Morning Five: 09.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 6th, 2013

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  1. Coming into the season we already knew that Syracuse was going to be loaded up front so the announcement that the NCAA had cleared incoming freshman Tyler Robinson to play should only serve to add to their depth this year. Robinson, who took courses this summer up until late July in hopes of boosting his high school transcript, had been waiting on the NCAA’s decision for more than two weeks to gain his eligibility. Although Syracuse began classes last week the ruling appears to have been made expeditiously enough that it should not be a significant issue going forward. With a roster that features some of the best forwards in the country Robinson should see limited minutes especially early in the season, but he could have an impact later in the season particularly on the defensive end given his length.
  2. When Miami hired Jim Larranaga to be its head coach in 2011 many local writers questioned the hiring given Larranaga’s age (61 at the time) and the fact that the school did not appear to seriously consider Frank Martin, who already had strong ties to the area. We still cannot really address the Martin situation although there are still some issues with his time in Miami while he was the coach at Miami Senior High, but it at least appears that age (or at least how long Larranaga plans to coach) will no longer be an issue after Larranaga signed an extension with the school that runs through the 2021-22 season. Larranaga’s extension comes after a year that was the most successful in the school’s history and although the team will be rebuilding this year it appears that they should be in good shape for the 2014-15 season as they will have several big-time transfers available at that time.
  3. If you were worried about the Big East basketball getting left off your television with college football being the driving force in TV contracts you can take some solace in the fact that CBS has reached an agreement with Fox allowing CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network to broadcast games from 2013-14 through the 2018-19 season. The agreement will give the CBS networks twenty games this coming season and frankly only a handful of the games are intriguing, but it should at least feature some of the conference’s top teams, which will provide the conference with the exposure it will be missing without being on an ESPN platform. It will be interesting to see how Fox and CBS split up the Big East’s games going forward in particular with how the two networks are able to grow and potentially challenge ESPN’s dominance.
  4. Speaking of the Big East it appears their plans for expansion do not appear to have slowed down at least according to Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher who suggested that the conference will be targeting Saint Louis, Dayton, Richmond, and VCU for its next wave of expansion. According to Christopher the conference is looking to expand from 10 to 12 teams sometime in the next five years. It is not particuarly shocking that the Big East is looking to expand (we assume all conferences are always trying to expand), but it is unusual for an athletic director within the conference to publicly state that and in particular while naming the schools. Obviously, all four of the schools would be excellent additions from a basketball perspective, but it is unclear how the current members will view them from a non-basketball perspective.
  5. Former Kentucky star and agriculture commissioner Richie Farmer will reportedly plead guilty to misusing state resources while serving as the state’s agriculture commissioner and could face approximately two years in prison. Farmer has reportedly entered into agreements with prosecutors and is just waiting for approval from the courts and ethics committee before it can be finalized. Given Farmer’s popularity within the state some are still shocked that he could commit so many violations–according to prosecutors the charges include five counts on federal indictment and a state record 42 counts from the ethics committee–but based on our experience sometimes that degree of popularity can embolden people to take risks that they otherwise would not. Farmer is still waiting on a date to formally enter his plea, but it is expected to come on September 12 or 13.
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Closing Out the ACC Microsite

Posted by mpatton on April 29th, 2013

Well, it was an up-and-down year in the ACC filled with injuries, March disappointments and one season for the history books. We here at the RTC ACC Microsite loved chronicling every minute of it. We’ll still be providing periodic coverage throughout the summer, looking towards the NBA Draft and next year, but this marks the official end of the 2012-13 season for us. If you start getting nostalgic, here are some good places to start (in chronological order).

  • Preseason ACC Awards: Still riding the highs of my Michael Snaer mancrush after his transcendent performance in the 2012 ACC Tournament, he took the preseason ACC POY nod. We clearly meant Olivier Hanlan, not Rodney Purvis when we picked the consummate scoring frosh, we just didn’t know it yet. At least we finished one for three by picking Jim Larranaga to win COY.
This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Martin Report feels like forever ago, but the academic jokes from North Carolina‘s rivals won’t stop for a long time. And those questions the report danced around are still out there.
  • Akil Mitchell is the best returning frontcourt man in the ACC, and Kellen was all over it last December. Especially without the likes of Mason Plumlee, Devin Booker and Alex Len, it’s fine to pencil him onto your 2013-14 preseason All-ACC teams right now.
  • Speaking of being ahead of the curve, it took us until three days into 2013 to take note of Hanlan and his freshman teammate Joe Rahon. After one of the best rookie performances in ACC Tournament history, it’s safe to say it won’t take that long next year. Also, with Scott Wood and Seth Curry graduating, it’s hard to see much competition for best shooter in the ACC.

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2012-13 Rush the Court National Awards

Posted by KDoyle on April 4th, 2013

As we move into Final Four weekend, it’s time for us to reveal our National Player, Freshman and Coach of the Year Awards. As mentioned in yesterday’s RTC All-America teams, we tend to believe that the postseason is an integral part of a player and team’s overall season, so unlike the other awards, we include everything up to this point. This season, our NPOY and FrOY awards were near-unanimous choices, but our COY selection had some dissent. Here are the choices:

National Player of the Year

Trey Burke is the RTC NPOY (AP Photo)

Trey Burke is the RTC NPOY (AP Photo)

Trey Burke, SO, Michigan (18.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.1 A/TO). After a promising freshman campaign when he averaged 14.8 PPG and 4.6 APG and was unanimously named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team and voted by the media as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, expectations were high for Trey Burke and Michigan heading into the 2012-13 season. Compound a strong nucleus of returning players with a talented incoming freshman class, and the Wolverines were picked by many as a preseason Top 10 team. For Burke individually, there certainly was unfinished business to take care of as he struggled in Michigan’s opening round NCAA Tournament loss to Ohio as a #4 seed shooting just 5-of-15 from the field and hitting only two long-range attempts. As Burke goes, so does Michigan, and the Maize and Blue have produced a 30-7 season and advanced all the way to the Final Four this year thanks in large part to his masterful play. He has scored in double figures in every game this season except Michigan’s opening game against South Dakota State in the NCAA Tournament, and his offensive rating and assist rate both rank among the nation’s top 50 players. Burke will be most remembered this year for his clutch play in the waning minutes against Kansas in the South Region semifinals, though. Michigan trailed 74-69 with just over a minute remaining in regulation, and Burke scored 13 of the Wolverines’ next 18 points to lead the team to the Elite Eight, and ultimately, to its first Final Four in 20 years. Not only does Burke have all the tools to excel at point guard, but he also has the “it” factor. No player has arguably meant more to his team than he this season, and he is an appropriate choice for the 2012-13 RTC National Player of the Year.

Others Receiving Votes: Russ Smith, Louisville.

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ACC M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 28th, 2013

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  1. Blogger So Dear: Wake Forest improved markedly this season under Jeff Bzdelik. But this isn’t a good sign going forward, as Bzdelik’s first recruit — Chase Fischer – is reportedly planning to transfer. That’s a bad look on a very young team that lacks perimeter depth (much less outside shooting). Throw in this six-part interview with Ron Wellman from Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal and Gary Parrish’s blackjack metaphor looks more and more fitting. Lacking tangible results (i.e., wins) Wellman’s only defenses for keeping Bzdelik on board are that he inherited an impossible situation to turn around quickly (true), and that he’s building a strong foundation of players who love the program. This latest news calls the latter into question.
  2. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Speaking of transfers from programs that look to be in a rough spot going into next season, Robert Brown has decided to transfer closer to home (likely somewhere in Florida) following his roller coaster sophomore season. His transfer puts the Hokies in a tough spot, as James Johnson likely would have looked for Brown to carry an increased load next year, especially in the scoring column. Johnson has a couple of wings coming in this year, but who knows if they’re ready to compete at the ACC level night in and night out.
  3. WRAL: Mark Gottfried ended his 48-hour Twitter hiatus by seemingly quashing any UCLA rumors saying, “#WPN I am committed to being at @NCState for a long time [sic] Still as dedicated to rebuilding the program as I was 2 yrs ago when I arrived.” But coaches often do these sorts of vague non-denials. The truth is that if UCLA wants Gottfried, the school will have to shell out a ton of money for him (notably, it will have to cover his $3.5 million buyout). That said, I think this is a “dream job” trump card if Gottfried is offered the job. Basically, despite Gottfried’s tweet, this is still something to watch.
  4. CBSSports.com: Jeff Goodman has a nice piece on the resurgence (or “surgence”?) of Miami‘s basketball program. The real challenge lies ahead, both for this year’s team and going forward. Miami’s ACC championship means a lot to many fan bases, but a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would solidify the program’s status in what looks to be a rebuilding year next season. But if Jim Larranaga can keep the excitement going, Miami could very well be on its way to a consistently relevant program. Think about it… It’s in Miami — how hard can it be to get college kids to come live by the beach for four years?
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Chris Collins took the Northwestern job, which he will start as soon as Duke’s season is complete. Rumors are that he’ll be hiring Greg Paulus to join his staff (Paulus has been working as a video coordinator for Ohio State, so he knows the Big Ten well). Coach K sounded thrilled for Collins, who’s coached as K’s right hand man at Duke since 2000. The immediate impact for the Blue Devils is that Nate James will move back into his previous position as an assistant coach.
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Big East M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 28th, 2013

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  1. Jim Boeheim retirement rumor-mongering has become something of a cottage industry in recent seasons, so it’s always relieving when the man himself can add some clarity to the things that bounce around the world of message boards and e-mail chains. In his Sweet Sixteen presser yesterday, Boeheim took the time to end speculation as to whether he will coach the team in the 2013-14 season: “There is no process. There is no process. I’m coachin’ next year, I kid around a little bit and everybody gets crazy when I do so I’m not going to kid around about it anymore, I’m coaching next year, thrilled, got a great challenge, looking forward to it.” That is, unless he isn’t: “About September, if I don’t want to coach, I won’t coach.” That last little bit seems to open the door for a Jim Calhoun/Kevin Ollie situation, although Mike Hopkins has been the established head coach in waiting at Syracuse for years, so that type of manipulation seems unnecessary.
  2. Match-ups between elite programs like Syracuse and Indiana are always great fun for a variety of reasons. Because these types of schools dip into the same small pool of blue-chip recruits, a lot of these players have long relationships, and these back stories can only help build intrigue for the games. IU”s Victor Oladipo spent a lot of time on Wednesday talking about his relationships with Syracuse’s DMV-area forwards Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair. Oladipo is very close with the entire Grant family, and descibed Jerami as a “little brother” while calling Fair a “good player” who is “a real cool dude to chill with.”  Much of the pregame speculation on the Syracuse end of things has been about whom Oladipo will be tasked with guarding. That assignment may very well be Fair, who has been SU’s most consistent scorer all season.
  3. The Marquette-Miami game has its own built-in storyline heading into tonight’s Sweet Sixteen bout. Hurricane assistant Eric Konkol coached guard Trent Lockett, who has come on as a big factor in the backcourt for the Golden Eagles, at Hopkins High School. Both took an unconventional road to this NCAA Tournament match-up. Konkol found himself in the high school ranks after coaching under Jim Larranaga at George Mason while his wife worked on a degree at the University of Minnesota. He rejoined Larranaga in 2010, moving with him to Miami. Lockett spent his first three years at Arizona State, where he averaged over 13 points per game as a sophomore and junior before transferring to Marquette. Lockett had a big game in the Round of 32 against Butler, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.
  4. Dueling articles are always fun. Think Progress‘ Travis Waldron penned a piece called “The University of Louisville is Everything That’s Wrong With College Basketball“, where his basic thesis is that because Louisville is the most profitable college basketball program but their basketball alumni don’t all matriculate to the NBA and make millions of dollars within a year or two, they’re evil… or something. I’m not a fan of using someone’s alma mater and inherent biases to try to invalidate their arguments, but when Waldron brought up his Kentucky background a lot of things were cleared up. SB Nation‘s Louisville blog Card Chronicle writer Mike Rutherford responded with his own post: “The University of Louisville is Not Everything That’s Wrong With College Basketball“, and I think he sums things up pretty well in response to Waldron – “You forgot the #BBN hashtag as your signature.”
  5. Alas, this year’s sprint towards NIT glory was not to be for the Providence Friars, who fell in the quarterfinals to Baylor in Waco last night.  The Friars had big performances from the usual suspects – Bryce Cotton led the team with 23 points while Vince Council and Kadeem Batts were close behind with 21 and 20 points, respectively. Kris Dunn was the only other Friar to score, however, and Baylor took advantage of Providence’s limited depth to cruise to a 79-68 victory. With Providence now out of the NIT, the three remaining Big East teams in the NCAA Tournament are the conference’s last representatives in postseason play this season.
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ACC M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 27th, 2013

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  1. Sports Illustrated: The absolute must-read of the day comes courtesy of Luke Winn, who got pretty awesome access to follow Miami around before its games against Pacific and Illinois. My personal takeaways were that Jim Larranaga seems like a really fun guy to play for and that this team fits his coaching personality very well. It’s also not surprising at all that Julian Gamble led the team’s postgame celebratory freestyle.
  2. CBSSports.com: Gary Parrish absolutely kills it in this response to Ron Wellman‘s backing of Jeff Bzdelik yesterday. Kills it. Bzdelik is losing the Wake Forest fan base at an accelerating rate. Wellman is out pretty far out on this limb and while I understand not wanting to go back on his word (even if he won’t tell anyone exactly what that was), he has to balance that pride with Wake Forest’s present situation. I think Bzdelik is better than his record, maybe even a lot better. He’s also got a great group of players on his team. But that can’t excuse his sorry performances — both in the loss column or the public relations department. And his lack of (tangible) success at Colorado doesn’t help calm the critics. Unfortunately, Bzdelik is a coach who leaves a program better than he found it and is trending upwards but hasn’t shown the ability to achieve at the highest level. It’s a tough place to be.
  3. CBSSports.com: According to most of the national media, Chris Collins is the “heavy favorite” to land the Northwestern job after interviewing with the school on Monday. The announcement may come before or around the time this article gets posted. Duke alumni are doing well in the job market right now, as Bobby Hurley was just hired to coach Buffalo and Jeff Capel reportedly has received interest from at least two schools. Assuming at least one leaves, expect Nate James to resume his old position as a Duke assistant coach.
  4. Miami Herald: Unfortunately not all of today’s Miami news could be freestyles and celebratory dances. Reggie Johnson – apparently requiring knee surgery — won’t make the trip with the team to the Sweet Sixteen. While Johnson has played a much smaller role this year, the Hurricanes have struggled with foul trouble at times throughout the season. He was an extra body, good for a ton of rebounds and a couple of points every game. Now Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri will have to find a way to replace Johnson’s productivity. Gamble sounded hopeful to get Johnson back in time for the Final Four.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: While neither have officially announced, reports came out yesterday that CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are planning to head for the NBA (though Brown’s mother denied the rumors and Leslie vaguely denied them on his Twitter account). Their departures wouldn’t be surprising, but another name is starting to show up on numerous draft radars: TJ Warren. Warren’s loss would be a huge blow to NC State next season, but his great freshman campaign makes him a likely first round pick. IF this report is true, I’d expect all three to turn pro in a heartbeat.
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ACC M5: 03.26.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 26th, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Solid remembrance of Dean Smith here. The thing that’s so sad about Smith’s mental deterioration over the past few years is just how smart he was. He reportedly had an almost photographic memory (the same sort of memory successful politicians call upon to remember the countless people they meet); he was first and foremost an innovator (touching everything from “four corners” to tempo-free stats — though if you run four corners often, it makes sense you’d look past per game statistics); and he apparently was an avid reader of philosophy. While John Drescher’s piece was about Smith, he sets it up in contrast with Jeff Bzdelik’s recent quote: “I don’t read the newspapers or the Internet, and that’s the truth.” 
  2. SBNation: One thing that stands out about North Carolina is the “family” concept. You hear that word thrown around a lot in sports just because of the massive amount of time players spend together. But there is a closeness to North Carolina’s graduates that you don’t see at a lot of other places. Maybe it’s just the fact many of them are good enough to continue playing professionally, but listening to Kendall Marshall talk about it, there’s definitely a special bond there. Interestingly, the other school where I hear “family” thrown around frequently is Kansas (whose unofficial team motto, which is inked in the middle of Travis Releford’s chest, was Family Over Everything a couple of years ago).
  3. FSUnews.com: Michael Snaer is a living legend at Florida State. This is a tremendous article on his tough senior season. It was a season that really signifies how dedicated to the Florida State program Snaer was. Sure the Seminoles didn’t get to cut down the nets again this year, but he pushed a group of very young players to get better. In the process, Snaer probably learned more about his leadership than all three previous seasons combined. He was the go-to guy and backcourt defensive stopper his junior year, but that team didn’t need him to carry it — it wasn’t riddled by injury or loaded with youth. This year was his test. We won’t know until we see the next few years unfold, but it looks like Snaer has made a significant culture change within the Seminole program. That should mean something going forward.
  4. ACC Sports Journal: Barry Jacobs does a great job recounting NC State‘s “missed opportunity” this season. The Wolfpack went from preseason ACC champions to right where they finished last season. Part of this was due to oversight from the media, who expected the Wolfpack to pick up right where they left off last season. But anyone who watched NC State against Duke (at home) or the woodshed beating of Virginia in the ACC Tournament had to wonder: “What if this team played with that kind of intensity every night?” More representative were the incredible highs and lows throughout games (see the Wolfpack almost beating the brakes off North Carolina before letting the Tar Heels come back, or falling behind 18 to Temple before cutting the deficit to a single possession in the last few minutes). The consistency was never there this season.
  5. Blogger So Dear: This ode to Florida Gulf Coast was only missing the acknowledgement of why the Eagles’ run resonates so strongly with Wake Forest fans (or at least my theory). It’s not because Demon Deacon fans dream of being that Cinderella team (though they may). It’s because the loose basketball opined for reaches back to the run-and-gun Wake Forest days under Skip Prosser. Don’t let that take away from Prosser’s ability to coach: he was an offensive genius. But his system had similar space for improvisation. And it was fun to watch.

Reasons to pull for Miami:

  1. Julian Gamble only photobombs after wins.
  2. More Jim Larranaga dancing?
Julian Gamble photobombs Shane Larkin's interview. (gif: The Big Lead)

Julian Gamble photobombs Shane Larkin’s interview. (gif: The Big Lead)

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Jim Larranaga goes straight from a boxing impression into a jig. (gif: College Basketball Talk)

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NCAA Regional Reset: East Region

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 25th, 2013

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Brian Otskey (@botskey) is the NCAA Tournament’s East Region correspondent.

The East Regional begins Thursday night in Washington, DC, with Marquette vs. Miami (FL) followed by Indiana vs. Syracuse. Be sure to look out for the West, South and Midwest Regional Resets later today. Also make sure to follow RTCEastRegion for news and analysis from Washington throughout the week.

The Verizon Center Will Host This Year's East Regional

The Verizon Center Will Host This Year’s East Regional

New Favorite: #1 Indiana. Despite a challenge from Temple on Sunday, nothing changes for the Hoosiers. This team remains the prohibitive favorite to get to Atlanta out of this region but will have to get through two teams playing well in order to do that. With Syracuse defending as well as it is and Marquette and Miami staying hot, the road is not as smooth for Indiana as it looked when the brackets came out last week.

Horse of Darkness: #3 Marquette. The Golden Eagles nearly lost both of their NCAA Tournament games over the weekend but, as the old adage goes, they survived and advanced. Marquette has limitations but this team is tough as nails and plays with great confidence in pressure situations. A potential Elite Eight match-up with Indiana and former head coach Tom Crean would also serve as extra motivation to push through to Atlanta.

Biggest Surprise (1st Weekend): #3 Marquette. It’s hard to pick a surprise in a region that saw all four top seeds advance to Washington but we’ll go with the Golden Eagles. Marquette was a trendy upset pick in the first round and was outplayed by Davidson for 39 of the 40 minutes in that game. Even after escaping Davidson in the round of 64, the Golden Eagles were on the ropes yet again Saturday against Butler. It’s not a surprise that Marquette is playing in the Sweet Sixteen; the surprising thing is the way it got there.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Miami 63, #7 Illinois 59

Posted by WCarey on March 24th, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 32 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Miami and #7 Illinois in Austin.

Three Key Takeaways.

Miami Outlasted the Surging Illini Sunday (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Miami Outlasted the Surging Illini Sunday (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  1. The way Miami won this game was important. The Hurricanes have received a great deal of national attention due to the fact that their roster had zero NCAA Tournament experience before this year’s event. Miami coasted to an easy win over Pacific in its first game, but as a two-seed, that type of win is expected. Needing a test to prove its NCAA Tournament toughness, the Hurricanes definitely received one from Illinois. The Illini took a 55-54 lead with 1:24 to play and Miami kept its collective cool and was able to come back and grab the victory. On the possession after Illinois took the lead, Miami sophomore guard Shane Larkin nailed a ridiculously difficult step back three-pointer at the 1:04 mark to give the Hurricanes a two-point lead. Miami was able to maintain that lead and earn the victory by calmly going 6-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch and not allowing Illinois to get anything easy on the offensive end of the court.
  2. Illinois deserves a lot of credit for the way it played. The Illini did not shoot the ball very well all night – just 37.7% from the field and 25.9% from three – but it fought hard all game and pushed Miami to the brink. In his postgame remarks, Illini coach John Groce spoke of how his team has battled hard all season and that they have gotten contributions from everyone all season. That was definitely the case against Miami, as different guys stepped up in different spots to make an impact. On a night where the usually solid D.J. Richardson was just 1-of-11 from the field, senior forward Tyler Griffey stepped up for the Illini with 12 huge points on a 4-of-6 performance from deep. Sophomore forward Nnanna Egwu was a force inside all night, as he finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds while playing very rugged defense against the Miami frontline. Senior guard Brandon Paul struggled at-times with his shot, but he certainly showcased his ability to take over a game with his performance Sunday night. The Illini might not have been victorious, but their effort and the way they played was certainly admirable.
  3. A blown call definitely had an impact on the game. When Richardson missed a three-point attempt with 43 seconds to play in what was a 57-55 game at the time, it clearly looked like the ball last touched the hand of Miami forward Kenny Kadji before going out-of-bounds. The ball was incorrectly rewarded to Miami, which resulted in guard Durand Scott nailing two clutch free throws to give the Hurricanes a four-point lead. While the Illini were able to trim the lead down to two again with 22 seconds to play, they never again had the chance to tie. There were many other reasons why Miami won and Illinois lost, but this call certainly had an impact on the last 43 seconds of what was a thrilling game.

Star(s) of the Game. Rion Brown and Shane Larkin, Miami. The junior Brown was outstanding for the Hurricanes off the bench. He finished with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 5-of-10 shooting from deep. In a game where every shot was crucial, it seemed like every one Brown made was of great importance to the outcome of the game. Larkin turned in a normal stellar performance – 17 points and five assists – but the reason he makes this category is due to the ridiculous step back three-pointer he nailed to give his team a lead it would never relinquish with one minute to play.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Miami 78, #15 Pacific 49

Posted by WCarey on March 22nd, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Round of 64 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Miami and #15 Pacific in Austin.

Jim Larranaga's squad cruised past Pacific Friday afternoon. (AP)

Jim Larranaga’s squad cruised past Pacific Friday afternoon. (AP)

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. Miami came to play. There were some worries about the Hurricanes’ preparedness entering the tournament as no one on the team had any NCAA Tournament experience. Miami put these worries to rest early in its Round of 64 trouncing of Pacific. The Hurricanes looked ready to play from the get-go and maintained a double-digit lead from the 11:03 mark of the first half to the end of the game. When the Hurricanes struggled this season, much of it had to do with inconsistent offense and poor defense. Against Pacific, Miami was very efficient on offense, shooting 46.2% from the field by getting many quality looks throughout the afternoon. Its defensive effort was quality all night as they forced Pacific into taking plenty of poor shots – the Tigers finished the game shooting just 33.3%. While it might be logical to worry about Miami’s NCAA Tournament experience as the tournament goes on, the Hurricanes showed they were plenty capable of playing on the big stage.
  2. Miami’s guard play is definitely worth the price of admission. There are few – if any – teams in the country who have backcourt play as solid as Miami’s backcourt play. Sophomore Shane Larkin and senior Durand Scott provide the Hurricanes with everything a team could possibly want from its guards. Larkin, who was the coaches’ ACC Player of the Year, is a dynamic playmaker with the ability to get to the rim at will. Larkin draws plenty of national acclaim for his ability on the offensive end of the court, but his defensive presence is also quite notable. A scrappy defender who deflects many passes and has the propensity to draw charges, Larkin does an excellent job of frustrating the opposition’s backcourt. Miami refers to Scott as “the heart and soul of the Miami Hurricanes with a junkyard dog game” in its game notes and that description could not be any truer. Scott certainly has the ability to score, he averaged 13.2 points per game in the regular season, but his true presence is felt as a leader and on the defensive end of the court. The Hurricanes are a veteran-laden team, but it is undeniable that Scott is their leader. While watching Scott defend, it is easy to see why he was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year – he is tough, quick, and relentless. Backcourt play is very important in March and Miami’s backcourt certainly gives it a chance to make a special run.
  3. Bravo to Bob Thomason on a great career. The loss to Miami wrapped up Pacific coach Bob Thomason’s 25th and final season as the head coach of his alma mater. He finished his career at the school with a record of 437-321. Thomason led the Tigers to five NCAA Tournament appearances and they won a game in both the 2004 and 2005 tournaments. In what is now a culture of mercenary head coaches, it is important to recognize the dedication Thomason had to one program over a long period of time. Here’s to a great career by Thomason with hopes of him enjoying retirement.

Star of the Game. Durand Scott, Miami. When the Hurricanes took a 21-point lead into halftime, Scott only had three points, but he had done a tremendous job defensively in helping limit Pacific to just 29.2% shooting. Scott’s offensive explosion began soon after the second half began. He scored the team’s first seven points of the second frame and finished with 18 total points for the second 20 minutes. Scott’s strong performance in the second half certainly ended any hopes Pacific might have had about making a comeback.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 19th, 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… Wisconsin senior Ryan Evans. One of the best things about conference tournament week is that you suddenly get a much larger dose of all the guys who you’ve seen for a just few highlights, or maybe a couple of prime time games. And while I was ready to stamp Wisconsin with the “lucky to make it to second weekend” label, I couldn’t help but find myself impressed with the Badgers’ discipline and the savvy, fundamentals-based game that Evans displayed during UW’s impressive run in Chicago. Plus, you can’t help but love the flat top.

Ryan Evans’ Team Impressed Over the Weekend

I LOVED… Jim Larranaga completing an incredible ACC turnaround. Winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles is a truly great accomplishment, and it seems like so often that we see teams have a great start to conference play and then flare out as we get into the tough March games that really make or break you. Though I still think the Hurricanes are vulnerable, with Shane Larkin leading the way, Miami is definitely capable of a big run, too.

I LOVED… Tournament Week. I’m embarrassed to guess how many hours I spent in front of the TV last week, but it was definitely justified. The Big Ten tourney alone was enough, but additional quality finals in the Big 12, ACC and Big East, among others, made this a vintage Couch Potato weekend.

I LOVED… how Greg Anthony has somehow gotten himself into every other college basketball TV commercial.

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Bracket Prep: East Region Analysis

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 18th, 2013

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Throughout Monday, we will roll out our region-by-region analysis on the following schedule: East (9 AM), Midwest (11 AM), South (1 PM), West (3 PM). Here, Brian Otskey (@botskey) breaks down the East Region from top to bottom. Also, be sure to follow our RTC East Region handle on Twitter for continuous updates the next two weeks (@RTCeastregion).

You can also check out our RTC Podblast with Brian breaking down the East Region, which will drop both on the site and on iTunes Tuesday.

East Region

Favorite: #1 Indiana (27-6, 14-5 Big Ten). Ranked No. 1 in 10 of the 19 AP Top 25 polls this season (through last week), Indiana is the strong favorite in this region. The Hoosiers won the Big Ten regular season title but fell to Wisconsin in the conference tournament semifinals this past Saturday. Indiana fans are definitely bummed that their team won’t be playing in the Indianapolis regional but they will still show up. IU fans travel as well as any school in the country.

Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers earned the top seed in the East region (Photo: Andy Lyons)

Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers earned the top seed in the East region (Photo: Andy Lyons)

Should They Falter: #2 Miami (27-6, 18-3 ACC). It has been a dream season in Coral Gables as Miami won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. History, however, is against this team. Miami has made only one Sweet Sixteen appearance (1999-2000) in program history, representing the furthest this program has ever ventured into March. Also, nobody on the roster has ever played in an NCAA Tournament game. There are positives, though. Head coach Jim Larranaga obviously had a memorable run with George Mason in 2006 and most of Miami’s major contributors are older, veteran players. It’s much easier to win when you’re coaching 22- and 23-year olds rather than 18- and 19-year olds.

Grossly Overseeded: #4 Syracuse (26-9, 14-8 Big East). Despite advancing to the Big East championship game and playing better than Louisville for 24 minutes in that game, Syracuse’s overall profile looks more like a #5 or #6 seed rather than a #4. The Orange were just 5-5 in true road games, under .500 against the RPI top 50 and only 12-9 against the top 100. Before the Big East Tournament run, Syracuse had lost seven of its last 12 regular season games. There’s no doubt the week at Madison Square Garden helped Jim Boeheim’s team (as it historically has), but Syracuse is still too high for my liking.

Grossly Underseeded: #14 Davidson (26-7, 20-1 Southern Conference). Stephen Curry put Davidson on the map with a magical run to the 2008 Elite Eight, the only NCAA Tournament victories for the Wildcats since 1969. This year’s edition is pretty good in its own right. Coached by Bob McKillop, who has now made a respectable seven NCAA Tournament appearances in his 24 years at the small school near Charlotte, North Carolina, the Wildcats won 26 games and lost only once in conference play. Davidson challenged itself in the non-conference, playing the #20-rated schedule that included games against Gonzaga, Duke and New Mexico. Davidson has just two top 100 wins but we figured a 26-win team that scheduled up would have been rewarded with something other than a #14 seed. Ken Pomeroy’s rating projects only a four-point loss to Marquette so it’s clear that the Wildcats are capable of winning a game.

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