Pac-12 M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on October 26th, 2012

  1. The Washington Huskies had their first exhibition game two nights ago and knocked off Western Washington, 88-78, a much closer result than expected. Washington only committed 14 turnovers but couldn’t manage to pull away from the Vikings until the very end of the game. Abdul Gaddy struggled early, but redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews tallied 14 points to carry the team in the first half. Gaddy picked it back up in the second half and finished with 14 points as well. More importantly was the play of C.J. Wilcox, who led Washington with 21 points by shooting 7-14 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. It’s October and it’s an exhibition so fans should not put too much stock into the margin of victory, but it was still a little too close for comfort.
  2. CBS came out with its top 30 freshman in America and, somewhat surprisingly, Shabazz Muhammad was listed as third behind Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. After Muhammad comes his other currently questionably-eligible teammate, Kyle Anderson at #4. Brandon Ashley of Arizona is the next to make an appearance on the list at #15 and then Jahii Carson of Arizona State lands at #23 followed by Grant Jerrett at #24. Carson will have an impact at Arizona State, but that slot seems a bit high for him. Yes, he’s an athletic, great ball-handling guard, but other players like Josh Scott of Colorado or Kaleb Tarczewski of Arizona could have a bigger impact than him.
  3. CBS also ranked its  top 25 transfers, and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons, now at Arizona, was ranked as the number one transfer. It’s hard to argue with this call considering Lyons will be a key cog for this Wildcat squad. He’ll take on the point guard spot for Sean Miller and should have a much larger impact than Josiah Turner did last year. Only two others from the Pac-12 made the list with Larry Drew II of UCLA coming in at #20 and Evan Gordon of Arizona State at #24. Those both seem like justifiable choices, however, leaving J.T. Terrell from USC  off the list is questionable, especially considering the fact that these same people listed him among the top 100 players in the nation. Terrell should play a big role for USC this year and although  he might not be the most notable player, he should still be on this list.
  4. UCLA’s number one recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, injured his shoulder on Wednesday at practice, and the results of his MRI came back yesterday. Muhammad will be out of action from 2-4 weeks with a shoulder strain. The injury is to his non-shooting shoulder, but it’s still a bad injury to have for a player of Muhammad’s caliber and just another thing to go wrong for the Bruins. Exactly two weeks from today, UCLA starts its season against Indiana State and while no one expected Muhammad to be declared eligible in time for that game, this effectively seals the fact that the year will begin without Muhammad in uniform. If everything breaks just exactly perfect for UCLA and Muhammad, he could make his debut in Brooklyn at the Legends Classic, but really, at this point, that is little more than wishful thinking.
  5. Hey, hey. Andrew stepping in here to take over the last bit of the Morning Five from Parker today, just because I wanted to gloat a little bit. Connor and I have been going back and forth all year picking every football game involving a Pac-12 team, and, well, ever since Washington State laid down for BYU back on the opening weekend of the seas0n, Connor has been kicking my butt. Wait. Actually, check that. Let’s make that “had been” kicking my butt. After week one, I was two games back. Just a week later I was down four. But, I didn’t panic, nailed the Stanford over SC upset, then came back a week later to take Washington over those same Cardinal, and by last Saturday afternoon when David Shaw’s bunch was wrapping up a victory in The Big Game, I had come all the way back AND taken a one-game lead over my foe. So, yeah, I’m spiking the ball a little bit harder these week, but I’m saving my touchdown dance for the final whistle, because we’ve got a pair of games this weekend on which we differ. Picks below, including our game of the week in bold. But, really, how can I lose to a guy who was so wrong about last week’s game of the week that he missed the final score of Oregon’s win over Arizona State by a whole six points?
    Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
    Colorado at Oregon Oregon Oregon
    California at Utah California Utah
    Oregon State at Washington Oregon State 28-17 Washington 21-20
    UCLA at Arizona State UCLA UCLA
    USC at Arizona USC USC
    Washington State at Stanford Stanford Stanford
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Considering the Highest Impact Transfers in 2012-13

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 23rd, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

There were few topics more thoroughly dissected and debated this offseason than transfers. The discourse began not one month after the coronation of last season’s National Champion Kentucky Wildcats with Jared Uthoff’s highly-publicized transfer tug-of-war with Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. It continued when the NCAA released word (via ESPN’s Outside the Lines program) of its intentions to review transfer guidelines as part of a larger concern over a the growing frequency of player movement, much of which – as quantified  by SI.com’s Luke Winn – is characterized by a nontraditional upward flow, whereby players seek to improve their competitive situations by jumping to better teams in high-major conferences. There is a growing fear, one that bears out in Winn’s numerical analysis, that coaches are using the pool of dissatisfied players in lesser conferences as a secondary recruiting market, that mid-major teams will increasingly suffer the possibility of having their players lost to a “poaching culture” of high-major powers plucking the lower ranks’ top talents.

After being overtaken by Kendall Marshall, Drew left UNC to reignite his career in Los Angeles (photo credit: US Presswire)

This is a legitimate concern. The NCAA will likely implement policies to cut down on the various loopholes and pathways in which players are allowed to relinquish their initial commitments in favor of joining a new program, or at least skew the cost-benefit analysis of making such a move towards staying put, but those changes may not come to bear for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we’re left with a college hoops landscape where established players with proven track records can pack their bags for greener pastures. This year’s batch includes several players who could alter their new teams’ seasons in important ways. The list of newly-eligible transfers is long and varied, so I highlighted 10 newcomers whose first seasons in new locales should find immediate success. As is the case with all of these preseason lists, the qualifications for inclusion are at best fuzzy, and at worst, flawed. There are a lot of transfers, so narrowing the list wasn’t easy. So before you rage against your favorite team’s new hot shooting guard being left out of the group, remember to take into account the sheer numerical backdrop from which any selective transfer-based analysis is grounded.

Herewith, in random order, the list:

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Marching to Vegas: How Can UCLA Find It’s Way?

Posted by AMurawa on October 19th, 2012

From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.

Midnight’s madness has come and gone and so it begins. Or something like that. There still aren’t games or standings but there’s optimism and the knowing that those eternally glorious things are soon to come. And with season’s beginning there’s new dialogue. From transfers to healed wounds to recruiting classes and seniors, the Pac-12 dialogue hasn’t necessarily centered on last season’s monstrosity but rather the potential for a return to glory. Or at least something resembling such.

Howland Has Loads of Talent Now, But Is It His Kind of Talent? (credit: LA Times)

The unfortunate twist is the immense questioning of the prognosticated success in Westwood. Here is a program that needs no introduction but gross amounts of explanation and dissection when examining their current state. I could rattle off the tribulations of the recent past but that’d feel like piling on which I’d feel is unfair considering the optimism surrounding this program in light of their 2012 recruiting haul.

[Enter: ominous cloud]

But that’s right, we’re all too familiar with the investigative cloud hovering over new Pauley and the once glowing forecast of the 2012-13 Bruins. Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson continue to be investigated by the NCAA. You don’t need me to tell you that this is not good news considering much of UCLA’s projected success was centering on these young talents, particularly Muhammad. As the investigation drags on (ask Jahii Carson about timelines on such matters), the ominous cloud grows darker. How long will Anderson (he who faces the less stiff allegations) be held out? Is Muhammad done for the year? How big of a distraction is this to the team? Then of course we could question just how good the current, confirmed roster is. Has Larry Drew II matured? Will Josh Smith ever realize his potential? What sort of progress have Tyler Lamb (now injured) and Norman Powell made? Are the twins capable of being difference makers or are they role players?

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Pac-12 Team Previews: UCLA Bruins

Posted by AMurawa on October 16th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the UCLA Bruins.

Strengths.  Talent. The Bruins feature seven former McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster, including three from last year’s game. The argument could be made that this roster has more raw talent than any other team in the country. The challenge for head coach Ben Howland is going to be harnessing this talent, as some players on this roster – most notably junior center Joshua Smith and senior point guard Larry Drew II – have yet to live up to those expectations. Still, the talent is there, and what’s more it is big, with four guys in the rotation checking in a 6’9” or better and an additional group of five different wings standing between 6’4” and 6’9”.

Joshua Smith, UCLA

Joshua Smith’s Talent Is Undeniable, But He Has Still Yet To Live Up To His Potential

Weaknesses. Despite all that talent, it remains to be seen just how the roles get distributed on this team. For instance, with freshman small forward Shabazz Muhammad expected to see the beginning of his likely brief college career delayed by an NCAA investigation, and with junior wing Tyler Lamb already laid up after getting his knee scoped, the Bruins find themselves mighty thin at the three. What’s more, with Smith, the Wear twins and freshman center Tony Parker all best suited for either the four or the five, there is quite a wait for playing time at those positions. Then there are the question marks at the point; Drew is expected to take the reins there from the get-go, but his performance and leadership at his previous stop in Chapel Hill leaves some dubious as to his ability to run this team. Meanwhile, freshman wing Kyle Anderson has all the offensive skills necessary to be an elite playmaker for the team, but could be a liability if forced to guard smaller, quicker lead guards.

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UCLA Week: Howland’s Heralded Newcomers

Posted by AMurawa on August 16th, 2012

Despite the struggles of last year for the Bruins, there was always a hopeful eye cast toward the future around the program as head coach Ben Howland had an incoming point guard transfer, commitments from a couple top-100 recruits (Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams) while remaining in hot pursuit of a couple more highly regarded players. When UCLA eventually landed the #2 recruit in the nation on signing day – Shabazz Muhammad – and bolstered its class later with a fourth top-100 recruit in Georgia big-man Tony Parker, the pieces were in place for Ben Howland to quickly put the failures of the 2011-12 season in the past. Below, we’ll take a look at the five newcomers to Howland’s program, in roughly the order in which they’ll impact the team this season.

Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA

Shabazz Muhammad May Be The Best UCLA Recruit Since Kevin Love, But Questions About His Eligibility Still Linger (Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, Small Forward, 6’6” 225 lbs, Bishop Gorman High School, Las Vegas, NV – The second-highest rated recruit in the 2012 class, Muhammad comes to Westwood after averaging 29.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game as a senior at Bishop Gorman. He’s got an impressive list of accolades (McDonald’s All-American Game MVP, Naismith High School Player of the Year, Parade All-American, etc.), but more to the point, he’s got a game that is ready to make a major impact on the college landscape: great athleticism, constantly attacking, fearless finishing ability, solid jumper and a desire that carries over to his relentlessness on the defensive end. However, despite all that, questions still remain about his eligibility. Last spring when Muhammad’s recruitment was ongoing, the NCAA let everybody know that they were looking into the possibility that the elite wing prospect may have received improper benefits. Months later, that investigation is still happening (apparently at a snail’s pace) and it appears now that Muhammad will not be going along with UCLA on its exhibition trip to China at the end of this month. Muhammad remains hopeful that the situation will be resolved prior to the beginning of the season, but the situation is still unresolved. However, working on the assumption that eventually this business will get straightened out in time for Muhammad to play the majority of UCLA’s games, he’ll have an immediate impact for the Bruins. He’ll likely step right into the small forward spot from day one and become a go-to player for the team offensively. With his ability in the open court, his presence should encourage head coach Ben Howland to open up the offense a little more for transition opportunities, and his defensive commitment should jibe immediately with Howland’s priorities on that end of the floor.

Kyle Anderson, Freshman, Point Guard, 6’9” 235lbs, St. Anthony High School, Fairview, NJ – Anderson is not a player who is used to losing basketball games. His four-year record in high school was 119-6, with a perfect 65-0 mark in his final two years at St. Anthony. Much like Muhammad, Anderson received a boatload of honors from his high school career (McDonald’s All-American, Parade All-American, Newark Star-Ledger Player of the Year, finalist for Naismith High School Player of the Year), but unlike Muhammad, Anderson’s game is not necessarily based on mind-blowing athleticism. Instead, “Slow-Mo” plays the game at his own pace, but always seems to get where he wants to go on the floor. Throw in his unselfishness and great court vision and Anderson is a playmaker of the highest order. However, given his 6’9” frame, many question his true position on the court. Offensively, there is no doubt that he has many of the skills necessary to be classified as a true point. However, he may struggle a bit on the defensive end against smaller, quicker point guards. Nevertheless, don’t be fooled, the kid’s a point and the type of player that presents serious match-up problems. When Anderson is the primary facilitator on the floor, the Bruins will run as a seriously big team with several players who can either post up smaller opponents or step outside and knock down jumpers. Whatever questions exist about Anderson’s ability on the defensive end, his offensive ability should more than make up for it.

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ACC Morning Five: 01.11.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 11th, 2012

  1. Sports Illustrated: Bubble Watch is back! The bad news is that the ACC only has three teams that are locks or should be in. The good news is there are five more still in the mix (aka teams that have an RPI under 100). The worse news is that Miami and Virginia Tech are now 0-2 to start conference play, leaving NC State, Florida State and Wake Forest to pick up the slack. In a year of middling power conferences the ACC should get four teams invited.
  2. Tomahawk Nation: Speaking of the Seminoles, Leonard Hamilton’s team had a good old-fashioned block party against Virginia Tech last night. They blocked 25.4% of the Hokies’ shots (15-of-59 field goal attempts were blocked). Luckily, Michael Rogner pointed this out twice on Twitter because I totally glossed over it the first time. That’s an outrageous number. Oh, and Bernard James was a beast, going for 18 points and 15 rebounds (of which nine were offensive). The performance earned the Seminoles a road win for their efforts.
  3. Washington Times: Maryland is much better with Alex Len in the lineup, but Mark Turgeon’s squad still has a long way to go. Specifically, the team’s transition defense was horrendous at the RBC Center on Sunday, but NC State’s athletic frontcourt exacerbated the problem, as Mark Gottfried rotated DeShawn Painter and Richard Howell to go against a gassed Len.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Speaking of NC State, the Wolfpack are the only ACC team with five players averaging double figures for the season. This balance means there are several players who can step up on any given night. The problem is the team’s talent drops off fairly quickly after the top six.
  5. Durham Herald Sun: Dexter Strickland is the newest Tar Heel to have to deal with fans calling for other players to start ahead of him. Last year it was Larry Drew II, as fans and the media called for Roy Williams to start Kendall Marshall instead. I was one of them. This year, I’ll stick with the coach. It’s true that Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston have been terrific and add an invaluable long-range threat to the offense. But I think Strickland helps the team chemistry where Drew clearly hurt it last season. The good news for Tar Heel fans is I expect Strickland to keep helping team chemistry regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench.
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ACC Morning Five: 10.31.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2011

  1. Miami Herald: In our ironic post of the day a Miami Herald op-ed contributor took the NCAA to task for its recent proposal to grant an optional extra $2,000 for cost of attendance. Best quote: “Why should the University of Miami not have the power to provide whatever amount of money required to get a commitment from that player?” Well, Miami did (allegedly) provide money, parties and just about everything else for its recruits (and student-athletes) thanks to former booster Nevin Shapiro. Even as I jest though, Darren Heitner’s opinion is an important one. He’s a lawyer and professor at Indiana University. This article is far from the only one of its kind. The cost of attendance scholarships are only a drop in the bucket.
  2. ACC Sports Journal: Dan Wiederer presents his recap of North Carolina‘s turnaround in the middle of last season starting right after the Tar Heels were blown out by Georgia Tech. It’s easy to forget how much last year’s team struggled to start the season. Even after the Georgia Tech debacle, UNC looked like it was going to be blown out by Miami before a steady run brought them close enough for Harrison Barnes to knock down the first of his clutch shots for the win. Wiederer presents the story chronologically, looking at game performances and giving some additional insight into the sudden departure of Larry Drew II. Both parts are a must-read.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Bad news for NC State. Wolfpack guard and only returning senior CJ Williams is out indefinitely with a hairline fracture in his left thumb. Mark Gottfried projected Williams as a starter and a double-figure scorer for NC State this season. Williams is lucky, though, in that the injury is to his off-hand, which should allow him to return sooner than if it was on his strong hand.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Maryland has an army of five walk-ons this season thanks to a depleted roster. That doesn’t even count John Auslander, who walked on last season but received a scholarship from Mark Turgeon this year. The story also profiles walk-ons Spencer Barks and Jonathon Thomas. Right now it sounds like the non-scholarship players are mainly for bodies in practice in the like, but Turgeon isn’t opposed to playing some of them a few minutes if needed.
  5. Charlotte Observer: Duke and North Carolina got their exhibition games going over the weekend with the Tar Heels taking care of UNC Pembroke, 102-58, and the Blue Devils pulling away from a pesky Bellarmine team, 87-62. UNC Pembroke stuck with the top-ranked squad from Chapel Hill until the end of the first half before giving up a 14-0 run, and North Carolina never looked back. Duke had a little more trouble with D-II National Champion Bellarmine, and the youth of the team showed in its turnovers. Duke committed 20 turnovers on the evening and didn’t open up a sizable lead until the second half. I’ll say it now: this team is very inexperienced.

Picture of the Day: In honor of Halloween, here’s a Duke jack o’ lantern (h/t @DarrenRovell)

Happy Halloween!

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Morning Five: 06.29.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 29th, 2011

  1. There’s been understandably little information coming out of Traverse City, Michigan, about the condition of Austin Hatch since the decision was made on Sunday to attempt to bring him out of the medically-induced coma. We’re hoping, as the saying goes, that no news is good news. For this situation, the NCAA has elected to ease the restrictions regarding communication between schools/coaches and recruits so that the University of Michigan (where Hatch verballed about two weeks ago) may offer whatever support they can for the young man. Around here, we’ve been occasionally critical of the NCAA where we felt it was warranted, but we also try to point out when they do something of which we approve. As far as this decision is concerned, please hold while we stand on our chairs and applaud.
  2. We wondered when this would start happening. There is a pretty prolific long-range bomber who currently finds himself free after a two-year hitch at a Big Six conference program. He’s currently considering new schools. His first visit? Butler. Listen, there are a lot of big-time, blue-chip schools who would love to have this man’s shooting ability as part of their arsenal. He knows that. Still, he’s checking out Butler. And not a single person should be surprised. With the recent success and the family atmosphere Brad Stevens brought to that program, we’ll wager that this won’t be the last time you hear of a top-tier transfer putting Butler on his list of possible landing sites right up there with the more traditional powers.
  3. So, fans of which sport are the most digitally connected of them all? Would we ask that question here if the answer wasn’t college basketball? According to a recent study, college hoopheads dominate use of social media. That doesn’t surprise us terribly, but some of the numbers in the study do — specifically, the comparison of percentages of sports fans who use Twitter vs Facebook, and the chances of a fan buying something of a certain brand if an athlete mentions it on either of those two social networking vehicles.
  4. Larry Drew II is still taking punches. Roy Williams recently spoke to the Asheville Citizen-Times about how he was looking forward to next year’s championship-caliber North Carolina team and a little bit about last season’s Elite Eight squad. Commenting on the calmer atmosphere of the program now compared to last season, Williams said, “I don’t forsee having to dismiss anyone from the team, so that’s more pleasant…I don’t forsee having to watch anyone leave at midseason. That’s more pleasant.” That’s obviously a reference to Drew II in there; John Henson was only slightly less diplomatic, adding, “I hate to say this, but when Larry left we pulled together and became more of a unit.”
  5. Like sports fans everywhere, we’re still saddened and in shock about the way, WAY-too-early loss of Lorenzo Charles. It’s not because he was a basketball player and he hit the most iconic shot in the history of the Tournament. That would imply that his life was reducible to just a few seconds, and we guarantee that he was much more than that to his family and friends. As long as we remind ourselves of that, though, it seems OK to remember that moment in Albuquerque as a symbol of the man rather than something that summarizes him wholly. SI.com’s Joe Posnanski wrote about what Charles’ dunk meant to him, and it’s one of the best things we’ve read in some time. As soon as you finish here, do yourself a favor and click on this link to read it yourself. [Ed. Note: I read the whole story twice; I read the paragraph that begins "Outside our apartment window..." at least six times. Fantastic.]
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Morning Five: Memorial Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 30th, 2011

Happy Memorial Day to everyone around the country, whether you’re honoring our fallen soldiers and/or the family members who are no longer with us. It’s a day worthy of reflection and memory, and we hope that your day will be spent in equal parts pouring out an ounce of liquor and cooking up some tasty barbecue.  After all, life is here to be lived, even while we’re remembering those who are gone.

  1. As if five full days of the hoops extravaganza known affectionately as the Big East Tournament wasn’t already enough, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said late last week that he wants to see the tournament expand to 17 teams (or further upon additional expansion) when TCU formally enters the league in 2012-13.  His justifications — that teams (such as UConn last year) can win five games, and that every player in the conference deserves a chance to play in the Garden at the league’s marquee event — sound reasonable enough to us.  Although the idea of a #16 vs. #17 play-in game between DePaul and TCU on Monday night seems about as enticing as talking derivative markets over at the Harvard Club.  The setup Boeheim suggests, though, would be more workable if the league ultimately expands to 20 teams and could have a “First Four” of its own then.
  2. Speaking of Big East expansion, maybe someday soon the University of Memphis will get a long-desired invitation to the league, but in the meantime we’ll have to settle for a home-and-home series between the Tigers and longtime rival and nemesis Louisville scheduled to begin next season at the KFC Yum! Center.  The two schools who battled for decades in the old Metro Conference and later in Conference USA (when it was still relevant) have not played in six years since Louisville left CUSA (the infamous Darius Washington game) but, needless to say, the two are still not friendly.  This will be a great series, and we hope that even if Memphis doesn’t join the Big East in the coming few years, that the two will continue this series indefinitely.
  3. Say what you want about Dick Vitale as an announcer past his prime or a shameless homer for certain east coast schools where he’s friendly with the head coaches… but never question the man’s commitment to improving the lives of the people around him through his relentless advocacy to fight cancer in his role as a spokesman for the Jimmy V Foundation.  As Andy Staples writes in this piece on Friday, Vitale has leveraged his name within the sporting community to raise over $100M at his gala in just the last six years, a ridiculous number in philanthropic contributions when you think about it.  Someday, when this very site or its replacement is writing the obit for one Richard Vitale, the first sentence shouldn’t mention the word ESPN, or Duke, or even basketball — it should focus on the consuming passion that he has given into the fight against cancer and how his tireless efforts in the “fourth quarter” of his life helped make the world a better place.
  4. The LA Times published a piece over the weekend examining the odd situation of three southern California kids all returning back home to play for UCLA after spending at least one season all the way across the country at UNC.  Larry Drew II, Travis Wear and David Wear each returned to LA after finding Chapel Hill not to their liking for one reason or another, and are looking to regain some of the form that made each of them elite recruits coming out of high school.  Considering that very few players leave Roy Williams’ teams to transfer elsewhere (only seven in over 20 years of head coaching), it’s a weird coincidence that four of those players came from the sunny skies and endless avenues of Los Angeles (Alex Stepheson was the other).  Good news for Tar Heel fans: none of the players on the 2011-12 UNC roster is from SoCal.
  5. It continues to amaze us that South Park is still on the air, but it is, and it continue to push the envelope with its politically incorrect jabs at just about everything anyone considers holy and sacred.  It’s been a long time since anyone considered the NCAA sacrosanct, but SP’s recent episode, “Crack Baby Athletic Association” skewers the governing organization in a parody that likens modern student-athletes to slaves in a for-profit scheme run by a select few.  South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s alma mater, the University of Colorado, comes off as particularly complicit in this show as the school the boys visit in an attempt to ply their exploitative trade.  We could go on, but don’t take our word for it — the entire unedited episode is here.
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Conference Report Card: ACC

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 28th, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the ACC.

Conference Recap

The ACC had a down year though North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall-led resurgence and Florida State’s Sweet Sixteen appearance helped a little bit. Before and during the season, Duke was the runaway favorite in the conference: Kyrie Irving’s toe injury obviously was the pivotal point that brought Duke back down to earth. Equally pivotal (in the reverse direction) was Marshall’s move to starting point guard for North Carolina. With Larry Drew II at the helm, there is no way the Tar Heels could have come close to surpassing Duke for the regular season title. The down year did not really surprise most people, and despite lofty preseason expectations (read: people forgot how highly rated North Carolina was to start the season) I think the perception is that the league at least lived up to preseason expectations with a couple of notable exceptions: NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. NC State had NCAA Tournament talent, but did not come anywhere close to sniffing the Big Dance; Wake was arguably the worst major conference team in the country; and Virginia Tech once again found itself very highly seeded in the NIT. On the flip side, Clemson and Florida State both exceeded expectations.

Roy Williams and Kendall Marshall led a mid-season resurgence that resulted in a trip the Elite Eight. (News Observer/Robert Willitt)

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Around The Blogosphere: March 29, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Final Four Notes

  • Kemba & The Improbables Do It Again: UConn is Final Four-bound: “Somehow, someway, this impossible season is going to continue. Behind Kemba Walker and superstar-in-training Jeremy Lamb, UConn has beaten Arizona, 65-63, to win the West Regional tonight in Anaheim. I really don’t know what to say. That game had too many momentum swings, too many death-defying moments, and two great looks in the final seconds to put the dagger to our collective dreams. I suggest we all sit back and enjoy this.” (The UConn Blog)
  • UK Basketball: From the Outhouse, to the Penthouse, to (gasp!) the Final Four: “Where do I begin? How does one convey the emotions one feels when, at long-last, what it is one yearns for comes to fruition? For Kentucky Wildcat basketball fans the wait seemed eternal, but alas, it is now upon us. And depending on one’s point of view, either a year late, a year early, or 13 years too long (I fall into the latter category).” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Calipari Gets A Bad Rap, While Calhoun Skates Free: “John Calipari and Jim Calhoun are two of the top coaches of my generation. That is hard to dispute. However, many people like to discredit coaches based on NCAA violations. And that’s fine. That said, some people need to more carefully review the facts before choosing who to throw under the bus.” (Obsessed with Sports

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Morning Five: 03.29.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 2011

  1. It is a good thing that Ken Krayeske was not from Kentucky or John Calipari might be having some YouTube-worthy press conferences as a new report indicates that Kentucky leads the nation in spending on basketball recruiting with a budget of $434,095 last year, which was significantly more than any program other than Kansas, despite the state (like many others) facing a large deficit. Before the Wildcat fan start ripping us apart, it is worth noting that the basketball program had an operating profit of $5.2 million last year.
  2. Late last week Ralph Nader questioned how athletic scholarships are handled, which started a small controversy online. Now David Steele has weighed in on the subject and says that while Nader was right to question how college athletics function he was wrong by focusing on the athletes and should have focused on the people in charge of the athletes.
  3. With the college basketball season nearing its conclusion many fans will start shifting their focus to whether certain players will declare for the NBA Draft. Michigan fans appear to be among the first to get that news as Darius Morris has decided to test the NBA waters although John Beilein believes that Morris won’t stay in unless he has a guarantee of being a first round selection. Based on what we have seen and heard we would expect Morris to be back in a Wolverine uniform if that is in fact true.
  4. UCLA fans were less fortunate as Tyler Honeycutt has declared for the NBA Draft and signed with an agent. They will have a new point guard though as Larry Drew II, the controversial former UNC point guard, has elected to play for the Bruins. Now we all have to hope for a UNC-UCLA match-up in Chapel Hill to bring up all the Larry Drew II-Kendall Marshall story lines again.
  5. The AP announced its All-American team yesterday and most of the selections won’t be a surprise. The notable parts of the selection process were that three senior were on the first team, which is the most since 2006, and there were no unanimous selections as Jimmer Fredette came the closest to being a unanimous selection, but was 1 vote short (time for an investigation). The one selection that might be a little controversial is JaJuan Johnson over Derrick Williams particularly after the NCAA Tournament, but other than that the team seems pretty sound and even the Johnson selection is defensible.
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