Morning Five: 09.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2013


  1. When the NCAA announced that it was reducing its penalties against Penn State our first thought was that it was the right move as it rectified (to a degree) the NCAA greatly overstepping its mandate. Our next thought was that it would open the floodgates for other schools looking to reduce their NCAA-sanctioned penalties. Yesterday, we had our first school–USC–announce that it was in talks with the NCAA to have its previously determined penalties reduced. USC might be the first school to pursue this route, but they certainly will not be the last. For all of our qualms about the NCAA we have to say we have a hard time equating any other NCAA ruling to its decision on Penn State as the latter was so far outside of the NCAA’s jurisdiction that not even the NCAA’s staunchest supporters could defend. As such we would be very surprised to see the NCAA follow-up with any similar reductions.
  2. As we mentioned on Tuesday package deals (two recruits not a coach with a recruit) seem to be quite popular this recruiting season. The most significant of these package deals with the one involving Cliff Alexander and Tyus Jones, who are both ranked top-5 overall in the class of 2014. So when Jones announced that he was cancelling his visit to Kentucky it is a pretty big blow to the Wildcats recruiting effort even if they already have a commitment from Tyler Ulis and Jones was considered a long shot for the Wildcats coming in. However, with Alexander also the line it is still a blow to the Wildcats, who will probably still end up with the #1 overall class. Based on what we have heard the leaders for this pair remain Kansas and Duke with Alexander favoring Kansas and Jones favoring Duke.
  3. Eddie Jordan’s efforts at rebuilding Rutgers in the wake of the Mike Rice follow-out appear to have been much more successful than we ever imagined. Thanks to a spate of hardship waivers Rutgers appears to be on the verge of being competitive in the American Athletic Conference. First there was the much-debated waiver granted to Kerwin Okoro and yesterday J.J. Moore was granted a hardship waiver too. Moore, who averaged 8 points and 3 rebounds per game last season as a junior at Pittsburgh, transferred to be closer to closer to his ill grandfather. His presence should only bolster a Scarlet Knight team that should be much better than anybody expected back in April.
  4. College sports might be big business, but try telling that to college students, who are staying out of college stadiums for all, but the biggest games. As The Wall Street Journal noted even in the football-crazed SEC large portions of the student section go unfilled for all, but the biggest games. As you might expect this issue is not isolated to college football as even college basketball programs as prominent as Michigan are having trouble filling their student section. As a result, Michigan is using the opportunity to potentially sell student tickets to the general public. While we understand the appeal of being able to stay at home and watch multiple games at home with quick access to (cheaper) food and beverages, it seems like many of these students are missing out on one of the most significant parts of college basketball: the in-game experience.
  5. Yesterday was a big day for EA Sports. Not only did they announce that they were not going to produce NCAA Football 2014. They (along with College Licensing Company) also reached an agreement with the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. The actual terms of the agreement are confidential, but what this announcement boils down to is that the players will be compensated. The amount of money that each player will receive will vary (no idea how they will determine that) and the overall pot might never be known. The big takeaway from this though is that the O’Bannon vs NCAA portion of the case is still open. As you would expect, the details and effects of a confidential lawsuit can be challenging to tease apart so if you want a more detailed explanation, Michael McCann’s column explaining the ruling and the ramifications is a good place to start.
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Season In Review: Pittsburgh Panthers

Posted by mlemaire on May 15th, 2013

If you are one of those glass half-full type of people, then you could easily point out that a season which saw Pittsburgh finish 24-9 and 12-6 in the Big East is a giant step forward from the year before when the Panthers went just 22-17 and 5-13 in the conference. But chances are that if you are a Pittsburgh basketball fan, you aren’t one of those glass half-full type of people and that is because all of Pitt’s regular season success has never translated into anything more than a single trip to the Elite Eight and a few Sweet Sixteen appearances. The Panthers were good enough to make it back to the NCAA Tournament, which likely saved coach Jamie Dixon from a wave of criticism this offseason, but it wasn’t exactly a triumphant return to the Big Dance. Advanced metrics loved the Panthers because of the team’s exceptional efficiency on both ends of the floor, but that didn’t stop them from shooting 35.1 percent from the field in a first-round clunker against Wichita State and departing from the NCAA Tournament in unceremonious fashion.

Preseason Expectations

Most pundits were cautiously bullish on the Panthers’ chances of rebounding from the 2011-12 debacle. Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson were both gone, but the team returned basically every other contributing player and also added Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler (15.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 46.1% FG as a sophomore with the Chippewas) and ballyhooed freshman center Steven Adams, a seven-footer from New Zealand who was universally considered an NBA talent. No one expected the Panthers to shock the world this season, but both the coaches and our writers had Pitt pegged as one of the top five teams in the conference, and during the regular season at least, they made us look smart.

It Will Be Another Long Off-season For Jamie Dixon After Another Disappointing Early Exit From the NCAA Tournament.

It Will Be Another Long Off-season For Jamie Dixon After Another Disappointing Early Exit From the NCAA Tournament.

The Good

Despite the disappointing finish, there are plenty of team-wide positives Dixon can point to this offseason. For starters, the Panthers’ trademark defense returned with a flourish. After finishing outside the top 150 in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2011-12, the Panthers leaped all the way back into the top 20 in that category by creating turnovers and contesting shooters on every possession. The offense was even more efficient, finishing just outside the top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency thanks in large part to the team’s terrific offensive rebounding, taking care of the basketball, and insistence on scoring inside of 20 feet. Also, he very much looked the part of a freshman point guard at times this season, but James Robinson (6.1 PPG and 3.5 APG in just 26.6 MPG) is going to develop into an excellent floor general for Dixon as quickly as next season. Neither Woodall nor Lamar Patterson took their games to the next level, but they were still the only two consistent offensive threats on the roster. Even Adams (7.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 57.7 FG%) proved himself to be an excellent prospect, although he didn’t exactly set the conference ablaze like so many had predicted.

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Big East M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on October 26th, 2012

  1. Connecticut’s basketball’s academic woes have reared their ugly head once again, this time in the form of the team’s graduation success rate (GSR). The Huskies’ GSR dropped from 36% to 11% this year, representing the lowest such mark in all of Division I basketball.  The score, which reflects how many of the team’s players were able to graduate within six years of their enrollment at school, is different from the APR, the Academic Progress Rating that is currently preventing UConn from participating in the 2013 postseason. On the bright side for the Huskies, their APR is on the rise. Academic success is one of the major black marks on the end of the Jim Calhoun era at Connecticut, and as the NCAA’s APR requirements continue to increase every year, it needs to be a major focus for Kevin Ollie or whoever has control of the program in the long term.
  2. Big time non-conference series are always fun, and yesterday we learned that Georgetown and Kansas have agreed to play four games starting next season.  The series will open at Allen Fieldhouse on December 31, 2013 and continue on for three successive seasons home-and-home until 2016-17. Georgetown and Kansas have only faced each other twice, including last year in the Maui Invitational, a 67-63 Kansas victory. The all-time series is tied at one win apiece.
  3. Pitt’s J.J. Moore may be a bit rusty on the court after missing months of basketball from an April surgery to repair his fifth metatarsal, but he spent his summer wisely. After living in the weight room during his rehabiliation, Moore put on around 15 pounds of muscle, and is now a stout 6’6″ and 215 pounds. Moore was not a major part of Jamie Dixon’s rotation last season, sitting behind Lamar Patterson and Nasir Robinson at the forward slots, but with his added size and strength he should factor in at both small forward and power forward this year. Moore adds some added quickness and versatility at the four when Dixon wants to go with a smaller, more athletic line-up: “I’m definitely ready to make that transition and play power forward,” Moore said. “We’ve been practicing right now with me being the power forward. It’s looking good. I think it’s looking good for the team, as a matter of fact. With me as a power forward, the guys can get open because we can space the floor.”
  4. Marquette blog Anonymous Eagle is running a player preview series for the start of the 2012-13 season. Today featured “silky” freshman forward Steve Taylor, whom Buzz Williams has called the best freshman he’s ever signed at Marquette. While Taylor has a ton of potential, he is going to start behind Jamil Wilson and Juan Anderson in the rotation, and the AE guys don’t foresee him seeing a lot come Big East play, especially with Williams’ penchant for leaning on experienced players down the stretch.  There is also an excellent photoshop done involving Taylor, Williams, and a 1995 Chevy Chase film, so the full profile is definitely worth your time.
  5. Having spent four years in Syracuse, I can verify that there are a number of notable food spots in town. Dinosaur BBQ is the first place to roll off of most tongues, but Jim Boeheim’s favorite hot dog joint Heid’s and the nearly-90 year old Varsity on the SU hill both deserve all the recognition that they receive as well.  However, there is one particular Syracuse food item that is particularly legendary – the Mother’s Cupboard frittata.  This six-pound heap of egg, pepperoni, home fries, sausage, and vegetables has been finished by few and has conquered many, but another brave soul was able to put down the entire dish on Monday: Syracuse basketball walk-on Russ DeRemer. DeRemer utilized a strategy that allowed “Man vs. Food” host Adam Richman to overcome the mighty frittata, and he was able to put away the entire plate in 25 minutes. DeRemer was quite humble about the accomplishment, but fellow walk-on Albert Nassar was more candid about his teammate’s impressive feat: “Honestly, he didn’t even struggle,’’ Nassar said. “Until the last bowl, he didn’t pause once. He just kept going. Then on the last bottom, he paused for like a minute and then knocked it out.’’
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