Morning Five: 08.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 20th, 2012

  1. How many Gasols does it take to win a championship? That might be the question asked by basketball-loving Angelenos who are not only Laker but also UCLA fans now that Adria Gasol, the 18-year old younger brother of NBA stars Pau (Lakers) and Marc (Grizzlies) is walking on to the Bruins’ roster. According to all reports, expectations for the 6’10” player should be tempered, as he is far behind his two older brothers in terms of on-court skills at the same age. Still, the bloodlines are there and Marc in particular took some time to develop into an effective player, so Ben Howland stands to lose nothing by giving the young center a chance to learn the game with minimal pressure on him. He certainly wouldn’t be the first big man prospect who has trouble with the fundamental basics of the game at his age.
  2. Indiana athletic director Fred Glass made some interesting comments over the weekend in a piece from the the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that compared the problems of cheating that go on in college football versus college basketball. His perception is that because of AAU/summer league basketball, cheating is more of a problem in hoops (“It’s terrible, man. I mean, it’s gross.”), and he would go considerably further than the NCAA has in getting control over it. To wit: “I would encourage the NCAA to hire a bunch of former FBI guys that know how to follow the money. [...] I think you need to hire guys that know how to find bad guys and that know their way around tracking money. That’s what I’d do. If we’re serious about cleaning that up, we need to have some people who have a real ability to track money and require people to give them the information they need to do that.” This kind of strong language from someone in a position of power at one of the nation’s pre-eminent basketball schools is what we like to see — otherwise, the pressure will never reach the tipping point needed to make significant changes.
  3. Central Florida may have been facing a lost season in its final tour in Conference USA with a postseason ban hanging over the program’s head, but with the weekend news that its best player, Keith Clanton, has decided to return for his senior year, next year may not be so bad after all. As a result of the NCAA sanctions, Clanton and his senior teammates CJ Reed, Josh Crittle and Marcus Jordan were allowed an opportunity to transfer elsewhere to play immediately, but so far only Reed, heading to Georgia Southern to play for his father Clifford, is jumping ship. According to CBSSports.com, Jordan is set to return to UCF too, although he appears to only be taking classes and is not expected to suit up for the Knights again.
  4. Over the weekend, former UNC two-sport star Julius Peppers confirmed that a leaked transcript purported to be his on a North Carolina portal last weekend was in fact his own, and that all of his grades were earned, “whether good or bad.” In light of his admission, the Raleigh News & Observer outlined its ongoing two-year saga in requesting aggregated and de-identified transcript data from the university — needless to say, the newspaper feels as if it’s been stonewalled, and according to legal professors familiar with the student privacy laws the school is hiding behind, UNC is purposefully misinterpreting the law to protect its own interests. Will the Martin Commission, put in place by UNC chancellor Holden Thorp last week, have the power to get to the bottom of this growing scandal? Or as one commenter notes below the piece, have all the bodies already been buried?
  5. We’ll have more on this in a piece later today, but the New York Times over the weekend published a tremendous article on the whereabouts of former high school star Jonathan Hargett, a Richmond, Virginia, uber-athlete who was compared favorably in the early 2000s with Allen Iverson for his size, crossover dribble, and unbelievable hops (reportedly at 44 inches). Hargett had offers from everywhere, but he told the Times’ Pete Thamel that he chose to attend West Virginia (then coached by Gale Catlett) based on a promise of an assistant coaching position for his older brother and a guaranteed annual “salary” of $20,000 per year. He only survived one season at the school before leaving and becoming involved with drug trafficking on the streets — he is now in prison in Chesapeake, Virginia, and eligible for parole in January 2013. These sorts of cautionary tales about legends who never made it seem to pop up all too often, but if we have to believe that the SIDs in Morgantown are burning the midnight oil with statements and talking points for Monday.
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Morning Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 2nd, 2012

  1. It came a few days later than we expected, but the biggest college basketball news from the weekend was that Mississippi State guard Rodney Hood is heading to Duke. Hood told ESPN.com on Saturday night that Coach K said he could develop the 6’8″ wing into one of the best all-around players in the country. He’s already quite impressive, averaging 10/5 last season in 32 MPG for the Bulldogs while earning all-SEC freshman team honors. If it seems a little weird that he’s transferring to Duke, that’s because it is — Hood marks only the fourth transfer player that Krzyzewski has accepted during his long tenure in Durham. The other three — Roshown McLeod, Dahntay Jones, and Seth Curry — were all key contributors on good Duke teams (Curry, of course, is a rising senior), and McLeod and Jones both parlayed their time as Blue Devils into becoming first round selections of the NBA Draft.
  2. It was something of a rough weekend for college basketball in the nation’s midsection this weekend, as a prominent player and program were put on the defensive and will have some damage control to implement this week as a result. First, Central Florida’s Marcus Jordan, allegedly “animated, intoxicated and uncooperative,” was arrested early Sunday morning in Omaha, Nebraska, for getting into a fracas with two women outside an Embassy Suites hotel. He was released on Sunday night after being charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction. What on earth Jordan was doing in Omaha over the weekend is anyone’s guess, but he might be better served by mimicking his old man’s drive and determination on the court rather than in hotel parking lots.
  3. Forgive us for thinking that the feds spending valuable taxpayer dollars pursuing low-level marijuana traffickers is a complete waste of everyone’s time and energy, but occasionally an amusing anecdote spills out of one of these investigations and that’s what we have here. A federal prosecutor charging a miscreant named Samuel Villareal, III, of selling dope in the Kansas City area stated in an open hearing recently that his client list included a number of players on the 2010-11 Kansas basketball team. No specific names have yet been released, but we’re sure that both KU fans and their rivals have their inklings of who the offenders might have been. KU policy requires three positive tests before a player is suspended from action, and the NCAA does its own testing as part of the NCAA Tournament — still, what this situation proves more than anything is that there will always be hangers-on associating with prominent athletes around an elite program. It’s incumbent on the school to properly vet and limit contact with folks like Villareal as much and as early as possible. Otherwise, embarrassing public relations situations such as these are almost guaranteed to occur.
  4. For folks who work under academic calendars or mid-year fiscal calendars, Saturday night at midnight was an important moment as 2011-12 moved into 2012-13. While meaningless to most of us, Boise State was one entity who took the date very seriously — the reason is that the university was required to give the Mountain West at least one full year’s notice prior to leaving the conference or face a substantial $5 million penalty. The Broncos program gave notice on Saturday, meaning that its football program will compete in the Big East starting in the fall of 2013. But, as Andy Katz reported over the weekend, all of its other sports including basketball are currently hanging in limbo. The hoped-for outcomes is that the Big West chooses to accept Boise State for all other sports in the same way that it did for San Diego State, but given that it would be at least 500 miles to the nearest conference school (UC Davis), travel costs could be a big concern.
  5. To that end, Sunday at midnight also marked the exact point in time that the SEC became a 14-team league with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, while the Big 12 replaced its two lost members by adding West Virginia and TCU. For some interesting reads as to how fans reacted to the official transitions locally, check out the following writeups in their local papers: Missouri, Texas A&M, West Virginia, TCU. It may not be something we’re supportive of here at RTC HQ, but we, like everyone else, are going to have to learn to love it.
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Checking In On… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 13th, 2012

Steve Coulter is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can also find his musings online at http://www.duclarion.com/sports or on Twitter @broncos2thebowl.

Reader’s Take:

 

The Week That Was

  • UCF Hits Speed Bump With Transfers: Usually at this point in the season it’s all about lacing up the sneakers and getting to business. However, the challenges striking the Central Florida men’s basketball program persist. Transfer guard Jeffrey Jordan, Michael’s oldest son, left the Knights over the weekend citing “personal reasons” and Central Florida Future announced Thursday that senior forward Dwight McCombs will be following suit after he was handed a season-ending suspension on Wednesday. The losses may not seem like that big of a deal with Jordan sitting on the bench and McCombs only averaging 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds a night; however, the decisions of both players to leave the school only adds additional trouble to a program that has been marred with the departure of its athletic director this season.
  • Memphis Continues Success Against Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles took the nation’s seventh-longest winning streak into FedEx Forum on Wednesday night (11 games), but exited with their third loss of the season and their 18th consecutive loss to the Memphis Tigers. On the other sideline, the Tigers enjoyed their 135th home victory since the 2004-2005 season. Memphis is the winningest home team in the nation at 135-16 since that year. The Tigers were able to hold to a close victory behind a pair of Chris Crawford free throws with 31.7 seconds remaining.
  • Dennis Tinnon Has A Career Night: Marshall barely escaped with a victory last night, defeating UAB 60-58 and setting up a marquee conference matchup with UCF on Saturday night.  Junior forward Dennis Tinnon led the Thundering Herd, grabbing a career-high 19 rebounds. Another unheralded junior, forward Robert Goff, sealed the victory for Marshall with a gigantic three-point play with under a minute to play. DeAndre Kane also enjoyed a successful evening, scoring 21 points and recording 10 rebounds. UAB senior Cameron Moore put the Blazers up late, but failed to convert on what would have been a game-tying basket in the final seconds.
  • Kazemi Keeps Rolling: Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi continued his case for conference player of the year last night in a 68-52 rout against Southern Methodist. The junior forward recorded his 40th career double-double, the 13th of the season, which ranks him as the nation’s best. The Iran native finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman Ahmad Ibrahim made a solid first career start for the Owls, recording 14 points.

Head Coach Donnie Jones (left) Hit A Bump In The Road When Dwight McCombs And Jeffrey Jordan Decided To Leave The Knights.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis (11-5, 2-0): They may not have the conference’s best overall record, but the Tigers are the deepest team in conference and they have the most offensive firepower. Wednesday’s win over Southern Miss proved that the Tigers can win defensive bouts too. Memphis has won six of its last seven after falling from the national rankings. Will Barton continues to put forth a First-Team All-Conference effort, averaging 18.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per night.
  2. Southern Miss (15-3, 2-1): The Golden Eagles were unquestionably the best team in conference until last night, which should be a great learning lesson for a relatively young team. Southern Miss can rebound the ball almost better than anyone in conference, averaging 38.1 boards a night as a team, which is third only to UCF and Marshall in C-USA. Senior guard Darnell Dodson has elevated his play.
  3. UCF (13-3, 3-0): With guard A.J. Rompza back in the lineup, the Knights have been unbeatable, winning both at home (carrying a 16-game home win streak) and on the road. Forward Keith Clanton and guard Marcus Jordan continue to be the conference’s best duo for coach Donnie Jones in what has been an up-and-down season for the Knights.
  4. Marshall (12-4, 3-0): If Marshall—the same team that has wins over Cincinnati and Iona—is the fourth best team in conference, then C-USA could be presenting a reasonable case for four teams come March. The Thundering Herd have revived from a two-game losing streak by winning their first three conference games. DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts have found a force in the low post in junior forward Dennis Tinnon. Marshall is fourth in the country in rebounds with over 42 a night.
  5. Rice (10-7, 1-1): Arsalan Kazemi continues to be the story here. The junior forward is averaging 14.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, leading the nation in double-doubles with 13 this season. Fellow junior Tamir Jackson has been a pivotal player, running the team’s offense and averaging 12.9 points per game. The Owls don’t seem to be in the upper echelon of the conference, but with Kazemi they will contend throughout the season.
  6. Tulane (12-4, 0-2): After a 9-0 start, the Green Wave has stumbled; however, there isn’t a team in the conference that has played a tougher schedule in recent weeks. Since their December 22 loss to top-ranked Syracuse, the Green Wave has played two of the conference’s best teams in UCF and Southern Miss.
  7. Houston (9-7, 1-2): The Cougars have followed a five-game win streak with back-to-back conference loses at UTEP and UCF. With the losses, Houston has fallen to the middle of the conference rankings, but have a huge opportunity this weekend when they play host to the Memphis Tigers. If the Cougars can continue shooting the way they have this past month, then they can contend with anybody. Currently, Houston ranks 25th in the country in shooting percentage, knocking down 48.3% of their shots from the field.
  8. SMU (9-7, 1-1): Senior forward Robert Nyakundi continues to lead the Mustangs, averaging 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Arlington native hasn’t had to do it alone, though, with the addition of Texas transfer Shawn Williams. The sophomore swingman has been an immediate contributor in Dallas since joining the team on the court eight games ago. Williams isn’t the only transfer making a difference. Junior guard London Giles, a Nevada transfer, has been a crucial performer at SMU all season, averaging 11.5 points per game.
  9. Tulsa (8-9, 1-2): Another team on the outside looking in, the Golden Hurricane have struggled consistently this season in close games, losing three times in overtime and four times by three points or less. Jordan Clarkson will end up on an All-Conference team, but he hasn’t much help thus far.
  10. UTEP (8-9, 1-2): Tim Floyd’s squad enjoyed a bit of a revival before the holidays, but has floundered since, failing to win consecutive games since December 22. The Miners enjoyed a nice home victory over Houston, but haven’t been able to win a true road game all season. Although they haven’t found a replacement for Randy Culpepper, the Miners are extremely deep with a bench of 11 players.
  11. East Carolina (9-6, 0-2): The backcourt has been stout this season for the Pirates. Junior Miguel Paul has emerged as one of the best point guards in the conference, scoring 16.2 points and dishing out 5.7 assists per night. Senior forward Darius Morrow has also been a force for ECU, averaging 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. In addition, the big man is shooting 54 percent from the field for a streaky Pirate club that won five straight heading into conference play, but have gone 0-2 early on.
  12. UAB (5-10, 0-2): The Blazers have continued a porous non-conference run with a rough conference start, dropping contests at home to Memphis and Marshall. UAB’s offense is still the worst in conference, averaging less than 60 points per game. Even worse, preseason conference player of the year Cameron Moore has been spectacular, but hasn’t been able to abate the Blazers’ woes. With their next four games scheduled against Southern Miss, Rice, UCF and Marshall, the losing skid could very well continue.

Looking Ahead

  • UCF at Marshall, January 14 at 7 p.m. ET: While the Southern Miss-Memphis showdown lived up to the hype, C-USA fans will be watching this one with a close eye as first place in the conference is on the line. It will be extremely interesting to watch the backcourt duo of A.J. Rompza and Marcus Jordan duel against DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts. Marshall boasts a three-game winning streak; however, it is UCF that is undoubtedly the hottest team in the conference. The Knights have won nine of their last 10.
  • Rice at Tulane, January 14 at 8 p.m. ET: Two of the conference’s best individual talents will square off on Saturday when Arsalan Kazemi leads the Owls into New Orleans against Kendall Timmons and the Green Wave. Tulane is coming off a full week’s rest and is arguably the most rested team in conference, which should play into their favor against a Rice team that has played five games since the holiday break.
  • Memphis at Houston, January 14 at 9 p.m. ET: The Tigers are riding an emotional high into Saturday’s contest at the Hofheinz Pavillion, which gives the Cougars the perfect opportunity to pull the upset. Houston is probably the best team in conference to matchup against Memphis’ high-powered offense. Currently, the Cougars are 39th in the nation in points per game with 76.6 a night. Houston has developed a quartet of double-digit scorers in addition to three other players that average more than six points a night. The Cougars are surprisingly deep and shouldn’t be overlooked.
  • SMU at UTEP, January 14 at 9 p.m. ET: Neither of these clubs is able to rebound well, lacking frontcourt talent and depth. The Mustangs rank 326th in the nation in rebounding with an average of 30.4 boards a game, while the Miners are even worse at 335th with 29.6 rebounds a night. However, UTEP has been able to improve its field goal percentage in recent weeks, shooting 47.4% from the field. Last time they played in the Don Haskins Center, the Miners shot 61.2% in a 70-50 thumping over Houston on January 7.
  • Marshall at West Virginia, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3): This game serves as the conclusion for Marshall’s non-conference schedule and provides head coach Tom Herrion’s club with another opportunity to showcase their talent on national TV. Of course, this is an in-state rivalry so the emotions will be as high as any game this season. So far, Marshall is 1-1 against Big East competition. Another win against the nation’s deepest conference, in addition to their victory over Iona, could serve them come March if they fall short in the conference tournament.
  • Memphis at UCF, January 18 at 8 p.m.: It’s not too early to look towards next week’s conference schedule with Memphis traveling to take on Central Florida in a matchup that could be for first place in the conference. Another marquee game to look ahead at is Marshall at Southern Miss, which won’t be played until January 21 and will be aired on national television. These are the four top teams in conference and for the second straight week in a row, there will be a pair of pivotal conference matchups that feature all four.

Spotlight On…Keith Clanton and Marcus Jordan

UCF has greatly benefited from the addition of A.J. Rompza and from the development of sophomore guard Isaiah Sykes. However, it has been the tandem of Clanton and Jordan that has fueled the Knights this season with consistent performance. Clanton is arguably the best post player in the conference, averaging 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. His latest performance against Houston, a 18 point and 13 rebound outing that included 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals, showed that he will be able to dominate teams with inferior big men, which the conference is chock full of. To further understand Clanton’s importance, one only needs to evaluate the Knights as a team. They are ranked 200th or lower in every major statistical category other than rebounding, where they rank 38th in the country with an average of 38.9 boards a night. In addition to Clanton, Marcus Jordan has been playing top-notch ball for head coach Donnie Jones. In addition to be the team’s leading scorer, Jordan has been the epitome of consistency, scoring in double-digits in all fourteen games he has played in so far this season. In a season filled with tons of upheaval for the UCF athletic department, the Knights basketball program has weathered the storm, winning nine of its last ten. They couldn’t have done it without the stellar play of both Clanton and Jordan.

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Morning Five: 01.09.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 9th, 2012

  1. Over the weekend it was reported that former Pittsburgh freshman Khem Birch was going to announce on Sunday night, but after giving it a little more thought he decided to postpone his decision until today. According to reports, Birch is deciding between Florida and UNLV. Both programs would appear to be a good fit for Birch as he could potentially pair up with either Patric Young or Mike Moser for the next two seasons. We are not sure what the real reason was for Birch’s decision to leave Pittsburgh, but either school would be just about as good of a landing spot as you could hope for when you are a transfer.
  2. After initially suspending Keala King for its games at USC and UCLA, Arizona State dismissed King, its starting point guard and leading scorer. Playing out of position due to Jahii Carson being academically ineligible, King averaged 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, but as Doug Haller points out he had not fully adapted to running the team as he averaged 3.9 turnovers per game and often held the ball too long. We are assuming that was not the reason for his dismissal and the fact that the other two players (Kyle Cain and Chris Corvin) who were suspended with King remain on the team suggests that King did something in addition to his prior “unacceptable conduct” that led to his dismissal. Like Birch, King should have no shortage of suitors as he was a top-50 recruit coming out of college and plenty of Division I schools would be interested in a high-level point guard who can score and will have at least two years of eligibility remaining.
  3. Less than two years after transferring from Illinois (he left the team once before deciding to rejoin them then finally leaving the school), Jeffrey Jordan has decided to transfer from UCF citing “personal reasons”. Neither Jordan nor anyone affiliated with the school has gone into further detail about what those reasons are, but this appears to be the end of his college basketball career as this was his senior year and we doubt that the NCAA would grant him another year of eligibility. It appears that his younger brother Marcus, who is the more talented of the two and leads the team with 17.2 points per game, will remain with the team. As for Jeffrey we assume he will continue working on his website along with his brother and some friends called Heir-Jordan.com and whatever other business possibilities are open to an heir.
  4. Since the Crosstown Shootout Brawl Xavier has been in a freefall going from a Final Four pick by some to out of the top 25. While many people have been perplexed by the precipitous drop, Luke Winn thinks the Musketeers need to embrace their old mentality. We are sure that some people are going to take this the wrong way like they do with some of Winn’s statistical work, but in essence what he is saying that the team may have become too passive after all the criticism it received. As usual, we tend to agree with Winn on this and it reminds us of how the old Miami Hurricane football teams used to talk about playing with swagger. Playing with too much gets you in trouble by picking up fouls or penalties (or having brawls), but playing without it makes you vulnerable especially if you have grown accustomed to playing that way.
  5. Looking for football analysis after the Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs? Well you came to the wrong place. If you were trying to get it this weekend at the Siena-Niagara game you were also out of luck. After Siena initially told fans that they would simulcast the New York Giants game on the scoreboard during their game against Niagara to enable them to follow their favorite college team and favorite NFL team and getting the green light from the local FOX affiliate, Siena was informed by the NFL that doing so would violate the league’s copyright interest so they had to cancel the promotion. As for the actual game, the Saints won 72-60 while the Giants won 24-2. Unfortunately, this could be an issue again next week as the Giants game, which starts at 4:30 PM on Saturday, will probably run into Siena’s next game, which is at Manhattan and starts at 7 PM.
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Checking In On… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 26th, 2011

Steve Coulter—is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can also find his musings online at http://www.duclarion.com/sports or on Twitter @broncos2thebowl.

Reader’s Take:

 

The Week That Was

  • Rice Upsets Texas A&M; Kazemi Records 36th Career Double-Double: The conference had arguably its best night of the season on Thursday, posting a 6-2 overall record, which was highlighted by Rice’s 65-58 upset victory over Texas A&M at College Station. Junior forward Arsalan Kazemi led Rice with 10 points and 13 rebounds, recording his ninth double-double of the season and 36th of his career, as the Owls snapped the Aggies’ 80-game regular season, non-conference home win streak. Kazemi is now six double-doubles shy of the conference record. The junior carried the scoring load in his sophomore season, but has found help this season from fellow junior Tamir Jackson and senior Lucas Kuipers.
  • Tulane Drops Second Game, Falling to Syracuse: The conference’s only losses Thursday night came against ranked competition. Tulane took on #1 Syracuse, losing 80-61 in a lopsided contest. However, the team’s trio of top scorers Kendall Timmons, Jordan Callahan and Ricky Tarrant were not shut out, combining for 41 points. Timmons was the top performer, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
  • Memphis’ Continues To Tumble: The high-powered Memphis Tiger offense was contained and exposed on Thursday night when it faced the #16 Georgetown Hoyas, falling 70-59. Despite averaging 80 points a contest, Memphis was held in check throughout the game, which has become a trend when the Tigers take on tougher competition. Sophomore guard Will Barton continued his fantastic play, contributing a double-double in the losing effort. Barton finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but fellow sophomore Chris Crawford led the team with 17 points. Barton currently leads the conference in scoring with an average of 19.9 points per game, which is more than two points higher than UCF’s Marcus Jordan, who is second in scoring.
  • UTEP Builds Mo’ In Hawaii: In the first game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, UTEP had a chance to make a statement and did, dominating Clemson. The Miners walked away with a 61-48 victory, following a 23-8 run during the game’s final 13 minutes. The Tigers recorded a lone field goal during that span. With the win, UTEP improves to .500 for the first time this season. Though they fell to the streaking Wildcats in the semifinal game, UTEP bounced back in the consolation round, holding off Auburn 83-76. The Miners are streaking at the right time, winners of four of their last five. Sophomore guard Michael Perez is finally filling the void left by Randy Culpepper, as he averaged over 17 points per game in the Diamond Head Classic.

Marcus Jordan Is Second In Conference USA In Scoring And The Knights Boast Two Of The League's Top Five Point-Scorers (Credit: Chris Schubert).

Power Rankings

  1. Tulane (11-2): The Green Wave suffered its second loss of the season on Thursday night, but they take a lot of experience away from facing the top-ranked team in the country. Tulane is the best defensive team in conference, allowing only 55.1 points a night. In comparison, the league’s worst defensive team, Memphis, allows 74.3 points per night. Kendall Timmons has found a long-term running partner in freshman Ricky Tarrant, who has blossomed into a star in the early part of this season.
  2. Southern Miss (10-2): It’s hard to pick nits on a team that has won six in a row. Southern Miss has emerged as one of the best teams in conference because they play complete team basketball. Lacking a consistent top performer, the Golden Eagles have relied on several players to make plays.  A lot of credit goes to the Golden Eagles seniors such as Darnell Dodson and Maurice Bolden, who each recorded a double-double in Thursday night’s win over South Florida. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 14th, 2011

Steve Coulter is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can also find his musings online at http://www.duclarion.com/sports or on Twitter @broncos2thebowl.

Reader’s Take:

 

The Week That Was

  • Memphis Drops From Top 25: Memphis is unranked following the program’s 76-72 loss to Murray State last week. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Memphis and catapulted the Racers into the Top 25. The Tigers received 13 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches poll along with 27 votes in the Associated Press poll, neither number being high enough to keep Memphis in the rankings with a mediocre 5-3 start. The Tigers have a chance at redemption this Saturday when they travel to No. 4 Louisville for a pivotal non-conference game. Following that contest, they travel to No. 17 Georgetown on December 22, where they will look to avenge an early season overtime loss to the Hoyas.

Once Again, Memphis Has No Shortage Of Mental Miscues To Iron Out

  • Tulane Gains Votes, Syracuse Looms: Before losing its first contest of the season last week, the Tulane Green Wave were marching to the beat of an undefeated drum. And the national media took notice. In the December 5 USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, the Green Wave received some votes following a 9-0 start. Although the team didn’t receive any votes in Monday’s poll, they have a chance to prove themselves against top-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 22.
  • Washburn Gets Dap: UTEP freshman swingman Julian Washburn claimed his first C-USA Freshman of the Week Award on Monday, following a career-best performance in the Miners’ 73-69 win over non-conference rival New Mexico State. In the contest, Washburn recorded a career-high 16 points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. The win snapped a three game losing skid for the Miners and avenged an early season road loss to the Aggies on Nov. 19. Next up for UTEP is UNLV tonight at 10 PM ET. The Runnin’ Rebels are off to a 9-2 start, including a win over then-top ranked UNC. The Miners are statistically one of the worst offenses in the NCAA, ranking #320 overall. UNLV has had no problems offensively so far this season, averaging over 80 points a game, which is good for 24th in the nation.
  • Tarrant Gathers Accolades: Tulane freshman guard Ricky Tarrant chose a good time to deliver the best performance of his young career, gashing the Georgia Tech defense for 24 points, 20 of which were scored before halftime, en route to a 57-52 upset victory. Tarrant’s performance, which included a seven rebound effort, was good enough for him to take home both Conference USA Player and Freshman of the Week honors on December 5. It was Tarrant’s second consecutive Freshman of the Week honor, winning his first honor just a week earlier. The sweep marks the first time a freshman took home both weekly awards since 2008. In addition to the win over Georgia Tech, Tarrant helped the surging Green Wave past Southern earlier in the week.

Read the rest of this entry »

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ATB: Belmont’s At-Large Chances, Minnesota’s 11 Wins, and the Itinerant Laval Lucas-Perry…

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. It’s day two of Finals Week and, although tonight wasn’t as dry to the bone as Monday was, it was still rather light around the college basketball world. Still, a couple dozen games included a handful of ranked teams and even a questionable RTC in a place called Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Let’s jump into it…

Your Watercooler Moment. Belmont Loses to Middle Tennessee — Are Their At-Large Chances Kaput?

MTSU Fans RTC'd After Beating Belmont Tonight (Nashville Tennesseean)

Middle Tennessee State and Belmont tipped it off for the second time already this season — in a scheduling quirk, the two teams als0 played on November 20 at MTSU, a double-overtime Belmont win — but this time, it was the home Blue Raiders who held on for the close victory, 65-62. As we discussed in tonight’s Night Line, Belmont now has three losses in its first nine games, and even though the Nashville school remains every Pomeroy/Sagarin disciple’s mid-major darling (the Bruins are currently #26 in Pomeroy, #31 in Sagarin), it appears increasingly difficult to map out a scenario where the Bruins could earn an at-large NCAA bid should they lose in the Atlantic Sun Tournament next March. The A-Sun’s next best team is Mercer, rated #140 in Pomeroy, and the only other team in the top 100 on Belmont’s schedule is C-USA’s Marshall, which the Bruins will play twice (12/19 at Marshall; 12/29 at Belmont). Obviously, Rick Byrd’s team needs to win both of those — no easy task — and run the table in the Atlantic Sun to even get serious consideration for an at-large. Its non-conference SOS is currently rated #47 by Pomeroy, but it’s unlikely to rise much more than it is now, with each of its remaining four non-conference opponents ranking below that mark. Furthermore, its overall SOS will get progressively destroyed by 18+ games against Atlantic Sun teams during January through March. One of the peculiarities of the NCAA Tournament system is that a really good team like Belmont could find itself the victim of a catch-22 in trying to schedule as well as you can (Duke, Memphis) without actually winning any of the games. Yet, their hands are tied in that they’re unlikely to get many power conference teams to play them anywhere else. We’ll most definitely be rooting for the Bruins to get back to the NCAAs in March, but they’ll certainly have a lot of pressure on them to win that conference tourney again.

Tonight’s Quick Hits...

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Welcoming the Big East Newcomers: Central Florida

Posted by mlemaire on December 13th, 2011

The Big East announced in a teleconference they would be adding five new schools to the fold. Three of those schools, Houston, Central Florida, and Southern Methodist, will play all of their sports in the conference starting in 2013. Of course it is far too early to tell what sort of impact these teams will have in their new conference, but that won’t stop us from pontificating. Last but not least is Central Florida.

The Past

The newest of the three teams, Central Florida didn’t field its first basketball team until 1969 and they played as a Division II team until the 1984-85 season. As a Division II school, Central Florida achieved success they haven’t even sniffed since. Legendary coach Eugene “Torchy” Clark built a 274-89 record in his 14 seasons in Orlando. But since making the jump to the ranks of Division I, success has been fleeting. From 1984-93, the team never had a winning record.

Kirk Speraw Left UCF As The Winningest Coach In Program History. (Photo by UCFsports.com)

Once Kirk Speraw arrived at UCF, the Golden Knights finally got back to winning, albeit inconsistently. There were four Atlantic Sun Tournament Championships, one Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship and four NCAA Tournament berths during Speraw’s tenure, although the team never made it out of the first round. Since joining Conference USA in 2005, the Golden Knights have had successful teams, but have never been back to the NCAA Tournament. In 2010, the university decided to cut ties with Speraw, its winningest coach of all-time, and they hired Donnie Jones, a young and energetic former coach at Marshall and former assistant to Billy Donovan. Last season the team won 21 games, but they finished just 6-10 and were relegated to the CBI.

The Present

The Golden Knights already have one pelt to hang in their trophy closet this year as they beat then-No.4 Connecticut 68-63 in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Unfortunately, they have failed to truly build on that accomplishment. A 23-point early season loss to Florida State can be forgiven because it was the second game of the season, but mustering just 49 points in a loss to Harvard the day after they beat UConn is a tougher pill to swallow. The good news for Jones and the Golden Knights is that the team is as talented as it has been in a long time.

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Checking In On… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 23rd, 2011

Steve Coulter—is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can also find his musings online at http://www.duclarion.com/sports or on Twitter @broncos2thebowl

Reader’s Take

 

Caught on Film

Conference USA Player of the Week Alandise Harris had the throwdown of the week with this dunk in a win over Arkansas that earned the top spot on ESPN’s Top Plays.

The Week That Was

  • Memphis Falls In Maui, Picks Itself Up: The 13th ranked Memphis Tigers have had an up-and-down beginning of their season, finishing with a total of 196 points in their two victories, while shooting a miserable 33 percent from the field in their lone loss to No. 15-ranked Michigan. The Tigers failed to find an offensive spark against the Wolverines, losing 73-61 in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday. Senior Charles Carmouche was the only Memphis player to shoot 50% in the game making six of his 12 attempted shots and finishing with a team-high 14 points. On Tuesday night, the Tigers redeemed themselves, holding on to narrowly defeat in-state foe Tennessee 99-97 in double overtime. Memphis was in control most of the way, but blew its ten-point halftime lead as the Volunteers surged late behind a stellar performance from junior Jeronne Maymon, who hit a game-tying shot in the closing second of regulation. He finished with 32 points and 20 rebounds while guard Will Barton had 25 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomores Antonio Barton and freshman Adonis Thomas helped the Tigers, providing a spark off the bench and finishing with 21 and 19 points, respectively. Antonio, the little brother of Will, hit a crucial jump shot in the second overtime with a little over a minute remaining.
  • Rice, Marshall, Tulane Off To Hot Starts: While the conference’s current leaders—Rice, Marhsall, Tulane (all 4-0)—will see tougher competition in weeks to come, the three teams have gotten to the top of the conference standings by throttling weaker competition. Junior swingman Arsalan Kazemi has the Owls started in the right direction, averaging a double-double through the first four contests. Similarly, junior swingman Kendall Timmons has been an integral part of the Green Wave’s early season surge out of the conference cellar. Timmons is shooting a pristine 66.7% from the field while averaging 18.7 points a game for Tulane. The Thundering Herd are the least shocking of the unbeatens remaining in conference; however, they’ve taken advantage of a weak early schedule. Marshall can prove themselves in weeks to come when they play a pair of Big East giants—Cincinnati and Syracuse—on the road. Read the rest of this entry »
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ACC Game On: 11.14.11 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 14th, 2011

ACC Game On will periodically review recent games involving ACC teams and take a look forward at key upcoming matchups.

Every team in the Atlantic Coast Conference has played at least one game so far, except for Boston College which makes it’s debut tonight. Before we get to breaking down Monday night’s slate of games, let’s spend a little time taking a look at this past weekend and the first few games played by ACC teams. While most everyone stuck pretty closely to the script, there were a few pleasant surprises for ACC fans.

Unsurprisingly, the star of the Carrier Classic was the aircraft carrier itself. The USS Carl Vinson was an incredibly cool setting for a basketball game. So cool, in fact, that the basketball game seemed like an afterthought. While North Carolina beat Michigan State, and John Henson was able to show off his shot-blocking ability by getting nine of them, it was his increased offensive arsenal (which he continued to demonstrate on Sunday against UNC Asheville) that should excite Tar Heel fans. But the real MVP of the event was probably the San Diego sky.

Neither Team Was As Good As The Setting

Belmont lived up to its reputation as a dangerous team and came within one point of upsetting Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke held the line and eked out a victory against the pesky and talented Bruins. This, combined with a blowout over Presbyterian confirms very little about this year’s Blue Devils. Rather, viewers learned a great deal more about Belmont and Presbyterian (one’s quite good and the other’s quite bad) than they did about the as-yet-enigmatic and still-emerging Blue Devils. Wins are wins though, and now Mike Krzyzewski has as many of them (902) as any men’s college basketball coach in Division I history.

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Michael Jordan’s Son Jeff Tweets His Support Of Joe Paterno

Posted by nvr1983 on November 10th, 2011

Yesterday night, Ashton Kutcher made news with his tweet questioning the decision by Penn State to fire Joe Paterno. Kutcher quickly back-tracked when he was met with a deluge of criticism and has essentially surrendered his account to his publicists at this time. Since that time, very few other well-known individuals (or really any people outside of some rioting Penn State students) have come to Paterno’s defense.

Enter Jeffrey Jordan, the oldest son of Michael Jordan, who goes by the Twitter handle @heirjordan13. Jeffrey currently plays alongside his brother Marcus at Central Florida although both were among a group of five players suspended by the school while the NCAA looks into their eligibility. Around 2:40 PM he sent out this tweet:

We have already gone down the road of athletes and their freedom of speech/expression, but this is an interesting sentiment for Jordan to have especially since his father was famously quoted as saying, “Republicans buy shoes too,” when asked why he did not publicly support an African-American Democratic candidate Harvey Gantt against Republican Jesse Helms, whom many consider one of the most racist politicians in recent memory. Given that it is a rather interesting political/cultural standing, we find it amusing that the first person to retweet it was former Kansas star Sherron Collins, who would appear to be agreeing with Jeff based on his retweet.

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RTC Summer Updates: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 18th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our Conference USA correspondent, Steve Coulter.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Joe Jackson Goes Patriotic: The Memphis guard and MVP of the CUSA Championship was selected as a member of USA Basketball’s U-19 Would Championship squad on June 23. After a week of training camp, Jackson was among the final twelve players selected by the USA Basketball committee. The squad left for Europe on June 30 and returned July 10. While Team USA disappointed in finishing fifth, Jackson more than held his own against some of the top international talent in the world, averaging over 11 points and 4 assists in 9 games. Jackson was accompanied to Latvia for the competition with eleven other collegiate sophomores including Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Villanova’s James Bell, Stanford’s Anthony Brown, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr., Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, Butler’s Khyle Marshall and Florida’s Patric Young.

Memphis guard Joe Jackson was a bright spot for Team USA in Latvia, despite a fifth-place finish in the FIBA U-19 World Championships. (Vytautas Mikaitis)

  • Thundering Herd Runs Deep: Marshall already had one of the more loaded backcourts heading into the 2011-12 season with stars Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane, but with the addition of Justin Coleman, a one-time Louisville commit, the Thundering Herd will certainly have the deepest backcourt the conference has to offer. Coleman sat out last year, but he will be coming off the bench as a shooting guard this season. Along with Coleman, junior college transfers Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon will be new faces for the Herd. Goff and Tinnon are strong power forwards, looking to aid a weak Marshall frontcourt.
  • Memphis Coaching Legend Larry Finch Passes Away: Former Memphis coach Larry Finch passed away from natural causes at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis on April 2 at the age of 60. Finch finished his career with the most wins in Tiger basketball history, a record he still holds today. Before leading the Tigers from 1986-97, Finch was a player at Memphis from 1970-73 and worked as an assistant at his alma mater from 1979-86. He passed away as not only a celebrated coach of the game, but a rare influence at the collegiate level. During his 11-year stint as head coach, Finch had seven 20-win seasons, made six NCAA appearances, amassed 220 wins and propelled 7 former players into NBA Draft selections. He finished his career with a loaded resume, having taken his alma mater to the Final Four, getting his jersey retired by the program and becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis: Freshman swingman Adonis Thomas, the No. 16 ranked prospect on Scout Inc.’s Top 100, is the conference’s best newcomer and he joins the already lethal Wesley Witherspoon as a scorer on a loaded Tigers roster that includes two of the nation’s best young guards in Joe Jackson and Will Barton. Head coach Josh Pastner can continue his Conference USA dominance this season, but the Tigers need to play solid defense and claim more out of conference wins then they did last season. Otherwise, they will be playing for their NCAA Tournament lives again come March.  As of now, Witherspoon and Barton are two of only four Conference USA prospects in the Top 100, ranking in at No. 79 and No. 80, respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
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