Big East M5: 12.06.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 6th, 2013

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  1. Marquette is struggling a bit this year, having lost three of six games heading into this weekend’s intrastate rivalry game with Wisconsin. ESPN.com’s Myron Metcalf believes that the Golden Eagles and the Big East as a whole could really use a big non-conference win to boost their bona fides: “Marquette is approaching desperation in its quest for the resume-boosting non-conference victories that will pay off on Selection Sunday… A series of mishaps in holiday tournaments diminished the Big East’s buzz. The conference’s contenders failed in recent non-conference match-ups that would have enhanced their respective NCAA tournament hopes/seeds.” Don’t expect this to be the most beautiful game of hoops that anyone has ever watched — Marquette has struggled to score against quality opponents while undefeated Wisconsin is coming off a match-up where they surrendered only 38 to a solid Virginia squad.
  2. St. John’s and Fordham play almost every year, but is the annual New York City game a true rivalry? Rumble in the Garden examined the series, in which the Johnnies have been victorious in all but two of the last 23 meetings. The last few seasons have seen a number of close games, and interestingly enough Fordham’s last win was in 2010 when they overcame two significant deficits to upset a St. John’s team that ended the year with an NCAA Tournament berth. Fordham looks like it may be a feisty mid-major this year while St. John’s has been up and down so far this season, so Big Apple fans may be in for another close one on Saturday.
  3. The intrastate rivalry theme continues, as Providence managed to hold off nearby URI for a 50-49 win last night. The Rams’ E.C. Matthews had a final shot to win the game, but he was unable to knock it down, giving the Friars the victory. Tensions were reportedly high in the Ryan Center, as head coaches Ed Cooley and Dan Hurley had to be separated at one point after Cooley took exception to Hurley’s position far away from the Rams bench.
  4. Seton Hall must be happy to come away with a win against LIU-Brooklyn last night, but not all was positive in South Orange after the game. The Pirates’ top player Fuquan Edwin left the game with a sprained ankle just two minutes after tip-off, an injury that may sideline him for a few weeks. Without Edwin in the lineup, veterans Brian Oliver and Gene Teague were the obvious players for the Pirates to lean on and they performed well. Oliver went 8-of-17 with all of his shots coming from beyond the arc, finishing with 26 points. Teague added 17 points and 16 rebounds, and was a presence on the interior that LIU-Brooklyn struggled to match. Seton Hall will faces rival Rutgers on Sunday for the first time as a non-conference opponent since the split of the Big East, and without Edwin, the team will need Oliver and Teague to continue their strong recent play.
  5. As previously discussed hereCreighton is going through a rebranding of its program in conjunction with the move to the Big East, and they will take another big step this weekend with the unveiling of the new “Billy Bluejay” before the team’s game with Nebraska.  Details have been scarce, although according to Omaha.com, Creighton has described the new-look Billy as “vibrant,” “more athletic,” and released this photo of the mascot’s new kicks.
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Morning Five: 09.04.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 4th, 2013

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  1. Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror now, so prepare yourselves for two solid months of preview material from the college basketball writing industry. Frankly, in the need to fill space with relevant content, we all probably overdo it a tad, but with the start of practice mere weeks away and preview magazines already hitting the newsstands, it’s hard to not get excited. SI.com‘s Andy Glockner has put together his third annual “non-conference primer” for us, which, if you’re not familiar, breaks down the slates at a number of the top programs in America. He slots 13 schools into four separate categories ranging from “This is how you do it” (Kansas) to “Not good enough, given context” (Louisville, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and UCLA), and there’s not much room for disagreement. Even more agreeable is that simply reading about some of these games is more than enough reason to start daydreaming.
  2. One of the schools that falls into Glockner’s “Certainly acceptable” category is Michigan, which boasts non-conference games with Duke, Stanford, Arizona, Iowa State and possibly a rematch with VCU in the Puerto Rico Shootout. The rise of John Beilein’s Wolverines over the last few years has been well-documented as a trademark success story where great coaching, recruiting and player development all intertwined, and now Michigan fans everywhere can get the inside scoop on the progression with former walk-on Josh Bartelstein’s new eBook, “We On.” Bartelstein originally started blogging behind-the-scenes for MGoLive.com with his “Bartelstein Blog” while Michigan was sitting at 1-6 in the Big Ten during his sophomore year. The Wolverines went on to make the NCAA Tournament that season, following it up the next two years with a Big Ten championship and a trip to last year’s national title game. With a courtside seat for all the fun, Bartelstein’s documentation of the rise of Michigan basketball will sell for $7.99 and is sure to inspire some copycats along the way. Does Andrew Wiggins blog?
  3. One basketball player who wouldn’t have trouble finding a willing readership if he ever decided to blog is LeBron James. The two-time NBA champion never attended a single day of college, but when you’re as marketable as he is, you don’t have to. The Ohio State University has already claimed James as its own (remember, James’ talents are originally from Akron), wearing his line of basketball shoes and gear since 2007. Never one to miss a great recruiting opportunity, Thad Matta has decided to dress up the Buckeyes’ locker room with a nameplate and locker filled with James’ OSU product line. This is simply brilliant — we’re guessing that most 16- and 17-year olds don’t realize that James was a prep-to-pros kid a decade ago — so, in the worst case, recruits are impressed by the school’s association with the World’s Best Player; in the best case, they might believe he actually played in Columbus. That sound you just heard was John Calipari getting out his hammer to nail a photo montage of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett on the wall of the locker room at Rupp Arena. Hey, friends of the program…
  4. One of the nastiest rumors of the summer involved Louisville hardwood hero Kevin Ware, he of the gruesomely snapped leg against Duke in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. We won’t lower ourselves to discuss the content of the Kentuckiana rumor-mongering other than to say that his head coach, Rick Pitino, summarily dismissed any accusation that Ware had been suspended from the team. Pitino also said that Ware was recovering nicely but he is still a month to six weeks from getting back onto the basketball court, and even then, he’s likely to have some issues trusting his body for a while. With all the depth that Louisville will have in this year’s backcourt, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to foresee a redshirt year for the junior should he take a bit longer to come around after what was such a devastating injury. And who would blame him (other than the conspiracy theorists, of course)?
  5. We’ll end with a sad note today as Butler’s friendly canine mascot, Blue II, passed away over the Labor Day weekend. The English bulldog became synonymous with Butler basketball as the school spent the better part of his nine-year lifespan rising from the role of plucky mid-major to that of a national program. His final blog post located here, entitled “I Leave You With ‘Thanks,’” is pretty much the tear-jerker that you’d imagine it would be, inasmuch as you can suspend reality to give the slobbery mascot his own voice. That suspension of belief wasn’t very hard for this writer, nor would it likely be hard for many millions of other dog owners who too consider man’s best friend an indispensable part of the family. A snarky commenter on Twitter yesterday suggested that, given the short life span of dogs, it’s best to consider them merely as pets and remain “detached” so as to not suffer after they’re gone. To that we say, that’s no way to live, sir, no way to live at all. Rather, we should strive to attach with all your heart’s desire — these furry little creatures will never let you down. RIP, Blue II.
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Morning Five: 04.27.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 27th, 2011

  1. Some transfer news was made Tuesday, as Michigan State sophomore center Garrick Sherman announced that he would be heading to Notre Dame for his final two seasons, while NC State freshman guard Ryan Harrow and new head Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried agreed to part ways.  The 6’10 Sherman averaged 3/3 while shooting 70% from the field for Tom Izzo last year, and he actually started half of the team’s 34 games — Mike Brey is picking up a potentially solid offensive contributor when Sherman becomes eligible in the 2012-13 season.  As for Harrow, the former five-star recruit has not indicated where he intends to transfer yet, but NCSU said it will release him to any non-ACC school he desires.  He was clearly disappointed in last month’s firing of Sidney Lowe, and although the talented guard averaged 9/3 in 23 MPG last year for NC State, he’ll take his services elsewhere over the summer (hot rumor, later denied: Kentucky).
  2. Keeping with the NC State theme, this is stupdendous.  In four years of doing this, we may have never come across a more pointless article than this one from Andrew Jones on FoxSports.com.  Apparently the relatives of NC State’s new live mascot, Tuffy the dog (a Tamaskan), were poisoned by being fed fish laced with antifreeze.  Not Tuffy himself, mind you, but the relatives of Tuffy, both of whom reside 170 miles away from Raleigh, the city where Tuffy lives and will next season begin work as the Wolfpack live mascot.  You’re probably wondering how someone could come up with 500+ words on this story, but we encourage you to read the full article where you will learn that Tamaskans are Finnish dogs, that they resemble wolves but do not share ancestry with them, and that NC State AD Debbie Yow, who proffered the original idea for a live mascot, thinks that poisoning the parents of Tuffy is “sick.”  Oh, and you’ll also learn some enlightening information as to why actual wolves cannot used at NC State games (y’know, because they’re wolves).  We’re 100% certain that somewhere Gary Williams is loving all of this.
  3. That John Calipari/Dominican Republic thing from last year might come to fruition after all, as the DR apparently has an offer on the table for the Kentucky coach to lead its team in the 2011 Tournament of the Americas. The country is attempting to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and so far, Calipari is playing coy by asking “why are [they] calling me?”  If he decides to take the job, he would work with the team for a six-week period in August and September, giving his cadre of new blue chippers just enough time on campus to cause all sorts of mayhem before the head coach returns for the start of practice.
  4. We hope that if Calipari takes the new summer job opportunity, he doesn’t expect to get the same kinds of crowds he enjoys in Lexington.  The NCAA released its attendance numbers yesterday, and Kentucky had the highest average home attendance with 23,603 fans jammed into Rupp Arena every night.  Syracuse was second last season with an average of 22,312 fans per game, and the sport as a whole totaled 27.6 million fans for the entire year.  Across the entirety of D1 basketball schools, that comes to an average of roughly 80,000 fans per school per season (or around 5,000 per home game).  Two Mountain West schools, BYU and San Diego State, had the largest attendance increases over last year, both averaging more than 4,000 more fans per game in 2010-11.  The full NCAA report is here.
  5. In a blockbuster expose piece on Monday, the New York Times’ Katie Porter blows the cover off the sham known as Title IX and how schools manipulate their team rosters to ensure compliance with the federal law.  From discussions of female cross-country runners at South Florida stating that they didn’t know they were on the team to male fencers acting as female athletes at Cornell, it’s clear from her investigation and analysis that the original intent of this law (equity in sporting opportunities) has been bastardized to a point where reform is not only badly desired, it appears necessary.  Great read — check it out immediately if you have not yet seen it.
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Morning Five: Midnight Madness Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2010

  1. It’s been approximately 190 days since we last saw collegians take the floor in their uniforms, but as you surely noted above on our countdown clock, we’re almost down to all zeros.  Tonight is Midnight Madness or whatever people are calling it these days, but the primary concern to everyone reading this site is that COLLEGE HOOPS IS BACK, baby.  For a guide to many of the major events that will be scattered throughout the country tonight and in future weeks, here’s our post outlining the when and where.  ESPNU will be showing the proceedings tonight starting at 9pm ET at several of the schools on the list including Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis and Kansas State, so lock yourselves in this evening and get ready for another great season ahead.
  2. Good work if you can get it…  Former legendary Purdue head coach Gene Keady will join Steve Lavin’s new staff at St. John’s in the role of grandfatherly advisor/executive assistant.  Lavin was an assistant under Keady at Purdue from 1988-91, during which time the Boilermakers went to the NCAA Tournament twice (Keady went back fourteen more times at Purdue).  For some reason we love seeing these kinds of situations when the student brings back his mentor.
  3. Wake Forest’s Tony Woods, the 6’10 junior center who was relieved of his duties as a player for the Demon Deacons, isn’t suffering for suitors as to his next stop.  Jeff Goodman reports that Louisville, Kentucky, WVU, Georgetown, Auburn, Xavier, Cincinnati and others have expressed interest in bringing on the talented but heretofore underachieving player.  We’re all for second chances around here, but there’s clearly no honor among thieves — lots of young people make “mistakes,” but how many of them kick and fracture the spine of the mother of his infant?  Good things seem to find those who have pro size and can occasionally rebound and score a few points, eh?
  4. In what we cannot even possibly begin to describe as anything other than awkwardly hilarious, Ole Miss students, faculty and alumni on Thursday voted that their new mascot should be the Rebel Black Bear, earning 62% of the vote to beat out the Hotty Toddy and the Land Shark.  Colonel Reb has been officially retired, but does anyone else find the use of skin/fur color to describe a cartoonish bear inspired by William Faulkner as something better left to schools without such a violent and ugly racial history?  Just sayin…
  5. Yesterday was  John Wooden’s 100th birthday, and although the Wizard of Westwood wasn’t with us to celebrate it, the UCLA family and his own relatives held their own parties to honor his legacy.  We’ve said this before, but we think it would be a fantastic commemoration of the man and his contributions to the game of basketball if the entire 2010-11 season was dedicated to Coach Wooden — the NCAA and its media partners could easily make this happen, so they should.

Wooden's New Portrait Was Unveiled at UCLA on Thursday (LA Daily News/H. Gutknecht)

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Hey Kid, I’ll Give You $20 to Carry This Package For Me…

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2009

One of the very best things about college sports other than the cheerleaders and the dance teams are the mascots.  And while you’ll never, ever see a cute blonde pixie getting in the face of a competitor, it’s fairly common for mascots to get involved in tomfoolery and hijinks.  Case in point: last night at the WAC Tournament with seven seconds left in a one-pt game, Utah St.’s “Big Blue” confronted New Mexico St.’s “Pistol Pete” and ripped off his mustache, leading to a row during a timeout in the middle of the court.  From the AP report:

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During a timeout with 7 seconds left and New Mexico State leading 70-69, Utah State’s mascot, “Big Blue” the bull, confronted New Mexico State’s “Pistol Pete” cowboy mascot and ripped off his fake mustache. The cowboy then chased the bull to halfcourt, jumped on his back and tried unsuccessfully to pull him to the floor. “Pistol Pete” then started to try to choke his rival before retreating to his end of the court. Several newspaper photographers covering the game said they heard a man in a Nevada shirt offer the Utah State mascot $100 to go grab the mustache. The man confirmed to The Associated Press that was true and that he paid the mascot the $100, but declined to provide his name. He said he did not expect New Mexico State’s “Pistol Pete” to respond the way he did.

This is phenomenal.  Who is this nefarious Nevada fan peeling off hundies like he was PacMan over at Solid Platinum?  And how perfect was his timing in that situation – can you imagine if Big Blue had gotten his team – down one point at the time – a tech for his aggression?  Stew Morrill probably would have gored Big Blue with his own horns.

If anyone finds a video of this, send it along and we’ll put it up.

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Sammy the Owl Channels Jonathan Xavier

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2009

We’re wondering if Sammy was likewise on probation when he decided to confront head-butt the ref last night?

What’s in the water down there in Houston these days?  (h/t Houston Press via Deadspin)

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09.26.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

Some news flotsam and jetsam we’ve accumulated this week…

  • It was an expensive week for Ohio State paying its head coaches, as Thad Matta got a $500k raise (to $2.5M per annum) and contract extension through 2016.
  • Tennessee forward Duke Crews has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. How long is “indefintely?”
  • We mentioned it briefly above, but it deserves its own note. Former Hawg PG Corey Beck was shot Sunday morning during a robbery attempt – he is listed in good condition.
  • Free Shoes University is embroiled in another cheating scandal – the question is which sports are involved?
  • Porsches, Polo & Ponies. SMU basketball avoids NCAA sanctions – wait, SMU still has a basketball program? Oh, right. Matt Doherty. So the answer is no.
  • Plissken at the Buzzer gives a thorough and interesting breakdown of Memphis’ schedule (following up on Andy Katz’s top 10 last week) and how that will affect the Tigers’ NCAA seed next March.
  • Melo is giving back to Syracuse, as Jim Juli Boeheim convinced him to fork over $3M toward a new practice facility for the Orange.
  • Injury Report – Louisville freshman Clarence Holloway will miss the entire season after open heart surgery (!!), and NC State’s PG Javier Gonzalez will miss the next twelve weeks with a shooting thumb injury.
  • BC’s success in the ACC on the gridiron and hardwood have increased its applications from traditionally ACC country.
  • Construda still loves Luke Recker, oh these many years later…
  • We guess Shawn Stockton isn’t as good as his uncle John.
  • According to Jeff Goodman, 2008 #1 player Greg Monroe has narrowed his list to LSU, Kansas, Duke and Georgetown. Although Gary Parrish disputes this in a meandering article about Monroe’s eight finalists.
  • Speaking of Parrish and Goodman, the former riffs on Bama’s point guard situation after losing Ronald Steele, and the latter notes that Bruce Pearl is in search of outside shooters and Arizona is looking at possible successors for Lute Olson.
  • It’s NEVER too early for a projected field of 65.
  • MascotLove: College Hoops Heaven takes a look at the top 15 mascots.
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