Handing Out Christmas Season Awards in the SEC

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 23rd, 2011

It seems imperative that we conclude 2011 with some sort of cliched wrap-up. It just wouldn’t be the holidays without some kind of superlatives, a top 10 list or summary of the year. So, this is our SEC version. Without further ado, here are the mid-season All-SEC Rush The Court teams and awards:

First team All-SEC:

  • C Anthony Davis (Kentucky) – 11.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 4.5 BPG, 1.6 SPG
  • F Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State) – 17.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG
  • G Kenny Boynton (Florida) – 18.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 46.6% 3FG
  • G John Jenkins (Vanderbilt) – 20.6 PPG, 43.8% 3FG
  • G Dee Bost (Mississippi State) – 18.0 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.3 SPG

Analysis: This is the who’s who of SEC performers. The numbers speak for themselves as these guys have stuffed the stat sheets all season long. Moultrie and Bost have elevated Mississippi State into the Top 25 with their solid play. Davis is the lone freshman on the list. He does a little bit of everything for Kentucky, and his impact is felt in every game. Boynton’s offensive game is much improved from last year, as he is taking better shots and looking more controlled on offense. Finally, Jenkins has been able to put up over 20 points per game without a post presence in the Commodores’ frontcourt.

Is Jenkins still the best player in the SEC?

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SEC Morning Five: 12.22.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 22nd, 2011

  1. Before Vanderbilt‘s much needed 31-point victory over Lafayette the Commodores were coming off a bad loss to Indiana State. Just how bad? Vanderbilt’s offense was putrid as you can see from these statistics. They scored just 0.83 points per possession, their worst offensive output of the year (tied with Cleveland State game). It was also the worst field goal percentage and three point percentage that Vanderbilt has had since the Cleveland State game at the beginning of the year. How much better did the Commodores play on Wednesday night against Lafayette? A lot better. Sharp shooter John Jenkins scored just 11 points (3-10 FG) against Indiana State, but rebounded against the Leopards for 27 points (9-12 FG). That is more along the lines of what Vanderbilt will need from Jenkins to continue its winning ways.
  2. Terrence Jones has not lived up to his preseason hype so far this year. The preseason All-American came back to Kentucky this year to improve his NBA draft status and maybe even win a championship for his Wildcats. Both remain to be seen, but at this point it seems he is more likely to get the latter. Jones is averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds on 48.4% shooting from the field. Those are not the All-American numbers that were expected from him this year. Jones missed Kentucky’s last game against Samford and is likely to miss today’s game with Loyola. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Jones’ body language even more than his play. Jones looked frustrated and disinterested in a loss to Indiana last week, but he has vowed to silence his critics with positive play once he returns.
  3. Tennessee broke out of an early season slump, and they did it the old fashioned way–with tough, hard-nosed defense. Cuonzo Martin‘s club forced North Carolina-Asheville into nine first half turnovers, but were down 35-32 going into the locker room. The Volunteers held the Bulldogs to 37.5% shooting in the second half to eventually secure the victory. Tennessee appears to have more of a scoring by committee approach as the top three scorers on the team are separated by 0.6 points per game. The top scorer in the UNC-Asheville game was  Renaldo Woolridge,  who had a  career-high 17 points. Tennessee needed this win after the Vols had lost their previous four games and six of their last seven.
  4. Free throw shooting has been a major factor in determining how Arkansas has done this season. In the Hogs 71-57 victory over Eastern Kentucky, they were 17-18 from the free throw stripe in the first half and finished  29-35 for 82.9% on the night. This was drastically different from the previous game where Arkansas struggled from the line, shooting 11-23 (47.8%). Arkansas narrowly won that game, escaping with a 62-55 win over Southeastern Louisiana. Coach Mike Anderson has required the Razorbacks to shoot 500 free throws a week, and it looks like the hard work may be paying off.
  5. Trever Releford willed the unranked Alabama Crimson Tide to victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Wednesday night. Releford scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half while the Tide played without forward JaMychal Green. Three-point shooting had been the achilles heel for Alabama, and the Tide hit six of nine three pointers in the first half (7-15 3FG overall). The 46.7% three-point shooting accuracy was the Tide’s best all season. Several freshmen got additional playing time with Green out of the lineup, which is a good sign that Alabama was still able to secure the victory.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.05.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 5th, 2011

  1. Kentucky and North Carolina played in one of the best regular season college games in quite some time. For a game with an extreme amount of hype coming in, this one lived up to all of the hype and more. It seemed from my Twitter timeline, that most fans, analysts and writers wished for five more minutes of these two heavyweights going at it. We may get forty more minutes in March or April. Here’s the roundup of everyone’s reactions to this instant classic: Jeff Goodman wrote that this one sure felt like March. CBS Sports graded each player based on their NBA prospects. Seth Davis wrote that he hopes UNC and Kentucky meet again. The Lexington Herald Leader talked about Anthony Davis’ signature moment. More on Davis’ incredible block from The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy. More from DeCourcy on how proud Calipari is of his freshmen. Rob Dauster of Beyond the Arc wrote that the game lived up to its hype. Jason King of ESPN wrote about how special this game really was. The guys at a Sea of Blue look at the good and the bad for the Cats. And finally, our national overlords at Rush the Court say that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a star among stars.
  2. In its 62-60 loss to Louisville on Friday night, Vanderbilt made only eight two-point field goals in the entire game. Half of its points came from threes, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, outscoring Louisville 30-15 from beyond the arc. John Jenkins is one of the most exciting players in the country to watch coming off screens for a three point shot, especially when he is hot. However, the Commodores have become too reliant on the outside shot, even considering that their biggest inside threat, Festus Ezeli, continues to be sidelined by an injury.  The fewest three-point shots that Vandy has hoisted up so far this season is 17, in a loss to Cleveland State. Despite throwing up more than 20 three-point shots in six of their eight games, the Commodores have only shot over 40 percent once, an 11-25 (44%) effort against Monmouth.
  3. Speaking of three-point shots sinking a team, Alabama lost a thriller on Thursday night to Georgetown on a last second three by Hollis Thompson. With the 57-55 victory, Georgetown snapped a 24-game home winning streak for the Tide in Coleman Coliseum. Potentially more detrimental, the Hoyas might have laid the blueprint to beating Alabama with an aggressive sagging 2-3 zone. It was Alabama’s inability to convert from three that caused its offense to stall. The Tide shot 3-16 from beyond the arc beginning with missing their first 11 three-% on 23 attempts on the season.
  4. Mike Rosario, the Florida’s fourth leading scorer this season, played a season-low six minutes in a loss to Syracuse on Friday night. Rosario came in averaging over 10 points per game, but coach Billy Donovan made the decision to sit him on the bench throughout the entire second half. “The last couple days, I think emotionally, he just hasn’t been there,” said Donovan. “I tried to use him a little bit and he just did not seem himself. It was more my decision not to play him. I actually felt like we needed defense because I knew we were going to have a hard time scoring with Patric (Young) off the floor.” Guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker stepped up in his place with a combined 9-19 from three-point land. Boynton finished with 22 points, while Walker added 17 points and five assists. Rosario disappeared in Florida’s last top five match-up in Columbus against Ohio State. Rosario played 19 minutes, but only added five points. Rosario’s play in marquee games should be something to keep an eye on for the Gators.
  5. If I had to choose a team that could ill afford an injury to a frontcourt player at this point, I would probably choose Vanderbilt. With starting center Festus Ezeli still out, the Commodores received more bad news as they have lost 6’11″ center Josh Henderson with a stress fracture in his left foot. He will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks. Henderson was averaging three points and three rebounds in limited minutes, however, was beginning to gain confidence with a 10-point, five-rebound performance against Monmouth. Henderson played a season-high 18 minutes against Xavier. Henderson’s injury should not be much of an issue once Ezeli returns to action in a couple of weeks, but will further hamper the Commodores until that time.
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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Other Friday Games

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 2nd, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the RTC Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Brian Joyce and Michael Lemaire take on Auburn vs. Seton Hall and Louisville vs. Vanderbilt. 

Vanderbilt v. Louisville

Vanderbilt and Louisville will feature two top 25 teams facing off in the KFC Yum! Center.

Mike: The matchup has all the makings of a classic offense v. defense battle. Even without senior center Festus Ezeli, the Commodores are a prolific scoring team (#23 in adjusted offense) and swingmen John Jenkins (20.2 PPG) and Jeffery Taylor (15.4 PPG) can fill it up in a hurry. Of course they haven’t played a team as talented as Louisville. Even with the injuries to Wayne BlackshearMike MarraStephan Van Treese, and Rakeem Buckles, the Cardinals are still undefeated and the main reason why is they play suffocating defense (#3 in adjusted defense). However, with apologies to Butler, Louisville has played a relatively easy opening slate, and their depth will be tested against Vanderbilt’s talented lineup. Offensively the Cardinals don’t have a go-to scorer per se, but they do have seven players who average at least seven points per game, led by sweet-shooting forward Kyle Kuric (12.5 PPG). They also have a rugged, albeit thin, frontcourt which is led by talented freshman Chase Behanan (9.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG) and center Gorgui Dieng (8.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG) who has been one of the best shotblockers in the country thus far and is a big reason why Louisville is so successful on defense. But as balanced as Rick Pitino’s club is, star guard Peyton Siva is still what makes the team go, and he hasn’t quite found his comfort zone yet, missing two games with an ankle injury. Siva had 11 points, five assists and five steals in the team’s last game, a win over Long Beach State, but he also turned the ball over six times. No matter how good Louisville’s defense might be, Siva and fellow guard Chris Smith cannot be careless with the ball, because Vanderbilt is too efficient on offense to be gifted with so many extra possessions. What do you think, Brian?

Will Rick Pitino employ his full court press against Vanderbilt's struggling guards

Brian: I agree that this should be a great one. I think Vanderbilt will really be tested in this matchup. The Commodores haven’t taken good care of the basketball, and Louisville is a team that uses a full court press and creates lots of turnovers. Brad Tinsley has struggled when pressured, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the Cardinals’ defense. You pointed out Vandy’s efficient offense, but you were nice by not mentioning its struggling defense. The ‘Dores have struggled to cut off opponent’s three-point shot allowing three teams to shoot at least 40 percent from outside the arc so far this year. Louisville loves to shoot the three, so it could be a long night for coach Kevin Stallings if his team lets the Cardinals get hot. It will be interesting to see how Stallings handles the defensive assignment for Siva. Siva is a player who could really hurt Vanderbilt with his penetration. He can score, as you point out, and he can also find open teammates. And one of the teammates he may find in this one is Dieng. Dieng is still developing his offensive skills, but his 6’11″ frame could be difficult for Vanderbilt’s post players to defend. 6’9″ Steve Tchiengang and 6’8″ Lance Goulbourne will be down low for Vandy, but they will have to box out better than they did against Xavier when the Musketeers grabbed 25 offensive rebounds.

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Set Your TiVo: 12.02.11 – 12.04.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 2nd, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

As we move into December, the first big Saturday of the year (highlighted by the battle in Lexington) is now upon us. Not to mention we get a nice preview of things to come on Friday evening.

#6 Florida @ #3 Syracuse – 7 PM EST Friday on ESPN (*****)

  • Syracuse has three distinct advantages in this game despite playing a top ten opponent. One is home court, two is height, and three is depth. The Orange have taller players at every position, one through five, and Jim Boeheim can go a legitimate ten deep into his bench. Against a Florida team that will be without forward Erik Murphy, Syracuse may be able to overwhelm the guard-heavy Gators. The key for the Orange will be defense. The 2-3 zone creates a fantastic match-up given Florida’s preferred style of offense, shooting lots of threes. If the Orange can be active and extend the perimeter of the zone, Florida will have a tough time.
  • The key for Florida is simple: make threes. To do that however, the Gators must establish Patric Young early and often. Playing without Murphy, Young is Florida’s only reliable post player. If he can’t get going, Syracuse won’t have to worry about extending the zone and leaving holes in the middle. If Young gets off to a fast start, the Orange will have to respect his presence by packing its defense in a bit more inside the arc. That will give Florida’s dynamic guards the opportunity to make shots. With Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario both shooting almost 50% from deep and two other Gators lurking as potential snipers, Syracuse doesn’t want to be forced to do that.

Can UF Establish Patric Young Inside To Give Its Shooters Room?

  • It’s always fun when a team that relies heavily on guards and the three point shot gets together with a team that plays almost exclusively zone. The Syracuse defense will tempt Florida to shoot the deep ball all night but Florida must work for open shots by establishing Young and some sort of an inside-out game. Keeping the zone off balance and moving the ball effectively are always keys to finding open shots. Defensively, Florida has to do better. Syracuse is much more efficient on that end of the floor while the Gators rank a pedestrian 52nd in the nation. Although three point shooting is the big key in this game, Florida’s defense could cost them in a tight game.
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A Quick, Fake Summary: All Else is Castles Built In The Air

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 28th, 2011

Festus Ezeli busted a deal and spun the wheel. (He also spun his MCL; he’ll be out for a while.) Vanderbilt has been spun about without him, though it might not be due to his absence.

At the beginning of the season, it was theorized that Vandy’s seniors would rise up and contribute more with Ezeli out. Against Xavier tonight, the Commodores of Musictown still couldn’t barter themselves a decent offense. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne (18 points on 8-17 FG seven rebounds), junior guard John Jenkins (20 points on 8-18 FG & 4-9 3FG) and senior forward Jeffery Taylor (18 points on 6-11 FG, five rebounds) all led the charge defensively but faded as near the end. Not one Commodore scored a single point in the last 3:56 of the second half.

Earlier in the that half, senior guard Brad Tinsley had controlled drives into the paint that resulted in easy assists. Like the rest of the ‘Dores, Tinsley tried to do too much late in the game. With his limited defensive ability, Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons finally took control and powered the Musketeers to a 82-70 overtime victory.

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Set Your TiVo: 11.28.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 28th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The quality of games kicks into high gear this week with a pair of good ones to start it off.

Long Beach State at #9 Louisville – 7 PM EST on ESPNU (***)

  • Louisville’s depth has taken a big hit recently with Wayne Blackshear, Mike Marra, and Peyton Siva all dealing with injuries. Siva returned from a sprained ankle Friday against Ohio in a closer than expected Cardinals win but he remains in a shooting slump. He is just 5-24 (20.8%) in three games this season but is managing to dish out six assists per contest. The Cardinals are winning games defensively as they are ranked second in the nation in defensive efficiency while only putting up 67 PPG on the other end of the floor. A Long Beach State team that plays quick without much defense could be the recipe Louisville needs to gain more confidence offensively. However, Louisville must avoid turnovers against the 49ers, a team that loves to get out in transition. The Cardinals are averaging 15 turnovers per game with Siva at a shaky 3.7 per game.

    Louisville Will Have Its Hands Full With Long Beach State

  • Long Beach State has lost twice on the road since winning at Pittsburgh, falling to San Diego State and Montana. The 49ers defense has not been up to par and that is hurting them significantly. They love to play at a fast pace but they are very average defensively as well as on the boards. Casper Ware going up against Siva should be a terrific match-up and he will need to carry the team all night as he did against Pittsburgh on November 16. Long Beach State is not going to get many opportunities to score against the strong Louisville defense so limiting turnovers, especially on the road, has to be its top priority. They average 15 a game but simply cannot afford that many in this game. To win, Long Beach State must play its best defensive game to date and get to the free throw line where they will have a significant edge over Louisville. Depth has to be a concern for Dan Monson, whose team only goes seven deep.
  • Larry Anderson and James Ennis have a height advantage at the two and three positions against Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric, but they must stay in front of their men all game. Ennis is a good on-ball defender averaging 2.3 steals per game, but the Louisville guards may be able to exploit Long Beach State from the three-point arc. In the paint, T.J. Robinson is a terrific rebounder but he will be going up against the 6’10” Gorgui Dieng (3.4 blocks per game) and a Louisville team that rebounds well as a unit. To earn more possessions for his team, Robinson likely has to have a big game on the glass as well as offensively. That will be extremely difficult against a Cardinals front line that allows only 33.5% shooting inside the arc. Long Beach State does have a chance to win the game but there is one major difference between Pittsburgh and Louisville. It is defense and that is why we feel the Cardinals have the ultimate edge in this game tonight.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Ready to debate? By all means, grab a cup of coffee first and let’s get to it. Ron Chimelis of The Republican says John Calipari doesn’t need to win an NCAA title to be a Hall of Famer. Chimelis thinks Calipari already has the resume to make it in. He cites Cal’s 512 wins (42 of those were later vacated by the NCAA leaving him with 470 official wins), three Final Fours appearances (two of those were wiped from the record books), and his remarkable turn-arounds with Massachusetts and Memphis. Chemelis thinks Calipari will in fact win the title that has evaded him throughout his career, but he has a Hall of Fame resume without it. What say you? Will there be a HOF ballot more criticized and talked about than Calipari’s? Does he need a national title to punch his ballot into the Hall? Or do you despise Calipari so deeply that you don’t want him in no matter how many championships he wins?
  2. Regardless of your feelings for Calipari, you have to agree that he has produced a long line of talented point guards dating back to his days in Memphis. Cal has taken up for his newest floor general, Marquis Teague, by taking to Twitter. Teague has been erratic in his first four collegiate games for Kentucky, committing 18 turnovers and never quite settling in to the flow of the game. Calipari tweets, “Gotta love the #BBN, only our fans would point out that my last two PG’s also had 18 turns in the 1st 4 games. DRose & Tyreke had a bunch 2.” He quickly followed with another tweet, “Marquis will be fine. I’m gonna spend more time w/ him & once we get it figured out everyone will be talking about how good he is.” Freshmen, especially point guards, almost always take a little time to adjust to the speed of the college game. Remember, Teague has only played in four college games. Give the young man time. Cal has proven that he has an outstanding track record with point guards, and Teague will be another first round draft pick after developing in the Kentucky system.
  3. As was mentioned here in the SEC Morning Five on Monday, Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell injured his knee in practice last Thursday. The results of his MRI revealed torn ligaments that will cause the Razorbacks’ star to miss the rest of the season. This is unfortunate news for Powell and Arkansas. “This is definitely a setback, but I told him that sometimes you have to have setbacks in order to have a great comeback,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “He is in good spirits and looking forward to helping his team in any way that he can.” The Razorbacks are down to nine scholarship players. It is crucial for Anderson’s system to have the depth to sub in and out for his fast-paced style of play. Powell was averaging 19.5 points per game and his absence will require another (or several) Razorback(s) to step up to fill the scoring gap.
  4. John Gasaway writes that Vanderbilt’s defense has not been nearly as bad as the discussion has indicated. He says the Commodores are an excellent defensive rebounding team and create a good amount of turnovers to offset the high number of two point field goals that they allow. Gasaway has been somewhat impressed with the Commodores saying “this will be the best Commodore team of recent years when (Festus) Ezeli returns.” The problem according to Gasaway is that Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida are all better than they have been in recent years as well. League play will be brutal at the top of the conference, as the top four are sure to trade off tough losses. The notion expressed in Basketball Prospectus is the same one shared here — while the SEC may not be the best conference from top to bottom, the top four is as good as any conference in the country. Vanderbilt certainly belongs in the top tier, and their defense will only improve once Ezeli returns.
  5. Speaking of Ezeli, Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports says that Ezeli’s return will be a game-changer on both ends of the court for Vanderbilt. Ezeli’s defense and shot blocking ability gives the Commodores an inside presence to guard the low post, which has been a concern in the early going. On offense, he demands respect from opposing defenders, opening up the floor for the shooters – John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley. His presence will mean the difference between a Vanderbilt team that is hanging by a thread at the bottom of the latest Top 25 poll, and the team that was ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason. “He’s as important to us as a guy like Jared Sullinger is to Ohio State,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “I’m not saying he’s as good, but he gives us the same presence. You have to game plan for him.”
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Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Arkansas will have to learn to adjust to life without Marshawn Powell this season after the school announced that the junior would be out for the rest of the season as a MRI of his knee revealed torn ligaments, which will require surgery with an expected return to play in six to eight months. Powell injured his knee during a practice last Thursday, but the extent of the damage was not known until the MRI was performed on Sunday. The loss of Powell is a huge blow for the Razorbacks who are full of young players and could have used Powell’s presence inside and veteran leadership against a SEC that looks much stronger than it has in recent years despite some early losses.
  2. Steve Lavin opted to sit out last night’s game against St. Francis, which St. John’s won, as he adjusts to a modified schedule after his prostate cancer surgery on October 6. According to the press release Lavin is trying to “enhance his stamina and energy level” and this does not appear to be a complication from the surgery, which is a good thing because complications are a not uncommon occurrence. Instead, it appears that Lavin was simply exhausted from coaching back-to-back games and then going on the road for recruiting the following two days. The school has not released any information on when Lavin will return to the sideline, but from the information given in the press release we expect to see Lavin back fairly soon. If Lavin does not return for Saturday’s game against Northeastern, we would definitely expect to see him back for next Thursday’s game at Kentucky although he might want to sit that one out.
  3. Over the past few weeks Luke Winn has been focusing on defense, but this weekend he took a break to check out some of the most talented scorers in the nation: J’Covan Brown, John Jenkins, and Jared Cunningham. By now you probably know what happened with each player’s performance and the outcome of the game, but Winn provides an interesting look into how each player’s game affected his team and the outcome of the game. Since most of us were either at games over the weekend or flipping back and forth between games from home Winn’s analysis, which isn’t the typical number-heavy advanced metric stuff he has become known for recently, provides a good insight into what actually happened at the Izod Center and what to expect from these three and their teams this season.
  4. Over the past few days we have speculated on how Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim would react to the media, particularly ESPN, with the ongoing Bernie Fine investigation. At a press conference yesterday morning for the Preseason NIT Boeheim threatened to leave if anybody asked a non-basketball (read: Fine-related) question before briefly discussing the matter in a much more measured tone than he had last Thursday night. Later in the day, Boeheim went on-camera with ESPN’s Andy Katz to discuss the Fine investigation, which is surprising to us because he very easily could have held a grudge against ESPN for the way that they handled the report. So basically, nothing has changed–Boeheim remains cantankerous, but is always willing to talk.
  5. The NBA may never work out for Adam Morrison, but the former Gonzaga star appears to have had a rebirth of sorts with the NBA lockout and his move to Serbia. While Morrison still isn’t playing at the level that many expected him to be at coming out of college he is showing signs of becoming the player he used to be. Obviously, this is against vastly inferior competition, but it is nice to see Morrison playing some quality basketball and it is interesting to read about the struggles that Morrison has gone through off the court since he left Gonzaga.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.16.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 16th, 2011

  1. Kentucky looked a little rusty on offense in the first half against Kansas on Tuesday night. There might be a good reason for that. Calipari says the Cats have just gotten around to installing necessary things like out-of-bounds and late-game plays. This doesn’t seem that unusual as practice time is limited, and games seem to be sneaking up earlier and earlier in the calendar each season. After watching the Wildcats dismantle a good KU team last night, however, it is scary to think how dominant this team can be with some additional time together.
  2. Jay Bilas went all access with Kentucky as the Cats and head coach John Calipari prepared for Kansas. Calipari spoke about his winning ways at Kentucky, competing at the highest level and getting the most out of his freshmen. This video included a good scream from Cal about poor defense and even a threat to put one of his players on a treadmill at 14 miles per hour. And now we now how Cal motivates his players at halftime.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan felt the Gators should have passed the ball down low to sophomore Patric Young more in the first half of last night’s game against Ohio State and standout center, Jared Sullinger. According to Gainesville Sun writer Kevin Brockman’s tweet last night, Donovan thought Young could have gotten Sullinger in foul trouble had the guards better fed the post. The Gators only passed the ball inside to Young once in the first half. Florida adjusted at halftime, and Young finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds while limiting Sullinger to only 16 points.
  4. Vanderbilt came up with a win against Bucknell, but it didn’t come easily. The Commodores played without leading scorer John Jenkins who was out with a sprained right ankle. Jenkins tweaked his ankle in the loss to Cleveland State, and his injury, along with the absence of Festus Ezeli, makes it two all-SEC players on the sidelines for the ‘Dores. And with starting point guard Brad Tinsley also nursing a wrist injury, Vandy needs to get healthy as quickly as possible. Vanderbilt will play in the TicketCity Legends Classic on Saturday against North Carolina State, and then face either Texas or Oregon State on November 21.
  5. The hot seat got hotter for a couple of SEC coaches with bad losses last night. Darrin Horn and South Carolina lost to Elon by the score of 58-53, while LSU and  Trent Johnson fell to Coastal Carolina 71-63. The SEC has lost a couple of unlikely games to mid-majors already this season, but these losses will impact the job security that both coaches feel going forward. Both came into the season feeling a bit insecure about their job prospects, and no doubt both are likely feeling quite a bit hotter under the collar at this point.
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A Quick, Fake Summary: Don’t Worry, Vanderbilt…We All Have Our Little Faults

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 13th, 2011

Throughout the season, RTC’s Gerald Smith will be bringing you off-the-cuff and odd recaps of games: Quick, Fake Summaries. This first one of the season involves Vanderbilt‘s shocking 71-58 home loss to Cleveland State Sunday afternoon.

Vanderbilt was flying high into this season. Despite another early NCAA Tournament exit, the Commodores returned seniors Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins to a team that led the SEC in scoring last season. They opened up their gym to two teams of green; one (Oregon) self-destructed with unforced turnovers on Friday. Today, the other green team was glowing and sapped the strength from the Super-Seniors.

Cleveland State’s quick guards hindered Jenkins (5-14 FG, 2-8 3FG, 5-7 FT for 17 points), preventing him from getting comfortable shooting behind screens. Those quick-as-a-Flash guards nullified senior point guard Brad Tinsley (two asists, three turnovers) by making him a defensive liability; head coach Kevin Stallings was forced to play Tinsley only 21 minutes and sophomore guard Kevin Fuller (three turnovers) fared little better. The senior forward Taylor was practically nonexistent with just nine points, four rebounds and six turnovers.

The Vikings’ broad-shouldered Aaron Pogue out-muscled senior forward Steve Tchiengang (five points, ten rebounds, one block). With senior center Festus Ezeli out with an injury and suspension, Vanderbilt had no inside-out post game. Well, no post game completely: the Commodores scored just 10 points in the paint. Without any offensive push and no ability to stop the Viking’s constant scoring, Vanderbilt wimpered all the way into the pool of defeat.

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SEC Make or Break: Vanderbilt Commodores

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 13th, 2011

The Make or Break series will tell us what we need to know about each SEC team by looking at the three most important non-conference games on each team’s schedule. Depending on the outcome, these three games could make OR break that team’s season because of the strengths it shows or weaknesses it could expose. The next team in the series is the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Vanderbilt entered the last two NCAA Tournaments as a #4 seed (2009-10) and a #5 seed (2010-11), yet lost in its first game both years. The Commodores last made the Sweet Sixteen in 2007. So, it’s understandable if national college basketball writers and analysts are a bit hesitant to declare Vandy as a Final Four contender. Last year, Vanderbilt was unable to put teams away, especially in close games. The ‘Dores lost a double-digit lead in five of their 11 losses. Their inabililty to close out opponents is a cause for concern this year for a team that is expected to challenge for the SEC title.

Of course, Vanderbilt returns all five starters, including SEC Player of the Year, John Jenkins. This Vandy team has high expectations, and the offensive firepower to be amongst the nation’s best. The ‘Dores also boast some of the best non-conference games in the country as they have several top 25 matchups to test their talented and experienced squad. Preseason All-SEC center, Festus Ezeli, will miss many of their big matchups early on as he recovers from a sprained MCL and PCL injury.

Vanderbilt will miss Ezeli's defense and post presence during his absence.

The three key non-conference games that will make or break the Commodores’ schedule this season:

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