Breaking Down The Pac-12 Preseason Exempt Events: Part Two

Posted by AMurawa on October 23rd, 2012

Last week we took a look at the early season exempt events that the Oregon and Washington schools would be participating in this season. Today we’ll take a look at the Arizona schools and, for lack of a better term, the Rockies’ schools, breaking down where they’re going, who they’ll potentially be facing and what impact their successes or failures in those tournaments can have on the rest of their season.

Colorado – Charleston Classic, November 15-18, TD Arena, Charleston, SC

The fifth annual Charleston Classic is not exactly brimming over with great teams, but Colorado lucked out in the draw with an opening round matchup with one of the better teams in the tourney – Dayton – followed by possible matchups with a pair of other teams – Baylor and Murray State – who could be nice scalps for the Buffs, if they’re able to earn them. Of course, the downside of all that is that CU is a team that features six freshmen alongside a pair of sophomore guards, so if the young squad isn’t ready to go from the time the season tips off, they could dig themselves an early hole. To begin with, they absolutely need to take care of business against a promising and experienced Flyers team in the opener. And that starts with game-planning to slow the Dayton’s excellent senior point guard, Kevin Dillard. Last year Tad Boyle’s club did a solid job of limiting dribble penetration from opposing guards, and they’ll need to do the same in this match-up. If they can take care of that battle, expect Andre Roberson, Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson to out-athlete UD up front on the way to the winner’s bracket. Next up could be a rematch with Baylor, the team that ended the Buffs’ season last year, and another challenge for the CU guards, this time in the form of senior point guard Pierre Jackson. And there are decent odds that if somehow the Buffs get on through that challenge, they’ll have another highly regarded point man to face in the finals, in the form of Isaiah Canaan of Murray State. Of those three potential opponents for the Buffs, Baylor will do the most to challenge them along the front line, but by the time Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, we should have a pretty good idea what that CU backcourt is made up of.

Askia Booker, Colorado

Askia Booker and Backcourt-Mate Spencer Dinwiddie Could Be Seriously Challenged By Elite Point Guards At The Charleston Classic (Cliff Grassmick, Colorado Daily)

Utah – Utah Thanksgiving Tournament, November 21-24, Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT

In lieu of any of the more traditional exempt events, the Utes will be hosting their own tournament in a round robin format with Central Michigan, Idaho State and Wright State the other participants. To be honest, this is not an appealing event in the slightest. Central Michigan is coming off an 11-21 season that led to a coaching change and three transfers. Idaho State was even worse, finishing last year 9-21 but matching the Chippewas’ coaching change and transfers step for step. Wright State had its worst season in a decade in Billy Donlon’s second year, losing 11 of their last 15 on the way to a 13-19 disappointment. Better yet, the Raiders saw four transfers bail on the program, with a fifth opting for early graduation. So, to put it mildly, Utah is not expecting to be embarrassed in front of its home crowd on this holiday weekend. While it may not make for a ton of compelling basketball, it may be just what a Ute team that is bouncing back from its own nightmare season needs. The home folks can get a chance to get real familiar with all the new faces on their roster over the span of a few days, and better yet, they should get a chance to see those new guys have some success and leave the court smiling.

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Breaking Down the Five Best Non-Conference Tournaments

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 22nd, 2012

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

For the first time this offseason, thanks to new NCAA legislation allowing coaches to work with their teams over the summer, coaches began official practice with a good grip on what to expect from their teams this season. This is a generally positive development. It helps eliminate some of the rust players typically carry into fall workouts, allows coaches to begin formulating and implementing tactical tweaks earlier than usual, and gives incoming freshmen a chance to leave a positive first impression while benefiting from a longer and more relaxed transition into their college careers. Sadly, this takes some of the luster off Midnight Madness, which is traditionally viewed with excitement and anticipation as the official start of hoops practice and the symbolic commencement of another season-long slate of hardwood drama. But from a coaches perspective, getting an early look at your team before the usual date would seem like a positive change of pace, if nothing else.

All the Hoosiers need to do is sneak by Georgia to do battle with a promising UCLA squad in the Legends Classic final (Photo credit: Sandra Dukes/US Presswire)

With teams starting preseason preparations early this year, some of the usual sloppiness of non-conference play should be replaced by a more crisp and disciplined brand of basketball. This hypothesis may or may not bear fruit, but whatever the effect of the rule – whether it better conditions teams for promising starts, or eliminates the intensity of fall preseason workouts – the value of an extended offseason program will be put to the test in rather abrupt fashion with the annual slate of non-conference tournaments. These little events spring up stateside just as much as they do in island states and commonwealths, from Las Vegas to Brooklyn, Hawaii to Puerto Rico, and pretty much anywhere with a basketball court, hotels and some bleachers. It’s awful hard to keep track of them all, so I’ve chosen five events to narrow your focus. Each fixture is intriguing in its own way, and a variety of factors went into constructing the list. Exciting games between top teams carried the most weight.

On a side note: I decided to exclude mega-events such as the ACC/Big Ten and SEC/Big East Challenges, as well as the Preseason NIT. Those are great events, no doubt, but they’re great events each and every year. Plus, they don’t fit the categorical purpose of this exercise, so listing them here is unnecessary. I also excluded mini-events such as the Gotham Classic, Jimmy V Classic, Champions Classic and Wooden Classic in favor of actual tournament-style events.

1. Legends Classic 

  • Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, New York
  • Teams: Indiana, Georgia, UCLA, Georgetown
  • When: November 19-20
  • Bracket

Before we get to breaking down the matchups, the venue – the state of the art Barclays Center, which offers a cutting-edge food-ordering app, free wi-fi and the very real possibility you might spot hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, 2013 Super Bowl halftime diva Beyonce, or both – is a spectacle on its own, an urban hoops palace taking a lead role in modernizing the sports viewing experience with unprecedented technological amenities. Watching basketball played on that court is exciting no matter what teams inhabit it. Then you take a shiny new stadium and put two Top 25 squads on the floor, both of whom will still be figuring out their lineups and rounding into form, and it’s hard to envision anyone being disappointed by the end product. If Indiana can get by Georgia in one semifinal and UCLA takes care of business against Georgetown in the other (which, admittedly, is far from a guarantee), the championship game could make for one of the upcoming college hoops calendar’s best non-conference games altogether, let alone the bracketed tournament variety. Indiana will get its first real test of the season, while UCLA may still be feeling things out with an expected freshman-heavy lineup. If I had my druthers, I’d rather see this game played later on in the  schedule, mostly because of the very real possibility that No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad won’t be available due to an ongoing NCAA review of possible violations committed during his recruitment. With Muhammad, the potential Indiana-UCLA Final is a Final Four-worthy bout. Without him, it’s exciting but incomplete, insofar as it won’t accurately gauge the Bruins at full strength against another legitimate national title contender.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 10.28.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 28th, 2011

  1. Over the weekend, three different Pac-12 teams played in eight-team tournaments. Arizona State, Utah and Washington State combined to go 1-8 in the Old Spice Classic, the Battle 4 Atlantis and the 76 Classic. Thankfully ASU was able to come across another BCS conference team that was worse than they were, handing Wake Forest a 28-point beatdown, but other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot to be thankful for in the Thanksgiving tournaments this year. Other tournaments this week had mixed results, as Stanford advanced to the championship of the NIT Season Tip-Off and gave Syracuse just about all it could handle before succumbing in the final minutes, and USC also split its two games in Las Vegas, losing to UNLV on Friday in the semifinal, but knocking off South Carolina in the consolation game.
  2. Arizona State did get some sort of good news this weekend, however, as an update on Jahii Carson finally came through. While Carson is still not eligible to play at this point, there is at least some movement here, as Doug Haller clarified in reporting that Carson was waiting on a late ACT score to post. When that score posts, if it is high enough, Carson can begin practicing (and playing) with the team immediately. If the score is not high enough, Carson will be ineligible this season. Stay tuned.
  3. Down the road a piece in Arizona, Sean Miller is promising big changes for the Wildcats. “The same five that started against San Diego State (Jordin Mayes, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry and Kyryl Natyazhko) “will never start another game (together) at Arizona,” said Miller. Certainly Natyazhko is expected to be out of the starting lineup, although it remains to be seen whether Perry will move over to center or if freshman Angelo Chol will get a chance to start. But Mayes’ tenuous hold on the point guard position may be slipping as well, after he has struggled, handing out just three assists in his last five games. While freshman Josiah Turner has had his struggles adjusting to the new level of competition, his last few games have shown improvement and he may be ready to take over the reins. Likewise, the time could be now for Miller’s other freshman guard, Nick Johnson, who could slide in at the wing if Perry takes over in the middle. We’ll see what Miller has in mind on Tuesday night at New Mexico State.
  4. Oregon State had a fun weekend, wrapping up their week-long east coast road trip with a 20-point win over Towson in front of President Obama, among others. Devon Collier continued his strong start to his sophomore season by scoring 15 points, grabbing five offensive rebounds, handing out three assists and snagging two steals, while sophomore guard Roberto Nelson had by far his best game of the year, scoring 12 points and handing out four assists while playing under control. There were high hopes for Nelson this season, and maybe Saturday was the first sign of promising things to come.
  5. Finally, as if a 1-2 record in the Maui Invitational and a 1-4 start to the season weren’t enough for UCLA, sophomore forward Travis Wear cut his foot while snorkeling in Maui on Thursday and took five stitches. The Bruins’ second-leading scorer on this underwhelming season did not practice this weekend and will be reevaluated today to determine whether he will be able to play tonight when UCLA hosts Pepperdine at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
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Pac-12 Early Season Tournament Round-Up/Preview

Posted by AMurawa on November 22nd, 2011

It’s a great time to be a college hoops fan. This week in college basketball is arguably the fifth best week in the season, you know, right behind the three weeks of the NCAA Tournament and the week of the conference championships. We’ve got a chance to see teams, often for the first time, matched up with other schools from disparate corners of the country in tournament play, with the opportunities for teams to snag resume-boosting wins in rapid-fire fashion. Sure, we’ve already got a few tournaments wrapped up, and there are even a handful that come along later, but for the most part we’re right in the wheelhouse for the early season tournaments. So, we’ll take a quick look at all the Pac-12 teams and either preview or review the early season tournaments that each team is participating in.

  • Arizona – The Wildcats got things started right off the bat with an appearance in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. After dispatching of Valparaiso and Duquesne in the first week of the season, they rallied from behind in the semifinal against St. John’s to advance to the championship game, but folded down the stretch there, losing to Mississippi State.
  • Arizona State – The Sun Devils are in Orlando over the Thanksgiving weekend for the Old Spice Classic. They’ll get things started with Fairfield, expected to battle Iona for the MAAC title this year, before facing either Dayton or Wake Forest on Friday.  Texas Tech, Indiana State, Minnesota and DePaul make up the other side of what looks to be a relatively weak bracket, but given ASU’s poor start to the season, expecting them to do much damage in Orlando seems to be a pipe dream.
  • California – The Golden Bears are in the middle of the CBE Classic tournament in Kansas City this week, where they will play Missouri tonight in the championship game at 7 PM PST. They got to the final by demolishing Georgia last night 70-46, after handling George Washington and Austin Peay with ease in Berkeley last week.
Brandon Smith, California

Brandon Smith And The Cal Bears Take On Missouri In The Finals Of The CBE Classic Tonight

  • Colorado – A seventh place showing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off wasn’t what Buffalo head coach Tad Boyle had in mind, but that’s exactly what he got last weekend, after dropping the first two games of the week to Wichita State and Maryland in relatively close games before taking care of Western Michigan to avoid a winless trip to the tropics.
  • Oregon – The Ducks spend their tournament time in something called the Global Sports Hoops Showcase, December 20-22 in Eugene, with games against North Carolina Central, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin doing absolutely nothing to help their at-large chances. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on the… Big 10

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

check_in41

Josh & Mike at Big Ten Geeks are the RTC correspondents for the Big Ten Conference.

Looking Back

The team that’s made the most noise in the Big Ten so far this season is Michigan.  The Wolverines defeated UCLA 55-52 on their way to the Coaches vs. Cancer final, where Duke ran away in the second half.  But it’s a long season, and we still can’t really say if Michigan is that good, or if UCLA is just that bad (probably a bit of both).  What is encouraging, however, was the turnover situation for Beilein’s crew.  The Wolverines have been forcing TOs while taking care of the ball on their end of the floor in this early part of the season, and what’s more, that trend continued against Duke, which is a difficult thing to do (last year, Duke was among the nation’s elite with respect to TOs on both sides of the ball).  This was a staple of Beilein-ball when he was at West Virginia, so it’s more evidence that the players are adjusting to his system.

Oh, and Manny Harris has been unstoppable.  He’s been taking about 29% of Michigan’s shots so far this season, and despite that high shot diet, he has maintained a superb efficiency (96 points on 49 shots).  He’s also been rebounding like a SF and dishing assists like Mike Conley.  He can’t, of course, keep this up.  But the Big Ten is on notice – Manny is now MANNY.

Wisconsin has had a rough go of it early in the season.  While they haven’t lost, they struggled more than they should have against Long Beach State, and Iona took them to overtime.  There hasn’t been a glaring root cause, so this is probably not something to get too worked up over, but this is probably not a 30-win team.

Purdue and Michigan State have coasted in their early season schedules, but things will get more interesting soon.

Illinois posted a road win against Vanderbilt, and while the Commodores likely aren’t an NCAA team, the Illini weren’t exactly flush with road wins last season.  One number that has been of great comfort to Illini fans is the 77% free throw shooting so far this season.

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