Atlantic 10 Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 8th, 2011

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. With the A-10 Championship tipping off Tuesday, get up to speed with RTC’s preview and regular season wrap-up.

Postseason Preview

Among the first round games, all played at the campus of the higher seed, the strongest upset candidate is the #8/#9 (of course!) game between #8 host Massachusetts and #9 Dayton. The Flyers have not traveled well this season, accumulating a -0.049 net efficiency in games not played at the UD Arena, but a log5 calculation projects a Dayton win (67%-32% probability). Using overall (unadjusted) offensive and defensive efficiencies, this looks like a close game, +/- 3 points in favor of Dayton. For the other three first round games, the order of probability of an upset is:

  • #6 Rhode Island/#11 St. Louis (50.2-49.7)
  • #7 St. Bonaventure/#10 La Salle (58-42)
  • #5 George Washington/#12 Saint Joseph’s (66-33)

The Xavier/Duquesne side of the bracket looks vulnerable to either a Dayton run or a Duquesne run, though the Dukes, new to the dynamics of a bye seed, may fumble their quarter-final game against (most likely) George Washington. Dayton, a squad that plays inconsistently away from the UD Arena, has nevertheless lost twice to rival Xavier, by margins of five and four points. It is very difficult to beat a closely played rival a third time in the same season. Lacking length in the front court has proven to be a problem lately for the Dukes, but over a short duration tournament like the A-10, it is possible that a series of opponents will become caught up in a pace set by the Dukes and fail to properly exploit Duquesne’s vulnerability. I do not, however, see that as a problem for Xavier, an extremely well managed and prepared team and program.

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Where 2010-11 Happens: Reason #6 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2010

Shamelessly cribbing from the clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present you with the 2010-11 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we ramp up to the start of the season a little over a month from now.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.  If you want to have some fun while killing time, we encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.  Enjoy.

#6- Where An Apoplectic Gus Johnson Happens

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RTC Conference Primers: #7 – Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 30th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Temple (14-2)
  2. Richmond (13-3)
  3. Xavier (13-3)
  4. Dayton (11-5)
  5. Rhode Island (9-7)
  6. Charlotte (9-7)
  7. St. Louis (9-7)
  8. Duquesne (7-9)
  9. George Washington (7-9)
  10. St. Bonaventure (6-10)
  11. Massachusetts (5-11)
  12. Saint Joseph’s (4-12)
  13. La Salle (3-13)
  14. Fordham (2-14)

All-Conference Team (key stats from 2009-10 in parentheses)

  • G Tu Holloway, Xavier (31.9 MPG, 12.1 PPG, 3.9APG)
  • G Kevin Anderson, Richmond (37.8 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 2.7 APG)
  • F Damian Saunders, Duquesne (36.7 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 11.3 RPG)
  • F Chris Wright, Dayton (28.6 MPG, 13.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG)
  • F Lavoy Allen, Temple (34.5 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.4 BPG)

6th Man

Aaric Murray, La Salle (12.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.3 BPG)

Impact Newcomer

SG Daniel West, Rhode Island (transfer from Pensacola State College)

A-10 Conference All-Rookie Team

  • G Juwain Staten, Dayton
  • G/F Jay Canty, Xavier
  • F Maxie Esho, Massachusetts
  • F C.J. Aiken, Saint Joseph’s
  • F/C Rob Loe, St. Louis

What You Need to Know

The conference, identified by Kyle Whelliston of the Mid-Majority blog as neither above nor below “The Red Line,” sent half of its conference members to post season tournaments last March. Three (Richmond, Temple and Xavier – one more than the Pac-10 Conference) went to the NCAA Tournament, while two each went to the NIT (Dayton and Rhode Island) and the CBI (St. Louis and George Washington). Xavier, seeded #6 in the West Region, advanced to at least the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in three postseasons, losing to Kansas State in a two-overtime game, 101-96. Rhode Island was eliminated in the NIT semifinals, while Dayton beat North Carolina 79-68, to win the NIT. St. Louis lost the CBI finals series 2-0 to Virginia Commonwealth.

Reigning A-10 POY Kevin Anderson returns for Richmond, but will he get the Spiders over Temple?

The Predicted Champion

Temple (NCAA Seed: #4). Coach Fran Dunphy brings back 66% of the Owls’ 2009-10 minutes and 70.3% of the scoring of the team that tied Xavier for the regular season title and won the A-10 Conference Tournament outright. The 2009-10 season ended on a down note, but the casual fan could not tell from the raft of 2010-11 season previews that place the Owls in the Top 25 – 30, usually at the head of the A-10 contingent.

Dunphy returns three starters and a solid rotation. Juan Fernandez (31.6 mpg, 12.6 ppg, 3.6 apg), a 6’4 180 pound point guard, who started his freshman season late but made huge strides last season, earned an All A-10 Honorable Mention and Conference Tournament MVP award last March. He dished a team-high 122 assists and yielded a 24.4% assist rate, ranking #254 in Ken Pomeroy’s Top 500 assist leaders. Junior Ramone Moore (18.0 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 1.5 apg), sophomore T.J. DiLeo (6.4 mpg, 1.1 ppg), freshman Aaron Brown, a 6’4, 185 pound gunner out of St. Benedict’s in New Jersey, along with sophomore Rahlir Jefferson (16.6 mpg, 3.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and junior Scootie Randall (7.0 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg) will compete for starts at #2 and #3 spots vacated by glue guy Ryan Brooks and 2009-10 starter Luis Guzman.

Returning starter senior power forward Lavoy Allen (34.5 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and 6’11, 225 pound junior center Michael Eric (15.7 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg), will anchor the frontcourt. Eric is a raw talent who will need to cut down on his fouls if he wants to log significant minutes this season. Allen was voted to the 2009-10 All A-10 First Team and subsequently invited to play on Team USA’s Select squad last summer that prepped the USA Men’s Team. Graduate transfer (Monmouth University) Dutch Gaitley, Craig William sand freshman Anthony Lee round out the front court rotation, though Williams is rehabbing from a right foot injury.

The conference schedule maker was kind to Dunphy, matching the Owls with three mirror opponents (Fordham, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s) who sported a collective conference record of 9-39 last season, the poorest for any set of mirror opponents. All three recruited good talent over the spring and summer months, but if the Owls focus, they shouldn’t have much trouble in disposing of those three teams. The Owls may have road rendezvous with Dayton and Xavier (Saturday 2/12 and Saturday 1/22 – mark the dates), but will host their biggest rival, Richmond (Thursday 2/17). Read the rest of this entry »

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Villanova’s Fisher Price Toys With Some Fools

Posted by rtmsf on August 10th, 2010

Villanova rising senior Corey Fisher put on a summer league shooting exhibition in the Bronx over the weekend that will result in a bright red bullseye on his back among Big East scouting reports this coming season.  The 6’1 guard from the Boogie Down must have eaten his Wheaties on Saturday, because reports from the Watson Gleason playground league are that Fisher blew up for a ridiculous 105 points on that warm summer evening.  Read that again.  One hundred and five points.  His team scored 138 total, and Fisher responded to double- and triple-teams in the second stanza by simply dropping a 72-point bomb on his summer league opponents.  A player who knocked down a grand total of 38 three-pointers last season nailed 23 (of 28) in this game, begging the question of whether RTC’s very own John Stevens got loose from the chains in his crypt and found himself standing opposite Fisher in NYC last weekend.  (ed. note: his primary defender was actually someone named Jose Calderon Not the NBA player, undoubtedly someone who can no longer show his face above 155th Street)

Corey Fisher Briefly in the Act of Not Scoring (Hoop Doctors)

When we first heard of this story, we immediately thought back to some of the other legendary summer playground tales that we’d heard over the years.  A 160-lb soaking wet Allen Iverson dunking over the entire front line at the ABCD camp back in 1993…  a 15- year old Skip 2 My Lou dancing his way through defenders at Harlem’s Rucker Park…  a random dude in jeans named Stuart Tanner clowning Devin Harris through the legs…  an unknown Indiana transfer named Jordan Crawford dunking over near LeBron and the subsequent cover-up…  hey, we love this stuff.

Someone else who is probably loving this story is VU’s head coach Jay Wright.  Needing someone to fill in for the enormous void that the graduation of team leader Scottie Reynolds presents, Fisher and backcourt mate Corey Stokes will be expected to pick up the slack on the perimeter.  Fisher has the chops to become a big-time scorer at the guard position (he averaged 13.3 PPG last year), and it’s clear that performances such as these — even in the relatively small-time of NYC streetball summer league — will only help his confidence when winter arrives.  Now, if we could just figure out where Calderon is playing next week… we might just call “next” if he’s still in.

(h/t VBTN)

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Summer School in the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 4th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Around the Atlantic 10

  • The conference elected to continue with the tournament format developed for the 2010 championship, which excludes the two worst teams in the A-10.  CBS reported that last year’s A-10 championship game drew approximately two million viewers, which is unprecedented for the league. Subsequently, CBS will again carry the final in 2011 (more on that partnership later in this article).
  • Jordan Crawford, Xavier’s sophomore wing, became the Atlantic 10′s first player since Temple’s Mardy Collins in 2006 to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft. Crawford, selected as the 27th pick by the New Jersey Nets, was a transfer who logged a single season with the Musketeers before jumping to the NBA. He was the 15th Xavier player drafted since 1990, and follows Derrick Brown, who was drafted in the second round in 2009.
  • More player recognition came from the USA Basketball organization when they invited Dayton swingman Chris Wright and Temple power forward Lavoy Allen to join the Select team that served as the scout team for the US National squad during run-throughs in Las Vegas this summer. The Select team worked the National Team in a series of practices and exhibition games out in Las Vegas, Nevada, in late July. At least seven A-10 players from three conference teams have or will see playing time on international teams this summer.
  • The conference’s facilities race continued this off season, as Duquesne and George Washington both improved their on-campus arenas. Duquesne replaced the seats in the Palumbo Center and added a center-hung Daktronics video scoreboard. George Washington has nearly completed a three-phase renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center. The last phase includes a makeover of the building’s exterior, the lobby, several other interior spaces and a new scoreboard. Temple announced a $48 million renovation project for Pearson/McGonigle Halls that will include a new practice facility for the men’s basketball program. The athletic department has launched a campaign to raise about a third of the money privately.

How will the departure of Xavier's Jordan Crawford impact the A-10?

Power Rankings

Checking a given team’s returning minutes against their Pythagorean Winning Percentage (PWP) from the previous season (conference games only) is a good predictor of how that team will fare in the following season. Four teams (St. Louis, Richmond, Xavier and Rhode Island) had a  PWP above average, plus above-average returning minutes, which strongly suggests they will do no worse in 2011 than they did in 2010. In fact, teams in that boat will most likely improve their position in the conference the next year. Four others (Fordham, St. Bonaventure, La Salle and Saint Joseph‘s) had below-average PWPs and below-average returning minutes, which suggests that the team is more likely to regress.

  1. Temple – The Owls may fall outside of the “above average” quadrant, but Temple returns +4.8% (above the conference average) of their points scored and +2.4% of their rebounding. Gone are glue guys Ryan Brooks and Luis Guzman, but Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen (who flirted briefly with the NBA draft before returning to school),  Michael Eric and A-10 Sixth Man of the Year Ramone Moore all return. Five Temple players have benefitted from a summer that included structured practices and staunch competition. Rising sophomore guard T.J. DiLeo logged time with the U20 German team in the FIBA U20 European Division A Championship. Incoming freshman Aaron Brown, a recent graduate of the famed St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey, had an extended run with the Virgin Island team, first competing in the U18 Americas Cup in San Antonio, Texas, then with the Virgin Islands in the Centrobasket Championship in the Dominican Republic. Rising sophomore Carmel Bouchman logged time with the Israeli U20 team, which also competed in the U20 European Division B Championship. Allen was selected to the scout team which helped prepare Team USA for the upcoming FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Fernandez, who is competing in the same event for his native Argentina, will arrive on campus late this semester, as the tournament runs through September 12.
  2. Richmond – The Spiders say goodbye to the streaky David Gonzalvez and Ryan Butler, but Coach Chris Mooney will have another season of A-10 Player of the Year Kevin Anderson. With returning numbers better than the conference average in minutes, points and rebounding, Richmond is positioned to challenge for the conference title. The one cloud in this picture is the style of play. Last season, Richmond’s inside/outside stat was -3.8, suggesting the Spiders leaned towards the perimeter. The inside/outside stat for the returning players is +7.88, indicating that the Spiders’ offense will move closer to the basket to score. To maintain the style of play installed by Coach Mooney, a variation on the Princeton Offense, the staff will have to find someone from the current roster or an incoming player like the promising Cedrick Lindsay, who can score more frequently from beyond the arc. Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson cannot fill that need alone. Wayne Sparrow, a 6-3 shooting guard out of Maryland and 6-9 combo forward/center Derrick Williams out of St. Anthony’s in New Jersey, round out the recruiting class. Read the rest of this entry »
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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Jordan Crawford

Posted by rtmsf on June 17th, 2010

Player Name: Jordan Crawford

School: Xavier

Height/Weight: 6’4, 198

NBA Position: SG

Projected Draft Range: Late first round/Early second round

Overview: Following a hectic summer headlined by an infamous dunk over LeBron James, Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford entered Xavier with the goal of becoming that go-to scoring option that would vault the Musketeers back to the Sweet 16 in Chris Mack’s first season at the helm. Crawford accomplished both goals with gusto. Crawford finished behind only UMass’ guard Ricky Harris for the A-10 scoring lead in the regular season, posting fourteen 20+ point performances during that span. As March rolled around, so did Crawford’s peak. The 6’4 sparkplug put up 62 points in Xavier’s three Atlantic 10 Tournament contests and carried that scoring prowess into the NCAA Tournament where Crawford tied BYU’s Jimmer Fredette for the tournament’s scoring lead at 29.0 PPG. No college hoops fan will soon forget his three-pointer from the cancer ribbon on the court in Salt Lake City to send the Kansas State Sweet 16 game into double OT (he scored 32 in that one). This late season shooting display resulted in Crawford peaking at the right time and earning the attention of numerous NBA scouts and evaluators. A player most assumed would stick around for another A-10 and Sweet 16 run was soon headed to the pros after just one season in Bloomington and one in Cincinnati. Crawford certainly left a lasting legacy for Musketeer fans, though, as one of the most exciting, inconsistent, heart-pounding and frustrating players to ever grace the floor of the Cintas Center.

Crawford Has the Ability to Blow Up Without Warning

Will Translate to the NBA: Crawford is one of the more polished and explosive scorers in the Draft. He knows he can score at any spot on the floor and shows it sometimes far too often. Crawford can spot up from mid-range or far behind the NBA three-point line and knock down the shot with proficiency. He was one of the more effective scorers in all of college basketball last year because of three reasons: 1) that unlimited shooting range, 2) craftiness and effort without the ball, and 3) persistence to penetrate and get to the rim. In isolation situations, Crawford is phenomenal at creating his own shot, even if it’s not the smartest one. He’s also tremendous off the ball reading screens, catching and elevating with his release high above the defender. Remember those old NBA video games where the player would literally catch fire when he’d make four or five shots in a row? That’s Jordan Crawford. The problem is that a series of misfires doesn’t deter the kid. He will shoot you in and out of basketball games.

Needs Work: Crawford’s shot selection and decision making must improve. He was in the perfect situation at Xavier because he was their only consistent scoring threat, so Mack could deal with Crawford taking twenty shots and dominating the ball on any given night. In the NBA, Crawford has to learn to utilize more discretion on his shots and maintain a level of effectiveness even as a role player. Crawford has the basketball IQ to bowl his way to the rim for free throws or layups when his shot isn’t falling, but we can’t recall very many times last season he decided to kick the ball out for open threes for teammates when the defense collapsed. Crawford is also a mediocre defender that tends to gamble and lose more than stick on his man, a sign of laziness on that end. More than anything, it seems to us his on-court ego needs to deflate just a tad, because Crawford can be a deadly complimentary player if he sets his mind to it.

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Morning Five: 05.10.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2010

  1. We hope to have a post up later today evaluating the winners and losers from the NBA Draft early entry withdrawal deadline on Saturday, but for now, here’s what you need to know.  Leaving: Dee Bost (Mississippi State), Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky), Daniel Orton (Kentucky), Dominique Jones (South Florida), Darington Hobson (New Mexico), Willie Warren (Oklahoma), Jordan Crawford (Xavier).  Staying: Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech), Ravern Johnson (Mississippi State), Talor Battle (Penn State), Lavoy Allen (Temple), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Alex Tyus (Florida), E’Twaun Moore (Purdue), JaJuan Johnson (Purdue), Demetri McCamey (Illinois), Mike Davis (Illinois), Kevin Anderson (Richmond).
  2. The fact that former Baylor coach Dave Bliss — you remember, the guy who tried to posthumously frame his murdered player as a drug dealer to save his own arsecan get a job teaching young men about the value of hard work, ethics and morality at Allen Academy in Texas proves that we are a very forgiving society.  Wow.  Just, wow.
  3. Tony Barbee has hit the ground running at Auburn, and has very high hopes for his program there.  With a new arena and a fertile recruiting base, AU could be poised as a sleeping giant for the right coach, but the uniform lack of interest in roundball at the school makes things very difficult.  Here are a couple of recent interviews with him about how he plans to handle life in the SEC West.
  4. Arizona’s new law dealing with immigration (SB 1070) may impact the recruiting of international student-athletes to the major D1 schools in the state, according to this article.  It makes sense, given that opposing schools will use anything to make a competitor look bad in comparison, and especially if out-of-state students are passing on Arizona schools based on the law.
  5. Bob Knight gave the commencement address Saturday to the graduating students at Trine University, a small private school in northeastern Indiana.  How a school nobody has ever heard of got a hold of him we’ll never know, but we assume it involves some hunting buddy with a connection to Trine.  If you’re into this kind of thing, his entire speech is embedded below (in five parts).

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Impact Of Undecided Early Entries On The College Hoops Landscape

Posted by zhayes9 on April 30th, 2010

With the NBA Draft deadline moved up to May 8 this year, we’ll be able to formulate next year’s college basketball landscape sooner than ever before. The decision of many on the fence could dramatically alter the style, roster and makeup of everyone from Kentucky to Richmond. For many of these super-talents such as North Carolina’s Ed Davis, the decision was probably made a long time ago. But for those like fellow ACC foe Malcolm Delaney of Virginia Tech, their status is very much up in the air for 2010-11. He’s just one of many upcoming decisions that could change the outlook of an entire conference.

Many columns dealing with early entries dissect whether the decision was smart or short-sighted, whether the choice to enter their name was the proper call for their careers. Personally, I don’t care so much about their personal career paths, but about how their decision affects college basketball. Instead, the focus of this column will be on how each early entry to put their name in the draft changes their respective schools’ chances when winter approaches.

Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky)- Many around the Kentucky program believe Orton and Bledsoe are history, but refraining from signing with an agent leaves the door slightly ajar. If one or both return to Lexington, the Wildcats vault ahead of Tennessee as the SEC favorites. Returning to school would be even more beneficial to Orton, a player that didn’t establish himself playing behind Cousins and Patterson, but only showed glimpses of his superb athleticism, defensive prowess and developing low-post moves. Pair Orton in the post with Swiss import Enes Kanter and John Calipari is in business. Put Bledsoe with Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb or Darius Miller and the same holds true. Calipari’s loaded class certainly screams reload rather than rebuild, but the returns of Bledsoe and/or Orton would vault expectations even higher.

Gordon Hayward (Butler)- The “babyfaced assassin” (h/t Gus Johnson) might have the toughest call of any early entry this spring. A relative unknown to casual fans just one year ago, Hayward burst onto the scene with a stellar NCAA Tournament, leading the charge behind Butler’s miraculous run to the national title game. Thanks to a late growth spurt, Hayward possesses guard skills in a 6’9 frame and may even go in the latter half of the lottery should he keep his name in the field. Butler would also drop to a ranking similar to the one they enjoyed in October last year. If Hayward returns, it would be a crying shame if Butler isn’t the #2 team ranked preseason behind Duke. The only starter departing is glue guy Willie Veasley. That’s right: Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored and Matt Howard would all return to school for another March push.

Avery Bradley (Texas)- Sources told Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman that Bradley was likely to stay in the Draft, and quite honestly I can see why. Teams that are looking for a backup point guard with the ability to defend and attack the basket will be flocking towards Bradley near the mid-first round. Findlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph committing to Texas last week takes some pressure off of Rick Barnes if Bradley should opt to stay in the draft. The Longhorns grossly underachieved with Bradley, Dexter Pittman and Damion James; with all three departing, expectations can’t possibly be sky high for Texas, although Kansas, Texas A&M and Baylor should all take steps back this season. Texas is a top-15 team regardless of last season should Bradley, Joseph, Dogus Balbay, J’Covan Brown and Jai Lucas round out a loaded backcourt. I suspect Bradley has played his last game in burnt orange, though.

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Comings & Goings: UK’s ‘Fab Five’ Gone; Gaudio Out at Wake

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2010

HUGE DAY.

John Calipari has a major rebuilding task ahead of him in the 2010-11 season, as his five best players are leaving the program for the bluer waters of the NBA Draft.  In a move that shocked absolutely no one, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton all declared today, leaving UK with just a handful of returning scholarship players heading into next season.  According to KSR, however, P-Pat has yet to file his papers although he would undoubtedly become a top fifteen pick when he does so.  If all five of these guys stay in this year’s draft, it’s likely that each of them would be selected in the top twenty, a first in the history of the event.  This begs the question, of course, whether we should be impressed by so many draft-worthy players on a single team; or by the curious fact that five top twenty picks couldn’t even make it to the Final Four despite an embarrassment of talent at its disposal.

Ohio State’s National POY Evan Turner also declared that he will enter the draft today, and as the presumed #2 overall pick he is making a good decision.  The multi-talented point forward has a chance to become an outstanding perimeter player at the next level, and we’re very happy that his year turned out the way it did after a horrific fall in December threatened to derail his season and (potentially) career.  Some other names that threw their hats into the ring today were: Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who is expected to fall into the #8-#20 range, Xavier’s Jordan Crawford (late 1st/early 2d round), Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson (late 1st/early 2d round), Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside (late lottery pick), Oklahoma’s Willie Warren (early 2d round), Dayton’s Chris Wright (mid 2d round), Texas’ Avery Bradley (late 1st round), and Florida’s Alex Tyus (undrafted).  Stephenson is the most interesting case study in why we should never listen to players during the season with respect to this stuff, as he clearly stated earlier this season that his return to Cincinnati for a sophomore campaign was ‘definite.’   He’s already signed with an agent, so that sophomore season will have to occur elsewhere.  Can we just say this again for the record?  Please, please David Stern — negotiate a two-year rule for players after their HS class graduates or none at all.

Moving to coaching news, the surprise of the day was the abrupt dismissal of Wake Forest’s Dino Gaudio by the school on Wednesday.  Gaudio was 61-31 in three seasons at the school, but what sealed his fate were his 1-5 postseason record that included two epic collapses down the stretch of the last two years.  It’s unlikely Wake AD Ron Wellman would make this move without a serious candidate in mind, so we should expect to see this position filled in a matter of days.  In more pleasant news, Cornell’s Steve Donahue accepted the job at Boston College, which makes a lot of sense given his northeastern pedigree, and the Rutgers job may be opening up as soon as Thursday if Fred Hill is canned as a result of his bizarre insubordination in the form of attending a baseball game (JR Inman must be ecstatic!).

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ATB: Where to Begin? Another Tremendous Thursday…

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2010

Another great Thursday night, with the West Region in particular providing loads of excitement with another #1 seed falling by the wayside and arguably the best game of the entire Tournament in the nightcap.

J. Pullen and J. Crawford Went Back and Forth Down the Stretch (AP/C. Braley)

West Region

What.  A.  Game#2 Kansas State 101, #6 Xavier 96 (2OT).  With around four minutes remaining in this game and K-State up three points at 64-61, a public service announcement flashed across the jumbotron in the middle of the arena.  Paraphrasing, it stated that the regional final game between Kansas State and Butler would begin at 2 pm on Saturday afternoon.  Read that again: between Kansas State and Butler… with four minutes remaining in a three-point game.  Notwithstanding whether some gun-jumping intern was immediately drawn and quartered by the Energy Solutions Arena staff, the Xavier fans unilaterally roared their disapproval at such a public slight, and within a minute the game was tied again.  Whether this scoreboard mishap actually energized the XU players is up for debate, but there should be no debate about whom the two best players on the floor were tonight.  KSU’s Jacob Pullen (28/4/3 assts including six treys) and Xavier’s Jordan Crawford (32/2/2 assts) played a game of who can top whom in the last few minutes of regulation and through two overtimes before it was finally decided that K-State would meet the unanticipated scoreboard premonition and move on to face Butler on Saturday afternoon.  From the moment mentioned above, the two players combined to score 31 points, including several clutch threes that kept the game alive for longer than anyone imagined possible.  After K-State fouled Terrell Holloway (26/4/6 assts and 4 treys himself) as he dribbled into a long jumper with six seconds remaining and XU down three, the sophomore guard nailed all three to send the game into overtime.  Back and forth each team went and again K-State looked like they were safely in position to win the game with a single stop.  Instead, Jordan Crawford failed to find room near the three-point line, so he dribbled far enough away until there was space at which time he rose and fired from 35 feet to send Gus Johnson on CBS into a fit of apoplexy.

From there it was back and forth again until KSU’s Jacob Pullen decided enough was enough, hitting back to back bombs in the final minute-plus of the second overtime to finally create enough separation to make the fouling game work for Frank Martin’s team.  The Wildcats will move on to face Butler on Saturday after all.  This was only the second double-overtime game in the last thirteen years of Sweet Sixteen action, and the fans who attended the West Region tonight surely got their money’s worth.  It’s not often that Kansas State gets outbattled on the boards, but tonight Xavier was +2 in that category.  This was probably the game of the Tournament so far, and we wonder if the physical battle with a Xavier team that just would not quit will impact the Wildcats in their next game with Butler.  As we saw tonight, Butler isn’t the kind of team you want to get down early to — they know how to play with a lead.

Butler Survives and Advances to One Win From Indy (Indy Star/S. Riche)

Butler One Win From Home#5 Butler 63, #1 Syracuse 59.  We’re now left with two #1 seeds as Kentucky advanced to the Elite Eight in the East Regional and Duke plays for that prize tomorrow night, but Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange will be heading home after an uncharacteristic scoring drought at the end of the game did them in tonight.  With a little more than five minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse looked to have regained control of a low-scoring closely contested battle, 54-50.  Cuse would not score again until there were thirty-four seconds left and Butler had effectively put things away.  It was Willie Veasley’s  “HORSE” style three from the corner that put the Bulldogs in control with 1:50 left as the strong crowd of orange-clad fans stood and watched in amazement.  For Brad Stevens’ team, this is the kind of victory that can define and sustain a high-mid like Butler for a long time.  His recruiting for the next five years is already done — what can a program like Indiana give a player that Butler cannot at this point?  A chance to play in the NCAAs?  A chance to advance?  How about a chance to go to the Final Four?  Because that’s the cusp upon which his team is standing, merely forty more minutes of superb defense away from returning home with games still to play.  And when we say home, we really mean it.  Not like ‘Cornell home’ tonight or ‘Baylor home’ tomorrow night, but really, actually home — the Butler University campus is a mere 5.4 miles in Indianapolis from Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the Final Four.  Talk about Hoosiers on the grandest scale of all.  It’s so ridiculous we can hardly comprehend it.  As for Syracuse, the Orange struggled with unforced turnovers all night long (18 total), and many of those were expended in trying to get the ball inside to Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph.  It’s easy to place the blame for SU’s ‘early’ loss on the injury to Arinze Onuaku and his missing three games in this year’s Tournament, but  we wonder if his offensive production would have helped take some of the pressure off Wes Johnson (17/9) and Andy Rautins (15/5) tonight had he been available.   We also wonder if Boeheim’s team didn’t wear down a little at the end of this year — even prior to Onuaku’s injury in the Big East Tournament, the Orange had dropped two games to rather pedestrian Louisville in previous weeks.  He was only playing seven players substantial minutes, and with Onuaku out of the lineup, he was forced to surrender minutes to unproven and untested DaShonte Riley (0/1 in 5 minutes) tonight, for example.  His six ‘starters’ played every other minute of the game.  Were the Orange players spent during those last five minutes?  You won’t hear Boeheim use that crutch, but it would certainly be a reasonable excuse.

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30 Days of Madness: Jordan Crawford From Somewhere in Nevada

Posted by rtmsf on March 26th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we re-visited some of the timeless moments from the regionals of the NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy.

NCAA Regionals

Dateline: 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinals – Kansas State vs. Xavier

Context: How’s this for real-time reporting?  Since we were there live tonight, and since it was one of the nastiest long-range shots we’ve ever seen in the NCAA Tournament, we’re putting it up.  In case you somehow don’t know how it got to this point, Xavier sent the game into overtime when Terrell Holloway hit all three free throws after he was fouled on a 30-footer at the end of regulation.  As they’d done all night long, K-State again took control and held a three-point lead when Xavier brought the ball up with nineteen seconds left.  This is where we pick it up on both of the below videos (two different fan angles).

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