Pac-12 Post-Mortems: Oregon

Posted by Andrew Murawa on April 21st, 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll go through each Pac-12 team one by one and recount the season that has just completed and begin to turn the page to what we might see next season. Today, Oregon.

What Went Right

Bringing in offense-first transfers like Joseph Young, Jason Calliste and Mike Moser, it became clear that this was going to have to be a team that outdid opponents with relentless offense before the Ducks even played a game. And, for the most part, Dana Altman’s squad did just that. With little in the way of an offensive post player and few on the roster interested in hard-nosed defense, this became a team that wanted to get up and down the floor, find early looks for any number of shooters, get to the line on a regular basis, and score, score, score. When it worked, which it did often, the result was an entertaining, if at times frustrating, display of basketball.

Joseph Young Led The Way For The Offensive-Minded Ducks (AP Photo)

Joseph Young Led The Way For The Offensive-Minded Ducks (AP Photo)

What Went Wrong

As good as this team was offensively, the Ducks were pretty bad defensively. In 21 of 34 games, the Ducks allowed their opponent to score better than a point per possession and Oregon went just 11-10 in those games. Only five times all year did it hold a top-100 KenPom team under a point per possession. Part of this was a result of the make-up of the roster – undersized players and offense-first (if not –only) mindsets – but part of it also had to do with circumstance. Sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter were suspended for the first nine games of the season for receiving improper benefits, and those two guys, particularly Artis, may have been among the team’s three best defensive players. In the end, while the Ducks poured in a superb 1.18 points per possession against a good Wisconsin defense in the NCAA Tournament, their own lack of defense was their downfall, as they allowed the Badgers to score 1.31 points per possession to win the game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 10.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Yesterday night was filled with exhibition games from many of the top teams in the country (Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, and Oklahoma State were all in action), but the most interesting news may have come from the Kansas post-game press conference where Bill Self revealed that Naadir Tharpe will not play in the team’s season opener after violating a NCAA rule by playing in a summer league game in Chicago. Tharpe played well in the team’s exhibition yesterday against Pittsburg State (yes, it is Pittsburg and it is in Kansas not Pennsylvania) putting up nine assists without committing a turnover so we know he can play well against schools that we have never heard of, but by missing their game against Louisiana-Monroe (Frank Mason will start in his place) his next game will be against Duke, a school that we have definitely heard of.
  2. With the season a little over one week away most teams are in the process of fine-tuning their line-ups for the opening tip, but UCLA finds itself scrambling to rearrange its lineup after Travis Wear was hospitalized on Monday night for appendicitis. Travis, the more productive of the Wear twins (his brother David also plays for the Bruins), averaged 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and would probably be UCLA’s top inside player this season. We have no idea how long he will be out (it depends on if he has any complications), but a prolonged absence would create a big hole in the middle for a Bruin team that only has two other serviceable interior players–David Wear and Tony Parker–available at the moment. Fortunately, the Bruins have two exhibition games to adapt before they start the regular season on November 8 and have a very manageable schedule during the month of December.
  3. We will have to wait two more weeks until North Carolina announces P.J. Hairston’s suspension, but at least we know how long Ole Miss has suspended Marshall Henderson for multiple behavior-related issues: three games, which will include the regular season opener (against Troy) and the team’s first two SEC games (against Auburn and Mississippi State). The suspension is the result of Henderson’s repeated taunting (or responding) to fans during the season including using his middle finger after Ole Miss lost in the NCAA Tournament as well as being pulled over by local police on May 4 and found to have marijuana and cocaine in his system. Although we find the split suspension a little odd it is good to see that it will have a bigger effect on the team as they are much more likely to be challenged in those SEC games than they would if he had sat the second and third games of the regular season (against Coastal Carolina and Mississippi Valley State). We hope that Henderson can find a way to control his behavior, but still keep that edge that made him such a dangerous player.
  4. We usually do not make fun of a player, often a teenager or just beyond that stage, for their indecisiveness, but we might make an exception for Michael Chandler, who committed to Oregon yesterday. The commitment by itself (a 6’10″ center from Northwest Florida State, who was forced to go to junior college after failing to academically qualify in 2011) is not particularly remarkable. What is remarkable is the fact that this is at least the fourth school that Chandler has committed to as his previous commitments were to Louisville, Xavier, and UCF before he failed to qualify academically. We hope that Chandler eventually finds his way into Division I basketball, but you will have to forgive us if we hold off in writing his committment to Oregon down in pen.
  5. Tanking doesn’t relate directly to college basketball, but you will be hearing about it quite a bit throughout the year as NBA teams lose games in order to increase their chances of landing Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, or some other highly-coveted college player. So the admission by an anonymous NBA general manager that his team was tanking (known explicitly by everybody, but the players) is somewhat interesting. Obviously the story would be more interesting if it had not been anonymous, but then the GM would no longer be employed. Based on what was said in the story we can probably narrow down the list of potential GMs to a handful of individuals. As the NBA season progresses and a certain number of elite college players emerge we suspect that we will see the list of potential tanking teams grow.
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Morning Five: 06.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 17th, 2013

morning5

  1. We are not sure what to make of Jerome Seagers and his decision to transfer from Rutgers to Auburn then back to Rutgers in less than two months in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal and claims that he left Auburn because he wanted to be closer to his family in Maryland while recovering from his time at Rutgers. Basically the entire thing does not make any sense, which is how we often feel about many of these transfers. As you would expect Seagers will be eligible to play next season for Rutgers since he never played for Auburn although with the way the NCAA enforces rules we would not have been shocked if they made him sit out a year for his indecisiveness.
  2. With Ricky Ledo having sat out last season we had almost forgotten about him, but it appears that NBA scouts have not as the Providence freshman is getting plenty of workouts from NBA teams. Ledo, who was a partial qualifier, worked out with the Providence team last season and according to Providence coach Ed Cooley often played the role of the best player on the opposing team thanks to his skill set, which was certainly well above any of the Providence non-starters. We don’t think that Ledo’s presence last season would have made them a NCAA Tournament team last season, but if he performs well in the NBA you can be sure that more than a few Providence fans will be asking themselves what might have been if he had been able to wear a Friar uniform.
  3. We are never sure what to make of how college players perform at the international level or even in tryouts. Many times they can be an indication of a player making a leap to another level, but there have been many cases where players do not carry over that solid play to their college teams. The same can be said of poor performances. Still the decision by the USA U-19 National Team to cut Rodney Purvis and Shaq Goodwin from the team that they made last summer is an interesting one. As Mike DeCourcy notes both omissions were surprising given the way that Purvis performed in workouts and the lack of interior depth the team had that should have assured Goodwin a spot on the roster. While the team lacks a big college star outside of Marcus Smart it does contain an intriguing mix of players who would seem poised to become stars on their teams next season.
  4. The recruitment of Michael Chandler will be interesting because it was just two years ago that he was a top-50 recruit and a top-five center in the class of 2011. Of course, that was before he was declared academically ineligible and had to go to junior college ending up at Northwest Florida State where he averaged 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Even though some players particularly centers take a while to develop those are pretty uninspiring numbers from a player at that level trying to play Division I basketball. Still it appears Chandler has plenty of suitors including Purdue. Given Chandler’s output at the junior college level we would be surprised if he ended up being much more than a marginal contributor at the high-major level.
  5. On the other end of the spectrum we have Kadeem Allen, a first-team JUCO All-American, who has drawn interest from Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. Last week, Arizona formally extended Allen a scholarship offer. We don’t pretend to follow the JUCO scene that closely (our comments on Chandler were reflective of his low production not his actual game), but the people we follow who know the JUCO scene seem to believe that he is a high-major player and his first-team status suggests that is at least a reasonable possibility. Allen will spend another year at the JUCO level before heading to Division I, but he could be an interesting addition to whatever team he winds up playing for.
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Big East Morning Five: 12.21.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 21st, 2011

  1. With the sudden and surprising departure of star freshman Khem Birch, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon is looking for answers up front and one of the players he will need to step up is sophomore forward Talib Zanna. Luckily, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at least, Zanna is showing improvement and playing efficiently offensively. Physically, at 6’9″ and 230 pounds, Zanna is much bigger than Birch, but he doesn’t possess the same skill-set or athleticism which means his offensive game won’t come as naturally. Frankly, the Panthers don’t need Zanna to make an impact offensively — although he is shooting 67.6% from the field. They need him to be an intimidating defensive player or at the very least a big body who knows where he is supposed to be on the floor. He also shed some light about Birch’s departure earlier in the week, so read away our like-minded friends.
  2. I must admit, when Marquette center Chris Otule went down early in December with a knee injury, I didn’t expect to see him back on the floor until the new year at the earliest, but it looks like the big man could be ready to play as soon as next Monday according to coach Buzz Williams. Okay, maybe the quote says next Monday they will gauge his progress, but still, that’s impressive given the usual severity of knee injuries. It seems silly to rush Otule back, especially since the conference slate will be a grind, but the faster the Golden Eagles can get the big man back, the better their defense and their rebounding will be because of it.
  3. Everybody is getting good news on the injury front these days (knock on wood) as a Rutgers source told Adam Zagoria that talented redshirt freshman Kadeem Jack is making great progress and could be ready to play in time for the Big East opener at the beginning of the new year. Also in the report, true freshman Malick Kone is making strides in his return from an issue with knee fluid. Kone gives the team depth but if Jack is healthy and can contribute, he instantly becomes a key member of the frontcourt that basically features only Gilvydas Biruta and Austin Johnson. Now, Jack still hasn’t played a single collegiate minute, but he is a skilled power forward who coach Mike Rice is counting on to become a centerpiece for this team in the near future. Rice won’t want to rush him back too quickly, but everyone in Piscataway should be excited he is close to getting on the court.
  4. It’s a story only tenuously tied to Big East basketball, but Big East fans who were hoping to see talented center Michael Chandler when Central Florida moved to the conference in 2013 will be disappointed to hear that the Golden Knights have backed off the 6’10″ center because of potential contact with agents and runners. Chandler still hopes he can attend UCF, but given the Golden Knights’ recent issues surrounding the recruitment of Kevin Ware, coach Donnie Jones will probably want to avoid the big man no matter how talented he is. While there is no concrete evidence that agents and runners are influencing his decision, it is interesting that a center from Indiana with power conference schools hot on his tail would choose a mid-level program in Orlando. But that’s just pure speculation, so we will save our breath.
  5. Tip of the cap to our researcher Walker Carey for digging up this interesting story about the insane dichotomy of Syracuse‘s season. In the midst of one of the best starts in the program’s recent history and sitting atop the college basketball polls, the Orange are riding high on the court. Off the court, the Bernie Fine scandal continues to infect the news surrounding the team and that isn’t going to stop for the rest of the season or at least until the offseason comes around. As much as I hate reading stories about Fine and his scandal, the Orange’s pursuit of a National Championship while weathering this scandal is easily the most compelling storyline of the season this far. Coach Jim Boeheim has done an excellent job of keeping his players focused, and of course it helps when you can trot out any of 10 guys and still beat most teams easily. Still, conference play hasn’t yet started and there might still be some twists and turns in the Fine saga left. Stay tuned… as if you weren’t already.
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Welcoming the Big East Newcomers: Central Florida

Posted by mlemaire on December 13th, 2011

The Big East announced in a teleconference they would be adding five new schools to the fold. Three of those schools, Houston, Central Florida, and Southern Methodist, will play all of their sports in the conference starting in 2013. Of course it is far too early to tell what sort of impact these teams will have in their new conference, but that won’t stop us from pontificating. Last but not least is Central Florida.

The Past

The newest of the three teams, Central Florida didn’t field its first basketball team until 1969 and they played as a Division II team until the 1984-85 season. As a Division II school, Central Florida achieved success they haven’t even sniffed since. Legendary coach Eugene “Torchy” Clark built a 274-89 record in his 14 seasons in Orlando. But since making the jump to the ranks of Division I, success has been fleeting. From 1984-93, the team never had a winning record.

Kirk Speraw Left UCF As The Winningest Coach In Program History. (Photo by UCFsports.com)

Once Kirk Speraw arrived at UCF, the Golden Knights finally got back to winning, albeit inconsistently. There were four Atlantic Sun Tournament Championships, one Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship and four NCAA Tournament berths during Speraw’s tenure, although the team never made it out of the first round. Since joining Conference USA in 2005, the Golden Knights have had successful teams, but have never been back to the NCAA Tournament. In 2010, the university decided to cut ties with Speraw, its winningest coach of all-time, and they hired Donnie Jones, a young and energetic former coach at Marshall and former assistant to Billy Donovan. Last season the team won 21 games, but they finished just 6-10 and were relegated to the CBI.

The Present

The Golden Knights already have one pelt to hang in their trophy closet this year as they beat then-No.4 Connecticut 68-63 in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Unfortunately, they have failed to truly build on that accomplishment. A 23-point early season loss to Florida State can be forgiven because it was the second game of the season, but mustering just 49 points in a loss to Harvard the day after they beat UConn is a tougher pill to swallow. The good news for Jones and the Golden Knights is that the team is as talented as it has been in a long time.

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Who’s Got Next? Updated Class of 2012 Rankings…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 3rd, 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. Each 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

With another passing week, there is plenty of recruiting news including standout performances at AAU events, commitments and de-commitments, and the latest news on where high-profile prospects are likely to go to college. However, the biggest revelation by far in this past week was a recruiting scandal at a mid-major D1 school that has yet to win an NCAA Tournament game but somehow managed to land two elite prospects. Read on to see how a young man from Chicago, a head coach at a mid-major basketball program and a high-profile former felon created the biggest recruiting scandal in the past few years.

What We Learned

Kevin Ware's recruitment exposed ties between UCF head coach Donnie Jones and convicted felon Kenneth Caldwell.

Kevin Ware’s Recruitment and Central Florida’s Recruiting Scandal. After class of 2011 shooting guard Kevin Ware committed to the Knights two weeks ago, he backed out of the agreement Thursday when he learned of Kenneth Caldwell’s background, a Chicago man with a substantial criminal record and apparent ties to a prominent sports agency. Ware claims that Caldwell repeatedly called him to encourage him to attend Central Florida, traveled to meet with his family and even set up conversations between Ware, himself and head coach Donnie Jones and Jones’ staff – contact which is prohibited by the NCAA. Caldwell formally denied recruiting players for UCF and claimed he was simply impressed by UCF… a school that has never won an NCAA Tournament game.

When Ware and his family were asked about what coaches said their relationship with Caldwell was, they said the coaches claimed they had no direct affiliation with him but that they had known him for a year. This left the Ware family wondering exactly who Caldwell was and how he tied in with UCF.  On his LinkedIn page, Caldwell claimed to be a recruiter of potential NBA players for ASM Sports, which the company later confirmed. What was even more frightening about Caldwell’s background were his two felony convictions in 1991 and again in 1998. He also owes the IRS close to $250,000. After looking at his history and claims, Caldwell could fairly be labeled as a “runner,” someone who acts as a middle man to deliver players to universities and agents.

How current UCF commit Michael Chandler Ties In. Caldwell’s ties to the UCF program started a few years ago when a high school student whom he refers to as his “son” committed to the Knights. Then, two more players whom Caldwell likes to call his “nephews” also chose UCF for their collegiate careers, including one of the best class of 2011 centers in the country, Michael Chandler. Before becoming a Knight, Chandler had previously committed to Louisville and Xavier before he shocked many people by settling on Central Florida. Chandler’s high school coach said he’d never even heard of Central Florida before Chandler committed there. However, Chandler’s uncle said the prospect chose UCF on its merits. In Pat Forde’s column this week analyzing the odd recruitment, he said a source with knowledge of the situation claimed that Caldwell bragged about having inside information of where Chandler would be attending college well before he made his decision public.

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Around The Blogosphere: December 9, 2010

Posted by nvr1983 on December 9th, 2010

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Top 25 Games

  • #18 Minnesota 83, St. Joseph’s 73: “In a game that had the appearance of a trap for Minnesota, the Gophers traveled to Pennsylvania for their first true road game of year and took down the St. Joseph’s Hawks 83-73 behind Trevor Mbakwe’s double-double and timely threes from Blake Hoffarber and Devoe Joseph.” (From the Barn)

Other Games of Interest

  • Maryland 99, UNC-Greensboro 56: “As far as easy rebound wins go, they don’t get much better than the 99-56 drubbing that Maryland gave the UNC Greensboro Spartans. After a demoralizing loss to Temple that came this close to resulting in some lineup changes, Maryland could’ve used an easy win, and it’s just what they got. The Terrapins shot 43% from 3 and 52% from the field, outrebounded the Spartans by 20, received yet another double-double from Jordan Williams, and generally dominated play en route to an easy 43-point victory.” (Testudo Times)
  • Colorado 90, Colorado State 83 (OT): “The game was an exciting one throughout… a buzzer beating three by the Buffs made it a 33-30 Colorado St. lead at the half, and a layup by Jesse Carr of CSU with 0.6 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime. From there, it see-sawed back-and-forth until a late miss by CSU sealed their fate, and eventually Colorado got the home win, 90-83.” (Veteran Leadership)

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 10.25.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 25th, 2010

Now that most recruits have made their oral commitments we should start to see the news of commitments start to die down at least in terms of the sheer volume, but that doesn’t mean that a big name won’t commit to a school (still a handful of top 25 guys available) or someone won’t decommit/commit to another school.

  • Quincy Miller, widely consider the last of the superstars in this class, and Deuce Bello, widely considered the most athletic player in this class, both committed to play at Baylor. If Scott Drew can get his players to stay a few years (and the looming NBA lockout could help), he could have a team that features Perry Jones, Miller, Bello, and Isaiah Austin in a few years, which would be one of the most feared line-ups in the nation.

    Miller is the last big chip in this year's class

  • While Miller and Bello stole the headlines for biggest coup of the weekend, LeBryan Nash certainly takes the prize for most effective use of a prop (see below) when he committed to play for Oklahoma State.
  • Fans of Arizona State are starting to worry about Jahii Carson, who previously committed to play for Oregon State, as he is already starting to waver in his commitment to the Sun Devils even citing a freshman wearing his favorite number.
  • Speaking of decommitments. . .Tony Wroten, everybody’s favorite Tweeter, started a minor Internet firestorm when he tweeted asking whether Kentucky commit Kyle Wiltjer had decommited. Wiltjer has not responded, but we haven’t heard any reports to suggest he has not remained committed to the Wildcats.
  • Shane Larkin, son of Cincinnati Reds all-star Barry Larkin and a crosstown rival of Austin Rivers, committed to play for Oliver Purnell at DePaul. Read the rest of this entry »
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