Morning Five: 05.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. When the Mike Rice story broke last month it led to a Saturday Night Live skit, but at this point Rutgers is veering dangerously close to territory so ridiculous that South Park might consider the plot far-fetched (ok, maybe that is a stretch). The latest embarrassment for the school is the revelation that Julie Hermann, the athletic director the school hired to clean up the program after the Rice fiasco, has faced allegations of abuse from her players in the past too. Perhaps Hermann and the school hoped that these allegations (made just sixteen years ago at a small school named Tennessee) would never come up despite this thing called the Internet, which manages to find out almost everything about anybody in a matter of days. With the way this has gone we have a hard time believing that Hermann will be able to formally take the new job, which she is scheduled to start working at on June 17, and school president Robert Barchi should be looking for a new job too.
  2. Lost in the wake of the Rice/Rutgers fiasco was the continuing investigation into Wisconsin-Green Bay coach Brian Wardle who had been accused of abusing his players both verbally and physically. On Friday, the school announced that an outside investigation had cleared Wardle. Unlike Rice, Wardle had the support of many of his players and perhaps most importantly did not have a video of his alleged actions floating around for the world to see. Given what was released the school’s decision should not be that much a surprise. What is interesting is the concessions that Wardle will have to make despite being cleared–receive a disciplinary letter, have someone overseeing him, and not be able to renegotiate his contrast, which ends in 2017. Given those concessions it would seem like there was something happening at Wisconsin-Green Bay (perhaps something considered as benign in sports as cursing) even if it was not as bad as what Wardle was initially accused of.
  3. After setting off a round of speculation about where he would transfer to and briefly committing to play at Toledo, Kyle Vinales has decided to return Central Connecticut State. The rising junior, who averaged 21.6 points per game last season, initially stated that his decision to transfer was based on his desire to play in the NCAA Tournament–something his seventh place NEC team with 13-17 record didn’t seem destined to do–before deciding that he wanted to lead his team there rather than move onto a better situation. While we applaud Vinales for his decision to stick around (he had already transferred once in his college career) we wonder how easily he will transition back into the team concept at Central Connecticut where his coach has already stated that his role will be changed on the team due to a change in the abilities of his teammates. Given Vinales’ penchant for transferring we will be interested to see how long his decision to stay at Central Connecticut lasts or if he has another change of heart if they struggle next season.
  4. There were a few players who actually decided to follow through on their intention to transfer. The biggest news is the decision by Memphis transfer Will Barton to transfer to Tennessee spurning schools such as Maryland, Texas A&M, and Kansas State. Barton showed signs of promise early in his career averaging 8.2 points per game as a freshman before seeing his minutes and production fall the next two seasons. Barton, who will be eligible to play this fall as he will graduate from Memphis by then, will be a welcome arrival in Knoxville as the Volunteers are in need of a point guard with Trae Golden’s transfer. The addition of Barton makes them a potential top-three team in the SEC. The other transfer news is not quite as newsworthy on a national scale, but it may be more interesting as Stephen Hurt, the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, decided to transfer from Lipscomb to Northwest Florida State. The move is interesting for several reasons with the primary one being the decision by a player who would attract interest from high-majors to head to a junior college where he can play immediately and then be recruited to play for a high-major without having to sit out any time. The other interesting aspect of the case is that Northwest Florida State is coached by Steve Forbes, who has been mentioned before in this space for having started over at the junior college level after receiving a one-year show-cause penalty for his association and possible involvement with Bruce Pearl’s infractions. You should keep your eyes on Forbes as a potential candidate for a Division I job if he continues to land recruits the caliber of Hurt.
  5. It seemed to be just an off-the-cuff comment in a 45-minute press conference, but Mike Krzyzewski‘s declaration that the 2013-14 ACC would be the best conference ever raised a few eyebrows. On the surface it appears to be an absurd comment, but as several writers have pointed out that depends on how you define “best”. It almost certainly will not touch the Big East’s 1985 where it had three teams in the Final Four or the Big East’s 2009 where it had 11 teams make the NCAA Tournament including a ninth-place team that won the title. However, with a core that includes Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, and Syracuse the ACC is poised to be as good at the top as any conference in recent memory and will likely be in the same category for the next few years. The bigger question for the conference is what it will look like at the middle and the bottom of the conference where it is soft to put it gently. Certainly the addition of Andrew Wiggins to Florida State would have bolstered at least one of those teams. For the time being, the best ever comments may seem outlandish, but we will probably have to wait until February to make a better judgement on that.
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Morning Five: 05.14.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 14th, 2013

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  1. We are not that familiar with the finances of the city of Chicago, but we have a hard time believing that it has a lot of money to spend on a new arena for DePaul. Still it appears that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce his plans for an (at least partially) funded $300 million arena for the school that is part of a bigger project that the city is undertaking. There is still a lot of speculation on what this will involve including how much taxpayers will be expected to contribute and reports vary widely so we will hold off on commenting on the situation too much other than to say we have a hard time believing this will pass without a huge fight. The other interesting aspect of this proposal is the possibility that a casino could play a prominent role in the area. We doubt that being a NCAA Tournament site would be a major deal to a city the size of Chicago, but it could be an issue for whatever conference DePaul ends up in by the time the project is completed.
  2. The ever-growing transfer list appears to have added one of its biggest names as it appears that Deuce Bello will transfer from Baylor. Bello, who was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school thanks in large part due to his dunking ability, has never really blossomed as a college player averaging just 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore. Given his production we wouldn’t expect him to be that highly recruited, but his athleticism and the fact that he has been “coached” by Scott Drew the last two seasons will probably lead several top programs to take a look at him.
  3. You know a program has made it when other schools begin to raid its bench for head coaches. Such is the case for VCU (if you didn’t already know they had made) it as Chattanooga hired VCU assistant Will Wade to be its new head coach. We are always hesitant to give an assistant too much credit for their program’s success as Chattanooga is attempting to bill Wade as the driving force behind the success of both VCU (citing him as a driving force behind the “Havoc” defense) and Harvard (landing a top 25 recruiting class and helping mold Jeremy Lin into the player he is today–or make that last year actually). Outside of that we do not have much to add on Wade’s hiring (we will give it some time–a few years–before grading the hire), but will point out that it is kind of cute how the school starts off the press release by mentioning a public reception for Wade tomorrow that everybody is invited to attend.
  4. We are not sure who got in Kyle Vinales ear today, but he or she certainly had a pretty quick impact as the Central Connecticut State transfer backed out of his commitment to transfer to Toledo hours after announcing it. Vinales is one of the top transfers available in terms of his scoring ability and should have the ability to score at almost any Division I level and certainly would have at the bottom of the MAC. The question is how far up he can go. The ability to put the ball in the basket is certainly a universal skill, but at some point the athleticism of the players you are playing against limits your ability to score. Vinales certainly has the ability to play at a higher level than Toledo, but in doing so he should be careful not to go to such a high level that his minutes decrease significantly as we have seen with several transfers.
  5. We do not have much information about Brown sophomore Joseph Sharkey, who is in critical condition after being assaulted early on Sunday morning. According to reports, Sharkey was walking with a group of women when a man approached Sharkey and punched him in the face in what has been described as an unprovoked attack. To be frank at this point the details of the report and what led to the incident are not particularly important. Instead, we will focus on Sharkey and his health while wishing him the best in his recovery.
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The Other 26: This Is Not Mark Few’s Best Team… Yet

Posted by IRenko on February 16th, 2013

I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

After a 17-point win at St. Mary’s on Thursday night pushed Gonzaga’s record to 24-2 and cleared its biggest hurdle to a regular season record tainted with just two losses, some are wondering whether this is the best team that Mark Few has put together in his 14 years at the helm. It’s a fair question, given the way they’re playing. But the best ever? Sure, not since Adam Morrison was dragged off the court after a heartbreaking loss to UCLA ended his college career, have the Zags had a player with the combination of star power, All-American credentials, and curious hairstyle that Kelly Olynyk has brought this year. And, true, moreso than the Morrison-led team of 2006, this squad is a well-balanced offensive machine, with a multitude of frontcourt and backcourt options. They proved that on Thursday, when Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, who have deferred most of the scoring load this year to Olynyk and Elias Harris, dropped a combined 38 points on St. Mary’s.

This Gonzaga Team is Good, But Not Mark Few’s Best … Yet (James Snook / USA TODAY Sports)

This Gonzaga Team is Good, But Not Mark Few’s Best … Yet (James Snook / USA TODAY Sports)

But Few’s best team ever? They have a ways to go before they can claim such an honor. Take, for example, the 2004 team, which also dropped just two contests heading into the NCAA Tournament.  That squad was led by All-American senior guard Blake Stepp, and like Olynyk, he had lots of help. Junior Ronny Turiaf, sophomore Morrison, and senior Cory Violette shared the scoring load, with all four players averaging in double-digits. They coasted through league play undefeated, never winning a game by less than double digits, and ended the season on a 20-game win streak en route to a 2 seed in the Tournament, Gonzaga’s best ever. Their two pre-Tournament losses were to St. Joe’s and Stanford, both of which went on to earn 1 seeds that year. By contrast, this year’s Gonzaga team lost to Illinois, a bubble team, at home by 11 points.

Of course, this year’s squad could prove itself a superior to the 2004 team — or any team that Few has coached — if it can get past the Sweet Sixteen. Since Gonzaga burst onto the college hoops scene 14 years ago with a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight, they’ve yet to get reach the brink of a Final Four, much less a Final Four itself. The ballyhooed ’04 squad was upset by 10th-seeded Nevada in the second round, the ’05 team squandered a 3 seed with a second round loss to Texas Tech, and the ’06 Zags memorably collapsed against UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen (a game to which one cannot refer without remarking that it was perhaps the finest moment of Gus Johnson’s illustrious career). This Gonzaga team stacks up well with those predecessors, but unless it breaks through to the second game of the second weekend, it won’t prove to be their clear superior.

What’s undisputed, however, is that the Zags have been dominant enough to remain at the top of this year’s Top 10.  On to that, our Honor Roll, and this week’s games to watch  . . .

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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

A week to go. Barring upsets, LIU Brooklyn appears set for the top seed. They own a one-game lead over Wagner but swept the Seahawks in their two meetings. In the postseason tournament, don’t count out Danny  Hurley’s club. Nor Robert Morris or St. Francis (NY). Yes, one more week before the fun really starts.

Standings

Team, NEC record, overall record:

LIU 14-1, 20-7
Wagner 13-2, 22-4
Robert Morris 11-4, 20-8
St. Francis (NY) 11-4, 14-12
Quinnipiac 8-7, 15-11
Central Connecticut St. 8-7, 11-14
Sacred Heart 7-8, 13-15
Monmouth 7-8, 9-19
Mount St. Mary’s 5-10, 7-19
St. Francis (PA) 4-11, 5-21
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-14, 2-24
Bryant 1-14, 2-25

Notables

NEC Co-Players of the Week:

  • Jamal Olasewere, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F– Averaged 26.5 points and 11 rebounds. Posted his eighth double-double of the season with a 21-point, 11-rebound outing in the win over St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden.

Jamal Olasewere (ball) Had An Outstanding Week (AP)

  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 32 points while shooting a blistering 63% from the field. Gibson hit 30 points in the first meeting with Bryant which also allowed him to break the single season scoring record (542 points) for Sacred Heart since they moved to Division I.

NEC Rookie of the-Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged a solid nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Drame has averaged 10.4 rebounds over the last six games and is seventh in the NEC (7.3 RPG) in that category.

Team Recaps

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Swept rival and Brooklyn neighbor St. Francis (NY).  Blackbirds have won five straight and 14 of the last 15 in the series. Julian Boyd had double-doubles in both games. Jamal Olasewere was named MVP of the Battle of Brooklyn for his career high 32 points. Blackbirds are second in the nation with 28.2 free throw attempts per game.
  2. Wagner – Continued the winning ways by sweeping Mount St. Mary’s. Seahawks hit the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the school’s 91-year basketball history. Wagner also clinched a playoff berth and guaranteed a first round home game. Jonathon Williams led Wagner with a 16.5 points per game and shot 72% shooting from the floor. Senior Tyler Murray also contributed a 12.5 PPG week. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

The general consensus is that LIU Brooklyn and Wagner are the top two teams in the conference. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, however, there are five programs with a legitimate shot at the top. Keep an eye on LIU vs. St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. It is a St. Francis “home” game and it gives the Terriers another opportunity to achieve a statement victory.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 10-1, 16-7
Wagner 9-2, 18-4
St. Francis (NY) 9-2, 12-10
Robert Morris 7-4, 16-8
Central Connecticut St. 7-4, 10-11
Quinnipiac 5-6, 12-10
Monmouth 5-6, 7-17
Sacred Heart 4-7, 10-14
Mount St. Mary’s 4-7, 6-16
St. Francis (PA) 4-7, 5-17
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-10, 2-20
Bryant 1-10, 2-21

 

NEC Player of the Week:

Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 30.5 points per game last week to increase his NEC scoring average to 21.6 points per game. Gibson shot 51% from the field and added 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Pioneers in their two games. Gibson ranks fourth nationally in scoring and is averaging 26.1 points in NEC action.

Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson Is Making A Great Case For Player of the Year (AP)

NEC Rookie of the Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged 8.5 points, and12 rebounds for the week. Drame posted career-highs with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a comeback overtime win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Team Overviews

  1. LIU Brooklyn – On the conference’s “Western” swing, the Blackbirds lost at Robert Morris and defeated St. Francis (PA). Before that loss to Robert Morris, LIU had won 18 (21 including the tournament) straight NEC games dating back to last season. Julian Boyd scored 25 points and  added 12 rebounds against the Colonials. Jamal Olasewere enjoyed his seventh double-double of the season with a 26-point, 10-rebound outing at St. Francis. Jason Brickman added 12 assists. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

There is still over half a conference season to play. But, on Saturday on Staten Island, a very important and interesting matchup is on tap: Long Island Brooklyn versus Wagner. The two met in Brooklyn in December with the Blackbirds earning a narrow 78-73 victory. Since then, Jim Ferry’s club has captured nine of 11 and is unblemished in NEC play. Meanwhile, Wagner has won nine of its last 10. Included are victories at Pitt and the championship of the Cable Car Classic. The only setback for Danny Hurley’s group was a one-point loss to a good Lehigh team in early December. Yes, an enticing meeting and somehow we get the feeling it just might not be  the last between these teams this season.

NEC Co-Players of the Week

  • Julian Boyd, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F: Boyd hit his 1,000th career point and led the way with 21 points average per game as the Blackbirds swept their two NEC games to move into sole possession of first place. Boyd highlighted the week, scoring 28 points adding eight rebounds in the win over Monmouth.
  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G: The NEC’s leading scorer, Gibson averaged 27.5 points per game for the week. In a win at St. Francis (PA), Gibson scored 26 points but showed his versatility with five steals and five rebounds. Gibson also had seven 3’s and 29 points against Robert Morris.

Julian Boyd Will Be A Key Player In LIU's Big Tilt Against Wagner

NEC Rookie-of-the-Week

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis (NY), 6’6″, Fr., F: Averaged 11.5 points and 12 rebounds as the Terriers swept their NEC opposition. St. Francis has won four of five since Cannon was inserted into the starting lineup.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 7-0, 13-6
Wagner 6-1, 15-3
Central Connecticut 6-1, 9-8
Robert Morris 5-2, 14-6
St. Francis (NY) 5-2, 8-10
Sacred Heart 3-4, 9-11
St. Francis (PA) 3-4, 4-14
Quinnipiac 2-5, 9-9
Mount St. Mary’s 2-5, 4-14
Monmouth 2-5, 4-16
Bryant 1-6, 2-16
Fairleigh Dickinson 0-7, 1-17

 

Power Rankings

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Earned a sweep over FDU and Monmouth. Blackbirds have won 16 consecutive conference games dating back to last season and have captured 22 of their last 23 in the NEC. Julian Boyd had an outstanding week earning Co-Player of the Week honors. C.J. Garner, a junior guard, set career highs with nine rebounds against FDU and eight assists versus Monmouth. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Looking Back

Early-season returns proved Long Island will have some challenges if they hope to defend their Northeast Conference crown. Wagner is off to a good start with a competitive loss at Connecticut being their only blemish so far. Robert Morris likewise, is fast out of the gate. Central Connecticut found some scorers which will make them a more dangerous club and take pressure off their senior do-everything star Ken Horton. Quinnipiac found another tough rebounder and will prove again to be a force under the glass. St. Francis (NY) lost at Seton Hall in overtime and the Terriers have struggled thanks to some late game  problems.

Player of the Week: Ike Izotam, 6’7” So. F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Izotam is tied for first in the nation and leads the NEC in rebounding with 14.0 per game.

Rookie of the Week: Kyle Vinales, 6’4” guard, Central Connecticut – In a 39 point outburst against Niagara, Vinales scored 29 in the first half, including 16 in the game’s opening six and a half minutes. That performance marked the most points by a player in this young season.

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The Other 26: Week Two

Posted by KDoyle on November 20th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor and the Patriot League correspondent. Each week he will examine the other 26 non-power conferences in college basketball. You can find him on twitter @KLDoyle11.

Introduction

Well this is refreshing, isn’t it? College basketball on the tube every night, several Other 26 teams already knocking some ranked BCS teams off of their high horses, and a whole lot of goodness upcoming with more early season tournaments and games. There is not a specific theme that has made itself apparent to open the season — I will usually try to hone in on a theme during the introduction of each column — but business has been usual to open the season. We have seen two major upsets with Long Beach State and Cleveland State shocking Top 10 teams — both have crawled into our Top 10 as a result — and we have not seen The Jimmer all over ESPN routinely hitting shots from 35 feet, something that was all too common last year. Rest assured though, as more and more games are played, storylines and themes will naturally develop. For now, let’s dig into the Top 10 teams for the week.

The Top 10

Tidbits from the Rankings

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