Morning Five: 01.18.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 18th, 2012

  1. There was quite a bit of news on the injury front yesterday. Louisville‘s Rakeem Buckles may have garnered the biggest headlines nationally as he appears to have one-upped Robbie Hummel as the most injury-ridden player in high-major college basketball. Just a few months after coming back from a torn ACL in his right knee that kept him out for nine months, Buckles tore the ACL in his left knee and is expected to be out the rest of this season and next season. (Yes, next season too.) For a team that has already been decimated by injuries, the loss of Buckles again and to such a significant injury must be a crushing blow. Rick Pitino will have his work cut out for him keeping this team together and getting anywhere near preseason expectations.
  2. Coming to Memphis as a McDonald’s All-American Adonis Thomas was saddled with significant expectations some of which he brought upon himself by pulling stunts like using a national television broadcast to announce his final list of schools. Now it appears his freshman campaign will come to a premature close due to an ankle injury as he will undergo what is expected to be season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Thomas, who was one of the most athletic freshmen in the country, has been erratic at times this season, but is still the team’s third leading scorer at 9.7 points per game and provided them with a versatile all-court weapon that they may miss as the season progresses.
  3. Buckles and Thomas may be bigger names, but the season-ending injury to Jenniro Bush due to a ruptured Achilles tendon will have a bigger impact on his team than that of the other two players. Bush, who leads Jackson State in scoring at 15.5 points per game, was the SWAC preseason player of the year. While the Tigers have struggled this year (4-14 overall and 2-4 in the SWAC), Bush has still managed to put up solid numbers albeit on high-volume shooting on a team where only two other players average more than five points per game. With Bush out, the Tigers, who would have been a long shot even with him, are all but eliminated from contention for the conference’s automatic bid.
  4. The Wooden Award announced its list of 25 midseason candidates yesterday. We are assuming that the GPA requirement did not knock out any candidates and even if it did the list actually appears to be pretty solid to us. You can argue that a few other players like Michael Glover should have been included, but it would be a little bit too much to expect them to have two Iona players on the list of 25 finalists, and we would have expected Tu Holloway to be on there a few weeks ago before that little incident in Cincinnati. Other than that we have to give them credit for including four players from high-major conferences not counting UNLV and Memphis who are really high-major programs playing in weaker conferences.
  5. Yesterday we provided you with a link to the methodology behind the Value Added statistic that Basketball Prospectus was going to unveil and as promised today we have their version of a Value Added statistic. As Drew Cannon notes this year’s results look “insane”. While some of you are going to immediately dismiss this statistic (and we were too when we first saw this year’s list), it is worth remembering that it is early in the season and sometimes you might need to tweak the formula a little bit. Cannon discusses the results a little bit and tries to rationalize them, but for now we will keep an eye on this and see how the rankings evolve as the season progresses.
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RTC Conference Primers: #17 – MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 19th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • Conference Tournament Changes Venues: The MAAC championship will be staged at Springfield’s MassMutual Center.  How the March 1- 5 event manages to be received and attended will be followed closely by many observers. The conference and MassMutual Center staff have been working feverishly to provide the best possible product for fans. With the nearest school, Siena, roughly 90 miles away, providing an attractive event to draw fans is paramount and, as noted, will be tracked. The MAAC will have the tournament in Springfield from 2012-14.
  • MAAC Participates In Non-Conference Events: The MAAC will be represented in the annual Sears BracketBuster event in February. The conference will also host the Old Spice Classic in Orlando during the Thanksgiving weekend (with representative Fairfield a legitimate threat). Prior to March, a few MAAC schools will test out the MassMutual Center in the expanded Hall of Fame Classic on December 9. UMass will face Siena and Fairfield opposes Old Dominion.
  • Glover Fits For Wooden List: Iona senior forward Michael Glover has been named to the Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list. Glover transferred from Seton Hall to Iona and instantly made an impression as one of the MAAC’s brightest stars last season.

Sydney Johnson Brings His Coaching Talent to the MAAC

  • New Coaches On Board: Sydney Johnson takes over at Fairfield and has a wealth of talent on hand. Johnson got his start in D-I basketball only seven years ago as an assistant for John Thompson, III, before spending four seasons as Princeton’s head coach. Steve Masiello is the new man at Manhattan.  Masiello does not have the talent Johnson has, but is not short on enthusiasm and expectations. Masiello knows the MAAC well, having assisted Bobby Gonzalez for several years at Manhattan before heading to Louisville to work as a member of Rick Pitino’s staff.
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Set Your Tivo: 03.07.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 7th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Four automatic bids will be handed out this evening in places stretching from Connecticut to Las Vegas. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

Colonial Championship (at Richmond, VA): VCU vs. Old Dominion — 7 pm on ESPN (****)

Old Dominion looks like a safe bet even if they lose but VCU more than likely has to win this game to make the NCAA Tournament. The Rams and Monarchs split the season series, each winning on the other’s home floor. This game will be all about pace and one team’s strong defense against the other’s potent offense. If Old Dominion can keep this game in the half court, they can let their stellar two point defense and rebounding take over. The Monarch’s are the best offensive rebounding team in the country while VCU ranks #303 in defensive rebounding percentage. Old Dominion also ranks highly in defensive rebounding, placing them among the best overall rebounding teams in the nation, led by Frank Hassell, averaging just under 15/10 on the season. Over his last eight games, Hassell has been even better, averaging 19/10 down the stretch. Not coincidentally, the Monarchs have won all eight of those games and 12 of their past 13. ODU is #9 in two point defense but allows 36.9% three point shooting, #298 in America. That has been the bugaboo for Blaine Taylor’s group and the Rams are one team that can really take advantage of that. Four out of ten VCU field goals attempted are threes and they shoot it at a pretty good clip, 35.6% this season. However, that percentage drops to 33.7% when you look at CAA games only. The Rams must create offense through their defense by forcing turnovers. That will offset part of the rebounding edge ODU is almost sure to have. An energetic and aggressive defense can help push the pace and take Old Dominion out of its rhythm. The Monarchs struggle to shoot and score, relying on their defense and rebounding to win games most of the time. Shaka Smart should use some zone from time to time in order to force Old Dominion to make jump shots, something they don’t do well. Rebounding out of a zone is always difficult (especially against the #1 offensive rebounding squad) but we feel it’s worth the risk. VCU shouldn’t spend all game in a zone but mixing it up defensively will greatly help their cause. Old Dominion gets 57.5% of its points from two point range but they have a few threats from deep, most notably Kent Bazemore. He’s arguably their best three point shooter and also a terrific defender, ranked eighth nationally in steal percentage.  The Rams shouldn’t have that much trouble answering Old Dominion from the arc considering they have a number of quality shooters, including Bradford Burgess (16/13 vs. George Mason yesterday), but they need to get some looks inside for Jamie Skeen. The Wake Forest transfer has had a terrific year in Richmond and is averaging 21.7 PPG over his last three. It’ll be tough to score against Old Dominion’s interior defense but Skeen should look to get to the free throw line where he’s a 73.7% shooter. VCU is a good free throw shooting team overall and they’ve made it to the line on 41.5% of their possessions in conference play. Foul trouble for Old Dominion would open up the interior a bit and allow the Rams to spread the floor easier. VCU had lost four of their last five games heading into the conference tournament but seems to have found new life just down the road from campus in Richmond. They’ll be slight underdogs tonight but this is anybody’s game. Old Dominion will likely win the rebounding battle but whoever controls the turnover margin and the tempo will likely win this game and clinch the automatic berth.

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MAAC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC. Get set for the MAAC tournament, which starts on Friday, by taking a look at RTC’s preview and regular season recap.

Postseason Preview

Last year, it was Albany. The next three years, Springfield, Massachusetts. The MAAC is on the move. This season’s postseason tournament will be at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The MAAC format is a unique one in that both the men’s and women’s tournaments are contested at the same site. This makes it easier for the fans and gives an opportunity to showcase each member’s program on both the men’s and women’s side.

The men’s tournament tips the evening of March 4, with both men’s and women’s finals the following Monday. The MAAC will be a one-bid league. Iona, Fairfield and Rider have impressive records, but not enough to get an at-large bid. The conference tournament will be winner-take-all and on to the Big Dance.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley would be the first to admit home court advantage is nice, but it’s no guarantee. Any of the top four could emerge as champion. At any rate, a prediction must be made and the choice is Fairfield.  The Stags have a nice inside/outside combination. A 66 possession paced team, the offensive efficiency is moderate at 100 but the defense, an outstanding 89. Defensively, they force opponents to give up the ball on 25% of their possessions. With Derek Needham at the point, the Stags TO rate is an impressive 18%. The Stags also boast a plus-four edge in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Credit that to the presence of seven foot junior Ryan Orlander, 6’5 senior Yorel Hawkins and 6’5 freshman Maurice Barrow.

The MAAC, with Siena in recent seasons, has been represented well in the Big Dance. Fairfield, with good guard and interior play, could prove a tough first round matchup. A lot depends on the draw and how Fairfield and the opposition line up. The early season schedule had a few tough tests and they were away from home. Cooley wanted a team ready not just for the MAAC, but the challenges of post season as well.

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O26 Primers: CAA, MAAC, SoCon and WCC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 4th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

As we near the weekend, more of the higher profile Other 26 conferences are beginning their postseason tournaments. In the east, the CAA, MAAC, and Southern Conference all get going with matinee affairs between Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington in the CAA and UNC-Greensboro and Davidson in the SoCon. Out west, the West Coast Conference kicks off their first round in what looks to be a very competitive tournament with St. Mary’s recent struggles and the resurgence of Gonzaga.

Colonial Athletic Association

The Favorite: Behind Cam Long and Ryan Pearson, George Mason has dominated the CAA and is the clear favorite to win the league. Old Dominion will be a tough challenger for the Patriots though.

Dark Horse: There have been many instances throughout the year that Virginia Commonwealth looks to be just as good as George Mason, but ending the year losing four straight games in the CAA will not instill confidence in many people. The Rams’ ability and talent is clearly there, and if they can string some wins together they can win the CAA championship.

Who’s Hot: George Mason winning 14 straight CAA games makes them easily the hottest CAA team.

Player to Watch: One of the most decorated players in Hofstra basketball history, Charles Jenkins is the best player to don a CAA uniform this year. The senior from Queens, NY is averaging 23.2 points per game.

First-Round Upset: William & Mary over James Madison. After having a very successful 2009-10 season, the Tribe has largely struggled this year, but is entering the CAA tournament having win two of three games. They have also split the season series with JMU this season winning the last game 73-67 and losing the first one 84-79.

How’d They Fare? Old Dominion, as a #11 seed, defeated Notre Dame 51-50 and then fell to Baylor in the second round.

Interesting Fact: The last time the CAA sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament was in 2007 when Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion went; it appears as if the CAA will be a multi-bid conference this year.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles

Posted by zhayes9 on December 21st, 2010

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

Self's next challenge: incorporating Josh Selby

– I’ve been taken aback by the number of analysts that believe Josh Selby is going to hurt Kansas, at least in the short term. While I understand that the college game is much more predicated on ball movement, teamwork and on-court chemistry than the next level, anyone that believes Selby throws a wrench into the Rock Chalk juggernaut is underestimating Bill Self’s coaching acumen, ignoring that the Jayhawks haven’t played like a well-oiled machine during all ten of their wins and are forgetting just how special Josh Selby is on a basketball court. Kansas doesn’t have a truly threatening foe on their slate until a month from now, January 17 at Baylor. This is plenty of time for the coaching genius of Self to integrate his star-studded freshman into the offensive flow. Every quote I’ve read from Selby shows he’s more than willing to play within Self’s halfcourt style- perimeter ball movement, high-low passing with their bigs and drive-and-kick action to their plethora of capable outside shooters, including Marcus Morris, whom Self insists the offense will still revolve around. Selby provides the Jayhawks with the type of player– a “pro” in scouting circles– that they need, someone who can rekindle a lost possession with seven seconds on the shot clock and find his own shot or draw a foul. Plus, Kansas has beaten Arizona by eight, UCLA by one, Memphis by 13 and USC by two in their stiffest tests to date. It’s not like Selby, the number one recruit in America per Rivals.com, is joining the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

- Re-watching the Syracuse-Michigan State game from the Jimmy V Classic, I was surprised at how the Spartans elected to defend a poor perimeter shooting team like the Orange. Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Keith Appling and Durrell Summers often employed an aggressive defense against the Syracuse guards rather than electing to play softer and dare the Orange into shooting deep jumpers. The Orange are currently ranked a dismal 249th in the nation in three-point percentage at 31.2% with their biggest offenders being Scoop Jardine at 30%, Kris Joseph at 27% and Brandon Triche at 27%. Luckily for Jim Boeheim, and the main reason why his Orange boast an undefeated record heading into Christmas, is that their length and athleticism allows for a plethora of offensive rebounds on those misses and that 2-3 zone continues to be lethal. But there does appear to be a blueprint for dethroning the Orange: sag off their perimeter players like Jardine and Triche and defy them to jack up long threes rather than allow dribble penetration. This could turn into a fatal flaw come Big East play in a similar fashion to how Kentucky was defended for most of last season.

- All throughout the summer and into the preseason, I couldn’t escape the hype surrounding the SEC East. Florida returned all five starters from an NCAA Tournament team. Kentucky was reloading with another powerful John Calipari recruiting class. Georgia was the sleeper extraordinaire with two all-SEC caliber players. Tennessee and Vanderbilt returned enough talent to be formidable foes for the entire season. Some experts even had the SEC in the discussion with the Big 12 and Big East as the second best conference in the nation after the Big Ten, especially if Mississippi State incorporated Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost and another SEC West squad surprised the masses. As we sit here five days before Christmas, I can’t help but label the SEC as a major disappointment thus far in the 2010-11 campaign. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Vanderbilt may be the class of the lot. Tennessee has continued their bipolar ways of overachieving as a plucky underdog and folding their tent when expectations begin the mount, plainly evident by quality wins over Villanova and Pittsburgh followed by back-to-back losses to sneaky mid-major Oakland and a middling Atlantic 10 team in Charlotte. Kentucky has collected wins over Washington and Notre Dame, but obvious flaws at the point (Brandon Knight is more of a scoring off-guard) and a gaping hole at center leave the Wildcats young and vulnerable. Florida and Georgia are glaring examples of a lesson we should all learn: just because a team returns a large chunk of their talent, it doesn’t mean they’re going to dramatically improve. Finally, the SEC West has proven to be nothing short of a disaster site, with their six representatives already having suffered defeats at the hands of Iowa, Rutgers, South Florida, UAB, Dayton, East Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic, Coastal Carolina, Nicholls State, Saint Peter’s, UNC-Asheville, Samford, Jacksonville, Campbell and Presbyterian (to be fair, Auburn represents a healthy chunk of those truly embarrassing losses).

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The Other 26: Week Four

Posted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

As every week of the college basketball season evaporates right before our eyes—like a double-digit lead is whittled down to a single possession in a matter of minutes—more and more stories subsequently develop. To draw a comparison to mathematics for you brainiacs out there, this is the classic inverse relationship. As “X”—the number of weeks in the season—decreases, “Y”—the amount of stories—increases. Think about it, when are there the most stories surrounding college basketball? At the end of the year during the NCAA Tournament, of course. From the moment Selection Sunday rolls around all the way to that final, depressing buzzer in the NCAA Championship game rings signaling an end to another season, it seems as if college hoops are being discussed 24/7. Just this past week, there were several major developments in the world of the Other 26:

  • The top three teams in the Mountain West—SDSU, BYU, and UNLV—are a combined 27-0.
  • Butler and Gonzaga have identical, albeit very mediocre, records: 4-4.
  • Temple defeated Maryland and Georgetown, and in the process Fran Dunphy picked up his 400th win.
  • Cleveland State has the most victories in the country with 11.
  • One of the biggest recruits in the nation—Adjehi Baru—signed with the College of Charleston over a couple of ACC schools. Bobby Cremins really has something brewing down there in South Carolina. Could Charleston be the next Davidson? Both schools, after all, hail from the Southern Conference.
  • Illinois and Oakland were getting in touch with their feminine side by using a women’s basketball for the first seven minutes of the first half of their game.

The inverse relationship will not fail as the season progresses. I promise.

Tidbits from the Rankings:

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and the NEC.

Looking Back

For awhile, it appeared the top four contenders – Fairfield, Siena, St. Peter’s and Iona – would have one combined win. Iona, which had some hard luck at the World Vision Classic, broke into the win column with a hard-fought, attention-grabbing, 81-77 double OT win over Richmond at the Hynes Athletic Center. Scott Machado scored 28 for the Gaels but newcomer Michael Glover, a Seton Hall transfer, continues to impress with a 21 point, 17 rebound effort.

As the coaches dutifully note, it is early. Regardless, there are results in the book and trends beginning to emerge. like the addition of Glover into the Gael frontcourt.

Standings

  1. Manhattan          2-0
  2. Rider                    2-1
  3. Canisius               1-1
  4. Fairfield                1-1
  5. Loyola                  1-1
  6. Iona                      1-3
  7. Niagara                0-1
  8. St.Peter’s             0-1
  9. Marist                  0-2
  10. Siena                    0-2

    Player of the Week

    Ryan Rossiter, Siena – The 6’9 senior was chosen as preseason POY and got off to a quick start. Rossiter scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in an 80-76 loss to Vermont. It was Rossiter’s 18th double-double in his last 20 games dating back to last season.

    Rookie of the Week

    Michael Alvarado, Manhattan. The Jasper’s freshman guard scored 23 points in a 75-70 opening game win at NJIT. Alvarado was 12-5 from the line and logged the full forty minutes.

    Team-By-Team

    • Canisius stayed in-state over the weekend. The Griffs earned a split defeating St. Bonaventure (80-70) in the home opener on Friday before dropping a decision at Syracuse (86-67) on Sunday. Sophomore Gaby Belardo scored 19 against St. Bonaventure. It was the South Florida transfer’s first game in a Canisius uniform.
    • On media day, Fairfield coach Ed Cooley discussed how he thought the meeting at Rutgers would be an important early season game on Big East turf. The Fairfield mentor can take solace in the fact there will be other pre-conference challenges as the Stags were handed a 68-53 setback. Derek Needham led Fairfield with 14 points.
    • Iona got out of the gate 0-3. The Gaels dropped three tough ones in the World Vision Classic in Cleveland. They fell to host Cleveland State 78-68 and dropped last-second decisions to Kent State and Bryant. Seton Hall transfer Michael Glover had a strong debut for Iona averaging 18 points per game for the three contests.
    • Jamal Barney scored 21 points, but Loyola (MD) dropped a close 75-72 contest at home to Drexel. The visitors built an 18-point lead by midway of the first half before Loyola came back. The Greyhounds never drew even, with the closest margin being within 2 with 3.1 seconds to play.
    • Jay Bowie scored 19 points, but it was not nearly enough as Marist fell to Villanova 84-47. That loss in round one of the NIT Tip-Off extended the Red Foxes’ losing streak to 19 games.
    • Niagara was the final MAAC team to tip off the season. The Purple Eagles got off to a rough start with a 90-73 loss at home against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kashief Edwards paced the Purple Eagles with 22 points.
    • Rider split, losing to UMass in Springfield on Friday before defeating Lafayette at home Sunday. Rider and Lafayette are former ECC (East Coast Conference) members. Mike Ringgold scored his 1000th career point against Lafayette. Rider did pick up a nice win over USC in Los Angeles (77-57).
    • Coach John Dunne’s concerns about offense were realized as St. Peter’s fell 55-30 in their opener at Robert Morris. Nick Leon led the way for the Peacocks with 13 points.
    • After a home-opening loss to Vermont, Siena fell to 0-2 as host Minnesota rallied for a 75-69 victory. Clarence Jackson led the Saints with 29 points.

    Tempo Notes

    UMass trailed by over 20 points in the early part of the second half of their opener against Rider in Springfield. The Minutemen went on a second half rally and eventually earned a 77-67 victory. A comeback of that nature usually spells a wild up-tempo affair. In this case it was just the opposite.

    Possessions                Offensive Efficiency

    Rider 67                                  100

    UMass 67                                  114

    The pace suggests a moderate tempo, nothing like the racehorse pace usually reserved for frantic comebacks . The offensive efficiency bears out the fact Rider just could not stop the Minutemen. Especially during that second half.

    Another note comes from Ryan Restivo who does a great job with the SienaSaints blog (not just saying that because I have been a guest contributor there). Ryan did a breakdown of the Saints’ loss at Minnesota, analyzing every Siena possession by time. The conclusion was that Siena was more effective and efficient in possessions that lasted less than 15 seconds. For instance, Siena shot 69% in their possessions (47) under 15 seconds and was only 30% from the field in the 31 possessions of 15 seconds or more.  Very interesting material that bears out that players often pass up a good shot early and are often left with a rushed or less desirable attempt as the shot clock winds down.

    Upcoming Games of Note:

    • November 19: St.Peter’s vs. Old Domion (Paradise Jam); Fairfield at Penn State; Niagara at Georgia Tech
    • November 20: Rider vs. TCU (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 21: Rider vs. Loyola Marymount (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 23: Butler vs. Siena; St.Joesph’s vs. Fairfield
    • November 25: Manhattan vs. Wisconsin (Old Spice Classic in Orlando)
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