The Transfer Effect: What the Statistics Say about Missouri and Iowa State’s Recruiting Methods

Posted by dnspewak on December 27th, 2011

No matter how established the program, every college basketball coach eventually takes a chance on a transfer. Jim Boeheim, for example, plucked Wesley Johnson from Iowa State and turned him into the Big East Player of the Year in 2009-10. Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski’s current rosters both include transfers with Brandon Wood (Valparaiso) and Seth Curry (Liberty), and in 1979, a former Indiana Hoosier named Larry Bird nearly won a title with Indiana State just a few years after quitting basketball (and Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers) altogether.

Hoiberg and Haith Are Recruiting Transfers Heavily to Their Programs

Normally, coaches take one or two transfers at a time to fill immediate holes, but that’s not everybody’s philosophy. Meet Missouri’s Frank Haith and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, a pair of coaches who have abandoned traditional recruiting methods at their new schools in favor of Division I transfers. Haith, hired in April to replace Mike Anderson, is using three open scholarships in 2011-12 on players who will not appear in a single basketball game this season by signing Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Earnest Ross (Auburn) and Jabari Brown (Oregon). Hoiberg, on the other hand, has four transfers on his roster in his second year with the Cyclones: Chris Allen (Michigan State), Chris Babb (Penn State), Royce White (Minnesota), and Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois). The two coaches have energized their fan bases by signing big names from major schools, but Haith and Hoiberg’s recruiting tactics cannot be accurately judged at this point. Iowa State’s Fab Four will begin Big 12 play next month, and Missouri’s three transfers will not all be eligible until December 2012.

Instead of speculating as to whether the two teams will suffer from dreaded chemistry problems with so many transfers, why not crunch the numbers to see if The Transfer Effect really exists? Although finding aggregate data for Division I transfers is virtually impossible, recent anecdotal evidence shows that the recruiting strategy is an enormous risk for both coaches. Seven teams from both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons welcomed three or more transfers to their programs at the same time, and only two teams (San Diego State and UNLV) finished above .500 in league play. Seton Hall, the only power conference team in the group, missed the NCAA Tournament.

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Morning Five: 03.03.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 3rd, 2011

  1. Jason Wright of the Deseret News sums up what he saw from the San Diego State students during last Saturday’s BYU vs SDSU game, and is still none too happy about it. After reading his account, we had some questions of our own for him: how can you blame the crowd for your daughter hearing that often-used and ineffective two-syllable expletive chant (it’s one word, by the way, Jason) after a bad call when it’s your hand holding the remote? You shouldn’t have had a problem changing the channel if this really was one of two games you’ve watched from start to finish this year, as you admit. And as far as BYU going off “to find other places to play?” Well, they did. Care to wager if the reception is any better in the WCC next season?
  2. This isn’t a recycling of a previous M5 nugget, but it is a link to a story about a former Michigan State guard transferring to Iowa State. Last summer, it was Chris Allen. Now it’s Korie Lucious who’s headed to Ames. They’ll practice but won’t play together, since Allen will be on the court next year, a season Lucious must sit out before he returns for 2012-2013. Korie cited ISU coach Fred Hoiberg’s NBA connections as a reason for choosing the Cyclones.
  3. At the Villanova @ Seton Hall game on February 15th, it has been alleged that the partner of Keon Lawrence’s mother (Lawrence had already been dismissed from the team) assaulted the mother of SHU guard Jordan Theodore in the stands. Later that night, Theodore, flanked by two dudes in ski masks, allegedly knocked on Lawrence’s dorm room door while packing a gun. Yeesh. Theodore now faces a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm on school property, despite the questionable testimony that led to it.
  4. The glare problem in Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena has been remedied, but the midcourt line controversy remains. That may soon change. In this story at the blog of The Oregonian, floor designer Tinker Hatfield comments on his inspiration for the court’s design, how he loves the controversy about it, what the symbols on the floor mean, and the competitive advantages that may be inherent in the design. As a defense for the lack of a highly visible half court line, he says that the center line at Kansas‘ Allen Fieldhouse is partially obscured by the large Jayhawk logo at midcourt [Ed. note: I’m looking at KU’s floor as I type this, and the whole center line is visible].
  5. Tell us we haven’t seen the last of Fang Mitchell at Coppin State. The Eagles have been to the NCAA Tournament four times (1990, 1993, 1997, 2008) and Mitchell has been at the helm for each one. In his 26-year tenure, he’s won four MEAC Coach of the Year awards, and from 1992-98 his squads won 54 of 55 conference games. It’s been a tough decade for CSU, though, despite this year’s squad posting a 10-5 MEAC record going into their senior night game this evening against Morgan State. The Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray writes that the winds of change may be swirling in Baltimore. Despite his evidence, we still hope it isn’t true.
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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

 

Rob Dauster of Ballin’ Is A Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East.

A Look Back

  • Player of the Week: Dwight Hardy, St. John’s: Hardy has caught fire the past two weeks. He’s averaging 24.8 points per game over the past five games, including the 33 points he put on Connecticut on Thursday night. Then on Sunday afternoon, Hardy scored 18 big points as the Johnnies picked up a huge bubble victory at Cincinnati. We already know how good St. John’s is at home. The 17-point win over the Huskies wasn’t even one of their best two wins on their home court. What was impressive was going into Cincinnati and picking up a close win, albeit with the help of a Rashad Bishop lane violation. The Red Storm is not a lock to make the tournament just yet, but as long as they avoid a Georgetonian collapse down the stretch,Steve Lavin‘s crew will be dancing.
  • Team of the Week: Pittsburgh Panthers: The Panthers had one of the more impressive weeks that any team has put together this season. Playing without their leading scorer Ashton Gibbs, Pitt went into West Virginia and won in the Backyard Brawl rivalry game. Then on Saturday night on ESPN’s Gameday, Pitt held on against Villanova in an in-state battle. If it hasn’t been proven to you yet, the Panthers are a team that is greater than their individual parts. They are good enough that they deserve to be in the conversation not just for a No. 1 seed, but as the No. 1 team in the country.

Power Rankings (overall and conference records, and last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Pittsburgh (23-2, 11-1) (1)
Last Week: 2/12 @ Villanova 57-54
This Week: 2/16 vs. South Florida, 2/19 @ St. John’s

See the above “Team of the Week” portion.

2. Notre Dame (21-4, 10-3) (3)
Last Week: 2/9 vs. Louisville 89-79 OT, 2/12 @ South Florida 78-55
This Week: 2/19 @ West Virginia

With Kemba Walker‘s continuing struggles, there is a legitimate argument to be made for Ben Hansbrough as the Big East’s player of the year. Notre Dame‘s offense is based around their ball movement, but Hansbrough is the guy who has the ball in his hands at the end of a clock. He’s the best creator that Mike Brey has, their leader in scoring and assists, and the best on-ball defender on the team. He also has all the intangibles you look for in a point guard. I love kids like Austin Freeman and Marshon Brooks and Rick Jackson, but I’m not sure there is a player in the conference that I would take over Hansbrough.

3. Georgetown (20-5, 9-4) (5)
Last Week: 2/9 @ Syracuse 64-56, 2/13 vs. Marquette 69-60
This Week: 2/16 @ UConn, 2/19 @ USF

The Hoyas won two games this week, but what was impressive was how they did it. On the road against Syracuse, the Orange took over down the stretch, keeping Syracuse from getting scoring opportunities while going on a game-ending, 15-3 run. Against Marquette, Georgetown dominated the second half on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass. They allowed the Golden Eagles to score just 25 points, held them to a 36.3% eFG, gave up just 11.1% OR, and forced Marquette into nine turnovers and 0.69 PPP. Not exactly the Georgetown team we have become accustomed to under John Thompson III.

4. Villanova (19-6, 7-5) (2)
Last Week: 2/9 @ Rutgers 76-77, 2/12 vs. Pitt 54-57
This Week: 2/15 @ Seton Hall, 2/19 vs. DePaul

The loss against Pitt is acceptable. Losing by three at home without a starter (Corey Stokes missed this game and the second half against Rutgers with turf toe) to the best team in the league and possibly the best team in the country is far from a bad loss. The Rutgers loss, on the other hand, is another story. The Wildcats blew a 13-point lead with five minutes left and an eight point lead with two minutes left. They turned the ball over, they allowed open threes, and, at the end of the game, Corey Fisher fouled Jonathan Mitchell shooting a three. He made it and made the free throw, and Rutgers picked up a huge win.

5. Louisville (19-6, 8-4) (6)
Last Week: 2/9 @ Notre Dame 79-89 OT, 2/12 vs. Syracuse 73-69
This Week: 2/16 @ Cincinnati, 2/18 vs. UConn

What got into Kyle Kuric this week? The sophomore shooting guard had 28 points against Notre Dame in an overtime loss and followed that up with 23 points in the Cardinals’ win over Syracuse on Saturday. For the week, Kuric was 9-14 from three. He’s shooting 46.9% from deep on the season while averaging 10.0 points per contest. He needs to be a consistent scoring option for the Cardinals, as does Terrence Jennings. Jennings is only averaging 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, but over his last five, he’s averaging 14.2 and 7.8.

6. Syracuse (21-6, 8-6) (4)
Last Week: 2/9 vs. Georgetown 56-64, 2/12 @ Louisville 69-73, 2/14 vs. West Virginia 63-52
This Week: 2/19 vs. Rutgers

The Orange picked up a much needed win on Monday night, knocking off West Virginia at home to snap a three-game Carrier Dome losing streak. The biggest problem Syracuse has right now is a complete inability to defend the three point line. Their other issues — poor decision-making from the backcourt, Kris Joseph‘s inconsistency, Fab Melo missing practice — are second in importance to figuring out how to keep teams from hitting 10, 11, and 12 threes against them.

7. Connecticut (19-5, 7-5) (7)
Last Week: 2/10 @ St. John’s 72-89 , 2/13 vs. Providence 75-57
This Week: 2/16 vs. Georgetown, 2/18 @ Louisville

When Kemba Walker is playing like Kemba Walker, as opposed to Super Kemba, UConn is a good team, but they aren’t much more than an upper-half Big East team. Prior to Sunday’s win against Providence, UConn had lost three out of four in league play to fall back into the middle of the pack. This is a big week for he Huskies coming up, with Georgetown and Louisville.

8. St. John’s (15-9, 7-5) (10)
Last Week: 2/10 vs. UConn 89-72, 2/13 @ Cincinnati 59-57
This Week: 2/15 @ St. John’s, 2/19 vs. Marquette

See the above “Player of the Week” portion.

9. Marquette (15-10, 6-6) (8)
Last Week: 2/9 @ South Florida 59-58, 2/13 @ Georgetown 60-69
This Week: 2/15 vs. St. John’s, 2/19 vs. Seton Hall

Sunday’s loss to Georgetown was Marquette’s worst loss of the season. By nine points. Think about that. The Golden Eagles need to start winning some of these close games down the stretch, but is there any team in the country that is more competitive than the Golden Eagles?

10. West Virginia (16-9, 7-6) (9)
Last Week: 2/12 vs. DePaul 72-61, 2/14 @ Syracuse 52-63
This Week: 2/19 vs. Notre Dame

There is something missing from this West Virginia team, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Kevin Jones is inconsistent, John Flowers is foul-prone, Casey Mitchell is a head case, and no one seems willing to box out.

11. Cincinnati (19-6, 6-6) (11)
Last Week: 2/8 @ DePaul 71-68, 2/13 vs. St. John’s 57-59
This Week: 2/16 vs. Louisville, 2/19 @ Providence

Mick Cronin seems to have finally gotten fed up with Yancy Gates‘ actions and apathy towards playing. The five-star recruit who is no better as a junior than he was as a freshman played just 16 minutes against DePaul and 13 minutes against St. John’s after sitting out against Pitt.

12. Seton Hall (11-14, 5-8) (12)
Last Week: 2/12 vs. Rutgers 69-64
This Week: 2/15 vs. Villanova, 2/19 @ Marquette

Keon Lawrence and Jamel Jackson were kicked off the team on Friday after missing curfew to go to a party. Both were disappointments in their time in Jersey.

13. Rutgers (13-12, 4-9) (13)
Last Week: 2/9 vs. Villanova 77-76, 2/12 vs. Seton Hall 64-69
This Week: 2/19 @ Rutgers

The Scarlet Knights deserved that upset against Villanova. Mike Rice has his team playing so hard every night, they just have come up on the short end of the talent stick. I hope they enjoyed it.

14. Providence (14-11, 3-9) (14)
Last Week: 2/13 @ UConn 57-75
This Week: 2/17 vs. DePaul, 2/19 vs. Cincinnati
You have six more games to get the chance to see Marshon Brooks play as a collegian. It’s worth it.

15. South Florida (8-18, 2-11) (15)
Last Week: 2/9 vs. Marquette 58-59, 2/12 vs. Notre Dame 55-78
This Week: 2/16 @ Pitt, 2/19 vs. Georgetown

Why does USF struggle? Gus Gilchrist uses as many possessions as Marshon Brooks and Kemba Walker, but he has an offensive rating of 89.0.

16. DePaul (6-18, 0-12) (16)
Last Week: 2/8 vs. Cincinnati 68-71, 2/12 @ West Virginia 61-72
This Week: 2/17 @ Providence, 2/19 vs. Villanova

DePaul gets more competitive with every game they play. I think Oliver Purnell can make something out of that program.

A Look Ahead

This is a huge week for the UConn Huskies. Not only are they playing Georgetown on Wednesday, they get a rematch with Louisville on Friday night. Are the Huskies truly a contender in the Big East, or was the start of their season more of a fluke than anything?

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Morning Five: 02.14.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 14th, 2011

    1. More impressive than Wisconsin’s victory over visiting Ohio State on Saturday afternoon is the rise of Badger point guard Jordan Taylor, and we don’t mean as an underrated player who suddenly finds himself enjoying accolades he probably should have been enjoying all along over the span of one season. SI’s Luke Winn recounts how Taylor went from being a high school kid lucky to even get a call from the school to being the most important player in Saturday’s win, not to mention one of the top floor leaders in the game. A must-read to start the week.
    2. Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Jim Souhan minces no words when criticizing the Tubby Smith era at Minnesota, apologizing on behalf of all Gopher fans for thinking they had pulled one over on what he evidently considers a pretty backwards fanbase and state. We have to say, we’ve attended games over the length and breadth of Kentucky in this and previous seasons, and we’ve driven through all parts of it on our way to other games, and we’ve yet to see one Confederate flag. We’ve been treated incredibly well everywhere we’ve been in the Bluegrass State on our travels, so we wonder if Souhan’s actually made the trip. To our Kentucky readers: do you accept the apology Souhan includes in his article regarding the assessment of  Tubby Smith, and should there be one forthcoming because of Souhan’s apparent opinion of your state? Looks like he’s lumping you all into a way of thinking that’s represented by a mere few wingnuts.
    3. Sporting News reporter Ryan Fagan took to the highways of South Carolina on Saturday to watch three games in the Palmetto State within about eight hours of each other. Two of the SC teams he watched lost. The one that won is a team with which you might want to familiarize yourself if you haven’t already. The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have now won 22 straight games, are 15-0 in the Big South, have only four regular season tilts left, and three of them are at home. What’s more, after Wisconsin’s defeat of Ohio State, CCU now has the longest winning streak in the nation. Get to know them!
    4. It looked like Seton Hall’s Keon Lawrence had straightened himself out after starting his career East Rutherford with the ignominious incident in which he was arrested for driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike back on November 9th, 2009. He had played in every game this year, averaging 24 minutes a contest. The turnaround evidently didn’t last. Kevin Willard dismissed Lawrence and fellow senior Jamel Jackson from the team on Saturday, just hours before the Pirates’ game at Rutgers.
    5. Things may be tough at Kansas State right now, but you’ll never see Frank Martin give up, that’s for sure. The Kansas City Star has a comprehensive look at the issues that have confronted Martin and his K-State program this year, focusing specifically on the man and why he’s never going to change anything about the way he coaches just because things have hit a rough patch. We’re glad to hear it.
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    ATB: Selby Debuts at Kansas

    Posted by rtmsf on December 20th, 2010

    The Lede.  Did you spend the weekend getting your Christmas shopping finished or watching basketball games?  It was quite a bit of both around the RTC compound, and we learned that should you not under any circumstances expect Tennessee to handle pressure well or question your significant other whether she already has “enough shoes.”  These are hard and fast rules that are inviolate, and the quicker we learn those two maxims, the better off we’ll be.

    Your Watercooler MomentHelp Save Kyrie’s Toe (h/t Beyond the Arc).  In the spirit of the holiday season, Duke fans ask us to dig deep to pray for the return of their superstar point guard Kyrie Irving this season.  Fairly clever, even for a bunch of Dookies (especially enjoyed the Durham… New Jersey… bit).

    Season Debuts.  The semester break has started most everywhere and there were several significant and long-awaited debuts over the weekend.

    • The most anticipated such debut, of course, was at Kansas where point guard Josh Selby came off the bench and pretty much won the game for his team down the stretch against USC.  His five threes included two in the last four minutes that each time regained the lead for the Jayhawks, the second without which would have more than likely ended the KU 64-game homecourt winning streak.  So we know that Selby is a difference-maker — his offensive scoring punch and playmaking abilities provide a dimension to the Kansas attack that the Jayhawks previously didn’t have.  But does he make KU better?  Keep in mind that from what we saw on Saturday, Selby needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective — he took a team-high eleven shots and handed out only one assist (to four turnovers).  Will team chemistry be affected by this?  How will it play with the juniors and seniors who have been through the wars and earned their places as the team leaders?  We’ll admit that we could be very wrong about this, but something just didn’t rub us the right way about how Kansas played on Saturday.  Maybe it was a one-time adjustment to bringing on the talent of a player like Selby, but we have our misgivings.
    • Fordham transfer and USC point guard Jio Fontan also made his debut in the same game as Selby, and his fifteen points as well as leadership were the primary reasons that the Trojans had a realistic shot at knocking off Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.  He only had two assists on this day, and in fact it was his fifth turnover when he stepped on the sideline that ultimately proved the difference, but Southern Cal looked nothing like the same team that Rider destroyed in the Galen Center or TCU punched in the mouth three weeks ago.  Fontan will make a world of difference for the Trojans, and in a Pac-10 that appears to be punctuated with mediocrity up and down the standings, his ability to lead talented big men such as Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson means that USC could surprise some people.

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    The Bell Tolls For Gonzalez At Seton Hall

    Posted by jstevrtc on March 17th, 2010

    The Newark Star-Ledger has announced that Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez has been fired.  Gonzalez is lucky number seven, as far as coaches being fired since the conference tournaments ended.

    Gonzalez posted a 63-56 record at Seton Hall, and went 25-46 in the Big East — but the cited report states that it wasn’t his teams’ performance on the basketball court that got him fired.  It was “a pattern of behavior not reflective of the image the school wants to present.”

    There are three incidents that immediately come to mind in terms of this bad behavior.  Everyone remembers the Keon Lawrence incident on the New Jersey Turnpike that started the season.  Just last week, Gonzalez bounced forward Robert Mitchell from the team just before the Pirates found out who they were playing in the NIT because of some comments Mitchell made about Gonzalez to a local paper.

    The final straw had to come last night in the Pirates’ NIT game against Texas Tech, when SHU’s Herb Pope twice rang TTU forward Darko Cohadarevic’s bell…

    And so ends the Gonzalez era at Seton Hall.

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    Checking in on… the Big East

    Posted by jstevrtc on January 23rd, 2010

    Rob Dauster of Ballin Is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

    Jeremy Hazell can score.

    No one has questioned that. Ever.

    He’s averaging 22.9 PPG. He put 41 on West Virginia. He’s hit 30 four times.

    No, the issue for Hazell isn’t putting up points. Its how he gets his points.

    Prior to Thursday night’s game against Louisville, an argument could have been made that Hazell was the most selfish player in the Big East, if not the entire country. Yes, Hazell is an outstanding three-point shooter, but he only makes 32.5% of his attempts from deep.

    Why?

    Because Hazell has a bit of a problem with shot selection. He has a knack for hitting some incredibly tough shots, but far too often he forces quick shots, challenged shots, early in a possession. There is nothing wrong with taking a tough shot at the end of a shot clock, or the end of the game, or even when you’ve knocked down three or four jumpers in a row – your proverbial heat check.

    But there is something wrong with taking the number of forced jumpers that Hazell was taking early in the season. Take a look at some of the shooting performances Hazell has had this season:

    • In a win over Monmouth, Hazell scored 26 points, but was 9-23 from the floor and 5-14 from three.
    • In a loss at Temple, Hazell finished with just 11 points while shooting 4-17 from the field and 1-11 from three.
    • Hazell’s two best scoring outputs of the season came in back-to-back losses against West Virginia and Syracuse, when he went for 41 and 38 points, respectively. But in those two games combined, Hazell was just 26-64 from the floor and 10-34 from three.
    • Hazell scored just 13 points on 5-20 shooting, 2-8 from three, in a loss at UConn.

    And while he has had his economic scoring performances, those are, for the most part, few and far between.

    Now fast forward to Thursday’s game against Louisville. Seton Hall picked up a win in a do-or-die game for the Pirates at-large hopes as they played arguably their best basketball of the season.

    While there were some line-up changes – most notably using Keon Lawrence strictly off of the ball – the biggest difference was Hazell and his shot selection. The 6’5 junior finished the game with 25 points, but he only needed 12 shots to do so, hitting nine and making 3-6 from deep. He played 39 minutes, and in those 39 minutes, Hazell took just a single bad shot.

    And it was an awful shot. With just four minutes left on the clock and the Hall up 12, Hazell airballed a deep three with a good 30 seconds on the shot clock after the Pirates had broken the Louisville press.

    Doris Burke, who was doing the color for the game, ripped him. The twitterati ripped him. No doubt Bobby Gonzalez ripped him.

    (Side note: Burke is a very underrated commentator. She really knows the game, she breaks it down in an insightful manner, and she does it in a way that makes what she is explaining seem very basic. Bill Simmons may disagree, but Burke should be spending more time away from the sideline.)

    But while ripping him for taking a poor shot with a big lead late in the game, you must also commend him. Hazell’s mindset is “shoot, shoot, shoot, score, score, score”. He has always looked for his best shot first, and the best shot for the team second. But tonight, it was different. Louisville chased Hazell around all night, for the most part having a defender in his jock everytime he caught the ball.

    What happened as a result is that driving lanes opened up. Post up opportunites became available. And for maybe the first time in a game I’ve seen Hazell play, he didn’t take it as a personal challenge. He didn’t try to prove that he could score despite an opponent’s game plan centering around slowing him down. If he didn’t have a shot or a lane to drive on the catch, he moved the ball. This meant that guys like Jordan Theodore, who played a fantastic game, going for 17 points and 4 assists on a season-high 11 shots, and Keon Lawrence and Eugene Harvey had an opportunity to take advantage of those driving lanes.

    Seton Hall has a lot of talent on their roster. How much? Well, that’s tough to say, but I think I’m far from the only person that believes this team is much better than their 11-6 (2-4 in the Big East) record would indicate.

    Tonight, the Hall played their best game of the season and picked up arguably their biggest win of the season. The reason why is that Jeremy Hazell, the most talented player on a talented roster, gave his teammates the opportunity to show how good they are.

    Hopefully, he will learn from that.

    Other news and notes:

    • Believe it or not, but Greg Monroe is currently the third leading scorer for Georgetown. Why? Because Austin Freeman is averaging 19.6 PPG over the last eight games while Chris Wright is posting 18.8 PPG over that stretch. That’s not to say Monroe isn’t important. In fact, it is pretty tough to argue against Monroe being their most valuable player. He’s their best rebounder, their best post defender, and without a doubt the player that the Hoyas run their offense through. Watching him work out of the high post – find cutters, putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim – is a thing of beauty. But what Georgetown didn’t have last season was potency on the offensive end, and both Freeman and Wright and developed into guys that can go for 20 on a given night. More importantly, they have become players that can create their own shots in the half court. Hell, Pitt is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and Wright was getting to the rim at will on Wednesday night. I know Georgetown runs a system, and I know JT3’s goal is to get the best shot for the team, but there are times when, as a coach, you need to say “f*** it, here’s the ball, go get me a basket”. Right now, the Hoyas have two guys that can do that.
    • The Big East is being touted as a very good conference again this season, but the teams in the middle of the pack have quite a bit of work to do to guarantee themselves a bid to the tournament. The top five – Villanova, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Georgetown – can be considered all but locks at this points. But after that, who is a tournament team? Notre Dame? Cincinnati? UConn? Louisville? Seton Hall? Marquette? Granted, .500 in the Big East, as long as there are a couple of good wins sprinkled in, should be enough to garner a bid this season with the Pac-10 down, and outside of Seton Hall and Marquette, every team listed is at least .500 in the league. But for the fans of the teams on the bubble, don’t sleep easy just yet. Combined, those six teams have amassed just four tournament quality wins (excluding games between two of the listed teams): Cincinnati’s win over Maryland, UConn’s win over William & Mary, and Marquette’s wins over Xavier and Georgetown. That’s shaky ground to stand on.
    • Congratulations must be given to DePaul, who got five points from Mike Stovall in the final 9.7 seconds of the game, including a fadeaway jumper with 0.7 seconds left for the win, as they picked up their first regular season Big East win since the 2008 season. As for Marquette, this is just another in a season’s worth of tough losses. Their four losses in Big East play have come by a total of six points, and their three losses in the non-conference were by a total of 14 points.
    • “I feel like during the game, we gave up. And we can’t get better, we can’t improve, if we give up on games. The high school I went to, no matter what the score is you gotta play till the game’s over and I felt like we just gave up at the end.” That quote is from Rutgers freshman Dane Miller, who had 26 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists in a 94-68 loss to Villanova. That’s not a good thing to hear.

    TEAM OF THE WEEK:  Syracuse Orange

    The Orange solidified their status as one of the Big East elite as they beat both West Virginia and Notre Dame on the road this week, improving to 5-1 in the conference and 18-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Pitt. The guy that impressed me the most this week was Brandon Triche. Triche had a terrible start to the game against West Virginia, but made a number of crucial plays during the game-deciding run. For a player that wasn’t ranked in many top 100 lists coming out of high school, Triche is now averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.2 APG, starting at the point for the #5 team in the country.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Scottie Reynolds, Villanova

    Is there a conference that has more player of the year candidates? Wes Johnson, Luke Harangody, Jerome Dyson, Da’Sean Butler, Ashton Gibbs, Lazar Hayward, Greg Monroe. But the favorite right now hasto be Scottie Reynolds. If the numbers he’s posted this season – 18.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.4 APG – aren’t enough, the plays he made down the stretch at Marquette, against Louisville, and against Georgetown (among other) may change your mind. For the week, Reynolds averaged 18.0 PPG, but it was his 27 point performance, on 8-15 shooting, and tiebreaking basket against a Georgetown team that had overcome a 17 point lead that earned him the nod.

    POWER RANKINGS:

    (Side note about the power rankings: Yes, I know that Pitt beat Syracuse, and I know that Georgetown beat Pitt, which should mean that Georgetown is ranked above Pitt and Pitt above Syracuse. But, for that to happen, Syracuse would then be the fourth best team in the Big East. They aren’t the fourth best team in the Big East, in fact I think they are the best team in the Big East. So instead of ranking the teams – at least 2-4 – based on head-to-head wins, I’m sticking with putting them in order of who I think is the best.)

    1. Villanova: 17-1, 6-0

    Last Week: 1/17 vs. Georgetown 82-77, 1/20 vs. Rutgers 94-68

    Next Week: 1/23 @ St. John’s, 1/27 vs. Notre Dame

    2. Syracuse: 18-1, 5-1

    Last Week: 1/16 @ West Virginia 72-71, 1/18 @ Notre Dame 84-71

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. Marquette, 1/25 vs. Georgetown

    3. Georgetown: 14-3, 5-2

    Last Week: 1/17 @ Villanova 77-82, 1/20 @ Pitt 74-66

    Next Week: 1/23 vs Rutgers, 1/25 @ Syracuse

    4. Pitt: 15-3, 5-1

    Last Week: 1/16 vs. Louisville 82-77 OT, 1/20 vs. Georgetown 66-74

    Next Week: 1/24 @ Seton Hall, 1/28 vs. St. John’s

    5. West Virginia: 14-3, 5-2

    Last Week: 1/16 vs. Syracuse 71-72, 1/20 @ Marshall 68-60

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. Ohio State, 1/26 @ DePaul

    6. Cincinnati: 13-6, 4-3

    Last Week: 1/16 vs. Notre Dame 60-58, 1/20 vs. South Florida 78-70

    Next Week: 1/24 @ Louisville

    7. Connecticut: 12-6, 3-3

    Last Week: 1/17 @ Michigan 63-68, 1/20 @ St. John’s 75-59

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. Texas

    8. Notre Dame: 14-5, 3-3

    Last Week: 1/16 @ Cincinnati 58-60, 1/18 vs. Syracuse 71-84

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. DePaul

    9. Louisville: 12-7, 3-3

    Last Week: 1/16 @ Pitt 77-82 OT, 1/21 @ Seton Hall 77-80

    Next Week: 1/24 vs. Cincinnati

    10. Marquette: 11-7, 2-4

    Last Week: 1/17 vs. Providence 93-63, 1/20 @ DePaul 50-51

    Next Week: 1/23 @ Syracuse, 1/26 vs. Rutgers

    11. Seton Hall: 11-6, 2-4

    Last Week: 1/21 vs. Louisville 80-77

    Next Week: 1/24 vs. Pitt

    12. Providence: 11-7, 3-3

    Last Week: 1/17 @ Marquette 93-63

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. South Florida

    13. St. John’s: 12-6, 2-4

    Last Week: 1/17 vs. DePaul 67-47, 1/20 @ UConn 59-75

    Next Week: 1/23 vs. Villanova

    14. South Florida: 11-7, 1-5

    Last Week: 1/16 vs. Rutgers 73-64, 1/20 @ Cincinnati 70-78

    Next Week: 1/23 @ Providence

    15. DePaul: 8-10, 1-5

    Last Week: 1/17 @ St. John’s 47-67, 1/20 vs. Marquette 51-50

    Next Week: 1/23 @ Notre Dame, 1/26 vs. West Virginia

    16. Rutgers: 9-9, 0-6

    Last Week: 1/16 @ South Florida 64-73, 1/20 vs. Villanova 68-94

    Next Week: 1/23 @ Georgetown, 1/26 @ Marquette

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    RTC Live: Cincinnati @ Seton Hall

    Posted by rtmsf on January 9th, 2010

    Two teams fighting for respect in the Big East, not to mention a post season bid, meet tonight at the Rock in Newark, NJ.  Cincinnati, led by freshman Lance Stephenson, sophomore Yancy Gates and senior Deonta Vaughn will face off against Bobby Gonzalez and his band of Pirates, led by junior scoring machine Jeremy Hazell and transfers Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence. In a season many predicted would overturn the old order in the Big East, the Bearcats and Pirates both had plans to move up in the conference pecking order.  Cincinnati’s plan is on track – they took care of business in their opening game, downing Connecticut at Fifth Third, then traveled to the RAC and knocked off Rutgers. But they stumbled in their last conference game when they dropped a 74-71 decision to Pittsburgh. A win tonight restores their momentum and puts them (well) ahead of Seton Hall in the New Order of Things in the Big East. Seton Hall had a plan too, but three close losses into their conference season, the plan is down to “just win”. Join us at 6:00 eastern time for the tipoff.

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    Checking in on… the Big East

    Posted by rtmsf on December 30th, 2009

    Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

    Here we are on the brink of Big East play. What does that mean? MID-SEASON AWARD TIME!!!

    Co-Players of the Year: Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia and Wes Johnson, Syracuse

    Depending on who you ask, these two are in the mix for the national player of the year. Butler (16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.8 apg) has been the best player for West Virginia, even sliding over and playing some point guard in the past few games as Joe Mazzulla works his way back from a shoulder injury and Truck Bryant battles ankle and groin injuries. Butler may not be West Virginia’s best NBA prospect, but he has been the Mountaineers’ most valuable player this season. He is their best scorer in the halfcourt, and is quick becoming their best creator. He can step outside and knock down a three or run the point just as well as he can post up a smaller defender. He’s also hit two game-winners in the last two weeks.

    Johnson has really lived up to the excessive hype he had in the preseason. He is averaging 17.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.3 spg, and 2.0 bpg while shooting 51.1% from three. His length, athleticism and versatility has been his biggest assets; he makes it so difficult for opposing players on the baseline in the Cuse zone; he plays like a three on the offensive end, but blocks shots and rebounds like a four on the defensive end; and most importantly, he can really score, be it in transition or in the half court set. Think the love child of T-Mac and Shawn Marion. Scary, right?

    Freshman of the Year: Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

    Born Ready wasn’t quite born ready, but 11 games into the season, its pretty clear that Stephenson is going to be a player in this league. Stephenson has averaged 12.5 ppg and 2.4 apg, but more than the numbers he has put up, it has been what he hasn’t done that has been most important – this kid is not a distraction. Yes, he does have his outbursts (his reaction at the end of the Gonzaga game and his yapping at Chris Mack in the Xavier game come to mind), but what 19 year old doesn’t? Cincy has struggled a bit early in the season as they haven’t quite lived up to some of the lofty expectations, but none of that has been Lance’s fault. He makes smart plays, he makes unselfish plays, and, most importantly, he simply makes plays.

    All-Conference Teams

    1st team

    • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame: 24.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg
    • Jerome Dyson, UConn: 19.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.7 apg
    • Lazar Hayward, Marquette: 19.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg
    • Dominique Jones, South Florida: 18.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.8 rpg, 2.2 spg
    • Kevin Jones, West Virginia: 15.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg

    2nd team

    • Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall: 23.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.2 spg
    • Stanley Robinson, UConn: 17.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg
    • Scottie Reynolds, Villanova: 17.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg
    • DJ Kennedy, St. John’s: 16.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg
    • Greg Monroe, Georgetown: 15.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.0 apg

    3rd team

    • Andy Rautins, Syracuse: 9.5 ppg, 5.2 apg, 2.5 spg
    • Herb Pope, Seton Hall: 13.8 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg
    • Samardo Samuels, Louisville: 16.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg
    • Antonio Pena, Villanova: 13.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg
    • Gus Gilchrist, South Florida: 18.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg

    Biggest Surprise – team: Syracuse

    If I have to explain this to you, you should be reading Perez Hilton and not Rush the Court.

    Biggest Surprises – player: Kevin Jones, West Virginia and Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame

    We knew that Jones was good. He’s long, he’s strong, he’s athletic, and he has a nose for the ball, which makes him a perfect fit for a Bob Huggins-coached team. But did anyone expect him to be West Virginia’s best low post player? He has given the Mountaineers a true low-post threat, he can knock down threes, and he attacks the offensive glass very hard. 15.1 ppg and 7.6 rpg is just the beginning for this kid.

    Tim Abromaitis is a different story. He barely played as a freshman and redshirted last year, and when Scott Martin went down with an ACL injury in the preseason, a chance was given and Abro has made the most of it. He is averaging 15.8 ppg while shooting 50.7% from three, giving Notre Dame another option if defenses collapse on Harangody. If he can bulk up a bit and become a better rebounder, Abro may be an all-conference player when it is all said and done.

    Biggest Disappointment – team and player: Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati

    I really thought that the Bearcats were going to make a push for the Big East crown this season. With Vaughn teaming up with Stephenson and Cashmere Wright on the perimeter and Yancy Gates anchoring a big, physical front line, I thought this team had the roster to be a factor. But with Vaughn’s early season struggles, Cincy has lost three games in the non-conference, and has yet to look like a contender. For the first time in his career, Vaughn is averaging below double figures at just 9.8 ppg, but lets face it – he is just too talented to struggle for a full season. I’m not writing off the Bearcats just yet.

    The runner-up for most disappointing team is Seton Hall. The Pirates have a ton of talent, but they just don’t have the team chemistry to compete with the big dogs. I’m not talking about the players getting along. They may very well be best friends. What I mean is that this team just doesn’t play well together right now. Jeremy Hazell, as good as he is, seems to be more concerned with finding his best shot of offense as opposed to the team’s best shot. Herb Pope is a load on the block, but he can’t hit free throws, turns the ball over too much, and seems lost offensively at times. Eugene Harvey, Keon Lawrence, Robert Mitchell, Jeff Robinson – these guys over-dribble and don’t consistently take good shots. Seton Hall could easily be 2-0 in the league right now, but instead they have dropped two heartbreakers early on, and in a league as balanced as the Big East is, that is going to be a tough thing to overcome.

    Coach of the Year: Norm Roberts, St. John’s

    The Johnnies are flirting with the bubble this season, and with a good performance in the Big East, the Red Storm could very well make it back to the tournament this season. And keep in mind that St. John’s has done this without Anthony Mason, Jr., playing a minute yet this season and with Justin Burrell missing a few weeks with an ankle injury.

    Notes

    • West Virginia is currently playing with five forwards in their starting line-up – Butler, Jones, Ebanks, Wellington Smith and John Flowers – as Truck Bryant battles ankle and groin injuries and Joe Mazzulla makes his way back from a shoulder injury. This creates two problems for the Mountaineers – they are struggling against pressure defenses and creating easy shots in the halfcourt, and they give up way too much penetration. This was completely evident against Marquette, as the Golden Eagles spread the floor, attacked gaps, and got a number of wide-open looks from three. But this is a good thing for WVU, believe it or not. Mazzulla is not going to be healthy this season (he’s playing right now with the inability to raise his left arm – he’s shooting free throws right handed as a lefty), which means that once Bryant gets healthy, they will have one true point guard. If injuries our foul trouble strikes later in the season, learning to play with five forwards now is better than learning in March.
    • UConn has two major achilles heels this season – depth and free throw shooting. The addition of Ater Majok is not going to be as influential as many believe. Majok is long and plays with energy, but he has no basketball IQ and he is nothing more than length right now – he’ll block a few shots and grab a few boards, but he’s a 12-15 mpg player at best. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has played well in the last couple of games, but he is still learning what it takes to compete in the Big East. This is still basically a five player team. But the bigger issue will be free throw shooting. Neither Stanley Robinson nor Jerome Dyson are great free throw shooters, which is a big problem when you consider how often these two are going to get to the line the way they attack the rim. UConn is going to struggle to put points on the board, and a few missed free throws are going to make a huge difference. You can argue pretty convincingly that it cost them both the Duke and Kentucky games.
    • Villanova is not going to be a great team until they play better defense. KenPom has them at 89th in the country right now in tempo-free defensive efficiency. They give up too much penetration, allow too many open threes, and don’t have the size inside to prevent post-ups and defend at the rim. This team is really going to miss Dwayne Anderson and Shane Clark, but hopefully getting Reggie Redding back will make a difference.
    • Jeremy Hazell scored 41 and 38 points in losses to West Virginia and Syracuse, respectively, but it took him 64 shots to do so. He needs to be more efficient and/or take better shots for the Pirates. Any above average guard in this league could put up those numbers with that many shots.
    • Chris Wright had 34 points in Georgetown’s win over Harvard, but lost in that was the fact that he still had 4 turnovers and just 4 assists. On the season, he is only averaging 3.5 apg and 3.0 turnovers.

    Power Rankings

    1. Syracuse – 13-0, 1-0

    Last Week: 12/29 @ Seton Hall 80-73

    Next Week: 1/2 vs. Pitt

    2. West Virginia – 10-0, 2-0

    Last Week: 12/26 @ Seton Hall 90-84, 12/29 vs. Marquette 63-62

    Next Week: 1/1 @ Purdue

    3. Villanova – 11-1

    Last Week: 12/23 vs. Delaware 97-63

    Next Week: 1/2 @ Marquette

    4. Georgetown – 9-1

    Last Week: 12/23 vs. Harvard

    Next Week: 1/3 @ DePaul

    5. UConn – 9-2

    Last Week: 12/27 vs. Iona 93-74

    Next Week: 12/30 @ Cincy 69-71, 1/2 vs. Notre Dame

    6. Louisville – 9-3

    Last Week: 12/23 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 84-69, 12/27 vs. Radford 79-53

    Next Week: 12/30 vs. South Florida 73-52, 1/2 @ Kentucky

    7. Cincinnati – 8-3

    Last Week: none

    Next Week: 12/30 vs. UConn 71-69, 1/2 @ Rutgers, 1/4 vs. Pitt

    8. St. John’s – 10-2

    Last Week: 12/23 vs. Bryant 80-44

    Next Week: 12/31 @ Georgetown, 1/3 vs. Providence

    9. Marquette – 9-4, 0-1

    Last Week: 12/27 vs. Presbyterian 102-62, 12/29 @ Marquette 62-63

    Next Week: 1/2 vs. Villanova

    10. Notre Dame – 10-2

    Last Week: none

    Next Week: 12/30 vs. Providence 93-78, 1/2 @ UConn, 1/6 @ South Florida

    11. South Florida – 10-2

    Last Week: none

    Next Week: 12/30 @ Louisville 52-73, 1/5 vs. Notre Dame

    12. Seton Hall – 8-3, 0-2

    Last Week: 12/26 vs. West Virginia 84-90, 12/29 vs. Syracuse 73-80

    Next Week: 1/2 @ Virginia Tech

    13. Pitt – 11-2, 1-0

    Last Week: 12/28 vs. DePaul 65-52

    Next Week: 1/2 @ Syracuse, 1/4 @ Cincinnati

    14. Rutgers – 9-3

    Last Week: 12/28 @ UNC 67-81

    Next Week: 1/2 vs. Cincinnati

    15. Providence – 8-4

    Last Week: none

    Next Week: 12/30 @ Notre Dame 78-93, 1/3 @ St. John’s

    16. DePaul – 7-6, 0-1

    Last Week: 12/28 @ Pitt

    Next Week: 1/3 vs. Georgetown

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    From the Student Section: Seton Hall Pirates

    Posted by rtmsf on December 28th, 2009

    Contributing writer Kevin Chupka will periodically interview a rabid student fan about all things basketball on the court and in the stands… a view from the student section.

    Pirate Fans Eric SoHayda and His Friend Marie

    The Seton Hall Pirates turned a few heads this week in their Big East opener. While the final score had many Pirates hanging their heads in defeat at the hands of a frighteningly good West Virginia team, the team fought back valiantly in the last minute from ten points down to send the conference kick-off into overtime. It was there that West Virginia remembered they were the #6 team in the country and sent the Pirates packing.  But in the fight Seton Hall did not fail to impress. While the praise from the media generally stopped at “improved” at the start of the season, the student section at the Prudential Center knew better and could see then what many see now.

    Among those basketball seers was Pirate faithful fan and Seton Hall senior Eric SoHayda. “Most students expect to go dancing this year and as it always does, depending on who we face, we can turn some heads and win some games. Just getting to the dance is good, but we want to be great and that starts with getting to the second weekend,” says Eric.

    It’s been on the minds of students in South Orange, NJ since coach Bobby Gonzalez arrived in 2006. He was tasked with turning the team into a contender in a talent-heavy Big East; recruiting on the same turf as UConn, Syracuse, Villanova St. John’s and in-state rival Rutgers is no small task.  While Gonzalez and the Pirates have had their fair share of bumps in the road, a talented bevy of transfers, all ready to play from here on out may be something of a new beginning.

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    Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

    Posted by zhayes9 on December 22nd, 2009

    RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

    1. While the slate en route to West Virginia’s 8-0 start hasn’t been laced with eventual NCAA Tournament participants (the exception being a neutral court win over Texas A&M), the start is nonetheless impressive for a Bob Huggins-coached squad expected to remain near the top-10 from start to finish. While Da’Sean Butler plays the role of go-to scorer and senior leader, it’s sophomore forward Kevin Jones that’s been the stabilizing force behind the undefeated start. Jones has scored in double-figures every single game for Huggins, including 23 on a wildly efficient 9-10 from the floor in the squeaker against Cleveland State last Saturday. Jones also leads West Virginia in rebounding and has upped his FG% nearly 10 points from his up-and-down freshman campaign. As long as Jones keeps playing consistent basketball, he should complete a formidable frontcourt along with Devin Ebanks, Wellington Smith, John Flowers and Cam Thoroughman.

    2. Yes, I realize it’s only December, and talking about awards handed out in April seems like a waste of time. Still, just for fun, it’s not out of the question to give Northwestern’s Bill Carmody the early nod for National Coach of the Year. Many preseason prognosticators felt this could be the year the Wildcats break their embarrassing streak of never reaching the NCAA Tournament. When all-Big Ten performer Kevin Coble and complimentary piece Jeff Ryan both went down with season-ending injuries early, all hope was lost. Fast forward to late December and Northwestern has resurrected their season behind the 1-2 punch of Michael Thompson and Jeff Shurna (who should both be back in 2010-11 along with Coble). Carmody’s bunch fell to Butler in November, but have rebounded with wins in Chicago against Notre Dame and Iowa State, a victory at NC State and a home win vs. Stanford.

    3. Each and every year, college basketball fans debate which conference holds the mantle as the strongest in the land. A season ago, the Big East clearly garnered that honor. Heading into 2009-10, many felt the ACC or Big Ten would prove the strongest, while the Big East emerged in the early weeks as the frontrunner behind five top-15 teams in Syracuse, West Virginia, Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova. After that elite group, one can debate eventual in/out status for the rest of the conference. But from top to bottom, no conference tops the Big 12 this season. The best two teams in the nation, Kansas and Texas, reign are supreme at the top. Kansas State is climbing the ranks and Texas A&M appears on the fringe of the top 25. Texas Tech’s first loss came on Saturday at Wichita State following a 10-0 start. Oklahoma State has only one falter and Oklahoma should hit their stride as the season wears on. Even the lower squads like Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri are dangerous. The early nod goes to the Big 12 as the premiere conference in college basketball. Playing the best individual basketball in the conference is not Aldrich or Collins or James or Warren, but Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen.

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    ATB: Snow Problem, Plenty of Hoops…

    Posted by rtmsf on December 20th, 2009

    The Debacle in Hinkle#17 Butler 69, Xavier 68. The story over the weekend was the bizarre and (some say) unconscionable ending to the Butler-Xavier game on Saturday afternoon.  If you somehow missed it, check out our post on the subject from last night.  We pretty much agree that the referee crew followed the rules as they’re written, but that the rules as they’re written pretty much suck in a situation such as this.  RTC Live was there, and as our correspondent wrote at the time:

    That would be one ballsy crew to take a full second OFF the clock against a visitor down by 1 point.  HUGE controversy WOW…. I have been doing bball for years and I cannot believe that they just did that?!?!?!?!?!”

    Ballsy they were, but also correct by the letter of the law.  Unfortunately for Xavier and Chris Mack, the Musketeers were left holding the bag when a timing error led them to believe they’d have a final shot to win the game.  The NCAA needs to step up and immediately clarify this rule, including what kind of stopwatch can and cannot be used to estimate the time so that we’re not faced with an equally ridiculous ending on a much bigger stage later this year.

    Jerry’s Joint#2 Texas 103, #10 UNC 90.  The featured game of the weekend at Jerry’s World known as the new-and-improved-to-a-ridiculous-degree Cowboys Stadium showed why many people are very high on Rick Barnes’ Texas team to cut down the nets in April.  UT put four players in the 20+ points column, including huge dub-dubs from seniors Damion James (25/15) and Dexter Pittman (23/15) to go along with Avery Bradley’s 20/4 assts/3 stls and J’Covan Brown’s 21/5/3 assts.  Showing the depth that Barnes now has at his disposal, much ballyhooed transfer Jai Lucas (recently eligible) only played six minutes and recorded zero points.  He’d start for most of the teams in the Top 25 from day one.  UNC’s Ed Davis was the only Carolina player who seemed comfortable with the waves of Texas players inside, as he blew up for 21/9/4 blks for one of his best performances of the year.  Texas will get another test on Tuesday of this week as Michigan State visits Austin, while UNC will head back home for a few easier games prior to the start of the ACC in early January.  We’re still worried about UNC’s point guard play, but we’d imagine that Texas is going to make a lot of pretty good teams look bad over the course of this season.  That team is loaded!

    The JumboTron Dwarfs the Court (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

    Gonz-awfulness#7 Duke 76, #15 Gonzaga 41.  In a game all too reminiscent of other early-season blowouts that Duke has administered on overrated teams, the Devils completely overwhelmed the Zags defensively to, as Mark Few put it after the game, “woodshed” his team on Saturday afternoon at MSG.  Duke’s defense held Gonzaga to a mere fifteen FGs for the game, 28% shooting, a single three-pointer and a quarter-century team low of 41 points.  Despite all the hype for the Duke bigs coming into the season, it’s been the backcourt play of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith, combining for 36 PPG, 7 RPG, and 10 APG that has truly driven this team to have the look as one of the best teams in America this year.  Scheyer’s ridiculous A:TO ratio of 5.8 to 1 actually went down after two TOs in this one, but his 20/5/8 assts more than made up for the miscue.  Smith added 24/3/3 assts, and we’re going to spare talking about the Gonzaga awfulness since not a single Zag got into double figures on the day.

    Shot of the WeekendCornell 91, Davidson 88 (OT). Ryan Wittman’s 30-footer at the buzzer in overtime gave the Big Red its eighth win of the year and a shot at a Big East team (St. John’s) on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.  Lost in the heroics and glee of Wittman’s shot was the fact that it wouldn’t have even been possible had Louis Dale not hit a driving layup with 0.7 seconds remaining in regulation.  Cornell’s only two losses this year were against Big East teams (Seton Hall and Syracuse), so this will likely be the Ivy League favorite’s best chance to get a huge win this season (Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse is not realistic).  We haven’t been able to locate a video of this shot yet, but if you see one, let us know.

    SEC Sucktitude. A week ago, we were ready to start believing that the SEC is much-improved this year.  Then the SEC East craps itself on Saturday and Sunday.  We’re reserving judgment for now, which of course means we really think this league is terrible and deserves only one bid (ok, not really).

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