Pac-12 M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 28th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Arizona helps get the Sweet Sixteen underway tonight when it faces Ohio State before what is expected to be a largely pro-Arizona crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While there are plenty of non-monetary reasons why this is a huge game, a big weekend in Los Angeles for Arizona head coach Sean Miller could pay big dividends as he is promised a bonus of $50,000 for an Elite Eight appearance and an additional $175,000 for a trip to the Final Four. All that on top of a $2.2 base salary? Hey, it’s good work if you can get it.
  2. One of the main storylines in that Arizona/Ohio State match-up tonight is the relationship between Thad Matta and Sean Miller. Their friendship goes back to 1994 when they were both assistant coaches at Miami (OH) under Herb Sendek (quick sidebar: isn’t it amazing how deep Sendek’s coaching tree is? Eight former Sendek assistants are current Division I head coaches, guys ranging from Matta and Miller to John Groce, Jim Christian, Ron Hunter, Archie Miller, Larry Hunter and Mark Phelps) and continued when, after Matta earned the head coaching spot at Xavier, he hired Miller to join his staff for three seasons. Matta eventually moved on to Ohio State, Miller took over the head position at Xavier, and now, almost 20 years after they first met, they will match wits for just the second time ever as head coaches. The first time? The 2007 Round of 32. The stand-alone game on Saturday afternoon, Xavier had advanced out of the #8/#9 game to get top-seeded Ohio State and Greg Oden. And with three minutes left, the Miller-coached Musketeers were on the verge of closing out the heavily favored Buckeyes. A late three by Ron Lewis completed a fantastic Buckeyes comeback and sent the game to overtime, where the favorites wound up pulling away.
  3. How does Oregon stick close to Louisville tomorrow night? Pacific Takes asked four different bloggers and the consensus was that staying red hot is priority number one, but taking care of the ball against Louisville’s pressure, crashing the boards with reckless abandon, and turning the game into a down-tempo defensive rock-fight are among the other suggestions. We’ll have our take on that game later in the day, so check back to see RTC’s prescription for a Ducks win.
  4. Bruin Nation got around to listing its possible candidates for the UCLA head coaching job and it is predictably hilarious (seriously, the first dude names Rick Pitino as like his seventh choice as a “short-term solution” – good thing they aren’t setting their sights too high). Elsewhere on the Bruins coaching front, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar threw his hat into the ring on Tuesday night on the Jimmy Kimmel show. And, while we’re mentioning that, I’d also like to take this opportunity to throw my hat into the ring. Why not? Everyone else is doing it. This thing has just started; the absurdity to which this story climbs probably knows no bounds.
  5. Up in Pullman, the expectation had been that since there has been no announcement to the contrary, Ken Bone will return as Washington State’s head coach next season. But, it wasn’t until Tuesday that Bone actually met with athletic director Bill Moos to discuss the future of the program. And the prognosis is… that Bone will return for his fifth season at the helm. Bone’s still got three more years on his contract and $2.55 million in guaranteed salary, money that would have been due in the form of a buyout were Bone to have been fired. And, Cougfan.com has five reasons why this was the correct decision all along, in case you were wondering.
Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 12.18.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on December 18th, 2012

pac12_morning5

  1. Yesterday was Monday, meaning a pair of new polls were released to lift fans from their post-weekend doldrums. Arizona was of course the highlight for Pac-12 fans, coming in at number four in the AP and fifth in the coaches poll. The argument could be made that there were four Mountain West teams better than the top Pac-12 team at most points in 2011-12, so that shows you just how far the top-tier of our conference has come in a year. The Wildcats are one of just seven undefeated teams ranked in the Top 25. The only other team without a loss is Wyoming, who comes in at #29 in the AP and #30 in the coaches.
  2. Washington State coach Ken Bone has reinstated sophomore guard Brett Kingma following a possession of marijuana arrest and subsequent suspension in late October. The Cougars could certainly use some assistance from Kingma, as DaVonte Lacy has been the only reliable scorer in the Coug backcourt. Kingma was a freshman at Oregon in the 2011-12 season, but transferred within the conference after playing just 9.8 MPG that season. He was arrested in the middle of preseason camp on possession of “several grams” of marijuana, as well as exhibiting the effects of consuming alcohol in a public place.
  3. After taking a 10-day break for Finals, Utah will return to the court tonight to face SMU. Head coach Larry Krystowiak and the Utes focused on a few different items during the layoff, with an emphasis coming in taking care of the ball and rebounding. They’ve turned the ball over at a clip of 14.4 miscues per game, including 17 in their odd, previous meeting with the Mustangs. SMU dropped Utah by a score of 62-55 in that one, but Krystowiak and company will have a chance to avenge the loss in a conference play-like second game of a home-and-home.
  4. UCLA got a nice surprise on Monday morning when former Bruin great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke to the team during its shootaround. Coach Ben Howland asked the all-time scoring leader in the NBA to speak to the team after taping an interview for a local news program. The current Bruins exclaimed that it was an “eye-opening experience” and a clear reminder of the legacy the UCLA program holds. The Bruins, who have started the season a disappointing 7-3, host Long Beach State tonight.
  5. It may seem silly to think about for a team ranked as high as Arizona is, but Pac-12 fans always seem to cringe nowadays when a trap game arrives on the schedule. The Wildcats are doing the best to avoid that situation, quickly getting back to business to prepare for tonight’s meeting with Oral Roberts. The game comes sandwiched in between last Saturday’s thriller against Florida and a trip to Honolulu for the Diamond Head Classic, where the Cats could face a pair of high-profile teams in Miami (FL) and San Diego State. But first up are the Golden Eagles, a team that won 27 games a year ago. As the article points out, ORU faces its own challenges preparing for the match-up, having to shake off both mental and physical rust that comes from not playing a game in nearly two weeks.
Share this story

Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game Two

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 3rd, 2012

Our second matchup of the summer pits fourth seeded Andy Wooldridge (Building the Dam) up against the five seed, two-headed monster in Mark Sandritter and Jeff Nusser (CougCenter). The winner of this matchup will meet David Piper, who won our first game, in the semifinals. Below are the rosters, followed by commentary from the respective owner:

Andy Wooldridge

  • Head Coach – Sean Miller, Arizona
  • Guard – Byron Scott, Arizona State
  • Guard – Kevin Johnson, California
  • Guard – Lionel Hollins, Arizona State
  • Guard – Lester Conner, Oregon State
  • Forward – A.C. Green, Oregon State
  • Forward – Detlef Schrempf, Washington
  • Forward – David Meyers, UCLA
  • Forward – Jim Barnett, Oregon
  • Center – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, UCLA
  • Center – Lonnie Shelton, Oregon State

Andy’s Take:

I had the opportunity to put not only the best post player in the history of the Pac, and quite possibly also the NBA on the floor, so it made sense to surround Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with a cast of players designed to support him, and also to do so night in and night out, and regardless of the strategy employed against them. In Kevin Johnson, we have fill it up scoring ability that will discourage anyone from just packing it in, to deny the entry. Byron Scott brings proven ability to score or distribute. A.C. Green can run the floor, but can also play the opposite side of the floor from wherever we choose to post Abdul-Jabbar up. Detlef Schrempf can rebound as well as score, either as a primary option or working off the boards, and both David Meyers and Jim Barnett can shoot over any defensive back line that doesn’t step out to them.

In the backcourt, Lionel Hollins can also play a variety of styles, capitalizing on whatever the opponent’s weakness is. Lester Conner was best known for his defense (hence the nickname “The Molester”), but also led a Pac-10 conference winning team in scoring and rebounding from the guard position, as well as in steals. And if an opponent wants to try to out-physical this team inside, big Lonnie Shelton can take care of that idea. The team can challenge anyone defensively as well as offensively, and as the numerous long and productive NBA careers many of these players had demonstrate, they know how to play the game over the long haul.

A team that is versatile and also loaded with a variety of personality types needs a flexible coach, and in Sean Miller, we have a leader who has demonstrated his ability to adapt to the talent at hand (and there’s certainly plenty of it on the roster). Miller has a tremendous number of options about how to match up with a variety of quality opponents, and won’t hesitate to change things up as needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League: Recapping Round One

Posted by Connor Pelton on June 2nd, 2012

In an attempt to pass time throughout the long summer months without basketball, eight Pac-12 writers will be attempting something different this offseason. Beginning this week, the following Pac-12 writers (in first round drafting order) will participate in a fantasy style snake draft of the all-time Pac-12 players and coaches:

1. Andy Wooldridge (Building the Dam)
2. Jack Follman (Pacific Takes)
3. Ben Knibbe (UW Dawg Pound)
4. Connor Pelton (Rush the Court)
5. Drew Murawa (Rush the Court)
6. Mark Sandritter and Jeff Nusser (CougCenter)
7. Adam Butler (Pachoops)
8. David Piper (Addicted to Quack)

The purposes of the fantasy league are: (1) to determine the top 80 players and eight coaches to have ever played/coached for a current Pac-12 school, and (2) to have fun and pass time throughout the long summer months without anything but MLB and soccer. The only guidelines for the draft are that a coach must have been a HEAD COACH at a current Pac-12 school to be eligible, while players have had to PLAYED at a current school to be eligible. After the draft, all eight teams will be placed into a bracket and will advance based on a vote by you, the readers. So far, one round of the draft is complete. We recap it below.

Round One

#1 (Andy Wooldridge) – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Lew Alcindor, Center, UCLA

No question on this one. Two-time Player of the Year, three-time First Team All-American, three National Championships, and three NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards make Abdul-Jabbar/Alcindor an easy choice at number one.

Lew Alcindor is Our Overall #1 Pick

#2 (Jack Follman) – Bill Walton, Center, UCLA

Walton’s accomplishments are very similar to that of Abdul-Jabbar’s. Walton was named Player of the Year twice, was a three-time First Team All-American, and won a pair of National Championships. While Jabbar was a no-doubter at number one, Walton was the easy second choice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 04.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2012

  1. With the media starting to come down on the Wisconsin program for its handling of Jarrod Uthoff‘s attempt to transfer Bo Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands and went on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning for what most thought would be a creampuff interview. We have been critical of the show in the past, but M&M managed to make Ryan’s claims seem questionable even if the interrogation would not have reminded anybody of the work of Jack McCoy. While we give Ryan credit for stepping up to the media to answer questions (something his colleague Phil Martelli still has not done), we think that the Wisconsin public relations department might want to give Ryan a few lessons before he is steps in front of a microphone again. Notwithstanding his on-air performance Thursday morning, the school decided to ease its restrictions on Uthoff later in the afternoon. Whereas previously he was not allowed to transfer to 26 different schools (the entire ACC and Big Ten, plus three other schools on Wisconsin’s schedule), he will now be allowed to transfer to any school outside of the Big Ten.
  2. We have heard quite a few creative excuses trying to explain recruiting violations, but to our knowledge Memphis coach Josh Pastner is the first to blame his wife for the violation. Pastner, who has been forced to do more work after a member of his staff moved on, claims that he was trying to do an Internet search, but instead tweeted ”Tony parker” on the official Memphis Tiger basketball account. The tweet was deleted a few minutes later, but Pastner had to report himself for a secondary recruiting violation relating to Tony Parker, the uncommitted senior out of Georgia . In his defense, Pastner claims that he had been trying to do too many things at once and his wife was yelling him for being too loud while on the phone, which had woken up the rest of the house, leading to his gaffe. While this seems possible and plausible, we would have gone with the excuse that we were tweeting about the San Antonio Spurs guard, who was having a spectacular game against the Los Angeles Lakers although the game had just tipped a few minutes before the tweet.
  3. We have heard of some outrageously expensive food items over the years, but never a $301 taco. That is until Florida‘s Erving Walker decided to steal one from a street vendor in Gainesville at 1 AM on March 30. Walker, who later said he was “just playing around”, took the taco without paying then ran from police before being caught. The judge in the case ordered Walker to pay the fine by September 27 after Walker pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft charges. Walker, who finished as the school’s all-time assist leader, may wind up playing basketball internationally as we doubt he will see NBA action for anything more than an occasional 10-day contract.
  4. ESPN is continuing to post columns by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and while they leave something to be desired (we were kind of hoping for the crotchety old man to take shots at the current system) it is interesting to read what he has to say about today’s one-and-done system especially in a year where his alma mater UCLA has at least one and possibly two such players who may lift the school back into the national spotlight. Essentially Abdul-Jabbar says that we live in a very different age and that it is unrealistic to harbor the romantic ideal of everybody staying four years because of the way society has changed. It is not exactly an earth-shattering statement, but it is something that some fans may need to be reminded of and Abdul-Jabbar may have enough gravitas to make that point stick.
  5. Some pundits may not believe it, but as Luke Winn points out there are a few talented players who stick around after their freshman season. Winn focuses on five rising sophomores with two who played major roles last year, another two who were productive if not spectacular, and a fifth who saw limited action due to a loaded frontline ahead of him. Interestingly, the one who saw the least time on the court may be the most desirable in the eyes of NBA scouts. The progression of these five players may end up determining next season’s national championship.
Share this story

Morning Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2012

SPONSORED: Want to see some NCAA Tournament action in person? AT&T is hosting a sweepstakes right now to go to the Final Four AND the National Championship game in New Orleans! To enter go to AT&T’s Sweepstakes Page for details to sign up. 

  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.
Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.06.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 6th, 2012

  1. The Pac-12 announced its postseason awards on Monday, handing the Player of the Year award to California’s Jorge Gutierrez and the Coach of the Year to Washington’s Lorenzo Romar for the third time in his career. Gutierrez also claimed the Defensive Player of the Year, earning a spot on the All-Defensive team for the third consecutive season. Washington State’s Brock Motum is the no-brainer for Most Improved Player, while the Huskies’ Tony Wroten was the similarly obvious choice for Freshman of the Year. The All-Conference team was also announced, but at some point, somebody in the league office has got to come to some understanding that you put five players – not 10 – on your basketball All-Conference team. If you want to honor more than just five players, go ahead and name a second team, and even a third if you so choose.
  2. Washington’s Terrence Ross was a strong contender for Player of the Year, and may or may not have been named the RTC Pac-12 POY (check back later today for our conference awards), but upon finding out that Gutierrez had won the award, he said he felt “snubbed.” Ross did congratulate the winner, but felt surprised that neither he nor teammate Wroten won the award. Wroten echoed Ross’ thoughts, saying that he expected his teammate to earn the honor, but said that the Huskies will use the perceived slight as motivation in the conference tournament.
  3. Doug Haller, the Arizona State beat writer at The Arizona Republic, is on the very short list of the best beat writers in the conference, and on Monday he released a barrage of blog posts, giving his thoughts on the official Pac-12 awards, offering up his own picks for All-Pac-12 and some other honors, naming his All-Defensive team, and his All-Freshman team. Now, I certainly don’t agree with his pick of Tony Wroten as the POY and I’ve detailed my objections here in the past (refresher course: He’s not the best player on his team, he’s certainly not the go-to guy in the clutch on his team, his shot selection leaves much to be desired as does his actual shooting, and he turns the ball over too much), but while I would have had picked Tad Boyle as COY a week ago, I’ve shifted to the Dana Altman camp given Colorado’s season-ending slide. But other than that, everything else there looks pretty good; I particularly like the inclusion of USC’s Byron Wesley on his All-Freshman team because, as Haller notes, he’s probably improved more than any other conference freshman over the course of the season.
  4. Reaction to last week’s Sports Illustrated story on the UCLA program continues to roll in. On Sunday, former USC coach Tim Floyd weighed in on Ben Howland’s side, saying that although he and Howland “weren’t close” and “didn’t exchange Christmas cards” (have to admit, I sorta miss Floyd – he’s sure got a way with words, don’t he?), he has great respect for his former adversary and that he is one of the three best coaches he’s ever coached against (with Eddie Sutton and former Colorado State and Fresno State coach Boyd Grant the other two). Check out the whole article though. The last line out of Floyd’s mouth is worth the effort. Elsewhere, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighed in on the state of the program as well, calling for the UCLA program to return to the “Wooden way,” something that is far easier said than done. Still, at the heart of his article, the call for Howland to show more interest in the development of his players off of the court should not fall on deaf ears.
  5. Lastly, we talked about it yesterday in our Morning Five, but Arizona’s loss to Arizona State on Sunday is still reverberating throughout Wildcat world. Great line from Scott Terrell of the Tucson Citizen about how “It’s not so much that the Arizona Wildcats lost to Arizona State… Actually, that’s not true. It is that the Cats lost to ASU.” Given how bad the Sun Devils have been for the bulk of this season, he’s right. That result is perhaps the most shocking result of the entire conference schedule. We talked about some of the anomalies that occurred in that game yesterday (ASU’s 1.27 points per possession in that game was a serious outlier compared to their previous results), but Terrell adds a few more: ASU shoots 67% from the free throw line on the year, but shot 92% on Sunday; they hadn’t scored 87 points in a game in 26 months; and Arizona has held opponents to 40% field goal shooting this year, but allowed ASU to shoot 56% on Sunday. Worst of all for the Arizona faithful, the loss leaves the Wildcats needing to win the conference tournament in order to go dancing. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the Sun Devils can use this win as a springboard for some success in the Pac-12 Tourney.
Share this story

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 »
Share this story

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.

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

March Moment: A Pearl of Wisdom

Posted by jstevrtc on March 17th, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game. For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment. A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.” Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents: what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan? What was your…March Moment? We’ll be posting some of their answers for the rest of the month.

In this submission, RTC contributor and bracketologist-in-residence Zach Hayes illustrates one of the many reasons why the NCAA Tournament is the greatest event in American sports — a good deal of the time, it’s not just about basketball:

There’s something different about growing up rooting for a mid-major.

It’s elementary rooting for perennial powerhouses like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina or Michigan State, teams that may experience hardship once a decade but can always be counted on to reload sooner than later, similar to playing the Rookie level on Madden.

When that special season comes along for a mid-major, the urgency is palpable, the intensity unmatched, the hope for that perfect slipper fit lingers. Fans of mid-majors often see their small, unknown program wallow in the depths of obscurity playing in front of 1,000 fans for years, unable to migrate up the standings. Then that miracle-working coach comes along, diamonds in the rough begin to fill out the roster, and finally the school faces that one opportunity to achieve the previously unthinkable.

For me, that team was the 2002-03 Milwaukee Panthers. For me, that coach was Bruce Pearl.

As any college basketball fan knows, the conference tournament is the be-all and end-all for mid-major programs. A team can suffer through a losing regular season, reel off three straight wins and find themselves in the Big Dance. But on the flipside, a team can coast to the regular season title, play one bad 40-minute stint and miss out on a chance that may never present itself again.

That was the situation facing the Panthers during Pearl’s second season at the helm and my first season with season tickets at THE MECCA, the downtown arena that Kareem and Oscar formerly patrolled for the Bucks back in the early-70s. The middling Horizon League program had been lingering in the shadow of Marquette in our own city and Butler in our own league for the bane of our Division I existence.

Then the perfect concoction came together for that 2002-03 season. We found a legitimate post player in Dylan Page, a sharp-shooting 2-guard in Clay Tucker, a steady point guard in Ronnie Jones and complimentary players like Jason Frederick and Nate Mielke that executed Pearl’s patented full-court press to a tee. It was a team incredibly easy to get attached to at 12 years old. Just me, my dad, our favorite coach and a mid-major trying to make a name for themselves.

Our Panthers ended up toppling mighty Butler in the Horizon finals. The court filled in a matter of seconds with gold-clad students lifting players into the air. The previously unimaginable had been accomplished. But all I remember from that moment is hugging my father and the beaming smile that covered his face. He’s taught at Milwaukee since 1982 and had experienced the lowest of lows with the program. It was for him.

We ended up losing to 5th seeded Notre Dame in the first round nine days later after Page missed a game-winning layup at the buzzer. The game ended around 11 PM on a school night, but of course my father let me stay up for the end. When Page’s miss trickled around the rim and out and the Irish celebrated at center court, I remember expecting the tears to stream down my face.

Instead, a smile of appreciation broke out. I looked over at my dad and he began to applaud.

We were too proud of them to do anything different.

Share this story

Pete Newell: A Basketball Legend

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2008

We felt bad giving such short shrift to Pete Newell yesterday in our ATB wrapup, so we wanted to take an opportunity to give our condolences to the Newell family and also educate young readers on just how influential a figure Coach Newell was in this game.  The vast majority of Newell’s career was before our time as well, but his sphere of influence reaches down through the decades to this very day.  Every time a young big man utilizes a drop step or seals his defender in the post, Newell’s innovations and techniques are showing their relevance and timelessness.

pete-newell1

Consider some of the interesting facts and highlights of this man’s career:

  • Like the founder of the game, Dr. James Naismith, Newell was Canadian by birth.
  • He won an NIT championship at University of San Francisco in 1949, when that tournament meant something.  He developed and instituted a successful zone-pressing defense at USF that was widely copied over the years.
  • He won four straight Pac-8 titles at Cal in the late 1950s (neat stat: the last eight times Newell faced legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, he was 8-0 against the Wizard of Westwood), culminating in trips to the championship game in 1959 and 1960, the former year of which he won the NCAA title against Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati.  In 1960, the Bears lost to John Havlicek/Jerry Lucas’ Ohio St. team, who employed a defense that Newell had taught OSU coach Fred Taylor the previous year.   It’s widely known that Newell’s Cal teams were vastly inferior in talent to their F4 opponents, which belies Newell’s ability as a teacher who can get the most from his players.
  • He was the NCAA COY in 1960 and also led the US Men’s National Team to the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Rome, making him one of only three coaches to have won an NIT, NCAA and Olympic titles (Bob Knight and Dean Smith are the others).
  • To reduce the stress and demands of coaching on his body, he retired from Cal in 1960 (at a mere age of 44) with a 234-123 (.655) lifetime record.  He spent the next 16 years working as an AD at Cal, then as an NBA scout and later as a GM for the Lakers.
  • In 1976, he opened his Pete Newell Big Man Camp, which sought to provide training in footwork and fundamentals for professionals entering the NBA and others seeking to improve their post game.  The camp was free, and it worked with such notable HOFers (and future HOFers) as Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Shaquille O’Neal (who said, “he’s the best teacher there is”).
  • He was elected to the HOF himself in 1979, and his legacy is that coaches and players alike believe his contributions to the game to be at the highest possible level.  Bob Knight in particular has stated on the record that Newell had more influence on college basketball than any other person in history.

Since we never met Pete Newell, it would be an injustice for us to describe him, so we’ll leave you with a few of the better pieces we’ve found about his life and career in basketball.  RIP, Pete.

  • Ric Bucher from ESPN the Magazine writes about his visit to Newell’s camp in Hawaii a few years ago.
  • Newell’s biographer relates a great story about trying to get John Wooden to admit that Newell flat-out had his number in the late 1950s.
  • The LA Times questions whether UCLA would have become UCLA had Newell continued coaching through the 1960s.
  • Deadspin’s Rick Chandler had the privilege of learning techniques under Coach Newell.
  • Pete’s adopted hometown paper has a nice writeup on his life and influence.
Share this story