Boom Goes the Dynamite: 12.12.09

Posted by nvr1983 on December 12th, 2009


We are back with our first Boom Goes The Dynamite of the season (not counting our coverage of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon). For those of you who are not familiar with this feature, we will be covering all of the important college basketball being played today in a live blog. So for those of you who love college basketball, we invite you to spend part (or all) of the day with us. If you’re still getting back into college basketball after spending the fall following a sport that does not let an undefeated team play for a title, here is a quick rundown of the major games that we will be following throughout the day:

  • Noon: #4 Kentucky at Indiana on CBS
  • Noon: #15 Ohio State at #20 Butler on ESPN and RTC Live
  • 2 PM: #13 Georgetown vs. #16 Washington on FSN and RTC Live
  • 2 PM: La Salle at #1 Kansas on ESPN
  • 4:30 PM: Mississippi State vs. UCLA on FSN and RTC Live
  • 5 PM: Marquette at #23 Wisconsin on ESPN2
  • 6 PM: New Mexico vs. #18 Texas A&M on Fox Sports Southwest
  • 7 PM: Kansas State vs. #17 UNLV on ESPN Full Court
  • 9 PM: #5 Purdue at Alabama on ESPN2

Noon: And we’re live. Like we noted earlier there are 2 big games to watch in this TV session. We’re expecting Kentucky to destroy Indiana, but Ohio State-Butler promises to be much more interesting especially with the absence of Evan Turner.

12:10 PM: Agree with Greg Anthony. DeMarcus Cousins is the key for Kentucky’s title hopes this season. John Wall and Patrick Patterson are almost a given. If Cousins can play consistently (and the Wildcats play a little D), they have a great shot at a NCAA title.

12:12 PM: Phenomenal start for Indiana. Tom Crean could not have asked for anything more than a 12-4 start. Is it possible that Kentucky could have overlooked Indiana. I know the Hoosiers are down, but you have to get up for a trip to Bloomington, right?

12:15 PM: For those who caught that discussion about the relative scoring ability of Matt Howard and Jay Bilas. Here are Jay’s numbers from his time at Duke.

12:20 PM: Kentucky looks really sloppy right now. Have the Wildcats been listening to all the hype?

12:25 PM: Great start for Butler. Up 24-14 midway through the 1st half. William Buford answers a bucket but misses the free throw. Wow. That’s a ridiculous class for Ohio State, but like Bilas mentions how long will they stay there. Gordon Hayward almost converts a ridiculous alley-oop from Shelvin Mack.

12:30 PM: Wow. Bilas thinks Northwestern is still a NCAA Tournament team even without Kevin Coble. I’m not so sure about that. I guess there is a lot of Big 10/11 basketball to be played.

12:32 PM: And Kentucky has taken the lead at 21-19 thanks to a 12-2 run. It figured it would only be a matter of time before they came back, but this is pretty quick. The question is whether the Hoosiers can respond and keep this game tight. If they keep it within 10 at half, the crowd should still be into it.

12:35 PM: Did they just say that Wall has a 3.8 GPA? Has Kentucky’s semester already ended or is that his high school GPA? I have heard it was closer to 2.6 in high school. Is this another Tim Tebow situation?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Thanksgiving Leftovers…

Posted by rtmsf on November 30th, 2009


Ed. Note: sorry for the delay on Sunday’s ATB, but the travel schedule got in the way…

Over the weekend, there was something in the neighborhood of 145 college basketball games.  Many were several times more compelling than watching Tim Tebow praise God one more time in another blowout Florida win or seeing the Charlie Weis Bataan death march at Notre Dame (although the Iron Bowl was good).  With that in mind, we’re here to sort through our Thanksgiving leftovers to award the teams that most and least deserve a scrumptious plate of tofurkey and leeks (ok, maybe that menu was at your house, not ours).

Turkey Sandwiches.  Usually better the second time around.  And the third time.  And the fourth…  Unless you’re Ben Howland and UCLA, and you’re starting to wonder if that mayo tastes a little spoiled after the fourth helping.  After UCLA dropped its third game in a row at the 76 Classic (and fourth on the year), questions are swirling as to what is wrong with his Bruins.  It’s not just that UCLA has four losses; it’s that these losses are to mid-majors like Cal State Fullerton, Portland, Butler and now Long Beach State.  Butler and Portland are NCAA-worthy, but the others?  Let’s examine what’s wrong, and see if anything can be done to fix it.  For starters, the UCLA offense — often a challenge in Howland’s era — is on life support this season.  Nobody on this team appears to be able to shoot the ball, and that includes from the field (44%), three (26%) and the line (56%).  Guards Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson were hot-shot recruits in the backcourt, but neither of them can break 40% from the field; there was a big fuss about Nikola Dragovic’s return to the team after an accusation of assault, and he’s hitting a frigid 25% of his attempts.  Good grief – when Michael Roll (23 pts in the LBSU game) is your “star” player, you have serious offensive issues.  But it’s not just the offense this season, as bad as that has been.  It’s also the defense, which is traditionally a Howland staple and has him contemplating changing his usual tough man-to-man for a zone.  UCLA is giving up 45% shooting to teams (worst in the Pac-10) and when they’ve needed to get the stop — witness the CS Fullerton and Butler games — they came up empty.  So the question is whether this team can turn it around, and we’re not sure that it can in time to stop the bleeding.  #1 Kansas is on the agenda next weekend, and Mississippi State and Notre Dame soon thereafter.  The Pac-10, as we all know by now, is incredibly weak, but if you can’t beat Long Beach and Fullerton, you’re not going to beat Arizona and Washington either.  There is a ton of work to be done here, and if Howland can turn it around by March, we’ll be right there at the front of the line to give him accolades.  Until then, though, UCLA basketball doesn’t take kindly to this stuff, so he’d better get moving quickly…

Pumpkin Pie.  A meal unto itself, making yourself fat and happy with pasty goodness.  Has anyone — and we mean anyone — looked better than West Virginia through the first three weeks of the season?  Let’s look at the short list: Syracuse and Duke.   That’s it – those are the only two teams who have looked as dominant as WVU in our estimation.  Yesterday Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers left Anaheim with what they were expected to do: win the 76 Classic.  Few expected them to do it by facing upstart WCC foe Portland in the championship game, as the Pilots crushed UCLA and outlasted Minnesota to get there, but there was Eric Reveno’s crew facing off against WVU in the finals.  The Pilots ran into a buzzsaw on Sunday, though, as Tournament MVP Da’Sean Butler posted 26 points and Portland shot just 5-24 from behind the three-point arc, clearly bothered by West Virginia’s athleticism and close-out pressure defense.  With the return of sophomore Devin Ebanks – after his mysterious stint in coach Huggins’ doghouse –- the Mountaineers look fine-tuned and ready to compete with anyone in the nation.  Of course, it’s only November, and we’ve been down this road with Huggins before, so stay prepared for anything.

Mac n’ Cheese.  Gooey deliciousness.  That’s how Northwestern must be feeling after winning the Chicago Invitational over two tough teams, Notre Dame and Iowa State.  Maybe that NCAA Tournament bid isn’t a pipe dream after all since losing Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan to injuries, because it’s clear that Northwestern has decided that it will not go quietly.  John Shurna led the Wildcats with 23/7/4 assts while helping to harass ISU star Craig Brackins into a 6-16 FG, 18/9 night (he’s capable of much more).   As it stands, Northwestern is now 5-1, with its sole loss to Butler and a good chance to enter Big Ten play at 11-1 (tomorrow night’s ACC/B10 game against NC State is winnable). 

Green Bean Casserole#2 Michigan State gets the green bean casserole leftovers because, like the dish, they held up fairly well after a disappointing start in the Legends Classic.  The Spartans recovered from their shocking upset loss to Florida on Friday night in the semifinal round by taking it out on UMass in the consolation game 106-68 on Saturday.  RTC Live was there if you want more details, but MSU used a 30-3 first half run to dominate the Minutemen, and ended up the game shooting a red-hot 58% and hitting fourteen threes.  Tom Izzo set a new record for wins at Michigan State with his 341st win on this night, passing his mentor Jud Heathcote.

Warm Rolls. It’s comforting and makes you feel all fuzzy inside, just like family; the First Bro-in-Law had his warm fuzzies at Oregon State’s game in DC with GW on Saturday.  Craig Robinson’s Oregon State team got its first decent win of the season 64-57 against the previously unbeaten Colonials as the First Family looked on.  OSU’s Seth Tarver lit up the stat sheet with 18/7/3 assts/3 stls, but given how badly the Beavers have played to this point, President Obama may want to make plans for several visits to the west coast in January and February. 


Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Northwestern Really Misses Kevin Coble

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2009


A quiet day following the storm of the 24-hour marathon and on the eve of two tremendous CvC semifinal matchups tomorrow night in New York City…

Story of the Day Butler Passes Its First Non-Conference Test. #10 Butler 67, Northwestern 54. It was a balanced effort last night for the Bulldogs who shook off a sluggish opener against Davidson to down the shorthanded Wildcats. Northwestern could have used leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Coble along with senior forward Jeff Ryan (both out with season-ending injuries) against a deeper Butler squad that saw five players notch nine points or better. The effort was led by sophomore point guard Shelvin Mack’s 15 points and eight assists while Gordon Hayward chipped in with 14 of his own. Butler was able to win despite shooting a lackluster 8-16 from the charity stripe, a statistic I’m sure coach Brad Stevens won’t ignore. Butler now has a road date with Evansville before departing for Anaheim next week.  For mor e details from this one, our RTC Live post is on it.

Longhorn Domination (or Was It?). #3 Texas 73, Western Carolina 41. Dominating win for the Longhorns against weak competition, but 21 turnovers and 18-31 from the free throw line have to be concerning numbers for Rick Barnes. A balanced scoring effort last night with some highlights including Damion James ’18/7/2 on 4-9 FG, 2-3 3pt and 8-10 FT, Gary Johnson with 10 points on 4-4 FG and potential starting point guard J’Covan Brown with 10 points on 3-3 FG. Remember: the Longhorns still don’t have Jai Lucas eligible. This is still the second-best team in the nation in my humble estimation.

Other Games of National Interest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: Butler @ Northwestern

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2009


Welcome back to RTC Live as we continue our coast-to-coast coverage of key games of national interest.  Tonight we’re coming to you from the campus of Northwestern University, along the shore of Lake Michigan, as the Wildcats take on #10 Butler in an interesting game between the Big Ten and the Horizon League.  As I’m sure you’re well aware, Northwestern has been hit with a string of bad news lately, losing star forward Kevin Coble to a foot injury for the season and reserve Jeff Ryan to an ACL tear.  Butler returns at full strength with stars Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, but as we saw on Saturday afternoon, they struggled for a good portion of the game before finally putting away Davidson in a battle of mid-majors.  Both teams will need to have this win on their resumes for March – Butler to have a quality road win over a Big Ten foe and Northwestern to have a win over a ranked team.  Our correspondent John Templon will be onsite tonight at Welsh-Ryan Arena, and we invite you to join him tonight with your questions and comments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.16.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2009


  1. Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said today that his star Kevin Coble’s foot bones are “out of alignment” due to an awkward landing last week and, barring an unforeseen diagnosis today, he will need surgery and have to miss the 2009-10 season.  When it rains it pours, we guess, as Carmody also confirmed that senior guard Jeff Ryan was also done for the season after tearing his ACL in the Wildcats’ home opener on Friday night.  Although Ryan isn’t a scorer, he provides necessary depth in the backcourt.  Carmody isn’t taking the ‘blessing in disguise’ approach even though Northwestern will presumably bring back all but two players in 2010-11, stating that this year’s team will keep the same goals and move forward.
  2. Mike DeCourcy wonders if UNC really needed to sign Harrison Barnes given the glut of talent Roy Williams will have on his perimeter the next few years.  Is there something to the idea that Roy went after him in order to keep him out of rival Duke’s clutches?
  3. There will be no criminal charges filed stemming from the brawls between the Kansas football and basketball teams on September 22 and 23 of this year, but it would have been nice if Bill Self had shown the public a peek inside the looking glass in punishing those responsible.
  4. Gary Parrish makes a reasonable argument that blue-chippers should wait until the late signing period (next April) to decide where to sign.  Of course, the official RTC stance is that they shouldn’t sign a binding LOI with the schools at all.  The scholarships for the top players will be there regardless, and by signing a LOI, the player gives up some of his rights (e.g., to transfer to another school w/o losing eligibility if the coach leaves) while the school gives up very little in return.
  5. We had to give this a mention in this space.  Brandon Jennings’ double-nickel performance on Saturday night was phenomenal to see, especially when you consider that he’s the youngest player and only the seventh rookie to ever drop 50+ in a game.  But the question is how is this possible?  Jennings was a surefire top five pick coming out of high school, but after his mostly disappointing year playing overseas (averaging 6-7 ppg in two different leagues) instead of Arizona, he dropped to  the #10 pick and there were serious questions about his decisionmaking and jump shot.  So of course, he’s now averaging 26 ppg  against professional defenses and dropping twenty-nine points in a single quarter of an NBA game.  That makes complete sense.  Can anyone explain this?
Share this story

RTC Live: Week 2

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2009


What a week of RTC Live events, huh?!?  We managed to cover a total of six games literally from coast to coast, and this coming week should be even better.  RTC Live will be at no fewer than eleven games this week, including four top ten teams and two tremendous events, the Hall of Fame Showcase in St. Louis on Tuesday night, and the Coaches vs. Cancer semis and finals in Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday evenings.  We hope to see you with us along for the ride!

Monday November 16

  • Miami (OH) @ #5 Kentucky – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN FC) – John Wall’s collegiate debut is all we need to say here.
  • Pennsylvania @ #6 Villanova – 7 pm ET – Big Five games are always intense, and this one should be no different as the Quakers visit the top ten Wildcats.
  • San Diego State @ St. Mary’s – 2 am ET – SDSU is a little banged up, but this has been a great series over the past several years.

Tuesday November 17

  • Arkansas vs. #23 Louisville (in St. Louis) – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – John Pelphrey takes on his collegiate mentor as part of the Hall of Fame Showcase event, but we’re more interested in seeing how the Cardinals react to their offseason of turmoil.
  • Fairfield @ Maryland – 8 pm ET – we’ll also be coming live from College Park for our first visit to the Comcast Center to see Greivis Vasquez and company in action.
  • Memphis vs. #1 Kansas (in St. Louis) – 10 pm ET (also on ESPN) – The showcase game of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops pits the top-ranked Jayhawks against Josh Pastner’s revamped Tigers.  This game should have an NCAA Tournament environment.

Wednesday November 18

  • #10 Butler @ Northwestern – 8 pm ET (also on BTN) – this would have been a little more exciting had NW’s Kevin Coble not injured his foot, but Butler is going to have to be ready for this one if they want the win in addition to the RPI boost for playing a Big Ten team away.
  • Utah State @ Utah – 8 pm ET (also on The Mtn) – Utah is coming off a home loss to Idaho where they allowed the Vandals to drop 94 pts on them.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Utes respond against one of their in-state rivals, a very good team in their own right.

Thursday November 19

  • #12 California vs. #25 Syracuse (in New York) – 7 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – semifinal matchup of the Coaches vs. Cancer between Cal’s exceptional shooters and the long, sticky Syracuse zone defense should result in a great game at MSG.
  • #17 Ohio State vs. #4 North Carolina (in New York) – 9:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – the other semifinal will feature Mr. Everything Evan Turner for OSU navigating the athletic frontline of UNC.  Who will be tasked with guarding Turner — Marcus Ginyard?  John Henson?

Friday November 20

  • Coaches vs. Cancer Consolation Game – 5 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – we expect to see Cal vs. UNC in this matchup after Ohio State pulls the upset the night before.  If so, UNC will dominate the much weaker California front line.
  • Coaches vs. Cancer Championship Game – 7:30 pm ET (also on ESPN2) – in the title tilt, we’re expecting OSU to take on the near-home crowd of Syracuse, with Evan Turner leading his team to the early season championship and a top ten ranking.
Share this story

Late Morning Five: 11.14.09

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2009


Since it’s the weekend, we’ll allow you a couple more hours to sleep in after last night’s mammoth-sized slate of games.

  1. Kevin Coble Watch: Northwestern announced Friday that Coble will be seeking a second medical opinion on his foot injury.  Does that mean he didn’t like what he heard from the first doctor?
  2. Three BC players (Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji and Courtney Dunn) have been suspended by coach Al Skinner for unspecified team rules violations.  It didn’t impact the Eagles tonight in a 31-pt thrashing of Dartmouth (look at Tyler Roche with 30/5 blks!), and it won’t on Tuesday night against St. Francis (NY) either…
  3. Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik had to miss his team’s opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff due to a family emergency.  Assistant coach Steve McClain, who was a head coach at Wyoming for ten years, took over admirably, leading the Buffs to an 88-72 win over UAPB last night.
  4. This is a really great story.  BYU head coach Dave Rose, who battled and defeated pancreatic cancer over the summer, was rewarded with a five-year contract extension today that will ensure his family’s security over the next half-decade and beyond.  Does he deserve it? — well, he’s only off to the best four-year start in the school’s history (97-34, .740) — so we’d say that’s a resounding yes.
  5. Shameless self-promotion – remember that RTC Live will have two really good mid-major battles today.  We’ll be at the Creighton-Dayton game beginning at 1pm ET and the Davidson-Butler game starting at 2pm this afternoon.  We hope to see you stop by.
Share this story

Morning Five: 11.13.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 13th, 2009


  1. As of late Thursday night, we were expecting to have heard the results from Northwestern star Kevin Coble’s visit to a foot specialist that afternoon, but news was not forthcoming.  Instead, the school said that there would be an update on Friday morning, but NU officials are expecting that Coble will be out at least a month and possibly more with his injury.  Terrible news for a team in a loaded conference that will absolutely need every single nonconference win to have a shot at the Big Dance this year.  Assuming Coble is out until late December or early January, do you consider a redshirt to make the run next year?
  2. This Mouphtaou Yarou thing at Villanova is just getting weirder.  It all sounds very suspicious, but Villanova is claiming that they have his birth certificate which clearly shows Yarou as born in 1990, not 1985 as was alleged on the FIBA website.  If VU has any reservation whatsoever, they’d hold him out of tonight’s game against Fairleigh Dickinson – guess we’ll find out what they really think soon enough.
  3. The University of New Orleans may be moving to Division III after all, as the school continues to struggle in a post-Katrina Bourbon City.  A major drop in enrollment and state budget slashes have put the athletic department in an untenable position with respect to funding its sports programs, and this time around even Hornets owner George Shinn probably won’t be able to save them.
  4. Jeff Goodman says UNC isn’t a top five team, and hopefully he will note that RTC’s editing team voted the Heels #7 in our preseason poll, but he’s right.  We’re less concerned with the inexperience (because Roy always figures that out by the end of the season) than the personnel, and the fact of the matter is that Larry Drew II isn’t an elite point guard and the rest of the backcourt is average at best.
  5. Finally, Mike DeCourcy gives us ten things to watch for in a weekend full of games, but very few good ones.  Remember, RTC Live will be going strong all weekend long, with Wake Forest vs. Oral Roberts on Friday night, Creighton vs. Dayton AND Butler vs. Davidson on Saturday, and FIU vs. Tulsa on Sunday.  Join us!
Share this story

Morning Five: 11.12.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2009


  1. The Big Lead scored an interview with Dick Vitale recently, and the elder statesman (he’s 70!) of college basketball announcers riffed on Calipari/Pitino, UNC/Duke and one-and-dones.  Worth the few-minutes read, and we hope to meet him again next week in NYC.
  2. It appears that John Feinstein only recently figured out that the 2kSports Classic and others have already slotted the elite teams into their showcase events for the semifinal and final rounds.  He should read RTC more often.
  3. Virginia’s Jamil Tucker is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team to deal with some personal issues — he averaged 7/4 last year in a reserve forward role, and Northwestern star forward Kevin Coble injured his foot in practice and could possibly miss time because of it.  It’s currently unclear the extent of the injury, but he will be examined Friday and a determination will be made at that time.  This could be devastating for Northwestern’s high hopes for this season.  Moving away from injuries, there were some more suspensions yesterday, including Charlotte PF Shamari Spears, who will miss the 49ers’ first game on Friday against UNC Asheville, and Hawaii’s Douglas Kurtz, whose heart of darkness begins the season with a six-game suspension for playing three games in a Brazilian professional league in 2007.
  4. Things aren’t going very well for Tubby Smith at Minnesota lately.  One of his prized recruits, Royce White, who was already suspended for a violation of team rules and has recently caused trouble (shoplifting and assault) at the Mall of America, is now under suspicion for the theft of a laptop computer.  We’re not exactly experts in this sort of thing, but is it safe to say that White will be at a junior college very soon?
  5. Yesterday was the beginning of the early signing period, and John Stevens wrote a nice breakdown of some of the interesting recruiting gets.  Scout also blogged all day about it and broke down some of the big winners from yesterday — it appears that Ohio State and Memphis both have big smiles on their faces this week in light of their recruiting hauls.  There are seventeen of the top 100 players still undecided, and it appears most of them will wait until spring to make their final decisions.

* for recaps of last night’s games and RTC Live from Cal vs. Detroit, visit After the Buzzer.

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Lower Midwest Region

Posted by zhayes9 on October 13th, 2009


Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South and Mid-South) are located here.

It’s time for the sixth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of rust belt and farming states that we like to call the Lower Midwest.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)


Ed. Note: for the purposes of our analysis in this region, Butler was considered a high-major program.

  • Cole Aldrich – Jr, C – Kansas. Much like North Carolina one October ago, Kansas appears to be the unanimous selection to begin the season atop every poll and ranking. One of the main reasons for such accolades is the continued improvement of Cole Aldrich, the Kansas double-double machine in the post. Remember the national semifinals against UNC in 2008 when Aldrich burst onto the scene recording eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in a then career-high 17 minutes? That was the night college hoops fans first saw what Aldrich can provide for Bill Self and his Jayhawks. In a full season of play, Aldrich and guard Sherron Collins were the anchors behind Kansas’ surprising run to a #3 seed and a Sweet 16 berth in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Cole Aldrich and a pretty good player named Blake Griffin were the only players in the Big 12 to average a double-double in 2008-09. Speaking of stats, Aldrich’s triple-double in the second round against Dayton – 13/20/10 blks- was the first recorded triple double in KU’s illustrious basketball history. Aldrich led the conference in blocks with at 2.7 BPG, finished second in rebounding at 12.4 RPG, second in FG% at 60% and tenth in FT% at an impressive 79% for a 6’11 center.  Aldrich possesses great length, a high motor and displays the fundamentals under the basket that Self loves. The insane talent around Aldrich this season will only put less of a load on his shoulders as the big man can rely on Collins for the clutch outside shot, Xavier Henry on the wings, Thomas Robinson on the block or Tyrel Reed to knock down the long-range three. But the pressure will be on Aldrich to provide a post presence that simply cannot be matched in the Big 12 (sorry Dexter Pittman).  If he achieves his potential, a national POY award isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Kansas’ prized junior center.
  • Craig Brackins – Jr, F – Iowa St. Craig Brackins won’t get half the airtime this season as any of the other high-major names on this list, but he could end up becoming the best player of the group when it’s all said and done.  It’s not as if Brackins came out of nowhere – he was a five-star recruit out of Brewster (NH) Academy in 2007, and he turned down offers from Indiana and Pitt, among others – but, when you play in the Big 12 and your team is generally an afterthought (4-12 in 2008-09), it’s tough to get noticed.  But noticed he got on Jan. 24th in a nationally-televised home game against the defending champion Kansas Jayhawks.  Brackins sliced and diced the vaunted Jayhawk defense for 42/14 in a losing effort that had Bill Self afterwards stating that the lanky center could be the “best player in the country today.”  That single game may have put the Iowa State star on the casual fan’s radar screen, but it’s not like Brackins wasn’t tearing it up against everyone else too:  32/16 against N. Iowa; 28/17 against Jacksonville St.; 38/14 against Houston; 25/13 against Nebraska.  The all-Big 12 first teamer nearly averaged a double-double for the season (20.2 PPG and 9.5 RPG) despite seeing hard and fast double-teams every time he touched the ball.  It was widely presumed that Brackins would jump into the NBA Draft last summer after such a spectacular season; after all, projections for him of the lottery and mid-first round were prevalent.  However, Brackins said that he had some unfinished business to attend to at ISU (meaning, getting the Cyclones to an NCAA Tournament), and he returned to what should be an improved squad with 6’7 juco transfer Marquis Gilstrap’s arrival on the blocks and a solid returning backcourt of Diante Garrett and Lucca Staiger.  The only true weakness he has exhibited so far in his career is his 28% from beyond the arc, but with more firepower on the team this year he may be less inclined to feel like he has to do it all (Brackins attempted 37% of ISU’s shots last year).  Regardless of how the team’s season plays out in 2009-10, there should be no doubt that Brackins is on the short list of best post men in America.  With another year of seasoning under his belt at the collegiate level, however, we could be looking at a top five pick next June.  Don’t flip the channel so quickly if you see that Iowa St. is playing on the tube this year – it may be one of your few chances to see one of the best big men in the country.
Share this story