ATB: Bruins Fall in Brooklyn, Chaminade Beats Rick Barnes Again, and Indiana Finds Other Scoring Options…

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 20th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC National Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Tonight’s Lede. Shabazz Muhammad Gets A Harsh Welcome. In light of Friday night’s 11th hour news of freshman super-prospect Shabazz Muhammad’s reinstatement, an immediate upward revision of UCLA’s season expectations was very much in order. After all, Muhammad is, depending on your source, arguably the top freshman in the country, and a huge difference-maker for the Bruins’ chances of a major rebound to the upper echelon of the Pac-12 after several uncharacteristically down seasons. We got our first look at the Bishop Gorman product tonight, and the results were mostly what you’d expect from a guy getting his first taste of major college hoops. The potential was readily there — Muhammad scored 15 points in 25 minutes; the polish – that’ll come in time, with more game action and meaningful repetitions. The larger takeaway from Monday night wasn’t Muhammad’s debut. It was Muhammad’s team, and the way it dropped the ball in its first showcase game of the season. How did the Bruins, No. 1 recruiting class in tow, get worked at the Barclays Center? We shall explore…

Your Watercooler Moment. UCLA Not A Finished Product.

The debut of the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, Muhammad, was overshadowed my Georgetown’s offensive execution (Photo credit: Getty Images).

The obligatory modifier for college hoops teams at this time of the year is one you’ve heard time and again: it’s still early. Teams need time to develop, to guess at different schematic adjustments and lineups, to grow comfortable in their respective offensive and defensive systems. This logic applies for most every team, but most of all for young and inexperienced ones. Which brings us to UCLA, and the Bruins somewhat surprising loss to Georgetown. The Hoyas spoiled Shabazz Muhammad’s debut by shooting over 50 percent from the field, getting 23 points from junior Markel Starks and unleashing sophomore Otto Porter from relative medical obscurity to great effect (18 points, 11 rebounds). UCLA looked disengaged and unorganized defensively. The Bruins didn’t click on the other end of the floor. Muhammad’s debut brought the mostly expected reality that this year’s No. 1 recruit is not – despite what this UCLA fan’s widly popular t-shirt solidarity might have you believe – a LeBron James-type basketball destroyer of worlds. If this was the Pac-12 championship game, or an NCAA Tournament contest, all measures of criticism and conclusion-drawing would be fair game. In this instance, UCLA’s first real run with a new roster against quality competition, chalk it up as a learning experience. UCLA will tighten things up defensively – Ben Howland’s coaching track record is a documental embodiment of defensive improvement. And Muhammad will learn how to play with rising star Jordan Adams. Missing out on a potential Final matchup with No. 1 Indiana isn’t the outcome Howland had in mind. It’s also not a doomsday scenario. Not in the least.

Also Worth Chatting About. Buzzer-Beating Madness in Maui. It didn’t take long for college hoops to provide us the first truly memorable slice of buzzer-beating hysteria. This one came courtesy of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke, whose uncharacteristically poor shooting streak (he finished 7-of-21 and 4-of-14 from three) did a complete 180 when Butler needed it most. Butler trailed Marquette by two with eight seconds remaining in regulation when Clarke received the inbound pass, drove the length of the floor and netted a one-handed off-balance leaner – after which his teammates, expectedly, piled on to celebrate. The dismissal of Chrishawn Hopkins late this offseason left Butler with a dearth of perimeter scoring. It made Clarke’s transfer even more crucial. He may not own Hopkins’ ability to create and score off the bounce. What he does have is a lethal three-point stroke, and apparently one that glosses over whatever struggles felled him the previous 40 minutes.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 25th, 2011

  1. Grantland: Shane Ryan’s post about Duke‘s developing guard play is very interesting to read knowing the result of the Maui championship game against Kansas. Ryan breaks down Duke’s evisceration of Michigan’s zone with screenshots (a trend that I am really starting to enjoy). Ryan looks at the blend of talent and Duke’s system, though he ignores the possibility of Tyler Thornton coming off the bench and hitting the biggest threes of his life… But in all seriousness, it’s amazing how much Mason Plumlee’s play in that game got written off by a prayer (and the Seth Curry travel before it). The story went from Mason Plumlee locking down Thomas Robinson the last eight minutes while sinking clutch free throws for Duke to a desperation heave, but that’s a different post for a different time.
  2. BC Interruption: The Eagles’ SBNation blog takes a look at the best player on a  young, bad Boston College team. His name is Patrick Heckmann. Possibly because he played at high-level competition in Germany, Heckmann seems like the most consistently aggressive player on the Eagles. Heckmann also has the advantage of size and solid athleticism. Heckmann is far from a finished product, but he’s definitely a little light in what could be a very long season on the hardwood in Chestnut Hill.
  3. Washington Times: Maryland‘s beatdown at the hands of the Iona Gaels pointed out a lot of flaws. Mark Turgeon is blaming himself for the inconsistency from his players. The bottom line is the Terrapins have a long way to go. Sean Mosley has picked up where he left off two years ago, but the rest of the team is struggling. But Turgeon clearly isn’t used to losing:

    It’s hard to be good. Right now, we’re taking the easy way out. We don’t run the defense because that’s hard. We don’t box out because that’s hard. We don’t execute our plays against pressure because that’s hard.

  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Doug Roberson checks in with coaches from around the state of Georgia, including Georgia Tech‘s Brian Gregory, to talk about who inspired them as children. Gregory’s inspiration came from an old high school counselor, who told Gregory, “If you work hard and are a good person then usually things work out pretty well.” It’s definitely interesting to see where coaches, whose job requires inspiring student athletes every day, derived their inspirations.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Michael McAdoo‘s lawsuit against North Carolina and the NCAA was dropped this week, but the process is far from over. McAdoo’s lawyer is planning on filing an appeal next week. McAdoo was ruled permanently ineligible after the NCAA’s investigation of North Carolina’s infractions under Butch Davis because of academic fraud. McAdoo was signed by the Baltimore Ravens after being drafted in the NFL’s supplemental draft. The lawsuit is one of many against the NCAA currently that could mean major changes for the organization in the near future.
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ACC Morning Five: 11.24.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 24th, 2011

Unfortunately shoddy wireless means I can’t get a screenshot, but the elation at the end of the Maui championship game between Duke and Kansas came through the TV. Even Coach K was jumping up and down after Tyler Thornton hit the biggest shot of his life. Twice. Austin Rivers was as active as any of the Duke players on the bench (save Marshall Plumlee, whose level of enthusiasm is insane). It’s clear Duke isn’t a dominant team by any meaning of the word, but it’s a really fun team to watch. And the Blue Devils, as always, know how to win.

  1. Washington Post – Cavaliers Journal: Virginia is a defensive team this year. Or at least it is without senior Sammy Zeglinski, whose playing time is currently limited by a nagging ankle injury. And Tony Bennett sounds OK with that. He pointed out that the team is “a possession by possession team,” which probably explains why the Cavaliers savor each possession so much (there are only four slower teams in D-I). One has to expect the Cavaliers’ outside shooting will come around eventually, but until then they’ll have to continue relying on their defense.
  2. Indy Week: Since 1945 only two coaches, Press Maravich and Les Robinson, were older than Mark Gottfried (who’s only 47) when they took the head coaching job at NC State. The article also provides a nice introduction to the individual roles, many of which have changed since Gottfried arrived, of each major contributor on the team. The final line is still the biggest question that remains:

    While Wolfpack partisans still loudly applaud Gottfried’s name during pregame introductions, all honeymoons come to an end. Ultimately, the question is whether Gottfried is the next big thing… or just next.

  3. ESPN: Florida State takes to the Bahamas this week for the Battle 4 Atlantis where the Seminoles will start out with UMass, an undefeated team that just throttled Boston College on the road. To be fair, the Minutemen were picked twelfth in the A-10 before the season started. Should Florida State win that game, it will probably face mid-major upstart Harvard in the second round and defending national champion Connecticut in the championship game. This is a pretty good primer for the tournament, which has plenty of interesting storylines and will be Florida State’s first true test this season.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: One of the biggest questions facing Duke is who will run the point. Duke Basketball Report has a fairly exhaustive article looking at the history of the point guard position and its use in both Roy Williams’ and Mike Krzyzewski’s offenses. Essentially, the conclusion is that Duke’s backcourt needs to share the responsibilities of a point guard, rather than putting everything on one player. I think the article under-appreciates Quinn Cook’s point guard abilities; then again, I don’t think Cook will be the main option at point until at least conference play and, more likely, next season.
  5. iSportsWeb: North Carolina 2013 commit Isiah Hicks is already struggling with eligibility issues. It sounds like there are some missing records from his old school district. If the records are just missing from his previous school district. But if there are red flags at the high school level, there will definitely be red flags at the collegiate level. [In more upbeat North Carolina news, the Tar Heels are slashing prices on tickets to men’s games against Evansville and Nicholls State by 40% for Black Friday.]

EXTRA: Per The Daily Telegraph, several gentleman’s club owners have gotten together in hopes of taking advantage of the NBA lockout and starting a topless basketball league. So far there are 23 teams including ones in Minnesota (may I suggest the Minnesota Bimbowolves for a team name?), Miami and New York. I’ll be sticking with college basketball, but the title of this article was too good to let go unnoticed.

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