Morning Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2012

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  1. Yesterday the NCAA announced that it would be opening up a bit more by releasing its full seeding list going from #1 to #68 for this year’s NCAA Tournament. They will release that information during a special show immediately after the regular Selection Special and will reportedly discuss why certain teams were left out. If the NCAA holds true to its word, the people at ESPN might as well move their bracket analysis back an hour because everybody should be watching this on TruTV instead.
  2. ESPN.com is full of columns by former athletes, but few who have reached the level of athletic greatness that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has. In a recent column on ESPN.com, Abdul-Jabbar opined on the current state of the UCLA program in light of the Sports Illustrated article detailing some of the issues within the program. Like many former UCLA greats, Abdul-Jabbar appears to be disappointed with the turn the program has taken, but believes that it can experience a rebirth by focusing on the ideals of his mentor, the late John Wooden. It seems to be a bit idealistic, but perhaps if the school can get some of its living legends more involved with the program it can regain its form.
  3. Baylor already made news this season with their uniforms when a recruit reportedly turned down the school because of their uniforms (a claim he later refuted). Now the school has decided to unveil a new and rather unique uniform for the NCAA Tournament. While Baylor is not the only school to choose to wear uniforms of this design they do appear to have the most shocking color. We are just hoping these uniforms do not do anything to our HDTVs (assuming the Bears are on long enough to leave an impression).
  4. In the 13th annual All-Glue team, Seth Davis selects seven players who you are certainly familiar with, but for the most part are not the reason that you watch the game. Instead, these are the players that inevitably make the little plays that lead the to the play that the star gets on SportsCenter for. Looking back through the previous members of the team, the one thing that stands out is that very few of them ended up with significant NBA careers, but almost all of them left a significant impact on college basketball.
  5. Illinois fans might be itching to fire Bruce Weber, but they might reconsider their stance now that the family of  Jabari Parker has come out and said that firing Weber would make it more difficult for the school to land Parker. While we many families have made ridiculous statements about recruiting this one appears to be legitimate. As the family says, Parker’s recruitment has been a prolonged courtship and bringing in a new partner into the arrangement could make it difficult to finalize anything in a relatively short period of time. In the end, it would probably be wise for Illinois to ignore this and take the hit of potentially losing a superstar player who would probably be one-and-done for a chance to move the program in another direction if it deems such a move necessary.
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SI Story Highlights UCLA’s Downfall Through Ben Howland’s Shameful Lack of Control

Posted by EJacoby on February 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

The historic UCLA basketball program is in a shocking lull right now, and Sports Illustrated magazine has an upcoming feature story on why it’s not just because of poor performance on the court. George Dohrmann’s piece has been released on SI.com for an early look, and it is a must-read for all the telling details and anecdotes about the Bruins’ culture from the past five seasons. We’ll give you our reaction to the investigative piece and why coach Ben Howland might not last another season in Westwood.

Here's The Magazine Title Page of the Upcoming Story in Sports Illustrated (SI App)

Mike Moser, UNLV’s star player and the nation’s sixth-leading rebounder; Chace Stanback, the Runnin’ Rebels’ second-leading scorer with the nation’s seventh best three-point shooting percentage; Drew Gordon, New Mexico’s dominant forward and double-double machine; and Matt Carlino, averaging 13.0 points and 4.7 assists for BYU. What do they all have in common? Each of these players was once a highly touted recruit for coach Ben Howland at UCLA before transferring from the program to become star players elsewhere in the West. The departure of these four players is one of the reasons why the Bruins currently sit in sixth place in a weak Pac-12, looking at missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and just four years removed from a run of three consecutive Final Four appearances. The feature story in Sports Illustrated set for publication later this week details why these players left campus, what kinds of unfortunate treatment other former players received, and how UCLA has struggled so badly recently, referencing mainly the ignorance of head coach Howland towards detrimental player actions.

Dohrmann’s piece, which includes interviews with over a dozen former players and team managers, highlights a general culture of recent disarray surrounding the Bruins’ basketball program. Dohrmann’s interviewees offered “a detailed inside account of how seemingly minor problems, if left unaddressed, can quickly sabotage even a storied program led by one of the nation’s most respected coaches.” The piece details how Howland, though incredibly knowledgeable of the game, fostered poor relationships with his players both on and off the court. The coach ran practices with a double standard, often ridiculing lesser players for mistakes they made while letting similar errors slide when made by stronger players. The reason, as some in the article suggested, was that Howland was afraid of upsetting star players to the point that they might transfer or leave for the NBA as soon as possible. Off the court, players would go out of their way to avoid Howland, such as one player opting to take the stairs if he ever saw the coach waiting for an elevator.

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Pac-12 Mount Rushmore

Posted by AMurawa on February 20th, 2012

The history of this conference is pretty lopsided. UCLA has won 11 national championships while all the other schools in the conference combine for five titles with no other school winning more than one. UCLA has been to 18 Final Fours; Arizona and Utah are a distant second with four appearances. As such, you can expect the faces on the Pac-12 Mount Rushmore to be heavily skewed to the blue and gold. In fact, the argument could be made that the Bruins deserve all four spots on the monument to Pac-12 basketball. But, since the Arizona schools joined the conference in 1978, things have tightened up considerably, as UCLA has only won a single national title since then, appearing in just five Final Fours. Still, this is a monument to the history of the sport, and there is little doubt that you can name the first three names on this list without giving it another moment’s thought; they are icons of the game we love. And really, the fourth spot here seems to be a no-brainer also, although there are some interesting people that finish just off the mountain. To the list:

  • John Wooden, Coach, UCLA (1948-75) – As the head coach at UCLA for 27 seasons, the Wizard of Westwood’s teams of the sixties and early seventies have become the gold standard by which other great sports dynasties are judged. There are the ten championships in the course of 12 years, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. There are four perfect 30-0 seasons included in that span and a NCAA record 88-game winning streak. Still, aside from all that, Wooden is known not just as a great basketball coach, but as a great teacher. His Pyramid of Success is more of a life lesson than anything specific to basketball and he was known for his inspirational lectures and sayings which apply not only to success in basketball, but success in life.
  • Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Center, UCLA (1966-69) – During Alcindor’s three seasons at UCLA, his team won 88 games, lost just two and took home three straight national championships. He was literally a game-changing athlete (the NCAA banned the dunk in 1967 in part due to his dominant use of the shot) who won the National Player of the Year award in both his sophomore and senior seasons (Elvin Hayes won in 1968) and was the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament in all three of his seasons. Alcindor played at a time when freshman were ineligible for varsity competition, but in 1966 Alcindor led the UCLA freshman team to a 75-60 victory over the varsity team in an exhibition to open Pauley Pavilion. More than forty years after he played his final collegiate game, Alcindor is still widely regarded as the greatest college basketball player of all time. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC’s Mount Rushmore – Top Four (And More) Most Significant People in College Basketball History

Posted by EJacoby on February 20th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. 

As we celebrate President’s Day on this Monday, it’s a good time to reflect back on the significant accomplishments of George Washington and the other great leaders of our country’s 236-year history. That got us to thinking: Who are the most significant people in the history of college basketball? The game is not quite as old as the United States of America, but there are many options to choose from in a sport that’s over 100 years old, from prodigious coaches to superstar players. In the end, we determined that no single player, in a maximum of four years of eligibility, has had as much impact on the sport as any of the four coaching legends that we selected. Head coaches are responsible for shaping the lives of hundreds of players during their tenure and thus have a greater opportunity to impact the game than anyone else. Here’s a look at the accomplishments of four of the all-time great coaches in college basketball history that compose our RTC Mount Rushmore (these are in no particular order):

Mike Krzyzewski – You may not be able to spell or pronounce his full last name, but ‘Coach K’ is one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing the greatest coaches in basketball history. Krzyzewski became the all-time winningest Division I men’s basketball coach when he recorded his 903rd victory to surpass his former coach at Army, Bobby Knight, earlier this season. Coach K has been at Duke since 1980 and has led the Blue Devils to four National Championships, 11 Final Fours, and 12 ACC regular season titles. He also coached the USA Olympic ‘Redeem Team’ in 2008 to a gold medal. Mike Krzyzewski was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, still remains the head coach of one of the top contenders in the country every year, and doesn’t appear to be calling it quits anytime soon.

Adolph Rupp - A man known for his obsession with winning, Adolph Rupp is perhaps the single most successful head coach in NCAA history, statistically speaking. Rupp is fifth on the all-time men’s coaching wins list (876 victories), and he did it with the second-best winning percentage of all time, at 82.2%. Rupp spent his entire 41-year coaching career at Kentucky, where he guided the Wildcats to six Final Fours and four National Championships. His tournament records could have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for his team’s two-year hiatus from the postseason in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons. Rupp also led UK to 27 SEC regular season titles in 41 years and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame while still coaching in 1969. Shortly after he retired, Big Blue Nation named their home court after him, and Rupp Arena remains one of the historic landmarks in college basketball today.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 31st, 2012

  1. It wasn’t too long ago where Washington was given up for dead as another underachieving Lorenzo Romar squad doomed to limp through the regular season before perhaps scraping it together in time for a run in the Pac-12 Tournament. But now, after a road sweep of the Arizona schools in which the Huskies played with assertiveness and passion, they’re tied for first place and have a schedule advantageous enough where they should be considered legitimate title contenders. Unfortunately, with an RPI still in the 70s, even a regular season Pac-12 title may not be quite enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, so winning that Pac-12 Tourney may still be a necessity.
  2. Washington’s win over Arizona knocked the Wildcats back to 5-4, putting Sean Miller’s club in a position where they may need to win the rest of their games to have a chance at the conference title. Add the fact that they will now have to do so without junior wing Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot in the loss to the Huskies. The Parrom loss now makes this UA team that was already undersized even smaller, leaving Miller with only 6’7” Jesse Perry, 6’6” Solomon Hill and 6’9” Angelo Chol as regular contributors up front.
  3. What’s a rivalry without a little controversy? And hey, if there’s not any controversy, why not make one up? The fact that Oregon State’s cheerleaders were not going to be allowed a spot on the court Sunday night when the Beavers faced in-state rival Oregon at the Ducks’ Matthew Knight Arena was known prior to the game. And, in fact, both schools’ athletic departments had decided that neither road team would send their cheerleaders to the games at the other’s school. But, on Monday, Oregon State’s sports information director, Steve Fenk, noted that if Oregon wanted to bring their cheerleaders to the return game in Corvallis on February 26, they would be welcome to do so.
  4. With a 5-16 record, Utah doesn’t have a whole lot left to play for this season. But for any Ute that wants a chance to get on the floor, earn some playing time and maybe generate some momentum for next year, the door is wide open. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak is making it very clear that players who are willing to play hard and to play smart will earn minutes the rest of the way. In Saturday’s loss at USC, guys like Alex Mortensen and Kyle Perkins found themselves earning significantly more minutes than normal, a trend that could continue over the last month of the season.
  5. Lastly, it is always good to check in on the ongoing legacy of former UCLA head coach John Wooden. While his impact on the sport of college basketball is well known, Wooden’s philosophies have now reached into war-torn Uganda, where a handful of basketball coaches have begun trying to use some of the former coach’s teachings to help reach former child soldiers and others touched by the fighting in that country. Last week, a delegation of four coaches from Uganda visited UCLA as part of a State Department grant to learn more about Wooden and to talk about how they use his “Pyramid of Success” and other teachings to help kids in their country.
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Checking In On… the ACC

Posted by mpatton on December 6th, 2011

Matt Patton is the ACC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter @rise_and_fire.

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • Kentucky and North Carolina: College basketball’s “Game of the Century” lived up to the hype coming down to the last possession (even if it ended bizarrely) and was fun from start to finish (well, almost finish for Tar Heel fans). The game was a reminder that North Carolina can be the team people thought it would be coming into this season. The Tar Heels were aggressive, knocked down perimeter shots, and controlled a little over half of the game. Harrison Barnes was outplayed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but Kendall Marshall was passable on defense [Author's Note: That wasn't meant to be a bad pun. He actually played solid defense on Teague most of the game.] and his usual self on offense (though I was very surprised he saw as much time guarding Marquis Teague as he did, considering Teague’s turnover woes). I’m not sure any college basketball fan would mind seeing a rematch this spring.
  • Terrell Stoglin Can Score: Unfortunately, his teammates are struggling to keep up their end. Only three BCS-conference teams (Penn State, Washington, and Utah) have players with higher usages, and none have players more likely to take a shot (shot percentage). Stoglin is the only player on the team averaging over 20 points a game with 22.4. His field goal percentage could be a little higher, but right now he’s the best scorer in the conference. For more on Stoglin, check out our post from yesterday on his scoring ability.
  • Sportsman of the Year: Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt joined the prestigious ranks of Sports Illustrated‘s “Sportsman of the Year” winners and are only the third and fourth college basketball coaches to be chosen for the honor (Dean Smith and John Wooden are the other two). Both are worthy choices, as they both signify excellence over the course of 73 combined years of coaching.

Terrell Stoglin is Maryland's Offense.

Power Rankings

1) North Carolina (6-2) lost to the #1 team in the country on the road by one point. But it was the second straight game that the Tar Heels were unable to control the tempo. Is this a problem going forward, or is the defense good enough to win ugly?
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: The only player in Roy Williams’ rotation that is not averaging over a point per possession? James Michael McAdoo (fellow frosh PJ Hairston leads the team with a 129.0 offensive rating).

2) Duke (7-1) hasn’t played since last week. My guess is this means a lot of quality time watching film on Ohio State.
Ken Pomeroy Fun Fact: Duke has the third worst free throw defense in the country, as opponents are shooting a whopping 80.6% from the charity stripe against the Blue Devils this year.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.22.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 22nd, 2011

The agony and the ecstasy. Not sure there’s a better quip to define the ACC’s night in the eyes of two fanbases. Boston College was absolutely dismantled — at home — by a team picked to finish twelfth in the A-10. The Eagles lost by 36 to Massachusetts. NC State, on the other hand, found itself looking at a tough spot down 18 with eight minutes left in the second half against a talented Texas team. The Wolfpack went on a 28-2 run to take the lead before earning the victory.

  1. ESPN – Grantland: Sebastian Pruiti breaks down Austin Rivers‘ flaws with meticulous detail. And while it’s true the freshman has struggled early, I think this article is a bit of an overreaction. Pruiti readily admits that Rivers has all the tools, he just isn’t consistently making the best decisions. This is to be expected. The college game is much quicker, taller and stronger than anything Rivers has ever played before. It’s still very interesting to look, via screen grabs, at Rivers’ tough transition to the college game, and I love that we’ve got NBA writers now covering college sports. For an example of the types of plays that define Duke’s offense (especially on set plays), check out this gem from The Mikan Drill.
  2. Washington Post – Opinion: In wake of major fiscal issues, Maryland has decided to cut eight varsity sports. Unfortunately, these teams all have incredibly high graduation rates and really represent what the NCAA is supposed to be about. Charles Lane takes a pretty hard stance, but I think his ire is well-grounded (even if I disagree). There’s still a chance the teams could be saved if enough money is raised to cover their costs.
  3. SportsMemo.com: I mentioned the Boston College smackdown earlier, but SportsMemo.com points out a very interesting side note. Boston College opened as a 2.5 point favorite over the Minutemen, but so much money jumped on the Minutemen that the line was pushed to 4.5 points the other way by game time. Six points (and changing the winner) is a lot of ground to cover, and it should tell you that the betting public and sharps have very little faith in Steve Donahue’s Eagles.
  4. SI Vault: Curious where the Maui invitational got its start? Look no further than a mammoth upset of top-ranked Virginia by host Chaminade in 1982. “From now on, wherever athletes must face an impossible task, the cry will go out, ‘Remember Chaminade!’ Virginia will.” That’s not totally true, but it’s a mind-blowing upset. Since the invitational’s inception Chaminade has pulled off six more upsets, although none quite as astonishing and far-reaching as the victory over Ralph Sampson’s team three decades ago.
  5. Fox Sports Carolinas: Andrew Jones looks at the top coaches in NCAA basketball history. He narrows it down to Bobby Knight, John Wooden, Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski. Shockingly, that’s the order from fourth to first of his final rankings. I agree that Knight falls a cut below the other three. But I don’t agree with leaving Adolph Rupp off the list or placing John Wooden third because of Sam Gilbert’s slush fund and improper benefits. It’s tough to put a man with more than twice the national championships as anyone else at third; Wooden actually has more titles than the rest of Jones’ list combined.

EXTRA: Check out Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts to learn what tips he’s got for NBA fans trying out college basketball during the lockout. Also you should get pumped that more NBA writers will be using their brains to look at college basketball. ESPN stat guru John Hollinger is already at it with a look at at a modified version of his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and a breakdown of what the numbers mean in the long run.

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Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 21st, 2011

  1. The big story of the weekend was the ongoing Bernie Fine saga. As we mentioned on Friday, the case at Syracuse is more nuanced than the one at Penn State although there are plenty of strange things going on at both locations.  After Jim Boeheim basically called out the two individuals who accused Fine of sexual molestation, one of them issued a response that indicates this case will end up being a he said, he said controversy. For their part, the team responded by leaving Fine’s seat on the bench vacant during their first game since he had been put on administrative leave. Interestingly, it appears that the accusers may not be able to bring the case in front of a court due to how long ago the alleged crime happened. We have a feeling that this case will drag on for quite a long time.
  2. Connecticut received some good bad news when the NCAA announced that it would be suspending freshman Ryan Boatright for six games for improper benefits — a plane ticket he received while playing AAU basketball. Including yesterday’s game, Boatright has already missed four of the required six games so he will only need to sit out the first two games of the Battle4Atlantis Tournament this week. Boatright could potentially see his first action of the season in the final game of Battle4Atlantis if the Huskies are able to win their first two games. Boatright’s return could be a big boost for the defending champions, who have not posted a dominating win yet during the regular season while their primary competitors for this season’s championship have all done so at least once.
  3. We are not exactly sure what is happening at Oregon with Jabari Brown and it appears that neither does the Oregon staff. The most recent reports indicate that Brown is on his way out of Oregon, but earlier reports suggested that Brown’s name had been removed from the school’s online roster and that school officials, as well as head coach Dana Altman, were unaware of the reasons behind it. Now it appears that Altman will essentially be left to beg for the school’s one stud five-star recruit to come back to them, as the loss of such a hyped recruit so early in the season will certainly affect the decision of uncommitted prospects who now might be more weary of playing for Altman after this incident.
  4. Arkansas was dealt a significant setback at a practice last Thursday when Marshawn Powell suffered what is being called a “serious” knee injury that will sideline him indefinitely. The loss could be a huge one for the Razorbacks as Powell, a junior, led the team in scoring the first two games with 19.5 PPG on a team full of freshmen and sophomores and bereft of the services of Rotnei Clarke, last year’s leading scorer who decided to transfer. The Razorbacks are talented enough and their non-conference schedule is weak enough — with the exception of a game at Connecticut — that they should be able to survive until their SEC schedule starts. If Powell is not back by then, things could get ugly very quickly for the young Razorbacks.
  5. Former UCLA legend Walt Hazzard died on Friday from complications related to cardiac surgery at UCLA Medical Center. Many of our younger fans may not be as familiar with Hazzard as they are with other members of the UCLA dynasty, but Hazzard was the one who gave John Wooden his first national championship in 1964 when Hazzard was named the MOP of the 1964 NCAA Tournament. Hazzard teamed with Gail Goodrich to form one of the most devastating backcourts in NCAA history and help build the UCLA dynasty. Along with his contributions as a player at UCLA, Hazzard also won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, played 10 seasons in the NBA, and coached the Bruins for four seasons. There has been no word on when and where funeral services will be held, but we imagine that it will be a who’s who of basketball royalty at the event.
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Morning Five: K-903 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2011

  1. The Tip-Off Marathon has come and gone, but it wasn’t without an envious spectacle at the Champions Classic last night at Madison Square Garden. We’ve known for months that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s pursuit of his mentor Bob Knight’s career wins D-I wins record of 902 would be matched and surpassed in the first few weeks of this college basketball season. But that didn’t make it any less touching when the man known around the sports universe simply as “Coach K” went over to his former coach after the game and embraced him with a resounding thank you. We’ll have more on #903 later this morning, but if you missed the poignant moment between arguably two of the five greatest college coaches of all-time, you can view it here. If you would like to read how and why the two men became so successful teaching young men how to play this sport, Seth Davis’ masterful piece artfully gets to the core of their relationship. And if you simply want to see a worn-out but certifiably giddy Krzyzewski addressing the Duke student body after getting off the bus last night in Durham, that’s here too. No matter what you think of the man, no objective observer of this sport can make a reasonable argument that there’s anyone more deserving of this record. Nobody. Congratulations, Coach K — your contributions to this game are immeasurable — best of luck on your way to K1K.
  2. We made reference in Tuesday’s M5 to UCLA’s Reeves Nelson facing an indefinite team suspension as a result of what was termed “attitude” problems. Yesterday we learned that one of the best players in the mid-major ranks, Kennesaw State’s Markeith Cummings, has also been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to his team. The preseason Atlantic Sun POY did not play at all in Monday night’s loss at Auburn, and there appears to be no timetable as to when the 6’7″ guard who consistently produces 18/6 nights may return.
  3. Perhaps it wasn’t the best day for UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero to announce such a thing, but on his weekly blog Tuesday he announced that the new Pauley Pavilion (currently under renovation) will have a statue of John Wooden constructed outside of it. The irony of UCLA announcing such a thing to honor the greatest of greats certainly isn’t lost on us at the same time Ben Howland’s current Bruin program appears to be coming apart at the seams. Not only has there been turmoil among players resulting in suspensions (Nelson) and public apologies (Josh Smith), but the primary issue is that UCLA is losing, and not only losing, but doing so badly. On the same day that Guerrero announced a terrific honor for a coach that once won 88 games in a row, his current coach’s team gave up 71% shooting (and 10-11 threes) at ‘home’ to Middle Tennessee State.  Wow.
  4. We complained about this in yesterday’s M5, and we’re happy that someone has finally taken the advertising overlords head on and decided that the safety of players on the basketball court supersedes the right of companies to peddle their products. During the Memphis-Belmont game yesterday, UM guard Chris Crawford slipped and fell awkwardly on one of the various EA Sports Maui Invitational stickers littering the FedEx Forum’s playing surface. The official’s crew of Rick Randall, Rick Hartzell and Bert Smith then made a unilateral decision that the plastic advertisements were a dangerous obstacle and ordered them removed for the rest of the game. It will be very interesting to see if the burgeoning groundswell of anti-sticker sentiment results in the NCAA making an injunctive decision to ban the ads in the name of player safety; or, if schools themselves begin threatening to sit their teams unless the stickers are removed. Regardless, this is a situation that has a feeling like change is imminent — we’d be surprised if these annoying ads make it through the rest of the pre-conference tournament season.
  5. The Kansas vs. Kentucky game last night wasn’t the prettiest sight to behold, but it did have the two programs with the most wins in college basketball history between them — Kentucky with (now) 2,054, Kansas with 2,039. This article by Brady McCullough at the KC Star (written before the game, incidentally) takes a look at the differing ways in which the two programs continue to rack up 30-win seasons year after year. The key takeaway from this piece is that recruiting, at the end of the day, is a zero-sum game. If there are only 20 five-star recruits in a given class, and one coach is harnessing three to five of them every year, that leaves a finite number for the rest. John Calipari’s move from Memphis to Lexington changed the recruiting game somewhat, and it appears that Bill Self and his Kansas program could be one of the resultant casualties of that shift.
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20 Questions: Is Coach K the Greatest Coach in NCAA History?

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference and an ACC microsite staffer.

Question: Coach K will become the all-time winningest coach soon. Is he the greatest coach in NCAA basketball history? If not, where does he rank?

Yes, but with a disclaimer. Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach of the modern era. You can define that era in many ways: the expansion of the NCAA Tournament (either when in 1975 it expanded to 32 teams, or when in 1985 it expanded to the truly modern 64 teams); the adoption of the shot clock (1985-86); the addition of the three-point line (nationally in 1986-87); or the advent of ESPN (1979 NCAA Tournament).

Truthfully, the best interpretation is somewhere in between, for all four of these events led to the game we know and love today. The expansion of the Big Dance made the NCAA Tournament more difficult both because more games separated teams from the championship and because at-larges increased the overall talent of the field. The shot clock redefined offenses and frankly made the game more exciting. The three-point field goal introduced statistical “noise” that created large swings in performance and allowed for more upsets (basically, a 40-minute game is a small enough sample size that even a horrendous shooting team like Florida State to go 9-19 from three and a good shooting Notre Dame team to go 7-30 from downtown). Finally, ESPN’s consistent coverage of college basketball symbiotically raised the popularity of both ESPN and men’s hoops.

Krzyzewski Will Pass Bob Knight for the Most Wins in Men's Division I History Early this Season

But to suggest that Coach K is a better coach than John Wooden would be too presumptive. There are plenty of arguments, but no sound logic can definitively put Krzyzewski over the Wizard of Westwood: Wooden won ten national championships in 12 years including an 88-game winning streak that is without a doubt the most dominant stretch of college basketball ever. If you still want to try to argue Coach K over John Wooden, read that one more time. I am not saying that Wooden would see that success now, but it is not like we are dealing with similar resumes. Wooden has as many titles as Coach K, Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams, and Tom Izzo (or Bill Self) combined.

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UCLA Will Take To The Road As Pauley Pavilion Gets a Facelift

Posted by AMurawa on October 25th, 2011

Something unique to keep an eye on this year is UCLA, one of the teams on the short list of conference favorites, playing all of its games away from the friendly confines of Pauley Pavilion this season as the venerable old place gets a much-needed facelift. The Bruins will play home games in three different Southern California arenas this year, including 14 home games just down the street from the campus of their crosstown rival, USC, in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The Sports Arena was the old home of the Trojan basketball program before the Galen Center opened in 2006 (as well as the old home of the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the Staples Center) and it will most often be the Bruins’ home away from home this year, including a game on February 15 when they’ll host USC. UCLA will also play a game at the Citizen Business Bank Arena in beautiful downtown Ontario when they open the season with a trip inland to host Cal State San Bernardino in an exhibition game. They’ll also play four games at the Honda Center in Anaheim, including two conference games against Arizona and Arizona State. The game against Arizona will be played under the banner of the Wooden Classic, which has in the past been a two-game event on a December Saturday featuring two inter-conference games.

UCLA fans Will Have Plenty to Cheer About at the New Pauley Pavilion.

As for Pauley Pavilion, a college basketball landmark housing 11 national championship banners, it is badly in need of a facelift. Opened in 1965 on the heels of John Wooden’s first two championships at the school, the facility featured limited restrooms and concession stands, narrow concourses, and, perhaps worst of all, a large open area behind one of the baskets that kept fans in the end zone away from the action. The renovation will add a new entryway outside the arena, and inside there will be new concourses, restrooms, concession areas, a scoreboard, and a new LED ribbon board, not to mention a new section of seats behind the basket.

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20 Questions: What is the Best November Tournament This Season?

Posted by dnspewak on October 24th, 2011

Danny Spewak is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference and a Big 12 microsite writer.

Question: What is the Best November Tournament This Season?

The pick: Maui Invitational

Participants (with preseason rank): Island: Duke (#6), Memphis (#9), Kansas (#13), Michigan (#18), UCLA (#20), Tennessee, Georgetown, Chaminade; Regional: Belmont, Middle Tennessee, UNC Greensboro, Towson

The theme at the Maui Invitational this fall is history. Sure, it’s impressive that the field includes five teams ranked in the preseason Top 20 in the Coaches’ Poll, but the bracket will also provide us with all kinds of wonderful nostalgia. On one side of the bracket, Duke and Michigan might play a rematch of the 1992 National Championship in the semifinals; or, Memphis and Tennessee could battle for in-state supremacy once again (except the game is, you know, in Hawaii). The possibilities are endless — and that’s the case on the other side too. The winner of Georgetown/Kansas will likely face UCLA, and those three programs have 15 combined NCAA titles. And hey, if Memphis and Kansas keep winning, they could meet in a rematch of the 2008 title game. Mario Chalmers won’t be allowed in the building this time.

John Wooden is Just One Legend This Historic Tournament Will Remind Us Of

At this point, you may be physically shaking at some of these matchups. We don’t blame you. That’s how enticing these games are: they’ve got historical value, star power, legendary coaches and terrific fan bases. And you think that’s all the 2011 Maui Invitational has to offer? Take a look at the regional rounds, which also includes Belmont, widely considered one of the top non-BCS programs this season with the majority of an NCAA Tournament team returning. The Bruins dominated the Atlantic Sun in 2010-11, and it’ll face Duke in the regional round of this tournament at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The result of the game won’t determine who flies to Hawaii — Duke will automatically advance — but the Bruins are likely to put a scare into the Blue Devils (2008 NCAA tourney, anybody?).

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