ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. [...] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

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Past Imperfect: The Wild Ride of Jimmy V

Posted by JWeill on December 8th, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Every two weeks, RTC contributor Joshua Lars Weill (@AgonicaBoss|Email) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the ups and downs of famed coach Jim Valvano.

Jimmy V, Looking For a Hug Back in 1983...

Few coaches in college basketball history have attained the sport’s highest levels of achievement and personal recognition. To do that, a coach must not only be dominant on the court, likely a national champion, but must also show both a sustaining level of that dominance and a personal magnetism that transcends on-court excellence. For those coaches who reach such lofty heights, there’s not much that a man can’t see within his grasp. Fortune and fame, even celebrity if so desired. A career choice originally based on a simple and single-minded goal – to be a major college head coach – can one day lead to possibilities never previously imagined: corporate pitchman, TV star, a brand unto oneself.

For James Thomas Anthony Valvano, the fame and attention he garnered for his team’s improbable victory in the 1983 NCAA title game was an elixir too potent to be sipped and appreciated. To the contrary, Valvano drank fully and became addicted: to the lifestyle, to the accolades, to the fame, to the next opportunity. For ‘Jimmy V,’ as he was known to most, there was, after years of toil in a cut-throat business, all of a sudden everything and anything possible. And Valvano, a boundless personality, a real talker, chomped at the bit to have it all.

The phrase “larger than life” gets used a lot, far too often on folks who simply aren’t. It’s as cliché as cliché comes, an almost meaningless term due to its over- and wrong-use. And yet, when applied correctly, it can be apt. Valvano certainly was someone it applied to. Despite losing his battle with cancer in 1993, Valvano is still very much alive. He lives on through the charitable foundation that bears his nickname, as well as the college basketball events that raise money for them. He lives on too in his much-revered and much-replayed speech at the 1993 ESPYs. You probably saw it recently, and you’ll see it again.

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Morning Five: 07.07.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 7th, 2011

  1. The big news yesterday was the death of Armen Gilliam, who starred at UNLV and led the 1987 Rebels to a 37-2 record and a Final Four appearance. Gilliam died while playing in a pickup game near Pittsburgh and although initial reports suggested that he had died of a heart attack in fact the cause of death will not be officially determined until an autopsy is performed at a later date. In addition to his playing career at UNLV and in the NBA, Gilliam also coached at Division III Penn State-Altoona. No announcements have been made yet regarding funeral services for Gilliam, but we expect a big turnout like NC State had for Lorenzo Charles this past weekend if the Gilliam family chooses to do so.
  2. Georgia Tech transfer Brian Oliver announced yesterday that he would be heading to Seton Hall. Oliver, who averaged 10.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG last season as a sophomore including a 32-point outburst against Syracuse. Despite a disappointing end to his season where he missed the last eight games due to a broken thumb, Oliver likely would have remained at Georgia Tech if not for the firing of Paul Hewitt. The Pirates were able to win Oliver’s services over a handful of teams and after he sits out a season they should have a potential All-Big East performer in Oliver.
  3. Apparently one game over .500 in three seasons is enough to get a contract extension in college basketball because Stanford announced late yesterday that they were giving Johnny Dawkins a two-year extension through the 2015-16 season. After a relatively promising 20-14 record in his first season in Palo Alto, Dawkins has seen his Cardinal team fail to break .500 in the past two season and may have worked his way out of one of the top jobs in any sport–head coach at Duke. Perhaps Dawkins can turn things around on The Farm, but he has his work cut out for him in a Pac-10 conference that is no longer as weak as it was a few years ago.
  4. Most of the attention in the US for the U-19 World Championships has been on Team USA and its college stars, but as Luke Winn reports college fans may want to start paying attention to the Australian team as several of their players may be heading to college campuses near you in the very near future. While some schools (St. Mary’s) dominated the Australian recruiting scene in recent years, the players have started to shift their focus to other schools and Winn reports the current favorites for the present group of Australian star U-19 players are Butler, Boise State, and New Mexico.
  5. With the summer circuit heading up Dave Telep has ten major storylines to watch for this month. You will find a lot of talk about all the big names that you are probably familiar with from various recruiting sources online and although we love the big-time showdowns (LeBron James destroying Lenny Cooke is our personal favorite) our favorite part is waiting for the relative unknowns to emerge as major prospects. It was just a year ago when Anthony Davis went from a decent Chicago-area prospect who wasn’t even getting much attention from in-state school to the top prospect in his class in the eyes of many recruiting analysts.
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R.I.P. Armen Gilliam (1964-2011)

Posted by nvr1983 on July 6th, 2011

UNLV legend Armen Gilliam died on Tuesday night at the age of 47 after suffering an apparent heart attack while playing pickup basketball in a Pittsburgh-area gym. Gilliam’s death occurs just nine days after NC State legend Lorenzo Charles died in a motor vehicle accident in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gilliam had a great college & pro career (Credit: David Petkiewicz/Arizona Republic)

Nicknamed “The Hammer” for his physical play Gilliam led UNLV to a 93-11 record during his 3 seasons there culminating in a 37-2 season in 1987 that ended in the Final Four appearance. Gilliam was named a 2nd team All-American and Big West Player of the Year while scoring 903 points (still a single-season record at UNLV) while averaging 23.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG as a senior. Following his senior year Gilliam was the 2nd overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft behind David Robinson. In his 13 seasons in the NBA, Gilliam averaged 13.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG while playing for 6 different NBA teams.

Gilliam’s jersey was inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and had his jersey retired by the school in 2007. Upon hearing about Gilliam’s death, his former coach Jerry Tarkanian said, “He was one of the greatest Rebels ever and one of the best players we have ever had. In my ratings, I had Larry Johnson No. 1 and Armon No. 2. He was such a great person. Everybody loved him and he loved everybody. He was such a gentle person and such a caring guy. I am all shook up over it. I think the world of him and am just really shocked.”

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Morning Five: Fourth of July Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 4th, 2011

  1. Since it is “Independence Day” (debatable depending on the depth of your knowledge of US history), we are going to start of with the US National team specifically the Under-19 team competing in Latvia. The team is off to a 3-0 start after its 82-66 win over China on Saturday. The team was led by two players that you would expect to be effective–Jeremy Lamb and Tim Hardaway Jr.–as well two players–Doug McDermott and Khyle Marshall–that the casual college fan may be less familiar with. The US was the only team to make it through round-robin play undefeated, but narrowly survived an upset bid by Serbia earlier this week. Their next game, which will take place on Tuesday, should be significantly tougher as they will be going up against Jonas Valanciunas, the 5th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and a Lithuanian team that knocked them off in pre-tournament play.
  2. When Mike Anderson left Missouri to take over at Arkansas many expected Phil Pressey to follow Anderson, whom he had known his entire life (Pressey’s father was Anderson’s roommate in college) to Little Rock. So when Pressey decided to stay in Columbia it surprised many observers and his reasons for staying remained a secret until last week. Pressey’s reason to staying at Missouri turn out to be pretty much what you would expect from a player in his position: not wanting to sit out a year, wanting to stay with his current teammates (including his brother Matt), and a connection with new coach Frank Haith. If the Tigers end up having a solid year in Haith’s inaugural season in Columbia, Pressey’s decision to stay will probably be a major factor.
  3. The details of Lon Kruger‘s new contract with Oklahoma were released late last week and while most of the public will obsess over all the financial details (NCAA Tournament, personal services, buyouts, etc), but the most interesting part of the contract for us is the clause that states that Kruger must respond “accurately and fully within a reasonable time to any request or inquiry relating to the performance of his duties during his University employment.” As the article notes this was not included in the contract of recently fired coach Jeff Capel. We aren’t sure if this was in response to something that Capel did or did not do (or just college coaches in general), but it is an interesting clause although we are not sure what the point of it is other than to say it explicitly. In our minds, every contract for someone coaching a NCAA sport should have this as an expected clause whether or not it explicitly stated.
  4. The summer recruiting trail is heating up and the class of 2012 has a new #1 player, Shabazz Muhammad, at least according to Rivals. As you would expect Muhammad will have the attention of every major program in the country, but you should not count out  UNLV, which is in Muhammad’s backyard. On top of the proximity and appeal of staying close to home, UNLV also has new coach Dave Rice, the brother of Muhammad’s high school coach Grant Rice, which could help sway Muhammad’s decision.
  5. NC State legend Lorenzo Charles was buried on Saturday in a service that included many of his former teammates and members of the current athletic department. As we mentioned in our initial post on his death Charles will forever be remembered for his dunk at the end of the 1983 NCAA Championship game, but to remember him solely for that would be a disservice to his excellent career at NC State where he averaged 18 PPG and 7.3 RPG in his final two seasons as he made the All-ACC First Team both times during an era where the ACC was turning out several lottery picks every season. As his niece Ericka stated during the ceremony, “I can’t believe he is gone.” Neither can we.
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Morning Five: 06.30.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 30th, 2011

  1. Ohio State welcomed home one of its own yesterday by hiring Chris Jent as an assistant coach. Jent has been an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the last couple of years and even served as a personal shooting coach for some guy who took his talents to South Beach last year. Jent was a solid swingman for the Buckeyes from 1988-92, and, if anyone had actually kept a crowd-dives or floorburns stat, Jent would have been on top with no real challengers. Good to have him back in the college game.
  2. Remember Chuck Culpepper? He’s written for Newsday, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Los Angeles Times, he wrote a book about how he discovered and came to love English soccer, and now he writes for The National — not the former daily sports newspaper from 1990-91, or the utterly freaking phenomenal rock band from Cincinnati/New York, but an English-language paper published in the United Arab Emirates. In yesterday’s edition, he had a go at explaining John Calipari’s new $36.5 million deal to his readers in Abu Dhabi. It’s fun reading how he tries to explain to folks in the UAE that, yes, this does happen at the college level, and it does happen in Kentucky.
  3. Nice writeup here by Steve Walentik of the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune about the recent group of coaches who turned down big names and big bucks to stay at their smaller programs, and how athletic directors are having (and will continue to have) a tougher time convincing these guys to stick around, what with the offered salaries getting ever larger, conferences that have TV networks attached to them, etc. We love that gentlemen like Brad Stevens, Chris Mack, Shaka Smart, et al, stayed at their respective current locales, but let us say now that if/when they leave for so-called “bigger” jobs, how unfair it would be to say they left just for the money. One of the things that makes great athletes and coaches great is their competetive drive, and if any of those fellows decides someday to move to a Big Six conference position, it will be for that reason more than it will be for the cash.
  4. We’ve loved seeing all the articles and tributes to Lorenzo Charles. It’s hard to go wrong with something like that, you know…paying respects to an obviously widely-beloved man who happens to be responsible for the most famous highlight in the history of our game, especially when he leaves us at such a young age. On Tuesday night, a Greensboro television station brought in former Terp Keith Gatlin to talk a little about Charles, since the two were friends and played together for the CBA’s Quad City Thunder. Gatlin offered a few quick comments, which were nice, and left us wanting more. Then, oddly, Gatlin (who at this point had to be thinking, “Someone please tell me why we’re doing this…”) and the anchor running the segment attempt an ill-conceived recreation of Charles’ iconic highlight. You can see how it went (video in that link). Bizarre.
  5. Is the knee-jerk impulse of players to transfer from one school to another a reflection of a problem within the current generation of kids? Evidently, Arizona State’s Herb Sendek and a fellow named Buddy Hobart (who helped Sendek write his book) think so. Sendek/Hobart describe Generation Y — of which today’s student-athletes are all members — as a group “not willing to pay their dues” and “impatient” because they feel today’s players would rather cut and run from an unpleasant situation than stick it out and see what happens. Um…don’t coaches do the same thing all the time? Sendek admits this, at least, but the author of the article conveniently forgets that point. It’s remarkable how every generation always bemoans the one that follows as unquestionably inferior in every way, the sentiment itself a mere rite of passage.
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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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R.I.P. Lorenzo Charles (1963-2011)

Posted by nvr1983 on June 27th, 2011

We are sad to report news out of Raleigh, North Carolina, where former North Carolina State star and 1983 NCAA Tournament hero Lorenzo Charles apparently died in a bus accident at 5 PM today. Charles is best known for his last-second dunk off an errant shot by Dereck Whittenburg to beat Houston‘s famed Phi Slama Jamma team that featured eventual NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. That North Carolina State team, a #6 seed–the second lowest seeded team to ever win the title–was known as the “Cardiac Pack” for its tendency to win close games late in the year (winning seven of its last nine games after trailing in the last minute), but none of those wins approached the theatrics of the championship night. Set in “The Pit” at New Mexico, the last university venue to host a championship game, the follow-up dunk by Charles ignited a raucous celebration that was highlighted by a stunned Houston team wandering around the floor and an ecstatic Jim Valvano running around the court looking for someone to hug. [Ed. Note: Please click through video to see the highlights on YouTube due to the NCAA disabling embedding.]

Both the dunk and the surreal celebration with Valvano running around like a madman rank up there with the greatest moments in sports history and have become a staple of every NCAA Tournament highlight package. Charles was selected by the Atlanta Hawks as the 41st pick in the 1985 NBA Draft and although he never achieved anywhere near the same notoriety at any other point in his career, he will forever be a part of college basketball lore as the only player to win an NCAA Championship with a shot at the buzzer. Details remain limited at this time, but we will update you as more become available.

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March Moment: Lest We Forget, Sometimes It’s Good Just To Be Invited

Posted by jstevrtc on March 31st, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game. For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment. A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.” Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents: what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan? What was your…March Moment?

Our final installment for this year has a pair of remembrances that remind us how just being part of the magic of the NCAA Tournament is something for which to be thankful. RTC correspondents Kraig Williams and Russell Burnett recount being in the crowd (and eventually on the floor) to see their teams earn automatic invites to the NCAA Tournament.  Butler may be a 5-seed but they’re still a so-called “mid-major,” and this is obviously the biggest storyline of this year’s Final Four.  These stories from Messrs. Williams and Burnett amplify how great Butler’s achievement is, and goes to show that if you think every single mid-major program in the nation doesn’t take pride in and hope from the Bulldogs’ presence in Indy this weekend, you’d better think again:

KW: I’ve always been a big college basketball fan, and fondly remember the days of filling out a bracket before I even knew how to pronounce some of the schools’ names. Growing up in Utah, I remember watching Keith Van Horn carry Utah to a championship game; I jumped on the band wagons of Duke in ’01 and Syracuse in ’03 to win bracket pools among my friends and slowly college basketball seeped into my blood. It wasn’t until last season that I had my ultimate March Moment.

As a student at Utah State University, we survived the adjustment from the Big West to the WAC only to surfer heartbreaks in the conference tournament year after year. Last season though, things were different. It was clear the Aggies were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the conference. Utah State steamrolled through Fresno State, somehow survived New Mexico State in the semi finals, and then came the dream matchup with Nevada on their home floor. Sitting outside the arena a couple hours before they would even let us in, it became apparent that this would be our night. Utah State students had the Nevada crowd nearly outnumbered, and when we got into the stadium it became clear that we would have the better team. Utah State jumped out to a 21-4 lead and the party began in the student section. After years of following the Aggies, and watching them come oh-so-close so many times, we were finally going to have a conference tournament banner to hang in The Spectrum. The clock ticked down, we shouted the “winning team, losing team” chant, and then we rushed the court in Reno like our lives depended on it. We spent the next hour or so just standing on the court, talking to the players, taking photos with the trophy, and watching our guys cut down the nets. That’s a feeling I’ll never forget, knowing that we weren’t going to be sweating bullets at home waiting to see if the selection committee would be nice enough to send us to the dance.

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