Big 12 M5: 02.07.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 7th, 2013

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  1. Yes, Kansas did in fact lose to TCU last night, 62-55. Yes, the Jayhawks were held to 13 points in the first half. Many suspected Kansas’ 18-2 record may have been a bit of a fraud, but 13 points in the first half against TCU? Actually losing to TCU, a team that was winless in the Big 12, a team that had lost earlier in the year to SMU and Houston and Texas Tech? It just doesn’t make sense. The Jayhawks shot 29.5% (18-61) and were 3-22 from three-point range. They are losers of back-to-back games for the first time since 2006, ending a streak of 264 games without consecutive losses. In a span of six days, Kansas has dropped from a potential No. 1 overall seed and heavy Big 12 favorites into a tie for first place in the conference and a possible #2 seed. Losses to 200+ RPI teams are a killer for NCAA Tournament Resumes.
  2. Elijah Johnson was an easy case to study for the Lawrence-Journal World‘s Jesse Newell on Wednesday morning. As Newell points outs, Johnson is KU’s least efficient player this year and is the least efficient point guard Bill Self has had at Kansas. And that was before his 3-for-12 shooting night with three turnovers and one assist against TCU. Johnson is a two-guard playing the point out of necessity, but that will be nothing but a small footnote in Kansas history if he and his offense continue their slide into March.
  3. What a game between Baylor and Oklahoma State in Stillwater last night. After a pair of Pierre Jackson free throws sent the game to overtime, Cowboy forward Michael Cobbins blocked an A.J. Walton shot attempt with around five seconds to play. Markel Brown somehow managed to make it 90 feet to the other basket in that time and beat the clock with two-tenths of a second to spare, giving Oklahoma State the win and putting them in a tie for second place in the conference with Iowa State, both at 6-3. On a night that Kansas was supposed to get its mojo back in a glorified scrimmage in Fort Worth and Oklahoma State would possibly suffer a letdown after the rarest of rare wins in Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks suffered one of their worst losses in 20 years and the Cowboys solidified themselves as a top-25 team and Big 12 contender.
  4. When you rely as heavily on transfers as Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has, you’re bound to get burned every once in a while. Former USC Trojan guard Maurice Jones, who left Southern Cal in September, planned to sit out this semester and the fall semester before beginning his Cyclone career next spring. He was denied that opportunity, the Ames Tribune and an Iowa State spokesperson reported Wednesday. The article states that Jones left USC due to academic issues but Jones is quoted as saying it wasn’t his grades. He isn’t clear about the exact reason, however. But there’s always a reason a player transfers to another school. Whether it was his decision, the coach’s, or academics, it’s not rare to find situations like Jones’. It’s actually quite surprising Hoiberg has had as much success with the transfer route he decided to take early on.
  5. It’s true that at Illinois, Bruce Weber actually held a mock funeral for his predecessor, Bill Self. Weber seemed tired of the constant chatter about the former coach and wanted to put an end to the Self era. It backfired, for the most part. Weber struggled after Self’s players left Champagne and he was fired after last season. But nearly a decade later and once again having success with another coach’s team, Weber isn’t running from the previous coach’s shadow. “I’ve given praise to Frank Martin because he created here a culture of toughness and defense and we’ve kind of carried it over, but he started it,” Weber told Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal leading up to Tuesday’s win over Texas Tech. The Wildcats are now tied for first place in the Big 12 with Kansas and face the Jayhawks on Monday night in Lawrence.
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Morning Five: 02.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 7th, 2013

morning5

  1. Most of the nation was focused on football recruits during National Signing Day yesterday, but Iowa State may have been the biggest loser yesterday in terms of its recruiting when the NCAA denied the school’s appeal to make Maurice Jones eligible for the 2013-14 season. Jones, who averaged 13 points, 3.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore at USC before transferring to Iowa State, was not academically eligible to play when he left USC last September and apparently did not improve his grades enough in time for the NCAA to lift his ineligibility. The Cyclones had hoped to have Jones be eligible in time for the second half of next season, but with Jones having to sit out next season too we wonder if he will take a different route including going to a junior college and if Jones isn’t in Ames we would assume his recruitment would open up again.
  2. We have been talking about the Ed O’Bannon case for a few years on this site, but it seems like the mainstream media is just starting to get a sense of how big this case could be for (or actually against) the NCAA. The latest addition is Charles Pierce, who points out how big of a deal profit-sharing could be for student-athletes and the member institutions. We won’t try to argue that it would not be at the very least a very significant symbolic change we do wonder how the member institutions will try to fudge the numbers in an attempt to give the athletes as small an amount of money as possible. Perhaps all of this talk about major athletic departments struggling financially is just setting the stage for schools to say they cannot afford to pay student-athletes significant sums of money.
  3. One of the great things about Luke Winn’s weekly Power Ranking column is his versatility in pulling out interesting statistics to analyze and present the best teams in college basketball. While Winn has a few crutches like his reliable Aaron Craft Turnometer he usually presents a new statistic to analyze for each team each week. The stat that jumped out at us this week was Florida‘s (possible over-)reliance on three-point shooting. While such high volume three-point shooting makes a team extremely dangerous it also makes them vulnerable to early exits when they go cold from the field (live by the three…).
  4. For years Dick Vitale has talked about how he tried to recruit Magic Johnson to play for him while he was still a college coach at Detroit and if Magic had joined him he might still be coaching. Well Vitale is getting his wish (sort of) as Magic will be paired with Vitale (and Mike Tirico) on February 19 when Indiana plays at Michigan State. While Magic has served in virtually every role imaginable in basketball this game will be his first as a college basketball analyst. We just hope that both Magic and Vitale are able to control themselves to let the players (and not the announcers) become the focus for those of us watching at home.
  5. We are still trying to figure out what exactly happened with the Hamline incident that left one of the team’s players facing a second-degree assault charge and its coach suspended. Yesterday that coach, Nelson Whitmore, left the school in what has been described as a “mutual agreement”. All we know about the case is what reportedly happened between the victim and the Hamline basketball player. What we don’t know is what Whitmore did to merit such a severe sanction as the school said his actions did not violate any NCAA rules. Even though we are never happy to see somebody leave his or her job we are happy to see a school own a problem like this even if we wish this entire episode had never happened.
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Oregon Basketball and The Season of New: Giving Thanks and Getting Transfers

Posted by Rockne Roll on November 27th, 2012

Welcome to Oregon Basketball and The Season of New, a weekly Pac-12 microsite column from Rockne Roll (@raroll). His column will focus on the various issues facing college basketball through the prism of the Oregon Ducks, a program ostensibly on the rise with top-notch facilities and coaching but still subject to many of the same problems suffered by many of the other high-major programs around the country.

Thanksgiving is a time to take a step back from the grind and routine of life and appreciate that which we often take for granted. Family, friends, employment, even simple things like food and shelter are worth thinking of on days like this in times like these, not to mention the opportunity we get to experience and chronicle something as exciting and beautiful as college basketball. In wet and soggy Eugene, Oregon, the Ducks have someone and something to be thankful for, too, as they wind through their early non-conference schedule. Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred from Rice just before the start of the season, put on an Oregon uniform for the first time just a day after his waiver request was approved by the NCAA.

Arsalan Kazemi starts off his second game as a Duck with a dunk against Jacksonville State. (Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll)

Once a rarity, the upper-class transfer has become as big of a part of the college basketball landscape as the one-and-done. According to CBS Sports, more than 400 Division I basketball players have transferred schools this year, and ESPN cites an NCAA report saying that 40 percent of all college freshman basketball players will eventually change schools.  Some of these players are taking advantage of the graduate transfer rule, some are exiting Division I to one of the lower tiers of college hoops, and some are either planning to sit out a year or hoping to receive the gift of a hardship waiver from the NCAA, relieving them and their new teams from the burden of an academic year in residence.

The process by which the NCAA approves and denies these requests is a mystery even to those who follow college ball religiously. Earlier this month, the NCAA published new guidelines on its granting of waivers for players who are changing schools to move closer to ailing family members, clearing up some nagging issues but making some language even more confusing. Currently, ESPN reports that about half of the waiver requests made in the last five years have been approved, a figure that is expected to rise under the new regulations.

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Morning Five: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2012

  1. The AP on Monday released its All-America squad and there were no surprises with this year’s group. Indiana’s Cody Zeller received all but one vote (64) for the first team (queue the Gary Parrish outrage article), while mid-major stalwarts Doug McDermott (62), Isaiah Canaan (43) and CJ McCollum (16) joined fellow Big Ten stars DeShaun Thomas (26) and Trey Burke (16) on the squad. There are six players on this year’s team because McCollum and Burke tied for the last spot — not because the AP has, like many conferences, forgotten how to count. Keep this and all preseason All-America lists in the proper context, though — of the five players chosen to last year’s preseason team, only Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger ended up on both the preseason and postseason first team. Three others — Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, UNC’s Harrison Barnes, and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor — finished as Honorable Mention postseason winners, while Kentucky’s Terrence Jones didn’t even earn that distinction. The two season-long NPOY candidates from last year — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — were among the others receiving votes in last year’s preseason list. Caveat emptor.
  2. Tis the season for preseason rankings, selections, lists, and all sorts of fun but ultimately meaningless analysis. Still, until the first games tip off just over 10 days from now, this is all we’ve got. Basketball ProspectusDan Hanner has produced his preseason analysis of all 345 Division I teams, and as he notes, some of the results of his model may well surprise you. For example, the model loves UCLA and all of its incoming talent but isn’t nearly as high on Louisville and all of its returning talent. It seems to think that the Big 12 conference race is going to be one for the ages with eight teams at .500 or better, but it’s not buying into the hype that NC State is ready to overtake one of its rivals to win the ACC. If you’re a numbers geek who gets off on efficiency analytics, it will be interesting to do a cross-tabbed comparison between Hanner’s preseason rankings and the Ken Pomeroy preseason rankings which are due to release sometime later this week.
  3. For non-stat geeks, there’s always the controversial RPI, which despite its myriad shortcomings, remains the “organizational tool” of choice for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Building off of SI.com writer Luke Winn’s previous work examining several power conference schools gaming the RPI by playing (and beating) good mid-majors in the non-conference slate, TSN’s Ryan Fagan takes the next step and reviews a number of mid-major programs that have figured out the best way to prepare a team in terms of both the RPI and its corresponding mental toughness is to play those kinds of games, often on the road in places like Lawrence, Durham or Pittsburgh. He mentions that Davidson, Lehigh, Detroit, Belmont, UNC Asheville and Long Beach State (what else is new?) have all taken this tack with their non-conference scheduling this season. We’re certainly not complaining — these are some of the best games of the November and December months of the schedule.
  4. Iowa State’s transfer project keeps right on truckin’, with the weekend news that USC point guard Maurice Jones has matriculated there and will become eligible in the 2013-14 season. While Fred Hoiberg has picked up another talented piece for his backcourt — Jones did everything but serve fajitas to the fans in the Galen Center last year — there is a degree of oddness about his departure from the Trojan program. According to a September statement released by the school, Jones was declared academically ineligible at USC and would be forced to miss the season as a result. Jones disputes this characterization, stating unequivocally that he “just got suspended from the school for a year, but it wasn’t because of my grades. […] It was something that happened at the school. I can’t really say what it was, but it wasn’t my grades.” It would seem somewhat unusual for a school to suspend a player for a different reason while using academic issues as a cover story, so we’re not sure what exactly is going on with this one — what we do know is that Iowa State has picked up a talented waterbug of a player who should seamlessly move into a starting role to replace Korie Lucious (another transfer) next season.
  5. With Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky all populating the preseason top five lists, this is as good a time as any to make sure that you’re regularly reading the WDRB.com College Basketball Notebook from Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich. Based in Louisville, the duo is perfectly situated to report on many of the anecdotes, rumors and tidbits that come out of this basketball-crazed Fertile Crescent on a daily basis. In this week’s version, for example, Crawford and Bozich discuss the numerous suitors for Andrew Wiggins, Tom Crean’s threat to use his bench productively, Calipari’s naysaying about his latest batch of fabulous freshmen, and Pitino’s verbal merengue around his contract extension with the Cardinals. Trust us,  you’ll learn something new every time you stop by — make it part of you weekly reading.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.29.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 29th, 2012

  1. The beginning of the regular season is 11 days away, so that means exhibition season is starting to heat up. Oregon takes the court tonight against Concordia, a game that was originally scheduled for November 1 before the Pac-12 Media Day was announced for that day (all coaches have to attend Media Day, so the game was pushed up three days). While E.J. Singler will reportedly miss the game with tendinitis in his knees, the exhibition will be a good opportunity for Dana Altman and staff to see how the eight newcomers (or seven, with Arsalan Kazemi’s status for this season still up in the air as he hopes to be granted a hardship waiver) look in game action. The one most likely to make the biggest impact is Dominic Artis, a four-star recruit out of famed Findlay Prep. Although Jonathan Loyd is still on campus, Artis has the tools to be the next in line of dynamic smaller guards for the Ducks, following in the footsteps of Aaron Brooks and Tajuan Porter. In somewhat related exhibition news, Western Washington lost an exhibition at Duke by a score of 105-87. Remember, the defending Division II national champion Vikings made Washington sweat out an 88-78 decision in favor of the Huskies after the game was tied three times in the final 10 minutes. Not that the transitive property is ever accurate in sports, but if Washington won beat Western Washington by 10 and Duke won by 18… Also, the Blue Devils’ victory was much more of a rout, as the game was never closer than 11 points in the second half.
  2. After supposedly being suspended for academic reasons for the 2012-13 season, former USC Trojan Maurice Jones declared his intentions to transfer. Well, the diminutive guard has made his decision, announcing that he will be taking his talents to Ames to play for Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State Cyclones. According to the Ames Tribune, Jones will enroll at Iowa State for the spring semester and can suit up to play in a game for the Cyclones at the conclusion of the fall 2013 semester, which will be somewhere around mid-December, as a junior. Jones figures to be the second straight transfer to run point for the Cyclones, as former Michigan State Spartan Korie Lucious will quarterback the offense for his last year of eligibility in 2012-13. What is perhaps most interesting from the article, however, is that Jones claims he was not academically ineligible for the upcoming season, rather saying he was suspended from USC for a year for a matter unrelated to his grades. Since neither Jones nor the USC sports information department will comment on the real reason for his suspension at USC, it makes one wonder what actually happened there.
  3. Late last week, the NCAA released its annual report of graduation rates for all sports (you’ll have to fill in the appropriate drop-down menus to see the report on Pac-12 men’s basketball), and Stanford led the Pac-12 with a graduation success rate (GSR) of 91 percent, followed by Oregon (85 percent) and the Washington schools (both at 78 percent). Bringing up the rear was USC, which checked in with a GSR of 43 percent. Nothing too shocking from this report, as Stanford usually finds itself at or near the top of the conference list in GSR, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Oregon tie the Cardinal for the best federal graduation rate (90 percent) in the Pac-12. On the glass-half-empty side of things, it’s disconcerting to see California, a school with a great academic reputation, not duplicating that educational success with its athletes. The Golden Bears are tied for 10th with Oregon State with a GSR of 50 percent. With the figures based on entering classes from 2002 through 2005, this academic mediocrity largely didn’t happen under Mike Montgomery’s watch, so there is certainly potential for that percentage to shoot up over the next couple of years.
  4. Also a little bit of old news, but the preseason AP Top 25 Poll came out just after the Friday M5, and, like the USA Today Coaches Poll, it features two Pac-12 teams: Arizona at No. 12 (the Wildcats are ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll) and UCLA at No. 13. The “others receiving votes” list was a little less kind to the Pac-12, as Stanford only received two points, down from seven in the USA Today poll. With the conference coming off such a down year, having two teams ranked in the middle of both top 25 polls is as good as it was going to get for the Pac-12, but Stanford, Cal, Colorado, USC, and maybe even Washington might have a legitimate shot to get into the rankings at some point this year. And, if everything goes according to planned and all NCAA hurdles are cleared, the Pac-12’s two ranked teams just might be making a push for Atlanta in the spring.
  5. Lastly, UCLA unveiled its new statue of John Wooden in front of the new and improved Pauley Pavilion last Friday. The bronze statue of Wooden stands eight feet tall and weighs 400 pounds. As our Andrew Murawa wrote leading up to the statue unveiling, this should be a time to celebrate UCLA basketball with the renovation of Pauley Pavilion and a star-studded recruiting class coming to campus, even if two of the biggest pieces of that class still are not cleared by the NCAA. From a conference perspective, a strong and healthy UCLA only helps the Pac-12 and its perception around the country, making that Legends Classic in Brooklyn (where UCLA will face Georgetown and possibly preseason top-ranked Indiana) all the more important.
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Pac-12 M5: 10.17.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 17th, 2012

  1. For those who want to take a look at the NIT Champion Stanford basketball team, the Cardinal will be holding their own version of Midnight Madness this Friday. Titled “Friday Frenzy”, the night will feature a Cardinal-White scrimmage, an open women’s practice, and a dunk contest. The scrimmage will certainly be worth the price of free admission as the 2012-13 Cardinal looks to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. They have a potential all-conference backcourt in the duo of Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, and expect the post play to be much improved as Johnny Dawkins welcomes in Rosco Allen and Grant Verhoeven. The event should get Cardinal fans revved up for a big weekend of sports, as the football team will be playing in the Big Game a mere 18 hours later. Stanford will open up the exhibition season on November 4 against UNC Pembroke.
  2. After finishing 2011-12 with an awful 6-26 record, USC is a trendy pick for “team to surprise” this year in the Pac-12. Excitement took a bit of a hit last month when it was learned that junior guard Maurice Jones would have to sit out the year due to academics, but the return of Jio Fontan from injury will help out the backcourt. The revamped roster will feature five transfers, all of whom can contribute immediately. J.T. Terrell (Peninsula College) and Ari Stewart (Wake Forest), both of whom played together in Winston-Salem before ending up in Los Angeles, are expected to make the biggest impact. Throw in a pair of incoming freshmen in Strahinja Gavrilovic and Brendyn Taylor, junior center Dewayne Dedmon, and senior forward Aaron Fullerand Kevin O’Neill has a pretty nice 10-man rotation to play around with. And while finding valuable minutes for everyone might be tough early on, it will be a welcome challenge for a team that struggled with depth issues all of last season.
  3. Be sure to check all of your Twitter feeds this morning (or whatever you use to follow the decisions of 18-year-old kids), as the Contra Costa Times reported yesterday that Marcus Lee would be announcing his college choice at some point throughout the day. One of the top forwards in the nation, the Deer Valley High School (CA) prospect has narrowed his choices down to California and Kentucky. Lee was supposed to take a visit to Berkeley this weekend and take in the Big Game experience, but he has apparently come to a decision after taking in “Big Blue Madness” last Friday in Lexington.
  4. The guys over at Bruins Nation have put together an extensive look at both the best and worst case scenarios for the 2012-13 UCLA Bruins. On the best case side of things, “DCBruins” has Ben Howland’s bunch going 10-2 in non-conference action with losses to Georgetown and Missouri. The Bruins then go on to win the Pac-12 with a 15-3 record before making the Final Four. The worst case scenario doesn’t go over any specific games or records, but instead focuses on what the Bruin rotation will look like if Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson aren’t cleared to play.
  5. Speaking of Muhammad and Anderson’s eligibility, the Los Angeles Times covered that exact topic this morning. Bill Plaschke‘s column discusses how the team’s media day was monitored by the school’s vice-chancellor for legal affairs, and that the silence being put forth by the program is putting itself under a dark cloud. But as Plaschke states at the end, most everyone “would rather have UCLA chase those big stars and endure the NCAA microscope than settle for the mediocre acquisitions who never are noticed.” And even if recruiting classes like the one Howland brought in this season may label him as a “cheater,” he had no choice. It’s safe to say Howland’s job is on incredibly thin ice, and without guys like Jordan Adams, Tony Parker, Muhammad, and Anderson, Howland very well might not have survived the duration of the 2012-13 campaign. So even if the program is under a cloud now, it’ll be worth it in the long run that Howland brought these big names in.
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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.21.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 21st, 2012

  1. Coach Larry Krystowiak and Utah picked up a huge commitment this week as San Francisco City College combo guard Delon Wright verbally committed to the Utes. Wright got a sense of just how loud and exuberant Utah’s student section, The Muss, could be when he took a visit to Salt Lake City for last weekend’s Holy War. Krystowiak is certainly getting the guys in place to rebuild a dormant Utah program (four-star small forward Jordan Loveridge is the other big catch, who will be a freshman in 2012-13). Wright will arrive for the 2013-14 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining. He also drew interest from Gonzaga, Washington, Washington State, and St. Mary’s.
  2. Arsalan Kazemi, the man who entered Rice three seasons ago as the first ever native Iranian to play D-I basketball, was granted a transfer from the Owl program on Monday. The senior power forward told Sports Illustrated that Oregon and Kentucky were early leaders for his transfer options. Fall classes at Oregon don’t start until next Monday, September 24, making the Ducks a sensible option. Kazemi also told SI he intends to petition for a hardship waiver in order to play immediately, although he did not say on what grounds the waiver request would include. With the Ducks losing Olu Ashaolu, who emerged as a solid go-to guy in the post toward the end of last season, this would be a huge pick-up for Dana Altman. Kazemi is also in talks with Cincinnati, Texas, Florida, and Ohio State, and has denied that he might turn professional. He is the sixth player to leave Rice this offseason, with the other one of most note to Pac-12 fans being center Omar Oraby. Oraby transferred to USC last Thursday.
  3. Stanford got a pair of commitments from Las Vegas twins Malcolm and Marcus Allen earlier this week. Marcus, a shooting guard, seems more fit to garner early minutes as a freshman, but both definitely have talent at the one and two positions, respectively. Both brothers have been praised for their knack in scoring, making them perfect Johnny Dawkins prototypes. Perhaps even more impressive is the work they’ve done in the classroom, though, with both of them earning weighted 4.8 GPAs in their three years at Centennial High School. Both brothers will be eligible to play beginning in 2013-14.
  4. Stepping away from the recruiting and transfer news that dominates this time of year, Jeff Goodman has a terrific article on the “second chance kids” that will try to bring USC back to national relevance this season. Things got considerably tougher on Kevin O’Neill and company when star guard Maurice Jones announced he was transferring out of the program just a little over two weeks ago. Ruled academically ineligible 10 days before the announcement, Jones wouldn’t have played the 2012-13 season anyway. But it brought back more of the “what else can go wrong” feeling that haunted the Trojans all of last season. Even despite the loss of Jones, the Trojans figure to be much more competitive this year through the play of returnees and newcomers like Jio Fontan, J.T. Terrell, and Eric Wise.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week Drew took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Stanford over USC and Utah over BYU) to pull within just three games of me.  Things should get really interesting beginning this week now that Pac-12 play begins in earnest. We’ve got a battle of the basement up on the Palouse (Colorado-Washington State), the Drew-Connor rivalry (Oregon State-UCLA), an in-state rivalry featuring two teams coming off close losses (California-USC), and our game of the week, Arizona-Oregon. Utah and Arizona State will also play each other, but I couldn’t think of anything creative for that one. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (26-7) Drew’s Pick (23-10)
Oregon State at UCLA UCLA UCLA
Colorado at Washington State Washington State Washington State
California at USC USC USC
Utah at Arizona State Arizona State Utah
Arizona at Oregon Oregon 31-17 Oregon 40-28
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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.14.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 14th, 2012

  1. Class of 2013 power forward Aaron Gordon has narrowed his list of schools down to five, with Washington, Arizona and Oregon making the cut. Gordon had a home visit with the Wildcat coaching staff on Monday and Washington will take a home visit this coming Tuesday. Gordon will also take official visits to the schools, with Oregon’s on September 21, Washington on September 28, and Arizona on October 19. His tremendous athleticism and force inside makes him a player that will be ready to produce results immediately at whatever school he chooses. The Archbishop Mitty prospect is also considering Kansas and Kentucky.
  2. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson received a one-year contract extension Thursday, meaning Robinson will be in Corvallis through at least the 2016-17 season. While the decision may seem a little odd (Robinson has led the Beavers to no other postseason tournament than the CBI in his first four years), it is obvious athletic director Bob De Carolis wants to Robinson to have a public show of confidence and knows that the road back to national prominence is indeed a long and winding one. “Coach Robinson has done a remarkable job in building our men’s basketball program into something all of Beaver Nation can be proud of,” De Carolis said. “I’m thrilled to have him on our sidelines for many seasons to come, and to help him achieve the goals he has set for the program.” The key for Robinson to stay through that 2015-16 campaign will be developing the good recruits that he has produced year after year. He did that with guard Jared Cunningham, now playing with the Dallas Mavericks, but two huge prospects in forward/center Joe Burton and guard Roberto Nelson have unimpressed in their Oregon State careers. This is coach’s second extension in his tenure with Oregon State.
  3. Sean Miller continued his blistering recruiting pace on Thursday, landing five-star small forward Rondae Jefferson, the second piece in Arizona’s 2013 class. Jefferson is regarded as the #14 player in the class, according to ESPNU, and the third-best small forward in the class. The lefty is a lights-out athlete who excels on the break, hits the glass, handles well for his position and has a monster first step. His perimeter jumper remains lacking, but if he can dial that in, he’s a star in the making, capable of potentially stepping into that point forward role that Solomon Hill has manned in recent years. After landing three big men in the 2012 class, the Wildcats’ 2013 class looks to be adding pieces on the perimeter, as Jefferson joins Elliott Pitts – a 6’5” shooting guard out of De La Salle High School in northern California – in Miller’s third full recruiting class.
  4. The future of USC’s roster underwent a bit of a shakeup this week as, on the same day that news broke that Maurice Jones intends to transfer out of the program, Kevin O’Neill received a commitment from 7’2” Rice transfer Omar Oraby. Jones, last year’s leading scorer, was ruled academically ineligible back at the start of the month, but had initially been expected to return to the program in 2013-14. However, O’Neill confirmed to ESPN that Jones intends to transfer, although he is leaving the door open for a change of heart. As for the newcomer, Oraby, a junior from Egypt, was a solid, if under-utilized player for the Owls in 2011-12. In just over 10 minutes a game, he averaged six points and almost four rebounds, grabbing a quarter of his defensive rebound opportunities and nearly one in 10 offensive rebound opportunities, all while shooting better than 62% from the field and 71% from the charity stripe. USC will petition for immediate eligibility for the transfer, and if granted, Oraby could have a major impact right away for the Trojans.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week I took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Utah State over Utah and UCLA over Nebraska) to extend my lead. Neither of us correctly picked Oregon State to beat Wisconsin, however. So, as it is I’ve got as four-game lead heading into week three. Drew hopes to ride the Sun Devils, Cardinal, and Utes to get right back in the thick of things, while I played the more conservative approach. It’s another typical September week in the Pac-12, as we have a few games of intrigue (WSU-UNLV, Cal-tOSU, USC-Stan) and more than enough snoozers to cancel them out. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (18-5) Drew’s Pick (14-9)
Washington State at UNLV Washington State Washington State
California at Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
Tennessee Tech at Oregon Oregon Oregon
Portland State at Washington Washington Washington
Arizona State at Missouri Missouri Arizona State
USC at Stanford USC 35-24 Stanford 23-21
Colorado at Fresno State Fresno State Fresno State
BYU at Utah BYU Utah
South Carolina State at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Houston at UCLA UCLA UCLA
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Morning Five: 09.13.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 13th, 2012

  1. There were obviously two huge stories yesterday and we could lead with either one, but for us the imminent retirement of Jim Calhoun is the top story. Over the next few days you will see an endless stream of stories recounting Calhoun’s spectacular work turning a program that was essentially nothing into one of the top programs in the country. You will also see a number of anecdotes from media members about some of their memorable interactions with Calhoun. For now we will just focus on the near-term future for the Huskies, who will apparently name Kevin Ollie as their interim coach. Ollie certainly has his work cut out for him taking over a team that was expected to struggle next season even with a legend like Calhoun at the helm. We hope that the school grades Ollie on a curve here because otherwise his position will probably last only one season before the school looks elsewhere. If that does happen, it will certainly test the rankings we released last year for the most desirable coaching spots in the country. Will the brand appeal of Connecticut be enough to overcome the location and the current condition of the program for potential coaches?
  2. We are guessing that most sites will go with Notre Dame moving to the ACC in all sports except for football with the expected moved happening in 2014 at the earliest. While this is certainly another significant loss for the Big East it doesn’t come close to the significance of losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse especially since the real prize of Notre Dame’s athletic program is its football program, which isn’t exactly a revelation to anybody. The ACC was able to get Notre Dame to play a certain number of football games (five) against other schools within the conference, but Notre Dame was still able to keep its ludicrous lucrative contract and BCS privileges. Having said that, the Irish do bring a solid if unspectacular basketball program to the conference that will add more depth and strengthen its claim as the best in the country again [Ed Note: Many ACC fans would have you believe that they always were the best conference in the country.] For us, the more interesting facet of the story is that Notre Dame becomes the 15th basketball team in the conference, which as you may notice is an odd number. The ACC has insisted that there are no plans to expand to 16 teams, but it seems more than a little naive to think they won’t be looking out for another school to add to reach an even number. More on this later today.
  3. After a disappointing year in 2011-12 (and any Brad Stevens team that doesn’t make the Final Four is by definition, disappointing), Butler was looking to rebound with a strong 2012-13 season, but those hopes were dealt a significant blow when the school announced that Chrishawn Hopkins had been dismissed from the basketball team. Hopkins was one of four returning starters on a team that is also adding Arkansas sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke and was expected to be a tough out in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Fortunately for the Bulldogs they have some depth on the perimeter, but anytime you lead the #3 scorer from the previous year it has to hurt at some level. We are still not aware of which team rule Hopkins broke, but the fall term at Butler just started on August 22 so whatever he did was probably not related to grades.
  4. Another player who will not be seen on campus any time soon is Maurice Jones, who announced yesterday that he was transferring from USC after having been ruled academically ineligible. Jones, who was supposed to be the leading returning scorer for the Trojans, will certainly draw some interest despite his 5’7″ frame, but it will most likely be in the form of mid-majors where a smaller guard could be even more successful. Assuming Jones is able to get his academics in order he could be an excellent addition for a top mid-major and can give his new school two more years of eligibility. A potential destination somewhere in Michigan would not be out of the question given that is where Jones hails from, but with his skill set he should be able to look broadly.
  5. While the NCAA continues to fall behind on investigations into the wrongdoing of schools and their administrators it continues to excel at chasing after teenagers with questions regarding their eligibility. Two highly touted incoming freshmen – Sam Cassell, Jr., and Myles Davis – have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA as the result of classes they took at Notre Dame Prep, the same school that produced Michael Beasley, Lazar Hayward, and Ryan Gomes, among others. As Jeff Goodman points out, there are eight other individuals currently cleared by the NCAA to play who took those same classes. The entire situation appears to revolve around classes they took last academic year that at least Davis’ family claims were cleared by the NCAA until it was too late to change and maintain their eligibility. While this case will probably start out of the mainstream media for the most part it will be interesting to follow to see if the NCAA backs down or if the eligibility of the other students in those classes is questioned.
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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.07.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on September 7th, 2012

  1. The big news around the Pac-12 this week continues to be the eligibility status of UCLA’s highly-touted freshman class. Depending on who you believe, some combination of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker are being investigated by the NCAA for potential amateurism problems. UCLA claims that Parker has been cleared, while the other two are still a work in progress, while CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman insists that Parker is still a subject of an NCAA inquiry. We’ve known about the issues with Muhammad for some time, but the Anderson issue – related to his connections with Thad Foucher, a sports agent – is a new one. But all of this, coupled with CBS’ anonymous cheap shots at UCLA and Ben Howland, have already cast a pall over the Bruins’ season. With the most talent assembled in Westwood since the days of Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, it was expected that UCLA was ready for a bounce-back year, but now it remains to be seen when, and if, this group of freshmen will ever play a game together. This situation continues to evolve, so keep an eye on this.
  2. Across town, it wasn’t a great week for the Bruins’ rivals either, as USC’s athletic department took another hit with further allegations of players receiving impermissible benefits. RTC’s Chris Johnson took a look at the problems around both Los Angeles-area campuses, but that was not the only blow to the Trojans, as would-be-junior point guard Maurice Jones was declared academically ineligible for the 2012-13 season last weekend. Jones led last year’s injury-riddle team in minutes played (approaching 40 minutes per night), shots attempted and possessions used last year, but seemed primed to take a step back into a supporting role this year with the return of senior point guard Jio Fontan from last year’s ACL injury. Instead, head coach Kevin O’Neill will again go to battle minus the services of one of the guys he had been counting on. Jones will stick around in school and hopefully get his grades up in order to resume his USC career in the 2013-14 season, with two years of eligibility remaining then.
  3. Just about two weeks ago, Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek was left in a lurch when two assistants – Scott Pera and Lamont Smith – departed for similar jobs at other institutions (Penn and Washington, respectively). At such a late date, and with such an important season ahead of the Sun Devils, that could have been a crushing blow to ASU’s chances this season. However, Sendek bounced back strong, coming up with a pair of excellent hires to fill the vacancies, as it was announced on Wednesday that Eric Musselman and Larry Greer would be welcomed aboard. As Matt Norlander writes, this was a serious score for Sendek. With his back against the wall, Sendek was able to land two experienced coaches with fine resumes. Musselman has twice been an NBA head coach, was an NBA D-League Coach of the Year, and has been an NBA assistant coach under such luminaries as Hall of Famer Chuck Daly, current Celtic head coach Doc Rivers (then with Orlando), and current Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger (then with Atlanta). Greer was a long-time college assistant (with Wright State and Boston U.) before joining the Houston Rockets as a scout last year. It remains to be seen how these guys will do on the recruiting trail, and they’ve certainly got some catching up to do as the start of practice looms little more than a month away, but given the time constraints, Sendek hit this one out of the park.
  4. Speaking of hitting one out of the park, California scored big this week as well when what had long been rumored came to pass: Jabari Bird, the 20th rated recruit (according to ESPN) in the 2013 class committed to Mike Montgomery and staff. Better yet, Bird has announced his plan to help out the Cal coaching staff by trying to convince fellow ’13 recruits Aaron Gordon (ESPN’s #6 recruit) and Marcus Lee (ESPN’s #27) to join him in Berkeley next season. Washington remains the favorite to land Gordon’s services, and Cal is but one of several options for Lee, but if Bird can help Cal land those two guys, the Golden Bears will be rather formidable next season. As it is, Bird, a 6’6” shooting guard with great athleticism, three-point range and a ton of upside, is a good start to an important class for the Bears.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Connor and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week, Connor picked up where he left off last season: namely, roughing me up a bit. I completely whiffed on picking Washington State to upset BYU, then missed it by this much when I went out on a limb to pick Toledo ruining RichRod’s opener in the desert. So, as it is Connor’s got a two-game lead on me just one week into the season. But have no fear, I’ll begin my comeback this week. I hope. In a good week of games around the conference, our game of the week this week is Nebraska visiting the Rose Bowl to face UCLA (if only because I’ll be in attendance), while other intriguing match-ups like Arizona/Oklahoma State, Wisconsin/Oregon State and LSU/Washington will be sure to keep us entertained as well. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Utah at Utah State Utah State Utah
Eastern Washington at Washington State Washington State Washington State
Sacramento State at Colorado Colorado Colorado
Southern Utah at California California California
USC at Syracuse USC USC
Wisconsin at Oregon State Wisconsin Wisconsin
Fresno State at Oregon Oregon Oregon
Washington at LSU LSU LSU
Nebraska at UCLA UCLA 23-14 Nebraska 27-20
Duke at Stanford Stanford Stanford
Illinois at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
Oklahoma State at Arizona Oklahoma State Oklahoma State
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Morning Five: Labor Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 3rd, 2012

  1. What appeared to be a rebirth of basketball at UCLA is quickly turning into a potential nightmare as reports of a potential NCAA investigation into the recruitment of the Bruins top three incoming recruits has surfaced. We have known for a while that the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of Shabazz Muhammad, the star of the incoming class, but what is new is that the NCAA is also investigating the recruitment of Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, both top 20 recruits. Details on the investigation are sketchy at best–it is not even known if this is tied to the Muhammad investigation or if this is a separate case. Whatever it is it is not good news for the Bruins who were hoping to become relevant nationally for the first time since 2008.
  2. UCLA’s crosstown rival USC had its own issues this weekend as the investigation into the Trojans own scandal revealed evidence that implicates former basketball player Davon Jefferson as well as football star Joe McKnight. One of the individuals being investigated reportedly admitted that he gave Jefferson $3,700 in cash. With the other issues the school has had they could be facing a fairly harsh penalty from the NCAA if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims. If that wasn’t enough bad news, the school also announced yesterday that Maurice Jones, who led the team in scoring, assists, and steals last season, would miss the upcoming season after being declared academically ineligible. While the Trojans should be much improved from last season (read: not absolutely atrocious) this will clearly be a big blow to any NCAA aspirations they may have had.
  3. The Trojans weekend was probably only topped by the one that Billy Gillispie just experienced.  Not only did the Texas Tech coach have to deal with reports of what some have called a “player mutiny” he was also hospitalized for an undisclosed medical condition. The news of the so-called mutiny should not be a shock given Gillispie’s reputation as the alleged injustices involved the hours they were practicing and “mental games” that Gillispie was playing. As for the hospitalization it appears to have been a hypertensive emergency where Gillispie’s blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, but from reports he seems to be doing well at this time. Even with that good news Gillispie has a lot on his plate when he gets out of the hospital.
  4. Wagner got a boost on Friday when the NCAA granted Dwaun Anderson a waiver allowing him to play for the Seahawks at the start of this season instead of January as some expected. Anderson, who was Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, had enrolled at Michigan State last summer before transferring to Wagner, which raised some question as to when he would be eligible. Anderson provides an already solid Wagner team with a level of athleticism that could bring the team, which is led by first-year head coach Bashir Mason, to another level assuming they can integrate him into their current group of players.
  5. If you are not familiar with Kansas forward Justin Wesley you may be hearing a lot about his exploits in the near-future even if it is not on a basketball court (well at least a real one). The Jayhawk junior, who averaged 1.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per game last year, has been selected to portray the legendary Wilt Chamberlain in an upcoming independent film titled “Jayhawkers”, which looks at Chamberlain’s impact on race relations in and around the Kansas campus. There is a chance that this film will not get made due to a legal dispute with the Chamberlain family not to mention some questionable funding issues. Given the nature of the film, which is being made by a Kansas professor, we suspect that the film would not spend too much time on the court where the only part of Wesley’s game that resembles Chamberlain’s is his free throw shooting (49.9% for Wesley and 51.1% for Chamberlain) or the Big Dipper’s prodigious appetite for, uh, extracurricular activities.
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USC Week: Q&A With Pachoops’ Adam Butler

Posted by AMurawa on July 7th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the USC basketball program, we head back to Adam Butler of Pachoops for the second straight week for his perspective on the Trojan basketball program. Like me, Adam is pretty optimistic about the Trojans’ chances of a major bounce-back this season, although if anything he’s even hotter on SC than I am. Here’s our brief conversation on the immediate future for this new-look club.

RTC: My god, the Trojans were bad last year. But was there anything that happened that could bode well for the future for this team?

AB: The season ended. That was the best possible thing that could’ve happened to that team. That and time to pass as injuries healed and redshirts expired allowing this roster to almost completely re-emerge as one of the most intriguing teams in the conference. I mean, six win teams really have only one place to go.

Dewayne Dedmon

Seven-footer Dewayne Dedmon Could Be A Game Changer For The Trojans

RTC: Four different players suffered season-ending injuries last season. Three of them – Jio Fontan, Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon – return this year. Of those three, who is most important to USC’s success this season?

AB: I’m a big Jio Fontan fan, particularly on a Kevin O’Neill team. Fontan is a dynamic ball handler and all of that ball control offense that KO runs lends itself to needing a solid point. Look at what Maurice Jones was asked to do last season. Fontan is going to do that but at a higher level. I’m tempted to call him a darkhorse POY candidate and won’t be surprised to at least see him on the conference First Team. But of course any time you can run out a seven-foot athlete, it’s hard not to pay some attention to him. Dewayne Dedmon is probably the game changer for this team – as quality bigs tend to be. The combination of sound PG play and an improved Dedmon is going to make a trip to LA not a lot of fun.

RTC: Along with the players the Trojans get back from injury, they welcome four Division I transfers: J.T. Terrell and Ari Stewart from Wake Forest, Eric Wise from UC Irvine and Renaldo Woolridge from Tennessee. How good is that group of transfers and which of those four will play the biggest role for USC?

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