After another pivotal and exciting night of college basketball, you can bet that there are plenty of good stories across the interweb. So, it is my duty, as intern, to bring them to you so you don’t have to search for them…Enjoy!
Scout does an interesting piece revisiting their 2003 recruiting class that included LeBron James. They even give themselves a pat on the back for calling that James would be a superstar. Way to go out on a limb there. . .
Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC. The OVC Tournament begins at on-campus venues on Tuesday before moving to Nashville, TN, for the final two rounds.
Regular Season Wrap-Up
How can you not be happy for UT Martin’sBret Campbell? After years and years of finishing at the bottom of the OVC, Campbell has led the Skyhawks to the top of the OVC. Martin’s 79-65 win over Morehead State on Saturday night clinched the school’s first-ever OVC title and just the second 21-win season in school history (first-ever in Division One.)
Campbell is really one of the good guys in college coaching. He’s paid his dues and at times really struggled to get the UTM program growing. He caught a real break when he was able to land a talent like Lester Hudson and caught another break when Hudson decided to return for his senior season. Campbell was able to go out and find a great supporting cast and now UTM is on the verge of making their first-ever NCAA Tournament if they can capture the OVC Tournament title this week.
Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and OVC Conferences.
Ohio Valley Conference Standings
Austin Peay 5-1 9-7
Morehead St. 5-1 8-9
Eastern Illinois 3-2 6-9
Tenn-Martin 3-3 10-6
Eastern Kentucky 3-3 9-7
Tennessee St. 3-3 5-11
Jacksonville St. 2-3 8-6
Tennessee Tech 2-3 8-7
Murray St. 2-3 7-8
SE Missouri St. 0-6 3-14
OVC league play is in full-swing and things couldn’t be more muddled.
At this point, here is what we know:
SEMO is the league’s worst team. There’s no question about it. EIU went to SEMO and won by 20 over the weekend. Now let’s not come down too hard on the Redhawks. They do only have seven scholarship players and went through an absolute mess with the whole Scott Edgar situation. Zach Roman is doing a marvelous job just keeping this program’s head above water. After understanding SEMO, this league is as up in the air as any league in the country.
Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the OVC and MAC Conferences.
On paper, this might seem like the same old Ohio Valley Conference. But the league, in fact, is actually off to a pretty good start. In Thursday’s RPI, the OVC had three teams in the top 116. Last season, only two teams in the OVC finished in the top 200 (Austin Peay #64 and Murray State #179.) I know it’s VERY early in the season, but Jacksonville State (#65) and Murray State (#93) are both top 100. It might not be much to most mid-majors, but it’s a sign that OVC is moving in the right direction. Baby steps. But the reality check is Eastern Illinois is #343. That’s #343 out of 343. Dead last in case you’re still a bit confused. Tennessee State is not much better at #333. Like we said, baby steps. As a league, they’re hovering around #23 in the RPI, which is a major upgrade from last year’s #28 finish. In case you were wondering, the best the league has finished in the past decade was #18 in 2000 and 2001. Murray State has had the highest RPI finish this decade at #58 in 2004, which was also the last year the league had two teams finish in the top 100 (Austin Peay #94). Enough with the RPI, here are some quick hits from the past couple weeks in the OVC.
Greg Miller of WPSD Local 6 is the RTC correspondent for the MAC and Ohio Valley Conferences.
(ed. note – this post was originally scheduled for publication on Friday 11/28, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to delay publication until today. Please accept our apologies.)
Hard to believe, but OVC conference play begins next Thursday. That’s right, less than a month into the season, we’ve already got conference play!
Not a lot of time to get a handle on how this league is shaping up, but here are some quick hits from the first few weeks:
Tennessee State (advanced to OVC Finals last year) lost their opener to Cumberland University, an NAIA school. Not the start Cy Alexander was hoping for. If there was a bright spot, sophomore Gerald Robinson, Jr. (one of league’s best young players) tallied 31 points. He’s leading the league at 25.0 points per game so far. Good news, TSU rebounded to win their last two over Northern Illinois (last-second layup) and Miles (Robinson scored 36 in that win.) The Tigers will get Belmont on Monday before opening league play next weekend. Coming up in mid-December is a brutal four-game stretch where they face Alabama, Kentucky, Marshall and Georgia Tech, all on the road, in 13 days. Yikes!
UT Martin is off to an auspicious start. The Skyhawks torched Maryville, lost to Tennessee, beat Elon and then lost to Arkansas State. This is supposed to be a team that will challenge for the league title, mainly thanks to the play of All-American Lester Hudson and All-OVC guard Marquis Weddle. Hudson is averaging just about 25 points per game, but in the two losses he and Weddle have been dreadful with their shooting. Against Tennessee and Arkansas State, the two are a combined 26-85. That’s barely 30%. They rest of the team is 17-53 in those two losses. It’s obvious that how Hudson and Weddle go, so go the Skyhawks. UTM better hope these two are on a lot more than they are off or they better find another source of offense. UTM will be tested at USC Friday night before opening league play with a trip to Death Valley (Morehead State and EKU).
Ron Harris is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.
Predicted Order of Finish:
Murray State (16-2)
Austin Peay (13-5)
Morehead State (11-5)
Tennessee Tech (8-8)
Tennessee State (6-10)
Eastern Kentucky (6-10)
Eastern Illinois (5-11)
Southeast Missouri State (3-13)
Jacksonville State (1-15)
What You Need to Know (WYN2K): Murray State and Austin Peay are the traditional powers in the OVC, winning six of the last nine championships. In the 90s MSU won the title nine times. This year the league’s marquee player will be Tennessee-Martin’s Lester Hudson, who dropped 35/10 on national runner-up Memphis last year and became the first D1 player ever to record a quadruple-double (25/12/10 assts/10 stls). Hudson initially declared himself eligible for the draft but pulled his name from consideration when it became obvious he would not be selected in the first round (see video below).
Predicted Champion. Murray State (#15 NCAA) returns four starters from last year’s team and adds combo guard Isacc Miles to the mix. Miles played as a freshman at Creighton two years ago and was named to the Missouri Valley Conference all-freshman team. The Racers also added the Florida 4A-5A-6A Player of the Year in 6’7 Ivan Aska. While MSU might not be as strong as they were in the late 90s, head coach Billy Kennedy is starting to get the kind of players that made the Racers the class of the league back then.
Others Considered. You can never overlook Austin Peay. Head coach Dave Loos always has them ready to play and they have a former OVC Player of the Year in Drake Reed. On the other hand they lost three starters in Todd Babbington, Fernandez Lockett and Derek Wright. Tennessee-Martin has the league’s best player in Hudson but last year was their first winning season (17-16) in what seems like a century. Marquis Weddle knocks down 3s when opponents double-team Hudson and the Skyhawks have a couple of big bruisers inside who sat out last season. But even head coach Brett Campbell says they lack offensive skills. MoreheadState is solid inside with Leon Buchanan and Kenneth Faried. But they lose point guard Nikoila Stojakovic who finished fifth in the nation in assists last year. Head coach Donnie Tyndal says they will replace him with a point guard by committee scheme. But the lead candidate for the job seems to be JUCO transfer Robert Murry who is a shoot-first lead guard. The bottom line is: Murray State has the fewest question marks.
Important Games / Key Games / RPI-Booster Games. The OVC has not had many marquee wins against non-conference opponents in recent years although Tennessee St. did win at Illinois last season. The best chance for a marquee win this year comes on December 13 when Murray State visits Missouri. The first league games are on December 4 and 6 when Murray State plays at Eastern Kentucky and Morehead. If they can sweep those two games it will validate their status as the favorite.
Neat-O Stat. Did you know that former Murray State alum Joe Fulks was named the best player of the first 50 years of the 20th century and was called The Babe Ruth of Basketball? Fulks is credited by some with inventing the jump shot.
65 Team Era. The era hasn’t been good to the OVC, as it currently stands at 19 first-round losses in a row. But the league isn’t stuck in #16-seed land (only twice in the last 24 years) so the opportunities have been there. The most recent upset attempts were in 2006 (#14 Murray St. pushed #3 UNC to the wire, losing 69-65) and 2005 (#15 Eastern Kentucky took in-state rival #2 Kentucky deep before succumbing 72-64).
Final Thoughts. If Murray State stumbles you have to like Austin Peay’s chances to win the championship. They have one of the league’s best coaches in Loos and they have tradition on their side. The Racers are the last current OVC team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, having beaten North Carolina State in the first round in 1988. Look to their game against Missouri and their games in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico against South Florida, Oral Roberts and Wright State as barometers of their ability to repeat that feat this year.
So Wednesday was Day 2 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp (Day 1’s notes are here), and once again we’ll try to synthesize some of the reports coming from various sources who are actually attending the camp. Hopefully we’ll start to get a sense as to who is improving or shatting all over decreasing their stock. Our sources today are DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Jeff Goodman and Doug Gottlieb.
Players Doing Well So Far:
Lawson Really Must Not Want to Return to UNC (photo credit: USA Today)
Ty Lawson, UNC
DraftExpress – Ty Lawson was a cut above everyone else on the floor here, showing incredible quickness taking an outlet pass and getting his team out in transition, and fantastic court vision finding open teammates on the move. He made the game very simple for all of his teammates, as all they had to do was run with him and make sure their hands were ready for the pass.
Gottlieb – Best point guard here so far – UNC’s Ty Lawson, trailed closely by Sean Singletary. While Singletary is more refined than Lawson and seems to be using his experience from being here last year to his benefit, Lawson has an extra step that you just cannot teach.
NBADraft.net -(10pts, 5ast, 3stl) From the moment he came on the floor he changed the tempo of the game. Pushing the ball in transition, he made some nice decisions finding open teammates or getting to the hoop and finishing. The highlight for him may have been the fact that he completely outplayed Lester Hudson, the man he was matched up with. Not only did he get by Hudson at will of the dribble, but he held him scoreless for the longer part of the game.
Gary Parrish also wrote an article yesterday explaining how shocked Ty Lawson has been by UNC fans’ reactions to his attempts to enter the NBA Draft. Many of the same people who congratulated him as a Tar Heel are now trashing him through this process. Maybe that’s why he’s playing so well?
Joe Crawford, Kentucky
DraftExpress – Joe Crawford had a very strong game with 19 points on 6-11 shooting, thanks to an extremely hot and aggressive start that kept his team in the game. He took the ball to the rack extremely well, showing smoothing body control, solid ball-handling skills and impressive overall scoring instincts, and also knocked down a number of shots from outside.
Gottlieb – Kentucky’s Joe Crawford and UAB’s Robert Vaden both looked very much at ease with the added 3-point range needed for this level of basketball. Crawford looks smaller that the 6-5 he has always been listed at, but he was explosive in terms of scoring in the first half of his first game.
NBADraft.net – Joe Crawford was one of the big surprises of Day One. His 19 points were the high point total on the day. Crawford was able to use his quick first step to get by his man and to the rim. He also knocked down 2-3 from 3 showing the ability to pull up off the dribble from distance. Crawford appears on his way to claiming a spot in the second round if he can keep up his quality play.
Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s
DraftExpress – Pat Calathes only got to play 15 minutes (sitting an extensive amount of time between stints), but really made the most of his time out on the floor, scoring 10 points and dishing off 5 assists (compared to just one turnover), many of the spectacular variety. His ball-handling skills, vision and all-around creativity were on full display throughout, looking aggressive and intelligent while not forcing the issue in the least bit. He would have had even more assists playing with some more skilled big man. He seems like a lock to get drafted at this point, and may be able to work himself considerably up the board if he continues to play like this in the next two days.
NBADraft.net-(10pts, 5ast) Showed some nice moves off the dribble and in transition, he was able to use his quickness to get by the defense. He seems to have put on some weight since Portsmouth, but still looks extremely skinny. He can knock down the mid-range shot, but with his unorthodox release he seems to lack range out to the NBA 3.
JR Giddens, New Mexico
Gottlieb – Giddens looked like, well, J.R. Giddens of old. He can still shoot the deep 3, runs like a deer, had a nice two dribble pull-up jumpers and generally looked good in trying to score. He did pout and not run back on defense a couple of times, he struggles to handle the ball on pick-and-roll situations, and he is not a pure guard by any stretch of the imagination. The consensus is Round 2.
DraftExpress – (not the most skilled with the ball, but capable as a spot-up shooter and constantly making plays offensively and especially defensively thanks to his trademark length and explosiveness)
Players Hurting Themselves:
Can Shan Foster Do Anything Other Than Shoot? (photo credit: vanderbilt.edu)
Davon Jefferson, USC
Gottlieb – Davon Jefferson will be taken in this draft. He moves well offensively off screens and looks like he will become a solid pro shooter. But he has no left hand and seems lost defensively. Jefferson will knock heads will Walker both in workouts and maybe the D-League.
NBADraft.net – (7pts, 6rebs, 3ast) In the early going it seemed as if Jefferson may have made a mistake showing up this week, as he was almost non-existent. Although his performance was still not spectacular, he was able to salvage the day as he put up a decent 10 minutes together to finish the game off. His offensive skill is still in need of much work, but one cannot deny his terrific frame, and explosiveness.
DraftExpress – Who hurt himself the worst? Most likely Davon Jefferson. He came here out of shape, and has barely been hustling at all for the past two days. Although he was able to use his freakish athleticism to make some plays on the glass and in transition, NBA types can’t be crazy about what they are seeing here. He needs to realize the urgency of the situation quickly if he wants to avoid destroying what otherwise might be a very promising future. At this point it looks very obvious that the 21-year old freshman is not ready to be in this draft, and definitely made a hasty decision hiring an agent
Wayne Ellington, UNC
DraftExpress – The most intriguing story might have been the incredibly poor play of North Carolina shooting guard Wayne Ellington—projected by some as a first round pick, but looking like anything but one from what we’ve seen in the first two days so far. Ellington was 1 of 8 from the field until the game was pretty much over with two minutes left and he managed to make his boxscore look somewhat respectable with two garbage-time baskets. He forced a number of shots badly, dribbled the ball off his foot on his way to 6 painful turnovers, played poor defense and did not grab even a single rebound in 27 minutes. He finished the game with 8 points, and is looking like he’ll be on the first plane back to Chapel Hill to kick off his junior season once this camp is over unless he can turn things around in a major way.
NBADraft.net – Wayne Ellington was one of the day’s big disappointments. He scored a couple buckets late to salvage his stats to a degree but in reality he was thoroughly outplayed by Gary Forbes who appears to have strength, size and experience over Ellington.
Gottlieb – If UNC gets Wayne Ellington back, which they should, Roy Williams should thank Deron Washington. Washington played picture-perfect defense on the UNC sophomore the entire first half of their matchup. Ellington got just two contested looks and struggled to separate himself from Washington’s long arms and great lateral quickness.
Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
DraftExpress – Shan Foster was a big disappointment once again, continuing the same trend we saw in the morning and the day before. He looks completely out of his element mentally, forcing bad shots and even air-balling one 3-pointer by about five feet, which is completely uncharacteristic of the player widely considered the top shooter in this draft class. He got chased off the 3-point line way too easily, getting caught into the trap of being forced to use his ball-handling skills, which he is much less effective at than just spotting up from behind the arc. He looks like he’s putting way too much pressure on himself, and will need to settle down a bit and remember what got him here.
NBADraft.net – Shan Foster struggled to get on track with just 7 points on 2-7 shooting. His lack of a great handle and ability to get by opponents appears to be getting exposed some. He’s a great shooter, but still must show a more diverse offensive game.
Danny Green, UNC
DraftExpress – Also on the negative side of the spectrum we found Danny Green (forcing the issue way too much, especially from behind the arc [0-4], and looking clearly hobbled by his sprained left ankle).
Gottlieb – Green is dribbling too much and seems stuck between wanting to be a 2 guard and playing more like his natural 3 position. He has plenty of upside since he is only 20, but family concerns may keep him in this draft.
Goodman – He said he felt somewhere between 75 and 90 percent. Green also sounded upset that Roy Williams didn’t initially include him among the Big Three (Tyler Hanbsrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington), when he was getting early reports from NBA executives on where his players were projected
More takes on some of the other players at the Pre-Draft Camp:
Gottlieb – Richard Hendrix looks leaner (he said he has lost 15 pounds and wants to lose more), and he was much more agile because of it. Hendrix, Maryland’s James Gist and Memphis’ Joey Dorsey are three very different, yet very draftable big men who give teams in the late first round and the early second round interesting options. Hendrix, who looks like the only one who could go in Round 1, is a skilled wide body who can face up and beat you with a catch and shoot off the pick-and-pop, and he is a good rebounder/outlet passer. Gist is the lean athlete who can block shots, has streamlined his jumper to 18 feet and runs the floor very well. Dorsey is a beast. He caught two alley-oops that counted, he is a pretty solid passer both on the outlets and in the offense, and his long arms make up for his lack of great height.
NBADraft.net -LR Mbah Moute (9pts, 5rebs) He seemed to have tweaked his ankle in the early going, but showed some character fighting through and still put up a decent performance. With his length and athleticism, he is always able to alter plays defensively, and convert on hustle baskets offensively. Devon Hardin had three thunderous dunks but struggled to display any touch or post skills. As impressive a physical specimen as he is, he appears to be a big tease, a player who gives the impression that he can become a force, but lacking the focus and direction to get there. Patrick Ewing (14pts, 5-7fg) With Ewing Sr. in attendance, the younger Ewing put in a decent game. He was able to convert on a number of open jumpers and showed some nice athleticism, but his overall skill set has glaring holes and he does not have a natural position on the floor. James Gist displayed his tremendous athleticism with a reverse jam in which he was fouled and missed, followed by a nearly identical reverse dunk in which he was able to covert. He also showed a mid range game knocking down a number of 12-15 foot jumpers. And while he still needs to add consistency to his shot, there’s some reason for optimism about his offensive game.
DraftExpress - Richard Hendrix had a solid outing with 12 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes. He was extremely unselfish and did a great job crashing the glass, showing a good feel for the game but also struggling a bit defensively on the perimeter and not being very effective finishing around the rim in traffic. Malik Hairston’s stat-line might not have been that impressive on paper (8 points, 4 assists, 3-4 FG), but he did a very nice job finding teammates within the flow of the offense and playing with and off of Pat Calathes, who he seems to have nice chemistry with. His athleticism looked better than advertised getting off the floor and elevating for dunks. DeMarcus Nelson was intense and aggressive, but looked a bit out of control at times too with some of his drives. Trent Plaisted had some flashes with his ridiculous athleticism, but was a bit too quiet in stretches, not making his presence felt enough.
Update: See our summary of Days 3 & 4 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp here.
Welcome to After the Buzzer. We’re sorta envisioning this to be a one-stop recap of notable information from each night’s games. Think Daily Dime meets Doug Gottlieb (w/o the credit card fraud conviction). Or something like that. Now, we’re not promising we can do this every single night of the season – a weekly Friday’s Ivies would put everyone to sleep, including especially us. But we’ll do our best to get you some college hoops insights for your morning bourbon coffee. Except for this morning, because it’s already the afternoon. Details, details. If there’s anything you guys want to see as a regular feature, hit us up at email@example.com and we’ll unabashedly claim the idea as our own think about adding it.
The 07-08 season got underway at the Memphis Regional last night for the CvC first round games.
·Richmond 44, Maine 42. Remember when the Richmond Spiders were good with Dick Tarrant on the sidelines beating the likes of Syracuse and Indiana? No longer. 100 Memphins (?) showed up early to watch a high school game break out.
·Memphis 102, UT-Martin 71. The nightcap that nobody outside of the Pyramid saw (thanks ESPNU) showed just how explosive the #1 blogpoll Tigers can be. Joey Dorsey didn’t play, but no matter. Chris Douglas-Roberts led the way with 28/8, but reviews were sparkling for the debut of superfrosh Derrick Rose (17/6/5), fueling message board chatter about the number of trip-dubs Rose will have this year. Possible Memphis concerns – 1) they let UTM’s Lester Hudson drop 35 on them (do they play D?); and, 2) 58.6% from the line (17-29).
On Tap Tonight. The Memphis Regional continues and the Lexington Regional of the CvC gets started.
#1 Memphis (-29) v. Richmond(ESPNU) – maybe the Fedex will open up the concessions?
# 15 Kentucky (-27.5) v. Central Arkansas (ESPNU) - Gillispie’s debut at Rupp
Gardner-Webb (-3.5) v. Alabama A&M – keep an eye on A&M’s Mickell Gladness