Morning Five: 09.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 17th, 2013

morning5

  1. If the pressure was not already on Steve Alford to land a point guard at UCLA before, the announcement that Kyle Anderson was planning on declaring for the NBA Draft after this season certainly should. Coming after Anderson’s solid, but uninspiring freshman year the announcement (by his father) seems somewhat strange and we are not sure what purpose it serves. At this point he is a borderline first round pick at best and that is primarily based on his potential (length and skills). If Anderson shows significant improvement he could be a potential lottery pick because of that potential, but “declaring” this early serves no purpose other than to create disharmony within the Bruins locker room.
  2. There has been quite a bit of speculation that there is a growing movement that would bring about changes that would eventually lead to college athletes being paid. If you didn’t believe our warnings that it would not be happening any time soon, perhaps the comments made by NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday stating that there was very little support behind the movement to pay college athletes from administrators. Emmert may be the public face of the NCAA and subsequently the target of most of the hatred directed at the organization, but he does raise some salient points. Whatever your opinion is on the subject of paying athletes, Emmert’s comments should further our previous statements that we are still a long way away from paying college athletes becomes a reality.
  3. Mike Krzyzewski‘s comments yesterday voicing his disapproval of transfer waivers has managed to create a fair amount of controversy. It should be pointed out that none of his comments are unique and appear to be the party line for the old school. As several people have noted Krzyzewski was never asked if a player should be granted a waiver if his coach leaves. Of course that would also encroach upon the third rail of the transfer discussion–coaches moving around freely and players being taken advantage of when it is time to sign with schools. We would also be interested to see how Krzyzewski would react if be were given the opportunity to get a high-impact transfer that could obtain a waiver, which is a position that we believe he has never been in.
  4. It has been a year since Jim Calhoun abruptly stepped down as head coach at Connecticut and as you would expect the local media reached out to him to discuss what he has been up to in the interim. The part of the article that will generate the most buzz is that “little itch” that Calhoun says he still to coach basketball. While we do find that interesting on some level, we doubt that he would ever come back to coach in any capacity at his age with his medical history. Having said that it is good to see that Calhoun is involved with the school and the players at some level.
  5. Many college basketball fans have been focusing on the reported recruiting package deal of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones and for good reason as the are rated #1 and #3 overall in ESPN’s recruiting rankings. However, they should also keep an eye on reports that Cliff Alexander and Jaquan Lyle are now also a package deal. The reports are based on a tweet that Alexander, the #2 overall recruit according to those same ESPN rankings, sent out saying that he and Lyle< the #22 overall recruit, would be playing in college together. While there are several teams on both players “lists” it is worth noting that Lyle said said that he favored Kansas recently and Alexander is also believed to be a Kansas lean at this point.
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Morning Five: 09.11.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 11th, 2013

morning5

  1. When Luke Winn recently wrote about the up-transfer phenomenon his examples were typically players whose performance exceeded the expectation of observers allowing them to move up a level of play. Robert Upshaw, a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, does not quite fit into that category. During his freshman season at Fresno State Upshaw averaged 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game before being dismissed from the team this summer. Despite his poor performance Upshaw will be one of Winn’s up-transfers as he is heading to Washington. For his part Upshaw has acknowledged that he “had some maturity issues” while at Fresno State so hopefully he can turn his career around and fulfill some of the promise he showed coming out of high school.
  2. By now you have probably read the piece by Doug Gottlieb analyzing the controversy surrounding Johnny Manziel and the media’s coverage of the situation. While Gottlieb is very eloquent with his analysis of Manziel’s situation and open in how he relates it to his own well-chronicled ordeals we are not sure his column is necessarily as strong of an argument against paying student-athletes as some would believe. We can certainly see Gottlieb’s argument and student-athletes are given much more than many observers would like to believe, but the reality is that there are certain individuals who if allowed to utilize free-market forces would certain generate significant sums of money. Of course, as we have pointed out in the past this entire issue is much more complex economically and politically than most pundits have stated.
  3. Florida State may have lost out on Xavier Rathan-Mayes (at least temporarily) after he was ruled academically eligible for the coming season, but they got a nice consolation yesterday when Cinmeon Bowers, a 6’6″ junior college forward who averaged 11 points and seven rebounds last season, committed to play for the Seminoles. Bowers, like Rathan-Mayes, was heavily recruited by the Seminoles, but initially failed to qualify academically leading to his time at Chipola Junior College. Bowers fielded quite a few offers and was reportedly also seriously considering Louisville and Memphis, but eventually opted to stay in the area. Bowers will be eligible to play during the 2014-15 season, which is the same point that Rathan-Mayes could become eligible too potentially providing the Seminoles with a much-needed boost.
  4. Yesterday, Sports Illustrated released the first part of its five-part series detailing its 10-month investigation into Oklahoma State and its football program. While the investigation focuses on the football program and we are a basketball site, we thought the public reaction to the story (admittedly to only one-fifth of the story) was interesting in how little the media reacted to this story as we predicted in yesterday’s Morning 5 given how worked up they got over a fairly similar story about Miami just a few years ago. Perhaps the most interesting reaction to the report was the reaction of Jason Whitlock to Thayer Evans and the lack of support Evans got from other media members.
  5. For your incredibly awkward link of the day we will turn to Durham where Mike Krzyzewski recently discussed his encounter with Jay-Z and Beyonce. After introducing LeBron James as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, Krzyzewski took his seat and noticed a pair of empty seats that were eventually filled by the couple who are arguably the most influential couple in music. While Krzyzewski reports that he is a fan of Jay-Z (we have a hard time imagining Krzyzewski listening along to almost any of Jay-Z’s music), he claims to be “madly in love with Beyonce”. What happened next according to Krzyzewski appears to be an encounter that was not much different than Chris Farley’s famous Saturday Night Live interview with Paul McCartney.
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#notjustforplayers – College Coaches Are Starting to Figure Out Benefits of Twitter

Posted by BHayes on August 20th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Twitter may be just seven years old, but the social media tool has already found ubiquity in the world of college athletics. Rare is the college athlete (particularly in the revenue sports of football and basketball) without a Twitter handle, and rarer still is the day that passes without a major college basketball or football headline breaking from the Twitter-verse. College hoops recruits and transfers often use their 140-character snippets to announce their first, or next, college destination, while current players are keen to keeping their followers aware of breaking news from their program, summer plans, and even personal injury statuses. Quite simply, Twitter fuels the college basketball rumor mill. But for as much relevance as the platform has found within the game, one group that has failed to universally embrace it has been the head coaches. Coaches have no accepted industry standard to follow on how much to tweet, what to tweet about, or even whether to tweet in the first place. Their wide variety of approaches to the tool prompted The Sporting News to take a deeper look at how the head men in the Power Seven (AAC included) conferences use Twitter. Their findings make for a fun read – and should prompt a follow or two, but also provide an entrée into an emerging topic – how exactly are coaches using Twitter as a tool for growing their program?

Tim Miles May Not Be A Household Name Yet, But He Is Getting Closer With Every Tweet

Nebraska’s Tim Miles May Not Be A Household Name Yet, But He Is Getting Closer With Every Tweet

Back in 2009, Twitter was considered so toxic that Mike Leach banned his entire football team (Texas Tech at the time) from using it. Four years later, that very same Mike Leach has over 40,000 followers and uses his feed to inform Washington State fans of happenings both relevant (“practice went great in Lewiston”) and irrelevant (“one of my favorite TV shows was Magic City on Starz. Wish they hadn’t cancelled it.”). Leach’s college hoops coaching brethren have made a similar discovery. Leading the way in the Twitter world, as he does in many other categories, is Kentucky’s John Calipari. Coach Cal’s 1.2 million followers are more than nine times as many as the second most-followed college coach (Indiana’s Tom Crean), and he uses his Twitter notoriety in exactly the way a solid front-runner should. Befitting his on and off-court personality, Calipari tweets often and honestly, mostly making sure that UK fans are privy to all the happenings around his program. When you are speaking to a fan base as populous and interested as his Wildcat supporters, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Goal number one should be making program information easy and accessible, and Coach Cal does that as well as any college coach in the Twitter business.

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Morning Five: 08.06.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 6th, 2013

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  1. Coming into this season we were expecting big things out of Montrezl Harrell. The one-time Virginia Tech recruit played a pivotal role in Louisville’s run to the national championship last season and he showed signs of becoming a star with his play this summer. So when news broke that Harrell had injured his right knee in a collision at the Adidas Nations Camp we are sure that there were plenty of nervous people in Louisville, Kentucky. Fortunately, Harrell merely hyperextended his knee and did not suffer any significant structural damage. All of this should make Louisville fans sleep a little easier tonight knowing that their veteran inside presence should come into the season healthy.
  2. Louisville fans were not the only ones who had a scare come out of the Adidas Nations Camp as Will Sheehey also had his own injury scare. The rising senior sprained his right ankle, which had kept him out of five games as a sophomore, but it appears that the sprain was only moderate. Although Sheehey was largely overshadowed by his Indiana teammates/top-4 picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller as well as seniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, he still managed to average 9.5 points per game and will be expected to carry a much bigger load for a Hoosiers team that will probably spend much of the early season trying to figure out its new identity.
  3. It might seem like an odd time to ask the question with the college basketball season drawing near, but CBS Sports took an informal poll of college coaches asking them which college coach they thought would be the best fit for the NBA. At first we were a little surprised to see Fred Hoiberg ahead of Mike Krzyzewski, but then we realized that these are people who actually know the game and realize the type of personalities that a NBA coach has to deal with. Now we are not going to say that Krzyzewski is not equipped to handle those personalities as he has shown that he can do for a short period of time in the Olympics, but we are not sure how that would hold up over an 82-game season. On the other hand, Hoiberg has more experience at the NBA level and based on these results we would not be surprised to see Hoiberg’s name come up when a NBA job opens up.
  4. Few recruits have had to deal with the adversity that Austin Hatch has. Hatch, a Michigan commit, may not be considered one of the truly elite prospects in this year’s senior class, but his story–having been involved in two plane crashes that took the lives of much of his family. Hatch has managed to come back from that and will be finishing high school in Los Angeles (hopefully Luke Winn will cut him some slack if he finishes as a top 100 recruit). Hatch has not played competitively since the most recent accident (in June 2011) so we will be interested in seeing how he performs, but more importantly to see how he is adjusting to his new life.
  5. With the off-the-court trouble that Wyoming had last season it should not be that much of a surprise that some of its players have decided to create their own club known as “624” to avoid the craziness of Laramie, Wyoming (I know I can’t believe I just wrote that either). The club is not really a club in the traditional night club sense, but is rather a symbol for a place (624 is the address of the apartment of some upperclassmen) where the players on the team can hang out without worrying that people outside of the team will create problems that will break up the team. The entire idea should not be novel although we doubt that many teams do something like this for a variety of reasons, but it seems like something that many programs would benefit from trying.
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Morning Five: 05.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 27th, 2013

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  1. When the Mike Rice story broke last month it led to a Saturday Night Live skit, but at this point Rutgers is veering dangerously close to territory so ridiculous that South Park might consider the plot far-fetched (ok, maybe that is a stretch). The latest embarrassment for the school is the revelation that Julie Hermann, the athletic director the school hired to clean up the program after the Rice fiasco, has faced allegations of abuse from her players in the past too. Perhaps Hermann and the school hoped that these allegations (made just sixteen years ago at a small school named Tennessee) would never come up despite this thing called the Internet, which manages to find out almost everything about anybody in a matter of days. With the way this has gone we have a hard time believing that Hermann will be able to formally take the new job, which she is scheduled to start working at on June 17, and school president Robert Barchi should be looking for a new job too.
  2. Lost in the wake of the Rice/Rutgers fiasco was the continuing investigation into Wisconsin-Green Bay coach Brian Wardle who had been accused of abusing his players both verbally and physically. On Friday, the school announced that an outside investigation had cleared Wardle. Unlike Rice, Wardle had the support of many of his players and perhaps most importantly did not have a video of his alleged actions floating around for the world to see. Given what was released the school’s decision should not be that much a surprise. What is interesting is the concessions that Wardle will have to make despite being cleared–receive a disciplinary letter, have someone overseeing him, and not be able to renegotiate his contrast, which ends in 2017. Given those concessions it would seem like there was something happening at Wisconsin-Green Bay (perhaps something considered as benign in sports as cursing) even if it was not as bad as what Wardle was initially accused of.
  3. After setting off a round of speculation about where he would transfer to and briefly committing to play at Toledo, Kyle Vinales has decided to return Central Connecticut State. The rising junior, who averaged 21.6 points per game last season, initially stated that his decision to transfer was based on his desire to play in the NCAA Tournament–something his seventh place NEC team with 13-17 record didn’t seem destined to do–before deciding that he wanted to lead his team there rather than move onto a better situation. While we applaud Vinales for his decision to stick around (he had already transferred once in his college career) we wonder how easily he will transition back into the team concept at Central Connecticut where his coach has already stated that his role will be changed on the team due to a change in the abilities of his teammates. Given Vinales’ penchant for transferring we will be interested to see how long his decision to stay at Central Connecticut lasts or if he has another change of heart if they struggle next season.
  4. There were a few players who actually decided to follow through on their intention to transfer. The biggest news is the decision by Memphis transfer Will Barton to transfer to Tennessee spurning schools such as Maryland, Texas A&M, and Kansas State. Barton showed signs of promise early in his career averaging 8.2 points per game as a freshman before seeing his minutes and production fall the next two seasons. Barton, who will be eligible to play this fall as he will graduate from Memphis by then, will be a welcome arrival in Knoxville as the Volunteers are in need of a point guard with Trae Golden’s transfer. The addition of Barton makes them a potential top-three team in the SEC. The other transfer news is not quite as newsworthy on a national scale, but it may be more interesting as Stephen Hurt, the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year, decided to transfer from Lipscomb to Northwest Florida State. The move is interesting for several reasons with the primary one being the decision by a player who would attract interest from high-majors to head to a junior college where he can play immediately and then be recruited to play for a high-major without having to sit out any time. The other interesting aspect of the case is that Northwest Florida State is coached by Steve Forbes, who has been mentioned before in this space for having started over at the junior college level after receiving a one-year show-cause penalty for his association and possible involvement with Bruce Pearl’s infractions. You should keep your eyes on Forbes as a potential candidate for a Division I job if he continues to land recruits the caliber of Hurt.
  5. It seemed to be just an off-the-cuff comment in a 45-minute press conference, but Mike Krzyzewski‘s declaration that the 2013-14 ACC would be the best conference ever raised a few eyebrows. On the surface it appears to be an absurd comment, but as several writers have pointed out that depends on how you define “best”. It almost certainly will not touch the Big East’s 1985 where it had three teams in the Final Four or the Big East’s 2009 where it had 11 teams make the NCAA Tournament including a ninth-place team that won the title. However, with a core that includes Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, and Syracuse the ACC is poised to be as good at the top as any conference in recent memory and will likely be in the same category for the next few years. The bigger question for the conference is what it will look like at the middle and the bottom of the conference where it is soft to put it gently. Certainly the addition of Andrew Wiggins to Florida State would have bolstered at least one of those teams. For the time being, the best ever comments may seem outlandish, but we will probably have to wait until February to make a better judgement on that.
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Team USA Will Not Regret Its Decision to Keep Coach K For Another Olympic Run

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 23rd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Coaching the biggest basketball superstars on planet earth into one cohesive group with a compacted practice schedule and unflinchingly mountainous expectations, among other obstacles, is not as easy as it seems. With minimal exceptions, every player is accustomed to being “the guy” on his own NBA team, where the frequency and type of shots taken are, for better or worse, monitored liberally – superstars are going to get their shots up whether you like it or not. When you mash these egos together on one, putatively dominant, practically unwieldy Team USA squad, vast philosophical and schematic adjustments melding is required. Ego-massaging is another part of the gig. Reduced shots and individual credit-basking glory is part of the cost of doing business. It’s an entirely different style and breed of basketball, this quirky thing we like to call international play, and without the right head coach in place, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. Matter of fact, Before Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski arrived on the scene, they did: In 2002, a George Karl-coached Team USA became the first American team composed of NBA players to lose in international competition when it fell to Argentina in the preliminary rounds and finished sixth at the FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis. Two years later, then under Larry Brown, team USA lost a convincing semifinal game to Argentina at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. The days of Dream Team dominance and universal hoops royalty were slipping away. USA basketball needed a new face and culture and identity to offer a different spin on the stale and out-of-touch approach demonstrated by previous NBA coaches. It needed Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Making another run at Olympic glory, and picking up Coach K to lead the charge, is a wise move by Colangelo (Getty Images).

Making another run at Olympic glory, and picking up Coach K to lead the charge, is a wise move by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Getty Images).

You know the rest: after an initial bronze medal toe-stub at the 2006 World Championships, USA polished off two Olympic gold medals and a 2010 FIBA World Championship with a second-tier layer of then-rising stars, not once losing a game over four years. Coach K has accomplished everything he set out to do during his reign as USA Basketball’s transformative leader – blend a group of ball-dominant stars into one functioning whole not once or twice but for three sizably important world events, restore the rightful preeminence of the red, white and blue’s international hardwood stature, forcefully remind the rest of the world that yes, there is good basketball being played in Europe and China and South America, but no, you don’t have Kevin Durant ripping threes on the wing, and LeBron James guarding centers and point guards on the same possession, and Chris Paul whipping cross-court passes with pinpoint accuracy. This is USA Basketball, unbeatable and dominant and good. Mostly just good. Beijing 2012 restored the customary USA-headed international hoops hierarchy, and Coach K – who still, in case you forgot, kind of has a pretty good thing going right now in Durham – had ground off every bit of tread on the international tires. It was time to move on. Pass the torch. Recruiting and leading Duke to annual national championship contention is prohibitively exhausting on its own; the added onus of Team USA must have been a terribly draining, but hugely fulfilling, experience. Enough was enough.

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Morning Five: 05.20.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 20th, 2013

morning5

  1. It looks like Mike Krzyzewski might not be done adding championships to his impressive resume and we are not talking about Duke. After insisting that he was done coaching the national team it appears that Krzyzewski is now  considering a return to Team USA. With the 2014 World Championships in Madrid just around the corner the Team USA brass will need to start assembling a team (around LeBron) fairly soon and the logical first step would be getting a coach who the players would decide to play for. With his success on both the college and international level as well as his ability to get along with several key players Krzyzewski would appear to be the obvious choice. Now that Krzyzewski is apparently pointing toward the next cycle of international play it seems reasonable to expect him to stay at Duke until that period is complete.
  2. With how Duke was saved  avoided any potential NCAA sanctions as the result of the Lance Thomas jewelry controversy when both Thomas and the jeweler refused to talk with the NCAA we are a little surprised that Ben McLemore has come out and said that he would talk with the NCAA about allegations by his AAU coach than a runner had paid the coach $10,000 to steer McLemore to certain agents. This is not to necessarily say that McLemore had anything to do with it, have any knowledge of it, or that Kansas could be implicated in any way. In fact, based on what we have heard we doubt that any of those are true, but we do not see what McLemore or Kansas have to directly gain by having McLemore talk although as it stands the NCAA could penalize Kansas because the payment would have made McLemore ineligible so perhaps McLemore thinks he could protect Kansas by clearing his name by talking to the NCAA.
  3. After several months of bickering about the terms of his contract buyout Steve Alford and New Mexico have agreed in principle to terms with Alford paying $300,000 in cash and forgoing $325,000 in bonuses that Alford would have been set to receive. For their part UCLA raised some objection to the e-mail release particularly the figure of $625,000 being used since Alford had already agreed to forgo the bonus money. In reality it appears that Alford is set to pay $300,000 instead of the $1 million the school was seeking and the $200,00 that Alford intiailly offered to pay them. As is often the case both sides will try to claim victory, but in reality the best thing may be for two sides to reach a deal before this thing gets any more complicated.
  4. Kansas State fans are going to have a completely different roster next season having lost three players to graduation and three players to transfer, but they are bringing in some new talent including five recruits and now a pair of transfers. The latest addition is Brandon Bolden, who is transferring from Georgetown to Kansas State. Bolden only played in four games as a freshman so we would not expect him to contribute immediately in Manhattan, but there are not many 6’10” centers floating around with three years of eligibility remaining so it could be a productive pick-up in the long run for the Wildcats. So although next season might end up being a rough transition year for Kansas State they should be rebounding relatively soon.
  5. Lipscomb, the team best known for going 12-18, but managing to beat Florida Gulf Coast twice last season, named Casey Alexander as its new head coach on Saturday to replaces Scott Sanderson, who was 222-201 in 14 seasons, but saw his team’s play drop off significantly culminating in last season’s 12-18 mark. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the hire is that Alexander left Stetson, which finished 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun, to take over at Lipscomb, which finished at 7-11 in the Atlantic Sun. We have no idea how well-financed those two athletic departments are, but we would expect that Lipscomb pays quite a bit more for Alexander to take a step down like that.
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ACC M5: 04.04.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 4th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ESPN: With ACC play officially over, you can expect more of these pieces to pop up. Here’s a cool one from JA Adande (though Grant Hill probably contributed just as much) on talking to Hill about his career. Something younger fans might be surprised by is that Hill owned 29 (!!!) triple-doubles during his first five NBA seasons (and none since) before his career-defining injury took hold, which until recently was good for second most among active players. Hill is a guy that, should he want to be, could become a great coach. But there’s something about him that makes you think he’d probably be pretty good at whatever he ends up doing.
  2. Tar Heel Blog: USA Today released its annual coaching salary spreadsheet, but Brian Barbour noticed an oddity with Roy Williams‘ pay: North Carolina’s coach was listed at a remarkably cheap $1.7 million dollars a year (significantly under other top-tier coaches) despite other estimates of Williams’ salary being north of a couple million per year. This begs the question as to exactly where the data comes from and whether it takes into account the many sources of income coaches have. For instance, I expect Mike Krzyzewski‘s jaw-dropping $7.2 million figure includes everything. The figure reported for Williams may not include all of his extra income (bonuses, speaking engagements, basketball camps, Nike deals, etc.). But all told, North Carolina is getting a phenomenal deal with Williams. Per dollar as reported here, you couldn’t find a more accomplished coach in the country.
  3. Testudo Times: If you’re looking to catch up on Maryland hoops, this is a good round-up of links mostly covering the loss to Iowa but also talking about the future of Terrapins basketball. Maryland is a really interesting team going forward and it’s really unfortunate it won’t be in the ACC down the stretch of the careers of Seth Allen, Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell. I think all four will be three- or four-year guys, and the group represents a phenomenal base for Mark Turgeon to build this program.
  4. State of the U: Speaking of looks towards the future, here’s a really optimistic take on Miami going forward. I agree completely that Shane Larkin‘s return is absolutely critical, but I think Miami will really struggle to get an at-large bid unless Tonye Jekiri just explodes this offseason (I think he’s a couple of years away though). Larkin is a really interesting take. His situation is very similar to Trey Burke’s last offseason, as an undersized point guard oozing with skill. The only difference — which, granted, is a huge difference — is that instead of a top-10 or top-five team coming back, Miami loses almost everything from this year’s team. I lean towards Larkin leaving Coral Gables, but if he gets specific criticism back from the official NBA Draft board there’s a good chance he’ll return.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State fans can back away from the ledge. TJ Warren will be back for his sophomore season to show off his skills as the number one scoring option on the team. Warren might have been the highest drafted of the Wolfpack players entering the draft had he gone, but he has the potential to break into the lottery if he has another year of high-efficiency numbers (with more teams focusing on him). Now the Wolfpack can move on towards filling out the rest of their roster instead of trying to keep everyone home.

EXTRA: This is a phenomenal take on the complexity of Mike Rice‘s “situation.” And the complexity doesn’t begin with Rice, it’s coaches who use similar tactics. Expect more on this later.

VIDEO EXTRA: In what’s becoming an annual tradition, Draft Express gave North Carolina and Duke McDonald’s All-American signees a place to vent some trash talk.

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ACC M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 2nd, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Mark Gottfried’s roster at NC State took two more hits Monday, as CJ Leslie (unsurprisingly) announced he was headed for the NBA Draft and Rodney Purvis (more surprisingly) announced he is transferring. While there were some rumblings about Purvis, his loss is a big blow to NC State’s next season. Instead of bringing back two of the more accomplished sophomores in the ACC, NC State will bring back TJ Warren (and Tyler Lewis, who should improve markedly with more college conditioning). That means that all five starters from this year’s team are now gone, but there should be some addition by subtraction here (although there’s probably a lot more subtraction).
  2. Yahoo! Sports: As you almost certainly know, Duke took a beating from Louisville in Indianapolis Sunday night. The game was neck-and-neck until Duke appeared to run out of gas midway through the second half. Who knows how much was Duke’s lack of lateral quickness on the perimeter, how much was just injuries piling up, and how much was just the better team taking control. Watching from home it appeared to be some combination of all three. Duke just couldn’t get stops, as Peyton Siva and Russ Smith came to life. It’s a shame this wasn’t a Final Four game, though. Duke’s resume deserved that much, and the game would’ve likely stayed competitive for longer with more rest for the Blue Devils. But Louisville was the sharpest buzzsaw Duke has seen since the beatdown it took at Coral Gables back in February.
  3. Chapelboro: For two coaches in the rivalry on Tobacco Road, you don’t see many direct comparisons of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. That’s largely because they’re two very different coaches with completely different styles both on and off the court. Both fan bases to some extent complain about their quirks (i.e., why won’t Coach K develop his bench more? Why won’t he play zone against athletically superior teams? Why won’t Williams change his system to fit his roster? Why won’t Williams start PJ Hairston?), but direct comparisons largely come out looking dumb. Coach K has the better overall resume, hands down; but Roy Williams has the more successful decade. This article comes across as someone who felt personally offended by the praise heaped on Krzyzewski. It’s true he hasn’t continued the unseemly Final Four pace of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but he’s also had two seasons hurt dramatically by injury (this season and 2010-11). Both years, Duke looked like the prohibitive favorite before long-term injuries hit. Likewise, North Carolina lost 2009-10 to the NBA Draft and 2011-12 to untimely injuries (I still contend the Tar Heels were the only team with a chance against Kentucky). They’re both great coaches. They both deserve praise.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel ruminated a bit on Syracuse possibly winning the ACC in its first season next year. Right now — before the NBA Draft declarations, which could hurt the Orange a lot — I’d put Syracuse right behind Duke. The teams in the ACC with the most to gain or lose from early entries are the Orange and North Carolina. If both teams keep nearly all of their talent, they’ll be in very good places. If not, they both could struggle. But if nothing else, this article should remind you that the future ACC has two Final Four teams still standing.
  5. Washington Post: Maryland is the last ACC team remaining in the NIT. The Terrapins take on Iowa in the semifinals in a match-up of two “snubbed” power conference teams. Ironically that means Maryland’s season is coming full circle and back to New York City, which is where it began on November 9 against Kentucky. Mark Turgeon is looking at a different team now: They’ve got different expectations but are playing with the same fire the country saw back then.

EXTRA: The side story from Duke’s Elite Eight game was gruesome but also one of the rawest emotional moments you could ever see on live TV. After Kevin Ware broke his leg, the shock through the stadium spread like wildfire. CBS’ cameras caught Tyler Thornton catching a glimpse of Ware’s leg, causing the Duke guard to look physically pained. The reaction from the Louisville bench was even more visceral with several players ending up on the floor and others reportedly vomiting. I personally thought CBS did a masterful — and lucky — job with the injury. They captured some of the most poignant moments from the NCAA Tournament while also maintaining a respectful distance.

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Rushed Reactions: #1 Louisville 85, #2 Duke 63

Posted by WCarey on March 31st, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game between #1 Louisville and #2 Duke in Indianapolis.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Louisville’s mental toughness was incalculable. With 6:33 remaining in the first half, Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware ran out to defend a three-point attempt from Duke guard Tyler Thornton and what seemed like a routine play turned into a very gruesome sight at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ware’s leg snapped as he landed and he suffered a broken leg. Ware’s teammates were deeply affected by the horrible scene on the court, as both guard Russ Smith and forward Chane Behanan were in tears. As Ware was taken off on a stretcher, Smith, Behanan, and forwards Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell were locked in an embrace near midcourt. The Cardinals led 21-20 when Ware went down and it would have been completely understandable if they had been unable to overcome the emotions that came with the injury. However, the Cardinals recovered in very impressive fashion – finishing the first half with a 35-32 lead and then exploding in the second half to outscore the Blue Devils 50-31 during the second 20 minutes of the game. Louisville coach Rick Pitino, his coaching staff, and senior point guard Peyton Siva deserve a great deal of credit for guiding the team through what was undoubtedly a very tough time.
  2. The Cardinals flat out owned the second half. At the second half’s under-16 media timeout, the game was tied at 42, but from that point forward the game was completely dominated by the Cardinals. After the 42-42 tie, Louisville outscored Duke 43-21. The Cardinals’ defensive effort in the second half was so suffocating that they held a very good offense to just a 32.1% mark from the field over the final 20 minutes of the game. Duke stars Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, and Mason Plumlee were never really able to make a huge impact and its guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon were held to a combined 4-of-21 performance from the field. Siva and Smith took over for Louisville on the offensive end of the court, seemingly getting into the lane at will. After shooting a respectable 46.4% from the field in the first half, the Cardinals were even better from the field in the second half, making 59.3% of their attempts in the second frame. Louisville completely dominated the second half and when it is able to put forth a performance like that, it is an impossible team to beat.
  3. Louisville is the clear favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta. When the Cardinals became the overall number one-seed on Selection Sunday, they were viewed as a definite favorite to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta. Two weeks later, Louisville has advanced to Atlanta and is the only one-seed still alive in the field. The Cardinals are set to play nine-seed Wichita State on Saturday in a semi-final where they will have a definite talent advantage even though the Shockers were able to pull off upsets of West Region one-seed Gonzaga and two-seed Ohio State. In the other semifinal, four seeds Michigan and Syracuse will meet for a right to advance to the national title game. While there will be a lot of talent on display next weekend, no team has as much talent and experience as Louisville and this is why it should definitely be viewed as the clear favorite to cut down the nets when all is said and done.

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.30.13 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2013

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The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

Midwest Region

West Region

  • Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead transferred from Oregon to join the Shockers without a scholarship and that gamble is paying off as Wichita State preps for a chance to go to the Final Four.
  • Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com writes that Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Wichita State should not be viewed as a “David/Goliath” match-up.
  • Would Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall be the greatest catch of this year’s coaching carousel?
  • Ohio State sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross has matured during his second season in Columbus to become a playmaker for the Buckeyes.
  • Ohio State coach Thad Matta was unhappy with the way Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. performed defensively in the team’s Round of 32 victory over Iowa State, but the junior stepped up his play significantly in Thursday’s victory over Arizona.
  • Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas has a well-earned reputation as a “bad shot taker and maker” and this moniker has not prevented him from becoming the Buckeyes’ most lethal weapon offensively.

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Rushed Reactions: #2 Duke 71, #3 Michigan State 61

Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2013

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Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game between #2 Duke and #3 Michigan State in Indianapolis.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Seth Curry caught fire. The senior sharpshooter had a game to remember Friday night. He erupted for 29 points while shooting 6-of-9 from the three-point line. He had many open looks on the night, as Duke’s offense did an admirable job of getting him open. Curry has been an offensive dynamo throughout his collegiate career, but he took it to another level tonight. When you score 23 of your team’s first 41 points, you are making a huge impact on the game and that is what Curry did against Michigan State. Curry’s hot hand was never more evident than when he drained three from deep between the 19:18 and 17:12 marks of the second half. While the Duke lead was just three after that barrage from deep, it really forced the Spartans to put more pressure on Curry, which resulted in the rest of the Duke offense opening up.
  2. Duke’s defense was very impressive. Between the 12:05 and 3:32 mark of the second half, Michigan State did not make a shot from the field. Duke’s defense – anchored in the post by forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly –  did an outstanding job on three of Michigan State’s top four offensive weapons. Forward Adreian Payne was limited to just a 3-of-10 performance from the field. Big man Derrick Nix matched Payne’s 3-of-10 performance. Standout freshman guard Gary Harris had a very frustrating evening, as he only managed six points on a 2-of-11 mark from the field. The Blue Devils have now played excellent defense in two straight games – they held Creighton to just 30.2% shooting in their Round of 32 victory – and if they are able to keep that going against Louisville in Sunday’s regional final, there is a strong possibility that they will be playing in Atlanta next weekend.
  3. Louisville/Duke on Sunday for the Midwest Regional title has the potential to be a classic. Louisville and Duke have already met once this season. The Blue Devils topped the Cardinals, 76-71 in the championship game of the Battle for Atlantis on November 24. The major difference between that game and Sunday’s match-up is that Louisville will have the services of forward Gorgui Dieng, who missed the first contest with a wrist injury. Louisville enters Sunday’s regional final as winners of 13 consecutive games and it has arguably played the best basketball in the country over that period. The Cardinals have a dynamic lineup that is very strong in the backcourt and the frontcourt. It has been evident that Louisville has been much more talented than its first three NCAA Tournament opponents – North Carolina A&T, Colorado State, and Oregon – but the Cardinals will be tested by a similarly talented Duke squad when the two meet for a trip to the Final Four. Considering the plethora of talent on both sides, it is very difficult to make a prediction on what may happen on Sunday afternoon, but it is fair to say that it has all the makings of a classic basketball game.

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