Morning Five: 07.14.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 14th, 2011

  1. How about a smidge of conference realignment in your summertime news feed?  The WAC is expected to add Texas-Arlington as its tenth school later this week, compensating for its recent loss of Boise State and its pending loss of Nevada.  Well, maybe compensating is a bit of an overstatement given the power of those two programs, especially the Broncos on the gridiron, but UTA has one thing that the schools located in Boise and Reno do not — an insanely deep and talented local recruiting pool.  The football and basketball talent in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area dwarfs the entire states of Idaho and Nevada in a given year, so the WAC is clearly hoping that Arlington is a sleeping giant for the next decade.  [ed. note: didn’t mean to imply that UTA has a football program currently, because they don’t; but that’s clearly something the WAC and UTA are considering with this invitation]
  2. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will have a new chairman, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski.  He will not take over for current chairman, UConn AD Jeff Hathaway, until next summer, whereupon he’ll take control of the committee for the 2012-13 season.  As we’re all aware, the chairman’s biggest role is to step in front of the television cameras minutes after the release of the NCAA Tournament field and defend his committee’s selections.  Some have performed well in this role, while others, including last year’s chairman, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, failed miserably in clearly explaining the differences between teams chosen versus those who were left out.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned the LeBron James Skills Academy when referring to Darius Johnson-Odom’s team defeating the camp namesake’s team twice over the course of the week.  DJO wasn’t the only collegian to have made waves last week, though, as  Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier,  Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and many others were evaluated by NBADraft.net during the event.  Also of interest was some of the discussion involving high school superstars in the next two years of classes, particularly Jabari Parker, a rising junior who many believe is a future #1 overall pick in the mold of Carmelo Anthony.
  4. News that Michigan recruit Austin Hatch — the high schooler in the Class of 2013 who lost his father and stepmother in a plane crash on June 24 — is recovering from said accident is music to our ears.  According to a blog post by his extended family, Hatch is “healing with the loving care of medical experts!  Austin even has his blue “Kobe” shoes on (size 15) and looks ready to work.”  We’ll certainly forgive the Kobe footwear so long as he makes a full recovery, and that would without question be one of the best stories of this entire offseason.  Queue up the most inspiring player award for next year’s ESPYs.  Speaking of which…
  5. This is getting ridiculous.  One day after we noted that everybody’s favorite Mormon, Jimmer Fredette, had a horse named after him, the consensus 2010-11 NPOY walked out with an ESPY for the Best Male College Athlete of the year.  Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Miami (OH)’s Andy Miele (hockey), and Cornell’s Rob Pannell (lacrosse) were the other nominees.  Of course, we’re just teasing… we loved The Jimmer as much as anyone else throughout his prolific career.  The only other college basketball-related winner was in the Upset category, where the VCU Rams took home the ESPY for their unforgettable five-game run to the Final Four last season.
Share this story

Morning Five: 07.13.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 13th, 2011

  1. It’s one thing to win a national player of the year award, but it’s quite another to parlay (trifecta?) your fame into having a race horse named after you.  JimmerMania has now officially jumped the shark with the news out of Saratoga (NY) that a two-year old colt owned by Elliott Walden and WinStar Farms was named “Jimmer.”  What… no The?  The connection is that the wife of Glens Falls (NY) HS head coach, Tony Hammel, works on the barn staff at WinStar and suggested the name to the owners.  We may have to wait a while to see The Jimmer on the game’s greatest stage, but if you have some free time this summer, you can always take the New York State Thruway up a bit past Albany to see his equine namesake eating some oats, trotting around a track, and whatever else it is that these elegant animals do.  (h/t Larry Brown Sports)
  2. An otherwise mundane story by Gary Parrish about Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis‘ presence in Lexington and the allegations surrounding his recruitment last summer that suggested the player’s family took $200,000 caused a bit of a firestorm Tuesday night on Twitter.  The article rehashed last August’s report from Chicago Sun-Times writer Michael O’Brien that Davis’ father negotiated a deal to send his son to UK, but Parrish was careful to articulate that there have been no further allegations to that effect and that the support for it was “thin.”  UK’s sports information director DeWayne Peevy later tweeted out about “one media seat that will be available at Rupp this year,” a clear shot across the bow of Parrish for daring to write about the Davis situation.  Quite a few in the twitterati (including ourselves, a group who have collectively had nothing but good experiences with the Kentucky administrator) were surprised about the reaction, and an hour later Peevy tweeted that he may feel differently tomorrow, but he is always going to “protect [his] kids.”  Protect them from what, exactly, we’re not certain.  Having now carefully read Parrish’s article several times, we fail to see much to get excited about, but we’ll presume that everyone will come to their clearer senses today and this thing will be soon forgotten.
  3. Speaking of UK, A Sea of Blue did an interesting recent analysis of the value per win among the ten highest-paid coaches in college basketball over the last two seasons.  Forgiving the standard disclaimers that the sample size is very small and ASoB’s assumptions of valuation are mere estimates, the data shows that from 2009-11, at least, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun and Ohio State’s Thad Matta provide the most bang for the buck.  Add Calhoun’s 2011 national title to the mix, and it’s quite clear that the irascible New Englander has been well worth the money, despite what Ken Krayeske has to say about it these days.  Interestingly, Louisville’s Rick Pitino finishes tenth on this list, making the second-most money (tied with John Calipari, but behind Mike Krzyzewski) but earning the fewest overall wins and zero NCAA wins in this two-year period.
  4. The most hated man in basketball apparently has trouble even impressing collegiate stars these days.  Marquette’s rising senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom is coming off some time spent at the LeBron James’ Skills Academy this summer, and to hear him tell it, his team defeated the world’s greatest runner-up twice while he was there.  When queried as to playing with James, DJO said, “he’s a solid player” with a straight face before elaborating about the “King’s” passing skills.  Realizing that the game has changed an awful lot in the intervening years, we still have to wonder what might have happened if some young guy circa 1989 had beaten Michael Jordan’s team in pick-up ball.  And then said in an interview that he was “solid.”  Is there any question, really?
  5. Ken Pomeroy is nothing if not creative.  In a blog post yesterday, he brought to light what he calls ScheduleMatic, a new algorithm that attempts to solve the problem of worthless early season mismatches by pitting two similarly-talented local teams in competitive games.  Call it KenPom Fantasy Camp, if you like, but what he suggests makes sense.  One of the particularly annoying problems we’ve derided for long on this site is that the college basketball season begins with a whimper.  For the past couple of years, a random early November Monday has served as “Opening Night,” and nobody outside of our insular community much cared.   As Pomeroy puts it, “with ScheduleMatic, 344 compelling games [each team plays a home and road game] are added to the first week of play, each with some doubt surrounding the outcome. Exciting finishes would be frequent and every team would have a significant test or two on which to be judged early.”  Even he recognizes that the NCAA and its participating schools would never go for something like this, but perhaps his creative thinking on the topic will help the suits in Indianapolis and Bristol continue to think through more interesting ways to start the regular season.  [note: both the Veterans Day aircraft carrier game and the 24 Hours of Hoops are examples of this kind of thinking; we just need more if it.]
Share this story

RTC Summer Updates: West Coast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 5th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our first update is from the West Coast Conference and comes courtesy of Will Green, an editor and writer with The Slipper Still Fits.

Readers’ Take One

Summer Storylines

  • Brigham Young University Joins The Conference: When this story was first reported back in September, it was largely forgotten. BYU’s move was a football one with basketball repercussions, not the other way around. If anyone was talking about the Cougars, the dialogue was centered around how much money it would receive from it slew of nationally televised football contests this coming fall, and how many years the vaunted program would remain as an independent before choosing to join another league, securing even more lucrative contracts. The move, however, might make a greater impact on the collegiate basketball landscape than the football one, competitively speaking. For one thing, resident king Gonzaga’s streak of conference championships – which is older than most of your children – or at least its general reputation as the WCC’s top dog, is seriously endangered.  With Jimmer Fredette seizing all available national attention like a Venus flytrap, lost on many fans last year was the fact BYU was not merely a fortuitous program enjoying an unusually good year. The Cougars have been a top 40 RPI team since 2006, with a pair of top 20 finishes. That’s not a second Gonzaga — that’s better than Gonzaga. They also bring by far the largest student body and largest fan base that the league has ever seen. Indeed, the league can leverage BYU’s prominence to grow its influence and scope (more on that later). Despite being a “football move,” BYU’s departure from the Mountain West Conference is not, as so many of the recent realignment moves have been, a casualty of circumstance. The aforementioned “repercussions” became a mutually beneficial improvement for both the Cougars and the league. Credit alert diplomacy and geographical convenience to why commissioner Jamie Zaninovichwas able to lure a team into his league that’s also, statistically speaking, better than any team in his current league.

    Brandon Davies, if Reinstated by BYU, is an X-Factor for the Cougars in 2011-12 (Getty/E. Miller)

  • The League Gets A New TV contract: Over the course of the 2000s, the WCC did a remarkable thing: It became the most widely televised college basketball league of all the leagues in the West, while being only the fourth highest-rated league by RPI of the six in the region. Resident behemoth Pac-12 trusted its games to the insipid hands of Fox Sports’ cluster of regional networks. The Mountain West conference was largely marooned out on “The Mtn,” a network that truncated both its name and its audience by being available in a far more limited number of homes than the heavy-hitting Pac-12. The Western Athletic Conference enjoyed the occasional ESPNU game. The WCC, on the other hand, had its most intriguing matchups beamed into peoples’ living rooms in prime time on Thursday and Saturday nights (and for a time, on Big Monday) via ESPN or ESPN2. Both sides had such a good time putting the whole mess together that when their previous contract expired on June 1, it took exactly one week to renegotiate an eight-year extension. The new deal increases the amount of ESPN games featuring WCC teams by an average of at least five per year, possibly much more, and is spread across Thursday, Saturday and select Monday nights. While some critics contend the new ESPN contract isn’t much of an improvement over the previous one, their voices were provoked loudest during the rather dwarfing aftershock of the Pac-12’s mammoth deal with the same network. While this upcoming season could mark the first time in a long while that the WCC won’t be the most-watched west coast league, the league strengthened its relationship with ESPN and is poised to showcase what should be its most successful year ever in front of its widest audience to date.  In an era of scrambling realignment and a fragile economic landscape, this is a still a huge win.
  • The University of San Diego Suffers A Bribery Scandal: In April, this story looked crippling. San Diego had just finished one of the worst seasons by any WCC team ever when news broke that Toreros’ all-time leading scorer and current Memphis Grizzlies protégé, Brandon Johnson, was allegedly used to solicit current USD player Ken Rancifer on behalf of a delinquent named Steven Goria and several others to fix a game against the University of Portland on February 24. Also revealed was the news that Johnson himself had allegedly fixed a game during his senior season one year earlier. The good news for USD is that the story is quickly losing momentum, due in large part to the recent news that the 2011 team has largely been cleared of wrongdoing (Rancifer turned down the bribe from those attempting to fix the game) Repercussions from the 2010 game will ensue once the FBI is done investigating the entire case, and could involve recruiting sanctions or a postseason ban. Frankly, the Toreros are so deep in the throes of rebuilding that they might not enjoy any such postseason for the NCAA to ban in the first place. All told, this could have been much, much worse for USD. The true damage of the scandal is neither physical nor fiscal, but is still potentially very heavy. While it’s growing steadily, the WCC is not yet a national brand and one dominant negative story can define the WCC and USD for a large group of fans who aren’t very familiar with a non-power six league that’s on TV after they go bed. Show-stealing years from perennial contenders like Gonzaga and BYU, as well as postseason disruptiveness by the likes of St. Mary’s and Santa Clara, would be a good first step toward taking casual fans’ focus off of the scandal. Of course, if USD itself can somehow bounce back from a 6-24 record and win a few games they’re not supposed to, they just might turn themselves into national feel-good story.

Power Rankings Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Tom Brennan, Part II

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2011

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Yesterday we brought you Part I of our One on One interview with the always-entertaining Tom BrennanIn addition to learning that integration helped knock him out of a starting spot at Georgia and that his athletic director at Yale all but pushed him out the door to Vermont, we re-discovered that the man simply loves to tell stories.  Whether it involves him telling his new boss that he’s already fulfilled all his career goals or thinking he had coaching all figured out at the tender age of 27, he had us riveted to each and every word.  Part II is only better.

Ed. Note: Brennan uses some colorful language during this interview, so if you’re sensitive to such things, you may want to skip past this one.

Rush the Court: Guys like us who study the sport knew you were pretty good in ’03 and ’04, but most of America, though, didn’t know about you guys until that ’05 season.  The ESPN program helped with that, but then of course the NCAA Tournament run built upon it.  You guys really caught lightning in a bottle in terms of national coverage, and with Taylor Coppenrath, TJ Sorrentine, and yourself, you all became national names almost overnight.  What was that like?

Tom Brennan: We were pretty.  We really were pretty.  I had this radio show every morning during morning drive-time.  It was like something out of a novel.  Sorrentine was the little street kid from Pawtucket [RI], you know, who was the leader and had his hat on sideways.  And Coppenrath was like Lil’ Abner; he was from a town of 200 people, and they loved him.  They loved him!  He never complained; he was really a treat.  And then I had three or four other guys that just really blended in.  I always say this — like, David Hehn — the first year we won [in 2003], we won at BU, and he made a jumper with about five seconds to go to win the game.  So now, it’s Vermont’s first championship, we win it on the road.  Everybody’s nuts, but then we had Coppenrath and Sorrentine.  You know, Sorrentine was out that year, and he’s coming back and he’d been the MVP.  And the year he was out, Coppenrath was the MVP.  So now I got these two studs, and they’re both really good, but I also have to manage all this sh– to make sure everybody is on the same page.  Like Hehn went from a superhero to A Chorus Line — he went back, “just let me guard the other team’s best player.”  But if any of those kids had ego problems, I think we could have blown up.  They were just so good about it, and everybody really was into the idea that we’re all better if we’re together, and we’re all better if we don’t care who gets the credit and that kind of stuff.  As cliched as it sounds, it really was the truth.  Coppenrath and Sorrentine were both ultimate teammates, and the other three guys were as well.  And we were tough!  We’d been around — all the same guys — for three years, then ESPN got interested.  ESPN The Magazine did a big story on us, and Sports Illustrated.  It was off the hook, and it’s such a little state and we’re the only Division I school, and people just went crazy about it.  Really, those guys were like the Beatles — they really were.

The Vermont Rock Stars Knowns as Brennan's Catamounts (Getty/J. McIsaac)

RTC:  So let me ask you about those three NCAA Tournaments.  In succession, you went up against Lute Olson, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo.  [laughter]  There’s no break there, right?  What was that like?  Olson’s now retired — he coached until he was about 150, but these other guys continue to get it done even as they advance well into their coaching careers.  What is it about these coaches that makes them so successful?

TB:  I always said, “if God had another son, he would look like Lute Olson.”  It was remarkable what Calhoun did last year — he finished ninth in their league!  And it’s not like he’s going to rally them — he’s a bad-ass.  You know, he gets in those kids’ faces; he doesn’t take no for an answer.  I mean, he’s just ruthless, and yet, man, they did it.  They did it.  I was always impressed with that, and what happened was… it was funny.  I was so in awe of Lute Olson — it was just unbelievable, because, again, the guy was like a god to me — and I didn’t know him, but I just knew of him, and what he’d done and what he’d accomplished and how he looked and he was always so gracious.  And so I’m walking down, we’re getting ready to play them, and what happened was that his wife had died a while back, and then he ended up with this woman from Pennsylvania [Christine Olson] — I don’t even know how the hell it happened, but she was like a Republican leader, some big deal from Pennsylvania — and I read this thing where he was very happy.  That he’d met this woman and she’d really made him happy, so I didn’t think much of it, but when I was walking down to say hello to him, I was so nervous.  Honest to God, I wasn’t even nervous about the game, I was nervous about him!  Because I knew, they’re a #1, we’re a #16 — I mean, they had [Andre] Iguodala, they had all kinds of players on that team.  We had been stuck in the snow, we didn’t get to Salt Lake until 1:30 in the morning, and we played at 11.  It was crazy.  It was just crazy.  Our kids were like, “f—, look where we are.”  And that’s the thing, by the time the second year came around [against UConn in 2004], we really weren’t that shook, and by the time the third year came around [against Syracuse in 2005], we knew that we could win.  We really knew we were good enough.  So, anyway, I go up to Lute Olson, and he said, “Coach, how are you?”  And I said, “Coach, I just wanna say that I’m just so happy that you’ve found peace in your personal life.”  I’m thinking to myself, “what the f— are you saying?!?!”  I’m hearing these words come out, and I’m thinking, “you a–hole!”  I didn’t even know what to say to him; I was so awestruck, honest to God.  So he said, “well, thank you.”  And I just turned and ran like a rabbit, and thought “jeezus… good first impression, there.”  But you know what, when I retired, he wrote me the nicest letter.  He wrote me a beautiful letter, and so it was nice.  But you know, we never had a chance.  [Vermont lost 80-51.]  I have a picture on my cell and we were up, like 7-6, got it blown up and put it on my wall.  But then, and this is a cute story too.  We got stuck in the snow, and I went on [Tony] Kornheiser’s show, PTI or whatever it was — I guess it was his radio show at the time — and I said, “you know, this is ridiculous.”  I said, “they make billions of dollars on this thing, and they can’t get us from Denver to Salt Lake City?  If you think this was Duke in this hotel, we’d still be here.”  I wasn’t even finished, and the AD knocked on the door: “hey, yo, that’s enough about that.”  [laughter]  So that was enough about that.  So then anyway, but what happened was, we did get tapped out, and to take us home, the NCAA felt so bad and I guess my rant had a little bit to do with it, they sent us a plane that [Bruce] Springsteen uses, the Rolling Stones use, and you couldn’t even tell it was a plane.  So now, my wife and I are standing at the back, and the captain comes down, and he says, “are you the coach?”  I said, “yes, sir.  I’m the coach.”  He said, “well, you come with me, I’m going to take you to Mick Jagger’s suite.”  So I turned to Lynn [Brennan, his wife], I said, “hey, you gotta turn into a Brazilian model by the time we get to the top of the stairs.”  [laughter]  It was wild.  But it was a great experience; it was a great experience for our kids.  And I knew that we had a chance to keep going, that we had this group that was good.  So then the next year we played UConn, played them tougher than anybody as I recall, on their march to the championship.  [Vermont lost 70-53.]  I think they beat us less than anybody else, and then the next year we got Syracuse.     

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NBA Draft Thoughts From a College Perspective

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2011

The NBA Draft has come and gone with one of the most boring evenings in its televised history.  Maybe it was the arena setting, maybe it was the lack of marquee names, maybe it was the fact that none of the draftees wore anything particularly ridiculous, but the league’s capstone summer event was so uninspiring that even Bill Simmons’ usually-hilarious draft diary felt trite and mailed in.  Still, the draft represents to every major college basketball player the culmination of a lifelong dream to hear one’s name called by David Stern, and it’s worth a quick reflection on how things went last Thursday for many of the players we’ve been watching and tracking for years.

The 1-and-Dones Did Well in This Year's Draft (AP)

The 1-and-Dones.  Generally speaking, the NBA Draft went well for the seven 1-and-done players who declared after their freshman season.  Excluding Enes Kanter, who never played a minute at Kentucky, from the discussion, six of the seven players who left school after one season were drafted, and five of those went in the first round.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, and Tennessee’s Tobias Harris were chosen in the first thirty selections, while Kansas’ Josh Selby was taken in the next thirty picks.  The lone holdout was Illinois’ Jereme Richmond, a player who clearly had a much higher opinion of himself than did NBA general managers (although if you listen to his uncle, delusions of grandeur may extend beyond Richmond to his extended family).  Whether any of the others are “ready” for the NBA is an irrelevant notion in this day and age, but seeing Thompson jumping up to the #4 selection despite not being able to shoot the ball, and Joseph going at #29 despite averaging only 10.4 PPG as a “scorer” has us raising our eyebrows. 

Sneaking Into the First Round... Not Exactly.  We heard time and time again in April that the impetus behind numerous marginal players deciding to enter the NBA Draft this year was because players like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones were not coming out.  The logic was that their staying in school opened up more first round spots for lesser talents, a statement certainly true in theory but in no way a sane justification for a dozen additional players to declare for the draft.  Four doesn’t equal twelve the last time we checked.  Interestingly, three of the four beneficiaries to earn guaranteed first round money were college seniors: Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson, Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, and Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (Texas freshman Cory Joseph was the fourth player to benefit).  As for the players who came out early in an attempt to sneak into the first round of this year’s weaker draft, it didn’t really work out for them.  We’re looking at second rounders like Shelvin Mack (Butler), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Trey Thompkins (Georgia), Darius Morris (Michigan), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Travis Leslie (Georgia), DeAndre Liggins (Kentucky), and Isaiah Thomas (Washington), as well as undrafted guys like Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Jeremy Green (Stanford), Terrence Jennings (Louisville), Greg Smith (Fresno State) and Carleton Scott (Notre Dame).  What’s going to be awesome is in future years when underclassmen have roughly two weeks to gauge their draft prospects before having to commit to the draft or heading back to school — we’re sure this will result in nothing but great decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Mock Draft: Final Edition

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2011

1) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, PF, Arizona

3) Utah Jazz- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania

5) Toronto Raptors- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky

6) Washington Wizards- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic

7) Charlotte Bobcats- Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo

8) Detroit Pistons- Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas

9) Charlotte Bobcats- Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State

10) Sacramento Kings- Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU

11) Golden State Warriors- Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State

12) Utah Jazz- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut

13) Phoenix Suns- Marcus Morris, SF, Kansas

14) Houston Rockets- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State

15) Indiana Pacers- Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas

16) Philadelphia Sixers- Nikola Vucevic, C, USC

17) New York Knicks- Iman Shumpert, PG, Georgia Tech

18) Washington Wizards- Alec Burks, SG, Colorado

19) Milwaukee Bucks- Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence

20) Minnesota Timberwolves- Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas

21) Portland Trail Blazers- Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State

22) Denver Nuggets- Tobias Harris, SF, Tennessee

23) Houston Rockets- Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania

24) Oklahoma City Thunder- Kyle Singler, SF, Duke

25) Boston Celtics- Reggie Jackson, PG, Boston College

26) Dallas Mavericks- Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia

27) New Jersey Nets- Justin Harper, PF, Richmond

28) Chicago Bulls- Charles Jenkins, SG, Hofstra

29) San Antonio Spurs- Davis Bertans, SF, Latvia

30) Chicago Bulls- Jeremy Tyler, C, Japan

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.22.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 22nd, 2011

  1. Jimmer to the infinite power.  Everyone has an opinion on where the RTC NPOY will be drafted and how he will do as a professional basketball player.  NBADraft.net has The Jimmer going at #13 to the Phoenix Suns; DraftExpress has him going at #7 to the Sacramento Kings; HoopsWorld has him going at #12 to the Utah Jazz.  The mid-to-late lottery seems to be a lock, but the question that really matters is how good will he be at the next level?  Two of our favorite writers did a little interplay on the topic Tuesday, with CBS’ Gary Parrish arguing that Fredette will become a solid, productive point guard in the NBA, nowhere near El Busto, while  Jeff Goodman contends that The Jimmer will struggle mightily at the next level.  Our take?  A little more Parrish and a little less Goodman.  Fredette’s knack for scoring and distributing in different ways will keep him on the court until such time in his career that he figures out how to become at least a competent defender.  He doesn’t have to stop Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook — nobody stops those players — but he’ll need to ensure to his coaches that guys like Jarrett Jack and George Hill aren’t going for 25 points on him on a regular basis.
  2. It’s draft week so there’s a good amount of marketing of players going on right now.  In one interview sent to us with Kemba Walker reppin’ for Axe Lounge, the national champion tells us who is the UConn Husky he most admires (hint: Jesus Shuttlesworth), the player in history he’d most like to run a pick-and-roll with (hint: 10,000 ladies can’t be wrong), and the team that UConn played in last season’s NCAA Tournament that he feels has a great chance to get to the Final Four in 2012 (hint: they’re in everybody’s top two).  The link to a .wmv download of this interview is here.
  3. There are currently 73 BCS schools in college basketball among the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC.  That number will soon increase to 74 with the addition of Utah to the new Pac-12.  According to research done by the Wall Street Journal, there are only four BCS-level schools that have never been found guilty of a major NCAA violation in any sport.  Can you name the four?  If you said… Boston College, Northwestern, Penn State and Stanford, give yourself a fortune cookie.  Four of seventy-four — that’s 5.4% for the schools the WSJ is calling “the Innocents.”  We also like to call it completely pathetic.
  4. Speaking of one of those “innocent” schools, former Penn State and current Navy head coach Ed DeChellis appears to be fitting in nicely in Annapolis.  He’s met all of his players, hired his staff (a combination of assistants from PSU and retainees from Navy), and reached out to many people to learn about the culture of the place the locals call “the Yard.”  Whether his first year will be successful at the USNA depends largely on the implementation of all-Patriot League rising senior Jordan Sugars and ROY JJ Avila into his system — the Middies were 6-8 in the Patriot last season, but possess two of the better building blocks in the conference going into next season.
  5. Everyone knows that the 2011 NBA Draft will commence Thursday night at The Rock in Newark, New Jersey, but few are likely aware that the Harlem Globetrotters held its annual collegiate “draft” as an appetizer on Tuesday afternoon.  Normally, this sort of thing wouldn’t merit a mention on the M5, but this isn’t a normal “draft” class for the eponymous barnstorming troupe.  For one, the Globetrotters picked YouTube dunking sensation Jacob Tucker, the 5’11 pogo stick from D-III Illinois College who inspired a generation of suburban shorties with his ridiculous 50-inch vertical leap.  With another of its six selections, Harlem picked 7’8 former Mountain State (WV) center, Paul Sturgess, a figurative mountain of a manwho is believed to be the tallest college basketball player at any level in history.  You see the obvious shtick here — having Tucker throw down Vince Carter-style with Sturgess playing the hapless foil of Frederic Weis.  In case you missed Tucker’s original “mix tape,” here it is…

Share this story

2011 RTC Mock Draft: Final Version

Posted by zhayes9 on June 21st, 2011

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

One final stab at how Thursday night will play out before we finally send off some of our favorite college players to the next level:

1 ) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. Any Derrick Williams-to-Cleveland rumor is searching for intrigue that’s simply non-existent. Irving was the pick the night the Cavaliers struck gold at the lottery and remains the pick today. Irving is  a safe bet to develop into a dynamic player at such a vital position on the floor.

\

Kyrie Irving appears to be the near-unanimous choice at #1

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona. Ideally, Minnesota would be eyeing a 2-guard, but they’ll have to swing a pre-draft deal to fill that need, as no shooting guard is worth taking this high. My money’s on GM David Kahn holding on to the pick and trying to trade Michael Beasley later. Williams has all of the skills to be an eventual All-Star.

3) Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. The Jazz are fairly set up front with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings, so look for #3 to come down to either Knight or Kemba Walker. Given Knight’s shooting ability, size and character, I see the former Kentucky point as the most likely choice.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey. Rumors are spreading that Cleveland is looking to trade #4 for more picks to fill multiple needs, but passing up on Kanter here could be a grave mistake. The young Turk has a great attitude, impressed at the Chicago combine and could mold into the best post player in the entire draft.

5) Toronto Raptors- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic. Toronto has a major need at power forward and worked out both Vesely and Bismack Biyombo this past weekend. The Raptors have been connected with Vesley since the first draft prognostications began and we see no reason to change our minds now. Vesley is a high-level athlete with commendable versatility for his size.

6) Washington Wizards- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. Washington could be a candidate to move up to either #4 or #5 and take Kanter or Vesely. If they hold fort here, look for Leonard to be the selection. The former Aztec is a phenomenal rebounder and athletic freak that can instantly boost a position of dire need for the Wizards.

7) Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. The Kings wouldn’t mind if Leonard fell to them at #7, but if Washington grabs him, point guard is the next choice with Tyreke Evans more suited as a scoring guard. This pick will come down to Walker, Alec Burks and even Jimmer Fredette. Walker could instill some character to a shaky locker room and can contribute immediately.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jimmer Fredette

Posted by nvr1983 on June 13th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Jimmer Fredette

School: BYU

Height/Weight: 6’2/195 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview: After spending much of his junior year as a relatively under-the-radar star that only true hoop junkies appreciated, Fredette burst onto the national stage with a series of scintillating performances that turned him into a cult hero  where you could refer to him as just “Jimmer” and everybody would know who you were talking about (ok, maybe his unique name helped with that last part). Fredette’s skills were most evident in a home game against San Diego State where he lit up the Aztecs for 43 points and later in the Mountain West Tournament when he torched New Mexico for 52 points. For all of Fredette’s gifts as a scorer there are major concerns about every other area of his game. The most notable issue is his matador defense that could become a major liability at the next level if he is asked to defend an opposing point guard for any extended period. There are also concerns about his abilities to run a NBA offense against any level of pressure. Because of the stark contrast between certain NBA All-Star level skills (his shooting and scoring abilities) and his D-league skills (defense), Fredette remains one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Can Jimmer make the transition to the NBA?

Will Translate to the NBA: Jimmer appears to fit a very specific role in the NBA in our eyes: a scorer who can come off the bench and score in bunches, or, at the very least, stretch opposing defenses to give his team an ability to attack the rim or feed the post. He will probably play as a point guard, but his primary function will be instant offense and he will probably have to rely on another player to act as the primary initiator of the offense to take some of the load off of him. He will probably struggle on defense unless his team can hide him with a zone defense (or something similar), limiting his minutes, but there are plenty of NBA players who are sub-par defenders that remain in the league and play meaningful minutes so it is easy to imagine Fredette staying in the league for a number of years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.09.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 9th, 2011

  1. Patrick Bade played in 24 of Purdue’s 34 games last year, averaging 0.8 PPG in 6.5 MPG. There’s an opportunity for him to play tight end for the Boilermaker football squad next year, since the team lacks depth at that position, so he’s changing sports even though he didn’t play football as a high school senior. Now, the basketball team has only two returning forwards in rising sophomores Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius, neither of whom played more than 10 minutes a game last year as freshmen. There are minutes available there for returning junior D. J. Byrd (who played some forward last season) and the incoming freshmen.
  2. MoMo Jones will land at Iona. You hate that a kid has to transfer because he wants to be closer to an ailing relative (his grandmother, in this case), but this is one heck of a get for the Gaels. We felt that Jones, by both word and deed, really grew into a leadership role for Arizona last season. If Jones’ hardship waiver is approved by the NCAA, he’ll play next year for an Iona squad that went 25-12 (13-5 Metro Atlantic) last year and also returns three double-figure scorers. Considering the sense of humor and history of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, we wonder if someone hasn’t already penciled this in as a second (or possible third) round game next year.
  3. Luke Winn’s statistical treatises and breakdowns for SI.com are so good they’ve been known to show up unattributed during television broadcasts of college basketball games on certain channels (we’re not naming any names). His latest one reveals to the world who the most versatile player is in the upcoming NBA Draft, as well as the biggest sleeper. The case for the latter is particularly compelling, and surprising.
  4. Seems like we’ve had a lot of stuff on here recently about big-time prospects and current college players having multiple-sport opportunities…and here’s another. Mickey McConnell has been busy playing excellent basketball for St. Mary’s for the last four years — especially last season, one in which he led SMC in nine statistical categories. Despite being a standout baseball prospect in high school, he hasn’t played the game in four years. The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t seem to mind. They took McConnell in the 31st round of the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft that concluded yesterday. It looks like the plan is to see how he does in the several workouts he has lined up with NBA teams before considering a move to the diamond.
  5. If you’re not planning to make the trip to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on June 23 for the NBA Draft and you don’t feel like watching it on TV by yourself, The Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls, New York might be the next best place to be. To celebrate the fulfillment of that contract that a certain James T. Fredette made with himself (copy available in the linked article) over four years ago to commit fully to his dream of someday playing in the NBA, Jimmer’s hometown of Glens Falls is hosting Jimmer Jam, a community celebration in honor of their favorite son being drafted. We’re talking food and drink, a silent auction and the chance to buy some swag, games for the kids — and all the proceeds from the event go to local charities.
Share this story

RTC 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Posted by zhayes9 on May 19th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an RTC contributor, columnist and bracketologist.  For the next six weeks, he’ll also be our chief draftnik, mocking up the place with his first round selections.  For additional detail, be sure to also check out our 35 draft profiles of the top collegians that we are rolling out over the next five weeks. 

As a college basketball fan, the NBA Draft has always represented a final sendoff to the previous season and for the players we’ve followed religiously over the course of their collegiate careers. Even though some stops (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden) have been shorter than others (Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick, Evan Turner), each player has provided a long list of memories while making their individual imprint on the college game. Similar to a parent sending their kids off to school for the first time, the draft in late June serves as one last chance to say goodbye.

It's 2003 All Over Again For the Cavs... Sorta

Now that the lottery order has been unveiled, it’s time to introduce our first ever 2011 NBA Mock Draft here at RTC. As someone who annually follows the happenings surrounding the draft for weeks leading up to the big night, hopefully my mock selections will provide both insight and expectation into what will transpire in around five weeks time, although with this year’s weak draft class we could see more trades than ever with teams looking to exchange picks this year for 2012 selections.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke.  In a point guard heavy league where a gifted court general is essential for any team with championship aspirations, Irving makes the most sense of any single pick in the draft. Irving has tremendous playmaking ability at the position both setting up teammates and generating his own offense.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona.  The most efficient player in college basketball who possesses phenomenal athleticism and excels in isolation, Williams is the clear cut choice if Minnesota hangs onto this pick. Although Williams is a bit of a tweener, an improved mid-range game will render Williams a matchup nightmare for opposing threes.

3. Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky.  This pick could certainly go in a different direction if the Jazz head honchos feel Devin Harris is their point guard for the foreseeable future. Even if Harris sticks around, Knight needs some grooming as a distributor before he’s ready to shine. Knight is already a capable shooter and offensive threat.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey.  After selecting Irving, it only makes sense to grab the best available big man and pick Kanter. A supremely skilled 7-footer with advanced footwork and scoring ability in the post, Kanter’s ceiling is very high. Kanter hasn’t played outside of a Kentucky practice in over a year, so there’s risk in this selection.

5. Toronto Raptors- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania.  The Raptors have never been bashful about selecting international players and there’s certainly a need for more athleticism in the low post for Toronto. If the question marks surrounding Valanciunas’ buyout can be resolved, the Raptors are nabbing a projectable low-post threat who can really rebound.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 04.28.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 28th, 2011

  1. We didn’t get to this on Wednesday, but Seth Davis checked in this week with a piece analyzing the offseason coaching carousel thus far.  There’s not much there to quibble with, as it’s been a relatively quiet year in this regard.  We completely agree with his take that Tennessee hiring Cuonzo Martin was a very smart play, while Missouri going after (and getting) Frank Haith was perhaps the most questionable.  At the mid-major level, Richmond’s Chris Mooney and VCU’s Shaka Smart choosing to stick on the banks of the James River was the most surprising (how often will runs like theirs at those schools happen?).  Jim Larranaga to Miami (FL) (with Kenny Anderson?) and Sydney Johnson to Fairfield?  Those two situations were just weird.  As of this writing, there are only five jobs left open — Mason, George Washington, UC Davis, Alabama A&M, and Florida A&M.  The Patriots have an excellent team returning next season; that opening left by Larranaga is clearly the true remaining plum of the group.
  2. Perhaps mad about John Calipari’s possible gig with the Dominican Republic (joking), Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has canceled his dalliance with Puerto Rico to coach their national team.  Citing conflicts with trying to manage both head coaching duties as the primary reason for his withdrawal, what was left unsaid in his statement on Wednesday was that he was trying to use the summer period to get some great practice time and competition for his Louisville squad against legitimate international competition.  The NCAA allows international summer trips for college teams once every four years, but they’re often against vastly inferior competition and, in this case, the governing body told UL that Puerto Rico, as a US territory, wasn’t “foreign” enough.
  3. Just prepare yourself for roughly one or two of these stories per month until we hit October — it never fails.  Two Winthrop players, including its leading scorer and a key reserve, have been accused of criminal sexual misconduct involving a 19-year old former student.  Sophomore guard Robbie Dreher and freshman center Julius Francis, according to the police report on the matter, allegedly assaulted the woman by restraining her in Francis’ room as the two performed sexual acts on her despite her claim of repeatedly saying, “no.”  Dreher is the team’s top returning scorer at 12.7 PPG in over 31 minutes per contest last season, while Francis played much more sparingly but has great size and considerable promise.  Needless to say, the two have been suspended from the team indefinitely.
  4. It was Huskies Day in Hartford, as the UConn men’s basketball national champs, the women’s Final Four team, and the Orange Bowl football team all visited the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday in a combined celebration of their successes.  Kemba Walker took the opportunity to address his comment made last week about only reading one book “cover to cover,” clarifying his academic prowess at the school (graduating in three years) fby stating that he was referring specifically to loving a book so much that he sat down to read it in one sitting.  Jim Calhoun said that he’s still considering retirement, but there’s no timetable on a final decision — we have a feeling he’ll be back on the sideline next year.
  5. All Jimmer, all the time.  That’s what we might have coming soon with the report that a television show production company named Tupelo-Honey Productions will be creating a reality show involving The Jimmer and his family in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft on June 25.  They plan on shooting over 100 hours of film over 30 days, and the question on everyone’s mind is whether anything Jimmer does or says when he’s not making 28-footers will be, you know, interesting.  Not to go too far down this path, but he’s Mormon — we shouldn’t expect anything resembling baby-mama drama or wild forays to the clubs with his agent.  Drinking a caffeinated soda might be the biggest taboo we’ll see from the guy.  It’ll be interesting to see how this company finds a storyline within its footage to make this something that the general public will want to see.
Share this story