were counting on the uber-talented sophomore to make a leap and he didn’t disappoint, averaging 12.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG while shooting better than 46 percent from the field and turning into one of the better shot-blockers in the conference. Without Daniels, the Huskies would have been lucky to win 15 games this season.

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Big East M5: 02.15.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 15th, 2013


  1. As expected, more details have emerged in the Jim Boeheim-Andy Katz “feud”, which came to a head last night when Boeheim called Katz an idiot and refused to answer his questions at the presser that followed Syracuse’s loss at Connecticut.  What was originally assumed by many to be an issue with Katz sharing some information about James Southerland’s academic issues now seems to be more about last year’s Bernie Fine fiasco.  Let’s hear from Boeheim: “It’s really simple. I went to New York last year to play in the (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off) Tournament in November and he (Katz) asked if he could interview me about the tournament. And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t talk about the (Bernie Fine) investigation.’ We got in the room and he put me on camera — there were several witnesses there — and he asked me what I’d told him I couldn’t answer. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t answer that.’ And he asked me, like, 10 times on camera. He never took the camera off me. Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.'” Katz issued a response following the article: “There was no deal. I don’t cut deals. He might have thought there was a deal, but I have never, ever made a deal… The reason I did that is because with guys like Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Jim Calhoun they’ll, say there’s a certain subject they don’t want to talk about and then they’ll talk about it. If I asked it one too many times, fine, criticize me. I was just trying to see if he’d answer the question.”
  2. On the brighter side for Syracuse fans… err, maybe not so much after Wednesday night in Hartford… Michael Carter-Williams continues to grab headlines for his play.  Mike DeCourcy of  Sporting News went into depth with MCW about his high-risk, high-reward play this season, and how his scant playing time last season has helped in his maturation process.  Carter-Williams, like Dion Waiters before him, is a fiery competitor, and is has gotten the best of him in games before, including one instance last season when he snapped at Jim Boeheim after being taken out of a game: “Definitely, there were a couple of times when it got the better of me and I lashed out at Coach. Those were mistakes I made. Coach told me if I wasn’t yelling at him, he wouldn’t know what to expect from me. I was a McDonald’s All-American and I wasn’t playing … he knew I wanted to be out there.”  Carter-Williams’ play has been up and down this Big East season, but few deny his talent, and the fact that if Syracuse has a chance at making a final four run this season, it will be in large part due to MCW’s play.
  3.  College basketball is wide open this season, and the Big East is no different. It seems like half of the league is still in contention for the conference crown, and no one knows what will happen once the Big East tournament kicks off at Madison Square Garden. UConn was never supposed to be in the discussion this season.  After being handed a full post-season ban due to APR issues, and losing a number of talented players from their NCAA tournament team last season, UConn was largely an afterthought in the league.  However, with the win over Syracuse, the Huskies sit just a game out of first place in the conference, and the team may be especially dangerous, as a regular season Big East title is all that they can play for this year.
  4. Cincinnati’s offensive woes have been well-documented, especially since Cashmere Wright’s injury in January.  Sean Kilpatrick has been a one man show for the Bearcats, and that hasn’t been a winning formula.  In their recent win over Villanova, Cincinnati was able to find offense from another sourceJaQuon Parker.  Parker averages 10.9 points per game for Cincy, but had been in a bit of a scoring drought before breaking out with 19 points against the Wildcats.  The significance of his contribution was not lost on Mick Cronin: “He’s got to stay aggressive and I’ve got to help him with that. Put him in situations to where he can be aggressive and he’s thinking offense.  He’s thinking attack. For us to win, he’s got to play that way. For us to be a high-level team, he’s got to be a double-figure guy.”
  5. The ballad of Todd Mayo at Marquette has hit frequent rough notes, but he is a rare talent that could become a major asset for Buzz Williams’ squad if kept in check.  Mayo spent the early part of this season on academic suspension, and he has had his playing time cut at points since his return for what many expect is disciplinary reasons.  When Mayo does suit up, he is a dangerous offensive weapon, averaging over 17.5 points per 40 minutes played.  The trouble is, for every double digit game he tallies, he only plays five minutes in another.  There are rumblings that Mayo may not be long for Marquette, but while he is still on the team, they can certainly use him in their race for the top of the Big East.
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Night Line: UConn Takes Last Act of Memorable Big East Rivalry

Posted by BHayes on February 14th, 2013


Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The Big East is larger than two programs, but for the better part of the last three decades, it’s been next to impossible to think of Big East basketball without Syracuse or UConn coming to mind. They have proven worthy flag-bearers for one of the best and proudest basketball conferences in America, but with Syracuse flying the coop after this season and UConn ineligible for Big East tournament play, Wednesday night would be the final time the two programs would meet as league rivals. A nostalgic night indeed, but brace yourself — as the Big East (at least as we have known it) splinters apart over the next 13 months, there will be many more nights of sifting through the memories. But on this first night of bracing for life after the (old) Big East, it was a young team, led by a rookie coach who stole the show.

Jim Boeheim And Syracuse's Final Big East Trip To UConn May Have Stirred Memories, But Did Not Net The Orange A Win

Jim Boeheim And Syracuse’s Final Big East Trip To UConn May Have Stirred Memories, But Did Not Net the Orange a Win

A failing APR score will cost UConn a berth in the NCAA Tournament this season, but give the Huskies credit: Once the talent exodus from Storrs was complete, few thought the ban would actually cost UConn anything. The Huskies have instead proved themselves Tournament-worthy over and over again in this resilient campaign, and the once-doubted Kevin Ollie has secured a long-term future in the Nutmeg State.

The two biggest reasons for UConn’s success were as important as ever on Wednesday night. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined to efficiently pick apart the Syracuse zone, totaling 27 points (on 16 shots) and 11 assists between them. The two lead guards have flourished under the 40-year old Ollie, who has entrusted his pair of play-makers with a freedom and confidence that Jim Calhoun (bless his heart, and his three National Championships) never did. No longer must Boatright and Napier fear a quick pull, or a (screaming, maniacal) voice in their ear after a bad shot or turnover. The result has been the formation of a backcourt that is as cocksure as it gets. UConn may be a team with nothing else to play for, but Kevin Ollie has twisted that fact into a different reality – the Huskies are simply playing with house money, and the riches are growing every week.

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Big East Burning Question: Are Syracuse And Jim Boeheim Really Overrated?

Posted by mlemaire on January 15th, 2013

We are admittedly well late to the party with this question, but amidst all of the fawning articles and celebratory columns remarking on the incredible 900 wins that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has amassed, there was one turd in the punch bowl — CBS Sports college basketball analyst and noted Syracuse agitator Doug Gottlieb. Gottlieb has contended for quite some time that Boeheim is a great coach, but not an “elite” coach, especially when compared to some of his contemporaries who have had more success in the NCAA Tournament such as Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun. Now its true that Gottlieb has a rather testy history with Syracuse, its fans, and its famed head coach, but for the sake of this argument, we will ignore the suspicions of personal bias and just take his argument on its face. So without further delay, we posed the question to the three microsite writers and here is what they came up with.

Will Tucker: It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to lampoon Doug Gottlieb, especially when his subject is a coach with whom he seemingly has an ax to grind. But it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. As Mike points out, when you compare Jim Boeheim’s postseason accomplishments to those of his peers, his 900+ wins––amassed disproportionately early in the season––serve as an indictment in their distribution as much as a milestone in their volume. And Gottlieb’s accusation that Boeheim’s soft nonconference schedules have been a disservice to his team’s toughness is a fair criticism that merits further investigation. But Doug’s aversion to nuance is on full display, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. While Boeheim’s nonconference scheduling is and should be fair game, Gottlieb further attributes Syracuse’s postseason stumbles to feasting on an overrated Big East schedule. This seems more ad hominem than intellectually honest, and Doug conveniently ignores the 2010-11 UConn and 2011-12 Louisville teams that reached Final Fours with nearly ten Big East losses apiece. He also summarily mocks Boeheim’s zone defense as an inferior system nobody else uses with any success. In doing so, he ignores that Boeheim’s protégé Rick Pitino took an offensively stunted group to a Final Four with a variation of that zone last season, and the Cards retain the most efficient defense in the country again this year (Syracuse is hot on their heels at #3). Rhetoric notwithstanding, at the crux of this discussion is a fan’s aesthetic preference between regular season success and tournament success. Sure, the two aren’t mutually exclusive (paging Mike Kryzyzewski), but most coaches fall somewhere toward either end of the spectrum. Knowing all too well how a team’s struggles in the winter can exacerbate my seasonal affective disorder, I’m philosophical about the whole thing. I’ll take a Sweet 16 preceded by four months of big wins, high rankings, and conference championships over an agonizing regular season capped off by an Elite Eight––every time. Gottlieb subscribes to the notion that tournament success supersedes any other measuring stick, and the rigidness of his assumptions leaves little room for us to meet in the middle. Ultimately, I think it detracts from the salient questions his raises about what makes a coach great.

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The 10 Biggest CBB Stories of 2012 — #4: Jim Calhoun Retires

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 30th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

College basketball gave us plenty of memorable moments and stories in 2012. After sorting through the main headlines, we’ve come up with the 10 most consequential items and, for the sake of maintaining publishing sequence symmetry, releasing two per-day over the next five days to lead into the New Year. It was an excellent year for the sport, though I can’t promise you won’t regret reliving at least one or two of the choices. In any case, here’s to summing up a great year and to hoping that 2013 is better than the 365 days that preceded it.

Few programs are tied as strongly to one coach as UConn is to Jim Calhoun. The 70-year old legend not only won three national championships, nine Big East regular season titles and three conference tournament titles, but Calhoun built the program from scratch and cultivated the UConn brand in his own image. Any discussion of Huskies basketball inevitably reverts to Calhoun’s architectural imprint. The coach and program are inextricably linked.

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Big East M5: Temporal Symmetry Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on December 12th, 2012


  1. Happy 12.12.12, everyone. By the time another one of these rolls around, the Big East will be dead and so will we. Fittingly, talk of a possible mass exodus of the league’s non-football contingent dominated yesterday’s college hoops community. In an interview Steve True of ESPN Wisconsin conducted with Marquette AD Larry Williams yesterday, Williams distilled the frustrations of the Catholic basketball schools with startling candor, which certainly doesn’t bode well for reconciliation. He identified August as a nebulous deadline for decision-making, and when asked whether Marquette would be in the Big East next year, responded, “The assumption is yes, but everything is on the table. Let me just put it that way. We’re evaluating everything.” Other highlights include Williams bluntly dismissing the A-10 as an inferior option, referring to Big East football as “second or third tier,” and relating Tulane to an ugly lamp in a remodeled conference (“Now that home has been sort of changed, and somebody came and put new furniture in, and boy, do we still fit here is what everyone is sort of thinking about”).
  2. There had been some rumblings the other day that the non-football schools were disturbed by the highly public overtures football counterparts had made to the ACC before Louisville scored an invite. Emails obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer among university leadership at Cincinnati revealed a highly orchestrated and urgent effort to court both the ACC and Big 12 during that audition period. The university president’s office sought guidance from a D.C. lobbying firm and tried to arrange campus visits for ACC presidents. Urban Meyer’s sister, a vice provost at the school, even enlisted the iconic coach to lobby the ACC on Cincinnati’s behalf, before he ultimately demurred.
  3. Though Connecticut’s 57-49 win over Harvard last weekend doesn’t look particularly sexy on paper, Huskies fans were encouraged by the confident performance of sophomore forward DeAndre Daniels, who shot 9-of-12 and ended with 23 points. Despite huge expectations for the former 4/5-star recruit, Daniels was an enigma last season, averaging only three points and two rebounds in 12 minutes per contest; tentative in attacking the rim despite his superlative athleticism. Now, he’s focusing on fundamentals rather than dwelling on his limitations: “I understand my role better. I’m boxing out better, and I’m going to get the ball better. I have to do that because I’m not as big and strong as some of the [frontcourt] guys we’re going to face.”
  4. Rutgers survived a scare from a 4-6 George Washington team at home last night, despite playing some of its best basketball of the season in the first 18 minutes. Mike Rice apparently persisted in applying his 2-2-1 press a little too long after the Colonials had deciphered it, forcing his team to plant their heels and endure a dogfight in the second half. Though not as decisive as Rutgers fans would have hoped, On The Banks calls the win “another game they would have lost last year. And, likely, the year before.” Considering we picked them to finish last in the conference this season, 6-2 in mid-December and two games ahead of Villanova in the loss column feels like solid progress.
  5. As Jim Boeheim approaches his 900th win, The Juice Online meditates on whether his steely countenance would grace a college basketball Mount Rushmore of coaching greats. Sacrilegiously, the author argues that the Syracuse legend would be the seventh choice, behind Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, Coach K, Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, and –– brace yourselves –– Jim Calhoun. He also draws a compelling analogy between Boeheim and Karl Malone: “Much like Malone did, Boeheim puts up very good numbers every season (he has more 20-win seasons than any other coach) and much like Malone, there have been a lot of seasons…While Boeheim has consistently been very very good, he’s never really had a stretch where he established himself as truly dominant coach, just like Malone never established himself as a truly dominant player.”
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume V

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 11th, 2012

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… another strong week from Michigan. I’ve always gotten a kick out of subtly rooting for the Wolverines, but have never quite been able to put my finger on why. I guess that while most people enjoy stirring up images of tradition and excellence when programs like Indiana get back on track, with Michigan it’s more about stirring up those memories of just how stinking COOL the program was in the early 90s with the Fab Five. This is a fun team to watch, and it doesn’t hurt that they have two sons of former NBA stars leading the way, either.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Friends Have Been Outstanding This Season

I LOVED… Illinois putting up one of the true statement wins of the young season and perhaps emptying out the Gonzaga bandwagon already. What an incredible start for John Groce, and what a performance from Brandon Paul. That’s probably as encouraging as anything for the Illini, that they had a closer to ride down the stretch of a tight game. That’ll bode well for a Big Ten that is sure to have plenty of nailbiters all year long.

I LOVED…. laughing at this show of solidarity from the ACC presidents about no more schools leaving the conference. I’d say it’s safe to say at this point that potentially 80 percent of all major conference schools are at least entertaining hypothetical scenarios or potential TV deals at the moment. With switches happening almost every other week, it’s fairly comical to deny it.

I LOVED… and by loved, I mean lovvvvvvvvvved App State center Brian Okam’s hysterical blooper-reel free throw, as his charity toss slipped off his hands and literally went 10 feet vertically and maybe three feet horizontally (and that’s generous). But I also loved that Okam could see the humor and took the time to give a statement about the shot. Just remember big man – the next one is always going in.

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Big East M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 5th, 2012

  1. St. John’s 81-65 loss on the road at San Francisco may have seemed like just another non-conference game in preparation for the Big East gauntlet which kicks off in early January. To Steve Lavin, though, this game meant a whole lot more. Steve’s father Cap Lavin played guard at San Francisco in the early 1950s, and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1997. With his son’s trip out west, the school honored Lavin at halftime. San Francisco Chronicle writer Steve Kroner’s piece on this father-son relationship is an excellent read. Where many sporting parents may push their children towards athletics, Cap never put any pressure on Steve, but instead made sure that his career goal of becoming a basketball coach wasn’t him taking “the path of least resistance.” Steve’s relationship with Cap was also instrumental in helping him triumph in his recent bout with prostate cancer.
  2. The Big East Tournament has always been a big event for Connecticut faithful, and this spring’s tournament, with the impending departure of rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh, promised to be even more meaningful… until, of course, UConn was banned from all postseason play for poor APR scores. School president Susan Herbst is still fighting the ruling, citing the school’s stronger, more recent APR scores as evidence that the program has learned and improved upon past academic failures. Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs theorizes that if UConn wants to overcome the “chaos” that has befallen the program and be readmitted to the Big East Tournament — and on a larger scale, be seen as having a strong athletic department again — they need to quiet Jim Calhoun. As we discussed in yesterday’s Big East M5, Calhoun recently stated that he would “never say never” in ruling out a return to coaching. Jacobs believes that Calhoun’s thirst for attention, which doesn’t seem to have dissipated even after his very public and odd retirement, is undermining the program.
  3. While the Syracuse low-post trio of Rakeem Christmas, Dajuan Coleman, and Baye Moussa Keita have combined for a solid 18.2 points, 15.6 rebounds, and nearly four blocks per game this season, Jim Boeheim still believes that this group is the one that must progress the most if the team wants to make a championship run this season. The Orange’s 2-3 zone has been especially active and long this season to the tune of 81 steals through six games, but their corresponding interior defense has been a bit weak at times. Boeheim is worried that a good mid-range jump shooter or a strong offensive big man could do some damage against his defense. Syracuse could also use a strong presence inside on offense when the shooting stroke from outside runs cold, as it did for stretches against Eastern Michigan on Monday.
  4. USF (the Big East one this time) seems to be gaining its sea legs after a rough few games to start the year, and are prepared to take on #23 Oklahoma State in Stillwater tonight. One can point to the improved health of Anthony Collins as one reason for the Bulls’ improved play. After missing a game against Stetson due to a lingering calf injury, Collins had one of his best games of the year against Georgia, scoring 17 points and adding 10 assists. A win in Stillwater would give USF a solid non-conference road win, and re-energize the thoughts of a second straight NCAA Tournament berth. After the Oklahoma State game, USF has a 13-day break to focus on practice and schoolwork, so look for the Bulls to come out with a very strong effort knowing that rest is on the way.
  5. Pittsburgh could get back junior swingman Trey Zeigler as early as tonight for the Panthers’ City Game against Duquesne. Zeigler, who transferred from Central Michigan after his father Ernie was fired as head coach, was charged with a DUI on November 26 and was suspended indefinitely from the team. The scoring guard was a highly recruited player coming out of high school and had averaged 6.2 points per game for Pitt before his suspension — during his two years with the Chippewas, he averaged around 16 points per game so he could provide a great offensive spark for the Panthers if he gets back into a rhythm.
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Big East M5: 12.04.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 4th, 2012

  1. Under Mike Brey, Notre Dame has developed a reputation for early NCAA Tournament flame outs. The Irish have reached the Dance eight times, but have only advanced past the round of 32 once. One of the reasons that has been cited is the tendency for Notre Dame teams to be predicated on jump shooting and finesse play. Brey thinks that this Notre Dame squad may be the one to break that mold and achieve “it,” although he seems to be very wary of angering the basketball jinx gods by revealing what “it” is.  This season’s Fighting Irish are flying high after a win over Kentucky, and the group seems to have a different makeup than the teams before them. They have a legitimate post presence in Jack Cooley, guards who can break down the defense in Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins, and the requisite shooters in Scott Martin and Cameron Biedscheid. This may not end up being the Notre Dame team that does “it,” but they certainly look the part at this early juncture.
  2. UConn’s season has been about as weird as one would expect so far. After what seemed to be a statement win in the opener against Michigan State in Germany, the Huskies dropped a game to New Mexico and have struggled recently against the likes of Stony Brook and New Hampshire. Kevin Ollie’s team is looking forward to the return of senior guard R.J. Evans, who is the normal sixth man in the team’s rotation. Evans, who missed the last two games with an injured sternoclavicular joint, may be ready to go in tonight’s match-up with a very talented NC State team. Evans’ presence and leadership off the bench should take some of the pressure off of starting guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Napier has stressed the impact that Evans brings to the flow of UConn’s offense: “Against New Hampshire we played a little selfish… We missed R.J.”
  3. In other UConn news, Jim Calhoun recently unveiled some interesting information about his health while on the YES Network’s Centerstage. On top of the February spinal surgery and the summer hip surgery that Calhoun underwent, he also had a “cancer-related” growth removed in May. Calhoun had previously received treatment for skin cancer in 2008, and doctors feared that the growth may be related to that incident. Calhoun also stated that he would “never say never” with regards to a coaching comeback. This seems like incredibly strange timing for such a statement, given his abrupt retirement which allowed his chosen successor Kevin Ollie to take over the job at Connecticut.
  4. Rick Pitino has competed against almost every notable coach you can think of at the highest levels of basketball, so when he is seemingly awe-struck by a young coach, it is noteworthy. After his Louisville Cardinals escaped an upset at the hands of Illinois State with a 69-66 win on Saturday, Pitino couldn’t heap enough praise on the Redbirds’ first-year head man, 36 year old Dan Muller: “We’ve all seen Brad Stevens (of Butler) and Shaka (Smart of VCU) the past couple years. That’s one of the brightest first-year coaches I’ve witnessed in a long, long time… I’m happy for him. He’s been very patient waiting for a job. That’s one of the bright young stars in our game.”
  5. When one thinks of Jim Boeheim, basketball is likely one of the first things to come to mind, along with Syracuse, central New York, zone defense, and epic post-game rants. However, Boeheim is also an avid golfer, and at one time, the Syracuse golf coach, which makes a three-foot tall golf ball painted in his likeness a little less… peculiar. The ball was painted by local artist Phillip Burke and will be auctioned off in the spring, with proceeds going to the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation. The Boeheims host an annual “Basket Ball” gala every spring, which has raised over $4 million dollars in the last dozen years for cancer research.


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