AAC M5: 03.19.14 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on March 19th, 2014

AAC_morning5_header

  1. Louisville has become a trendy pick to repeat as national champions, including by renowned political prognosticator, Nate Silver. Silver’s revamped FiveThirtyEight.com launched Monday with a bracket projection model giving the Cardinals a 15 percent chance to cut down the nets again — the highest percentage of any team — and a 38 percent chance of reaching the Final Four, good for third. Silver’s model gives no other AAC team even a one percent chance of winning a title; it likes UConn the most, giving the Huskies a six percent chance of reaching the final weekend. Cincinnati gets a three percent chance and Memphis a two percent chance to play into April.
  2. Fran Dunphy struggled through his worst year ever at Temple, but he expects to see better results next year. The Owls’ season ended with a double-overtime loss to UCF that featured sophomore Quenton DeCosey and junior Will Cummings combining for 53 points. They’ll both be back on campus next season and will be joined by three transfers who sat out this season — Jaylen Bond from Texas, Jesse Morgan from UMass, and Devin Coleman from Clemson – along with sophomore Daniel Dingle, due back from knee surgery, and four-star recruit Obi Enechionyia. Dunphy has had a great deal of coaching success, both at Temple and across town at Penn before that, and it seems much more likely that the Owls’ bad season was a one-year aberration rather than an indication of things to come.
  3. Whatever Temple does next year, it will have to do it without Anthony Lee. The redshirt junior big man, who averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this year, graduates in May and will be able to transfer with one year of eligibility under the NCAA’s fifth-year transfer rule. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted that a dozen schools are interested in acquiring Lee’s services, including fellow AAC member Louisville, which of course is leaving the conference for the ACC next season.
  4. Kevin Ollie has done a pretty good job since becoming the head coach at UConn, but he first made his name on the court, not the sidelines. He played on three NCAA Tournament teams at UConn before a journeyman career in the NBA that included stints with 11 teams. His longevity helped him lead the AAC coaches in CBS Sports‘ ranking of the playing careers of NCAA Tournament coaches, landing at #3 in the list. The next AAC coach was Rick Pitino at #23 for his three years and and 329 assists as point guard at UMass in the early 1970s. Josh Pastner, a four-year walk-on who got a ring with the 1997 Arizona national champions, checked in at #44, and the diminutive Mick Cronin was #62 for his high school career (cut short by bum knees) under coach (and father) Hep.
  5. USF is looking for a new coach, and although some pretty big names are rumored to have interest, there’s still a certain amount of despair in Tampa. Ben Howland and Buzz Williams, among others, have already had their names attached to the job, Howland most prominently because he worked with new athletic director Mark Harlan when they were both at UCLA. Also apparently in the running is Florida assistant John Pelphrey, the former head coach at both South Alabama and Arkansas, but there remain doubts whether any coach who would take the job can get get the program where it want to be. Of course, recently fired head coach Stan Heath gave them their only two NCAA Tournament wins in school history, but he followed that up with a 6-30 conference mark over the past two years. That’s a lot closer to what USF has been historically than the little bit of fleeting March success.
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Who’s Got Next? Huge Halloween Commitments, More In the Works…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 2nd, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Lead Story: Arizona Secures Top 2012 Recruiting Class

Next Year These Heads Will Be Of Gabe York, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett And Kaleb Tarczewski (C. Morrison/US Presswire)

Tarczewski Takes To Tucson. This is something I’m not used to, this is something you aren’t used to, this is something no one on the recruiting circuit  is used to. For the first time in four years, a head coach has assembled a downright dirty collection of talent into one recruiting class and his name isn’t John Calipari. Arizona head coach Sean Miller has beautifully crafted his 2012 recruiting class so it will resemble North Carolina’s group of big men this year when center Kaleb Tarczewski committed to Arizona pm Monday. Not only do the Wildcats have commitments from three of the top nine recruits in the senior class [according to ESPN] in addition to a top shooting guard in Gabe York, but they have two of the top three power forwards between Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett and the second best center in Tarczewski. This front court talent is scary considering the versatility and skill level of the players. If Miller doesn’t want to sit one of his star recruits, he could possibly slide Ashley to small forward since he’s a combo forward who likes playing on the wing as well. All of these big guys can move and get up and down the court and can be game-changers in so many ways. Here’s another thing to think about, the Wildcats got two of the top guards in the Class of 2011 with point guard Josiah Turner (#13) and shooting guard Nick Johnson (#28) and both players will definitely be staying longer than one year. I’m not going to go around and start predicting 2013 NCAA tournament Final Four teams, but I wouldn’t bet against Arizona.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior standout Dominic Artis on committing to Oregon: “I really thought it was the best fit style-of-play wise after watching practice and I liked the athletes that are already in the program. [Class of 2011 shooting guard] Jabari [Brown] and I have been together since fourth or fifth grade. Him being there sure didn’t hurt. It gave me a nice comfort level and someone I could relate to.”
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SEC Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 27th, 2011

  1. In last night’s annual Kentucky Blue vs. White game, Sophomore Terrence Jones went off for 52 points setting a record for most points scored in the intra-squad scrimmage. While just an exhibition game, the barrage of points has to be encouraging for Wildcat fans hoping for a new and improved Jones. Freshman Anthony Davis guarded Jones for most of the evening, but it didn’t seem to matter who was on him as he scored from just about everywhere on the court. Jones was 24-31 from the field, finishing with 16 rebounds and six assists. Scrimmage or not, 52 points is impressive. Jones displayed an ability to score in a variety of ways — knocking down threes, taking it strong to the rim and even finishing with his much-discussed right hand. Eight Kentucky players scored in double figures overall as freshman Kyle Wiltjer finished with 27 points on 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc and sophomore, Doron Lamb also scored 31 points.
  2. Memphis coach Josh Pastner has a message for all SEC teams — don’t ask to play his Memphis Tigers in a non-conference game. Pastner says it won’t happen on his watch. He singled out Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Florida as teams he does not want to play in order to avoid giving a recruiting advantage for those looking to recruit in Memphis. He says the solution, however, is simple. Invite Memphis to play in the SEC. Pastner says, “That will solve everything. You don’t have to ask me; we would play twice. If you’re coming in here, if you want to play Memphis, go to your presidents and vote Memphis in the SEC. That’s the easiest way to do it. If you’re asking me for a non-conference game, it’s not going to happen.” Pastner is either making a good case for Memphis to be considered for expansion to the SEC or he is setting the Tigers up to be the most hated non-conference rival by the entire league.
  3. Several SEC teams will be taking part in secret scrimmages over the next couple of weeks to prepare for opening games. Why the secrecy? Well, nobody seems to know, but you may want to delete your browser history if you click on the link. Better safe than sorry. The SEC teams taking part in the secrecy and their mysterious opponents are: Virginia @ Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech @ South Carolina, LSU @ Rice, Arkansas-Little Rock @ Ole Miss, Georgia @ Clemson, UCF @ Florida and Western Kentucky vs Alabama. Anybody with super-spy abilities, we need video and/or pictures. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
  4. Ole Miss junior Murphy Holloway has been cleared to play immediately for the Rebel Black Bears. Holloway played two seasons for the Rebs before transferring to South Carolina to care for his daughter. After sitting out a year with the Gamecocks, Holloway decided to transfer back to Mississippi. He had to apply for a waiver with the NCAA to avoid having to sit out another year. The waiver was granted and Holloway will be allowed to play this season. He provides an immediate post presence for Ole Miss as he averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his sophomore year. Andy Kennedy’s squad will get an impact player with SEC experience.
  5. Tennessee‘s athletic program boasts that their men’s basketball coaching staff has more than 5,000 career college basketball points during their playing careers. In fact, they claim to have more than 1,000 more college points than any other Division I staff. Here’s to hoping that this sets up an SEC coaching staff battle between former players. Rod Strickland vs. Anthony Grant. Orlando Antigua vs. Cuonzo Martin. Billy Donovan vs. John Calipari. John Pelphrey vs. Darrin Horn. Tony Barbee vs. Tracy Webster. Rick Stansbury vs. Kevin Stallings… Okay, maybe not that last one. Having a coaching staff with this much experience can give the Tennessee players a slight boost of confidence, but shouldn’t be much of an advantage otherwise. It is fun to think about a pick-up game of epic proportions at the next SEC media days. Battle royale style.
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Morning Five: 08.08.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 8th, 2011

  1. John Pelphrey’s doing fine, thanks, and he appreciates your asking. The firing from Arkansas still stings a little, but he’s back at Florida as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a position he’s held before to considerable acclaim. While he seems happy to be back in a familiar place doing a job he loves, being a head coach again at a “network conference” school is something he won’t (and shouldn’t) allow to fall off his radar. We like following the career arcs of coaches in situations similar to the one Pelphrey’s in right now, to see how and where they bounce back.
  2. Last week, SI.com’s Luke Winn stepped up with yet another tour de force, this time an in-depth examination of the “commitment behaviors” of players listed as top-100 recruits in the recruiting rankings. Winn and his staff put some serious time into this investigation, so we don’t want to give away all of his findings, but his data revealed — and this is just one interesting factoid among many in the article — that kids who transferred high schools were almost twice as likely to eventually back out of a college commitment. Fascinating stuff here in the midst of these days of extreme college basketball “fickleness,” as Winn describes it.
  3. It’s only a matter of time until those rudimentary free markets and the walls at, say, People’s Basketball Collective #17 are awash with Duke merchandise and photos of the inestimable Mike Krzyzewski, if they aren’t already. We hope they’ve packed their guidebooks and downloaded those vocal translator apps, because the Blue Devils are off to China next weekend with a little side jaunt to Dubai thrown in there, too. Not only will the 13-day trip help Coach K see how his five new incoming frosh fit in with his returning charges, but, as Krzyzewski says, it also helps forward their “initiative to become a global entity.” Wait, you mean…they weren’t one?
  4. Last month, Notre Dame incoming freshman Eric Katenda was in Washington DC playing a pick-up game. He went up for a rebound, came down, and an opposing player went for the ball, but hit Katenda in the left eye…severing his optic nerve. While there’s plenty of research out there aimed at regenerating optic nerve tissue after it’s been cut, medical science isn’t far enough along right now to help Katenda regain his vision in that eye, so his college basketball career is already in question and he hasn’t even fully enrolled yet. We hate hearing things like this and we can’t imagine the disappointment Eric is feeling, but we were happy to read that Notre Dame still plans to honor the young man’s scholarship, whatever happens.
  5. Herb Magee has amassed 922 wins in his coaching career, ALL at Philadelphia University, and as of 48 hours ago he assumed his rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. We’re sure you’ve already heard of Coach Magee and his coaching excellence, and how he’s known as The Shot Doctor. But that’s not just because he’s good at helping others with their form from distance. In his day, Magee could — actually, he still can — make it rain. He scored 2,235 points in his career (that’s 24.0 PPG) and was known as Baby Jesus, a nickname you don’t earn in Philly unless you deserve it. If he’d have had the three-point line, his numbers would have been even more impressive. The Philadelphia Inquirer did a great piece on Magee and his shooting prowess a day ahead of his HOF induction, and we recommend it highly. We love how Magee’s friends rib him about how his #4 jersey that hangs in the gym’s rafters isn’t so much his jersey number as it is his career assist total. Outstanding.
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Conference Report Card: SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 18th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • It was a good year for the Southeastern Conference. After a weak showing in the NCAA Tournament last year, the SEC was the only conference with multiple teams (Kentucky and Florida) in the Elite Eight. The SEC also got five teams into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. It was a major improvement over the sad slump that was 2009 when the SEC only qualified LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi State at 8, 9, and 13 seeds, respectively.
  • When the season started, I predicted the conference could get five and possibly six teams in the tournament and I still contend that Alabama was snubbed.  But regardless of that, five teams is a good showing and a sign of improvement for a conference that lost a little respect as an elite conference in the past few years.
  • Florida was consistent all year, winning close games by playing calmly even when trailing late, but the biggest turning point for the conference came when Kentucky finally was able to win those same close games.  The Wildcats were sitting at 7-9 in conference play and likely facing a first-round game in the SEC when they won close games against Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee finishing the regular season 10-6 and easily marching through the conference tournament.  Kentucky was the favorite at the Final Four in Houston, but poor shooting likely cost the Wildcats their eighth national championship.  And the debate about John Calipari’s ability to win it all with young teams goes on.
Brandon Knight came up big for John Calipari when he needed the star freshman guard the most.

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Morning Five: 04.13.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2011

  1. A number of players made NBA stay/go decisions on Tuesday, beginning with RTC NPOY Kemba Walker, who formally announced that he will be heading to the League after his junior season, the most celebrated in UConn men’s basketball history.  The point guard projected as a lottery pick will sign with an agent soon, leaving no possibility of an encore performance in Storrs.  On the other side of the country involving a player in the same high school class as Walker, UCLA point guard Malcolm Lee announced that he too is leaving for the NBA and will sign with an agent.  Despite being a top recruit three seasons ago, Lee never quite became the superstar he was supposed to be, and is currently only projected as a second round pick in this summer’s draft.  UCLA head coach Ben Howland had counseled Lee to return for his senior season, but he decided that it was time to move on from Westwood (maybe he didn’t want to play in the LA Sports Arena — we wouldn’t blame him).
  2. Two other athletic phenoms will also be entering this year’s NBA Draft, as Georgia’s Travis Leslie and Florida State’s Chris Singleton announced on Tuesday their intentions to leave college a year early.  Leslie formally made his announcement yesterday, joining all-SEC forward Trey Thompkins in leaving Mark Fox’s program, while Singleton hasn’t officially announced yet but was apparently outed by his school’s media relations department in this report about his upcoming Wednesday press conference.  Both players are likely first round selections.
  3. In a phenomenal indication as to just how difficult it is perceived to win at The U, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker decided on Tuesday he’d rather stay in Cambridge as the head coach of the Crimson rather than moving south to Coral Gables as the Hurricanes seek to replace Frank Haith.  Amaker must figure that if he can get Harvard to the NCAA Tournament next season (a distinct possibility), he’ll have a much better choice of winning jobs at his disposal — probably a smart move.  Now, Miami is said to be looking at Mike Davis (Alabama-Birmingham), Tony Barbee (Auburn), Donnie Jones (UCF), Billy Kennedy (Murray State) and Rob Jeter (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) as possible new candidates.
  4. There was a big piece of transfer news on Tuesday, as former Utah star Will Clyburn announced that he will be matriculating at Iowa State next year and become eligible to play in Ames for the 2012-13 season.  Expressing a desire to move closer to his home town of Chicago (and having played JuCo ball at nearby Marshalltown CC), the all-MWC forward who averaged 17/8 last season is excited to join a program under Fred Hoiberg that he feels is moving in the right direction.
  5. Billy Donovan’s Florida staff suddenly looks like a dream team of sorts as the school announced the hiring of former Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and former St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts on Tuesday.  Pelphrey and Donovan, of course, are very close, with the duo coming up together at Marshall and earning their stripes later at Florida in the 1990s, building UF into a national power before Pelphrey moved on to South Alabama and Arkansas.  Both Pelphrey and Roberts found themselves in tough situations, but it’s safe to say that these will be short-lived stopovers for them until other big-name schools offer them another chance.  It’s certainly better than sitting on your couch.
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Morning Five: 03.24.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2011

  1. It appears as if Mike Anderson‘s decision to leave Missouri for Arkansas had everybody confused as many of the major media outlets were filing contradictory reports throughout the day. In the end, Anderson decided to head back to Arkansas where he will make $2.2 million per year over his 7-year contract, which will probably be incentive-laden although details are still sparse. Razorback fans will be hoping that Anderson can return the team to the success it enjoyed under Anderson’s mentor Nolan Richardson and Anderson will have a nice start with the outstanding incoming recruiting class that John Pelphrey signed.
  2. A Duke-UNC NCAA Tournament match-up has been discussed so many times, but never happened leaving many to pretend that it could never happen. Gregg Doyel is not one of those people as he is already talking about the potential of the two teams meeting for the fourth time this season in the Final Four with Duke having a chance to advance to the championship game along with a chance to repeat and Coach K getting win #903 (passing Bob Knight‘s record). UNC would also be playing for the chance to reach the championship game after being essentially written off as a contender around Thanksgiving and more importantly prevent Duke from doing the aforementioned things. As Doyel notes the magnitude of such a game would almost be too much to comprehend.
  3. Speaking of Coach K and coaches switching jobs, those LA Laker rumors appear to have surfaced again and this time Coach K has turned down the theoretical offer before any Duke students had to resort to writing letters begging him to “Please still be my coach” (that was from a student who wasn’t on the basketball team). Honestly we are kind of surprised that this is even really an issue at this point in his career and would be stunned if he took a job that required him to leave his position on the sidelines at Duke so the rest of the media should probably calm down with any other rumors about the NBA trying to lure him away.
  4. One of our favorite regular columns is Luke Winn’s Power Rankings because unlike most iterations of power rankings online not only does he rank teams (duh), but he also teaches us something. This week’s Sweet 16 version is no different as he has interesting nuggets on every remaining team. Based on Luke’s ranking of VCU he might end up being Shaka Smart‘s next press conference target.
  5. Finally, we usually use this space to highlight coaches, players, and/or programs in the news, but The New York Times had an interesting feature on Ken Pomeroy and how college coaches are utilizing the data that he collects and incorporating it into their game plans. It is worth noting that although Pomeroy does this as a part-time job/hobby his basketball predictions are a lot more useful than what our local weatherman has to say about tomorrow’s weather.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.14.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 14th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with all the chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.  We hope to have these up each morning starting Tuesday, March 15, but don’t kill us if it sometimes slips to the early afternoon.

East

Southeast

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Morning Five: The Day After Selection Sunday

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2011

  1. With the new broadcast arrangement between CBS and Turner Sports most of you probably have a ton of questions about what they are doing with our beloved NCAA Tournament. Richard Deitsch has the answer to at least a dozen of them including the all-important question of which games Gus Johnson is scheduled to call in the opening round.
  2. While most of the nation was fixated on the announcement of the NCAA Tournament brackets there was also some other tournament news as the NIT, CBI, and CIT announced their fields. You already probably know most of the NIT field (think every team that was whining about getting snubbed a few hours ago). The one thing that stood out to us was the NIT committee putting Harvard as a #6 seed. We never bought the possibility that the Crimson could be an at-large team, but saying that there were at least 20 teams ahead of them that got left out of the NCAA Tournament seems absurd. The CBI field (bracket here) is notable for having Oregon (playing on its infamous home court in the opening round), Davidson, and Central Florida (winners of this year’s award for biggest disappearing act). The CIT field (schedule here) is only notable for having Northern Iowa in it. The NIT does offer a few intriguing match-ups and could be interesting if the “snubbed” teams stop feeling sorry for themselves and try to show the NCAA Selection Committee that they said that they made a mistake. As for the CBI and CIT feel free to check them out if you really need a college basketball fix.
  3. There was plenty of news around the country on the coaching front as several coaches were let go. The most notable in terms of potential impact is Arkansas firing John Pelphrey who leaves behind a solid incoming class of recruits to a new coach. It appears that the Razorbacks are targeting current Missouri coach Mike Anderson to replace Pelphrey. If they are unable to land Anderson, who spent 17 years at Arkansas as an assistant to Nolan Richardson, then they are expected to go after current Marquette coach Buzz Williams, who also has some ties to Arkansas.
  4. Few individuals in college basketball had as good of a day yesterday as USC coach Kevin O’Neill did. Not only did his Trojans get into the NCAA Tournament albeit into one of the play-in First Four games, but O’Neill was also reinstated by the university after his run-in with an Arizona booster in a Los Angeles hotel bar before the team’s meeting in the Pac-10 Tournament.
  5. Washington reinstated Venoy Overton for the NCAA Tournament after suspending the senior point guard for the Pac-10 Tournament. Overton had been suspended after the Seattle city attorney charged him with providing alcohol to a minor. Overton is expected to play against Georgia on Friday, but it will be interesting to see how the Charlotte crowd, which should have a heavy UNC bias, will react to Overton in light of some of the speculation surrounding the incident that led to the charges particularly if Washington advances to play UNC in the second round.
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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 1st, 2011

 

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.

A Look Back

The NCAA Sitting on Their Thumbs: Am I the only one that finds the NCAA to be a little ridiculous?   This week, the omnipotent governing body of college athletics released its findings on Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl regarding his little BBQ incident with potential recruits.  I hope they were Memphis style ribs by the way — those are my favorite.  Anyway, while I’m not really interested in commenting on the findings as there really wasn’t anything here we weren’t already aware of, except for a previously undisclosed secondary infraction committed by Bruce Pearl and assistant Tony Jones.  Last summer they spoke with 2012 recruit Jordan Adams prior to the start of basketball practice.  That was a no-no, but secondary violations are of little consequence.

What I want to talk about is the 22-month investigation undertaken by the NCAA.  I mean really?  22 months to tell us what we already knew, that Bruce Pearl attempted to influence others to provide the NCAA and Tennessee “with false and misleading information concerning their involvement.”  I gotta ask; what the heck is the NCAA doing up in Indianapolis?  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to Indianapolis, it’s a fine town, but surely at some point you can take a break from screwing around on the river next to your office and get some work done.  I mean, two years!  I guess I should give them some credit though.  I mean, they did waste about 11 months or so sitting on information about Enes Kanter trying to decide what to do about his eligibility and I’m sure that kept them pretty busy.  So maybe they just didn’t have time to work on Bruce Pearl’s case.

In the end, it worked out well for Tennessee as they followed this news with a win over Vanderbilt this week.  Whenever the Volunteers are faced with adversity, they just go ahead and win their next tough game.  Need I remind you of last year when half the team got suspended and Tennessee went out and beat number one ranked Kansas for good measure.  I’m telling you, if the NCAA really wants to punish Tennessee, the best thing they can do is just leave the whole matter alone.  The entire season will be a disaster.

A Lot of Politicking: Yesterday on the SEC Basketball coaches’ teleconference, multiple coaches were asked about the potential of reseeding the SEC tournament 1-12 instead of the current 1-6 divisional seeding.  I found the statements from coaches disappointing overall.  The question was dodged and deflected by SEC West coaches with political acumen.  They really held the party line which read, “I’m sure we’ll have some things to discuss when the coaches meet this spring,” and as Andy Kennedy put it, “I just want to do what’s best for the conference.”  In other words, “I don’t want to answer that question.  Doing so would reveal that I like the unfair system currently in place that benefits lower tier teams from the weaker West Division.”

Not surprisingly, East Division coaches were quite comfortable speaking on the matter.  Kentucky coach John Calipari noted that his team is 3-3 against SEC West teams and that he feels lucky to be 3-3.  As far as he’s concerned, however, if there was no SEC tournament, “I’d be fine with that too.”  Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings prefers reseeding, but Georgia coach Mark Fox was the most eloquent.  He suggested that if they can’t agree to reseeding altogether, perhaps they could go to a system where both division leaders still receive the top two seeds and the rest of the teams are seeded 3 through 12.

While Fox’s suggestion sounds nice and it’s probably a compromise that coaches would buy into, this RTC correspondent is still displeased.  A compromise here means that they’re still going to do something wrong, just not as wrong as before.  Such a compromise ignores the problem that the SEC is rewarding poorer performing teams by giving them with an easier path to the championship.  Get it right and move on.

 

Power Rankings

1. Florida (22-6, 11-3) The Gators beat Georgia at home and Chandler Parsons had 16 points in his return from injury.  By winning that game, the Gators clinched at least a share of the SEC East Division for the first time since 2007.  The Gators then fell to Kentucky in Lexington, but then again, nobody beats Kentucky in Lexington.  Due to the Gators’ conference record and the fact that they took the first meeting with the Wildcats in Gainesville, they easily maintain their spot atop the power rankings.

2. Alabama (19-9, 11-3) Is the Tide slipping?  A close game against SEC last place Auburn in which they just escaped with a 51-49 win followed by a 68-63 loss to Mississippi is not a good at this point in the season.  On the flip side you could say that Alabama had a good week by reaching 15-0 at home and beating Auburn despite shooting just 26 percent from the field.  A team that finds a way to win despite shooting that poorly is usually in a pretty good place.

3. Kentucky (20-8, 8-6) The Wildcats’ road woes continue.  They lost to Arkansas in Fayetteville bringing their conference road record to just 1-6.  This despite the fact they outshot the Razorbacks 42.3 percent to 38.4 percent, outrebounded them 43 to 35, allowed only seven assists to the Arkansas’ 10, blocked 11 shots to the Hogs’ six and committed 16 fouls to 18.  In other words, they won every statistic except for the one that matters, points.  The Cats followed that game with a win at home over Florida where John Calipari remains undefeated in his time in Lexington.  The game was also the 500th win of his career.  He is now 500-151.  Darius Miller had his second career high in three games with 24 points topping his previous high of 22 against South Carolina.  Brandon Knight scored a career high 26 points in the loss at Arkansas and was selected as freshman of the week by the SEC, his fifth such honor this season.  That was Knight’s 12th twenty-point game, a freshman record at UK.  Yes, that’s even more than a certain Mr. John Wall (who had eight of them)

4. Vanderbilt (21-7, 9-5) Vanderbilt lost to Tennessee at home.  That loss means that Vanderbilt can now at best win a share of the SEC.  After that loss, the Commodores took out their frustrations on the LSU Tigers winning 90-69.  Lance Goulbourne had 16 points and 17 rebounds, particularly impressive numbers after he scored a total of four points in his last four games.

5. Georgia (19-9, 8-6) The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the field in the first half but still lost to Florida.  Georgia held South Carolina to just 28 percent from the field and 1 for 19 from three.  But more significant, the Dawgs got their 19th victory on the season, matching their highest win total since Jim Harrick Coach left the program in ruins after a scandal plagued 2003 season.  A win against LSU this week should be enough to get an at-large bid.

6. Tennessee (17-12, 7-7) Despite the win over Vanderbilt this week, I am feeling less and less confident about Tennessee’s tournament chances, especially after losing 70-69 to Mississippi State at home.  Tennessee is just 3-4 at home in conference play and has lost 5 of 7.  No worries, Tennessee still has a home date with Kentucky to close out the season, and Kentucky is terrible on the road.

7. Arkansas (18-10, 7-7) A single win over Kentucky at Bud Walton Arena may have saved coach John Pelphrey’s job.  Good for him as he has quite the class coming in next year with four players in the ESPN top 100.  That class is ranked sixth in the nation by ESPN and is certainly a sign of good things to come in Fayetteville if the fans can hold on just a little longer.  Pelphrey’s great class could also be a liability in some ways however as programs like to bring coaches in at a time when they can make a first year splash.  Rotnei Clarke was named SEC player of the week after scoring a career high 26 points in the win over Kentucky. Clarke is also just 6 three pointers away from passing Scotty Thurman, who is on the staff at Arkansas, for third on the Razorbacks’ all-time made three-pointers list.  He now has 262 in his three seasons at Arkansas.  It is likely that he will pass Pat Bradley some time next year becoming Arkansas’ all-time leader.  Bradley recorded 366 three pointers.

8. Mississippi (18-11, 6-8) The Rebels followed their worst loss of the year at South Carolina with their best win of the year over Alabama.  Chris Warren had 25 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals as Mississippi overcame an 11-point second half deficit to beat likely SEC champion Alabama.  But it’s too little too late for a team that came into the season looking like a potential at-large candidate.  Gonna take a conference tournament championship now.

9. South Carolina (14-12, 5-8) The Gamecocks were able to snap their five game losing streak by beating Mississippi 79-73 despite a career high 33 points by the Rebels’ Chris Warren.  There was simply too much Sam Muldrow for the Rebels to overcome as he came away with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.  The Cocks’ next game against Georgia, however, was dismal.  Only 48 points on 28 percent shooting can really get you down.

10. Mississippi State (18-11, 6-8) Despite shooting 56 percent from the field and outrebounding LSU 38-32, Mississippi State managed to lose 84-82 to the Tigers.  How you’re able to pull that off, I don’t know.  But it has been a season on weirdness in Starkville.  The Bulldogs followed that loss with a 70-69 win in Knoxville, their first at Tennessee since 1999.

11. Louisiana State (11-18, 8-9) The Tigers ended their ten-game losing streak, barely, by beating Mississippi State 84-82 in Starkville but quickly resumed their losing ways at home in an embarrassing 69-90 loss to Vanderbilt.  Don’t blame Storm Warren, though.  He had eight assists, no turnovers and a career-high 24 points (he averages 7) on 12-of-20 shooting in the loss.

12. Auburn (9-19, 2-12) The Tigers don’t have a lot of weapons and are very young, but they have played two of the best defensive games of any team in the SEC this season.  Earlier in the year the Tigers held SEC leading Florida to under 30 percent shooting overall and 20 percent from three in a 45-40 loss.  This week they did just that again in a 51-49 loss to SEC leading Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  The Tide’s Jamychal Green had to make a tip-in with .3 seconds to play for Alabama to get the win, but this game could very well have gone Auburn’s way.  In the Tigers next outing, Arkansas’ Delvon Johnson had to get a dunk with six seconds remaining to give the Hogs a 57-55 win in Auburn.  Credit coach Tony Barbee and his team for playing guts out defense.  That takes heart when you’re having such a tough season.  I see good things in Auburn’s future.

A Look Ahead

This time of year there’s always a lot of “Win and you’re in.”  Let’s take a look at the games of consequence this week.

  • March 1, Alabama @ Florida. No question, this is the game of the week.  There are still those that claim Alabama is on a soft bubble.  Getting the win at Gainesville all but guarantees the SEC crown and puts Alabama in “lock” status for the NCAA Tournament, a loss to St. Peter’s notwithstanding.  These are the top two teams in the conference peaking at just the right time.  Watch this game.
  • March 1, Vanderbilt @ Kentucky. As it stands Vanderbilt gets the number two seed out of the East.  If Wildcats win this one at Rupp, where John Calipari is undefeated in his two seasons at Kentucky, they have a shot to steal the number two seed.  Plenty at stake here between two teams that shoot the three very well.
  • March 5, Georgia @ Alabama. The Bulldogs probably still need a quality win to feel really comfortable about their at-large status.  This game has been gift-wrapped as a late season opportunity to stand out in the minds of the selection committee.  Win and they’re in.
  • March 5, Auburn @ LSU. There’s something special about battles in futility.  Here you have a clash of last place teams.  LSU needs this win to avoid sharing last place with Auburn.  Auburn needs it to avoid taking last place outright.  LSU won the previous meeting at Auburn 62-55.
  • March 5, Vanderbilt @ Florida. If Vanderbilt loses to Kentucky the Commodores can still hang onto the number two seed by beating Florida if Kentucky loses to Tennessee in Knoxville.  Wouldn’t hurt their seeding in the NCAA’s either.
  • March 6, Kentucky @ Tennessee. The Volunteers’ bubble is getting pretty soft despite their strong strength of schedule.  Win and they’re in.
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Madly Spins The Carousel: An Early Look At Coaches On The Hot Seat

Posted by jstevrtc on February 28th, 2011

Walker Carey is an RTC contributor.

There is much uncertainty surrounding the status of several high profile coaches around the country. While Wyoming’s Heath Schroyer, Stetson’s Derek Waugh, Georgia State’s Rod Barnes, and Monmouth’s Dave Calloway have been the only head coaches this season to already receive their pink slips or be asked to step down, there are definitely more changes that will come at the end of the season. The challenging part of the coaching carousel is determining what coaches will be fired.

Sidney Lowe Is Feeling the BTUs In His Office Chair And Spot On the Bench

In an attempt to determine what coaches should be considered on the chopping block, one can rate a coach’s chance of dismissal by three criteria: (1) There must be considerable fan disdain, (2) There should be a degree of waffling administrative support, and (3) There must be a pattern of losing over an extended period of time. If a coach meets all three then a coaching change is extremely likely. If a coach meets two of the three there still exists a good chance that a change would be made. If a coach only meets one then it is a safe bet that he will be given more time to turn things around.

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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 22nd, 2011

 

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.

A Look Back

There was little change in SEC standings this week, which bodes well for the SEC’s chances at getting six bids to the NCAA Tournament, the most since 2008.  And that’s just how Joe Lunardi sees it as he currently projects six SEC teams in his bracket.  That means that Tennessee and Georgia both remain in the tournament despite suffering losses this week.  The SEC is second only to the Big East in total conference bids, which is currently projected at eleven.  While I think that is a little excessive, it’s quite obvious that the big winners in the expanded 68-team field are the major conferences; especially with the number of historically strong mid-majors sitting squarely on the bubble.  Memphis and Gonzaga are probably barely in, meaning one more little trip up and they lose their bid.  Saint Mary’s is on the edge of losing its at-large bid after a loss to Utah State on Saturday and Butler, last year’s national championship runner-up, is just barely playing its way back into at-large consideration.  The mid-majors’ loss is the SEC’s gain.

Power Rankings

1. Florida (21-5, 10-2): Florida went to LSU and got a win without Chandler Parsons.  Now on a five-game winning streak, Florida has established enough breathing room to feel confident about its chances of winning the SEC East if not the conference.  I was critical of the Gators early, but they have proven me the fool.

2. Alabama (18-8, 10-2): The Tide is 7-1 against SEC West opponents including wins over Arkansas and at LSU.  Last week, Alabama clinched the SEC West, its third SEC West title and first since 2005.  Alabama is also 14-0 at home.  How’d the Tide do it?  Well for starters, holding conference opponents to a league-leading 38 percent from the field really helps.  This team is only getting better and seems poised to make a good run in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Kentucky (19-7, 7-5): Mississippi State gave the Wildcats more than they wanted in Rupp Arena, closing the Cats’ lead to just four with under a minute left after Kentucky built a 12-point lead with 3:26 to play.  The Wildcats followed that win with an easy victory over reeling South Carolina in a game that Kentucky opened up with 15-0 lead.  Darius Miller, who has been known to disappear at times, scored a career-high 22 points.

4. Vanderbilt (20-6, 8-4): The Commodores have won five straight since dropping two in a row to Arkansas and Florida.  With this week’s two wins, Vandy reaches the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the Kevin Stallings era.  Jeffery Taylor continues to shine, recording a double-double at Auburn where he scored 20 points and pulled down ten rebounds.

5. Georgia (18-8, 7-5) Despite the loss to Vanderbilt, the win over Tennessee should be enough to solidify the Bulldogs’ at-large chances barring a late season meltdown in conference play.  The win in Knoxville was also Georgia’s first in ten years.  Mark Fox is doing everything right in Georgia, which finished with four, three and five conference wins and a last place finish in the SEC East in each of the last three seasons, but now has a good chance of finishing second in the East with just four games to play.

6. Arkansas (16-10, 5-7) The Hogs won easily over Florida A&M at home this week in a rare late season non-conference matchup, but couldn’t get the win at Alabama despite a 31-31 tie at the half.  Then again, no one has beaten the Tide at home this year.  The Razorbacks host Kentucky this week in what should certainly be a rowdy one as it always is when the Cats come into Bud Walton Arena.

7. Tennessee (16-11, 6-6) After dropping three straight to Alabama, Florida and Kentucky in the Volunteers’ toughest stretch of the season, the Vols beat South Carolina, 73-67, but couldn’t get the home win over Georgia despite Scotty Hopson’s career high 32 points.  Inconsistency is making home games very frustrating for the Volunteers, who are now 10-6 at home, including 3-3 in conference play.

8. Mississippi (17-10, 5-7) The Rebels beating Auburn handily 90-59 is good, but losing to in-state rival Mississippi State twice in a season for the second straight year is frustrating.  The Bulldogs controlled the second half despite a 33-33 tie.  On the bright side, Chris Warren made all four of his free throw attempts in the loss to improve his nation-leading free-throw percentage to 94.3 percent.

9. South Carolina (13-12, 4-8) After a strong start to the SEC, where the Gamecocks got wins over Vanderbilt and Arkansas and at Florida, the Gamecocks seem to be withering now.  The Cocks are also losers of seven of their last eight, including five straight after opening SEC play at 3-1.  Credit that to the Cocks’ poor shooting (40.4%) and terrible turnover ratio (0.8:1).  Couple that with a stretch that includes games at home against Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and on the road against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky, and wins can be hard to come by.  It doesn’t help either when freshman leading-scorer Bruce Ellington has played nine straight games without shooting at least 50 percent from the field, including a 1-12 performance against Georgia and 1 for 11 at Kentucky in his last three games.  They’ll be better next year.

10. Mississippi State (14-12, 6-6) The Bulldogs suffered a second straight loss at Kentucky following their season low-point loss to Auburn, but were able to follow that up with a 71-58 home win over in-state rival Mississippi.  The Bulldogs have now won five straight against the Rebels and when you’re having a rough year, it’s always nice to be able to say at least you’re dominating your rival.

11. Auburn (9-17, 2-10) As usual, Auburn had a tough week, losing 90-59 at Ole Miss and 77-60 to Vanderbilt despite keeping it close for most of the game trailing by just two with 14 minutes to play.  If you’re looking for a bright spot, Earnest Rost is averaging 19.3 points per game over Auburn’s last four and is shooting 54.5 (12-22) from three and 56.5 percent overall.  Compare that to last year when he averaged just 2.8 points per game.

12. LSU (10-17, 2-10) Monday on the SEC Coaches Teleconference, Tigers Coach Trent Johnson said, “Believe it or not, we’re starting to play better.”  I’m gonna go with the “or not” option.  The Tigers have lost ten straight, including home losses this week to Alabama and Florida.  The dubious stretch has to be among the longest current active losing streaks.  Furthermore, LSU is currently last in conference play in the following categories: scoring, scoring margin, three-point field goal percentage and assist to turnover ratio and second-to-last in free throw percentage, field goal percentage, rebounding, blocked shots, steals and turnover margin.  But Coach Johnson thinks things are getting better.  Apparently those rose-colored glasses are working out pretty well for the LSU coach.

The Week Ahead

At this point, every game matters, whether for seeding or just getting into the NCAA Tournament.  Let’s see what’s on the docket:

  • February 22, Tennessee @ Vanderbilt.  Rivalry games are always fun and the Volunteers probably need to win this one to feel really comfortable with their chances for an NCAA berth, especially with games against Florida and at Kentucky still remaining on the schedule.
  • February 23, Kentucky @ Arkansas.  The Wildcats have to get this win on the road against “Unforgettable” Kentucky alum John Pelphrey in Fayetteville if they want to have any chance of winning the conference regular season, much less the East.  They haven’t been strong on the road and Bud Walton is always particularly hostile to the Cats.
  • February 24, Georgia @ Florida. Georgia won the last one 101-94 in double overtime.  The Bulldogs can stay in the hunt for the East or at least a second-place finish with a win at Florida.  Florida’s NCAA seeding gets better with every win.
  • February 26, Florida @ Kentucky.  Florida holds a 9-4 advantage over Kentucky in their last 13 meetings, a fact not lost on the Wildcat faithful who have learned a special hatred for the Gators of late.  The Gators won the last meeting on February 5, 70-68.  A win by Florida here all but guarantees them an SEC East championship and brings an end to coach John Calipari’s 31-game win streak at Rupp Arena, where he is undefeated in his two seasons at Kentucky.
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