Morning Five: 11.01.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2011

  1. November. Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the first month of the college basketball season.   With only six days remaining until the opening of the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, it’s time to get serious again, folks. If you’re the type of person who loves college basketball at your core — you possess the kind of admiration for the game that leaves you empty during its many months of summer hibernation, read this season’s first post from Kyle Whelliston at The Mid-Majority. There’s something in there that you will relate to — guaranteed. And if not, how many times will you read a college basketball article that slyly references The Sundays? Glad to have you back in action, TMM.
  2. The AP released its preseason All-America team Monday afternoon, and the only surprise among the group was how completely unsurprising it was. The first team consists of UNC’s Harrison Barnes, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones.  Taylor is the only senior of the five-man team; the other four are sophomores, all of whom could have been high selections in the NBA Draft had they chosen to declare last spring. Barnes received 63 of 65 votes, leading Gary Parrish to suggest that the two voters who left him off the team should account for his omission. It doesn’t bother us that much — let’s be honest, Barnes is really good, but he isn’t Ralph Sampson after two consecutive NPOYs — but keep in mind that last year at this time, Kemba Walker was largely considered a talented but inconsistent gunner not on par with preseason first-teamer Jacob Pullen. We know how that turned out.
  3. The Big East‘s magical mystery tour to irrelevance is set to continue today with multiple sources reporting that the conference will announce the addition of six new members at its annual meeting in Philadelphia. Prepare yourself for this murderer’s row on the hardwood: Central Florida, SMU and Houston will accept invitations to the conference in all sports, while Boise State, Navy and Air Force are presumed ready to accept in football only. With the league on the verge of losing powerhouses Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, consider us rather unimpressed with the league’s “replacements.” If Louisville ultimately ends up leaving for the Big 12 and Connecticut finds its way over to the ACC, the serious basketball schools like Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence and Notre Dame would actually be better served to make a few calls to Butler and Xavier and initiate the dream of Dave Gavitt in a post-apocalyptic way.
  4. Speaking of West Virginia, the Morgantown school has filed a civil suit in state court to get out of its contractual obligation to stay with the Big East for another two years as it transitions to the Big 12. WVU would like to leave as soon as next summer, and by taking its case to the courts under a specific claim of “direct and proximate result of ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East and its Commissioner.”  Ineffective leadership — ouch. Big East commissioner John Marinatto responded to the shot across his bow by citing the party line about his conference’s “legal options” and so forth. What the league’s insistence on keeping the three defectors around longer comes down to is that it needs to stay at a minimum of eight football schools in order to keep its auto-bid to the BCS — if the league loses Pitt, SU and WVU prior to making its replacements, then its bid becomes more tenuous (although the FBS rules state that any eight schools will do). If they all left tomorrow, the league would have five — UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers. Big East football — the gift that keeps on giving… and giving… and giving…
  5. Monday was a big day in the recruiting world, as we get closer to the early signing period later this month. Arizona received a commitment from seven-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski (how did Coach K not get this guy?), and the gurus are already projecting Sean Miller’s third class as the top-rated in the country. After a downswing in talent in recent years, the Pac-12 may be on the verge of a player infusion rivaling the draftable talent it had on hand in the late 2000s — as we discussed on our Pac-12 microsite Monday, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and even new member Colorado are seeing returns on the recruiting circuit that have been missing lately. Will it pan out?
Share this story

ATB: Holiday Hoops? Yes, Please.

Posted by rtmsf on December 23rd, 2010

The Lede.  If you’re anything like us, and we suspect that you are, you spent tonight stationed in front of your television (hopefully HD) for anywhere between four to six hours, munching on way too many Christmas cookies, filling your stomach with eggnog or some similar milky concoction, and watching game after game of college hoops.  Now Texas, now Michigan State and Illinois!  On, Mizzou!  On Gonzaga, on Kansas and Cal! To the top of the polls!  To the top of the key!  Now get out on the break!  Fill those lanes!  Throw it down, all! It was Holiday Hoops at its best this evening, with several marquee matchups on the tube and nothing else on our agenda other than to nod knowingly when the Significant Other Unit started complaining about finishing the shopping.  This guy pretty much nailed it when he said that having the holiday spirit combined with some great hoops on the TV tonight equaled one incomparable thing: bliss.

This is a Snapshot Image of MSU's Evening (DFP/J. Gonzalez)

Your Watercooler Moment. What the Hell is Wrong With Michigan State? Nothing.  The Spartans are who they are.  They were never the second-best team in America — not this year, not last year, nor the year before.  In explaining why there’s nothing wrong with them, we got a little word-happy and decided to turn it into a separate post, which is located here.  Just remember that March basketball is a different animal than December basketball and that Izzo knows and understands this, and you’ll be fine.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Whelliston’s Red Line Upset Record.  The Mid-Majority’s record of what he calls “red line upsets” was equaled tonight with ten teams from mid-major leagues defeating major-conference teams.  The Las Vegas Classic was particularly inspiring for the little guys, as New Mexico dropped Colorado and Northern Iowa got past Indiana.  The others: North Texas over LSU, Siena over Georgia Tech, Dayton over Seton Hall, Cleveland State over South Florida, Seattle over Virginia, Furman over South Carolina, Green Bay over Wyoming, Butler over Utah, and Northern Arizona over Air Force (note: Whelliston considers the Mountain West a major conference).  And nice representation among the power leagues, with the MWC dropping three games and the ACC, Big East and SEC grabbing two a piece.  Shockingly, the Pac-10 had none tonight (and yes, Oregon State played — see below).
  • Tristan Thompson.  The 6’8 freshman forward was seemingly everywhere for Texas tonight, dropping 17 points and grabbing 15 boards (six offensive) against the typically beefy Michigan State front line.  He’s had his ups and downs this season, but tonight was his best performance of the year, and if Rick Barnes can convince this human pogo stick to crash the glass like this on a nightly basis, Texas suddenly becomes a darkhorse Final Four candidate this year.
  • Jordanesque.  Coming off the bench nursing a sprained ankle to hit several key FTs down the stretch to get a big road win?  That’s what Marcus Jordan did tonight at UMass in a tight contest that could have gone either way, the first such exposure for UCF as a nationally-ranked team.  We’re not going to oversell this — after all, he only scored seven points in fifteen minutes — but UCF is turning into one of the better stories of this college basketball season, and a large part of it due to Heir Jordan.
Share this story

The Other 26: A Preview

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Navigating the world of mid-major basketball is a daunting task for not only the average fan, but any college hoops fan. There are numerous smaller conferences and teams throughout the nation that receive little if any media coverage; most of these conferences are a complete mystery when sifting through who the dominant teams are come tournament time. I realize it is hard to get excited about a Colgate vs. Army game on a Wednesday night in January at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, NY, but there are certain years where a team from a smaller conference—like the Patriot League, for example—comes out of nowhere and catches the entire nation by surprise (see: Cornell in 2009-10). In recent years, however, many of these mid-majors have proven to be not so “mid” after all—they are often every bit as strong as the perennial powers throughout the nation. In writing my weekly column, The Other 26, I hope to shed some much-needed light on those teams from the non-BCS conferences.  If North Carolina happens to be your team, then you will obviously follow the Tar Heels, the teams who comprise the ACC, and some of the other BCS teams. If you do not have a particular team to follow, then you will most likely strictly pay attention to the “big boys”—the teams who play in the six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC). Yet, there are still 26 other conferences out there (plus the Independent teams) who deserve some attention too. Here at Rush the Court this season, I hope to steer you through the complex world of mid-major hoops each and every Friday.

American Loves Seeing These Schools Succeed in March

Before delving into some of the most impressive mid-major squads, players, and conferences, it is imperative that I answer a question that will be frequently asked: “What classifies a team as a mid-major?” Kyle Whelliston, the college basketball guru for mid-major teams and founder/author of midmajority.com, is a reliable and accurate source when discussing mid-major hoops; he may have put it best when deciphering what classifies a conference that way. Whelliston uses  what he calls the “Red Line” to distinguish what conferences are considered are mids, and what ones are not. The red line divides those whose teams have an average annual athletic budget of more than $20 million and those below that threshold. Consequently, there are eight conferences that he classifies as “major”—the aforementioned six conferences plus the Mountain West and Conference USA, while he refers to the remaining conferences as mid-majors.

Even with Whelliston’s commonsense definition of a mid-major, there are still other definitions to classify the non-BCS schools. Everyone has an opinion on this.   To some, any team that lies outside of the aforementioned six major conferences is deemed a mid-major. For others, the basketball emergence of conferences such as the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and Conference USA has catapulted them to major status. Others believe that if a conference averages less than two bids to the NCAA Tournament over a period of time (a decade? a generation?), then they should be categorized as a mid-major. Still others think that a mid-major is any team that plays in an run-down arena where there isn’t a light show while introducing the home team’s starting lineups.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.03.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on November 3rd, 2010

  1. The prospect of a local/regional tournament has popped up again, this time in an intriguing locale. Several coaches from programs in Chicago came out yesterday in favor of a Chicagoland get-together similar to what Philadelphia has had for a long time (The Big 5) and what Indiana’s going to start this year. DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell even nominated “The Chicago 5″ as a possible name for their version, an apparent nod to the annual Philadelphia institution. We’re totally on board with these things (the state of Illinois was a 9-seed in our so-called State Tournament), and we wouldn’t be surprised if more of them sprang up. It looks like this one will soon happen. Could Chicago become a college hoops town again?
  2. We will not attempt to describe it, because it’s something you need to experience for yourself, but web developer/journalist/author/soothsayer (we could keep going with truthteller/interstate philosopher/truck stop expert/cartoonist) Kyle Whelliston launched the seventh season of The Mid-Majority into space on Monday. The link takes you to the front page, but set aside some time to click on as many links as you can while you’re there. You will probably not be the same by the time you’re done.
  3. Doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but ten years ago four schools agreed to become part of the Colonial Athletic Association, thereby saving it from oblivion. Hofstra, Drexel, Delaware, and Towson joined the league when Richmond, American, and East Carolina decided to make tracks, and to commemorate the 10th anniversary of those four schools joining up, CAAHoops.com is listing the accomplishments of each program since becoming part of the CAA.
  4. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a great piece on Maurice Lucas, the former NBA and Marquette star who died Monday, aged 58, of bladder cancer. Bittersweet to read now, there are some great stories in there about the methods used by Al McGuire to motivate Lucas during his time as a Warrior, and some nice insights on the man through stories relayed by his former teammates.
  5. “I really don’t see a problem with it…it was going to happen at some point. And I can talk about it so it doesn’t bother me.” Looking for courage? There’s where you’ll find it. That’s Seton Hall’s Herb Pope from an article posted by Adam Zagoria late last night at Zagsblog. Pope collapsed in April during a workout because of what was eventually found to be an “anomalous right coronary artery” (the RCA helps supply blood to the part of the heart that creates the rhythm — not exactly a part of the ticker that you want angry). CPR. Defibrillator. Three hours of cardiac surgery. Recovery. He will play basketball this year, which is astounding, considering he shouldn’t be…breathing. Got a couple of hours on a weeknight?  Take a CPR class (they’ll teach you how to use a defibrillator, too) and learn what to do for the 3-5 minutes in a situation like this before medics arrive. It’s not hard. And you never know when you’ll need it. The life you save will not be your own.
Share this story

Chatter From the Fourth Estate: NCAA 68

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2010

If you’re like us today, you’re probably feeling a little bit like you do when you realize that the blue lights in your rear view mirror weren’t intended for you even though you were about +15 over the speed limit.  As the friendly patrolman roars by on your left, that adrenaline-fueled fear of getting a ticket (or worse) melts into a somewhat euphoric state of well-being as you realize that you’ve dodged a terribly unpleasant situation.  We all spent the last two months lying hogtied on the tracks watching the 96-team locomotive steaming toward us, and the surprising (shocking?) news that the NCAA will instead move to only a 68-team scenario feels like Clint Eastwood or Rambo or freakin’ Michael Cera stepped in at the last moment to save the day.  Perspective is everything.

NCAA HQ Can Cancel That Security Detail Now

Yet imagine for a moment if we’d never heard about the 96-team debacle from the inner circles of the NCAA.  Without that particularly bilious perspective to abhor, excoriate, lambaste and dread for months leading up to today, the news that the NCAA was expanding to 68 teams would probably have been met with complete and utter derision across the board.  Four play-in games, pfshaw!  Yet when considered against the alternative, today’s news was met with guarded optimism and in some cases downright celebration.  Was this a brilliant strategem of managing expectations pulled off on us, the unsuspecting public, by the cunning NCAA (probably not), or simply a realization that the organization was treading ever so closely to killing off the goose that laid the golden egg (more likely)?  Either way, the decision is a reasonable and defensible one that we can all live with, so let’s get to the business of reviewing it now and analyzing it to death in coming weeks.

Here’s what some of the best in the business have to say…

Luke Winn, CNNSI – More importantly, it represents a major victory for college basketball. The NCAA did the right thing. While I’d prefer a pure, 64-team format without play-in games, 68 teams is immensely more palatable than 96. The sanctity of the NCAA tournament has been preserved for the time being, and that’s something to celebrate, even if Jim Isch, the NCAA’s interim president, admitted that 68 wasn’t guaranteed to be the format for the entire length of the new TV deal. [...]  Public reaction had to have played at least some role in them settling on 68 rather than 96. The public’s response to the 96 idea was overwhelmingly negative, and I wonder if Isch, Shaheen, CBS and Turner didn’t want to be regarded as the villains who ruined college sports’ crown jewel.  [...]  Eventually, we’ll get back to worrying about how Isch left the expansion door open by saying two words: “for now.” But for now, at least, we can rejoice. The NCAA tournament has been saved.

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News – Turns out, they were listening. Nobody came out and said the public’s revulsion at the prospect of a 96-team field was a factor in settling on 68, but if you’d loved the idea like chocolate-chip cookies, we’d be talking about a far different NCAA Tournament next March.  It wasn’t at the start of negotiations that someone with CBS/Turner suggested a 68-team tournament would be workable with the dollar amounts being discussed. That came after the general public declared 96 teams to be a product no more appealing than the XFL.  [...]  How should a 68-team tournament work?  That’s fairly obvious. Although it might be most fair to have the teams at the bottom of the field play for the right to be No. 16 seeds, it’s hard to imagine anyone at CBS or Turner Sports, the networks that just agreed to pay roughly $740 million annually to televise the tournament, being thrilled about showing four games that this year might have involved such matchups as Robert Morris-Winthrop or Morgan State-East Tennessee State.  The solution would be to have the last eightat-large teams play for the right to be seeded into the middle of the field—as No. 12s or No. 11s. This season, that might have meant Virginia Tech-Minnesota and Illinois-Florida.  People would watch those games. CBS and Turner saved us from the dread of a 96-team tournament. They deserve something for their money.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

03.02.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

We have a weekend full of links for you today as I was sort of busy over the weekend. On Saturday there was the RTC Live from Storrs, CT on Senior Night/Day, which was followed by RTC Aftermath that recapped the event. On Sunday, I was busy running Boom Goes the Dynamite and making some new friends from Duke (see the comment section).

Share this story

10.07.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2007

We’ve let the news accumulate for a while, so without any further delay…

  • Tom Izzo porked the media by putting them through a “typical” 2-hr MSU practice last week.
  • Ben Howland got a hefty raise and an extension through 2014 coaching his self-professed dream job.
  • If you haven’t heard, Jim Jones’ grandson Rob Jones will be playing for the University of San Diego this year. There have been multiple takes on this, but we like Extra P.’s at STF best.
  • Hoops Weiss has a scathing analysis of the Jim Calhoun / Holy Cross Coaches vs. Cancer situation.
  • Kyle Whelliston contributed a really insightful article on espn.com about high majors playing road games at mid-major schools this year.
  • Hard luck- former McD’s all-american Mike Williams ruptured his achilles tendon in a workout at Cincinnati last week and will the entire season (he sat out last year as a transfer from Texas). USC’s Daniel Hackett broke his jaw (on OJ Mayo’s elbow) last week and will miss up to six weeks. Vandy’s JeJuan Brown has withdrawn from school for personal reasons.
  • Speaking of OJ, this video of him playing in summer league is making the rounds.
  • AOL Fanhouse is continuing its analysis of all the Big East schedules.
  • NCAA Hoops Today continued its analysis of last spring’s HS all-star games with the Roundball Classic and the Jordan Classic.
  • The Big Ten Network’s twelve viewers will get to see several Midnight Madnesses next Friday, including Illini Madness, Hoosier Hysteria, Midnight Madness (MSU), Tubby’s Tipoff and Night of the Grateful Red.
  • Gary Parrish lists his top points and combo guards (Derrick RoseMemphis), top shooters and wings (Chris Lofton – Tennessee), and top bigs (Tyler Hansbrough – UNC) in the nation. He really likes freshmen.
  • DeCourcy lists his top players the more traditional way – centers (Hansbrough), power forwards (Darrell Arthur – Kansas), small forwards (Chase Budinger – Arizona), shooting guards (Lofton), and point guards (DJ Augustin – Texas).
  • And continuing our edification of various offensive and defensive schemes, here’s an explanation of Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin swing offense and a John Beilein-esque 1-3-1 trap.
Share this story