LeBron Runs With The Hurricanes

Posted by jstevrtc on August 26th, 2010

Celebrities of all types have always been associated with college basketball. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen the likes of President Obama playing pickup at North Carolina and taking in a game at Georgetown; Michael Jordan’s been known to practice with the Tar Heels every so often; Ashley Judd considers herself Kentucky Fan #1, and last season John Calipari had the likes of Magic Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, and Drake showing up at Rupp Arena. Calipari’s association with LeBron James specifically ticked some people off. There are certainly more examples, and whether they admit it or not, coaches with such connections like it when musicians, actors, or athletes bring a little celebrity juice to their programs.

LeBron will probably make a few appearances at Miami's Convocation Center.

That last one, though, may have now found a new crew with which to play. The AP reported earlier today that James joined in some “informal scrimmaging” with the Miami Hurricanes, some of whom hadn’t been notified that he was coming, let alone bringing along the likes of fellow Heat members Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, and Patrick Beverley, and Chris Paul from the Hornets. According to the AP report (via ESPN.com), NBA players who live in Florida often work out with the team, but this was James’ first visit to “The U.” LeBron’s assessment via Twitter: “Just left ‘The U’ hooping with the team….Great runs! Needed that.”

Messrs. Williams, Thompson, and Calipari — it’s your move. Who’s got Clooney’s number?

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 20th, 2010

  1. Looking for a kid to root for in two years (after a redshirt year)? Look no further than Jimmy McDonnell, now possessive of a spankin’ new basketball scholarship at Temple. Mike DeCourcy has a great summary of a young man who wasn’t even a college hoops prospect of any kind early in his high school hoops career, but became one through hard work and the help of a couple of coaches who saw something in him. He sounds like one of those first-to-arrive, last-to-leave kinds of players to us, and that’s something we can always get behind.
  2. It would be tough to root against Deandre Daniels, too, a top prospect in the 2011 class (ESPNU #28Rivals #10Scout #8 PF) who might reclassify into the 2010 class within the next 24 hours. Daniels missed a lot of school two years ago to help care for a grandfather stricken with cancer, got moved to the 2011 class, but has caught up with his original 2010 class through night classes and summer school. After decommitting from Texas for 2011, he’s got several scholly offers for this season, and Kentucky appears to have a head in front, which should surprise nobody anymore.
  3. Kansas lost a couple of players on Wednesday when C.J. Henry and Chase Buford both decided to put Lawrence in their rearview mirrors.  Buford averaged about two minutes a game over 11 appearances and decided that he wants his senior year of college to be that of a regular student. Henry, as you may recall, was a first-round draft pick of the Yankees back in 2005, received a $1.6 million bonus and had his tuition paid by the Yanks at Memphis. When brother Xavier committed to Kansas and John Calipari left for Kentucky, C.J. was released from his LOI and enrolled as a Jayhawk, redshirting his freshman year.  He’s out of baseball, and after averaging five minutes a game over 15 games last season for KU, he’s looking to continue his basketball career elsewhere.
  4. Jay Vincent, a former teammate of Magic’s on the ’79 Michigan State championship team and a nine-year NBA veteran, was indicted yesterday in an online employment scam. He and a partner were pinched for allegedly fronting a company that prepared people to inspect bank-foreclosed homes, asking applicants for money in advance for liability insurance and background checks. Turns out, no policies were bought, and no background checks were performed. The total take? Close to $2 million.
  5. After having jerseys retired in three sports in high school, Drew Shiller didn’t exactly see a college career filled with hip surgeries and long stretches on crutches and in physical therapy/rehab. After starting at San Francisco, he transferred to Stanford, but always felt limited because of his surgeries. He stuck with it, though, and in the process made two Pac-10 all-academic teams and just took his master’s degree from Stanford. Nice short profile by the San Jose Mercury News.
Share this story

RTC Final Four Tidbits: 03.28.10

Posted by THager on March 28th, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Michigan State (Tom Hager)

  • Michigan State’s victory on Sunday is not without controversy.  Tennessee’s J.P. Prince, who committed the crucial foul with less than two seconds left, went over to the scorer’s table after the game and said that he did not believe there was a foul.
  • Although this is Tom Izzo’s sixth trip to the Final Four in twelve years, he makes sure not to take it for granted.  According to Izzo, reaching the Final Four is the greatest aspect of coaching because of the work involved in getting there.
  • The trip to the semifinals is even more impressive considering former MSU star Magic Johnson did not even believe that this was a Final Four team a month ago.
  • Perhaps the reason for Izzo’s success is his perfectionist attitude.  During one point in the game on Sunday, Draymond Green asked if he could make a mistake, and Izzo told him not at this crucial time of year.
  • Kalin Lucas is still the hero for Michigan State, as fans chanted his name and players carried him up to the rim to cut the nets.

Duke (Patrick Sellars)

  • The Washington Post looks at the brotherhood of the Duke Blue Devils in this article. Coach K has a team back in the Final Four for the first time since 2004.
  • Was Scott Drew’s coaching inexperience exposed in the Elite Eight matchup Sunday? Here is a look at how Drew may have cost Baylor the game and a shot at the Final Four.
  • Everyone is happy in Durham. Jon Scheyer said “It’s a dream come true. To get that win, we had to work our butts off for it, and it felt great.”
  • There was a lot of emotion in the Baylor locker room after their loss on Sunday. It was a sad end to a dream season. “You don’t want it to end,” a teary-eyed Tweety Carter said, “and you want to do whatever it takes to make it go on.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Analysis: 03.27.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 28th, 2010

Each day this week during the regional rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

West Region (Andrew Murawa)

  • Usually in college basketball, when you say a team is going home, you mean they just lost and their season is over. For Butler, there are no such problems; they just upset Kansas State in Salt Lake City and are headed back to Indianapolis, the site of this year’s Final Four, to compete in their first National Semifinal just a few miles from their campus.
  • How did they do it? The easy answer is defense, mostly controlling KSU’s explosive backdoor pair of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen and, rather surprisingly, getting the best of the Wildcats on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 41-29, an astounding number for the smaller, less athletic team.
  • The Bulldog win was a complete team effort, with stars like Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward having their usual strong performances, role-players like Ronald Nored and Willie Veasley adding their gritty play, but also players like little-used freshman center Andrew Smith giving head coach Brad Stevens quite a few strong minutes in the wake of Matt Howard’s foul trouble.

East Region

  • Andy Katz writes that despite Kentucky’s presumed coronation coming up a few games short in Syracuse tonight, the Cats are back, and the health of the UK program is an overall good thing for college basketball in general.
  • Mike Freeman skewers Kentucky for whining and complaining to the refs in most of this game and refusing to give West Virginia responsibility for winning the game.  Interesting stat that Bob Huggins is now 8-1 against John Calipari in head-to-head matchups.
  • West Virginia’s Wellington Smith stated after the Mountaineers defeated Kentucky that they were looking at that as the ‘national championship game’ and had no trouble claiming that WVU should be the resounding favorite in next week’s Final Four.
  • The great game that WVU’s Joe Mazzulla put forth in the regional finals today may have bought enough time for his teammate Truck Bryant to get healthy.  He says that he’s 90% sure that he’ll be able to play in the Final Four next weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Let The Madness Begin

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2010

All season long we have heard about how this year did not feature a “dominant team” and this was the “weakest bubble ever”, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great tournament, which may be off the greatest start to a NCAA Tournament ever. While I’m not usually one prone to hyperbole, I can confidently say that I am having a hard time thinking of an opening set of games that can compare with this year. So far we have had the following things happen today:

  • Double-overtime thriller between BYU and UF where Jimmer Fredette (37 points) announced himself to the non-college basketball obsessed nation and proved to be a bit of a prophet when he told Chandler Parsons (aka “The Regular Season Christian Laettner“): “No game-winning shots tonight”. Parsons proceeded to miss potential game-winners at the end of regulation and the first OT.
  • #3 seed Baylor, a trendy pick to advance to the Final Four out of the South, struggling to put away #14 Sam Houston State in a game that was tied at 55 with 2:40 remaining in regulation
  • #2 seed Villanova, a Final Four team last year, almost falling to #15 seed Robert Morris in a game that the Wildcats trailed by 7 points with under 4 minutes to go. If the Wildcats hadn’t found a way to comeback, Jay Wright‘s decision to sit his senior star Scottie Reynolds at the start of the game as a “teaching point” then having Reynolds respond by going 2/15 from the field would have been talked about for a very long time in Philadelphia.
  • Old Dominion knocking out Notre Dame, 51-50, after the Irish missed a late 3 to tie the game and Luke Harangody, one of the most decorated players in the program’s history, added a meaningless put-back (he said he was trying to draw a foul and tie it with the continuation) for only his second basket in 23 minutes of action.

And that was only the undercard to the main event in San Jose where Vanderbilt took on Murray State in a game that was even more emotional for the Racers than you would normally expect given the recent death of the mother of Picasso Simmons, a guard for the Racers.  After letting a small lead in the 2nd half slip away, the Racers found themselves down by one with 4.2 seconds left. What followed will certainly put Racers guard Danero Thomas into this year’s “One Shining Moment” and quite possibly into NCAA lore:

(h/t to Dan Levy for the video)

I don’t want to sound like Magic Johnson, but after years of critics bashing the tournament I think it is safe to say “The NCAA Tournament is BACK!”

After the jump we have a picture of A.J. Ogilvy in the aftermath of the shot by Thomas from our correspondent who is covering the games in San Jose and a full highlight video from the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Magic in Rupp

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2010

A Little Magic in Rupp Tonight

The RematchKentucky 82, South Carolina 61. In the locker room before the game, John Calipari told his team, “Guys, before we start, here, I got a recruit here we want to talk to, so make sure you introduce yourself to the recruit.”  A moment later, into the locker room walked…Earvin “Magic” Johnson.  And honestly, that was about the only unexpected thing that happened this evening at Rupp Arena.  To be sure, this looked pretty similar to the South Carolina squad that has ownership of the only bruise on Kentucky’s record; not much has changed.  Devan Downey went nuts (26 points on 9-25), and that’s about the whole story for the Gamecocks.  This was a different Kentucky team, though, especially when it came to defense and glasswork, and the biggest change was seen in Patrick Patterson.  Ticked off after his five point performance in the first game against South Carolina, Patterson blew up for a season-high 23 points on 10-12 shooting, swatted four shots, and yanked down eight boards on this night.  South Carolina won the rebounding war in the teams’ first meeting 40-38, and even beat Kentucky on the offensive glass a month ago, 16-13.  Tonight, Patterson — whom sophomore Darius Miller called the “unquestioned leader of this team,” in case there was any doubt — along with Miller (7/8) and DeMarcus Cousins (19/11, his 17th double-double), were having none of that.  Kentucky owned the glass on both ends, outworking the Gamecocks 44-26 overall and 14-8 on the offensive side.  South Carolina had a short 7-0 run in the middle of the second half to cut the Wildcat lead to six, but didn’t really test the Wildcats after that.  It’ll be interesting to watch Kentucky in their next one.  The postgame interviews tonight didn’t end until around midnight, and Kentucky now travels to Knoxville on Saturday to take on Tennessee in a game that starts at noon — that’s right, a mere 36 hours.  Calipari noted how this is “the doldrums, the dog days of the season.  We and a lot of other teams are all wanting to get on with it…let’s get on with that other tournament, and I’m not talking about the one in Nashville (the SEC),” and, because of that, revealed some trepidation about the Tennessee game, adding, “They played Tuesday.  I think they’re there, just waiting on us.”  Magic’s message to the UK team, by the way, was simply to tell them (according to Calipari), “You’re a defensive team.  I love it, the way you guys guard, and I love watching you play.  Keep rebounding and defending the way that you are now, and stick together.”  Looks like the Wildcats got the message.

#20 Vanderbilt 96, Georgia 94 (OT). Vandy survived the post-Kentucky hangover by coming back against the very pesky Georgia Bulldogs tonight in a game they probably should have lost.  With 33 seconds left, the Commodores were down five points when Andre Walker nailed a big three to bring his team back within two.  After two missed FTs by Georgia’s Dustin Ware, AJ Ogilvy got a key tip-in to send the game to overtime and give Vandy new life.  In overtime, the Dores were able to build a small margin, but Georgia still had a chance to tie waved off when a missed FT led to a heave/tip-in that came after the buzzer.  Regardless, Vandy stayed one game up on Florida for the second seed in the SEC East and the all-important first round bye in the SEC Tournament.  Jermaine Beal was awesome with 28/7 assts and Ogilvy added 16/11 in the winning effort.  Vanderbilt is a team that is still slightly under the national radar but they can cause serious trouble for teams in the NCAA Tournament with the right matchups.

Other Games of National Interest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Interview: Seth Davis On College Basketball, His New Show, & Fannovation

Posted by nvr1983 on January 29th, 2010

Last week, RTC spoke with Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS to talk about a variety of topics on college basketball and a new promotion for Coke Zero. This is not the first time we have spoken with Seth as we interviewed him last March for the launch of his book “When March Went Mad” about the 1979 championship game between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Before the interview officially began, Seth expressed his displeasure about not getting linked every day in the Morning Five. We would give you the transcript of that discussion, but Chinese government regulations prohibit us from doing so.

Ed. Note: This interview took place last week, but due to some transcribing issues we are just putting it up now.

Seth Davis: Man of Intrigue

RTC: I guess we will start with your alma mater. Duke is looking strong again this year, but is different than they usually look as they are not relying on the outside shooting as much as a complete game. A lot of people have been talking up Duke. Do you think this is the year they can make it back to the Final Four?

SD: I do. I think they are legit. It’s kind of funny. Here they are ranked 5th or 6th in the country, putting together a great record, and there is not a lot of buzz about Duke right now. It’s funny to say that because they are so ubiquitous on television, but I think that we have all seen them get off to these great starts the past few years before they fall in the tournament. This team does things that those teams did not primarily defend and rebound. Those things are very important assets to carry into the tournament because at some point you are going to have an “off” shooting night and I think back for example to when they lost in the 2nd round to West Virginia. I think West Virginia was like +16 on the boards. At some point the shots aren’t going to fall. This team has the ability to overcome that so I don’t know from strictly a talent standpoint if I would put them on the Texas, Kentucky, and Kansas level, but do I think of them on a short list of contenders to get to the Final Four? Absolutely. I think by the way they will have a great chance of getting a #1 seed if they win the ACC regular season and then win the [ACC] tournament. I would be surprised if they aren’t a #1 seed.


RTC: Sticking with a US News & World Report College Rankings theme. Another team that has really made a lot of news this year is Cornell with a lot of close losses to very good teams, but that doesn’t impact their RPI and NCAA seeding as much as some people would think. How good is this team? How high do you think they could be seeded and how far could they go in the NCAA tournament?
Share this story

Morning Five: 11.23.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

morning5

  1. UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic was arrested and subsequently suspended by head coach Ben Howland for felony assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert last month.  This is the second physical-force-related arrest for Dragovic in the past two seasons, as he was also arrested on suspicion of shoving his girlfriend during an argument last year.  He was not prosecuted for that allegation, but we’re starting to have serious reservations about the talented Serb’s anger management.  UCLA is not off to a good start at all this season, including numerous injuries, a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and now an arrest to one of their top returnees all within the first five weeks.
  2. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined this year’s inductees to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, along with several other luminaries of the game, including former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote, Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale, all-time NCAA leading scorer Travis Grant, former UCLA/UAB coach Gene Bartow, USA Basketball leader Bill Wall, and Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA.
  3. To that end, here’s a Bird/Magic story you probably don’t already know.  From the KC Star, the two players were invited to compete on a World Invitational Tournament team coached by then-national championship Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall.  Astonishingly, both players were put on the second string by Hall, and shockers, neither of them particularly liked that.  Read about the whole story at the above link.
  4. A lot was written after the Syracuse second-half bombardment of North Carolina on Friday night, including here.  Some of the better pieces were from Jeff Goodman, Seth Davis, and Adam Zagoria.
  5. In case you missed it, the #1-rated power forward in the class of 2010, Tobias Harris, committed to Tennessee at the end of last week.  The 6’8 player who likes what Tyler Smith has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is the highest-rated player UT has ever signed.  He also considered Maryland, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.
Share this story

RTC Final Four Preview

Posted by rtmsf on April 4th, 2009

We’re  here.  After five months of winnowing down 341 college basketball teams, we’ve got four teams left standing – UNC, UConn, Michigan St. and Villanoa.  None of the four are surprises (although Villanova probably didn’t expect to be here) but all four are worthy candidates for the crown of 2009 National Champion.  Let’s break down both games for you, and keep in mind that we’ll be running our usual Boom Goes the Dynamite starting about a half-hour before tip at 5:30pm EDT.  See you then…

Dave Zeitlin and John Stevens contributed to this report.

Michigan State (30-6) vs. Connecticut (31-4)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Saturday, 6:07 p.m.

Tale of the Tape

ROAD TO DETROIT: Michigan State got by Robert Morris, then knocked off a series of highly athletic teams in USC, Kansas, and Louisville, the last of which destroyed a lot of brackets. Connecticut enjoyed their time in Philadelphia, just throttling Chattanooga and Texas A&M, then outlasted Purdue and Missouri. Advantage: MSU.

COACHES: Two of the biggest and baddest in the business, here. Both have championships to their credit. Izzo has to get his team fired up and prepared for what is basically a home game. Not to question his mental toughness (it’s certainly iron-clad), but Calhoun and staff know that all that awaits them, even if they were to win a title, is more talk about this Nate Miles recruiting thing, and maybe the occasional rogue “journalist.” Izzo’s got it better. Advantage: MSU (but just barely)

BACKCOURT: Kalin Lucas is military-quick and has a couple of fine supporters in Chris Allen and Durrell Summers, but A.J. Price has been superb in the tournament and he’s gotten more than sufficient assistance from Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie. I never thought a team could lose Jerome Dyson and still have a backcourt advantage, but that’s how good the UConn guards are. Advantage: UConn

FRONTCOURT: MSU has one of the best backcourt duos in the game with Raymar Morgan and Goran Suton. Suton seems to get better every game, since he came back from his injury. The problem is, what awaits them is what could be the best frontcourt in the country with Hasheem Thabeet, the inestimable Jeff Adrien, and the underrated Stanley Robinson. Watch the frontcourt battle between these two teams. It’ll be glorious. This is one closer than you might think, but…Advantage: UConn

BENCH: Michigan State utilizes their bench much more than Connecticut; the Spartan bench contributes a full 10% more to MSU’s total scoring than UConn’s (35% to 25%), and they’ll come off the bench with 1-2 more players than UConn on the whole. Advantage: MSU

STYLE OF PLAY: This has been billed as UConn’s speed and fast-break attack versus Michigan State’s slower, plodding style. Be careful, there. UConn averages about 78 points/game, but MSU averages about 72. Both teams have good guards and versatile big men. You might hear that whoever controls the tempo will win this game, but both of these teams have the ability to play at any speed. The winner will be determined by nothing more profound than defense and shot selection. Advantage: Even

X-FACTOR: The freshmen. Delvon Roe and Kemba Walker are significant contributors for MSU and UConn (respectively), to say the least. How will they handle the Final Four stage? Advantage: Even

AURA: Connecticut comes in here with the most mystique, so to speak. They blew out their first two opponents and they’re one of those teams that can deliver a Joe Louis-like knockout punch in short order; seriously, you can lose focus for 45 seconds and by the time you look up, UConn’s got you down 14 and they’ve turned on the full court press. Michigan State paper-cuts you to death with physicality and efficiency on offense, like a tennis player who uses a lot of slices and drop shots, then blows a single 150-mph forehand by you. No real difference, here. Advantage: Even

KARMA: Well, as noted above, UConn has this whole Nate Miles thing I know they’d like to forget, at least for now. MSU must be living right, having made it to the F4 in virtually their backyard. Advantage: MSU

MASCOT: Spartans were trained in the art of war from the age of seven and were so good at it, they considered archery an “unmanly” means of warfare. Huskies are dogs. Cool dogs, cold-weather dogs, high-stamina dogs. But this game will be an actual war. Gotta go with Sparty. Advantage: MSU

RIVALRY: MSU-Michigan is only slightly more relevant these days than UConn-UMass. But still…Advantage: MSU

FAMOUS BASKETBALL ALUMNI: I love Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Donyell Marshall, and Cliff Robinson as much as anyone. Great basketball players and ambassadors, all. But added together, they don’t equal the plastic end of Magic Johnson’s left shoestring. Advantage: MSU

FAMOUS NON-BASKETBALL ALUMNI: You could probably include Magic in this category as well, given all he’s done outside the realm of basketball. But we won’t do that. UConn has…Meg Ryan? Moby? MSU can boast James Caan and a man by the name of, uh, James P. Hoffa. I’m not messin’ with that. Advantage: MSU

PREDICTION: It’s the feature game of the Final Four (despite being the first game). If Connecticut fans think they can crank up the pace and run MSU out of the gym, think again. Michigan State will run with you. They have the athletes. and they’re the runningest (forgive me) team in the Big Ten, for what that’s worth. This has all the makings of a classic. It involves two teams whose similarities actually outnumber their differences, despite conventional wisdom. We’ve got legendary coaches, fantastic guards, excellent frontlines, and the biggest stage our sport has. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised to see some extra time played in this one. But in the end, in a great one, Connecticut just has too many options on offense. The Huskies get it done, 81-77.

———————————————————————

Villanova (30-7) vs. North Carolina (32-4)

Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Saturday, 8:47 p.m.

Tale of the Tape

ROAD TO DETROIT: Villanova, the No. 3 seed in the East Region, survived against American, throttled UCLA, humbled Duke and then stunned top-seeded Pittsburgh with THE play of the entire tournament – a coast-to-coast runner from Scottie Reynolds in the final second. North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the South, had little trouble with Radford, LSU, Gonzaga and Oklahoma on its way to the Final Four. Advantage: Nova.

COACHES: The affable, well-dressed Jay Wright is on the verge of cracking the elite echelon of college basketball head coaches. Roy Williams is already there. Advantage: UNC.

BACKCOURT: ‘Nova junior guard Scottie Reynolds had been up-and-down during this tournament before delivering one of the greatest endings in NCAA history. Ty Lawson has been virtually unstoppable since coming back from his toe injury – and Danny Green and Wayne Ellington are pretty darn good, too. Advantage: UNC.

FRONTCOURT: Forward Dante Cunningham leads Villanova in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 ppg). But he’s obviously not at the same level as four-time All-American Tyler Hansbrough. Advantage: UNC.

BENCH: Villanova’s bench may be relatively short but Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher can hit shots and spread a defense, while Antonio Pena can bang inside. Veteran guard Bobby Frasor and 7-foot freshman Tyler Zeller may both play big roles for the Heels. Advantage: Villanova.

STYLE OF PLAY: ‘Nova has kicked it old school during its NCAA run, suffocating teams with its defense and toughness. UNC boasts maybe the best offense in the land. Advantage: The public.

X-FACTOR: Reggie Redding may not be flashy, but the smart, defensive hound has been vital to Villanova’s success and is a favorite of Coach Wright. (He threw the inbounds pass to kickstart the game-winning play against Pitt in the Elite Eight.) Everything is falling into place for Danny Green, who will finally get to play in front of his father. Advantage: Even.

AURA: If you’ve watched any of Villanova’s tournament games, you’ve seen the camera fixated on former coach Rollie Massimino, who led the Wildcats to one of the great championship-game upsets in 1985. Rollie will be there for Saturday’s game, as will probably every other player, coach, cheerleader, band member, fan, booster and groupie from that ’85 team. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, booked their ticket to the Final Four by winning its record 100th tournament game. Advantage: Nova.

KARMA: Villanova was knocked out of the 2005 tournament by UNC thanks to a phantom travel call on Allan Ray. The ‘Cats remember. The Tar Heels’ road to redemption started when Hansbrough and company did the unthinkable by passing up the NBA draft to avenge last year’s first-half debacle against Kansas in the Final Four and win a national title. Advantage: UNC.

MASCOT: A wildcat is a hunter of small mammals, birds and Ginyards. A Tar Heel is apparently derived from North Carolina’s 18th-century prominence as a tar and pitch producer, but their mascot is a ram. I’m confused. Advantage: Nova.

RIVALRY: Dick Vitale may or may not be wearing pants when he broadcasts Duke-UNC games. When Villanova and Saint Joseph’s hook up, it’s referred to as the “Holy War.” Advantage: UNC.

FAMOUS BASKETBALL ALUMNI: Was Kerry Kittles as good as Michael Jordan? How about if Kerry Kittles drank Michael Jordan’s Secret Stuff? Advantage: UNC.

FAMOUS NON-BASKETBALL ALUMNI: Don McLean dropped out of Villanova after four months before writing the immortal American Pie. Speaking of great American things, Moonlight Graham and Peter Gammons both went to North Carolina. That’s an impressive baseball combo. Advantage: UNC.

PREDICTION: North Carolina may beat Villanova nine times out of 10. But as Rick Moranis said in the classic sports movie Little Giants, you just have to win one time. (What, you don’t think Little Giants is a classic?) Villanova keeps its magical run going, 75-74.

Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: Elite 8 Day Two

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2009

dynamiteAfter last night’s fantastic games (especially the Villanova-Pittsburgh game last night–probably the best game I have ever been to), we are hoping that today’s match-ups can equal what we saw last night. One of the more interesting things from the coverage last night (other than the fact that CBS cut to their regularly scheduled programming soon after the game was over according to reports that I have heard) is how little publicity ESPN and other media entities are giving the Scottie Reynolds mad dash to win the game. I’d be interested to hear your perspective on this since I was at the game and out for a couple hours after the game ended.

Anyways, here’s your schedule for today:

  • 2:20 PM: #2 Michigan State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 5:05 PM: #2 Oklahoma vs. #1 UNC

Even though the late game is getting a lot of the hype for the Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough massacre match-up, I think the early game might be a better game. I think people are giving Louisville too much credit for destroying a very mediocre Arizona team and Kalin Lucas will do a much better job navigating the Cardinals pressure than any point guard they have faced this year.

Let me know what your thought in the comment section and I’ll be back a little after 2 PM to get things started.

2:15 PM: What happened to the guy posing with Magic Johnson? It looks like he got into a bar fight, but he looks like he’s pushing 70.

2:20 PM: Interesting fact regarding the coaching match-up today: Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have never coached against each other.

2:22 PM: How crazy would Gus Johnson have been if he was calling the game in Boston last night? I’m pretty sure he would still be yelling today.

2:25 PM: Slow start for both teams (2 points combined in the first 3:30). I’m guessing this is just a bit of nerves. Hopefully the level of play will pick up.

2:30 PM: “Everywhere he (Pitino) goes success follows” – Gus Johnson. The residents of Boston would beg to differ.

2:43 PM: The teams still seem to be feeling each other out and the game seems to lack a real flow to it. Midway through the first half the teams are on pace to scored 92 points combined (a game after Louisville scored 103 points by themselves). How long the Spartans can maintain this pace before they need to go to their relatively inexperienced reserves?

2:50 PM: One thing to keep your eye on if the game is close late: free throw shooting. I harped on it last night after the Pitt-Nova game, but the Cardinals shoot an atrocious 64.4% as a team while the Spartans shoot 69.6% as a team. In fact, that may actually understate the difference in free throw shooting between the two teams. Louisville only has one starter who shoots over 67% from the line (Edgar Sosa at 74.2%) while Michigan State has 2 starters  who shoot 80% or better from the line (Kalin Lucas and Goran Suton) in addition to a key reserve (Chris Allen).

3:00 PM: I just stumbled across this article from 2 days ago where Rick Pitino says that the responsibility of watching over a basketball program rests on the coach’s shoulders. He says they aren’t directed at anybody in particular, but if Louisville makes it to Detroit Jim Calhoun might want to speak to Pitino outside. . .

3:08 PM: Great feed there by Edgar Sosa. This game is really starting to pick up. Could we have a repeat of yesterday? I think this could be another great game, but I have my doubts about UNC-Oklahoma. I have a feeling that the Tar Heels could run away with that game.

3:11 PM: Michigan State goes into half leading by 3. Izzo has to be thrilled that his team adjusted to the Cardinals’ pressure so quickly now he just has to hope their legs hold up.

3:15 PM: Scott, I think Pitino will make a few adjustments and the Cardinals will probably come out of halftime with the pressure cranked up to 11. If Michigan State can weather that storm and keep it within 5 points midway through the 2nd half they should be fine. The one interesting thing about the lack of respect Louisville has gotten this year is that I don’t think they will feel the pressure that the typical #1 overall seed would in this situation. I mean obviously there is some pressure trailing at halftime of an Elite 8 game, but I don’t think they will have the typical pressure of expectations that a #1 overall seed would have.

3:30 PM: BS, I’m sure you’ll get your wish (at least the dunking on part, but probably not the broken collarbone stuff). As for questioning the hatred of Hansbrough, it’s definitely out there. I think the reason Eric Devendorf was at another level is that he’s a lot more demonstrative and there was the accusation and suspension for striking a female student even if the charges were later dropped. I’m sure if you go to Durham, NC you will find quite a bit of hatred of Hansbrough. To be honest though, when I spoke with Hansbrough earlier this year he seemed to be a nice enough guy even if he seemed a little too intense almost an hour after the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Book Club: “When March Went Mad”

Posted by nvr1983 on March 26th, 2009

With today being the 30th anniversary of the 1979 national championship game, I figured I would finally release my long-awaited review of “When March Went Mad” by Seth Davis. Seth and his publisher were also nice enough to grant us an interview which is right after the review.

If you are a regular reader of our site, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the 1979 NCAA championship game, which featured Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and is widely cited as the seminal moment out of which modern basketball was born. Although I don’t profess to be a scholar of that game, I always thought my knowledge of the major moments in modern college basketball history (since the 1960s) was pretty respectable so when I received an e-mail for an advance copy of a book about the topic I wasn’t particularly excited (outside of the fact that I had never received an e-mail like that before). When I read through the e-mail and saw that Seth Davis, one of my favorite college basketball writers and a regular reader of Rush the Court (about 2/3 the way down), had written the book I became a little more intrigued so I decided to give it a shot.

when-march-went-mad

One of the first things I realized when I started reading the book was that despite the significance of the game there has not been a lot written about it. The game and the events leading up to it lack the literary canon of some of the other important events in college basketball history such as the John Wooden era and the Texas Western-Kentucky game. In fact, most of my knowledge from the game comes from watching documentaries about Bird and Magic that make the actual championship game seem more like it was simply foreshadowing their great NBA careers rather than the spectacle that it was at the time. In the book Seth Davis goes into detail discussing the lives of both legendary players and provides the reader with background information that helps explain a lot about their personalities and the way they approached the game. Davis traces Magic’s life story including details about how he ended up at Everett High School instead of his original school (and preferred choice) J.W. Sexton High School as a result of busing mandates in East Lansing, MI. He also examines details of Bird’s life that the casual fan (or one outside of Boston–hard to say since I live here) might not be aware of such as his distrust of outsiders and almost pathological shyness early in his career.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Bill Laimbeer: Not a Fan of the Highlighter

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2009

We were granted the opportunity to speak with Bill Laimbeer, a 4-time NBA All-Star, member of 2 NBA Championship teams (“The Bad Boys”) and former team captain of Notre Dame as part of a promotion that Coke Zero is doing for http://www.TasteTheMadness.com.

I have to say going into this interview I was a bit apprehensive. I’m not the world’s smoothest sports interviewer on the planet (as Seth Davis can probably attest to) and Bill Laimbeer has a bit of a reputation although looking back now I can’t remember any Jim “Chris” Everett moments from Laimbeer so maybe my concerns were unnecessary. It turns out that he was much friendlier than I expected and actually laughed at a few of my jokes. Even though it was part of the Coke Zero campaign, we spent most of the interview discussing basketball (college, NBA, WNBA, and even Boston fans like Bill Simmons) and not just the promotion.

One of the things that stuck out when I reviewed the interview was that Laimbeer still seems to harbor some animosity towards Digger Phelps, who coached him at Notre Dame. Looking back I probably should have dug deeper into that, but we were on a schedule. If either Bill or Digger are reading this, shoot me an e-mail at rushthecourt@gmail.com and we can get to the bottom of this.

RTC: Coming from the West Coast, what made you decide to go to Notre Dame?

BL: Well, a few reasons. One was that my parents were moving from Los Angeles to Ohio at that time after my senior year of high school. That played a little part in it. The second part was that I thought Notre Dame was a national university both basketball-wise and school-wise, and I spent most of my life in the Midwest, but I spent my high school years in California so it seemed like a good fit. And Notre Dame was on TV every other week. There was only one game a week on TV.

Laimbeer at Notre Dame (Credit: Notre Dame Media Guide)

Laimbeer at Notre Dame (Credit: Notre Dame Media Guide)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story