Is One-and-Done On Its Last Legs?

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2011

God, let’s hope so.

Hopefully We're Putting This Era to Bed Soon

This site has been on record for a number of years fully in support of a two-and-done NBA rule that would have several corresponding effects.  A brief outline:

  • Here, we explain why having stars develop their marketability in UNC, Texas or UCLA uniforms rather than sitting the bench for a couple of years in the NBA is not only better for the individual player and NBA teams using the NCAA as its minor league, but also for the sport of college basketball.  Casual fans get more excited when they recognize the star players on the marquee teams (think: John Wall vs. Avery Bradley).
  • As we explained in this piece, college coaches who publicly support the preps-to-pros or MLB model (where a player can go pro either out of HS or three years later) are either being disingenuous to appear like they truly care about players’ best interests, or they’re forgetting just how frustrating and wasteful it was. After spending years recruiting elite players only to have them bail to the pros in late spring of their senior year, coaches were left scrambling to find last-minute replacements and having to explain to their fans why they had huge holes in their lineups the next year (see: Shaun Livingston, Gerald Green, JR Smith, et al).
  • And in this analysis, we showed that although having elite freshman talent might seem like the right thing to do, it probably won’t win you a championship in the current environment.  Depending on what Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Jeremy Lamb do this month, as few as five and as many as eight one-and-dones have played in the Final Four in the last five years, with Lamb the only player to have won a title (as a second banana behind a NPOY candidate, mind you).

As we approach the expiration of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and players at the end of June, we’ve anticipated that an extension of the one-and-done rule to two years would be a significant chip on the bargaining table.  A report last week from Yahoo! Sports suggests that “about two-thirds” of NBA owners want to see such a rule implemented in the new deal next season.  The players’ union is against it for obvious reasons, but as this PBT article outlines, if it comes down to a situation where major-dollar negotiations hinge on protecting its union-member veterans in exchange for requiring another year of college for future members, we know which outcome is the most likely.

 

Teams Like This Make the Sport Popular (AP)

What does it mean?  The game of college basketball is probably as popular as it’s ever been in terms of whole numbers, but among the all-important casual fans, it perhaps pales to what it was two decades ago when most players stayed a minimum of two years.  We can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked to some of these folks about college hoops only to have them shrug their shoulders with indifference and say something like,”I just don’t like having to learn the new good players every year.  There’s no continuity.”  We can argue just how truthful that statement might be, but the important part is that the perception exists. The possibility of another transcendent team like Michigan’s Fab Five (where fans got to know every single starter intimately for two solid seasons) simply hasn’t been possible in the last fifteen years; with the strong possibility of a two-and-done rule taking hold soon, college basketball fans will finally get back to the glory days of watching great teams develop over a longer and more natural period of time.  If you love the game (or even if you only like it), this should be something we can all get behind.

Share this story

NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.29.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 29th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

Butler

  • Head coach Brad Stevens believes that as long as he remains successful, he will keep being mentioned as a candidate for other jobs across the country. Stevens has been mentioned as a candidate for almost every major opening across the country, but the 34-year-old head coach is intensely focused on bringing the Bulldogs a title.
  • Junior guard Ronald Nored lost his starting spot and has been mired in a long shooting slump this season. However, without the defensive tenacity that Nored supplies off the bench, Butler might not be in the Final Four.
  • Last season, Butler was led by the trio of Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. With Hayward gone to the NBA, Butler has forged on being led by Mack and Howard.
  • Every successful team needs to be led by a point guard. For the Final Four Butler Bulldogs, that role has been filled admirably by Mack.
  • A fun read about how the Chicago Cubs will invite Brad Stevens and VCU head coach Shaka Smart to conduct the seventh inning stretch at a game at Wrigley Field this season.

Connecticut

  • UConn has followed a similar path of peaks and valleys to its opponent on Saturday, Kentucky. Both teams have evolved considerably since squaring off at the Maui Invitational in November. The Huskies’ freshmen have matured at an incredible rate, and Kentucky is feeding off of Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson more than Terrance Jones, who had the ball most of the time in the early going.
  • Kemba Walker was named a first team AP All-American on Monday, joining Jimmer Fredette, JaJuan Johnson, Nolan Smith and Jared Sullinger. A Wooden Award and Final Four MOP award are still in Walker’s sights.
  • VCU gets plenty of attention for its improbable run (and should), but how about UConn winning nine postseason games in 19 days to reach the Final Four? This March run from Jim Calhoun‘s squad didn’t look to be in the cards when the season started.
  • The UConn women’s team is one win away from matching their male counterparts. The UConn double-dip has been accomplished twice, in 2004 and 2009, and comparing the runs is inevitable for Huskies fans, writes The Hartford Courant‘s Jeff Jacobs.
  • At the time of his recruitment, Kemba Walker was considered a backup plan to Brandon Jennings, who spurned UConn and Arizona to spend a season overseas before entering the NBA draft. Jennings is doing well, but second-best has worked out pretty nicely for the Huskies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 03.16.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 16th, 2011

  1. Every year there are a few lucky individuals who beat the odds and end up on top of national pools through a variety of reliable methods (based on team color, mascots, or personal allegiance) for picking their bracket. Other individuals get their brackets analyzed just because of who they are. Two individuals who fall in that latter category are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Barack Obama. While James and Wade announced their brackets already (picking Ohio State and Marquette, respectively), President Obama will reveal his on the noon edition of SportsCenter today although it has already been revealed that he has gone with chalk again selecting all four #1 seeds to make it to Houston.
  2. If you are looking for a more intellectual way of filling out your bracket we highly suggest that you check out the latest from Luke Winn who goes through each region looking at the offensive and defensive efficiency stats for the top four seeds in each region with a particular focus on the top seed in each region.
  3. For nearly every event there is an individual who spends most of their time ripping apart the way things are because they prefer the way things were. Despite being one of the most beloved events in American sports the NCAA Tournament is not immune to this phenomenon as Michael Wilbon uses his new platform on ESPN.com to take plenty of shots at the NCAA and college basketball in general. Wilbon actually used the same exact argument(s) on both PTI and The Tony Kornheiser Showso much so that it feels like certain passages are lifted directly from one of those appearances. Or is it the other way around? While Wilbon makes a few valid points (who wouldn’t love to have had John Wall or Blake Griffinhang around for all four years?) he lacks any reasonable arguments for how to turn things “back to the way they were” without infringing on the liberties of the individual players that he defends so vigorously on-air. What drives us even more crazy is the argument by Jay Bilas that so many 11+ loss teams making the field is clear evidence that this is the weakest field ever. It seems pretty clear to us that Bilas hasn’t been spending much time in court (and if he has his clients probably haven’t been winning much) as that argument would fall apart in any Logic 101 class. Let’s just move on…
  4. Most of the news in the past few days has been about the NCAA Tournament and coaching firings, but we also expect to see quite a few fairly big names transfer schools. These are often hyped recruits who failed to live up to expectations and are looking for a fresh start. In other cases it is a player who performed well at a smaller school and is looking to try his talents at a higher level of college basketball. Sam Maniscalco appears to fall into the latter category. Although he will graduate from Bradley in May, the 6′ guard, who averaged 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season still has another year of eligibility left. Following the firing of coach Jim Les10 days earlier, Maniscalco opted to transfer to Illinois although he refused to explicitly state that as the reason. Maniscalco’s toughness and experience could be a big boon for Bruce Weber, who will enter next season without an experienced point guard following the graduation of the enigmatic Demetri McCamey. Maniscalco is expected to be eligible to play for the Illini next season because he will be transferring into a master’s program at Illinois.
  5. For those of you who have a few extra dollars, you may want to keep your eyes out for an upcoming auction that will feature the original round center section of Pauley Pavilionthat was used between 1965 and 1982. During that period UCLA won 8 men’s national championships. The section is currently owned by a UCLA alum and was signed in 1998 by John WoodenKareem Abdul-Jabbar Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton, Sidney WicksWalt Hazzard, and many other UCLA legends. The auction is expected to run between April 15th and 30th (likely found on the company’s website at that time) with the majority of the proceeds going towards medical research.
Share this story

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.
Share this story

Morning Five: 12.13.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 13th, 2010

  1. How hard is it to lay off the phones? Seriously. We are starting to lose count of all the programs that have gotten in trouble for excessive phone calls and/or text messages. California is the latest program to fall under the NCAA’s microscope for inability to use a phone properly. The alleged infractions occurred in 2008 by a current member of the basketball staff just as Mike Montgomery had taken the job. According to the school, the infractions were discovered during a routine review of records. We don’t expect much to come of this outside a light slap on the wrist, but the NCAA might want to consider either clarifying these rules or start to come down with the hammer on programs to show it has some teeth because it seems like nobody respects any of the rules relating to use of phones.
  2. The weekend’s big winner? Louisville. The Cardinals not only pulled off the most impressive win of the weekend knocking off UNLV after a sluggish start, they also landed Rodney Purvis, the top rated point guard in the class of 2012. It looks like all the work that Rick Pitino and the administration at Louisville have been doing is starting to pay dividends with their new facilities likely being a major draw. It is worth noting that Purvis is the second big-time point guard recruit to leave the state of North Carolina to play for a school in Kentucky in the past few years (the other being John Wall).
  3. In a surprising piece of news, Angel Garcia is the first player in college basketball this season to opt to forgo the rest of his college eligibility (at least to our knowledge). Garcia, a junior forward at Memphis who was averaging 6.1 points and three rebounds per game this season, is leaving the Tigers to sign a professional contract in Spain. Garcia said that he wished that he did not have to leave Memphis, but that there were mitigating circumstances (family financial pressures).
  4. Duke may be still be the #1 team in the country, but the loss of Kyrie Irving for an unspecified amount of time has led many to question whether the Blue Devils can repeat. For those people, Doug Gottlieb offers an explanation of how Duke can change its game plan to succeed even without Irving in the line-up (ESPN Insider required). For those of your who don’t have access, it basically amounts to playing like last year’s team did. While that might work (it did last year), that style of play would probably only make them about #3 or #4 on our list of favorites this year.
  5. Wake Forest welcomed Melvin Tabb back to their team on Friday afternoon after previously suspending the 6’8″ forward while he got his academics in order. According to reports, Tabb has met the academic requirements set forth by Jeff Bzdelik and was voted back on the team by the remaining Demon Deacons. While every bit of help is needed by a team that has is barely above .500 against a weak early schedule, Tabb only provides a small part of the production (2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game).
Share this story

RTC Live: Maui Invitational Quarters

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2010

Games #23-#24RTC Live will be courtside in the beautiful tropical island of Maui for the 27th annual Maui Invitational.

There are four quarterfinal games in today’s Maui Invitational, but RTC Live has selected the two that seemingly hold the most interest.  At 3 pm ET (and an early 10 am in the islands), UConn will take on a Wichita State team eager to prove itself against a brand-name team in the hopes of advancing into the tournament semifinals and enjoying the multiple-game RPI boost that would entail (win or lose).  Jim Calhoun’s Huskies just want to prove that they are still a program among the nation’s elite.  Just two seasons removed from a Final Four appearance, UConn suffered an embarrassing collapse last season and are bringing back a team this year that many Big East pundits believe could finish in the bottom half of the league standings.

The second game we’ll be covering will be the 5:30 pm ET game between Kentucky and Oklahoma.  Speaking of collapse from two years ago, the Sooners have managed to fall even harder and faster than the Huskies.  When Blake Griffin left campus to begin his conquest on NBA rims, he left in his wake a dysfunctional group with several incoming freshmen (now since departed) who thought they knew better than head coach Jeff Capel.  OU will have to bring its best game to challenge Kentucky, coming off an impressive road win at Portland on Friday night.  Even without John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, et al, this year, the new-look Wildcats of Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and so on, have looked fluid and ready to take up the high standard set by their forebears.  It should be a fun and exciting couple of games here in Maui today, folks.  Please join us for all of the action.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

… and Four Teams Down

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2010

David Ely is an RTC contributor.

Every year teams come out of nowhere and burst into the top 25, while sports writers run to their keyboards to type the requisite “Where Did Team X Come From” story. I mean how many people saw Cornell coming last year? Who said last October that Butler would go on to lose the national championship game by just a couple of inches?  Conversely, there are teams that look great on paper in the preseason but fail to live up to the hype once the season starts. Think North Carolina last season. Why did the Tar Heels begin the year in the top 10 again?  Allow us to sort through the mess and pull out this year’s Cornells and North Carolinas for you. Missouri fans, get ready to be excited. West Virginia fans, start thinking of things to say in your hate mail.

On Monday we took a look at four teams that will be up this season.  Today we’ll examine four teams that will be down as compared to where they were last year.

#1) West Virginia

There's a Lot of Pressure on Kevin Jones to Produce This Year

No Devin Ebanks. No Da’Sean Butler. All kinds of problems for the Mountaineers, who are the only team from last year’s Final Four to begin the season outside of the AP top 25. Bob Huggins’ squad lost a lot of what made last year’s team so tough to handle with the depatures of Ebanks and Butler. The 2009-10 Mountaineers got by on their ability to suffocate opponents with their brutally physical play combined with Butler’s brilliance on the offensive end. Now much of the responsibility falls to forward Kevin Jones, who averaged 13.5 points per game as West Virginia’s third option. Can Jones step up his game this year when defenses single him out as the guy they have to stop? If Jones struggles, then the Mountaineers will have a hard time duplicating even some of the success they enjoyed last year.

Reports coming from preseason practices aren’t too encouraging. Huggins recently told the Charleston Gazette that freshmen Kevin Noreen and Noah Cottrill “look lost” at practice. And that was after Cottrill sparked rumors when he was introduced but didn’t participate in West Virginia’s Midnight Madness. There also was the case of Casey Mitchell, who was suspended for a violation of team rules but is now back with the team. These aren’t the kinds of stories that equate to success in the regular season. This year might be one to forget in Morgantown.

#2) Cornell

Such is the Life of a Mid-Major -- Seasons Like Last Year Come Around Once in Generation

The Big Red was the last year’s feel good story, upsetting Temple and Wisconsin en route to an unprecedented run to the Sweet 16. And what was the reward for America’s favorite brainiacs turned basketball stars? A return to obscurity.

Cornell lost its X&Os wizard in Steve Donahue when he opted for the greener pastures of the ACC, taking the head coaching gig at Boston College. The Big Red lost all-time leading scorer and 2010 Ivy League Player of the Year (Ryan Wittman), the sparkplug and catalyst of its NCAA Tournament run (Louis Dale) and six other seniors from last year’s squad.  That would be a lot of attrition for even a team like Duke to endure, and there’s no doubt Cornell and new coach Bill Courtney are headed for a big step backward this season.

The Big Red was predicted to finish third in the Ivy League, which would require a number of players to step up fill the voids left by the likes of Wittman and Dale. Cornell needs big seasons from proven players like point guard Chris Wroblewski and forwards Adam Wire and Mark Coury. Then the Big Red will need some of its unknown pieces (one if its four freshman or maybe junior transfer Anthony Gatlin) to emerge if Courtney & Co. hope to compete for a fourth straight league title.

#3) Purdue

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The AP Makes Harrison Barnes Its First Freshman Preseason All-American

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Typically, the announcement of preseason All-Americans is something that we pass over, but when today’s list was announced it caught our eye. It appears that the Associated Press has decided to get with the 21st century and named Harrison Barnes as a 1st team preseason All-American making him the first freshman to receive the honor since the AP began bestowing the honor before the 1986-87 season. Although Barnes was technically the last man on the team with 17 out of 67 possible votes, by far the fewest of any member of the 1st team, it is remarkable that he achieved recognition that players such as Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and John Wall never did. Still, Barnes, who like every other freshman, was left off the preseason Wooden Award list will have his work cut out for him trying to match the production of some of the most prolific freshman (many of whom made the final All-American team), but based on what we have heard out of Chapel Hill he might have a chance.

Barnes: The 1st AP Preseason All-American Ever

Here is the rest of the first team with the number of votes out of 67 possible votes that they received from the AP voters:

  • Kyle Singler, Duke (65)
  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State (53)
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU (49)
  • JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (46)
  • Harrison Barnes, UNC (17)

Singler, the top vote-getter, is the lone returning AP preseason 1st team All-American although he was only honorable mention when the end-of-season picks were made last year. It is worth noting that none of the members (John Wall, Evan TurnerDeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, and Scottie Reynolds) from of last year’s All-American team returned to school and none of them were on the preseason All-American team from a year ago so keep that in mind although we have a feeling we will be seeing a few of this year’s preseason All-Americans on multiple All-American lists at the end of the season.

Share this story

RTC Conference Primers: #22 – Atlantic Sun Conference

Posted by nvr1983 on October 13th, 2010

Rush The Court is actively seeking a correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a correspondent, please contact us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

a sun

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Belmont (16-4)
  2. East Tennessee State (15-5)
  3. Lipscomb (13-7)
  4. Campbell (12-8)
  5. Jacksonville (11-9)
  6. North Florida (10-10)
  7. Mercer (10-10)
  8. USC-Upstate (7-13)
  9. Kennesaw State (6-14)
  10. Stetson (5-15)
  11. Florida Gulf Coast (5-15)

All-Conference Team

  • Markeith Cummings (F) – Kennesaw State (17.4 PPG and 6.1 RPG)
  • Adnan Hodzic (C) – Lipscomb (22.7 PPG and 9.1 RPG; last year’s A-Sun POY)
  • Mike Smith (G) – ETSU (15.3 PPG and 7.7 RPG as a sophomore; injured last year)
  • Josh Slater (G) – Lipscomb (17.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 5.2 APG)
  • Ian Clark (G) – Belmont (14.9 RPG and 3.3 RPG; last year’s A-Sun Freshman of the Year)

Adnan Hodzic: The dominant force in the Atlantic Sun (Credit: AtlanticSun.Org)

Sixth Man
Tommy Hubbard (F) – ETSU (13.9 PPG and 8.2 RPG)

Impact Newcomer

Fred Landers (F) – UNF. Normally we would go with Lester Wilson, a forward out of Knoxville who decided to stay in Tennessee when he signed with ETSU, but the glut of perimeter players on the Buccaneer roster will probably limit Wilson’s playing time. Landers won’t have such a problem at UNF where he should get plenty of playing time at power forward and should contribute immediately for a team with an anemic offense where their leading scorer only scored 9.0 PPG.

What You Need To Know

  • Last year the conference regular season championship was mess with four teams having identical 14-6 conference records. That kind of parity should not be an issue this year as it seems like two teams (Belmont and ETSU) have separated themselves from the rest of the field.
  • After responding surprisingly well to losing five seniors last season, Belmont returns a team that should be the dominant team in the conference for the next two to three seasons with only two seniors on this year’s roster. Clark should be the driving force behind their push to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. You might remember the Bruins from their last trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 when they lost to #2 seed Duke by a single point in the opening round.
  • While the Bruins will be relying on underclassmen, the Buccaneers will be relying on a strong group of seniors led by Mike Smith, a guard who was injured last year after only four games. Many expected the Buccaneers to fall apart after losing Smith, but they rebounded to make win the Atlantic Sun Tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament before losing to #1 seeded Kentucky.
  • If you are looking for a sleeper, keep an eye on Lipscomb who could be a threat with what might be the best 1-2 punch in the conference with Hodzic and Slater. If the Bisons are going to surprise Belmont and ETSU, those two will need help from Jordan Burgason (12.8 PPG) and Brandon Brown (10.4 PPG).

Predicted Champ

Belmont (NCAA Seed: #14). With their solid performance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year last year, Rick Byrd should expect to make a trip back to the NCAA Tournament this year if they are able to overcome ETSU and Lipscomb.  Even though the Bruins will rely heavily on Clark and Mick Hedgepeth (11.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG), they will need to get production out of Scott Saunders and Jon House on the inside and  steady perimeter play from Drew Hanlen, Jonny Rice, and Jordan Campbell to win the Atlantic Sun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 10.11.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 11th, 2010

After a few weeks of huge commitments this week was a little more quiet as it seems like most of the big pieces have committed with the exception of Quincy Miller, LeBryan Nash, and Adonis Thomas, but don’t forget that none of the currently committed players have done more than verbally commit and we all know how fickle teenagers can be so we could see some minds change between now and Signing Day. Having said that there were a few notable commitments this week and other news worth following.

Share this story

Enes Kanter Isn’t The Only One Who Needs Freeing

Posted by jstevrtc on September 27th, 2010

It looks like some Kentucky students (we’re assuming) had a little fun with GarageBand recently and put together a little tune and, um, rap “video” about Kentucky freshman-in-limbo Enes Kanter and the desire to see his eligibility confirmed by the NCAA:

Now, we don’t imagine a certain Mr. Mathers is shaking in his sneakers at the prospect of a showdown versus “Rich Breezy,” but we salute the creators of the “Free Enes” video, since it’s certainly better than this particular RTC contributor could do.

The video did remind us, though, of that wonderful annual ritual of sweating out tardy eligibility determinations by the NCAA, that seemingly endless process that players, coaches, and fans must endure before each season. We  are still awaiting final eligibility decisions on three players in the 2010 Rivals top twelve — specifically Kanter, Missouri commit Tony Mitchell and top-ranked Josh Selby at Kansas. Last year, Deniz Kalicli, another extremely talented Turkish player, had to sit out 20 games before making his debut at West Virginia. Kentucky’s John Wall wasn’t cleared to play until late October. Lance Stephenson didn’t know if he was eligible at Cincinnati until November 5th, and Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney missed all of last season (his situation was admittedly a tad more complex than the others, we should note).

We assume that the NCAA adjudicates these matters as quickly as it can and is reliant upon the timeliness and veracity of the information they receive, but it seems like these decisions get handed down later and later each season. The final decision on Kanter was due almost a week ago, and we’re unaware of a timeline regarding a call being made for Selby, and for Mitchell’s chances to play in the second semester this year (he’s ineligible for the first). We all agree that in the end the most important thing is that the fairest decision be made for each kid, and that the NCAA’s calls are consistent. Unfortunately, with practices officially starting in 17 days, it’s about as likely that all of these issues will be ruled on by the time basketballs hit hardwood as it is that Rich Breezy is a pseudonym for Pete Thamel.

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.31.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 31st, 2010

  1. Checking in on the latest conference re-re-realignment talk from Utah, the current word is that BYU is still intent on going independent in football but is looking more and more like a candidate to move to the WCC in basketball and all other sports.  Yes, you read that right.  The West Coast Conference, the tightly-knit eight-team conference of tiny private religious institutions that max out at nearly 9,000 students (Loyola Marymount and San Francisco, whereas BYU at 33,000 students is nearly four times that enrollment) and has remained at eight teams for three decades.  Andy Katz makes the case that this move makes sense in basketball, and we can’t really argue with his logic, except for one little thing — you know what makes more sense?  Staying in the Mountain West, where, with recent additions of Nevada and Fresno State to go with San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico, the league is on the verge of overtaking the Pac-10 for hoops superiority out west.  We should know something very soon — the deadline for BYU to leave the Mountain West is Wednesday.
  2. Getting back to the conference that BYU originally threatened to move to prior to its implosion, the WAC, feeling jilted and unloved after Nevada and Fresno State’s unceremonious dumping earlier this month, is threatening to sue the two schools if each refuses to pay a disputed $5M exit fee each by the October 25 deadline.  Furthermore, the WAC says that they have the contractual right to not release the two renegades until after the 2011-12 academic year, an interesting assertion given that Fresno and Nevada’s stated positions are that they’re leaving next summer.  This is going to get more interesting before it dies down, because there’s no question that this particular tussle has gotten personal among key players at some of these schools.
  3. There’ll be a boatload of these player profiles coming out in the next two months, but it just means that the season is slowly approaching.  Here are a few from the last few days: Texas’ Jordan Hamilton, Mizzou’s Kim English, Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore, and Louisville’s Preston Knowles.
  4. Jeff Jacobs, a UConn columnist at the Hartford Courant, suggests that Ater Majok’s presumed leaving of the program has nothing to do with impending sanctions that may have involved his recruitment, as we wrote could be possible yesterday.  But in the same paragraph, he also says that there have been “whispers” in the program involving Majok, so we’re not sure what to believe here.  UConn is expected to announce its response to the NCAA’s allegations later this week.
  5. Austin Rivers is the #1 prospect in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals, and he showed the skill that he possesses in a recent summer league game where he crossed over and scored on #1 pick John Wall, followed by ripping him clean on defense on the other end.  One blogger makes a reasonable case as to why Rivers will end up playing for Coach K at Duke in the fall of 2011.

Share this story