Pac-12 M5: 03.18.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 18th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Yesterday, of course, was Selection Sunday, and it was revealed that five teams from the Pac-12 will play in the NCAA Tournament. There were a couple of surprises, most notably Oregon receiving a #12 seed. The Ducks’ résumé was on par with most of the #7 seeds, so it comes as a head-scratcher that the Pac-12 Tournament champions, not to mention a team that was one game behind the regular season conference champion, would have been on the bubble. One now wonders what would have happened if Oregon had lost to UCLA on Saturday night instead of pulling out the victory; possibly a trip to Dayton for the First Four? The spokesperson for the NCAA selection committee said after the bracket was revealed that the Ducks were actually on the #11 seed line and were dropped down for bracketing purposes, but even that is still much lower than anyone expected. As to what typically occurs when a team gets underseeded in the NCAAs, it will be their opponent that gets the worst of it. That lucky team is Oklahoma State, who perhaps thought it’d be facing a team like Temple or La Salle coming into the day; not the Pac-12 Tournament champs.
  2. Almost as looked forward to as the actual unveiling of the field of 68 is the announcement of game times, networks, and commentators for the Second Round match-ups. Those were released late last night, and here they are. The Ducks are the first Pac-12 team to hit the floor, and they will do so on Thursday at 1:40 PM PT on TNT. Calling the game will be a solid trio consisting of Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner, and Marty Snider. The two other Pac-12 teams to play Thursday are Arizona (vs. Belmont; TNT), and California (in a rematch against UNLV; TruTV), in two games that will virtually be playing at the same time that afternoon. The Wildcats tip at 4:20 PM with the superb team of Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb, and Jamie Maggio calling the action, while Cal will begin seven minutes later with the same bunch that Oregon had. On Friday, Colorado will tip off against Illinois at 1:40 PM on TNT, with Tim Brando, Mike Gminski, and Otis Livingston calling the action, and UCLA plays Minnesota at 6:57 PM on TruTV with the same crew.
  3. Not only was the NCAA field released on Sunday, but the NIT revealed its 32-team bracket as well. Arizona State, Stanford, and Washington will compete in the consolation tournament, with the Sun Devils and Cardinal hosting Detroit and Stephen F. Austin, respectively, and the Huskies traveling to Provo to face BYU.
  4. Despite its #12 seed, Oregon has the talent to make a run through this year’s tournament and become a nationally relevant program for the first time since the days of Kevin LoveJames Harden, and Aaron Brooks. Beat Oklahoma State and you take the step from a nice little comeback story to a team to watch. Beat Saint Louis — one of the hottest teams in the nation and a trendy Elite Eight pick? You won’t just be recognized as a west coast football school that had a good year in basketball anymore.
  5. As you have probably heard, Northwestern fired head coach Bill Carmody on Saturday after 13 years in Evanston. What you probably didn’t hear, or expect to hear, was that Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson‘s name is showing up on many short lists of possible candidates for the vacant job. Scott Powers’ list goes in a lot of different directions, everywhere from VCU’s Shaka Smart to Duke assistant Chris Collins. But in the middle is Robinson, a former Wildcats’ assistant who grew up in Chicago and has recruited the area. It is very possible that Robinson would get an interview for the gig, but it’s tough seeing a program desperate for success offering the job to a man that failed to lead his team to any type of postseason tournament in 2012-13, much less even out of the basement in his own league.
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UCLA Week: Evaluating the Recent Past

Posted by AMurawa on August 13th, 2012

There are no two ways around it, so we might as well get right to the punch: The past three seasons at UCLA, even with an NCAA Tournament appearance and win in 2010-11, is in the conversation for the worst stretch of three consecutive seasons in the history of the storied program. Aside from the transition at the end of the Steve Lavin era to the beginning of the Ben Howland era, you have to go back to Wilbur Johns in the World War II era for a string of three such poor seasons in Westwood. All that is bad enough, but if you consider where this program was at the end of the 2007-08 season, coming off three consecutive Final Fours and welcoming in the nation’s #1 recruiting class, such a precipitous fall was highly unlikely.

Kevin Love, UCLA

It Has Been Four Unsatisfying Seasons Since Kevin Love Helped UCLA Last Advance to A Final Four (Mark J. Terril, AP Photo)

So how did Howland and the Bruins go from being on the verge of ushering another great era of UCLA basketball to missing the NCAA Tournament in two out of three seasons? Much of it has to do with underachievement from that 2008 recruiting class. In the 2008-09 season, after future pros like Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute departed early (a certain byproduct of the type of success the Bruins were having), the Bruins rode gutsy performances by veterans like Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya to a solid 26-9 overall record, but failed to win the Pac-10 for the first time in three years and were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in resounding fashion by a Villanova team that outhustled and outfought the Bruins. More ominous for UCLA was the fact that none of the highly-regarded freshman class made much of an impact that season. And despite point guard Jrue Holiday’s struggles as a frosh, he couldn’t get out of Westwood fast enough, declaring for the NBA Draft while averaging just eight points and four assists in his lone season.

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Anthony Davis Named a Finalist for USA Olympic Team: Should He Make It?

Posted by EJacoby on May 3rd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

As international basketball continues to gain steam, so does widespread intrigue in the Summer Olympic Games. The upcoming 2012 London Olympics will include some tremendous competition for the heavily favored United States, such as a Spanish team that can boast a monster front line of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka. To counter that front line, and as a side effect of several unfortunate injuries, the Americans are in need of some serious size of their own. As a result, college basketball’s reigning National Player of the Year and projected No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis has already been named as one of the 20 finalists for Team USA this summer. Would Davis be a good fit for this team, and could “The Unibrow” possibly make the cut? Historical precedent says it could happen, and a roster breakdown shows that Davis might just be the big man inside that Team USA is missing.

Anthony Davis is now Shooting for a Spot on Team USA (AP Photo)

The USA Basketball Committee, led by chairman Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski, already selected the 20 finalists for the team back in January but several significant injuries has left Team USA in need of more bodies to compete for the final 12-man roster by the June 18 deadline. Specifically, there is a glaring lack of healthy size on the roster given injury troubles to Dwight Howard (back) and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip). The only true center currently on the roster is Tyson Chandler, with power forwards Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, and Lamar Odom in the fold as well. But there are issues with all of these forwards — Odom was released by the Dallas Mavericks after a terrible season, Griffin brings more ‘flash’ than production as an interior player, and Love and Bosh both thrive offensively on the perimeter. There is an absolute need for an interior presence to back up Chandler.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.09.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 9th, 2012

  1. Once again this morning, since we have got a couple other correspondents writing about the actual games at the Pac-12 Tournament, we will be focusing just on some off-the-court stuff in the Morning Five. For instance, in the wake of Josiah Turner’s indefinite suspension at Arizona, the question needs to be asked: is he ever going to be invited back? Turner picked up a first strike early in the season for being late to a team walkthrough, then was suspended for a single game and left behind from the Wildcats’ trip to Florida in December for strike two. With strike three coming at such an important time for the team, there’s a strong chance that head coach Sean Miller will find that it is time to cut bait on the talented young point guard. And if Miller doesn’t make that decision, maybe Turner, who played at multiple high schools, might make it himself.
  2. One guy who is coming back, apparently, is UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith. Smith told reporters after the Bruins’ quarterfinal loss to Arizona that he would be returning to the school for next year rather than entertain thoughts about the NBA Draft. While some have made fun of Smith for making this statement, since he is unlikely to draw much interest from NBA scouts due to his inability to get in shape and his limited production as a result, it seems to me that the blame lies more with whichever reporter had the audacity to suggest that Smith might be in a position to leave for the professional ranks. However, Smith seems to recognize that in order to live up to his potential, he needs to shed significant weight and get into prime physical condition. Whether or not he does it remains to be seen, but he has been speaking with former Bruin Kevin Love, who drastically reshaped his doughy body since his high school days.
  3. Kevin O’Neill is also coming back. It hasn’t exactly been a secret, but USC athletic director Pat Haden made it clear on Thursday that O’Neill, whose team endured a 6-26 season, would still be the school’s head basketball coach going forward. With loads of players due back from injury next year and a couple of newly eligible Division I transfers, expect the Trojans to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid next season.
  4. In the wake of Washington’s quarterfinal loss to Oregon State on Thursday, Lorenzo Romar and his squad are left to play the “waiting game,” needing to wait until Sunday’s Section Show to find out if they make the final NCAA Tournament bracket or not. Despite winning the Pac-12 regular season title, the Huskies have a sub-par RPI of 57 and just one win over a top 50 RPI team (Oregon – a team who is currently ranked #49 and may drop out of the RPI top 50). Meanwhile, Tony Wroten, who missed four free throws down the stretch in that loss to Oregon State, deleted his Twitter account in the wake of the loss, after retweeting multiple terrible messages that he received after the game. The fact that supposed “fans” would do this kind of stuff to any 18-year-old kid is just sick. But it should also be noted that the Huskies would never have even been in position to lose that close of a game without Wroten’s career-high 29 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. I have been a critic of Wroten’s game throughout the season, but the kind of hateful, negative comments directed at him in the wake of a heartbreaking loss are disgusting.
  5. Lastly, a quick look ahead to some early-season tournament matchups for next season that have been announced in recent days. First, UCLA will be one of the regional hosts for the 2012 Legends Classic, along with Georgetown, Indiana, and Georgia, with all four of those teams guaranteed passage to the semifinal round at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Also, Oregon State will be one of the regional hosts for the 2K Sports Classic, along with Villanova, Alabama, and Purdue. Like the Legends Classic, the hosts of the early round games in the 2K Sports Classic will also earn automatic advancement to the semifinal round, with those games being held at Madison Square Garden.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.18.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 18th, 2012

  1. Arizona turned the ball over 28 times last weekend in its split with the Oregon schools, and clearly head coach Sean Miller was none too pleased with that effort. During a Tuesday news conference at the McKale Center, Miller repeatedly made reference to his team’s turnover problems, noting that even his 10-year-old son understands the concept of the double-dribble and that his team needs to catch the ball with two hands. He added that they should remember that they will be wearing blue jerseys this upcoming weekend when they travel to the Rockies, so they should try to throw the ball to blue jerseys. Things should improve drastically this weekend for the Wildcats, as Utah and Colorado are both among the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers.
  2. Oregon was one of the teams forcing those Wildcat turnovers last weekend, and senior forward Olu Ashaolu was responsible for a couple of them. Ashaolu transferred from Louisiana Tech this season after finishing his bachelor’s degree there last year, and he’s an important cog in a Duck team that was drastically undersized last season. Ashaolu eventually decided on Oregon in part because of his friendship with fellow Torontonian and Oregon transfer, Devoe Joseph, who Ashaolu played AAU ball with in high school. And Joseph sees the 6’7” forward as vital to their team’s success, because Ashaolu is capable of being a tough rebounder, a scorer inside and a strong interior defender.
  3. Washington State returns to Beasley Coliseum on Thursday night for the first time since December 18, after spending their opening weekend of conference play hosting the Oregon schools in nearby Spokane. The Cougars played away from Pullman in an effort to draw bigger crowds when the students were away, and they did draw nearly 18,000 fans for those two games, but Ken Bone and company are glad to be back home this week. Now, if they can just get to work on the glass, they’ll be in business.
  4. Some housekeeping from around the conference, beginning with another note from that Bone news conference: Mychal Ladd is doubtful for this weekend with a thumb injury that kept him out of the Washington game last weekend. Ladd has missed six games this season due to that injury, which has flared up again. Washington’s C.J. Wilcox is doubtful for his team’s games against the Bay Area schools this weekend, a big loss for Lorenzo Romar in games with first place on line. And down at UCLA, junior De’End Parker, a junior college transfer who has played in just two games this year with the Bruins in part due to a knee injury, will be looking to transfer back closer to his home in the Bay Area to be near his ailing mother.
  5. Lastly, the last three seasons have been underwhelming for that UCLA program, what with a 14-18 performance in 2009-10 improved upon with last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance before struggling out of the gates this year. But head coach Ben Howland has a cadre of supporters in his former players who are now playing in the NBA. Eleven Bruins began this season on NBA rosters, and players and scouts alike credit Howland’s work in getting his guys ready for the next level. And, while players like Kevin Love may not have always loved playing under Howland, they understand that he helped them improve their games.
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Is Ben Howland’s Job in Jeopardy?

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

The UCLA basketball program is 0-2 for the first time since Steve Lavin’s final disastrous year in Westwood. An 0-2 record isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but the Bruins haven’t exactly come by their record in the same way that Belmont did (with losses to college hoops powers Duke and Memphis). The Bruins have lost their opening two games to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State – and not in particularly compelling fashion either. Along the way, last year’s leading scorer and Sports Illustrated cover boy Reeves Nelson was suspended for behavioral problems, sophomore center Joshua Smith tweeted out an immature response following the LMU loss and senior point guard Jerime Anderson served the last half of his very light punishment for stealing a laptop over the summer with a suspension against LMU before coming back to underwhelm against MTSU. In short, the UCLA basketball program is a hot mess right now, a dumpster fire, a train wreck. Worse yet, it is all of those things for the second time in three years.

All of which begs the question, does head coach Ben Howland have reason to fear for his job? It’s not all that long ago that such a question would have been absurd. Remember, Howland had his Bruins in the Final Four three straight times between 2006 and 2008. Between the 2005-06 season and the 2008-09 season, he posted an astounding 123-26 (82.6%) record, with a 65-16 (80.2%) record in the Pac-10, including conference tournament games. Furthermore, Howland was absolutely killing it on the recruiting trail.

Ben Howland, UCLA

Ben Howland Has Had Some Great Successes At UCLA, But His Program Is Currently Struggling

After a two-man 2007 recruiting class ranked #10 in the nation by ESPNU, largely on the strength of Kevin Love, the #1 recruit in the nation (the class also included current UNLV senior Chace Stanback), Howland had then inked the #1 class in the nation for 2008, highlighted by point guard Jrue Holiday, with guys like Drew Gordon, J’Mison Morgan, Malcolm Lee and Anderson expected to make major impacts during their time in Westwood. The following year Howland added another five players (Tyler Honeycutt, Mike Moser, Brendan Lane, Nelson and Anthony Stover) for the #13 class in the nation. Of those 12 players in those three classes, six played either one season at UCLA or left the program prior to completing a second season. Four of them transferred out to other Division I schools with varying degress of success at their new destinations. The 2008 class goes down in history as a strong contender for the most disappointing recruiting class ever, with only Lee and Anderson making significant extended contributions to the program, and even those two players considered as serious underachievers compared to their incoming reputations.

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Morning Five: 10.05.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2011

  1. Official practices start in a little over a week, but players around the country are already involved in conditioning and individual instruction as the season quickly approaches.  As a result, we’ll start to see an uptick in unfortunate injury news as was reported Tuesday that Missouri senior Laurence Bowers has torn his ACL and will miss the entire 2011-12 season.  The 6’8″ forward is a massive loss for a Tiger team already thin across the front line, and it will be felt particularly in the hustle areas of offensive rebounding and blocked shots where the bouncy Bowers excels.  Kim English will more than likely to slide over to Bowers’ position at the four, while center Ricardo Ratliffe, the Big 12′s Newcomer of the Year in 2010-11, will be asked to considerably increase his production of 11/6 per game.
  2. Missouri was the epicenter of college basketball news on Tuesday, as one day after the Big 12 unveiled its new revenue sharing plan for Tier I & II broadcast television rights, the school’s board of directors announced that it had unanimously authorized chancellor Brady Deaton to explore its conference affiliation options.  The backroom snapshot of this, of course, is that Missouri thinks that will receive an invitation to become the SEC’s fourteenth member institution, bringing along the 21st and 31st largest US media markets with it (St. Louis and Kansas City).  Whether this sets off another free-for-all of rapacious deal-making/breaking that sets the Big East and Big 12 completely on fire remains to be seen, but if Missouri ends up following Texas A&M southeast, the Big 12 will have to answer in kind.
  3. Western Michigan sophomore forward and Fab Five progeny, Juwan Howard, Jr., is transferring back to his hometown of Detroit to play at Detroit Mercy for his remaining three seasons of eligibility.  Howard had a very successful freshman campaign at WMU in 2010-11, averaging 9/4 off the bench in just over 23 minutes per contest, and he will be eligible in 2012-13 at his new school.  If Ray McCallum, Jr., is still playing for his father next year, a team that was already on the rise looks even better with Howard and McCallum in the lineup.
  4. With the NBA lockout continuing indefinitely (talks on Tuesday reportedly did not go well), Jeff Goodman checks in with several former NCAA stars who are currently back on campus earning a few more credits toward their college degrees.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Texas’ Tristan Thompson, Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, and UCLA’s Kevin Love are but a few of the names current students are shocked to find in some of their classes this fall.  Obviously, we think this is great and highly encourage these guys to continue along that path — we only wish more of them would see the value in it while they’re still in college, but alas… maybe the new NBA collective bargaining agreement will take care of that issue for us.
  5. We’re late to this article, but RTC alumnus John Gorman at GossipSports gets out his tin foil hat and begins connecting some of the open and notorious dots between the power players behind the scenes in the conference realignment discussions.  His target: the marriage between IMG College and its client schools, ESPN and its conference affiliations, and all of the dollars flowing back and forth between them.  It’s a really interesting piece, just try to not pay attention to the person opening his umbrella on the grassy knoll while you’re reading it.
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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kyrie Irving

Posted by nvr1983 on June 22nd, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Kyrie Irving

School: Duke

Height/Weight: 6’3/190 lbs.

NBA Position: Point Guard

Projected Draft Range: #1 Overall

Overview: Irving opened his career at Duke playing about as well as anybody could have expected a freshman point guard to play so early in his career even considering the ideal situation he joined (playing on a defending national champion with two of its top players — Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith — returning). Irving was playing so well that by the time Duke’s national championship game rematch against Butler rolled around on December 4 he had established himself as the top player on a loaded team and the runaway choice as national player of the year. Then Irving injured his toe and appeared lost for the season but made a return in the NCAA Tournament where he was solid, but clearly not playing like he had before the injury (excepting one half against Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen). Despite his abbreviated season, Irving showed more than enough to NBA scouts and executives to make him the clear-cut #1 choice to the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s NBA Draft. Although his lack of world-class athleticism makes many observers question whether he will ever become a true star in the NBA, there is little doubt he will be a solid player based on his already well-developed all-court game as he appears to have no real weakness in terms of his skill set.

Irving is the clear #1 pick in this year's NBA Draft

Will Translate to the NBA: A point guard that everybody on his team will love playing with. One of the most interesting aspects of Irving’s single season at Duke was not his impressive early-season performances, but instead it was his ability to take command of a senior-laden team without any evidence of a fracture in team chemistry. The freshman guard will be a good starting point guard in the NBA for years and his ability to hit from outside and penetrate will make him a coach’s dream. The big question with Irving from an NBA standpoint is what his ceiling is. Ten years ago this probably would not have been an issue, but with the recent point guard renaissance and the appearance of ridiculously athletic point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook in the NBA, it becomes a significant issue for a #1 overall pick. Kyrie will probably never contend for an MVP award and might not even make many All-Star teams, but he is one of the most complete point guards you will find coming out of college and maybe the most complete freshman point guard in years.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Kyle Singler

Posted by nvr1983 on June 1st, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Kyle Singler

School: Duke

Height/Weight6’9, 225 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward/Power Forward

Projected Draft RangeLate First Round

Overview: Although he was unable to lead the Blue Devils to a repeat national championship, Singler leaves Duke as one of the most decorated players in the school’s history. Throughout his four years in Cameron, Singler put up solid if not spectacular numbers. While he doesn’t have a single skill that jumps out at you as being “great,” he does possess a solid overall game that will attract no shortage of NBA scouts and executives. One of the more interesting aspects in evaluating Singler is that while he has puts  up good numbers in all four years at Duke, he never really took the next step as his production appeared to level off around his sophomore season. Prior to his arrival at Duke, Singler was a highly recruited prospect out of Oregon whose team actually beat Kevin Love in the state tournament in their senior year. To his credit, unlike many highly recruited prospects, Singler lived up to the hype although he never developed into a dominant superstar that many had earlier hoped for. It is true that Singler has improved certain aspects of his game (most notably his free throw shooting), but at some level it is also concerning that Singler’s game hasn’t progressed as one might hope. Some of this may be attributable to the improvement in the players around him with Kyrie Irving arriving for Singler’s senior season (albeit briefly) and Nolan Smith showing a dramatic improvement at the same time. This leads to the obvious concern that despite playing for one of the greatest college coaches of all-time Singler’s game may have plateaued and he may not demonstrate the improvement that many players show after making the transition to the NBA. Of course, it could also just be a case of Singler needing to get into new surroundings and playing in a different system that utilizes his all-around game more than was done at Duke.

Singler Has a Lot to Offer an NBA Team in Versatility

Will Translate to the NBA: Singler’s function in the NBA will be a role player. While this might concern some fans, it is also about the risk/reward of a draft pick at the point in the first round that a team would be considering Singler. It is extremely unlikely that a team would be able to land a franchise player in the late first round particularly in this year’s weak draft. On the other hand, it is unlikely that Singler will be a bust. Out of any player in the draft pool, Singler may have the most defined role on his future team–that of a solid rotation player who might start for a team that doesn’t make the playoffs or come off the bench for a playoff team. Obviously there will be some overlap there, but don’t count on Singler being the star of a NBA championship team any time soon. He will probably end up being a solid role player who does a little bit of everything well and becomes a fan favorite because of his fundamentals and willingness to give up his body for this team even if he won’t be putting up many 20+ point games.

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Final Four Daily Diaries: Friday

Posted by rtmsf on April 2nd, 2011

RTC is at the Final Four in Houston, our sixth as a fan but our first as a member of the working media.  What that means, exactly, we’re still trying to figure out, but we think it has something to do with wearing a rectangular piece of plastic with our mug on it and nodding approvingly at the people in the NCAA blazers walking around the innards of Reliant Stadium.  Or maybe it means dropping dime on one of the coaches at the dais for one thing or another — we’re not sure.  Anyway, over the next four days of collegiate basketball activity here in H-town, we’ll be providing a daily diary in much the same way we’ve done with our correspondents throughout this year’s Tournament — equal parts observation and analysis, with a hint of the absurd.

Friday, April 1 – Houston, Texas

  • Houston sucks.  I’ve never been to a place that angers me more than this city.  Ok, maybe Vegas after a specific trip to the Luxor Hotel & Spa a few years back, but nowhere else I’ve been in this country enjoys such a harmonious mixture of horrendous traffic, non-walkability, preponderance of bad chain restaurants, paucity of natural beauty, unbearable heat, and a culture-less culture than this place.  I’ve been to most major US cities before, and there’s a reason I’d yet to make it to this one — now I know why (as I prep for my credential to be rendered invalid around 4 pm CDT tomorrow).  Credential or not, you’ve got three more days, Houston — my poison pen is raring.  Other than that, it’s great.

There Are a Lot of Roads That End Here, Not Just This One.

  • On to Final Four Friday, as it’s called in the local parlance.  Not to go all Negative Nancy on you all in this diary, but the four practices this afternoon couldn’t  have been more sleep-inducing.  I was lucky enough to bring the RTC Babe along for the ride this weekend, and she put it rather succinctly when asked about her impressions of the four-hour snorefest — “It was boring, but I did get to see Jimmer,” her voice lilting at the end.  That she did, and as she’s somehow managed to convince herself in the last three weeks that BYU’s Jimmer Fredette possesses a hotness that most mere mortals cannot reach, we say bravo.  After all, The Jimmer is in fact the guy we all want to be anyway, and it could be worse — she could have mentioned somebody like, ugh, Chandler Parsons.

Jimmer, Clearly Awkward But Playing Along...

  • Back to the practices, though, and although it was cool to be in the building and to look around, enjoy the decorations and speak with some colleagues, the practices were by and large worthless.  A few light drills, a lot of jump shooting, coaches and players taking it all in — these were the activities of the day.  No Big Country tearing the backboard down or Kevin Love hitting 100-footers or a horrific injury to a notable player today — just a lot of quiet.  Even the Kentucky fans were largely muted, a completely unexpected occurrence given that it’s been 13 long years since the BBN last saw a F4 Friday practice.
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ATB: The Day After

Posted by jstevrtc on January 28th, 2011

The Lede. Hopefully everyone was over their Jimmer hangovers by the time the games started tonight. Judging by Twitter, and…well, pretty much every sports outlet in the nation, the transitive verb “to Jimmer” has entered the American sporting lexicon with some serious impact. We can’t remember when a college baller’s name has ever been used in this fashion; nobody ever said “You got Turnered/Walled,” or “He Morrisoned them,” or “They Hansbrough’d the heck out of that poor team.” And the only name we can think of that contains a reverent “The” at the beginning that’s in regular use today belongs to U2 guitarist The Edge, though — and credit to Seth Davis for starting the trend — “The Jimmer” is now commonplace usage in referring to just about everybody’s favorite player.

Darius Morris and Crew Start the Celebration (J.Gonzalez/Detroit FP)

But enough of that for now. We’ll have many chances to discuss him later. Tonight we saw three tough conference road wins, two of them in games involving bitter rivals. We have a couple of RTCs we have to weigh in on, and a pair of outstanding tweets from the Gonzaga vs St. Mary’s game. First, though, we start…with Sparty.

Your Watercooler Moment. On the halftime coverage of ESPN2′s St. Mary’s @ Gonzaga game, when asked about how dire the situation was for Michigan State this year after their loss to Michigan tonight, even the understated Dan Dakich hesitated for effect and said gravely, “Well…it’s pretty serious.”

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Morning Five: 09.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2010

  1. And so it begins…  Michigan State’s Korie Lucious will miss two to six weeks as a result of knee surgery to repair a small meniscus tear in his left wheel.  It’s a relatively minor injury that Lucious should expect to be recovered from prior to the Spartans’ home opener versus Eastern Michigan on November 12, but MSU fans have to wonder when the nagging injuries with their players will end.  It seems that over the last few years Tom Izzo’s team has often represented the walking wounded, which makes you wonder how good the two-time defending Final Four squad could be if they were ever playing at 100%.
  2. Stony Brook got terrible news earlier this week when forward and America East POY candidate Tommy Brenton dislocated his knee during workouts, an injury that may result in him missing the entire 2010-11 season.  Brenton, at only 6’5 and 210 pounds, might just be the best inch-for-inch rebounder in the nation — he averaged 8.9 RPG his freshman year and 9.6 RPG last season despite his smallish stature.  According to Ken Pomeroy’s database, he corralled over a quarter of the available defensive rebounds while on the floor last year, and you’ll note that he kept great company with many names of players much bigger than he.  Huge loss for the Seawolves if Brenton is indeed out for the year.
  3. The Eric Bledsoe saga is officially, finally and mercifully over.  Yesterday the NCAA confirmed that there is no further cause to keep the inquiry open with no new high school transcript generated for the former Kentucky guard.  Procedurally, this is the correct call — the NCAA doesn’t need to get into the business of sniffing around the transcripts of players certified by their local school boards, especially well after the fact as in this case.  But from a eyebrow-arching perspective, the whole thing smells like corruption and rot gone unpunished.  We tweeted it out on Friday, and we’ll repeat it here — had someone like Larry “Mr. Fix-It” Webster been around to change seventeen of our twenty-four recorded grades in some of our own (ahem) lesser-performing classes, those Stanford and MIT applications we so carefully drew up may not have ended up in the circular file so quickly.
  4. Fanhouse has been churning out some great original content lately, and this article looking at the Second Generation Team is no exception.  They created three teams of historical players who were second-gen guys, including such stalwarts as Jalen Rose, Mike Bibby, Kevin Love and Stephen Curry.  It was also great to see a little dap come our way based on previous criticism of their exclusion of Arkansas stud Scotty Thurman from their College Forever team; they included Thurman on this team (his father was Lavell Thurman from Grambling), and agreed with our indelible memory of the silky smooth guard as an “absolute assassin!”  Great job, fellas.
  5. You might recall a couple of weekends ago that several coaches gathered together to roast Bob Huggins in Morgantown.  One of those coaches, Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, managed to hurt himself while he was trying to spoof Huggins’ widely-reported fall the WVU coach suffered earlier this summer in Las Vegas.  It wasn’t just a strain or a pull either — he broke his toe!  We’re not sure we’ve seen a greater case of the basketball Weauxfgods pre-emptively smiting down someone in quite some time.  Here’s the video link (start at the 1:30 mark).
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