St. John’s Freshmen Making the Most of a Rebuilding Season

Posted by EJacoby on January 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor and correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. He filed this report after Georgetown’s win over St. John’s on Sunday.

As a basketball program, St. John’s and its fans have not had a whole lot to smile about this season. Sunday afternoon was no exception, when Georgetown came into Madison Square Garden and handed the Red Storm their fourth loss in five games with a 69-49 victory. But despite the result, freshman forward Maurice Harkless dazzled a packed crowd with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a comeback effort when his team was down, in the process showing why there’s so much promise for the rebuilding Red Storm. Between Harkless and fellow freshman star D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s has the necessary pieces to turn a losing, learning season into future success.

Times are rough for St. John's, but Harrison and Harkless (above) have what it takes to turn around the program (AP Photo)

St. John’s’ season record reflects all of the turmoil within the program. After Sunday’s loss, the Red Storm dropped to 8-9 overall and 2-4 in Big East play. But there’s much more than just a silver lining to this dark cloud of a season. Five of the Red Storm’s six leading scorers are freshmen, which includes guards Sir’Dominic Pointer and Phil Greene in addition to the versatile trio of Harkless, Harrison, and Amir Garrett. By nearly all metrics, Harkless is the best freshman in the Big East and might be one of the most talented players in the whole conference. His totals against Georgetown upped his season averages to 15.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.8 BPG, all team highs. He’s top five in the conference in the latter two statistics and possesses the dynamic offensive game of a future NBA small forward. Harrison has been nearly as productive, averaging 15 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 1.6 SPG, and he’s had the ball in his hands most often this season when St. John’s needs a big play or shot to be made. Pointer has the look of a potential ‘glue guy,’ and he already contributes across the board on a nightly basis with about seven points, five boards, and over a block and steal per game.

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A Quick, Fake Summary: St. John’s Cannot Hide or Ever, Ever Escape

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 1st, 2011

Most folks wouldn’t be surprised if St. John’s lost tonight; any young team without their head coach in attendance would be rightful underdogs visiting a #1 team on their home court. It also wouldn’t be surprising if Kentucky finished the game with lot of blocks. They’ve been swatting them at an excellent pace for most of this early season. But the combination of Red Storm youth and Kentucky defensive length and intensity created the perfect environment for freshman forward Anthony Davis to wreak havoc.

Davis accumulated eight blocks through the second half of Kentucky’s 81-59 victory tonight. Kentucky fans in Rupp Arena were openly cheering for Davis to tie or break Kentucky’s single-game block record (nine, shared by Andre Riddick and Sam Bowie). When referee Jim Burr called a questionable body foul on Davis denying the ninth block, it was like a pitcher on a no-hitter in the 8th inning giving up a bloop single. Davis subbed out with 4:44 left in the game with 15 points and 15 rebounds and having outshined his teammates on the national stage.

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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: St. John’s @ Kentucky

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 1st, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Gerald Smith and Patrick Prendergast are going one-on-one to break down St. John’s trip to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky.

Gerald Smith: They’re young now, they’re wild now and they want to be free; Kentucky and St. John’s have got the magic power of freshmen in them! The Johnnies gathered the third-best recruiting class in the nation which included Maurice Harkless, D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer. The Wildcats managed yet another number one recruiting class of Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer (7.8 PPG while averaging 16 minutes per game) has been the slowest to adjust to the speed and complexity of coach John Calipari’s system. The other freshmen have been crucial from the beginning: Kidd-Gilchrist (12.5 PPG while averaging 30 minutes per game), Teague (11.7 PPG while averaging 30 minutes per game) and Davis (12.7 PPG while averaging 25.7 minutes per game) have powered the Kentucky machine to triumphs over Top 25 Kansas and an experienced and well-defending Old Dominion squad.

Its Fresmanpalooza in Lexington (credit: BB Times)

These Wildcats freshmen starters aren’t without their faults. Davis is still learning how to play as a collegiate-level forward who should be more effective in the post. Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump-shooting will be a thorn in his side most of the season. Teague is experiencing the normal growing pains of Calipari point guards: Forcing too many plays which lead to turnovers or bad offensive sets.

Which St. John’s freshmen have been the fueling their team so far this season?

Patrick Prendergast: First off, it is a shame that St. John’s coach Steve Lavin will not be on the sideline for the game as he continues in his recovery from prostate cancer surgery. His presence would have added to the allure of this one. If St. John’s, a team that has not played well of late, can hang in there with the more talented Kentucky team as they did with Arizona and Texas A&M, this has the potential to be an extremely entertaining game as it is difficult to see the Storm go out of character and try to slow the game down to offset Kentucky’s need for speed.

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At A Glance: Can St. John’s Beat Arizona Tonight?

Posted by mlemaire on November 17th, 2011

They may sit atop the overall Big East standings at 3-0 on the season, but anyone who watched St. John’s play in those three games knows that those wins were a little bit more difficult to come by than coach Steve Lavin probably hoped. The old adage that “a win is a win” doesn’t seem to hold water when you are talking about five-point wins over Lehigh and second-half comeback wins against William & Mary. Fortunately for Red Storm fans eager to see what their team is truly made of, tonight’s game against  No. 15 Arizona at Madison Square Garden should be an excellent barometer of just how good Lavin’s young team really is.

Steve Lavin Will Have Plenty Of Teaching Moments This Season With Such A Young Team.

In many respects, the Wildcats and Red Storm are similar teams. Both are led by hotshot recruiters trying to return the program they captain back to greatness. Both are oozing with young, inexperienced talent and potential. And both teams haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire with their play thus far this season. While St. John’s has played the 280th-strongest schedule through three games according to KenPom.com, Arizona has managed an eight-point win, a nine-point win, and a ten-point win against Duquesne, Valparaiso, and Ball State respectively — at least they’re improving, I guess.

What does this all mean? Well it means that we should have a very exciting and very interesting game on our hands tonight. It will be the first marquee matchup for a Big East team this season and it will give viewers an excellent idea of the direction this team is headed this season. Of course here on the Big East microsite, Arizona and their season is not our concern. We are looking at how St. John’s will be able to win this game, and it will essentially come down to four important factors.

1. St. John’s has to get off to a quick start and stay fresh

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Set Your TiVo: 11.17.11

Posted by bmulvihill on November 17th, 2011

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter.  See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Now that you have fully recovered from ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon, it’s time to jump into the first of the exotic preseason tournaments.  The Puerto Rico Tip-Off gets going today, along with the big boys’ rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  Let’s take a look at the action.

Maryland vs. #16 Alabama – 5:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (**)

JaMychal Green and Anthony Grant Lead Alabama into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off

  • Rarely do you see a team hit zero three-point shots and still win a game.  However, that is exactly what Maryland did in its first game of the season against UNC-Wilmington.  The Terps finished 0-9 from downtown, but managed to drain 58% of its twos.  Mark Turgeon’s squad is going to have a tough time hitting such a high percentage of shots inside the arc against Alabama’s vaunted defense.  While Terp forwards James Padgett and Ashton Pankey both scored in double figures in the opener, neither consistently demands enough attention to take scoring pressure off the guards.  Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin needs to have another big game in order for the Terrapins to have a chance.  If the Alabama defense can lock him up, there is not enough fire power elsewhere on Turgeon’s team to beat the Crimson Tide.
  • Alabama is all about defense.  They picked up right where they left off last year giving up only 0.8 points per possession through their first two games of the season.  However, senior forward JaMychal Green should not be overlooked as a big time offensive threat.  Green is averaging 18 points per game in only 25 minutes of action per night.  Coach Anthony Grant’s team needs to improve its shooting, though.  Alabama shot under 50% eFG in 20 of it’s 37 games last season and that trend is continuing again this season.  While they finished a remarkable 10-10 in those games because of a stellar defense, it’s very difficult for a team to have major success shooting under 50% eFG.  If the Tide is hitting more than half of its shots against Maryland, the game will not be close.
  • This game hinges on Maryland’s ability to create baskets in transition.  Maryland plays at a much faster pace than Alabama.  If they get locked down in a halfcourt match-up with the Crimson Tide defense, the Terps’ offense will bog down because they do not have enough weapons in the low post.  The team that dictates the pace and style of this game will ultimately win.

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Playing Catch-Up: How The Big East Has Fared To Date

Posted by mlemaire on November 16th, 2011

Since the Big East microsite was a little later to the 2011-12 season than some of its other brothers and sisters, let’s take a few moments to get caught up on where things stand heading into this year.  These 16 teams are listed in no particular order.

Syracuse: Projected preseason Big East co-champs (with Connecticut) by the coaches and currently ranked No. 5 in the country by the Associated Press, the Orange are talented, deep and 3-0 to start the year. They captured the coveted de-facto New York state title with easy wins over Fordham, Manhattan and Albany. Through those three games, ten players have logged at least 30 minutes of playing time.  The early stat leaders have been 6’7” senior forward Kris Joseph (16.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) who notched his 1000th career point against Manhattan, and 6’8” junior forward James Southerland (13.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG).  However it is likely individual numbers will not tell the story as the wealth will be spread around Syracuse’s vast depth.  You know the names.

  • Guards:  Scoop Jardine (senior), Brandon Triche (junior) Dion Waiters (sophomore) and Michael Carter-Williams (freshman)
  • Forwards: C.J. Fair (sophomore) and Rakeem Christmas (freshman)

All of the above along with a fit and productive sophomore center Fab Melo will keep Jim Boeheim and the air horn busy all year long.  

James Southerland Has Been Great So Far This Season

Louisville: The good news is that Louisville is 2-0 as they prepare for this weekend’s matchup against Butler. The bad news is the Cardinals are already thinner then when they started the season, having lost versatile role player Mike Marra for the season because of a knee injury suffered against Lamar. The team might be deep enough to absorb the loss of Marra, but they will be thin up front, especially if sophomore center Gorgui Dieng (7 RPG, 4.5 BPG) is continuously in foul trouble. As is often the case with Rick Pitino-coached teams, the Cardinals played suffocating defense in holding both Tennessee-Martin and Lamar below 30 percent from the field and that defense will keep Louisville competitive all season long. Freshman Chase Behanan (12 PPG, 12.5 RPG) looks the part of a double-double machine, but he will be in danger of wearing down if he consistently has to play more than 30 minutes per game.

Pittsburgh: Everybody knew that Pittsburgh would have one of the better starting lineups in the conference this season, but after two games, the jury is still out on how deep Jamie Dixon’s bench goes. Rider only dressed nine players on Saturday and Pittsburgh still needed to come behind in the second half to win. Ashton Gibbs (22.5 PPG) is going to shoot a lot and will be in contention for the conference’s scoring title. Tray Woodall (52.9 3PT%) seems to have drastically improved his shooting and will be dangerous offensive weapon, and Nasir Robinson and Dante Taylor help form a rugged and experienced frontcourt. But if the Panthers want to contend for the conference crown this season, a lot will depend on the development of roles players like Talib Zanna and freshmen Khem Birch, John Johnson, and Cameron Wright.

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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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Set Your TiVo: Opening Night

Posted by bmulvihill on November 7th, 2011

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter.  See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The 2011-12 college basketball season tips off with the regional rounds of the 2KSports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  We will not see a full slate of games until Friday but if you are starved for college hoops like we are, there are two games tonight that should whet your appetite.

William & Mary @ St. John’s – 7 pm EST on ESPNU (**) (RTC Live coverage begins at 6:45 pm)

Lavin's Ridiculously Young Team Tips Off the Season Tonight

  • With the exception of a few holdovers, St. John’s brings an entirely new squad into the 2011-12 season.  The Red Storm will rely heavily on freshman like Maurice Harkless, Dom Pointer, and D’Angelo Harrison.  Although young, SJU should be able to shoot on a William & Mary squad that allowed opponents to shoot an eFG of 50.1% last season.  It will take Steve Lavin’s team some time to jell over the coarse of the season, especially with three highly touted recruits being ruled ineligible for the fall semester.  However, this game may be a case where overall talent outduels experience.
  • William & Mary essentially brings back its entire 2010-11 team that went 10-22 overall.  Tony Shaver’s squad returns its two leading scorers, Quinn McDowell (15.5 PPG) and Brandon Britt (10.9 PPG).  Although a relatively solid shooting team last year (52.1% eFG), the Tribe struggles with scoring beyond those two players.  If W&M can get scoring from another player and continue to shoot the ball well, they may be able to keep it close on the road against an incredibly inexperienced St. John’s team.  However, if either of those two players gets into foul trouble or is cold from the floor, it will make for a challenging night for the Tribe.
  • This game probably will not be a defensive clinic.  William & Mary ranked 254th in the nation last year in adjusted defensive efficiency and a young team like St. John’s will probably take time to develop on that end.  If either team can create any turnovers at all, they will have a clear advantage. Unfortunately, only three teams in the country were worse than the Tribe last year at causing turnovers.  However, with many of the St. John’s players seeing their first action at the Division I level, turnovers should be expected.  Look for William & Mary to take advantage of SJU’s freshmen mistakes to keep this one close.  It will then come down to McDowell and Britt’s ability to convert points off turnovers.

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Analyzing the Top Ten Recruiting Classes of 2011

Posted by zhayes9 on October 7th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

In this era of one-and-done, where every touted freshman and blue-chip prospect must lace up the sneakers in college for at least a season, recruiting has never been more important.

As recently as a decade ago, programs were built, legacies were formed and trophies were hoisted on the basis of developing and grooming four-year players. In 2003, freshman Carmelo Anthony bucked that trend by carrying his Syracuse team to a national title. When David Stern instituted an age limit to participate professionally, impact players such as Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose may have only dipped their toes in the collegiate water, but the Final Four berths won’t soon be forgotten.

This upcoming season, college basketball hasn’t been gutted as dramatically as in the past. Assumed lottery picks passed on the immediate NBA riches whether in fears of a prolonged lockout or simply to accomplish goals left unmet. A plethora of battle-tested seniors also make their dramatic return. Despite this welcomed development, freshmen will still have their say in who grabs the four all-important #1 seeds and who ultimately graces the hardwood in Indianapolis next April.

Here are the ten teams primed to receive a substantial contribution from their talented newcomers this upcoming season:

1. Kentucky- Brandon Knight is the latest Calipari-coached freshman to bolt early for the pros. Luckily for Big Blue, their coach’s recruiting skills hasn’t eroded in the least bit. In pretty much any other freshman class in the country, Kyle Wiltjer would top the list; in Lexington, he’s easily the fourth-best rookie on the squad. The headliner is center Anthony Davis, the early favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.  The Chicago native reminds many scouts of a young Kevin Garnett with his tremendous versatility, remarkable athleticism and exceptional rebounding abilities. Formerly a lightly-recruited guard prior to a timely growth spurt, Davis is more than comfortable handling the ball around the perimeter. Taking over at point guard for Knight is Marquis Teague, a lightning-fast lead guard and the younger brother of former Wake Forest and current Hawks reserve Jeff Teague. Teague is a better fit for Calipari’s preferred dribble-drive motion offense than the ball-screen dependent Knight. The third potential freshman starter is St. Patrick’s own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gilchrist is an intense competitor and will be absolute joy for Calipari to coach. Witjer should prove a valuable backup big man with a refined perimeter game.

Anthony Davis/kentuckysportsradio.com

2. Duke- Losing your three most productive players – two face-of-the-program seniors and a point guard that just happened to be chosen #1 overall — would result in a multi-year rebuilding process at most schools. Most schools aren’t Duke, and the Blue Devils are once again expected to compete in the top ten. The biggest reason why is Austin Rivers. Easily the best scoring guard in the freshman ranks, Rivers is a legitimate threat to average 17-20 PPG during his first (and likely only) season in Durham. Rivers does possess the ability to create his own shot, but could struggle to get opportune looks until Seth Curry develops a comfort level at point guard. Oak Hill’s Quinn Cook is expected to compete for minutes at the point once he recovers from a knee injury. He appears destined to be Duke’s floor general of the future. Cook is a born leader that has one priority: to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. How deep Coach K opts to utilize his bench will determine the playing time of wings Michael Gbinije and Alex Murphy, along with the third Plumlee brother, Marshall Plumlee. All three will be regular contributors down the road. Once Murphy develops some strength, he could be the best of the lot as a scoring threat with sneaky athleticism.

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Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment

Posted by Josh Paunil on September 28th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Head coaches around the country are watching their top recruiting classes crumble before their eyes. Elite prospects are beginning to commit to big-name schools, initiating the domino affect across the college basketball recruiting world. Recruits are also speaking out on conference realignment and how it will affect their college decision. The first fall edition of Who’s Got Next? brings you this and more as we draw closer and closer to the fall signing period in November.

What They’re Saying

  • Wichita Heights head coach Joe Auer on senior Perry Ellis committing to Kansas: “He (Ellis) adores [Kansas assistant] coach [Danny] Manning, he watched how he handled the Morris twins. He was studious in watching how they developed.”
  • Senior shooting guard Archie Goodwin on committing to Kentucky: “He (head coach John Calipari) told me he wants me bad and I’m a top recruit for him. No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It’s got to start somewhere.”
  • Junior shooting guard Brannen Greene on conference realignment: “I don’t care what conference I play in, I’m more so looking at the program. I think it’s great for the ACC [though] and it’s a shocker. If UConn and Louisville were to join, it would be an amazingly competitive conference!”
  • Junior point guard Isaiah Lewis on conference realignment: “It matters in my recruitment a lot. Certain schools that are recruiting me may go to a conference that I don’t think fits my game. I’ve been hearing a lot, I’m hearing Kansas may go Big East, West Virginia is going to the SEC and UConn is going to the ACC.”
  • Junior small forward Troy Williams on conference realignment: “It doesn’t affect my recruitment, they’re all moving to better conferences to get players and play better teams.”
  • Junior power forward Chris Walker on setting his decision date: “After I commit, I’m hoping to get someone like [Class of 2013 guys]  [center] Nerlens Noel, [shooting guard] Brannen Greene, [guards] Andrew and Aaron Harrison, [power forward] Julius Randle, [point guard] Kasey Hill or [small forward] Jabari Parker to come with me.”
  • Sophomore stud Jahlil Okafor on his recruitment: “I’m a big fan of Kentucky, but I haven’t heard from them. I really like what Kentucky has to offer. They have a lot of history, and they have a track-record for getting players to the NBA, and that is my ultimate goal. They also have a great fan base and the entire state is high on basketball. Ohio State has been recruiting me pretty hard, but Arizona, Georgetown and Illinois are right in there too.”

What Alex Poythress Is Saying

  • On Kentucky: “Kentucky is a good school, I like their offense. Coach [John] Calipari is a good coach. He’s a pretty good guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around basketball a long time.”
  • On Vanderbilt: “Vandy has been recruiting me for a long time. I’m close with the coaching staff.”
  • On Memphis: “Memphis is a basketball city. I like how it’s a basketball city and they play up-tempo ball.”
  • On Florida: “Florida is a good school. Coach [Billy] Donovan is a good coach. I like how they use their wings.”
  • On Duke being dropped from his list: “Actually, they said they weren’t recruiting me anymore. They sent me an email saying they were going to back out of recruiting me so I said, ‘OK.'”

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Around The Blogosphere: July 25, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 25th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Moe Harkless cleared to play for St. John’s: “It looks like the first big eligibility hurdle for the Red Storm has been cleared. Zach Braziller reports on Twitter that sources tell the New York Post that Maurice Harkless is cleared to play for the Red Storm.” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • More details emerge in Bruce Pearl NCAA Scandal: An update on Pearl and the allegations against him. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • News on Garrett Green to Indiana: Some updates on the potential transfer. (Inside the Hall: His potential impact and Q & A)
  • Former UK Legends to Play Game vs. Dominican Republic in Rupp: “Calipari is organizing an exhibition game between former UK players and the Dominican Republic National Team on August 15th in Rupp Arena. Rosters have yet to be finalized.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
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Morning Five: 07.25.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2011

  1. Perhaps never in the history of modern college basketball has such an inconsequential player (to this point of his career) caused so much message board speculation over where he might ultimately land (Makhtar Ndiaye?).  Former Wake Forest center Tony Woods, he of the misdemeanor assault plea for pushing and kicking his girlfriend last year, will finally re-surface at Oregon after months of rumors and endless chatter that he would end up at Louisville, then Kentucky, then Texas.  The situation took a turn in favor of Dana Altman’s Duck program when it was discovered that Woods could be eligible to play in Eugene immediately because UO utilizes a quarter system, whereas the other schools are on a semester calendar.  This quirk will allow Woods to finish up his associate’s degree coursework prior to school beginning in September, making it so that he can begin practicing with the team in October and suit up for games again in early November.  Oregon certainly has the need, as last year’s best interior player, Joevon Catron, was a senior and has moved on.  If Woods can tap into some of the promise that made him a Top 50 recruit in the class of 2008, Oregon may move more quickly up the Pac-12 standings than expected next season.
  2. Speaking of the topic of eligibility, it appears that St. John’s recruit Maurice Harkless will in fact be eligible to play for Steve Lavin next season.  Late last week the NCAA cleared Harkless to play for the Johnnies as a result of an investigation to determine if he had played for current SJU director of basketball operations, Moe Hicks, during his prep AAU career.  Call it the package deal rule, but the NCAA has a regulation to avoid situations where schools hire AAU coaches to get to their elite players (see: Michael Beasley), and since Harkless had played for the New York Gauchos a couple of times, there was some question as to whether his association with Hicks (an administrator with the Gauchos) violated that rule.  The NCAA ultimately ruled that Hicks never actually coached Harkless, a fine-line distinction no doubt making Lavin a very happy man over the weekend.  Harkless is the type of elite recruit based in the NYC area that St. John’s must attract in order to get back to upper echelon of the Big East conference on an annual basis.
  3. Act One of the Bruce Pearl aftermath came to light on Friday in Knoxville, as the News-Sentinel reported that Tennessee has imposed a two-year probation on itself as a result of NCAA wrongdoing under Pearl’s (and former football coach, Lane Kiffin’s) direction.  Here’s the key statement: UT believes that “the penalties imposed during the course of its investigation, coupled with its corrective measures, adequately address the violations that occurred.”  As such, the school’s “probation” levies only a very minor restriction on new head coach Cuonzo Martin’s program, removing an ability to feed players occasionally through off-campus meals.  Arguing that all of the principal bad actors have since been removed from the program, the school clearly believes that it has suffered enough as a result of the Pearl fiasco.  Of course, the NCAA Committee on Infractions has the final ruling on this, and we have to believe that UT basketball will lose more than the occasional pizza party when the ruling finally comes to pass in the next several weeks.
  4. Well, this is certainly interesting.  Over the weekend, Connecticut confirmed (and then denied) that it is in the process of negotiating a deal to oust current athletic director Jeff Hathaway from his position.  Normally, we may not have much of an interest in this administrative decision or non-decision, but according to UConn insiders, the departure of Hathaway may be just the thing to inspire three-time national champion Jim Calhoun to give another year (or two, or three) a shot.  The other intriguing angle to this power play against someone who presided over the basketball team’s latest national title and the football team’s bid to the Orange Bowl is that the Hathaway is scheduled to take over as the Selection Committee’s chairman next season.  This of course begs the question as to whether he might remain in that role if he is no longer affiliated with a Division I school.  Keep an eye on the UConn Blog for the latest on this story.
  5. It’s not very often that the mother of the nation’s top-rated recruit openly questions why a school she likes isn’t recruiting her son, and even less so when that school is a rather pedestrian mid-major, but that appears to be the case with respect to Class of 2012 superstar Shabazz Mohammed and his mom’s alma mater, Long Beach State.  Faye Mohammed starred in track and basketball at LBSU in the mid-1980s, but to hear her tell it, she “would have liked to see [head coach Dan Monson] come in and get involved and see what happened with that.”  Admittedly, the former Gonzaga and Minnesota coach would likely have faced a losing battle going up against schools like Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA and UNLV (his official list), but don’t you at least make a few calls and hope for a hail mary?  After all, other than that school over in Westwood, Long Beach is the only other local school.
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