Morning Five: 03.13.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 13th, 2013


  1. The swag that college football teams get at bowl games may garner plenty of attention, but they are not the only college athletes to receive significant amounts of swag. Participants in the NCAA Tournament will receive an estimated $750,000 in gifts with the value of the gifts escalating if teams make it to the Final Four. Unlike college football (at least to our knowledge) the gifts are not limited to just teams that make the equivalent of a bowl game (the NCAA Tournament) as players in nearly every conference tournament will be taking home gifts ranging for t-shirts to televisions. We won’t try to argue that this is comparable to a stipend that many are advocating, but it is a nice bonus.
  2. All programs are subject to up and down periods, but mid-majors are more subject to these extremes than most teams in power conferences and Siena is a prime example. It was not that long ago that the Saints made three straight NCAA Tournaments (2008-10), but once Fran McCaffery left things went downhill quickly as they went 35-59 in the following three seasons and yesterday that led to the firing of Mitch Buonaguro, McCaffery’s lead assistant and replacement. Given the sudden drop-off that the program experienced and the lack of progress the team showed in regaining its former glory the decision should not be too surprising. We doubt that we will see Siena reach the heights they saw under McCaffery, but the initiative the administration has shown and the tradition that McCaffery built should make it an appealing destination for a long-time assistant looking for his first job or a coach at a mid-major looking to move up in the college basketball world.
  3. We wish we could say the same about UMKC, which fired Matt Brown yesterday, but we are must more skeptical that the Kangaroos (yes, that is actually their nickname) will become a real mid-major threat. Even that lowered expectation was not enough to save the job of Brown, who went 64-122 in six seasons including 8-24 this season. Looking through Brown’s record at UMKC it is not hard to see why Brown was fired even with what we would expect are fairly low expectations at a school that has the misfortune of being surrounded by three basketball powerhouses.
  4. We have not seen many significant recruits opt to go the overseas rather than head to college (Brandon Jennings is the most notable exception), but Seton Hall commit Aquille Carr appears to joining that small group. The decision is not exactly shocking for people who have followed Carr closely as the 5’6″ guard had previously mentioned playing in Europe and his arrest last summer for assault and reckless endangerment raised further questions about whether he would end up on a college campus. Still Carr’s decision is the latest in a series of blows for Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, who went 3-15 in the Big East this season and now has lost two of the guards he was looking forward to bringing to campus next season (both also already carried criminal charges).
  5. With the regular season winding down every analyst’s rankings becomes a little less hot debated as we are finally getting to the point of the season where teams control their “ranking” based on what they do on the court rather than how impressive they are in doing so. That does not mean that Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are not as useful as ever with their usual wealth of information. Winn decided to go a little heavier in terms of subjective rankings than usual to offer his Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Freshman of the Year ballots, but he still has plenty of other interesting data including an analysis of how unique Gonzaga’s offensive distribution is and showing just how badly Florida’s guards are shooting.
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Nate Wolters Continues To Flourish With His Jackrabbits Back Under The Radar

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 4th, 2013

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor. He filed this report from Municipal Auditorium, home to more Final Fours (nine) than any other NCAA site, and where Nate Wolters continued his high-level play as one of the country’s top guards Thursday night.

South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy lined up a challenging non-conference schedule for his Jackrabbits with road games at Minnesota, New Mexico, Alabama, Belmont, and Hofstra this season. Senior guard Nate Wolters shined through it all, scoring and assisting in nearly every way imaginable despite steep competition and big audiences. While the start of conference play means more nationally meaningful games for power league teams, the opposite is true for the toiling Summit League in which SDSU plays, a perennial one-bid conference, but that isn’t an excuse to let Wolters return to obscurity for the 10 weeks between now and March Madness. In fact, if his recent play is any indication, he may be nearing the peak of a storybook career worthy of more attention than ever.

Wolters Is Still Recovering From An Injury, Which Should Scare Opponents (Credit:

Wolters Is Still Recovering From An Injury, Which Should Scare Opponents (Credit:

Wolters came into Thursday’s game against UMKC on the heels of two 25-point games, a win at New Mexico and a loss to North Dakota State. He continued his high-efficiency play with a marvelous night against the Kangaroos. The Jackrabbits led wire-to-wire and left Municipal Auditorium with a 77-61 win that wasn’t even that close, and it was during a big run in the final minutes of the first half when Wolters went to work on his nightly highlight reel.

The Jackrabbits ignited an 18-0 run over the last 5:28 of the first half, with Wolters having a hand in all but three of those points. Whether it was finishing through contact, turning defense into offense with steals and dishes in transition, threading the needle, hitting set shots from the perimeter, or converting from the line, he made all of it look easy. Perhaps most impressive was Wolters’ demeanor. The arena’s sparse attendance made sneaker squeaks, bench banter, and coaches’ instructions easily audible, but there was hardly a peep by Wolters all night despite the fact that he plays a position where communication is hugely important. He let his game do all the talking, and it roared on Thursday night. By the time the game was finished, Wolters had a sterling, stat-stuffing line: 23 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals, and just one turnover in 36 minutes of action.

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