ACC Morning Five: 10.07.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011

  1. USA Today: Marien Garcia talked with Roy Williams and Tyler Zeller about North Carolina‘s upcoming game on the aircraft carrier against Michigan State. Williams sounded excited about the game, though it definitely sounds like he expects a few early game jitters from the environment. Zeller indirectly supported Williams’ thoughts, wondering how the boat’s movement would affect shooting. Magic Johnson has confirmed his role as honorary captain for the Spartans, while rumor has it that Michael Jordan may be wavering on his commitment to attend on behalf of the Tar Heels.
  2. Raleigh News and Observer – ACC Now: Rejoice NC State fans! Alumnus Sidney Lowe has already landed on his feet (not counting the million dollar check he’ll be receiving from the Wolfpack athletic department). Lowe was hired by the Utah Jazz as an assistant coach. Lowe’s departure was a double-edged sword: on the one hand his team’s performances and lack of NCAA Tournament invitations mandated his dismissal; on the other Lowe has a lot of history with the program, which made the parting more than a little bittersweet.
  3. Baltimore Sun – Recruiting Report: Matt Bracken profiles Syracuse sophomore CJ Fair, focusing on his rollercoaster recruitment. While Fair played a more limited role for the Orange last season, Jim Boeheim expects him to take on more responsibility for this year’s team. But the coach’s praise didn’t stop there: “But he’s on a tremendous path. I think he can be a dominant player before he leaves here.”
  4. Washington Post – Terrapins Insider: Maryland freshman Alex Len still hasn’t been cleared to play by the NCAA. This isn’t very surprising as Len signed very recently (August) and is from overseas. In other news Mark Turgeon expressed his excitement to play Mike Brey and Notre Dame in the BB&T Classic this fall: “Mike was on the staff at Duke when I played in the Final Four [in 1986 with Kansas]. I lost when I played, but we won the next time…”
  5. The Heights: A new student group at Boston College, Donahue’s Disciples, is out to generate more student enthusiasm for Eagle home games. Having attended a couple of games in Conte Forum, Ryan Dunn and his friends have a lot of work to do. Both games sported a half-empty student section, and the only real noise came from the band (for the record one of these games was a crucial NCAA Tournament bubble game against Virginia Tech). Donahue’s Disciples have some good ideas to get students involved: namely, free food and possibly a three-on-three basketball tournament. The official Donahue Disciple twitter account is @BookOfDonahue, which is already up to 189 followers.
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Welcome to the ACC Microsite!

Posted by rtmsf on October 3rd, 2011

The ACC.

To most American sports fans, the mere mention of those two words conjures up immediate images of Michael Jordan from the baseline, Christian Laettner from the top of the key, Jim Valvano searching for a hug, Dean Smith calling for the four corners, and Mike Krzyzewski collecting rings like a Kardashian at Tiffany’s.  The ACC, perhaps more than any other conference in our lifetime, defines college basketball.  The cultural affinity for the sport down on Tobacco Road and beyond is only rivaled by the SEC’s obsession with the pigskin, and with the recent additions of hoops powerhouses Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the mix, the league stands to become even stronger.  It only makes sense that we would begin our power conference microsite roll-out focused on the league with the most history, tradition and passion for the game.

The ACC microsite is intended to focus exclusively on the stories coming out of the league on a daily basis.  Our two staffers, Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) and Kellen Carpenter (@kellenlc), are talented and knowledgeable ACC insiders who plan on bringing you thoughtful commentary, analysis and criticism on a regular basis.  Get to know them at Twitter or you can contact them directly by clicking on their names.

Welcome to the next phase in the living history of RTC, the ACC microsite.

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Alpha Dogs, Traffic Jams, and Derrick Williams

Posted by KCarpenter on February 10th, 2011

While we love to celebrate teamwork in college basketball, the truth is that the individual is much more fun. Balanced scoring is fine and tactically sound, but what we really love in college basketball is the virtuoso offensive performance, or as it is called in 2011, the Jimmer. And while the three-headed Devil from Durham may have won last season, perhaps this season, the one man show is back in style.  It’s Michael Jordan’s fault, really. His competitive nature and unbelievable personal narcissism motivated him to incredible heights and made him largely unbearable to most of his contemporaries. His success provided a model for greatness that was easy to recognize and hard to argue with. There are lots of different names for the Jordan model, but Bill Simmons’ version is probably the best known: The Alpha Dog.

Yeah, It's Safe to Call MJ an Alpha Dog

Simmons didn’t invent the concept or the term: lots of analysts, sportswriters, announcers and coaches have described the alpha dog model in one way or another over the years. The gist of it is this: A team needs an undisputed leader. The alpha dog is the go-to-guy on offense and is the guy who takes the game-winning shots. To win championships, you need an alpha dog. Jordan was an alpha dog (at least for the Bulls if not for North Carolina), and he is the primary reason his team won championships. Despite being a team game, you need an alpha dog to win, to demand the right to take the last shot. Guys who pass up the last shot aren’t alpha dogs: they are losers. At least, that’s the catechism. However, in the grand world of Simmon-isms, there may be another theory at play.

Specifically, I’m talking about the Ewing Theory, which in short, postulates that sometimes a team will play better without its star player, that the team will transcend the individual. Does this contradict the Alpha Dog theory? Well then it contradicts the Alpha Dog theory. Simmons, like Walt Whitman, contains multitudes. In any case, the Sports Guy has lots of examples, and anecdotally, lots of folks have seen this with their own eyes and believe it. It’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where this makes sense. The star is a volume scorer and fairly inefficient, and when the star is out of the game, the other players get more shots and more efficient shots. This is fairly intuitive and you can see the principle in action every Kentucky game. Terrence Jones is a sensational basketball player and undoubtedly incredibly skilled. That said, he is the fifth most efficient scorer on the team, but takes 30.5% of the shots. If he took fewer shots and his teammates took more, the team’s offensive efficiency would go up.

At Ohio State, Jared Sullinger uses, by far, the most possessions in each game, and for the most part, that’s fine. Sullinger is an incredibly efficient scorer with an offensive rating of 123.6 (points per hundred possessions). That said, Sullinger’s teammate Jon Diebler has an insane offensive rating of 139.1 and yet uses only 12.5% of Ohio State’s possessions. If I were to pretend you were naive here, you would then ask why Ohio State isn’t constantly feeding Jon Diebler. Fortunately, you aren’t naive and you understand that efficency is fleeting. Or if not exactly fleeting, curved.

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Morning Five: 02.03.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 3rd, 2011

  1. We are normally fans of Seth Davis, but we have to strongly disagree with him on his response to Jake from Seattle (scroll down), though we would have accepted an answer that Jake was using the improper jargon and the appropriate phrase is “rush the court.” Ok, all kidding aside, Seth has a solid column (again) with some good stuff about all the questions surrounding Ohio State (have to go back a page from the original link). Still, we think it is worthwhile pointing out that, despite our name, we don’t think the actual act is necessary all the time, and that it should only be done at rare and appropriate times. We feel so strongly about this that we even wrote a post about it. That said, we do agree with Seth’s point that crowds need to be aware of their surroundings and watch for others around them as I witnessed at the only true RTC of which this author has ever been a part. The Providence fans were very courteous in letting me move to the side to avoid being trampled by the onslaught so I could get a better angle to report on it when I joined the students on the floor (see pics in the link above — apologies for the poor formating which is the result of some old audio files that seem to be missing).
  2. Even though most people know Ken Pomeroy for his site and its rankings he also writes an interesting blog. A lot of the time his posts are about analyzing some new statistic, but he recently had an engaging post questioning how the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee should determine how it picks the at-large teams. It is worth a read and raises the question as to whether those involved with selecting the field should allow their personal viewing experience to influence who gets into the field. In an ideal world they would not, but then they’d be left without a way to understand basketball, which I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t want to have as a characteristic of the people who determine which teams make the field.
  3. Someone mentioned a few days ago that people would start jumping on the UNC bandwagon pretty soon, and after the Tar Heels blew out the Eagles in Chestnut Hill it looks as though that was quite prescient as some people in the North Carolina media are starting to buy into the Heels even if many of their readers aren’t (see the comments in that link). It will be interesting to see if the media can convince themselves that UNC could actually play with their rivals a few miles down the road. We know that CBS will certainly be hyping it up like that, especially for a certain primetime game, but we still aren’t sure how many will actually try to get on the bandwagon as well.
  4. We are a college basketball site, but we would be remiss not to offer a tip of the hat to Bob Hurley Sr. for winning his 1,000th game as a high school basketball coach. While some may argue that his son Bobby — the point guard on the back-to-back NCAA championship teams at Duke and still the NCAA record holder for assists in a career — is more well-known, it is his father who has impacted more lives, having sent countless players to college on scholarship or improved their lives through basketball. Hurley Sr. is the 10th high school coach to reach the 1,000 win milestone and is already pointing toward 100 more. Personally, we would like to see him out there for 1,000 more.
  5. Speaking of well-known father-son combinations, Gonzaga has one in John Stockton and his son David Stockton. All right, maybe the father is a little more well-known than the son in this case. You all know about John’s accomplishments, but you are probably less familiar with David, who joined the Gonzaga team earlier this season as a freshman walk-on. Much like Jeff Jordan, the son of Michael Jordan (the man who prevented David’s father from winning a NBA championship ring) who was given a scholarship after walking on, David also received news that he too had been given a scholarship. For Mark Few‘s sake, we hope that David stays at Gonzaga longer than Jeff did at Illinois.
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Morning Five: 12.02.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2010

  1. In an odd story involving Michael Jordan and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame located in Raleigh, the GOAT will be inducted into his home state’s hall at a public ceremony in Charlotte during halftime of the Bobcats-Raptors game on December 14.  So… why did it take so long?  After all, the 47-year old superstar  has been off the court since 2003 and was elected to the big-boy Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.  Apparently the problem is that the NC Hall requires its selections to actually be present when they’re inducted, and for a number of reasons, neither MJ or the institution have been able to work out an appropriate time over the last seventeen years.  Yeah, since 1993.  Something tells us that Jordan didn’t really have his local HOF high on the priority list, but if the North Carolina  Sports HOF was willing to come to wherever he is — remember, he’s majority owner of the Bobcats now — why wasn’t this done before now?
  2. Mike DeCourcy doesn’t come out and say it, but… the NCAA Board of Directors is run by college presidents, and the college presidents also control the BCS.  The BCS folks don’t like nor want johnny-come-latelies such as TCU knocking on the door of their national championship football showcase, so does Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s eligibility finding really surprise anyone?  After all, without Newton in the lineup at the SEC Championship this coming weekend, Auburn might lose; and if Auburn loses, we’d be left with a probable Oregon-TCU matchup that nobody would watch.  Enes Kanter’s eligibility may not feel insignificant in Lexington, but he’s small potatoes compared to the masters of the sporting universe interested in (and possibly involved) in Newton’s eligibility (that said, we actually think Kanter will be able to play this season on appeal).
  3. With UCLA visiting Kansas tonight at Allen Fieldhouse and Kentucky visiting North Carolina on Saturday, four of the top six college basketball programs of all-time will be playing each other in the next few days.  No disrespect to Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers, but we’d rather have seen Duke play Michigan State anyway in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last night.  Here’s a look at how the Kansas players are feeling in anticipating their contest with the Bruins — even though UCLA has been down a bit, the tradition and names on the front of these jerseys always inspires excitement in these kinds of games: even when down, they’re never down for long (although IU is making us worry).  Also, seeing the top-ranked UCLA class of 2008 written out and discussed as it is in that piece inspires another query: worst top-ranked recruiting class of all-time?
  4. Horrible news for Bradley as the team has decided to sit preseason all-MVC guard Sam Maniscalco for the rest of the season.  He had surgery over the summer to remove bone spurs in his ankle, but he’s been playing with continued pain in the joint and his effectiveness has been limited over the first six games of the season (10/4 on 33% shooting compared to 13/3 on 47%).  The senior will apply for a medical redshirt and we hope he gets it.  Bradley is currently 4-2 on the year, but they’ve already lost two starters to injury and the MVC looks like a one-bid league again — not a good scenario.
  5. Here’s an interesting story from the New York Post about the decline in the Big Apple’s long-standing status as a hotbed for elite hoops talent.  The article probes a number of possible reasons, most interesting of which is the concept of democratizing the “New York game” worldwide.  The point that really hits home, though, is that the best current born-and-bred New Yorker playing in the NBA is probably Sebastian Telfair, a player whose talent and skill set never came close to matching his ridiculous hype.  Telfair is currently a backup point guard for the horrendous Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging a pedestrian 8.4 PPG and 4.3 APG in just under 25 minutes per game.  Another interesting factoid: there was only one New Yorker among the 27 players receiving votes for the 2010-11 AP All-America team — Mr. 105, Villanova’s Corey Fisher, who grew up in the Bronx.
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Breaking Down the 2011 Preseason Wooden Award List

Posted by nvr1983 on October 5th, 2010

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced its preseason list of the 50 candidates for the Wooden Award. Among those listed are names of players with whom we are all familiar, like Kyle Singler, Kalin Lucas, and Robbie Hummel, but there are also many lesser-known but still talented players like Nikola Vucevic and Kawhi Leonard (feel free to yell “East Coast bias!” in the comments). Even though this is one of about a thousand Player of the Year awards it holds a special place for most college basketball aficionados because of its namesake, the late John Wooden, and especially the year after his death. Established in 1976, The Wooden Award has been awarded to an individual after a 26-member panel — I’m sure our invite is lost in the snail mail or got caught in a spam filter — narrows down the list of candidates down to 20 players and then lets 1,000 voters (seriously, where’s our invite?) pick the ten All-Americans and the Player of the Year (last year Evan Turner took home the hardware). Looking back through past winners provides you with a veritable “Who’s Who” of college basketball in the past quarter century and includes luminaries like Phil Ford, Larry Bird, Ralph Sampson (twice), Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Danny Manning, Larry Johnson, Christian Laettner, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Jason Williams, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Durant, and Tyler Hansbrough.

2010 Wooden Award Winner

One of the big caveats for the early season list is that it does not include freshman or transfers. Now, the latter usually do not factor into these awards with the exception of Larry Johnson and Wesley Johnson, who picked up a few votes last year, but the former (like Durant and Michael Beasley) are beginning to play a growing role in this and other awards. We do have a few issues with the list, which you will see more of over the next few weeks as we unveil our “Impact Players” by region. For today we will just focus on our favorites and some notable freshman who were left off the list, but we expect to be in the running for the actual award later this season. We will leave off the non-freshman omissions because frankly we do not expect any of them to factor into the final ballots.

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Morning Five: 09.30.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2010

  1. Jamie Dixon may have lassoed the highest-rated recruit in the history of Pittsburgh basketball yesterday, as 6’9, 200-pound junior forward Khem Birch verbally committed to his Panther program.  The athletic player originally from Canada is rated in the top five in both the Rivals and Scout rankings for the class of 2012, and he will undoubtedly be a force in the Big East in a couple of years.  Anyone expecting Pitt to “come back to earth” anytime soon is dreaming — so long as Dixon is there, the Panthers are going to remain a force not just in the conference but nationally.  We shudder to think what Dixon will be able to do if he starts getting top ten players at Pitt on a regular basis.
  2. Tomorrow is October, and these player profiles will be everywhere soon enough.  Here are a few to whet your appetite.  UNC’s John Henson (whom Gary Parrish expects to become the biggest breakout star of the year), San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (whom Mike DeCourcy reports is in much better shape than his freshman year, where he still averaged 13/11), and Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer (whom Jim Henry suggests will be the keys to FSU’s third straight NCAA Tournament bid).
  3. Mike DeCourcy points out that the Big East was a ridiculously tight league last season, with over a quarter of its games coming down to a single possession.  That may not mean much until you learn that a league like the Big 12 had similarly close games only half as much last year.  Marquette in particular seemed to have had a lot of those games, and it turns out that 13 of their 21 Big East games last year were three points or fewer (including four OT contests).  What we wouldn’t give for a single Marquette-Notre Dame game right now…
  4. Here’s a look at two coaches in vastly different situations at their respective schools who are using the art of recruiting blue-chip prospects to substantiate their coaching existences.  John Pelphrey would appear to be on the hot seat at Arkansas after three lackluster seasons, but according to Gary Parrish, he’s bought himself at least two more years with a strong incoming class that will arrive in Fayetteville in 2011.  On the flip side of things, Ohio State’s Thad Matta is in no danger of losing his job in large part because he continues to haul in fantastic players to his program year after year (Jared Sullinger only the latest stud of many).
  5. Former UNC head coach and Hall of Famer Dean Smith made an appearance at the Charlotte Bobcats’ training camp on Wednesday.  One of his former pupils, Larry Brown, is currently the head coach of the team and, of course, His Airness is the majority owner of the club.  This was the first public appearance for the legendary coach since the summer release of information from his family that he was suffering from a degenerative memory disease, but the 79-year old Smith was in good enough condition to keep up appearances — he made sure to wear a bright Carolina blue jacket to the camp (ed note: send us a photo if you’ve got one).
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LeBron Runs With The Hurricanes

Posted by jstevrtc on August 26th, 2010

Celebrities of all types have always been associated with college basketball. Just in the past few years, we’ve seen the likes of President Obama playing pickup at North Carolina and taking in a game at Georgetown; Michael Jordan’s been known to practice with the Tar Heels every so often; Ashley Judd considers herself Kentucky Fan #1, and last season John Calipari had the likes of Magic Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, and Drake showing up at Rupp Arena. Calipari’s association with LeBron James specifically ticked some people off. There are certainly more examples, and whether they admit it or not, coaches with such connections like it when musicians, actors, or athletes bring a little celebrity juice to their programs.

LeBron will probably make a few appearances at Miami's Convocation Center.

That last one, though, may have now found a new crew with which to play. The AP reported earlier today that James joined in some “informal scrimmaging” with the Miami Hurricanes, some of whom hadn’t been notified that he was coming, let alone bringing along the likes of fellow Heat members Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, and Patrick Beverley, and Chris Paul from the Hornets. According to the AP report (via, NBA players who live in Florida often work out with the team, but this was James’ first visit to “The U.” LeBron’s assessment via Twitter: “Just left ‘The U’ hooping with the team….Great runs! Needed that.”

Messrs. Williams, Thompson, and Calipari — it’s your move. Who’s got Clooney’s number?

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September 15th Will Be “Mike Krzyzewski Day”

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2010

The past two years have been very good for Mike Krzyzewski. In addition to taking Duke back to the top of the college basketball world last April, he also led Team USA back to the top of the international basketball world (not that there was any doubt as long as we brought the “A team”) in Beijing. An inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, he has won almost every title (four NCAA championships, 12 ACC championships in both the regular season and conference tournament, and an Olympic gold medal) and received almost every award (three Naismith College Cach of the Year Awards, two Basketball Times National Coach of the Year Awards, a NABC National Coach of the Year Award, and five ACC Coach of the Year Awards) that he could be expected to win.

K: Best in the Business

To add to that, earlier today the city of Chicago announced that it would make this September 15th into “Mike Krzyzewski Day” (over/under on misspelled signs and posters: 130) on the same day that he will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award. [Ed. Note: We aren’t expecting Chicago great and Duke-hater Michael Jordan to be in attendance.] Coach K, a native of Chicago, graduated from Archbishop Weber High School before matriculating to the Army where he played under a fairly decent coach named Bob Knight. A solid but unspectacular guard at Army, he served in the Army for three years and coached at a prep school for two years before joining Knight as an assistant at Indiana where he left just before the 1975-76 season (the last undefeated Division I team) to take over as the head coach at Army. Although he compiled a 73-59 record at Army, he went 9-17 in his last season before getting an offer from Duke to become their head coach (a classic case of failing upwards). His first three years at Duke were not much more successful as after a merely mediocre rookie campaign he went a combined 21-34 over his second and third seasons. At that point many critics suspected Krzyzewski’s days in Durham were numbered, but little did they know that the freshman class that season (Johnny DawkinsMark AlarieDavid Henderson, and Jay Bilas) would wind up being one of the greatest classes in the school’s history. After that group made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in their sophomore and junior campaigns they took off as seniors in what is widely considered one of the finest seasons in college basketball history. That group entered the championship game with a 37-2 record against a Denny Crum-led Louisville team before falling by three points to freshman sensation “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and the Cardinals.

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Morning Five: 07.09.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 9th, 2010

Now that we’re done with the ridiculous LeBron ego-fest the sports media can get back on people who actually care about sport rather than just making themselves into even bigger celebrities.

  1. The CBE Classic (not Tournament) has announced that Duke, Kansas State, Gonzaga, and Marquette will host the regional games against Princeton and Miami (OH); James Madison and Presbyterian; Bucknell and Wisconsin-Green Bay; and IUPUI and San Diego State, respectively. The hosts will automatically advance to the semifinals in Kansas City regardless of whether they win or lose the regional games.
  2. The US National Team announced the practice squad of college players that will scrimmage against the NBA players prior to the lead-up to the World Championships later this summer. While the National Team won’t be that loaded this summer don’t expect these college players to beat the National Team in any of these scrimmages like the 1992 team did against “The Dream Team” in the first scrimmage (where Michael Jordan only played 3 minutes).
  3. Some sad news about the health of Dean Smith during his retirement. Although we could speculate about the causes and prognosis much like we could have with the recently departed John Wooden we won’t out of respect to both the coach and his family and instead wish them the best in what is undoubtedly a difficult situation.
  4. And more sad news out, but this time out of Lexington as we noted  former Kentucky All-American Mel Turpin committed suicide at his home yesterday. A dominant player in college (scroll down), Turpin was less successful in the NBA where he was drafted #6 in the 1984 NBA Draft where his teammate Sam Bowie was drafted 2nd above some guy named Jordan. Still Turpin seemed to keep things in perspective once telling Sports Illustrated, “In my day, they thought the big man was supposed to be thin. They didn’t know too much. It was medieval.”
  5. ESPN and the ACC have reached a 12-year TV deal worth $1.86 billion for both basketball and football. We can only hope this means that ESPN will broadcast more games during the season instead of all of their non-entertaining entertainment shows that they have filled air time with in recent years.
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