Morning Five: 07.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Yesterday for Vanderbilt might have been as bad of a day as a program could have without a NCAA investigation. The big news from the program was that Kedren Johnson, its leading scorer last season, was suspended for the upcoming academic year. Johnson averaged 13.5 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds leading a Commodore team that managed to go 16-17 last season despite losing its top three players from the previous season. The wording on Johnson’s apology (“It was a violation of the good conduct expected of all Vanderbilt students. I take full responsibility and now must begin working to regain the trust and respect of my school, the student body, our fans and especially my coaches and friends on the team.”) and the fact that this has not been reported in the mainstream media would argue against it being a serious legal matter and more likely something academic (perhaps like what Harvard experienced last season). If Johnson is able to atone for whatever he did, he should still have two more productive seasons remaining at Vanderbilt.
  2. One player who will apparently not be returning to Nashville is Kevin Bright, who has opted to pursue a pro basketball career in Germany after averaging 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season as a freshman. Normally we would consider such a move premature, but Bright was not your typical freshman. For one thing he is already 21 years old, but perhaps more interestingly he grew up in Germany and also played in a German youth program before coming over to Vanderbilt. Of course, that may not sit well with Vanderbilt’s staff as Kevin Stallings was not told by Bright of his decision to leave the school and to play internationally.
  3. Yesterday EA Sports filed a motion in federal court asking the judge to allow the company to respond to the plaintiff’s latest complaint in the notable Ed O’Bannon player likeness case. Using a recent Supreme Court decision as its authority (Comcast v. Behrend, decided in March 2013), attorneys for EA argued that the company has the right to “test the legal sufficiency of the complaint before a class is certified.” Since the court has not yet come to a decision on the issue of certifying the case as a class action (and correspondingly exposing the NCAA, EA and others to billions of dollars in liability), EA wants to have an opportunity to get out of the cross-hairs before that decision is made. According to the article, a sports law expert named Michael McCann believes that the judge will allow EA to make its response. Will it ultimately matter? Mostly this is a case of CYA, but given the huge potential numbers surrounding this case, it makes sense that EA Sports would give it a try.
  4. We would really like to be more excited about the announcement that Dereck Whittenburg is coming back to North Carolina State as an assistant coach, but it is kind of hard to do since this will be the third time he is doing so. Whittenburg is best known for the most famous air ball in basketball history also has served as an assistant at George Mason and Long Beach State before serving as a head coach at Wagner and Fordham. Although his head coaching career was less than distinguished he did manage to lead Wagner to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. It appears that Whittenburg’s primary role will be as director of player development at the school so we are not sure what his intentions are in terms of getting back into full-time coaching.
  5. It seems like show-cause penalties are not quite the death sentence they previously were as former Bruce Pearl assistant Jason Shay is on the verge of becoming the second of that staff to get a Division I job after receiving a show-cause. Shay has reportedly accepted a position at North Dakota. In Shay’s case like that of Steve Forbes (the first Pearl assistant to be hired again at the Division I level) the show-cause was only one year so he sat out an extra year before coming back to Division I. Pearl still has one more year left on his show-cause and although he is certainly a much bigger name than either of these two his hiring would attract much more scrutiny although we would not be shocked to see a desperate program go after him.
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Rushed Reactions: Vanderbilt 64, Kentucky 48

Posted by David Changas on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

David Changas is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Vanderbilt-Kentucky game at the SEC Tournament in Nashville this evening.

Three Key Takeaways:

Vandy Took It to the Wildcats Friday Night

Vandy Took It to the Wildcats Friday Night

  1. Bubble Trouble.  With all of the losses fellow bubble-dwellers have suffered, the path to the NCAA Tournament was clear for Kentucky. Most assumed the Wildcats would clinch a bid with a win over Vanderbilt, which came into the contest with an overall record of 15-16. Instead, they add another loss to a sub-top-100 team (the Commodores currently sit at No. 118 in the RPI). So instead of advancing to play either Missouri or Ole Miss, the Wildcats severely damaged their position with the Selection Committee. They must now wait and see what the committee will do, and whether their resume is enough to earn a bid to the Big Dance. Since Nerlens Noel went out with a season-ending injury, Kentucky is now 4-4, and a blowout loss to a heretofore mediocre Vanderbilt squad coupled with ugly losses at Tennessee, Arkansas, and Georgia, may make it easy for the committee to conclude that the Wildcats don’t deserve a selection. Kentucky looked like anything but an NCAA Tournament team Friday night, trailing Vanderbilt from the outset and falling behind by 20 early in the second half.  The Wildcats looked listless on the offensive end and allowed Vanderbilt to control the game. The Commodores looked like the only NCAA Tournament-worthy squad in this contest.
  2. A Harrow-ing Tale. To figure out what has plagued Kentucky throughout this up-and-down, frustrating campaign, one need look no further than the play it has gotten from the point guard position. In the past John Calipari’s teams have had superb point guard play, from Derrick Rose to John Wall to Brandon Knight to Marquis Teague, but this team hasn’t gotten that. That glaring weakness was especially evident Friday, as Ryan Harrow was nothing short of atrocious. He went 2-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over four times, killing any chance Kentucky had of winning this game. Harrow has shown signs of what brought him so much acclaim when he transferred from NC State, but overall, has not played up to Calipari’s standards. If Kentucky doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament, it can look no further than Harrow’s play for a reason why.
  3. Can Vanderbilt Steal a Bid? According to Commodore coach Kevin Stallings, his team is back to .500 for the first time “in about five months.” It may not have been that long, but it has been an uphill climb for his club. This was a team from which very little was expected, and Stallings said after the game that he couldn’t be more satisfied with the way his club has improved. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been as proud of a team as I am of this one,” he said.  The question for his club now becomes whether it can break through and steal a bid to the NCAA Tournament. After dismantling Kentucky, he likes how his club is playing, and what seemed like an impossibility just a few short weeks ago now is something to at least think about. The Commodores will face either Missouri or Ole Miss in tomorrow’s second semifinal. They were dismantled in Columbia in January, but would have beaten Ole Miss but for a 35-footer by Marshall Henderson that sent the game to overtime before the Rebels prevailed.  To just be in this position is quite an accomplishment, and anyone who has followed this team knows Stallings has done one of his best coaching jobs this season.

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SEC M5: 12.11.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 11th, 2012

  1. The Kentucky players haven’t quite bought into John Calipari’s system yet, but they’re certainly trying to become a top 10 team. “Definitely,” freshman center Nerlens Noel said. “We’ve definitely got the potential. We’ve got the players, the pieces, the coaching staff. We’ve got all the great tools. We’ve just got to work on some things and really bring it all together.” But if anybody has the credibility to get first year players to buy in, it’s Calipari. Perhaps last year’s success is part of what is hindering this year’s version of the Wildcats? “We’re trying to uphold expectations we shouldn’t have had,” freshman Willie Cauley-Stein said. “We’re not last year’s team.” He’s right about that. The 2012-13 team is more 2010-11 than 2011-12, and that team was possibly a play away from being Cal’s first championship team.
  2. Jarvis Summers is crucial to Ole Miss‘ success this year. The Rebels lost their first game of the season on Saturday to Middle Tennessee State, in part because Summers sat the last 13 minutes of the first half in foul trouble. While he was on the bench, his backups committed seven of Ole Miss’ 18 turnovers. “They just took the ball,” coach Andy Kennedy said. “Like what happens sometimes when you play your big brother. They just took your ball.” Summers returned to play 17 minutes in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough. He finished the game with just seven points and four assists, but Kennedy recognized his impact on the game by allowing Summers to play through four fouls with over six minutes left in the game.
  3. Florida is getting some much needed rest before one of its biggest games of the year against Arizona. “Playing as many games as we’ve played this early against some really good quality opponents I think guys get mentally drained,” coach Billy Donovan said. “So I think we’ll probably need some time to regroup before we go out west.” The Gators have 10 days between games, allowing some time to recover from injuries as well. Senior forward Erik Murphy hasn’t been 100 percent after a hip pointer injury, and of course final exams are mixed in for the student-athletes. “This a good group,” Donovan said. “They’ve worked hard. We’ve had to individually battle through our own adversity as a team.” So far this year, 13 points is the closest margin any team has come to the Gators.
  4. Missouri is also preparing for one of its biggest games of the year, but this one is for bragging rights above all else. Missouri is already circling a December 22 date with Illinois, which is one of the hottest teams in the country right now. The author makes the case that the Tigers need this win for RPI purposes because of the weak standing of the SEC relative to the Big 12 from which coach Frank Haith and the Tigers migrated. I tend to disagree. Yes, the SEC is weak at the bottom, but teams like Kentucky (with a current RPI of #95) or Tennessee (#132) won’t stay that low for long. Regardless, the match-up with the Illini is important in the bigger picture for Haith and company, but don’t expect the top half of the SEC to be a hindrance to RPI standings in the long run.
  5. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings had a unique perspective regarding Vandy guard Kyle Fuller’s honor as SEC player of the week for his outstanding performance against Xavier. Fuller scored all 12 of Vanderbilt’s points during the overtime period, leading the Commodores to a surprising victory. “That’s awesome for him and almost embarrassing for the rest of us,” Stallings said. “Good for Kyle. He made some huge plays.” Fuller came up huge in the road victory with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting, along with five assists, four rebounds, and three steals. You have to sort of agree with Stallings on this one, however. Vandy desperately needed someone not named Kedren Johnson to step up on the offensive end. Johnson’s field goal attempts have been in double figures in every game this season, and until the return of Dai-Jon Parker, the Commodores can’t continue to rely that heavily on Johnson for all of their scoring.
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Vanderbilt Guard Dai-Jon Parker Suspended

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 31st, 2012

Coming off its first SEC Tournament title since 1952 and losing a majority of their offense from last season due to the NBA Draft or graduation, Vanderbilt already knew it would have to replace many pieces on this season’s team. Today, they will have to add sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker to the list because of a non-academic suspension. Head coach Kevin Stallings announced Tuesday that the projected starting shooting guard will be suspended indefinitely because Parker “failed to uphold the high standard that we expect of a Vanderbilt basketball player and will be disciplined accordingly.” Parker and sophomore Kedren Johnson were expected to fill the voids left by Brad Tinsley, John Jenkins, and Jeffery Taylor, all upperclassmen who left after last season due to graduation or to pursue professional careers. The guard trio of Tinsley/Jenkins/Taylor provided Vanderbilt’s most dangerous weapon: 244 three-pointers on a blistering 43% clip and high offensive efficiency numbers. Parker and Johnson, on the other hand, were substituted into the rotation last year with very minimal roles.

Who will replace Dai-Jon Parker in Vanderbilt’s already depleted backcourt?

The departures of Tinsley, Jenkins, and Taylor, as well as experienced defensive big men Festus Ezeli, Lance Goulbourne, and Steve Tchiengang, made up arguably Vanderbilt’s most well-rounded team in the Kevin Stallings era. The Commodores’ offensive efficiency (115.7) ranked #11 in the country while their defensive efficiency (92.7) was solid at #30. Sky-high expectations after winning the SEC Tournament over heavily favored Kentucky  quickly came crashing down when Vanderbilt lost to Wisconsin in the Third Round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, one step short of the school’s first Sweet Sixteen since 2007.

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Rating The Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 29th, 2012

Non-conference play will tip off in just under two weeks. Here’s your Pac-12 primer.

Washington (Full Schedule Here)

Washington Hasn’t Performed Well in the Non-Conference Recently (AP)

  • Toughest Game – @ Connecticut, December 29
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Ohio State, November 18
  • Easiest Game – Jackson State, December 15
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – For a team going through a possible rebuilding year, there are a few spots other than the obvious ones (Connecticut, Ohio State/Rhode Island) where Washington could trip up and play itself out of an at-large bid before we even reach January. The obvious one is a meeting with Seton Hall in Uncasville, Connecticut, where they will be making a significantly farther trip from Seattle than the Pirates face from South Orange. Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin’s three-point range will give SHU a chance to upset the Huskies. The two other interesting games come at home within just five days of each other; first a visit from Colorado State, then a rematch from last year’s upset in Missouri against Saint Louis.

Washington State (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – vs Kansas, November 19
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Saint Louis, November 20
  • Easiest Game – Arkansas-Pine Bluff, November 24
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – Some people are going to see the trio of Kansas, Saint Louis/Texas A&M, and Gonzaga and wonder why this slate isn’t rated higher. All you have to do is just look at the rest of the schedule. The argument could be made that a game against a Pepperdine team that finished 2011-12 with a 10-19 record is the toughest game left. Not good.

Oregon (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ UNLV, November 23
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Cincinnati, November 24
  • Easiest Game – Northern Arizona, November 10
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 3
  • Overview – Behind that two-day stretch in late-November is a lot of smoke and mirrors on Oregon’s slate. Sophomore Kedren Johnson, who wasn’t even part of the Dores’ seven-man rotation last year, will be looked at to lead Vanderbilt to maybe a spot on the NIT bubble come March. The only other power conference team is Nebraska, a team that will struggle to get out of the Big Ten basement all year long.
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Vanderbilt’s Answers Begin at Point Guard

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 17th, 2012

After a historic SEC Tournament championship run, Vanderbilt watched as three Commodores were selected on NBA Draft night. Though senior Brad Tinsley was not one of them, his departure left a monumental void at the point guard position. Tinsley, a frustrating player for ‘Dores’ fans at times, remained a steadying influence for Kevin Stallings’ club with 9.0 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game last season. His senior leadership anchored one of the best offensive squads in the conference, thus finding a suitable replacement will not come easily. The Commodores find themselves in a year of transition, and the question that will prove most crucial to Vanderbilt’s adjustment will be whether Stallings can find consistency and production at the point.

Is Kedren Johnson the answer for Vanderbilt? (Mark Humphrey/ AP)

The Commodores have two talented and eager options in the backcourt. Junior Kyle Fuller, coming off a disappointing sophomore campaign, has the skills to develop into a strong contributor. He is quick enough to penetrate the lane, and makes good decisions with the ball. Fuller has shown that he is capable but will need to provide more consistent effort to see extended minutes. He never scored more than five points all of last season, and also never seemed to get into his comfort zone on the court.

The likely candidate to begin the year as the starter is sophomore Kedren Johnson. Johnson has good size at 6’4″ and has shown flashes of becoming a solid long-term player for the ‘Dores. He averaged just 3.1 points per game last year, but worked his way into more consistent playing time late in the season. In fact, Johnson played double figure minutes in his last 11 games. It is clear that Stallings trusts Johnson with running the offense, but he will need a big step up from the young player this season. Vanderbilt needs a leader it can trust, and with the top six scorers gone from a championship team a season ago (and also 87.7 percent of the scoring), the ‘Dores might need Johnson to step into that role quicker than expected.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

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SEC Transition Basketball: Vanderbilt Commodores

Posted by Brian Joyce on July 10th, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: Vanderbilt.

State of the Program

The reigning SEC Tournament champions appeared to be on a promising streak preceding the Big Dance. After swatting the proverbial monkey off its back and defeating Harvard in the Round of 64 following three straight first round exits, it was heartache once again for Commodore fans as the team settled well short of expectations. With a trio of NBA level talent and an experienced hoard of role players, 2011-12 was supposed to be the year on which Vandy fans had been waiting. Turnovers, a reliance on the outside shot, and difficulty rebounding marred Kevin Stallings‘ club, and now Vandy looks to be heading into a rebuilding year unfortunately situated in one of the SEC’s strongest years in recent history.

John Jenkins is gone, and so are his NBA bound teammates, Festus Ezeli and Jeffery Taylor

With familiar names such as John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, and Festus Ezeli all gone, who does Stallings turn to now? In fact, his top six players in terms of minutes played are gone. The Commodores will rely heavily upon talented yet vastly inexperienced and untested players. The leading returning scorer for the 2012-13 ‘Dores averaged just over three points per game last season. To say there are some question marks about next season is an understatement. As Stallings pointed out in the SEC summer teleconference a few weeks ago, “It is certainly going to be a year of transition for our basketball program. Not one guy who is playing will have ever been in the role he will be assuming for next year’s squad.”  Vanderbilt certainly underperformed last season, but can it now exceed a lowered set of expectations in 2012-13?

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Rushed Reaction: #4 Wisconsin 60, #5 Vanderbilt 57

Posted by AMurawa on March 17th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Players making plays. Down the stretch, it seemed just about all of the star players in this game made significant plays. There was Festus Ezeli with a giant swat on one end followed up by a soft lay-in on the other. There was a great play by Jeff Taylor to bring Vanderbilt back within one possession. There was the John Jenkins dish to Ezeli to put the Commodores up a point just before Jordan Taylor answered with a dagger three-pointer. And then, down the stretch, Wisconsin ran down two straight long offensive rebounds, allowing them to take over a minute off the clock. Still, after Josh Gasser missed the front-end of a one-and-one, Jenkins had a pretty good look at a three with six seconds left, but it was not to be.
  2. Starting strong, finishing strong. Ryan Evans scored ten points right out of the gate, including eight in the first four minutes of the game, then disappeared for about 20 minutes after picking up his second foul with four minutes remaining in the first half. But, with the game in the balance, Evans soared above bigger Vanderbilt players to snatch a huge rebound following that missed Jenkins three in the closing seconds, then proceeded to hit a free throw to extend the Badger lead to three, which was the final margin.
  3. Balance. In a game like this, with solid fundamental defensive teams, no one player was able to stay hot for long, which led to balanced scoring all the way around. Five different Badgers scored in double figures, led by Jordan Taylor’s 14, but with players like Jarred Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, and even freshman guard Ben Brust stepping up and making plays. Brust wound up with 11, all in the second half, including three big three-pointers.

Star of the GameFestus Ezeli, Vanderbilt. In a tight game that went down to the wire, Ezeli was the one unstoppable force in the game. Despite not starting, he wound up with 14 points and 11 rebounds and had a hand in three of the final four Commodore hoops (two baskets and one assist). While his career ends, Ezeli was the one athlete who stood out among a company of equals.

Sights & Sounds. While some portions of the Baylor and Colorado section did not fill up until halftime of this game, just about every other seat in this arena was filled early. And with two excellent bands, filling up the pregame, halftime and extended timeouts, the environment inside The Pit was every bit as electric as you would hope March basketball would be. As the game went down to a wire, all the neutral fans in the arena seemed to wind up just rooting for whoever was behind in the game, making for a loud and exciting conclusion.

Wildcard. For much of the final stretch in crunch time, Vanderbilt senior guard Brad Tinsley watched from the bench as freshman Kedren Johnson ran the point. While other lesser leaders might be hurt by such a perceived slight, Tinsley was there ready to give the youngster advice on leaving the timeouts. Call it a passing of the torch, as the quartet of Commodore seniors wraps up their careers with just one NCAA Tournament win to their names.

What’s Next? Wisconsin will face Syracuse in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night. While the Orange looked excellent in advancing to the Sweet 16, the ineligibility of sophomore center Fab Melo may leave them susceptible on the inside where the Badgers interior tandem Bruesewitz and Berggren can make an impact.

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Bracket Prep: Michigan State, Florida State, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure, Long Beach State, & New Mexico State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

Selection Sunday is here! We’ve been providing you with summaries of every automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and this post concludes all of the conference tourney winners. Big Ten, SEC, ACC, A-10, Big West, and WAC were the last ones to complete their championships. Here’s everything you need to know.

Michigan State

Draymond Green is the Force Behind the Spartans' Strong Attack (AP Photo/A. Goldis)

  • Big Ten Champion (27-7, 16-5)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #4/#3/#3
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +17.3
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #1

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. After winning the Big Ten Tournament, expect Michigan State to steal the last #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There’s nothing that this team hasn’t done to deserve the top line. 27-7 against the #1 strength of schedule, co-champion of the best conference in the country, and Big Ten Champions. This is a classic Tom Izzo team that’s ferocious on the boards and executes efficiently on both offense and defense. The Spartans run through their Big Ten Player of the Year, but this is a deep team that relies on many contributors in different areas. A late season ACL injury to blossoming freshman forward Branden Dawson was horrible news and is potentially devastating. But Dawson was still not much of an offensive factor and the team won the Big Ten Tournament without him, showing an ability to adapt.
  2. Draymond Green is the Big Ten Player of the Year who does everything that you want in a senior star leader. 16.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game is what Green provides. The 45% field goal percentage doesn’t look great until you realize that Green does much of his work on the perimeter, including hitting the most three-pointers on the team. The rest of this team is loaded with strong athletes and defenders, from the interior duo of Derrick Nix and Adriean Payne to the perimeter players Keith Appling and Brandon Wood, and beyond to the reserves. Appling is crucial to this team as the playmaking point guard with explosive agility to make plays for his teammates and himself.
  3. Most things in March Madness are unpredictable, but one of the few guarantees is that Tom Izzo’s teams will play their best basketball in the NCAA Tournament. This Izzo team is loaded and ready to dance with as difficult a combination to beat as nearly anyone in the country. A +17.3 adjusted scoring margin is the fourth best in the nation, led my MSU’s elite defense. The Spartans allow just 37.7% defensive field goal shooting, the second best in the land. Their 89.9 defensive efficiency also ranks in the top 10. Throw in their own 47.7% field goal shooting, and this team’s shooting percentage disparity is fantastic, which is always a top formula for success. Their 55.2% rebound percentage is top 10 in the nation, as well. The numbers look great for Michigan State. But this team just lost its best athlete to the ACL injury and it doesn’t have the amount of elite scorers that a usual #1 seed does. Instead, this team is so efficient defensively that it will be difficult to knock off. Teams that gave Michigan State trouble were those that caught fire from the outside while holding their own defensively, like Indiana. Expect an awesome clash of styles between MSU and its opponent in a Sweet Sixteen matchup, if it can avoid an upset from the 8-9 seed, or 10-7 seed if it receives a #2 seed.

Florida State

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A Quick, Fake Summary: All Else is Castles Built In The Air

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 28th, 2011

Festus Ezeli busted a deal and spun the wheel. (He also spun his MCL; he’ll be out for a while.) Vanderbilt has been spun about without him, though it might not be due to his absence.

At the beginning of the season, it was theorized that Vandy’s seniors would rise up and contribute more with Ezeli out. Against Xavier tonight, the Commodores of Musictown still couldn’t barter themselves a decent offense. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne (18 points on 8-17 FG seven rebounds), junior guard John Jenkins (20 points on 8-18 FG & 4-9 3FG) and senior forward Jeffery Taylor (18 points on 6-11 FG, five rebounds) all led the charge defensively but faded as near the end. Not one Commodore scored a single point in the last 3:56 of the second half.

Earlier in the that half, senior guard Brad Tinsley had controlled drives into the paint that resulted in easy assists. Like the rest of the ‘Dores, Tinsley tried to do too much late in the game. With his limited defensive ability, Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons finally took control and powered the Musketeers to a 82-70 overtime victory.

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SEC Morning Five: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 18th, 2011

  1. Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell is becoming accustomed to the spotlight and being the leader of a young Arkansas squad. This is a new role for Powell as he was out most of last year with an injury. “The whole deal with me last year was my foot was still bothering me a whole lot,” Powell said. “It is fixed now and I enjoy my coach, the guy that I am playing for. My team, they make it comfortable for me. They have put me in a leader position and I have tried my best to uphold it.” Not only has Powell been a leader for the Razorbacks in the locker room, but he is leading on the court as well. In two games so far this year, Powell has averaged 19.5 PPG and six RPG. If he can continue that kind of production for coach Mike Anderson, Arkansas will be able to score with anybody in the SEC.
  2. Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold has been impressed with the play of Commodore freshman Kedren Johnson. Johnson’s defense has drawn praise from Vandy fans, but it seems he is coming along with his offensive skills as well. Johnson finished the game against Bucknell with 12 points on 5-7 shooting, three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes of play. Vanderbilt may not necessarily need additional scoring once they are completely healthy, but it is refreshing for ‘Dores fans to know that Johnson can become a viable option off the bench. The guys at AOG were not as sold on the development of Dai-Jon Parker. While they acknowledged that he played “impressive in spurts,” they went on to point out that “he also chucked up ten shots and missed all but two of them – including a 1-7 performance from behind the line.” Vanderbilt needs the defensive pressure that both guards are able to bring on the court, however neither of the freshmen can afford to become a detriment on offense.
  3. Kansas coach Bill Self has divulged the secret to beating Kentucky. Self thinks it’s important against the athletic and quick Cats to slow down the pace of the game, utilizing the full 35-second shot clock. This approach could minimize the Wildcats’ ability to get easy fast break points.  “I’d imagine most teams are going to try to do that to us,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. But Coach Cal felt that his team could also play a grind-it-out style of play. In fact, the young Wildcats slowed the game down in the second half against the Jayhawks on Tuesday night, and looked quite aggressive throughout the game. Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones played physically against the Kansas big men, with Davis recording seven blocks and Jones pulling down seven rebounds. Both players accumulated four personal fouls, which is usually an indication of physical and active play on the low block.
  4. Former Kentucky guard Brandon Knight’s mom is writing a book detailing Knight’s recruitment and time at Kentucky. According to Kentucky Sports Radio, Knight’s mom kept a diary throughout her son’s rise to high school stardom, and she is ready to tell all. A preview came out where she recounts a conversation with Kansas coach Bill Self. “Kansas came to visit today. Coach Bill Self’s opening line was as follows. ‘Brandon, I didn’t recruit you, and quite frankly, I don’t deserve to be here.’ Huh? So I had to ask him that if he didn’t think he deserved to be in my house, why was he there? I think he was surprised that I called him out. He gave me a line of crap (which I don’t even remember) and went on with his presentation. I don’t know if I like him.” It sounds like the juicy details from Momma Knight’s diary are going to be must-read. It is somewhat surprising that with the seedy underbelly of recruiting that currently exists that more parents and players haven’t cashed in on tell-all books about the process.
  5. Jeronne Maymon is working on his post play and toughness for the Tennessee Volunteers. The 6’7″, 255-pound forward says, “I want to just continue to be physical, continue to be the dirtiest player on the floor. Not the dirtiest as far as technical fouls and nasty play… but just being mean, rugged, the toughest player out there… taking charges, making open shots and making free throws. That’s what I’m trying to do.” The new attitude appears to be working as Maymon is averaging 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this year. In his last game against Louisiana-Monroe, Maymon recorded a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Coach Cuonzo Martin has a tough, hard-nosed approach to practice, and it appears it is quickly rubbing off on his players and their style of play. Tennessee may not have the talent to be among the elite in the SEC, but they certainly appear to have the resolve and toughness to make a run to string together wins in conference play.
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Conference Report Card: SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 18th, 2011

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

Conference Recap

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

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