Morning Five: 04.18.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

  1. Mike DeCourcy wrote an article late last week attempting to explode the myths surrounding the one-and-done phenomenon, and although he takes a different tact than we would with it, we both pretty much arrive in the same place.  As our analyses of one-and-doners from 2007-10 have shown, having a single-year player pass through your program can help in ways beyond merely Ws and Ls — it can also help with marketing, recruiting and elevating the general cachet of the school.  Through last summer, we estimated that 20 of the 35 one-and-doners (57%) had either been worth it or well worth it, and we don’t expect that  percentage to change much after this year’s crop is settled. (see our yearly analyses here: 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010)  Does this mean that that programs with large amounts of annual one-and-done turnover will lack the experience needed to win the national title — possibly, but no coach is going to turn down elite talent on the happenstance that he may only play college ball for one year (or two, if the NBA’s CBA changes soon).
  2. Speaking of the next great crop of elite players, the Jordan Brand Classic occurred Saturday night in Charlotte, with a large number of the top prospects in the Class of 2011 showing their stuff.  UNC recruit James McAdoo and Kentucky recruit Anthony Davis shared the MVP honors, with McAdoo hitting the clinching FTs with 1.6 seconds remaining to lead his East squad to the victory over Davis’ West team.  We’ll have much more on this later today in our Who’s Got Next? post, but let’s just say that Kentucky fans are drooling over the duo of Davis (29/11) and Marquis Teague playing off each other next season.
  3. Washington State’s DeAngelo Casto announced on Friday that he will be leaving Pullman to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.  The junior averaged 12/7 last season for the Cougs and was selected to the all-Pac-10 second team.  Although he is questionable in terms of draftability, he became a father in 2010 and that no doubt influenced his decision to leave school.  He mentioned in his statement that he would be fine with playing overseas for a little while first.  Let’s hope it works out for him.
  4. Some weekend transfer news…  LaSalle’s Aaric Murray has apparently narrowed his choices down to either Kansas or West Virginia.  The 6’10 sophomore averaged 15/8 last season in his second consecutive all-Big Five season for the Explorers.  He will have to sit out the 2011-12 season, but would be well poised to step into a starting role at either school after Thomas Robinson and Kevin Jones move through their respective programs.  Over in Syracuse, Jim Boeheim intimated that troubled freshman Dion Waiters may be on the outs sooner rather than later, noting during the weekend that “sometimes change is better for everyone.”  Waiters is considered a possible star in the making, but his attitude has gotten him into hot water at SU and he may have to blossom elsewhere next year.
  5. An estimated 40,000 fans turned out in Hartford to celebrate the UConn Huskies’ national championship season on Saturday afternoon.  Jim Calhoun, Kemba Walker and the rest were all smiles as they paraded through the streets on a double-decker bus carrying the hardware they earned in Houston two Mondays ago.  The Hartford Courant had a bunch of great pictures on their site which we suggest you check out, but the below photo was our favorite one.  Given the cash-strapped state of the Connecticut government, it took a considerable amount of private proceeds from local businesses to make the parade actually happen (instead of a much smaller rally), which shows just how much the area supports their team — when it came to put up or shut up, they put up their own funds to make it happen.

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

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ATB: Snow & Ice Keep Fans Away But the Hoops Must Go On…

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2011

The Lede.  It’s snow-and-ice-pocalypse across a major swath of the midwest and east tonight, but that doesn’t stop us from delivering this evening’s news and analysis from the comforts of our couch.  Tonight games from Boston to Boulder and everywhere in between were moved, postponed or played in front of sparse crowds of people avoiding the weather.  No matter where you sit, whether in the frigid zones getting decked by the snow or the warmer climes elsewhere, there was some pretty good basketball going on around the nation tonight.  Let’s keep everybody out there safe tomorrow trying to dig out of it, though.

Are Harrison Barnes & UNC Turning the Corner? (A. Hunger/NO)

Your Watercooler MomentIs Carolina Back? After winning eight of nine games coming into tonight’s contest at Boston College, UNC had already re-established itself back in the national rankings (#23 AP; #24 RTC) but there was a still-tenuous feeling among many about whether Roy Williams’ team was actually legitimate or not.  After all, the Heels’ best win in that streak was at home against Virginia Tech and there is still that lingering image of a craptacular performance at Georgia Tech a couple of Sundays ago.  Delving into the Heels’ resume, though, shows that their other losses really aren’t all that bad — a two-point loss to Texas (playing as well as anyone right now) in addition to Ls to Illinois, Minnesota and Vanderbilt.  These are all forgivable losses especially for a young team, but the question on everyone’s mind is whether a performance like tonight where the Heels ripped a solid BC team by 32 points is the start of something special?  We’re not quite ready to go there yet, but the recent offensive emergence of Harrison Barnes (career highs of 25 pts vs. NC State over the weekend and 26 pts tonight) gives Carolina a dimension on the wing that they haven’t had.  In those two games, Barnes has already hit nearly a quarter of his entire number of threes made for the season, and the transition of Kendall Marshall to the starting lineup in place of Larry Drew over the last four games has been an effective one.  Neither Marshall nor Drew are the type of players in the mold of Ty Lawson or Raymond Felton who will push the Carolina attack into overdrive en route to a national title, but Marshall in particular has shown a propensity for distributing the ball (his assist rate is through the roof per minute played), and for the first time all season we are now convinced that UNC is indeed the #2 team in the ACC behind Duke.  The key takeaway with tonight’s win is that Roy Williams’ team is getting better — they’re not going to the Final Four and they may not even be Sweet Sixteen-worthy this season, but in a watered-down ACC, they should have enough to at least get back to the NCAA Tournament and quite possibly win a first round game.  With presumably everyone back next season, Carolina fans could once again have the building blocks to get back onto their typical Final Four every-other-year track.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • The Big Ten Mucky Muck.  Two Big Ten games tonight proved that home teams are pretty good in this league most of the time and that it’s looking more and more like there will be a five-team race for second place in the league behind Ohio State.  Purdue dropped its fourth road game in a row to go 7-3 in the conference, and as we all know, Madison isn’t a good place to come out of a road losing streak.  Meanwhile, Illinois broke its two-game tailspin (and four of five) with a strong defensive performance in front of about twenty fans versus Penn State.  With the results of these two games tonight, OSU now has a three-game lead on Purdue, but the Boilermakers and the next five teams (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State) are all within two games of each other.  It’s going to be a wild second half of the season to see how that league shakes out in the middle.
  • KU’s Odd Luck in Lubbock.  Strangely, Bill Self had never won a game in Lubbock prior to tonight’s destruction of the Red Raiders, 88-66.  In games in 2005, 2007 and 2009, KU went to Texas Tech with a top ten ranking and came away with losses in all three visits.  Tonight’s game was a completely different story, as Kansas ran out to a huge halftime lead and never looked back.  The Jayhawks put five players in double figures, including the Morris twins’ combined 29/16, but the most notable performance of the evening came from Thomas Robinson, who had his second consecutive great 17/9 night, well above his season averages of 9/6.  This is wonderful to see.
  • Brandon Knight, Meet the Hand (of Reggie Buckner).  One of the best blocks we’ve seen all season long sent the Ole Miss home crowd into a frenzy.  Welcome to D1, rookie.  Oh, and Chris Warren hit a 25-foot three to win the game.  That too.

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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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Morning Five: Thanksgiving Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2010

  1. We’d like to start off today’s Morning Five with a trite but true statement about some of the many things that we’re thankful for here within the RTC family.  The growth of the site to become one of the leading voices in the college basketball community is (trust us) well beyond what we ever imagined possible here.  We’d like to thank you, the faithful readers, who continue to push us with ideas for improvement, challenge us if we print half-baked thoughts or incomplete analyses, and generally keep us on our toes to the point where sleep schedules for the editing team from October to April are pretty much nonexistent.  We might complain about it if we didn’t love this stuff so much.  We’d also like to throw a special thank-you to our many contributors, who have similarly grown from a few to several to a bunch, and in our efforts to corral the absolute best minds thinking about and discussing this sport on a national level, we feel that we are well on our way to reaching a sort-of hoops nirvana.  Finally, a shout-out absolutely must go to our families and friends — the wives, parents, pets, colleagues and buddies who we’ve had to continually bail on so that RTC can live to see another day.  The sacrifices these people make to remain close to us are not something that we’ll overstate — after all, it’s not like we’re fighting wars here — but it does have a day-to-day impact on those relationships to the point where mere choices between an extra half-hour behind the computer screen or a walk with a loved one is a quandary fraught with potential pitfalls.  We’re thankful for all of these things, and we want to wish everyone out there in College Hoops Nation the very best of Thanksgiving days wherever you are in your lives, and hopefully you too can find the happiness that we all get from making this thing happen.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
  2. Iowa State received the bad news on Wednesday that Minnesota transfer Royce White’s appeal to become eligible to play this season was denied by the NCAA.  The troubled player never played a game as a freshman for Minnesota in 2009-10 due to a Mall of America incident that left him in trouble with the legal system, so his eligibility request was based on that lag.  The NCAA didn’t buy the argument, however, choosing instead to impose the standard one-year transfer redshirt rule with White as it typically does any other transfer player.
  3. Mike DeCourcy answers some reader (?) questions, and the lead query asks which coach among the heavy-lifters (K, Izzo, Calipari, Donovan) would he choose to win a one-game scenario.  His answer won’t surprise you (K), but it reminded us of a solid question we received last week in a similar vein.  If we had to choose one coach and player to currently build a program with — who would it be?  We assumed a four-year window, but our choice was Butler’s Brad Stevens and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.  Who would you guys start with?
  4. Luke Winn’s weekly in-season power rankings just might be the best read you’ll get on a regular basis during the season.  If RTC ever gets that creative on something, we’ll know that we’ve arrived.
  5. Thanksgiving was once all about that sport with the oblong ball and a 100-yard field of grass.  And yeah, we suppose that there are NFL games that actually matter, but the only college football game on today involves a 5-6 Texas team taking on an 8-3 Texas A&M team as the battle for seeding in the national tournament in an exercise of utter meaninglessness.  Good luck with that.  Or, you could watch the 76 Classic and Old Spice Classic, both of which begin today and even though March Madness is still over three months away, these games today actually have meaning.  The meaning might be marginal in scope, but it’s more than zero; and zero is what you get by watching late November games involving Texas schools going nowhere fast in that other sport.
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Morning Five: 10.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

  1. It was an eventful weekend across the college basketball landscape as programs began officially practicing on Friday night with spirited Midnight Madness celebrations ranging from Duke’s banner unfurling to Michigan State’s astronaut theme to Pepperdine’s For Whom the (Keion) Bell Tolls…  in case you were busy with football and/or the MLB playoffs this weekend, be sure to check out our BGTD: Midnight Madness Edition from Friday night as well as our postmortem of highlights we posted on Sunday.  And believe it or not, we’re only twenty-one days from game action, folks.
  2. Like everyone else, we were extremely sad to hear that Purdue’s Robbie Hummel had once again ruptured his ACL, an injury that will leave him on the shelf this season.  You can really feel the pain in Jeff Goodman’s article over the weekend where he discusses just how unfair it is that a great kid such as Hummel seems to have such crappy luck.  For Purdue fans, this is also devastating — the Boilermakers rallied after Hummel’s late February injury last year to sneak into the Sweet Sixteen, but even with the experience of playing without him and E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson returning, we just can’t see a Final Four run in this squad.  Hummel will have one more year to play college basketball in 2011-12, but he’ll return to a team gutted by the graduation of those two stars and although hope springs eternal, we have a feeling that these couple of years will ultimately represent unfortunate missed opportunities for Matt Painter and his program.
  3. Speaking of Goodman, here’s his preseason Top 25 (keep in mind Purdue at #2 was prior to Hummel’s injury); here’s Mike DeCourcy’s at Sporting News; and here’s Gary Parrish’s over at CBS Sports.
  4. Seth Davis checks in with his 10 Burning Questions to start the new season, a great read as usual.  Unfortunately, we already know the answer to the second half of #2, but he brings up a good point about Duke managing to duck much of the ubiquitous hatred last season largely because most pundits (and the public) didn’t start taking the Blue Devils seriously as a title contender until the very end of the season.
  5. Friday was Midnight Madness at most places, but it was also the date of UConn and Jim Calhoun’s hearing in Indy with the NCAA Infractions Committee.  Calhoun reported that the meeting took thirteen hours, but he provided no additional details as to its substance (although a 13-hour meeting is no joke).  The NCAA is expected to make a ruling on this issue by December.  Let’s hope for Husky fans that their season is generally going well by then; otherwise, it could be a particularly cold winter in Storrs.
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Morning Five: 10.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 12th, 2010

  1. Unfortunately, there will be more and more of this over the next few weeks as players get back to full practice sessions.  Penn State forward Sasa Borovnjak injured his knee last week during a workout and will have to miss the 2010-11 season due to a torn ACL.  This leaves head coach Ed DeChellis with only two returning players taller than 6’8, a proposition fraught with pitfalls in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten.
  2. Mike DeCourcy brings up the legal doctrine of respondent superior in a roundabout way in describing how the NCAA might evaluate UConn’s (and Jim Calhoun’s) defenses to over $14,000 in impermissible benefits.  His quote: “your program, your problem” rings true, and we wonder if we’re starting to look at a potentially ugly situation where the longtime coach who essentially built the program from scratch doesn’t know when it’s time to move on for the betterment and long-term stability of said program.
  3. Luke Winn ranks his top sixteen backcourts for the upcoming 2010-11 seasonDuke is quite obviously #1, with Michigan State, Georgetown and Villanova coming next in order.  Sounds about right.
  4. Fanhouse does a nice prognosticative (?) roundup of the major preseason publications that are already on the newsstands, finding that there’s (as always) a good deal of groupthink involved.  Not necessarily a bad thing, as last year’s Final Four teams were all ranked in the preseason top eleven of the AP poll, but we’re partial to publications that take a bit of a chance, and Blue Ribbon’s pick of Ohio State to get to the Four behind Jon Diebler, David Lighty, William Buford and Jared Sullinger is what we’re talking about.
  5. This is a good read from Steve Irvine at The Birmingham News about UAB’s Aaron Johnson, the Blazers’ senior leader and point guard who has experienced more than his share of ups and downs growing up in a tough Chicago neighborhood with eleven (!!!) brothers and sisters.  He’s set to graduate next spring and already has his sights on giving back to his family if he’s fortunate enough to find a professional paycheck somewhere down the line.  The 5’9 wisp of a player who averaged 10/5 APG last season will have trouble finding steady work stateside, but with his work ethic and perseverence we figure he’ll find that paycheck eventually.  Stories like this get us every time, so we’re definitely rooting for the kid.
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Morning Five: 08.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2010

We’re going to try something new today, and you’ll likely never see it again… but it’s August, and we’re absolutely frothing at the mouth over some of the schedules coming out three months from now, so we’re sure you’ll forgive us.

  1. We’ve laid off this story, but we’re glad to see former Alabama forward Mikhail Torrance off the ventilator and in stable condition after a reported heart attack last weekend.
  2. This story by Golden Grizzlies Gameplan focuses on several returning players including Virginia Tech’s Jeff Allen, Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Wake Forest’s Tony Woods as players who haven’t quite lived up to potential yet.  Mmmm… potential.
  3. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber believes in his Illini.
  4. Who has been more successful in the last 30+ years of college basketball — Florida or Wake Forest?  These questions and many others will be answered in Basketball Reference’s countdown of the top 31 programs in the last 31 years of college hoops.  Honestly, the fact that this is even in question begs huge questions about this analysis.  Maybe they should put the name “Harvard” in front of it.
  5. C’mon DeCourcy, you’re better than that — where’s our TSN preview mag in the RTC mailbox?  For those of you who also didn’t receive the copy, here’s their important info… bold to go with the Spartans over Duke.

TSN Top-25

  1. Michigan State
  2. Duke
  3. Purdue
  4. Kansas
  5. Ohio State
  6. Kansas State
  7. Syracuse
  8. Kentucky
  9. North Carolina
  10. Pittsburgh
  11. Villanova
  12. Memphis
  13. Missouri
  14. Gonzaga
  15. Illinois
  16. Baylor
  17. Georgetown
  18. Wisconsin
  19. Butler
  20. Florida
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. Tennessee
  23. Washington
  24. Wichita State
  25. Florida State

TSN All-American teams:

First team

  • Kyle Singler, Duke
  • Marcus Morris, Kansas
  • Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU
  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

Second team

  • Durrell Summers, Michigan State
  • Malcolm Delaney, Virginia tech
  • Kris Joseph, Syracuse
  • Kyrie Irving, Duke
  • Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

Third team

  • LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
  • Enes Kantor, Kentucky
  • Nolan Smith, Duke
  • JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
  • Elias Harris, Gonzaga
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Morning Five: 08.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 13th, 2010

  1. Minnesota received good news yesterday when much-maligned forward Trevor Mbakwe finally reached a conclusion in his assault case that will allow him to suit up for the Gophers after over a year in limbo.  He will enter a pre-trial intervention program that will wipe the slate clean so long as he performs 100 hours of community service and pays a $100 fine.  With several solid contributors returning to Minny along with the addition of Mbakwe, Tubby Smith’s team suddenly looks a little better than they did a few days ago in the stacked Big Ten.
  2. Florida, Mississippi State, Dayton, Illinois and Penn State.  What do theses five schools have in common?  Andy Glockner believes that each is ready to make a substantial leap in their luck next season.  He’s not being facetious either.  In using the Pomeroy definition of “luck,” a calculation that measures whether a team is playing above or below its statistical expectations, he finds that the above five teams should show a bump this season if for no other reason than they were fairly unlucky last year.
  3. Mike DeCourcy gives us his five prospects coming out of the July recruiting period who most helped themselves.  Two New Englanders, Maurice Harkless and Naadir Tharpe, were among his list.
  4. An NCAA proposal would require incoming NCAA freshmen to essentially prove their academic worthiness through summer school prior to their first season if their academic credentials were found lacking.  Upperclassmen would also have their academic records reviewed at the end of each school year and determine whether summer classes were needed; if they were, coaches could use part of the players’ summer terms for strength/conditioning and some skill development.  How long until every coach figures out that all of his players (including the 3.0 students) miraculously require the additional summer classwork?
  5. ESPN analyst and former Duke superstar Jay (don’t call me Jason) Williams recently showed that he still has some game, especially the kind suited for summertime street ball.  He played so well at  Dyckman in NYC recently that he earned a new nickname: the Bourne Supremacy.  We’re very anxious to see what the other ESPN analysts and commentators will do with that next season.
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Morning Five: 08.04.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 4th, 2010

  1. The big news of the day came from East Lansing, as twice-consecutive Final Four team Michigan State announced that it will no longer require the services of rising senior guard Chris Allen, a player who started 27 games last season and averaged 8/3/2 APG in a balanced offensive attack.  Tom Izzo stated that Allen had not met the standards required by him as a player in the MSU program, but he will help Allen transfer to another D1 program for his senior year (incidentally, Allen is the first player Izzo has ever booted).  After a year sitting out as a transfer, some lucky school will be the beneficiary of an athletic perimeter defender with the ability to knock down threes in rhythm (40% last year and 97 on his career).  As for preseason top five team Michigan State, the general consensus is that this loss will be negligible.  Their depth in the backcourt just got much thinner, but the feeling is that Korie Lucious, Durrell Summers and Keith Appling will be able to handle the additional burden.  Frankly, we believe that Izzo could take a team filled with incorrigible circus animals to the Final Four, so the Spartans will be fine.
  2. If you believe Tre’Von Willis‘ lawyer, the senior UNLV guard facing domestic battery charges in Sin City expects to play a full season for the Runnin’ Rebels this coming season.  Willis is accused of choking his girlfriend in late June, but his attorney pleaded not guilty for him today and his preliminary hearing will not occur until November 22.  This could mean that any possible trial on this matter (if it came to that) could begin well into 2011, potentially freeing him up to play the entire season.
  3. The Big 12 announced its conference composite schedule yesterday, and we’re happy to report that both Sunflower State showdowns will be televised nationally this year.  The game in Lawrence is slotted for Saturday, January 29 (ESPN), and the return game in Manhattan is two weeks later on Valentine’s Day.
  4. Can you imagine a 20-team Big East that covered land from Kansas to NYC east-west and Boston to Tampa north-south?  Yeah, half the country, basically.  Adam Zagoria reported yesterday that the conference was looking at this opportunity should the Big 12 have ultimately disbanded earlier this summer.  In a related matter, Big East commissioner John Marinatto emphatically denied the persistent rumor that the conference was set to add Memphis to its lineup.
  5. Count Mike DeCourcy among those who think the renewed calls for Rick Pitino to be fired from Louisville to be meritless.  It doesn’t really make much sense to us either, so little in fact that even last summer we never seriously entertained the idea that Pitino might actually lose his job there.  As we all know, basketball is serious business in Kentucky, and Pitino has done very well (although not extraordinarily so) there.  To fire him now (or last summer when the allegations came out) would not only put a huge financial burden on the school, but it would also set back the recruiting arms race that the arrival of John Calipari on the scene in Lexington has put into overdrive.  As for the Sypher trial, the prosecution rested its case on Tuesday; it’ll now be up to the defense team to poke tortellini-sized holes into it.
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Morning Five: 07.22.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 22nd, 2010

  1. It’s not every day you wake up to a Twitter argument about John Wall’s grades (Eric Bledsoe’s were notably not discussed), but that’s what happened to Mike DeCourcy yesterday after writing the following tweet before bed Tuesday night:  Tsnmike: So all the people squawking about one-and-dones not going to class in spring — how does that reconcile with John Wall on SEC honor roll? DeCourcy was attacked on several fronts but the most compelling line of inquiry was whether Wall academically represents the ‘typical’ one-and-doner.  Those guys get up way too early for us to have joined the conversation in real time, but our uneducated sense is that Wall is an exception and the one-and-doners are probably no different than any other athlete who decides to leave school early.
  2. The best piece on Dean Smith’s current condition that we have seen is by Joe Posnanski over at SI.  The piece about Brian Reese potentially blowing a trip to the Final Four by not following Smith’s precise orders is phenomenal.  Read it.
  3. While we’re discussing Tobacco Road legends, we should mention this article by Dan Wiederer who discusses all the Duke fingerprints that are on the US national teams this summer.  A great point by Coach K when he notes that many of the top high school prospects chose to play for the national teams rather than AAU ball, a development that will undoubtedly mature their games in ways they could not imagine on the summer circuit.
  4. Former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to the charge that he shoplifted a $1,395 Ralph Lauren bag from the Mall at Short Hills in Essex County, New Jersey.  We’d like to say that at least he has good taste, but, uh, well…
  5. Andy Katz reports that the NCAA’s top official, John Adams, has spent much of the last month meeting with the four Final Four head coaches and listening to feedback as to how to improve his teams of zebras.  We think Katz hits on the correct point in his piece when he points out that Adams only has limited control of officials, more specifically only during the NCAA Tournament.  If any real change is to occur, he needs to get the leagues on board with it so that a foul in the Big Ten is the same thing as one in the ACC.
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Morning Five: 04.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 28th, 2010

  1. Iowa State is set to hire former Cyclone star Fred Hoiberg as its new head coach after Greg McDermott took off earlier this week for greener pastures in Omaha.  “The Mayor” is a legend at ISU, but he’s never coached at any level of basketball before so this hire is raising some eyebrows.  The Big 12 is no place to learn on the fly, after all.  Gary Parrish thinks this move is either brilliant or imbecilic, but he makes a comparison to John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his veep and we know how well that gamble worked out.
  2. In an effort to increase Pac-10 representation in future NCAA Tournaments, the University of Washington got its man into the catbird seat at the NCAA yesterday, as UW president Mark Emmert will take over for Jim Isch as the next president of the NCAA.  We were obviously joking about the above comment, but now, how does he feel about expansion?
  3. We’re going to see a lot of these types of articles in the next two weeks discussing  those players who are in the NBA Draft pool who should return to school next season.  Here are a couple that are already out — Mike DeCourcy’s five players who should return (M. Delaney, M. Davis, J. Crawford, S. Samuels, G. Hayward) and Luke Winn’s ten teams awaiting decisions (with a healthy implication that most should return).
  4. UNLV’s Matt Shaw, a key junior forward who started a handful of games for Lon Kruger’s NCAA Tournament team this year, has tested positive for a banned substance and has been suspended for the entirety of next year, his senior season.
  5. Are there NCAA violations pending at UConn this spring?  According to this Wall Street Journal article, an NCAA source has stated that the university is facing a report on violations which is due to be released soon.  Furthermore, despite repeated admonitions to the contrary, head coach Jim Calhoun still doesn’t have a signed and sealed contract.  His current deal is set to expire at the end of June.
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Chatter From the Fourth Estate: NCAA 68

Posted by rtmsf on April 23rd, 2010

If you’re like us today, you’re probably feeling a little bit like you do when you realize that the blue lights in your rear view mirror weren’t intended for you even though you were about +15 over the speed limit.  As the friendly patrolman roars by on your left, that adrenaline-fueled fear of getting a ticket (or worse) melts into a somewhat euphoric state of well-being as you realize that you’ve dodged a terribly unpleasant situation.  We all spent the last two months lying hogtied on the tracks watching the 96-team locomotive steaming toward us, and the surprising (shocking?) news that the NCAA will instead move to only a 68-team scenario feels like Clint Eastwood or Rambo or freakin’ Michael Cera stepped in at the last moment to save the day.  Perspective is everything.

NCAA HQ Can Cancel That Security Detail Now

Yet imagine for a moment if we’d never heard about the 96-team debacle from the inner circles of the NCAA.  Without that particularly bilious perspective to abhor, excoriate, lambaste and dread for months leading up to today, the news that the NCAA was expanding to 68 teams would probably have been met with complete and utter derision across the board.  Four play-in games, pfshaw!  Yet when considered against the alternative, today’s news was met with guarded optimism and in some cases downright celebration.  Was this a brilliant strategem of managing expectations pulled off on us, the unsuspecting public, by the cunning NCAA (probably not), or simply a realization that the organization was treading ever so closely to killing off the goose that laid the golden egg (more likely)?  Either way, the decision is a reasonable and defensible one that we can all live with, so let’s get to the business of reviewing it now and analyzing it to death in coming weeks.

Here’s what some of the best in the business have to say…

Luke Winn, CNNSI – More importantly, it represents a major victory for college basketball. The NCAA did the right thing. While I’d prefer a pure, 64-team format without play-in games, 68 teams is immensely more palatable than 96. The sanctity of the NCAA tournament has been preserved for the time being, and that’s something to celebrate, even if Jim Isch, the NCAA’s interim president, admitted that 68 wasn’t guaranteed to be the format for the entire length of the new TV deal. […]  Public reaction had to have played at least some role in them settling on 68 rather than 96. The public’s response to the 96 idea was overwhelmingly negative, and I wonder if Isch, Shaheen, CBS and Turner didn’t want to be regarded as the villains who ruined college sports’ crown jewel.  […]  Eventually, we’ll get back to worrying about how Isch left the expansion door open by saying two words: “for now.” But for now, at least, we can rejoice. The NCAA tournament has been saved.

Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News – Turns out, they were listening. Nobody came out and said the public’s revulsion at the prospect of a 96-team field was a factor in settling on 68, but if you’d loved the idea like chocolate-chip cookies, we’d be talking about a far different NCAA Tournament next March.  It wasn’t at the start of negotiations that someone with CBS/Turner suggested a 68-team tournament would be workable with the dollar amounts being discussed. That came after the general public declared 96 teams to be a product no more appealing than the XFL.  […]  How should a 68-team tournament work?  That’s fairly obvious. Although it might be most fair to have the teams at the bottom of the field play for the right to be No. 16 seeds, it’s hard to imagine anyone at CBS or Turner Sports, the networks that just agreed to pay roughly $740 million annually to televise the tournament, being thrilled about showing four games that this year might have involved such matchups as Robert Morris-Winthrop or Morgan State-East Tennessee State.  The solution would be to have the last eightat-large teams play for the right to be seeded into the middle of the field—as No. 12s or No. 11s. This season, that might have meant Virginia Tech-Minnesota and Illinois-Florida.  People would watch those games. CBS and Turner saved us from the dread of a 96-team tournament. They deserve something for their money.

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