RTC Summer Updates: Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 11th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our Big East update comes from frequent RTC contributor Brian Otskey, co-author of Get to the Point.

Readers’ Take

Summer Storylines

  • Connecticut Revels In National Championship Glory: Connecticut’s storybook year continued on into the offseason as the Huskies were invited to the White House for an event with President Obama on May 16. The team presented the president with a #1 UConn jersey and posed for photographs after being lauded for their remarkable accomplishment. Connecticut made one of the most improbable runs ever en route to the third national championship in school history, all coming since 1999, going 23-0 outside of Big East regular season play. Nobody could have predicted the way last season unfolded and the NCAA Tournament as a whole was a microcosm of that. Connecticut’s national title made up for a lackluster performance by many of the record 11 Big East teams participating in the tournament. Only one other Big East team (Marquette) managed to make it to the second weekend’s Sweet 16. Life without Kemba Walker has begun in Storrs and while the Huskies will be among the 2011-12 Big East favorites, it’ll be very interesting to see who steps up and how the team performs without its warrior. Jeremy Lamb appears to be ready to take over but the way Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi handle their larger roles will be the difference between a team contending for a Big East title and one that finishes fourth or fifth.

Kemba & Co. Celebrated in Style (H-C/B.Hansen)

  • The Ed Cooley Era Begins In Friartown: After Keno Davis stumbled to an 18-36 Big East record over three seasons in Providence, the Friars desperately needed someone to revive their moribund program. Providence has made only two NCAA Tournaments since its 1997 appearance and the last one was eight seasons ago in 2003-04. Enter Ed Cooley, a Providence-born 41-year-old with the fire in his belly needed to succeed in arguably the toughest job in the Big East Conference. Cooley will instill a system of discipline and fundamentals with a special attention to defense, three attributes of successful programs that were sorely lacking under Davis. Cooley’s Fairfield team ranked #22 in the nation in defensive efficiency last season and he improved the Stags’ record each and every year he was there. Providence, a small Catholic school with hardly any recruiting base along with limited facilities and resources, is an incredibly difficult job even before you have to go up against bigger schools like Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh along with tradition-rich programs such as Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette. Cooley must spend his first season laying the foundation for longer term success. He won’t turn this program around overnight but more discipline on and off the court and hard work on the recruiting trail can turn Providence into a solid Big East competitor. We can’t think of many people better suited than Cooley to get the job done at Providence. While it will be a long and difficult process, brighter days are ahead for the Providence program with Ed Cooley at the helm.
  • Signs Of Life In The New York Area: New coach Steve Lavin and St. John’s brought the buzz back to the Big Apple last winter as the Red Storm earned its first NCAA bid in nine seasons. “Lavinwood” has moved east, but St. John’s now enters a year full of mixed feelings. Cautious optimism as well as uncertainty rules the day with nine new faces, part of the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class, making their way to Queens in 2011-12. Malik Stith is the only returnee of note after Dwayne Polee, II, decided to transfer closer to home at San Diego State. St. John’s may be the most unpredictable team in the Big East entering this season. The potential exists for a terrific year if Lavin can mold all this raw talent into a cohesive unit capable of playing with any team in the conference. However, issues with young players, commonly involving playing time and egos, are also very possible and it takes only one incident to destroy the locker room and wreck the season. The Johnnies have enough talent to make the NCAA Tournament again, but Lavin will have to totally adjust his approach to make that happen. With hardly any experience on the roster, he can’t simply roll the ball out and hope for the best. This season will be the biggest test of Lavin’s coaching career on the court, but he faced an even more difficult challenge last year, coaching the entire season with prostate cancer while keeping it a secret until this spring. Turning St. John’s around with that constantly in the back of his mind is an a commendable achievement and we obviously wish Coach Lavin the best of luck fighting this awful disease.
  • Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Mike Rice and Rutgers appear to be building a program to be reckoned with down the road. The Scarlet Knights have been a dormant program for 20 years, never once enjoying a winning season in any of its 16 years as a Big East member. That may be about to change, although it appears unlikely that Rutgers will crack the .500 mark in league play this season. The fiery Rice reeled in a top 25 recruiting class and now must build on a season of close calls and what-ifs. Rutgers was competitive last year, but could only manage five Big East victories. It’ll take time for the new players to adjust to the collegiate level but bigger and better things should be expected from Rutgers in the years to come. Rutgers, a large state school, has the capability of becoming a pretty good program. All it needs is a commitment from the administration, facility upgrades and great recruiting. Rice is taking care of the latter, now it’s time for the Rutgers brass to provide him with the resources needed to build a top flight program. Rutgers needs major facility upgrades (a RAC renovation has been talked about for over a year), but fundraising has been a major problem. With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie trying to get the state’s financial house in order, there is going to be a lot of resistance to an ambitious project such as this one at the state’s flagship university.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Illegal Benefits, Kentucky Spotlight, Shabazz Muhammad and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 27th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-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. Twice 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 in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Well, if you haven’t learned yet after the Kevin Ware situation or the Tony Wroten, Jr., drama, the world of college basketball recruiting is nothing without another scandal to fill headlines. It’s also nothing without a big-time commitment happening soon after a de-commitment and the recruiting world certainly can’t live without more news about top five prospects and the rippling affect of other commitments. If you haven’t been able to tell yet, a lot happened in just the past few days in the recruiting world… and we haven’t even started previewing one of the most significant AAU events that will happen all summer.

What They’re Saying

Rodney Purvis tweeted about Ryan Harrow's transfer.

  • Junior Rodney Purvis (#6) on Ryan Harrow’s transfer to Kentucky: “Harrow’s decision doesn’t change my outlook on UK at all. Unless coach tells me otherwise!”
  • Junior Kyle Anderson (#22) on Harrow transferring to the Wildcats: “Ryan Harrow not going to St. John’s keeps them on my list.”
  • Mauricio Ducuara, the head of a basketball foundation in Bogotá, on Hanner Mosquera-Perea (#23) receiving illegal benefits: “People with whom I have spoken said he has received lots of gifts [and] things. If you knew how Hanner grew up the people don’t even have shoes. Hanner came home at Christmas with iPods, iPhones, [Bose] headphones digital cameras. Things that for a kid are impossible.”
  • Baylor assistant coach Mark Morefield : “I guarantee u if he (Perea) does [commit to another school] he will be in Colombia for the spring and summer and next year. Don’t forget it.”
  • Junior Justin Anderson (#45) on why he committed to Virginia: “The Cavaliers were always my second choice behind Maryland. Also, my family lives in Virginia. After the departure of Coach [Gary] Williams and Coach [Robert] Ehsan, it just feels like the right fit.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on other top prospects’ effect on his recruitment: “My friends that are top players are: Rasheed Sulaimon; Shabazz Muhammad; Isaiah AustinRicardo Ledo… [and] Rodney Purvis. When it comes to colleges, we’ll talk about what the coaches told us and see if anything was said different by each other. We’ll compare them that way, but I don’t think it’ll make us decide then and there what we’re gonna do with that school.”
  • Omar Calhoun Sr., junior Omar Calhoun Jr.’s father, on Jim Calhoun potentially retiring: “We believe in UConn and it’s still going to be UConn. We still feel like Coach Calhoun is still going to have a major part still in the development in the program even if he’s not the head coach.”
  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on the current state of his recruitment: “I don’t have a list, it’s not down to four, I am wide open.”
  • Sophomore Isaiah Lewis on Kentucky and his list: “I really like Kentucky a lot. I think I can play at UK under Coach [John] Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff. I think they can do a great job of coaching me up and getting me to the next level; but I also like other schools, like UConn, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, Florida and Florida State right now.”

What Shabazz Muhammad is Saying

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 05.27.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 27th, 2011

  1. Greg Paulus started for three years at Duke, played a year of quarterback at Syracuse, was an assistant coach at Navy last season, and already has landed his fourth gig. Thad Matta hired Paulus as Ohio State’s new video coordinator yesterday, which makes that Big Ten-ACC matchup that has the Blue Devils traveling to Columbus next season all the more interesting. Wonder if Coach Matta will be hitting up Greg for a little insider breakdown of Duke game film ahead of that little get-together?
  2. Props to the PROP! And by that we mean the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Yesterday they approved the addition of an arc to be drawn on the floor three feet out from the basket inside of which a charge will not be called on an offensive player. There are also now two categorizations of certain types of hard fouls. Flagrant 1 means an intentional foul, and Flagrant 2 signifies a flagrant foul. As for the arc, we’re glad they added it, but are we to assume it theoretically extends to the baseline as well? And if so, why not just draw it? Guarantee you that will come up in at least one big game before New Year’s. And what’s the official name? The “three-foot arc?” We think that’s the best (and only real) option.
  3. A few weeks ago we posted an article about how researchers at the University of Washington found that Division I men’s basketball players had a greatly higher incidence of sudden cardiac arrest compared with college athletes in any division or any other sport, a fact that speaks to the necessity of pre-participation screening as well as availability of automatic defibrillators in gyms/arenas. Next month, researchers from several sites in Kansas will publish a study on student-athletes they screened (though it doesn’t look like any of them were college basketball players) that resulted in the same recommendation. We haven’t got our hands on their data yet, but we hope solid research and public outcry both continue to force schools’ hands on this.
  4. Mac Engel writes a sports blog for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Yesterday he published a conversation he recently had with Louisville head honcho Rick Pitino about how schools like TCU joining the Big East adds value to both Louisville and TCU, explaining to Engel that, “When I came to Louisville we were a top 10 program. In terms of value according to Forbes, there is only one basketball program among the top 50 money-making athletic programs in the country that is basketball. The rest are all football. We’re the one.” That’s not exactly true. That would mean U of L is the nation’s most valuable college hoops program, and, according to Forbes (which Pitino cited), the value list has gone 1) North Carolina, 2) Kentucky, and 3) Louisville for the last three years. Louisville has been the most profitable team in several Forbes surveys, but UNC recently took that distinction as well.
  5. St. John’s would love to tell NCAA bylaw 11.4.2 where to stick it. It’s been a tough week for Steve Lavin and that particular provision; first, Arizona transfer Lamont “MoMo” Jones was prohibited from transferring to SJU because of that rule. Yesterday it was revealed that incoming big-time recruit Maurice Harkless might not be able to play there, either, because of the same rule. Harkless played a little AAU ball with the New York Gauchos, a team that employs St. John’s Director of Basketball Operations Moe Hicks as an administrator. Rule 11.4.2 says a school that employs someone associated with a prospective player “in any athletics department noncoaching staff position” can’t recruit that player for two years. Still, St. John’s is optimistic they’ll be able to smooth this over and welcome Harkless in the fall.
Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.27.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 27th, 2010

After a prolonged absence from the summer circuit it appears like Sonny Vaccaro, who was once quiet possibly the most powerful man in AAU basketball, is making his triumphant return. As Gary Parrish notes, Vaccaro should make things more interesting.

  • It’s already almost a week old, but ESPN released its team recruiting rankings and you will be shocked to see who is #1.
  • Arizona was able to land some big names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson over the past few weeks, but as we pointed out last week their haul would be coming to an end soon due to the Lute Olson-era sanctions against the program. Now we see the results as Sean Miller has told super recruit LeBryan Nash that there isn’t any room for him in Tucson.
LeBryan isn’t welcome in Arizona
  • Speaking of the Wildcats, last week we mentioned the refreshing case of Norvel Pelle who was just starting to do in-house visits, but now Pelle has moved ahead to planning official visits as he recently expressed interest in St John’s, UTEP, UConn, and “the whole PAC 10 except Arizona according to a phone interview with Adam Zagoria, although Pelle has not committed to any official visits yet.
  • In yet another reaction to Arizona’s filling its scholarships already . . . Quinn Cook, who had been high on Arizona before Turner’s surprise commitment, is now considering Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Villanova, and UNC. In a rather unsurprising surprising comment, Steve Smith, his new coach at Oak Hill, says Cook is “comparable” to Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson, Marcus Williams (hopefully leaving the laptops out of it), and Brandon Jennings who all played at Oak Hill. Cook is a talented prospect, but outside of Williams I think Smith might be stretching the truth a bit. To be fair, I can say my paycheck is comparable to John Paulson’s paycheck, but Paulson made way more than I did (at least before the RTC royalty checks get processed).
  • Last week we noted that Austin Rivers had taken Florida off his list of potential schools and now it seems like he has set dates for his official visits: UNC (October 1st), Duke (October 15th), and Kansas (October 22nd). You can guess that the basketball coaches will be especially interested in the football team’s performances those weekends against East Carolina (could be challenging for the depleted Tar Heels), Miami (this one could be ugly), and Texas A&M (depends on the week for the inconsistent Jayhawks).
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

UConn Responds To NCAA Allegations

Posted by nvr1983 on September 7th, 2010

After months of waiting for UConn to respond the NCAA’s allegations of eight infractions against the Huskies that were filed in May, UConn finally delivered its report to the NCAA today. Unfortunately, none of us will have a chance to see what UConn’s administration and bevy of defense attorneys could come up with for quite a while (assuming that our readers don’t work for the NCAA). The charges, based on a NCAA investigation stemming from an outstanding piece of investigative journalism by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports about the recruitment of guard Nate Miles (who played an uninspiring 16 minutes as a Husky), include making hundreds of illegal phone calls and text messages (Kelvin Sampson alert!), giving recruits improper benefits including free tickets, and the failure of Jim Calhoun to ensure compliance within the program. Although we will probably have to wait quite a while for the NCAA to deliver its punishment, some experts are expecting the NCAA to come down hard on the Huskies particularly in light of how hard they came down on USC (the NCAA’s college football cash cow). Under Connecticut state law, UConn has ten days to respond to a request from the Associated Press open records request of a summary of the report and some sources within the UConn administration have suggested that they will likely wait until next week to release that information. According to UConn spokesman Kyle Muncy, the report, which takes up “several three-ring binders,” provided to the NCAA will have to be scrubbed of names and other information covered under state and federal privacy laws before it can be released to the public.

What we will be reading through this fall

As of right now the only heads to have rolled are Beau Archibald, head of basketball operations, and Patrick Sellars, an assistant coach. According to reports, Archibald, Sellars and Calhoun are expected to provide their own individualized responses to the NCAA’s allegations. For the time being the most immediate impact on the UConn program will be their continued difficulty attracting top recruits with a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the program. The Huskies have already lost Maurice Harkless, a 2011 recruit who previously committed to UConn before pulling out and committing to St. John’s, and have lost Ater Majok, who has decided to pursue a pro basketball career in Australia, in a move that some of pointed to as an ominous sign of things to come for the program.

Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.06.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 6th, 2010

After a week off due to some outside issues we are back with a lot of links that should keep you satiated while waiting for college football to come to its anti-climatic finish and the nation can turn its full attention to college basketball.

Share this story

Morning Five: 09.01.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 1st, 2010

  1. Obviously, the big news of yesterday was BYU’s decision to join the WCC in basketball (and all other sports except football).  It makes sense on a number of levels (religious school, kill the WAC, etc.), but we have to admit that you typically don’t see a school ‘trade down’ in relative strength like this.  But the lure of football independence was just too much for the Cougars to resist, and although we’ll miss BYU in the Mountain West, we’re excited to see if the addition of the LDS school will help bring the WCC to the top of the mid-major heap in hoops.  Our Mountain West and WCC correspondents examined both sides of the move, while Jeff Goodman caught up with the person currently residing in the WCC most impacted by BYU’s entry, Gonzaga’s Mark Few.
  2. Former Duke all-american point guard Bobby Hurley is doing his best to contribute to the collective schadenfreude that the nation feels when members of Coach K’s first two championship teams lose their shirts.  Not long ago we learned that two starters on the 1991 and 1992 title teams, Christian Laettner and Brian Davis, were facing massive debt problems as a result of their failed company, Blue Devil Ventures.  This week Hurley’s horse farm, named Devil Eleven Farm and located in Ocala, Florida, was foreclosed upon after he stopped making payments on the 140-acre property in the spring of 2009.  Clearly both of these situations likely have something to do with the nationwide recession that began in late 2007, but we know some Kentucky and UNC fans somewhere out there who are very much enjoying this news.
  3. Ex-Michigan State star and 1979 national champion Jay Vincent was arraigned yesterday on charges of defrauding investors of $2 million in an internet scam that convinced people to pay him to become home inspectors, where he pleaded not guilty.  Court records, however, show that a plea bargain may already be in the works.  He has until the end of the month to change his plea.
  4. High School Hoop profiles one of the most well-known but not really behind-the-scenes players in the collegiate game: Worldwide Wes.  There’s not a lot of new information here, but it’s interesting to hear some of the top recruits in the class of 2011 talk about the influence (or lack thereof) of WWW on their recruitments.
  5. St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin was a strong recruiter during his time at UCLA in the late 90s and early 2000s, as he put ten players into the NBA Draft during his seven years in Westwood.  So it should come as no surprise that he’s hit the ground running by earning a commitment from his first big name at SJUMaurice Harkless, a 6’7 forward from Queens who originally committed to UConn but later re-opened his commitment, could be a transformative recruit for Lavin’s new program.  If city kids start considering the Johnnies as a viable destination along with the standard regional powers such as UConn, Syracuse, Villanova and a few others, suddenly New York City might have its own college team again.
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2010

  1. Minnesota received good news yesterday when much-maligned forward Trevor Mbakwe finally reached a conclusion in his assault case that will allow him to suit up for the Gophers after over a year in limbo.  He will enter a pre-trial intervention program that will wipe the slate clean so long as he performs 100 hours of community service and pays a $100 fine.  With several solid contributors returning to Minny along with the addition of Mbakwe, Tubby Smith’s team suddenly looks a little better than they did a few days ago in the stacked Big Ten.
  2. Florida, Mississippi State, Dayton, Illinois and Penn State.  What do theses five schools have in common?  Andy Glockner believes that each is ready to make a substantial leap in their luck next season.  He’s not being facetious either.  In using the Pomeroy definition of “luck,” a calculation that measures whether a team is playing above or below its statistical expectations, he finds that the above five teams should show a bump this season if for no other reason than they were fairly unlucky last year.
  3. Mike DeCourcy gives us his five prospects coming out of the July recruiting period who most helped themselves.  Two New Englanders, Maurice Harkless and Naadir Tharpe, were among his list.
  4. An NCAA proposal would require incoming NCAA freshmen to essentially prove their academic worthiness through summer school prior to their first season if their academic credentials were found lacking.  Upperclassmen would also have their academic records reviewed at the end of each school year and determine whether summer classes were needed; if they were, coaches could use part of the players’ summer terms for strength/conditioning and some skill development.  How long until every coach figures out that all of his players (including the 3.0 students) miraculously require the additional summer classwork?
  5. ESPN analyst and former Duke superstar Jay (don’t call me Jason) Williams recently showed that he still has some game, especially the kind suited for summertime street ball.  He played so well at  Dyckman in NYC recently that he earned a new nickname: the Bourne Supremacy.  We’re very anxious to see what the other ESPN analysts and commentators will do with that next season.
Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 08.02.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 2nd, 2010

It was a relatively quiet week for recruiting after the crazy week last week in Las Vegas, but we should start to get more news over the next few weeks as recruits start narrowing down their list or even committing to schools.

  • Austin Rivers got the headlines in Orlando this week, but we hope that everyone paid attention to a solid performance from Trevor Lacey, who had 22 points to Rivers’ 24 points, as they combined to lead their team to victory. The game was supposed to be a showdown between Rivers and Michael Gilchrist that was scrapped when Gilchrist’s mom shut him down for the summer, but there was still plenty of star power as Rivers and Lacey knocked off Ben McLemore and Bradley Beal.
  • Speaking of Rivers…by now you have probably already read it, but for those of you who haven’t, FanHouse has a pretty lengthy profile on Rivers, his dad’s influence on his game, and the schools he is looking at.
  • It seems like a weekly thing now, but we have another update for Anthony Davis. The talented power forward has apparently expanded his list to include DePaul. Even though that is his hometown team I’m sure the Illinois faithful are wondering why Bruce Weber can’t elicit any interest from an in-state recruit like Davis.
  • Maurice Harkless is starting to turn some heads especially after his solid performance at the Fab 48 and after beating out a number of big names for MVP honors at the Desert Duel. Harkless, who had previously committed to UConn, will be releasing his list later this month and if the names of the coaches watching him this summer are any indication the list should be full of big names.
  • Dayton received a commitment from Percy Gibson, a 6’8 big man from Detroit who the Flyers reportedly had as their #1 big man target. [Ed. Note: Does a school ever pick up a player who wasn’t their #1 target?]
  • Meanwhile, Rutgers added its own big man in Derrick Randall, who has stated that he will try to bring his AAU point guard (and St. Anthony’s recruit) Myles Mack with him.
  • With so few highly rated big men in this year’s class, every solid interior player is drawing a lot of interest and Johnny O’Bryant is no exception, as he is drawing interest from big names like Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville.
  • Nick Kerr, son of former NBA sharpshooter Steve Kerr, won’t be following in his father’s footsteps at Arizona, opting to stay in California (where the family resides now) and committing to play at San Diego. Like his father, Nick possesses a sweet jump shot (41% from 3-point range and 85% from the free throw line as a junior) and has not been heavily recruited out of high school.
  • Although this isn’t what you normally think about when you consider recruiting, Andy Glockner brings us an analysis of incoming transfers who are basically new recruits. Teams are unlikely to get game-changers like a star freshman, but some of these transfers could give their teams just the little bit extra they need to get over the hump whether it is into the NCAA Tournament, into the Sweet 16, or cutting down the nets in San Antonio in April.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Recruiting Rumor Mill: 07.26.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 26th, 2010

This week’s action was mostly centered around Las Vegas (and we will certainly talk about Vegas), but there as always there was news from across the rest of the nation. Based on the way that these AAU tournaments run most of our “news” comes from tweets from courtside observers, but we do have a few articles sprinkled in here. If you have a hot recruiting tip or news that you want to share with us, e-mail us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story