2014 Bracket Nonsense: Win Final Four Tickets, Durant Autographed Texas Jersey, More…

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2014

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It’s time to play RTC 2014 Bracket Nonsense, and we’re pleased to announce that we’re going to have some outstanding prizes in the game this year. Last year we traveled to Atlanta with some memorabilia celebrating the 1977 and 2007 Final Fours that took place in the Peach State. The year before that, we went on the Road to New Orleans with a Pistol Pete Maravich jersey as our grand prize. Even before then, we went to Houston with a Clyde the Glide Cougars jersey. Prior to that it was a Hickory High School (Indiana) jacket. You get the point. We love our nostalgia and celebration of the game through retro gear. This year, we’ve done ourselves even one better. Here’s what you need to know:

We’ll have three different prize levels this year — one for each weekend — and they’re all pretty awesome.

ncaa final four 2014

Yeah, You Can Win Tickets to This Year’s Final Four

  • First Weekend Prizes: The player who gets the most Bracket Nonsense points during the Second and Third Rounds will win their choice of a vintage 1986 Louisville national championship t-shirt (pictured below) OR a pair of tickets to the 2014 Final Four. Here’s the catch on the tickets — you actually have to show up in DFW in three weeks to receive the prize. You can do whatever you want with them after that point, but you have to meet us on the ground to earn the prize. If you can’t get there, take the t-shirt and we’ll move down the list to the next highest-ranked player.
Prizes For Each Weekend of Bracket Nonsense

Prizes For Each Weekend of Bracket Nonsense

  • Second Weekend Prizes: The player who picks the most correct games during the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds (using the second weekend results only) will win a 1986 Louisville Cardinals autographed basketball (pictured above). This celebrates the last time the Final Four was played in the DFW Metroplex area, nearly 30 years ago at the old Reunion Arena in Dallas when the Cards defeated Duke for its second national title. Denny Crum, Milt Wagner, Pervis Ellison… they’re all on there. This is a really neat historical keepsake.
  • Grand Prize. The player who wins RTC 2014 Bracket Nonsense with the most total points after the Championship Game will win an autographed Texas Longhorns Kevin Durant jersey (pictured above, to honor Texas, of course). The Durantula may not have had a long run in March Madness during his one season in Austin during the 2006-07 season, but he’s become one of the very best basketball players in the entire world since, and this is a fantastic piece of memorabilia that any college basketball fan would love to have in his collection.

There you have it. Some great prizes are on the line this year, and you can win something each of the next three weeks. Don’t forget to sign up before Noon ET on Thursday! Happy March Madness!

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With the Game on the Line, Which ACC Players Get the Call?

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on February 1st, 2014

The ACC is chock full of great athletes and even greater coaches. In such a highly competitive environment, there is bound to be a plethora of close finishes. Even the elite coaches can’t physically will their teams to victory, but instead have to rely upon the players who have ice in their veins. Some coaches prefer a heady point guard who can wind the clock down, penetrate into the paint at the right moment, and then fire off a pinpoint pass to a shooter on the wing for the win. Other coaches prefer a more traditional route of isolation basketball, putting the ball in the hands of the best player, someone who can rise up over the defense or break down his defender one-on-one.

Michael Snaer breaks the heart of many Duke fans in CIS

Michael Snaer breaks the hearts of many Duke fans in CIS

The list of memorable ACC finishes could fill an entire book, provoking court rushes and jubilant celebrations for one team and a traumatic letdowns for another. The most recent that comes to mind from Tobacco Road was Duke’s Austin Rivers buzzer-beater in Chapel Hill two years ago. That same season, and only a month prior to Rivers’ game winner, Duke was shocked at home by Michael Snaer‘s three at the horn to snap a 45-game Duke home winning streak. Flash forward to the present and both Snaer and Rivers are long gone from their respective campuses as new faces and even a few teams litter the ACC landscape. With that in mind, who are the players that ACC coaches most want with the ball in their hands and the game on the line this season? Here are 10 players who have their coaches’ trust in those game-ending situations. 

  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: The freshman point guard from Canada has won Jim Boeheim as well as his teammates’ confidence and has solidified himself as the go-to presence for this year’s undefeated Syracuse team. Look no further than Ennis’ play in the final minutes of Syracuse’s home win over old rival Pittsburgh, as the Orange eked out a victory late, largely thanks to Ennis.

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Marcus Smart Reminds Us That This Season Isn’t All About the Freshmen

Posted by Taylor Erickson on November 20th, 2013

Marcus Smart sees your fab freshmen, and raises you a super sophomore. In what many anticipated would be an entertaining showdown between two top 15 teams last night in Stillwater, Smart took it upon himself to remind everyone in college basketball that this season isn’t just about Wiggins, Parker, and Randle.

Smart Was Sensational on Tuesday Night (SI.com)

Smart Was Sensational on Tuesday Night (SI.com)

We’re all aware of Marcus Smart’s story by now – the ultra-talented freshman who turned down what figured to be a guaranteed top five pick in last June’s NBA Draft for a chance to return to Oklahoma State and further cement himself among college basketball’s elite. Smart knows this much. He has acknowledged the fact that he could be making millions of dollars this season, rather than playing for free this year in Stillwater. He could be cruising around in whatever luxury vehicle he’s always dreamed of, but instead pushes his way around campus on a mountain bike. In an interview with ESPN’s Jay Bilas that aired during the game on Tuesday night, Smart pointed to his inconsistent jump shot, and the need for improvement in that area before taking his game to the next level.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume I

Posted by jbaumgartner on November 18th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. starting this year off with what for my money was the best preseason event in recent memory. Combining the history of the Duke/Kansas/Kentucky/Michigan State programs with the incredible talent those squads have this year was a November treat for any college basketball fan who has grown tired of the NFL’s unthinkably terrible Monday/Thursday schedule this fall. Michael Wilbon said it right in his column after the game — this type of night makes college basketball relevant earlier in the year and gets people paying attention before January. I think you saw that same sentiment from those coaches, too, in their postgame interviews – this was not your ordinary non-conference event.

I LOVED…. Jabari Parker. When I look at freshmen now, I put them through what I call the Kevin Durant Eye Test. When you saw Durant during his unbelievable freshman year at Texas, you stopped doing whatever it was you were previously doing. You thought, no way is this kid this big with these type of perimeter skills and that feathery stroke. No way is he only 18, and no way would he not be making an impact on an NBA team right now. Parker passed that test, and this year is going to be fun.

Parker and Friends are Worth Stopping What You’re Doing to Watch Them

I LOVED…. that I still had to think about if the night’s star was Parker, because UK’s Julius Randle (Zach Randolph should sue for post-game style patent infringement) and KU’s Andrew Wiggins (who woke up for the second half against Duke to remind us what all the hype was about) delivered similarly eye-opening performances. I also loved that for how great Parker and Randle were, it was the more-balanced Jayhawks and Spartans that came out on top.

I LOVED…. Kevin Ware back on the floor. It’s hard to remember the last time that everyone wanted to see a kid back on his feet more than Ware, whose gruesome injury last March caused America to collectively turn their heads away from the TV set. Making his first three-pointer was pretty great, but I loved this past week even more when Ware cut into the lane and bounced off of a two-foot jump stop for a high-flying finger roll at the cup. What a great story.

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Reported adidas Deal With Andrew Wiggins Sets Precedent Very High

Posted by David Harten on October 17th, 2013

According to various media reports on Tuesday, adidas is already stocking up to make a play on current Kansas star Andrew Wiggins, with the shoe giant ready to the throw a 10-year, $140 to $180 million contract at him when he goes pro after this season. Wiggins is widely touted as the top prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft, so let’s move past any issues or claims of amateurism and instead look at the how and why of this supposed deal. Looking at the immediate future, when Wiggins is selected in the first round of the draft next June, he will get the guaranteed four-year contract that comes with selection as a first round pick, per the NBA’s recent collective bargaining agreement. Breaking it down to a simple annual take of salary ($4 million-plus per year) plus endorsements, Wiggins will make a minimum of $18-$22 million per year beginning next summer, assuming of course that he lives up to the overflowing hype while passing through Lawrence.

Why Is This Man Smiling? Nine Figures Waiting Helps

Why Is This Man Smiling? Nine Figures Waiting For Him Helps

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at some of the more lucrative endorsement deals offered to young professional basketball prospects in the last decade. It’s tough to find a good benchmark, but you have to start with LeBron James’ deal with Nike in 2003, which was reportedly worth over $90 million at the time. In terms of one-year collegiate wonders, Kevin Durant signed a seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike when he came out of Texas, and lest we forget, Derrick Rose signed a monster “lifetime” (actual: 14-year) contract with adidas last year worth $260 million.

And yet, none of those deals are as important as the one that Wiggins could reportedly sign. There are certain number of factors that go into it. First, a company being publicly locked and loaded with such a deal (of course, neither adidas nor Wiggins can confirm it) could set off a behind-the-scenes bidding war and set the stage for preemptive moves like this in the future. Everyone around the game knows that the business of basketball begins when top players are still in the AAU ranks. With the shoe companies having such deep and prolific roots in the summer circuits and associations with the major prep schools, it’s easy to understand how and why many players are predestined for adidas, Nike, Reebok, and so forth from the beginning. Kansas is an adidas school. Wouldn’t it make sense for Wiggins to represent the shoe company on the court this season with such a tremendous payoff waiting for him in the wings? Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA, Dream Vision and adidas all say hello.

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Big 12 M5: 01.18.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 18th, 2013

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  1. I said earlier in the week that this article by C.J. Moore of Basketball Prospectus may have changed my mind on Rick Barnes‘ coaching ability. I have never been a fan of Barnes and his seeming ability to do less with more than almost any coach in the country. Moore’s article was a nice rebuttal to opinions like mine. But a lot of Texas fans don’t see it that way, and articles like this one from Mike Finger of MySanAntonio.com highlight those reasons. As Finger points out, Barnes has had no trouble throwing his players under the bus this season, and he’s had no problems doing so since around 2008. And while I’ve never been against a coach calling a player out in public (if they can take the compliments in the press, they should be able to take the criticism, too), there’s always the danger of a team zoning a coach out. Barnes has already had to diffuse those notions this season. Maybe Finger is right. Maybe blasting underclassmen isn’t the best way to get your team to respond.
  2. If you are wondering if Oklahoma has a chance to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009, Jordan Esco over at SBNation.com delves into that topic here. The Sooners have made appearances on most mock brackets as of late, and with the expanded NCAA Tournament field and their 12 wins at the midway part of the regular season, it looks like they will be in the dance barring a collapse in conference play. Esco has them going 9-6 from here on out to finish 12-6 overall in the Big 12. And with three more games against TCU and Texas Tech, West Virginia at home, and Texas at home before Myck Kabongo’s return, it looks like there are nine more wins on that schedule.
  3. I’m sure I’ve said this a few times already, but there are worse people to hire than Bruce Weber if you have an experienced team without a coach. The troubles seem to come when its time for him to start recruiting his own players, but we can discuss that when the time comes. For now, Kansas State is #16 in the country and playing defense as well as almost any team in America right now. They are on a seven-game winning streak and have held their last 10 opponents under 70 points, which includes the 67-61 win over #10 Florida on December 22 in Kansas City. They have a big game against Oklahoma on Saturday, as both teams are 3-0 in the Big 12.
  4. The Big 12 knows about the one-and-done rule as well as any conference, whether conference schools were getting torched by Kevin Durant in 2006-07, Ben McLemore this season, or Kansas losing to the most talented group of one-and-doners ever in last year’s national championship game. If it was up to Shaq, Durant and McLemore would be “three-and-dones” instead. O’Neal recently made the remarks at the NCAA convention in Grapevine, Texas, and had plenty of valid points arguing that players need to stay in school longer. It’s a topic many people feel strongly about, and both sides have their fare share of solid arguments. My take? One year of guys like Durant, Odom, Anthony Davis, McLemore and the rest is better than no years. And while these players staying in school for three years would be fun to watch, if a professional league wants to pay them, let them go earn the money.
  5. Jason King of ESPN.com updated his National Player of the Year ballot, and (rightfully so) Creighton’s Doug McDermott tops his list. McDermott is averaging 24 PPG and 7.2 RPG after being named a First-Team All-American last season. Jeff Withey is fourth on King’s ballot. I can’t help but think of a season ago as Anthony Davis was heralded as one of the best shot-blockers of all-time. A “game-changer” they called him. Davis averaged 14.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 4.7 BPG for Kentucky. Withey is currently averaging 13.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 4.7 BPG this season, just like Davis. I’d still give the award to McDermott this season, but it’s time Withey received more love for possessing the same shot-blocking ability that helped earn a guy the NPOY award last season.
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Big East M5: 01.17.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on January 17th, 2013

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  1. Many college basketball players will rack up on-court accomplishments for four years and never even sniff the opportunity of getting their jersey retired. But when you are Carmelo Anthony, all it takes is one season and a national championship apparently. Anthony will have his jersey retired by Syracuse in February and the No. 15 of the one of the most celebrated one-and-done players in history will hang alongside Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, and Sherman Douglas. Of course it doesn’t matter how much time he spent in school, ‘Melo obviously deserves this honor. The Baltimore native finished in the top-10 nationally in both points and rebounds and led the program to its only national championship. He, like Kevin Durant, was one of the few true NBA superstars to even play in college, and unlike Durant, he helped his school win a championship on his way to stardom. It is definitely a bit weird to see a player who basically used Syracuse as a stepping stone for one season getting his jersey retired, but if ever there was a one-and-done player who deserved to be honored this way, it’s ‘Melo.
  2. Yesterday morning we told you that Georgetown’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, Greg Whittington, would miss his second game for a violation of team rules. Then, before last night’s game against Providence, it became apparent that Whittington violated the “don’t fail school” rule and his suspension will be indefinite in length. Whittington’s academic ineligibility didn’t matter last night as the Hoyas jumped out to a huge lead on the Friars and held on for a nine-point win and it seems unlikely he will miss the remainder of conference play. But this is a team with plenty of well-documented scoring issues that is fighting to stay in the top half of the conference standings, and without Whittington that will be difficult. Jabril Trawick is a nice player, but not nearly as productive as Whittington, and Aaron Bowen is at least athletic, but he is a long way from being the player that Whittington is. The Hoyas have an important game this weekend against South Florida, because dates with Notre Dame and Louisville loom after that, and the Hoyas will need every win they can get.
  3. Villanova may have learned some valuable lessons from their loss to Syracuse last weekend but it didn’t show last night as the Wildcats took a slim lead into the half for the second-straight game and then gave it all back in the second half to let Pittsburgh escape with a crucial road win. The game was close for most of the second half as well but with less than six minutes to play, the Panthers clamped down on defense and held ‘Nova to zero points over the last five minutes and 13 seconds of the game while they poured in 15 of their own during that stretch to seal the victory. I will buy the argument that the Wildcats proved they have what it takes to hang with good teams in the conference, but only for a half. The Wildcats have made a habit of watching their halftime leads disappear (they did it in losses to LaSalle and Temple earlier in the season) and while some of that can be attributed to a young roster without a lot of lethal scorers, some of the blame should fall at the feet of Jay Wright, who is seemingly getting out-adjusted at halftime by every coach the Wildcats play. When Villanova was dominant, they had a roster that knew how to close out close games and keep the intensity high, this team seems to inevitably fold every time their opponents start to force the issue in the second half. If they want to return to their spot atop the conference, they will need to improve on that greatly.
  4. The heart-and-soul of Cincinnati will be okay as senior guard Cashmere Wright is only day-to-day after he only sprained his knee at the end of a close win over DePaul. This is hugely important news for the Bearcats because while injuries happen to every team, Wright has been the most consistent and best player on the floor for coach Mick Cronin all season long, and I shudder to think what Cincinnati’s offense would look like without their second-leading scorer, playmaker, and floor general. The Bearcats are off until Saturday when they square off with a hot Marquette team and then play at Syracuse two days later and having Wright in the lineup for both those games will be crucial if the Bearcats want to assert their position at the top of the conference standings. It might be worth a look later in the season but I think the argument can be made that Wright is the most important player in the conference to his team.
  5. Our friend Rob Dauster (#DausterForUSC) raises an excellent issue after watching Notre Dame inexplicably fall to a St. John’s team that had just been blown out by Georgetown — why was All-America candidate Jack Cooley on the bench in the closing minutes of the loss? Dauster correctly points out that Cooley had struggled mightily in the game and that the Johnnies were playing with a smaller lineup, but there can’t be too many good reasons why senior scrub Tom Knight was on the floor while he much more talented and experienced teammate watched.  The key moment came when Knight had what appeared to be an easy put-in blocked by D’Angelo Harrison and the Red Storm were able to seal the win. There is of course no way of telling whether Cooley would have fared any better in that situation, but at least if it was Cooley who had his shot-blocked then there is no need for second-guessing, you can know that you put your best player in a position to tie the game and for whatever reason he didn’t come through. But because he wasn’t in the game, fans and pundits are left to ask why Brey kept him on the bench.
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Big 12 M5: 01.15.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 15th, 2013

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  1. The AP and Coaches Polls were released Monday, and Kansas climbed into the top five (#4 to be exact) in both polls. The Jayhawks jumped Michigan and Arizona this week, who lost to Ohio State and Oregon, respectively. Kansas State continues to climb in both polls as well, jumping to #18 in the Coaches Poll and #16 in the AP. While both teams from Kansas are climbing, the rest of the Big 12 is nowhere to be seen. Oklahoma State has been dropping fast while losing three of their last four games, and Iowa State and Baylor are still a few weeks worth of wins away from making appearances of their own.
  2. I’ve never been a big Rick Barnes fan. I’ve always thought that Barnes has underachieved with the amount of talent he has had at Texas and has never been held accountable because Texas fans are more worried about the third-string quarterback than the basketball team. But C.J. Moore of Basketball Prospectus began to change my mind today. It’s an eye-opening piece with plenty of noteworthy statistics. Moore does a solid job of rebuking the claim that Barnes should have advanced further into March during his one season with Kevin Durant on the roster in 2006-07, when the Longhorns lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Maybe Moore is right — maybe Barnes is better than we think.
  3. A quick update on West Virginia sophomore guard Juwan Staten, who missed Saturday’s game against Kansas State for disciplinary reasons: Bob Huggins said during a teleconference on Monday that Staten will travel with the team for its game at Iowa State on Wednesday night. It is still uncertain whether he will play, though. Huggins seemed to infer that this week’s practices leading up to the game will decide Staten’s fate for that game as the Mountaineers will look to improve to 2-2 in the Big 12. Staten is second on the team with 10.5 PPG and leads the team with 2.9 APG at this point in the season. He played sparingly last week against Texas in logging just 13 minutes, but just the week prior he had 17 points in a home win over Eastern Kentucky.
  4. Kansas guard Ben McLemore has been getting the most attention of any freshman in the Big 12, but Iowa State freshman forward Georges Niang is quietly putting up impressive numbers for the Cyclones as well. He is third on the team with 11.5 PPG and is shooting 35.5% from beyond the arc. Fred Hoiberg told the Associated Press that he loves Niang’s footwork, and I think he has a high enough basketball I.Q. to mask his athleticism with smarts while he continues to develop his body at Iowa State. He scored 18 points in Saturday’s blowout win over Texas and has scored double figures in six of his last seven games. He has a very European style of game for a big man, shown in last week’s near-upset of Kansas. He drew shot-blocking extraordinaire Jeff Withey out of the paint with his ability to knock down jumpers, opening up the lane for his driving teammates.
  5. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com updated his latest bracketology on Monday. The Big 12 received six bids: Kansas (#1 seed), Kansas State (#6), Oklahoma (#7), Oklahoma State (#9), Baylor (#11), and Iowa State (#12). Who would have guessed before the season that Oklahoma would be projected as a higher seed than Oklahoma State and Baylor? There is obviously still a bunch of games to be played, but the Sooners are positioning themselves for a good day on Selection Sunday. On a different note, I wouldn’t want to be a #6 seed paired with Baylor in the first round (Boise State in this particular bracket). The Bears are far from a great team but, as in recent years, they have the talent to win a few games in the NCAA Tournament.
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Big 12 M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 3rd, 2013

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  1. West Virginia has not exactly lit up the world during non-conference play. That may not bode well for the Mountaineers’ inaugural season in the Big 12, but this league seems entirely up for grabs at this point outside of the top spot. So despite some of their horrendous moments during this 7-5 start, there is no reason Bob Huggins should not feel at least a little optimistic heading into the league opener against Oklahoma this weekend. Funny thing is, West Virginia already faced the Sooners back in the Old Spice Classic during Thanksgiving weekend, which set its field before the Mountaineers departed from the Big East, but lost. Good thing it did not count toward the Big 12 standings.
  2. Ben McLemore has had a heck of a season. Is it the best by any freshman in college basketball? Debatable, but there is an argument to be made. These guys seem high on Shabazz Muhammad and Glenn Robinson III, but you could also throw Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, or a host of other players in the conversation as well. McLemore’s as good as any of those diaper dandies, though, especially because he has exploded as the leading scorer for a team that desperately needed to replace the production of departed stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
  3. Kansas’ end of the bench might be the most interesting in college basketball. You have Tyler Self, son of head coach Bill Self, and you also have Evan Manning, the son of former assistant/legend and current Tulsa head coach Danny Manning. Manning made the first three of his career earlier this week. He has a long way to go to catch his father — the all-time leading scorer at Kansas — but it is a start, we suppose.
  4. It’s never, ever a bad thing to see your name listed alongside Kevin Durant. That’s where Isaiah Austin finds himself in an article that describes him as a “poor man’s” Durant. Heck, to even be considered a “broke, homeless man’s Durant” would be quite the compliment. We understand where this guy is coming from, since Austin is a skilled big who can score from all over the floor and extend defenses with his three-point shot. He has played well so far, too, even though the doubters thought Scott Drew would misuse him. That has not happened. Still, as the years have gone by, it is easy to forget just how dominant Kevin Durant was at Texas. Austin has not approached that level yet and there is no telling how he will eventually fare in the NBA.
  5. The Longhorns could use Durant right about now, but you knew that already. Regardless, take a detailed look at where Texas stands heading in to Big 12 play. It’s not that pretty. The comparison between the suspended Myck Kabongo and freshman Javan Felix is especially important. As the numbers point out, it is actually the loss of Kabongo’s scoring ability that has significantly impacted Texas. Felix is creating for his teammates, evidenced by terrific performances against North Carolina (eight assists) and Michigan State (11 assists), but he is shooting a horrendous 13 percent from three. Kabongo would have likely taken on a greater scoring role in the absence of J’Covan Brown — instead, both are gone, and that has had a huge effect on this Longhorns team.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 06.21.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on June 21st, 2012

  1. With the NBA Finals in full swing, the folks over at Grantland have dissected Kevin Durant’s role as a college player at Texas. Bryan Curtis wonders about Durant’s full impact with the Longhorns, claiming his stay seemed to last about “five minutes” as he struggled to recall defining moments from that 2006-07 season. Curtis admits it was a year full of highlights, but he seems to argue with himself over just how much of a legacy Durant left. If you ask us, Durant’s one magical season was enough to cement his legacy forever as one of the best players to ever set foot in the college game. The longevity may not be there, but rarely do players dominate from start to finish like Durant did that year. His team was extremely young–essentially all freshmen and sophomores– and if there were more experience, he could have cut down the nets. And by the end of his article, Curtis seems to come around to this line of thinking.
  2. Marcus Smart probably won’t have a freshman season like Durant, but his coach seems to think he will be pretty special. Travis Ford said Smart is the “ultimate competitor” who will “rip your heart out.” That’s partly why Smart is considered one of the top signees in the Class of 2012 in the Big 12. Of course, Le’Bryan Nash entered the 2011-12 season with similar expectations and struggled to live up to the hype, though he did eventually wind up playing very well for the Cowboys. With Nash and Smart in the mix, Ford will certainly have more depth to work with after playing with a razor-thin roster last year.
  3. Bruce Weber needs to learn about his team, so he is taking them to Brazil. Kansas State will spend more than a week in South America this August to acclimate themselves to its new coach, and these sorts of trips always seem to have positive effects on college basketball teams. The Wildcats have a good nucleus of returning players, but these experiences can strengthen bonds even between players that have been around the block– not just newcomers.
  4. Bob Huggins will return to the Big 12 with West Virginia this year, marking his second trip to the league after coaching Kansas State for a season in 2006-07. He said he is looking forward to the move from the Big East, and he thinks his team may be able to increase tempo on the offensive end and get out and run a little bit. The styles in the Big 12 and Big East may contrast a bit, but Huggins and the Mountaineers shouldn’t have many issues getting used to a new league. They learned plenty from playing in the rough-and-tough Big East.
  5. TCU has a different perspective, though. The Horned Frogs, the other new program in the Big 12 this year, hail from the Mountain West. That league was no slouch when TCU played there, but Trent Johnson‘s program is not as Big 12-ready as West Virginia. Johnson, who takes the reigns after resigning his post at LSU, senses a cautious approach from his team’s fans so far. It’s hard to blame them. TCU’s basketball history is not stellar, and it has not experienced much recent success either. Luckily, the basketball program is expected to see facility upgrades and renovations to its arena, so it appears the Horned Frogs are at least trying to keep up with the rest of the conference.
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Morning Five: 06.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2012

  1. There are many coaching hires where the logical process makes normal and complete sense to everyone – a longtime assistant is promoted to the top job; a big personality moves on to a school to match his ego; a mid-major guy is looking for more resources and talent. Occasionally, though, a random hire has everyone around the industry scratching his head wondering what they missed. It’s not very often that you’ll see a career assistant coach — mostly at the collegiate level, at that — make the jump to NBA head coach, but that’s exactly what St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap did this week. Other than a handful of games when head coach Steve Lavin was out with prostate cancer last season, Dunlap has spent the last six seasons as an assistant, and the extent of his head coaching experience came at Division II Metro State from 1997-2006. Dunlap reportedly beat out more prominent names such as Jerry Sloan, Brian Shaw, and Quin Snyder for the position, and although according to Jeff Goodman everyone knows he can coach, this is a real gamble on the part of the GOAT as part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
  2. If a player only sets foot on your campus for the better part of eight months, is it OK for an alumnus to claim that star as one of his own? That’s the question posed by Grantland’s Bryan Curtis as a Longhorn considering the provenance of one Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s brightest stars but a player who probably wasn’t around Austin long enough to even witness the bats on Congress Avenue Bridge. Curtis ultimately settles on the answer “yes,” – shocking, we know – but he actually digs up some thoughtful and relevant examples of other prominent Texas grads who were early entries into the work force well before it was fashionable. A couple of those names? Walter Cronkite and Michael Dell.
  3. Stop the presses, but Fab Melo has decided to speak about his suspensions last season at Syracuse. If you recall, the Big East DPOY was suspended twice during the season, including a devastating NCAA Tournament suspension that essentially killed the Orange’s realistic chances at a national title. The reason: (drum roll) academics. Melo is touring around the country in an effort to improve his draft stock, and he decided to talk about his time away from Jim Boeheim’s team during his sophomore year this week. To wit, “They ask, I explain (what) happened — that I came from another country and until four years ago didn’t even speak English.” This is all fine and well, but if we were an NBA scout, we might be willing to look past one indiscretion — but dropping the ball during the most important month of his collegiate career is an altogether different story. Did he forget how to stay eligible between the first part of his sophomore year and his second? Or did he realize he was going to be a millionaire soon and decided to stop caring about classes? That’s the question that should be asked — whether the answer is relevant to his future prospects as a ball player isn’t for us to decide.
  4. With all the bad blood surrounding conference realignment, we’re actually surprised that we haven’t seen what the CAA has decided to do more often. The league announced on Tuesday that departing members Old Dominion and Georgia State – both of which will remain in the league in 2012-13 – will not be eligible to compete for conference championships next year. The CAA’s Council of Presidents voted unanimously to uphold a longstanding rule meant to dissuade schools from jumping ship. VCU, which will join the Atlantic 10 next month, will obviously not be impacted, but this goes to show that conference realignment at its core is something of a bloodsport, and memories of such influential people at the highest levels tend to not easily erase.
  5. We sorta love it when in-state rivalries are exacerbated through the local media, and NC State is only the latest and greatest to use the old standbys — billboards and television ads — to make declarations of grandeur based on nothing more than marketing, spit, and perhaps a little duct tape. Whether you measure it by success or fans, there’s virtually no possible way to justify an assertion that the great state of North Carolina belongs to NC State, but hey, whatever gets the juices running (and it’s still funny). Of course, even if NC State has won the last 10,000 football games against UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest combined, that’s still not what matters in the Tar Heel State any more than Auburn beating Alabama in basketball matters a lick. Kudos to NC State for giving it a shot, but nobody is fooled.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 06.13.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on June 13th, 2012

  1. With the NBA Finals at the forefront of our sport right now, it’s easy to forget the series between Oklahoma City and Miami actually has a bit of a college flavor to it. We are all focused on the individual matchup between Kevin Durant and LeBron James, but Durant has an even more familiar foe on the opposing Heat bench: Dexter Pittman. Pittman and Durant entered Texas as a part of the same 2006 recruiting class for Rick Barnes, and Pittman said this week he credits Durant for helping to build the Texas program. Since Durant left after that magical 2006-07 season — a year Pittman hardly saw in action on the court — the two were not exactly the Bash Brothers in Austin. But Pittman went on to have a very successful career after Durant’s departure, losing an unbelievable amount of weight over the course of four years to eventually develop into a pro player.
  2. The Darrell Williams saga rages on. The Oklahoma State forward, charged on five counts of both rape and battery, has now seen his trial delayed until July 9. That’s only a week later than it was supposed to begin, but it’s been a long time coming for Williams. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Oklahoma State originally suspended Williams after the event became public and he will remain off the team until the legal system sorts itself out.
  3. When Frank Martin left Kansas State for South Carolina, he left behind a budding star in Rodney McGruder. McGruder’s over it, though: Read as he describes the process of Martin’s departure. It is refreshing to see a player stay loyal to his school no matter the circumstances, but it has to be hard for McGruder to adjust to an entirely new system as a senior. Especially in this instance, Martin had such a unique style of coaching and motivating, that it will be a challenge for Bruce Weber to replace that. And that goes for all the players he inherits, not just McGruder.
  4. Remember Doc Sadler? That guy who coached Nebraska as recently as, um, a few months ago? Well, the fired Cornhusker is now expected to join Bill Self‘s staff at Kansas as the director of basketball operations. That may not sound very enticing because it’s not technically an assistant coaching position, but it worked out for the last guy. Barry Hinson, after his firing from Missouri State, joined Self’s program as the director of basketball operations and then got a job at Southern Illinois this spring. Doesn’t sound like a bad deal when you think about it. Spend a little time learning under one of the best coaches in the game then use that knowledge and the connections to get another job.
  5. Staying with coaching hires in the Big 12, Texas Tech has also added Jeremy Cox to its staff as an assistant. He’s a Billy Gillispie guy, having coached under him at both Texas A&M and Kentucky. The man he replaces, Jeff Kidder, left for a job as a high school coach, so it’s a good opportunity for Cox. Interestingly, he comes to Tech from Nebraska, where he worked under Sadler.
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