Big 12 Weekend Games Primer

Posted by dnspewak on December 9th, 2011


  • Ohio State (8-0) at Kansas (6-2), Saturday 2:15 PM CT

Bill Self has gained a reputation during his long career for producing some of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, but his 2011-12 team hasn’t performed up to his expectations quite yet. “Our offense sucks,” Self said. “It’s ridiculous to watch.” That’s a harsh statement to make in public, but Self has a point. Kansas turned the ball over 22 times in a win over Long Beach State this week, although it did tally 16 assists and hung 88 on the Big West favorites. To put Self’s comments into perspective, however, consider his team’s three games against Kentucky, Georgetown and Duke. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent from three-point land in those contests, and they totaled more than 10 team assists just once. Right now, much of the problem stems from the lackluster play of point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than 1.0. He turned the ball over 11 times against the Blue Devils on national television last month in the Maui Invitational title game, and his subpar efforts seem to have major implications on the way KU runs its offense. But don’t give up on the senior point guard just yet. He has a chance for redemption against a smothering Ohio State defense, and in particular, he’ll need to rise to the occassion against the feisty Aaron Craft. The matchup at point guard will to some extent determine the outcome of this game, especially since star center Jared Sullinger‘s status is in question for the Buckeyes due to back spasms. If he plays opposite of KU’s Thomas Robinson, we’ll be treated to two of the best rebounders in America on Saturday afternoon.

If Jared Sullinger Plays, KU Is In Trouble

The key individual match-up isAaron Craft vs. Tyshawn Taylor. It doesn’t take long to recognize Craft’s impact on a basketball game. Making his mark as a distributor and defender, Craft may actually be the most publicized player in college basketball who does not average double figures in scoring. He has the ability to frustrate Taylor with his intensity and aggressiveness, but it’d be silly to write off Taylor in this match-up. Craft is a sophomore; Taylor, on the other hand, is a senior who’s never turned the ball over at this rate (4.0 TPG) at any point in his career. As long as he takes care of the ball, Taylor is a good enough player to hold his own here.

Kansas wins if… It executes better offensively. You heard Bill Self — the offense “sucks” right now. With Self’s track record, that shouldn’t last for long. If the Jayhawks share the ball better and limit turnovers, they have more than enough scoring options to hang with the Buckeyes at Allen Fieldhouse.

Ohio State wins if… Jared Sullinger plays– and dominates. With Robinson and Jeff Withey, Kansas has the interior defense to contain Sullinger… sort of. No matter who he faces, Sullinger finds a way to score by playing within the offense and making high-percentage shots. If Thad Matta slots him in the starting lineup, it won’t matter who guards him.


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SEC Morning Five: 12.2.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 2nd, 2011

  1. In Arkansas’ win over Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday, guard Mardracus Wade had a career night. Wade hit six of seven shots in the first half on his way to 20 points for the game. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence,” head coach Mike Anderson said. “He puts the time in, so he’s having an opportunity. If you notice, the shots he’s getting he’s in rhythm. We’re making that extra pass and we’re getting him in positions where he can knock the shots down. Good players, they knock it down.” Anderson’s Razorbacks could use some offensive help as they currently rank 86th in offensive efficiency in spite of a fast-paced style of play. Leading scorer and rebounder Marshawn Powell went down with a season-ending injury earlier in the year, but Arkansas takes on Connecticut Saturday and will need to find consistent scoring before it expects to hang with a Top 10 team.
  2. LSU has found some offensive firepower in an unlikely spot. 5’11” freshman guard Anthony Hickey leads Trent Johnson’s Tigers in assists (4.0 APG) and steals (2.6 SPG), and is second on the team in points (11.6 PPG). His teammates have noticed his outstanding play thus far this year. “He’s getting everybody fired up [on the court], but he backs up that intensity when he’s diving for loose balls and pushing the ball hard up the floor,” sophomore guard Andre Stringer said. “Everything runs through him on the floor. He is our point guard and our floor general. That’s something you have to earn with us, but Anthony’s effort is something we’ve all noticed.” With three early season losses to Coastal Carolina, Northwestern and South Alabama already on its record, LSU will take all the contributions it can get from its freshmen class.
  3. Vanderbilt is concentrating on trying to avoid turnovers on Saturday against one of the best defenses in the country in Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals will likely employ a full court press to frustrate Vanderbilt’s guards. “They take your mistakes and turn them into points,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “They have a strength that’s a weakness to us.” The Commodores turned the ball over 18 times in their loss against Xavier, and Vandy is currently averaging 15 turnovers and twice this season has recorded over 20 miscues in a game.
  4. College basketball is too unpredicable night-to-night to play the comparison game. If “Team A” beats “Team B” and “Team C” beats “Team A”, then “Team C” can easily beat “Team B”, right? Well, it’s this scenario that has Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury concerned about his upcoming match with West Virginia. “The first thing you need to know about them is the team that beat us (Akron), they had them down 23 at halftime and beat them by 21 for the game,” Stansbury said. “Akron was playing without its starting point guard but, still, again, you get that team down 23 points at halftime, you’re pretty good.” This game is sure to be another tough early test for the Bulldogs who sit at #21 in the AP Top 25 and #24 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.
  5. Kentucky overpowered St. John’s on Thursday night to the tune of 81-59 at Rupp Arena. Freshman Anthony Davis scored 15 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and tied a school record with eight blocks. “Without him, we probably lose the game,” head coach John Calipari said. “He changed everything about the game.” Davis’ eight blocks also contributed to a school-record 18 team blocks. But it was the offense that wasn’t quite as impressive for the Cats. “We were just inept offensively,” Calipari said, as the Cats begin to look forward to Saturday’s showdown with the North Carolina Tar Heels. “If we play like tonight? I’d be a very sad coach after the game.” Kentucky hasn’t lost a home game with Calipari as coach, going 37-0 during his tenure.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 28th, 2011





  1. The injuries keep coming for the SEC and college basketball. Florida‘s starting forward Erik Murphy has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely according to The Gainesville Sun. Murphy injured his knee in practice on Thursday. “It does appear he has some form of a meniscus tear,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “How severe or how long he will be out, we’d probably find out a lot more on Monday. He’s out for the game (against Stetson) Monday and I’d assume he would be out for the next week as well.” Florida has a big game this week against Syracuse in the Big East/SEC challenge on Friday. The Gators played Ohio State earlier this season in an another top 10 match-up, and Murphy was crucial to Florida’s offense. He scored 14 points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes of play against the Buckeyes. Donovan seems optimistic that Murphy will return soon.
  2. Another SEC team that has been hit hard with injuries is looking to its freshmen to lead the way. BJ Young, Rashad Madden, Hunter Mickelson, and Devonta Abron combined to score 53 points for Arkansas in their win over Grambling State. All four posted career-highs in points, and Mickelson grabbed a career-high eight rebounds as well. “When those guys came off the bench, I thought they took the tempo up a notch for us and really got us into our transition game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “They got the most minutes of any of the guys out there, so to me, that’s a reflection of their play. I thought they were at times pretty impressive.” The development of the Hogs’ four freshmen is key as Arkansas is left with only nine scholarship players this season. All four will get plenty of opportunities moving forward as the Razorbacks’ leading scorer and rebounder, Marshawn Powell, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ligaments in his knee.
  3. Kentucky recorded only four turnovers in an 87-63 win over Portland on Saturday night. The four turnovers are the lowest for the Wildcats since a 1993 NCAA Tournament game against Utah (two turnovers). Much has been made of freshman Marquis Teague‘s ability to lead Kentucky at the point guard position, but he led the way with eight assists and zero turnovers. Teague added 14 points and four steals, and looked increasingly more comfortable in his role. That is a good sign for the Wildcats as they prepare for a big week with a matchup against St. John’s on Thursday and the much anticipated game against North Carolina on Saturday.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari sent out shock waves in Big Blue Nation on Sunday as he asked a (hypothetical?) question to Cats’ fans. Calipari asked via his website which non-conference team the Kentucky faithful would like to see dropped from the schedule if necessary. The SEC could add two additional conference games to each team’s schedule with the addition of two league members beginning next season. Calipari writes, “If we had to – and this doesn’t mean we have to at this point because we still have 16 league games – but if we had to drop one series and there were no other options, who would it be? Would it be North Carolina, Indiana or Louisville?” For what it’s worth, college basketball is better with these high powered non-conference games, but it’s understandable if that is not in the best interests of Kentucky basketball. Regardless, Kentucky and Louisville is one of the best rivalries in the game, and it has to keep going if for nothing more than the drama of Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.
  5. Auburn set a school record with 17 blocked shots in their win on Friday night against Nicholls State.  Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi led the way with five blocks each. Kenny Gabriel blocked four more. The 17 blocks put Tigers tied for second with Kentucky (17 blocks against Morehead State in 1998) for the all-time single-game SEC list. Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was impressed, but wants to keep seeing improvement. “We still, as a program, have to grow and develop that confidence,” Barbee said. “The only way you do that is by winning. These guys are hungry, but I want them to be better and they know that. We can be better.” The Tigers improved to 3-0 with this win, and face a rebuilding Seton Hall team on Friday. The Tigers have been a solid club defensively, but offensively are still a work in progress. According to, Auburn ranks 170th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Barbee will have to find some scoring to continue to see his team accumulate victories.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 25th, 2011





  1. Did anybody try cooking for Thanksgiving? It’s okay, sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how you planned. I’m sure everybody grinned and ate it anyway. Well, LSU‘s season isn’t turning out how coach Trent Johnson planned either. In their most recent game, they fell to South Alabama despite building a 12-point lead. “Like I told the team, you just can’t show up and expect to win a game, whether you are at home or on the road,” Johnson said. “The one thing that sort of concerns me is that although we had 17 assists and 11 turnovers, and when we got up 10, I thought we had some guys try to go off on their own a little bit.” LSU came into the game with a two-game win streak, but were out-rebounded by the Jaguars 42-31. This is the Tigers third loss of this early season. The problem for Johnson and the Tigers is that nobody is grinning and pretending to enjoy what is happening to this LSU team.
  2. The Georgia student newspaper, the Red and Black, says coach Mark Fox is optimistic about how his young Bulldogs are coming along. Fox was impressed with how his team responded after a difficult loss to California with a hard-fought win over Notre Dame the following night. But Georgia’s schedule just gets tougher from this point forward. “This schedule is challenging and for a young team, it’s extra challenging,” Fox said. “You gotta learn how to beat good teams and you don’t learn how to beat good teams by just playing bad ones. So we’re gonna have to grow up on the job. We’re gonna have a lot of teachable moments like we had against Cal and Notre Dame. There is just so much for this group to experience.” Georgia will get plenty of opportunities to grow up on the job as they play Xavier, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Southern California over the next few weeks. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has filled in to produce some much needed scoring with 13.2 points per game so far. The Dogs are counting on Caldwell-Pope to increase his field goal percentage (40.4%) as he gets more experience throughout the season.
  3. Arkansas is still learning to deal with the injury of leading scorer Marshawn Powell. Freshman Devonta Abron started in place of Powell against Utah Valley on Wednesday night and finished with three points and three rebounds. The entire frontcourt really struggled in Powell’s absence. Abron, Hunter Mickelson, Michael Sanchez, and Marvell Waithe combined to score six points and grab 13 rebounds. “We have to work with what we have now,” 6’2″ guard Madracus Wade said of Powell’s injury. “The young guys have to step up. … We’ve all got to get in there and rebound.” Arkansas won 67-59, but it is clear that Mike Anderson’s up-tempo system can’t run entirely on guard play. The Razorbacks have to find frontcourt production soon to avoid a major letdown in Anderson’s first year at the helm.
  4. Tennessee‘s narrow losses against #6 Duke and #8 Memphis have the Vols confident that they can play with anyone in the nation. A big reason for the Volunteers success in Maui was the outstanding play of power forward Jeronne Maymon who scored 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Memphis. The performance was the first time a Division I player has scored at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Blake Griffin in 2009. “We know we’re good enough to play against anybody on any given night,” Maymon said. “Each night we go to practice like we’re getting ready for the No. 1-ranked team.” Maymon and Tennessee proved, despite losing two close games, that they were highly underrated with the potential to be an NCAA Tournament team. The Volunteers were picked to finish 11th in the SEC in the preseason and it is seems clear that the Vols will finish much higher than that.
  5. The Clarion-Ledger has a few observations from the first five Ole Miss games of the season. The most interesting note is just how bad the Rebels’ offensive efficiency has been this year. They are 17-97 (17.5%) from beyond the arc, bad enough for 340th in the nation. The Reb’s two point percentage is 49.8%, which is significantly better at 125th in the nation. Andy Kennedy seems to be struggling to replace do-it-all guard Chris Warren, who averaged 19.1 points per game last year. Terrance Henry is the Rebels leading scorer thus far with 12.2 points per game, but he is shooting at an alarming 41.2% from the field. The Rebels wins thus far are a bit misleading. While the Rebs are 4-1, a 30-point loss on Sunday to Marquette signifies that unless Kennedy can solve their offensive woes, more difficult times lie ahead for Ole Miss once they take a step up in competition.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Ready to debate? By all means, grab a cup of coffee first and let’s get to it. Ron Chimelis of The Republican says John Calipari doesn’t need to win an NCAA title to be a Hall of Famer. Chimelis thinks Calipari already has the resume to make it in. He cites Cal’s 512 wins (42 of those were later vacated by the NCAA leaving him with 470 official wins), three Final Fours appearances (two of those were wiped from the record books), and his remarkable turn-arounds with Massachusetts and Memphis. Chemelis thinks Calipari will in fact win the title that has evaded him throughout his career, but he has a Hall of Fame resume without it. What say you? Will there be a HOF ballot more criticized and talked about than Calipari’s? Does he need a national title to punch his ballot into the Hall? Or do you despise Calipari so deeply that you don’t want him in no matter how many championships he wins?
  2. Regardless of your feelings for Calipari, you have to agree that he has produced a long line of talented point guards dating back to his days in Memphis. Cal has taken up for his newest floor general, Marquis Teague, by taking to Twitter. Teague has been erratic in his first four collegiate games for Kentucky, committing 18 turnovers and never quite settling in to the flow of the game. Calipari tweets, “Gotta love the #BBN, only our fans would point out that my last two PG’s also had 18 turns in the 1st 4 games. DRose & Tyreke had a bunch 2.” He quickly followed with another tweet, “Marquis will be fine. I’m gonna spend more time w/ him & once we get it figured out everyone will be talking about how good he is.” Freshmen, especially point guards, almost always take a little time to adjust to the speed of the college game. Remember, Teague has only played in four college games. Give the young man time. Cal has proven that he has an outstanding track record with point guards, and Teague will be another first round draft pick after developing in the Kentucky system.
  3. As was mentioned here in the SEC Morning Five on Monday, Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell injured his knee in practice last Thursday. The results of his MRI revealed torn ligaments that will cause the Razorbacks’ star to miss the rest of the season. This is unfortunate news for Powell and Arkansas. “This is definitely a setback, but I told him that sometimes you have to have setbacks in order to have a great comeback,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “He is in good spirits and looking forward to helping his team in any way that he can.” The Razorbacks are down to nine scholarship players. It is crucial for Anderson’s system to have the depth to sub in and out for his fast-paced style of play. Powell was averaging 19.5 points per game and his absence will require another (or several) Razorback(s) to step up to fill the scoring gap.
  4. John Gasaway writes that Vanderbilt’s defense has not been nearly as bad as the discussion has indicated. He says the Commodores are an excellent defensive rebounding team and create a good amount of turnovers to offset the high number of two point field goals that they allow. Gasaway has been somewhat impressed with the Commodores saying “this will be the best Commodore team of recent years when (Festus) Ezeli returns.” The problem according to Gasaway is that Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida are all better than they have been in recent years as well. League play will be brutal at the top of the conference, as the top four are sure to trade off tough losses. The notion expressed in Basketball Prospectus is the same one shared here — while the SEC may not be the best conference from top to bottom, the top four is as good as any conference in the country. Vanderbilt certainly belongs in the top tier, and their defense will only improve once Ezeli returns.
  5. Speaking of Ezeli, Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports says that Ezeli’s return will be a game-changer on both ends of the court for Vanderbilt. Ezeli’s defense and shot blocking ability gives the Commodores an inside presence to guard the low post, which has been a concern in the early going. On offense, he demands respect from opposing defenders, opening up the floor for the shooters – John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley. His presence will mean the difference between a Vanderbilt team that is hanging by a thread at the bottom of the latest Top 25 poll, and the team that was ranked in the Top 10 in the preseason. “He’s as important to us as a guy like Jared Sullinger is to Ohio State,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “I’m not saying he’s as good, but he gives us the same presence. You have to game plan for him.”
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Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Arkansas will have to learn to adjust to life without Marshawn Powell this season after the school announced that the junior would be out for the rest of the season as a MRI of his knee revealed torn ligaments, which will require surgery with an expected return to play in six to eight months. Powell injured his knee during a practice last Thursday, but the extent of the damage was not known until the MRI was performed on Sunday. The loss of Powell is a huge blow for the Razorbacks who are full of young players and could have used Powell’s presence inside and veteran leadership against a SEC that looks much stronger than it has in recent years despite some early losses.
  2. Steve Lavin opted to sit out last night’s game against St. Francis, which St. John’s won, as he adjusts to a modified schedule after his prostate cancer surgery on October 6. According to the press release Lavin is trying to “enhance his stamina and energy level” and this does not appear to be a complication from the surgery, which is a good thing because complications are a not uncommon occurrence. Instead, it appears that Lavin was simply exhausted from coaching back-to-back games and then going on the road for recruiting the following two days. The school has not released any information on when Lavin will return to the sideline, but from the information given in the press release we expect to see Lavin back fairly soon. If Lavin does not return for Saturday’s game against Northeastern, we would definitely expect to see him back for next Thursday’s game at Kentucky although he might want to sit that one out.
  3. Over the past few weeks Luke Winn has been focusing on defense, but this weekend he took a break to check out some of the most talented scorers in the nation: J’Covan Brown, John Jenkins, and Jared Cunningham. By now you probably know what happened with each player’s performance and the outcome of the game, but Winn provides an interesting look into how each player’s game affected his team and the outcome of the game. Since most of us were either at games over the weekend or flipping back and forth between games from home Winn’s analysis, which isn’t the typical number-heavy advanced metric stuff he has become known for recently, provides a good insight into what actually happened at the Izod Center and what to expect from these three and their teams this season.
  4. Over the past few days we have speculated on how Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim would react to the media, particularly ESPN, with the ongoing Bernie Fine investigation. At a press conference yesterday morning for the Preseason NIT Boeheim threatened to leave if anybody asked a non-basketball (read: Fine-related) question before briefly discussing the matter in a much more measured tone than he had last Thursday night. Later in the day, Boeheim went on-camera with ESPN’s Andy Katz to discuss the Fine investigation, which is surprising to us because he very easily could have held a grudge against ESPN for the way that they handled the report. So basically, nothing has changed–Boeheim remains cantankerous, but is always willing to talk.
  5. The NBA may never work out for Adam Morrison, but the former Gonzaga star appears to have had a rebirth of sorts with the NBA lockout and his move to Serbia. While Morrison still isn’t playing at the level that many expected him to be at coming out of college he is showing signs of becoming the player he used to be. Obviously, this is against vastly inferior competition, but it is nice to see Morrison playing some quality basketball and it is interesting to read about the struggles that Morrison has gone through off the court since he left Gonzaga.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 21st, 2011

  1. Kentucky was not especially impressive in its 62-52 gutty win over Old Dominion on Sunday. The Wildcats’ subpar performance brought out the critics who said that Kentucky is too young to dictate how it will win in every game, and the Cats aren’t tough enough to handle really physical teams inside. Even coach John Calipari can be counted amongst the critics of the Cats after their sloppy play in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. For my two cents, the Cats have to take better care of the basketball. Freshman point guard Marquis Teague lost the ball six times contributing to 21 total turnovers for the Wildcats on the day. Sloppy play could be part of the reason that the Cats couldn’t get Terrence Jones more involved in the offense. He was 3-9 on the day, finishing with just six points. Jones has to get more touches near the basket, as he simply wasn’t a key component of Kentucky’s offense on Sunday.
  2. Kentucky fans are known to overreact every once in a while, and many Wildcat fans have been quick to torch Teague for his poor play. UK fans are quick to forget how often freshmen John Wall and Brandon Knight turned the ball over in their first year, especially at the beginning of the season. Knight had eight turnovers in the Maui Invitational last year against Washington, and had as many turnovers in his first four games in 2010-11 (18 TOs) as Teague has through four games this season. Knight averaged over three turnovers per game for the season, while Wall averaged over four. All three players are super-quick and excellent in transition, but playing quickly can lead to sometimes being out of control. Teague will settle into his role running the Wildcat offense, just like Knight and Wall did before him, and just like he did in the second half of Sunday’s matchup with ODU. Teague turned the ball over only once in 19 second half minutes against the Monarchs.
  3. Speaking of harsh critics, nobody is tougher on his guys’ early season struggles than Kevin Stallings is on Vanderbilt’s defensive woes. “We have to play better defensively,” Stallings said. “We’re a pretty good offensive team, but we suck on defense. Until we get better defensively, it doesn’t matter who we put out there. We’ve got to get better defensively. Period.” It’s true, but Vandy is without their best defensive player in center Festus Ezeli. “Festus ain’t here,” Stallings said. “He ain’t gonna be here Monday. He’s not going to be playing Friday or the following Monday. If they’re sitting around and waiting for him to come back, then we got more problems than just our defense.” Vanderbilt hasn’t held an opponent under 47% from the field in its first four games this season. If the Commodores can play consistently better defense, they have the offense to compete with just about any team in the country.
  4. Arkansas received bad news when star forward Marshawn Powell went down in practice with what is being called a “serious” knee injury. “We don’t know if it’s a sprained knee or something worse in there,” coach Mike Anderson said. “He had worked so hard in the offseason to get himself in the best shape he’s ever been in. It’s a tremendous loss.” Powell was limited by a foot injury last year as his averages dropped to 10.8 PPG and 4.5 RPG. In two games this season, he was averaging 19.5 points and six rebounds per game, including a 20-point performance against Oakland last week. Powell will undergo additional tests on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. Regardless, the news is a huge blow to Anderson and the Hogs, as they could use the scoring and leadership that Powell provides for this young team. Arkansas lost to Houston by the score of 87-78 in Powell’s absence.
  5. There is some debate as to how good of a Tennessee Volunteer team will take the court on Monday for a Maui Invitational matchup with Duke. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas says, “I don’t think people can reasonably expect great things this year given all the program has been through in the last year. But they have some capable players and they go as hard as anybody.” Memphis coach Josh Pastner, whose Tigers are also in Maui for the tournament, disagrees. “Everyone thinks Tennessee is going to fall off, I told everyone, ‘hey, they still have really good players,”’ Pastner said on Sunday. “Cuonzo Martin, can obviously flat out coach, there is no denying that, and he is going to get really good players.” Some of this could be typical coachspeak from Pastner, but Martin’s Tennessee squad will take the court on Monday for a first impression for folks outside of Knoxville. The Vols, picked to finish 11th in the SEC, beat UNC Greensboro and Louisiana-Monroe easily, but Duke will present a far more difficult challenge. The Maui Invitational has an extremely strong field this year, which could be advantageous for a Tennessee team looking to determine its standing amongst the nation’s best. UT will play either Michigan or Memphis (the loser of their game) on Tuesday, following its game versus the Blue Devils.
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Morning Five: 11.21.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 21st, 2011

  1. The big story of the weekend was the ongoing Bernie Fine saga. As we mentioned on Friday, the case at Syracuse is more nuanced than the one at Penn State although there are plenty of strange things going on at both locations.  After Jim Boeheim basically called out the two individuals who accused Fine of sexual molestation, one of them issued a response that indicates this case will end up being a he said, he said controversy. For their part, the team responded by leaving Fine’s seat on the bench vacant during their first game since he had been put on administrative leave. Interestingly, it appears that the accusers may not be able to bring the case in front of a court due to how long ago the alleged crime happened. We have a feeling that this case will drag on for quite a long time.
  2. Connecticut received some good bad news when the NCAA announced that it would be suspending freshman Ryan Boatright for six games for improper benefits — a plane ticket he received while playing AAU basketball. Including yesterday’s game, Boatright has already missed four of the required six games so he will only need to sit out the first two games of the Battle4Atlantis Tournament this week. Boatright could potentially see his first action of the season in the final game of Battle4Atlantis if the Huskies are able to win their first two games. Boatright’s return could be a big boost for the defending champions, who have not posted a dominating win yet during the regular season while their primary competitors for this season’s championship have all done so at least once.
  3. We are not exactly sure what is happening at Oregon with Jabari Brown and it appears that neither does the Oregon staff. The most recent reports indicate that Brown is on his way out of Oregon, but earlier reports suggested that Brown’s name had been removed from the school’s online roster and that school officials, as well as head coach Dana Altman, were unaware of the reasons behind it. Now it appears that Altman will essentially be left to beg for the school’s one stud five-star recruit to come back to them, as the loss of such a hyped recruit so early in the season will certainly affect the decision of uncommitted prospects who now might be more weary of playing for Altman after this incident.
  4. Arkansas was dealt a significant setback at a practice last Thursday when Marshawn Powell suffered what is being called a “serious” knee injury that will sideline him indefinitely. The loss could be a huge one for the Razorbacks as Powell, a junior, led the team in scoring the first two games with 19.5 PPG on a team full of freshmen and sophomores and bereft of the services of Rotnei Clarke, last year’s leading scorer who decided to transfer. The Razorbacks are talented enough and their non-conference schedule is weak enough — with the exception of a game at Connecticut — that they should be able to survive until their SEC schedule starts. If Powell is not back by then, things could get ugly very quickly for the young Razorbacks.
  5. Former UCLA legend Walt Hazzard died on Friday from complications related to cardiac surgery at UCLA Medical Center. Many of our younger fans may not be as familiar with Hazzard as they are with other members of the UCLA dynasty, but Hazzard was the one who gave John Wooden his first national championship in 1964 when Hazzard was named the MOP of the 1964 NCAA Tournament. Hazzard teamed with Gail Goodrich to form one of the most devastating backcourts in NCAA history and help build the UCLA dynasty. Along with his contributions as a player at UCLA, Hazzard also won a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, played 10 seasons in the NBA, and coached the Bruins for four seasons. There has been no word on when and where funeral services will be held, but we imagine that it will be a who’s who of basketball royalty at the event.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 18th, 2011

  1. Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell is becoming accustomed to the spotlight and being the leader of a young Arkansas squad. This is a new role for Powell as he was out most of last year with an injury. “The whole deal with me last year was my foot was still bothering me a whole lot,” Powell said. “It is fixed now and I enjoy my coach, the guy that I am playing for. My team, they make it comfortable for me. They have put me in a leader position and I have tried my best to uphold it.” Not only has Powell been a leader for the Razorbacks in the locker room, but he is leading on the court as well. In two games so far this year, Powell has averaged 19.5 PPG and six RPG. If he can continue that kind of production for coach Mike Anderson, Arkansas will be able to score with anybody in the SEC.
  2. Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold has been impressed with the play of Commodore freshman Kedren Johnson. Johnson’s defense has drawn praise from Vandy fans, but it seems he is coming along with his offensive skills as well. Johnson finished the game against Bucknell with 12 points on 5-7 shooting, three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes of play. Vanderbilt may not necessarily need additional scoring once they are completely healthy, but it is refreshing for ‘Dores fans to know that Johnson can become a viable option off the bench. The guys at AOG were not as sold on the development of Dai-Jon Parker. While they acknowledged that he played “impressive in spurts,” they went on to point out that “he also chucked up ten shots and missed all but two of them – including a 1-7 performance from behind the line.” Vanderbilt needs the defensive pressure that both guards are able to bring on the court, however neither of the freshmen can afford to become a detriment on offense.
  3. Kansas coach Bill Self has divulged the secret to beating Kentucky. Self thinks it’s important against the athletic and quick Cats to slow down the pace of the game, utilizing the full 35-second shot clock. This approach could minimize the Wildcats’ ability to get easy fast break points.  “I’d imagine most teams are going to try to do that to us,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. But Coach Cal felt that his team could also play a grind-it-out style of play. In fact, the young Wildcats slowed the game down in the second half against the Jayhawks on Tuesday night, and looked quite aggressive throughout the game. Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones played physically against the Kansas big men, with Davis recording seven blocks and Jones pulling down seven rebounds. Both players accumulated four personal fouls, which is usually an indication of physical and active play on the low block.
  4. Former Kentucky guard Brandon Knight’s mom is writing a book detailing Knight’s recruitment and time at Kentucky. According to Kentucky Sports Radio, Knight’s mom kept a diary throughout her son’s rise to high school stardom, and she is ready to tell all. A preview came out where she recounts a conversation with Kansas coach Bill Self. “Kansas came to visit today. Coach Bill Self’s opening line was as follows. ‘Brandon, I didn’t recruit you, and quite frankly, I don’t deserve to be here.’ Huh? So I had to ask him that if he didn’t think he deserved to be in my house, why was he there? I think he was surprised that I called him out. He gave me a line of crap (which I don’t even remember) and went on with his presentation. I don’t know if I like him.” It sounds like the juicy details from Momma Knight’s diary are going to be must-read. It is somewhat surprising that with the seedy underbelly of recruiting that currently exists that more parents and players haven’t cashed in on tell-all books about the process.
  5. Jeronne Maymon is working on his post play and toughness for the Tennessee Volunteers. The 6’7″, 255-pound forward says, “I want to just continue to be physical, continue to be the dirtiest player on the floor. Not the dirtiest as far as technical fouls and nasty play… but just being mean, rugged, the toughest player out there… taking charges, making open shots and making free throws. That’s what I’m trying to do.” The new attitude appears to be working as Maymon is averaging 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this year. In his last game against Louisiana-Monroe, Maymon recorded a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Coach Cuonzo Martin has a tough, hard-nosed approach to practice, and it appears it is quickly rubbing off on his players and their style of play. Tennessee may not have the talent to be among the elite in the SEC, but they certainly appear to have the resolve and toughness to make a run to string together wins in conference play.
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The Best of the Rest: A Look at SEC standouts Not Selected to All-SEC Preseason Teams

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 25th, 2011

SEC and national media members selected their All-SEC and POY selections Monday morning. Their choices were as follows:

First Team All-SEC
  • JaMychal Green, Alabama – F, 6-8, 228, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.
  • Terrence Jones, Kentucky – F, 6-9, 252, So., Portland, Ore.
  • Dee Bost, Mississippi State – G, 6-2, 176, Sr. , Concord, N.C.
  • John Jenkins, Vanderbilt – G, 6-4, 220, Jr., Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt – G/F, 6-7, 225, Sr., Norrkoping, Sweden
Second Team All-SEC
  • Anthony Davis, Kentucky – F, 6-10, 220, Fr., Chicago, Ill.
  • Doron Lamb, Kentucky – G, 6-4, 210, So., Queens, N.Y.
  • Darius Miller, Kentucky – G, 6-8, 235, Sr., Maysville, Ky.
  • Kenny Boynton, Florida – G, 6-2, 189, Jr., Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Erving Walker, Florida – G, 5-8, 177, Sr., Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt – C, 6-11, 255, Sr., Benin City, Nigeria
SEC Player of the Year: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
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