SEC 3-Point Shot: Big 12/SEC Challenge Takeaways

Posted by Greg Mitchell on February 1st, 2016

Saturday gave us a break from league play for the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Here are three takeaways from a fun day of college basketball in which the SEC faced off with arguably the best conference in the country.

  1. Open Look: Hey Big 12, let’s do it again? Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s not easy being an SEC basketball fan. How many times can you be expected to generate excitement for a “showcase” game between two unranked teams? This event between the two power conferences was something fresh and each time slot seemed to have an exciting game. ESPN was not shy about marketing it all week long and the push seemed to work (based on an admittedly unscientific peek at social media). Heck, Arkansas’ Dusty Hannahs even found himself trending on Twitter during the afternoon. The attendance and atmosphere in SEC venues was good; even Auburn was near capacity for an uninspiring Oklahoma State team. Here’s hoping the two leagues get together and keep this format — playing the challenge in the middle of conference play — for years to come.Screenshot 2016-01-31 at 3.14.01 PM
  2. Over the Close Out: This was a good day for the SEC. A quick look at the overall record (3-7 is definitively not good) might suggest otherwise, but it’s hard to walk away from Saturday’s action and not be happy about the SEC’s performance. The league was a Tyler Ulis mishandle and Tim Quarterman drive away from washing out the challenge at 5-5 and plucking off wins against the Big 12’s two heavyweights. Kentucky and LSU are developing in their own ways, so to play well against great competition shows that things for both teams are heading in the right direction. Meanwhile, Florida (#22) and Texas A&M (#7) backed up their lofty KenPom ratings by taking care of business at home. Losses in either of those games would have opened the door for questions like “how good are they?” We also need to consider that the SEC didn’t necessarily bring its biggest guns to the fight. Swapping in South Carolina and Alabama for Auburn and Tennessee might have resulted in two more wins (we’ll ignore that Missouri and Mississippi State were also left sitting at the table). Read the rest of this entry »
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Florida Backcourt Key to NCAA Chances

Posted by Greg Mitchell on December 11th, 2015

Florida had a chance to make a statement on Tuesday night against a Miami team off to a flying start this season. A road win against an intrastate rival would have given new head coach Mike White his first marquee win since arriving in Gainesville. Florida had some momentum too, coming off a dominant performance in a victory over a solid Richmond team. But in the end, the Gators left south Florida with only another loss and a handful of questions. The most pressing of them: Are the Gators’ guards good enough to get them to the NCAA Tournament?

Florida's back court couldn't keep up with Sheldon McCellan and Angel Rodriguez in a loss to Miami (caneswarning.com).

Florida’s backcourt couldn’t keep up with Sheldon McCellan and Angel Rodriguez in a loss to Miami. (Photo: caneswarning.com)

Sheldon McClellan (24 points) and Angel Rodriguez (17 points) had big scoring nights for Miami but it’s hard to get worked up about great players getting their points. It’s not as hard, however, to expect the Gators’ backcourt to make up some of the difference with scoring on the other end. White said before the game that his team needed to take advantage of its open looks, but this simply didn’t happen — the Gators were 1-of-12 from three on the evening, and their two highest volume three-point shooters in the backcourt (Brandone Francis-Ramirez and KeVaughn Allen) are shooting a combined 20.0 percent from three-point range this season. After the game, White was left scratching his head. “We see it in practice,” he told GatorZone.com. “I don’t think we have a bunch of great shooters, but they’re better than this.” Compounding the shooting problem were several long, contested two-point jumpers from Francis-Ramirez and Allen late in the game when the Gators were desperate for points. Allen managed to convert one of these shots to cut the Miami lead to 10 points, but the Gators are desperately in need of sustainable scoring from their perimeter players. Read the rest of this entry »

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SEC Burning Questions: Who’s Feeling Pressure?

Posted by Greg Mitchell on November 10th, 2015

For a conference that has been viewed for a while as a basketball underachiever, the SEC’s coaching seats are surprisingly cool. There are a number of factors, of course, that go into that determination. For one, the league turned over nearly a third of its coaches during the offseason with four new hires at Florida, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Alabama. There are also several stalwarts who aren’t going anywhere unless they choose to do so — guys like Kentucky’s John Calipari and Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings – and several more trending toward that status in Georgia’s Mark Fox and Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy. But college athletics wouldn’t be what it is without some modicum of hot seat speculation, so here are the four SEC coaches feeling the most pressure in 2014-15.

Johnny Jones has a talented team and a potential top-5 pick in Ben Simmons. Will that be enough to pick up his first tournament win at LSU? (SportsNola.com)

Johnny Jones has a talented team and a potential top-5 pick in Ben Simmons. Will that be enough to pick up his first NCAA Tournament win at LSU? (SportsNola.com)

  • Johnny Jones, LSU. Jones has won at least 19 games in each of his three seasons in Baton Rogue; he was extended through 2019 before last season; he is an LSU alumnus; and he has brought a lot of NBA talent to campus. That’s the long way of saying his job is relatively safe no matter what happens this year. Nevertheless, Jones could quiet a lot of his critics by taking a very talented team to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Despite an NBA-caliber frontcourt, there were some inexplicable low points for the Tigers last year — losing the conference opener to Missouri and the SEC Tournament opener to Auburn are but two notable examples. LSU then capped off its inconsistent year by blowing a 14-point halftime lead to lose to NC State in the final minute of the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament opener. Similar letdowns this season would only perpetuate the idea that Jones can’t get the most out of his talent. On the other hand, some clever coaching could make this team a match-up nightmare since both Ben Simmons and Tim Quarterman are big, versatile players with the appropriate skill set to run an offense. Cobbling together a productive frontcourt, however, could be a challenge. Jones will need to find the right combination of Arizona transfer Craig VictorBrian Bridgewater, Aaron Epps, Darcy Malone and Elbert Robinson to support Simmons and his talented backcourt. One solution could be to go small with Simmons playing power forward, but the injury to Keith Hornsby could make that difficult early in the season. In short, the Tigers’ roster poses both a number of challenges and intriguing possibilities, but the ultimate goal of getting deep into the NCAA Tournament would go a long way towards silencing Jones’ detractors.

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Morning Five: 08.13.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 13th, 2013

morning5

  1. Every year ESPN’s 24 Hours of Basketball feature is one of the highlights of the early-season schedule. This year’s version should be no different as ESPN has another loaded slate. Outside of the obvious appeal of both games of the Champions Classic the most interesting aspect of the schedule to us is that Wichita State is scheduled to play at home at midnight. It goes without saying that Koch Arena at midnight will be crazy and we understand the need for smaller programs to accept awful tip times to get on national television, but Final Four teams should not have to do that. Aside from that the thing that sticks out to us is that it seems like a waste to pair VCUVirginia and Florida-Wisconsin against Michigan StateKentucky and DukeKansas respectively since on any other night
  2. The latest question in the CBS Candid Coaches series asked which coach was most likely to be the next Andy Enfield. Unlike the poll that we linked to in yesterday’s Morning Five, this votes in this poll were more evenly distributed with Bryce Drew (15%), Mike White (12%), Will Wade (9%), and Steve Masiello (8%) leading the way. The selection of Drew as the top choice is not particularly surprising and you could argue that he might already be too well-known to be considered an Andy Enfield-type. The others are certainly less well-known and unless you follow mid-major basketball pretty closely you might not know about them. Of course, a year ago Enfield’s name probably would not have even registered in the “others receiving multiple votes” category so it is quite possible that the next Andy Enfield is not even on this list.
  3. Over the years AAU coaches have been accused of doing a lot of sketchy things, but we have not heard of any who were charged with drug trafficking. That is until Curtis Malone, head of the well-known DC Assault team, was charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. After a year-long investigation, the DEA searched Malone’s home last Friday and uncovered a kilogram of cocaine, 100 grams of heroin, a handgun, and other related items. While we will acknowledge the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” it is worth pointing out that Malone was convicted of distributing crack cocaine in 1991 so this would not be a completely new endeavor if the charges were proven to be true.
  4. If you had any question as to why Texas has its own ESPN network the news that Texas led the nation in merchandise royalties for the eighth straight year for schools represented by Collegiate Licensing Company should clear things up for you. Clearly the majority of these sales are driven by the football program, which has historically been much more successful than the basketball program, but it speaks to the popularity of the program particularly when its two biggest sports (football and basketball) are going through what can best be described as a rough patch. The fact that seven or eight of the schools are in the South (depending on what you consider North Carolina) should come as no surprise given the fervor of their fans. It is worth noting that several prominent programs–Ohio State, Michigan State, Southern California, and Oregon–are not represented by Collegiate Licensing Company so those schools might approach Texas in terms of royalties particularly since they might be under a different payment structure than schools represented by Collegiate Licensing Company.
  5. For those of you who have short attention spans we suggest you check out Andy Glockner’s Twitter-style season preview where he goes through the most prominent teams in the 2013-14 season. As you would suspect the previews are not exactly comprehensive, but for the purposes of an early August preview this should suffice for pretty much everybody. And if you are in the mood for something a little bit more in depth, you can be sure that those previews are on the way.
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