NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by WCarey on April 2nd, 2013


The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.


  • Many people around the country are very surprised that Wichita State has advanced to the Final Four, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino is not one of them. “I picked Wichita State to go to the Final Four,” Pitino said Monday during a conference call.
  • Louisville junior guard Russ Smith was named a third team All-America selection by the Associated Press.
  • When Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered his horrific compound fracture Sunday, one teammate rushed to be by his side as he laid on the court writhing in pain; that teammate was swingman Luke Hancock.
  • With the injury to guard Kevin Ware, Louisville’s backcourt depth took a bit of a hit. Walk-on Tim Henderson will be called upon to play increased minutes in Ware’s absence and Cardinals coach Rick Pitino expects him to step up in his unexpected role.
  • The injury to Ware definitely has caused and will continue to cause some adversity for Louisville, but as Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports explains, this injury is not the worst adversity head coach Rick Pitino has had to handle.

Wichita State

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Big Ten M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on December 3rd, 2012

  1. Great coaches don’t rest easy even after a 27-point blowout against a mid-major team. Ohio State beat Northern Kentucky 70-43 but Thad Matta is still concerned about their cohesiveness on the offensive end. Sophomore wing Laquinton Ross played 29 minutes and scored a career high 22 points along with eight rebounds, but Matta didn’t see enough “fluidity” in their transition offense and hopes to improve that by the end of December. The Buckeyes play seven homes games this month which should help them tie up a lot of loose ends and establish their rotation before the conference season begins. Ross and fellow sophomore Sam Thompson will continue to see more playing time because the small forward spot in the starting rotation is open for either of them based on their performance.
  2. Speaking of players who are trying to establish their identity on their team, sophomore forward Alex Gauna has really impressed Tom Izzo over the first few weeks of the season. Gauna has been used some in the pick-and-pop type of plays but he has been working on his rebounding during practice. Even though he might not play more than 10-12 minutes per game this season, he provides much-needed depth for Izzo along the front line if Adreian Payne or Derrick Nix get into foul trouble. Nix usually does not play more than 30 minutes per game, so Gauna’s improvement gives Izzo more options if he continues to improve different facets of his game. Gauna has the size (6’9″, 245 lbs) to become an integral part of Izzo’s rotation especially if he continues to show his commitment to defense.
  3. Elliott Eliason is another big man who could be a big factor for his team, the Minnesota Gophers. The starting center is not expected to spearhead the Gophers’ offense by any means but he has shown that he can provide stability in the paint and finish around the basket. Even though it is only a matter of time before he takes a backseat to star forward Trevor Mbakwe, Eliason has shown signs of improvement offensively and that might be enough for Tubby Smith to keep him in the rotation. The 7’0″ center lost 10 pounds over the offseason and has been defending the paint fairly well. Rodney Williams is another forward option but he doesn’t have the size to defend true power forwards during conference play, therefore Eliason and Mbakwe could see some minutes together when they play teams with great size in the paint.
  4. Michigan head coach John Beilein has his designated three-point gunner in freshman guard Nik Stauskas. Beilein moved him into the starting rotation against Bradley and it appears that senior guard Matt Vogrich might be coming off the bench for rest of the season. Stauskas has averaged 14 PPG this year and continued his hot shooting against Bradley by scoring 22 points and hitting 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc. He is shooting 62% from the perimeter and his commitment to defense has convinced Beilein to insert him into the starting lineup. As defenses collapse on Tim Hardaway Jr. or Trey Burke on their drives to the basket, Stauskas will continue to see great looks if he consistently moves into the available openings on those possessions.
  5. Illinois head coach John Groce strongly believes in positive encouragement and that could be one of the major reasons for the Illini’s unbeaten record after the first three weeks of basketball. After a 15-3 start last season, the Illini finished the season with just a 17-15 overall record which of course led to the firing of Bruce Weber. Many fans believe that Weber lost control of his team as the players lost confidence in themselves and his ability to lead them. But Groce has picked up those pieces and his “upbeat approach” has instilled new life into seniors Tyler Griffey, Brandon Paul and D.J.Richardson. The Illini guards have the green light to pull the trigger in transition and continue to push the tempo with some freedom in the offense. But there is a drawback to that approach, as point guard Tracy Abrams shows in that he has averaged 3.4 turnovers per game so far this season. Abrams was on the bench during the last two Illinois games during crunch time.
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Michigan Bombs Away Toward a Big Ten Title

Posted by rtmsf on February 22nd, 2012

Bill Hupp is an RTC correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp). He filed this report following No. 13 Michigan’s OT win over Northwestern on Tuesday.

For as much as Michigan and Northwestern engaged in a classic Big Ten battle on Tuesday night in a rugged, seesaw affair, it was over with breathtaking offensive efficiency.

Point Guard Trey Burke Has Been Tremendous This Season (AP)

First, Trey Burke stepped into a three from the top of the key after a Wolverines offensive rebound to start the overtime period. Then Zach Novak buried one from the right corner. Finally, Stu Douglass turned out the lights on the Wildcats with a gut-punch from three feet beyond the left wing that sent the purple-clad faithful streaming toward the exits. The win means the Wolverines (21-7, 11-4 Big Ten) kept pace with Ohio State and moved to within a half-game of Michigan State for the conference lead, a place few could have predicted after Darius Morris left for the NBA and handed the reins to a relatively unknown freshman point guard.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 02.13.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 13th, 2012

  1. Michigan State currently has control of the Big Ten after the Spartans’ hard-fought 58-48 win at Ohio State on Saturday. Michigan State used a combination of great defense, hustle plays, and just-effictive-enough offense to down the Buckeyes and end their 39-game home winning streak. So, has the question of how to beat Ohio State been answered? Give the Spartans tons of credit for their game plan, but William Buford and company didn’t do themselves any favors. Having Buford and Deshaun Thomas both go 2-12 from the field obviously hurt the Buckeyes.
  2. One key player Spartan head coach Tom Izzo knew he would need a great effort from was sophomore center Adriean Payne. The Dayton native was expected to supply critical defense on Jared Sullinger, and Payne and his defensive counterparts were effective forcing Sullinger into 10 turnovers. What the Spartans didn’t expect was for Payne to go 6-for-6 from the field and finish with a career-high 15 points. Given the chance to play in front of his family and friends in his home state, Payne made the most of his opportunity.
  3. One team preparing for their second shot at Ohio State will be Michigan, and the Wolverines will have plenty of time to do it. Coming off their 70-61 win over Illinois, John Beilein‘s club remains undefeated at home this season and will have six days to prepare for Ohio State. Beilein admits that getting that much rest at this point in the season can be beneficial as guys can rest their legs a bit. But Michigan doesn’t want to get out of the groove they are currently in especially junior guard Matt Vogrich, a 20% three-point shooter this season who has gone 5-for-5 from three in the last two games.
  4. While there was plenty of celebration for Penn State after their win over Nebraska this weekend, there was some sad news in Happy Valley as junior forward Billy Oliver announced he will end his playing career. Oliver is struggling with recuring symptoms related to his history of concussions and migraine headaches and after talking with coach Pat Chambers Oliver decided to hang it up. His roommate Tim Fraizer was saddened by his decision, but agreed that Oliver is doing what is best for him.
  5. March is only a couple of weeks away, and teams are gauging their NCAA Tournament chances with every win and loss. Minnesota is a team that many experts thought didn’t have much of a chance of qualifying for the Tournament a couple of months ago, but the Gophers have a chance to earn their way in with some quality wins. They will have plenty of chances to do that, with four of their last six opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. It will take some upsets, but Tubby Smith and his crew know the road that lays before them if they want to go dancing again this year.
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