After the Buzzer: Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed…

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Year the Fifth. Welcome back for another year of late-night — or overnight, depending on where you are — coverage of the nightly events in college basketball. When we started this feature at the beginning of the 2007-08 season, this was pretty much the only place you could find comprehensive national coverage of the sport posted as soon as possible after the games had ended. Now, everybody does it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we don’t mind — in fact, it only makes us better. We assume you’re familiar with what this post is about, but each weeknight when there are games of national significance going on, we’ll be here with the After the Buzzer wrapup. On weekends, we’ll put together an overview on Sunday nights that will cover the previous couple of days of games. The intent here, mind you, isn’t to bore anybody with game recaps. We hate those probably more than you do. Rather, we try to mine the universe of nightly games to ferret out the most interesting information in terms of what people are (and will be) talking about the next morning. As with anything we do here, feel free to contact us with ideas for improvement or, really, anything else. We’re always listening.

Grabbing the Cats Wasn't Going to Help Tonight (LHL/C. Bertram)

Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Lays Waste to Morehouse College. Even though it was opening night for six schools Monday in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the game people will be talking about Tuesday morning didn’t even count on anyone’s record. And it’s a good thing, because the NCAA may have had to award John Calipari’s team two or three victories while remanding a completely overmatched Morehouse College down to Division III, or IV, or V, or whatever basketball purgatory teams that lose by 85 points end up. You read that correctly — the final score in last night’s exhibition game between UK and the D-II school better known for notable alumni such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee was 125-40. We won’t cover all the ridiculous stats in this space (The Dagger has you covered for that), but at one point late in the first half the Wildcats finished off a 29-0 run to put their lead at 63-6. It only grew from there, eventually peaking at an 89-point lead that caused the nation’s #1 recruit in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, to profess his awe. Does it mean anything to lambaste a D-II team by so many points? Probably not. But in just viewing some of the highlights from tonight’s victory, it is abundantly clear that the stable of long, lean athletes that Calipari has at his disposal this season is unmatched in college basketball. At a glance, the Wildcats looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder out there.

Three Dollops of Hoopsurdity.

  • A Hopeful Family. Everyone is no doubt now familiar with the interesting name of one of St. John’s new star recruits, God’s Gift Achiuwa. But the names of his brothers and sisters helps to give a little perspective. We learned during tonight’s broadcast that the transfer has five brothers and sisters with equally hopeful names: sisters Peace and Grace; brothers Promise, Precious and God’s Will.
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Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Thursday related to a player who is still a year away from actual collegiate game action. Mitch McGary, a 6’10″ power forward who has been desscribed as “Tyler Hansbrough on Red Bull,” committed to Michigan on Thursday. RSCI has him rated as the #3 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, and his range is between #2 and #5, so it’s not like there’s much disagreement on the ridiculous talent of this guy. An Indiana native, he’s certainly someone that not only his other two finalists — Duke and Florida — would have liked to have nailed down, but the fact that John Beilein’s Michigan program was capable of invading Hoosier territory to grab an elite talent like McGary is demonstrative. IU won’t be truly ‘back’ until prep players like McGary are theirs to lose, and at least one national writer is sold on UM as a program on the verge of greatness again.
  2. Tough news on Thursday from Virginia Tech, as hard-luck case JT Thompson reportedly tore his ACL for a second time in two seasons this week. Granted, last year it was his right ACL and this year it was his left, but the point remains the same: Instead of a comeback recovery season for Thompson as a fifth-year senior, he’s faced with another long year of rehabilitation and recovery as we head into the season. Thompson’s injury doesn’t necessarily put the Hokies into a precarious position with respect to the bubble, but as usual for the team from Blacksburg, it doesn’t help either. Then again, it wouldn’t be a Seth Greenberg team unless it was 18-12 and sitting on the bubble on Selection Sunday, so although we wish Thompson all the best on his recovery, we can’t say that we’re surprised.
  3. One week after announcing an optional initiative that will allow major conferences an opportunity to provide $2,000 per student-athlete to ‘fill the gap’ between the cost of a full scholarship and its incidentals, NCAA president Mark Emmert was quick to say on Thursday that such a stipend was not “pay for play.” No matter where you fall on this issue, we think that everyone can agree that opening up this Pandora’s box is equitable in name only — the power conferences are those who ultimately stand to benefit. Imagine if everyone in America were offered a fantastic deal of a brand new Maserati well below list price of only $50,000! Well… you see the point.
  4. Speaking of Emmert’s organization, it wouldn’t be the NCAA without preseason suspensions and Mississippi State is once again on the wrong end of a major delay in one of its key players actually suiting up. The good news for Rick Stansbury is that MSU appears to have Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie ready to hit the floor this season, but they will do so without the backup support of Kristers Zeidaks, a Latvian forward whom he would have liked to have had on his bench. Zeidaks will essentially suffer the Deniz Kilicli rule in that he must sit out a substantial number of games before the NCAA will deem him eligible. In this case, Zeidaks will miss the entire upcoming season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season if he ever desires to play college basketball. The issue is that he competed against a professional club team in Europe and must apparently pay his penance with the NCAA for doing so.
  5. Truth. Spoken. Alexander Wolff’s article this week on the complete irrelevance of college basketball on decision-making among the taskmasters of collegiate sports is both sickening and enlightening at the same time. Nearly twenty years ago, Wolff followed up the greatest college basketball game ever played with perhaps the greatest college basketball article ever written, “The Shot Heard Round the World.” What the piece lacked in titular form — much like the game itself (most people do not realize that Duke was a HEAVY favorite over Rick Pitino’s Wildcats that evening in Philadelphia) — it made up for in tone and reverence. There is no such reverence in an era where regal programs such as Kansas, St. John’s and Georgetown are thrown to the wolves for the sake of football dollars. While Wolff clearly reminisces about a bygone era where Jayhawks, Johnnies and Hoyas mattered, he also recognizes that, in some ways, the college hoops overlords brought this on themselves. Read it for yourselves.
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20 Questions: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2011

I. Renko is an RTC columnist.

Question: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?

Every year, college basketball fans draw up their preseason predictions of conference champions and NCAA Tournament fields based on returning players and incoming recruits.  But each year, a handful of key transfers play a pivotal role in leading their teams to a conference championship or NCAA Tournament bid.  Which transfers are most likely to play that role this year?

Pierre Jackson and Gary Franklin, Baylor — With the return of Perry Jones and the addition of blue-chip recruits Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello (coming soon to an All-Name Team near you), expectations for the upcoming season in Waco are high.  The Bears have more raw talent than almost anyone in the Big 12 and have a realistic shot at a conference crown.  But Baylor also had quality talent and relatively high expectations last year, only to find their season upended by mediocrity at the most important spot on the floor — the point guard position.  AJ Walton was thrust into the role of replacing Tweety Carter and responded by posting an obscene 32.1% turnover rate.  In a not-unrelated phenomenon, the Bears finished the season ranked 322nd in Division I in team turnover percentage.

The Development of Franklin and/or Jackson Could Be the Difference-Maker for Baylor This Season

If Scott Drew can’t find someone to settle things down at the point this year, the Bears may disappoint again.  And that’s where Jackson and Franklin come in.  Jackson is a well-regarded JUCO transfer and Franklin a formerly touted recruit who transferred from Cal after just a semester.  Franklin will not be eligible until the spring semester, but both will have a chance to pin down the starting point guard job.  If either proves to be a stable floor general, the Bears could have their first conference championship in more than 60 years.

Iowa State’s Starting Lineup — Okay, so maybe the entire starting lineup won’t consist of transfers, but it might come close.  Fred Hoiberg is trying to resuscitate the Iowa State program by resuscitating the careers of several D-I talents, including Chris Allen (Michigan State), Royce White (Minnesota), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois), and Chris Babb (Penn State).  They make this list as a group because collectively, they will have the single biggest transfer impact on any BCS program this year.

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Trick or Treat: RTC Hands Out Halloween Goodies

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2011

It’s Halloween night across college basketball nation and all the ghouls, goblins and ghosts are out trolling for sugary goodness. Whether Gary Williams shows up on your doorstep requesting a chicken wing or it’s an exasperated Jay Bilas wearing VCU garb from head to toe, Halloween is the only night of the year where everyone can act how they really want to act if there were no social mores, norms or YouTube. With the start of the season only one week away, RTC has put together a list of five tricks and treats for some of college basketball’s most notable people, places and things. Here’s our list of Halloween night goodies for all of college basketball’s kiddies, but don’t blame us if the bullies from over at Chapel Hill Street or Lexington Avenue jump out from behind a bush and steal all of your candy.

  • Treats to Purdue’s Robbie Hummel & Arizona’s Kevin Parrom– in the form of  confident minds and an even more explosive sets of wheels. The good-guy Hummel returns for his senior season after rehabilitating his knee from a second ACL injury last October. He’s taking it slowly, wearing a massive knee brace and practicing only on second days, but the obvious fear is that he’s one of those hard-luck cases who simply can’t get healthy (he has also experienced back issues in the past).  Parrom, on the other hand, found himself a victim of a shooting in September as he was home visiting his mother with terminal cancer (who has since passed). The versatile wing is projected to be back in the Arizona lineup in about a month, but despite his positive attitude and diligent rehabilitation of a leg pierced by a bullet, both he and Hummel will have to overcome the mental hurdles necessary to compete at the highest level of college basketball.  Let’s hope both players find all kinds of treats as two of the biggest success stories of the season.
  • Tricks to Connecticut Basketball – for using a wink-and-a-nod to find a scholarship at the last minute for superstar freshman Andre Drummond, while former orphan Michael Bradley volunteered to give his up for the good of the team.  No matter what the courageous Bradley says publicly, we still find the whole thing rather smelly. The NCAA may have stepped in and already provided a nasty little trick for the Huskies, though, in the form of an APR ban from participation in the 2013 NCAA Tournament — which, incidentally, is likely to impact Bradley rather than the one-and-done Drummond. Oy.

Treats to These Two For Finding Their Confidence in 11-12

  • Treats to Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — this kid more than any other deserves a breakout 2011-12 campaign. After a nightmarish year in Robinson’s personal life where he lost both of his maternal grandparents and his 37-year old mother in a span of a mere month, the talented big man is on the credit side of karma in a huge way and hopefully ready to cash it in. We’d like nothing more than to see Robinson become an All-American this year by leading Bill Self’s team to its eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season title, before heading off to the NBA Lottery as a superstar in the making. 
  • Tricks to the NCAA’s $2,000 Optional Stipend -- although we agree that football and basketball student-athletes are vastly underpaid relative to their value to the schools, making the stipend optional at the leisure of the conference only opens the door for even more of an inequitable distribution of talent than already exists. The power conferences can easily weather the extra couple million bucks such a measure will require, but as for the mid-majors… they’d best keep scouring those patches for the Great Pumpkin of Mid-Major hope to find their future stars.
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Vegas Odds: Handicapping the Power Conference Races

Posted by rtmsf on October 27th, 2011

Last week we examined the sixty or so major programs that Vegas feels is worth offering as action to win the 2011-12 national championship. Unsurprisingly, the top several teams in the preseason Coaches Poll – North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Duke, Syracuse — generally mimic the top several teams in terms of the odds Vegas is offering. The one stunning exception to that trend is Connecticut, whom the pollsters have listed among the few teams most likely to cut the nets down in New Orleans next April, but from whom the oddsmakers still aren’t seeing much value (+2000, or a 4.8% chance, as of now).

This week we’ll take a step further into the odds and consider the probabilities that Vegas has assigned to each power conference team to win its regular season championship. These odds are by no means foolproof. In reviewing last year’s preseason tables of the same six leagues, only Pittsburgh in the Big East and Arizona in the Pac-10 were favorites that came into the money by March. The other four league favorites this time last year? Try Duke in the ACC (UNC), Baylor/Kansas State in the Big 12 (Kansas), Michigan State in the Big Ten (Ohio State), and Kentucky in the SEC (Florida). So while all of these favorites looked reasonable one year ago today, keep in mind that college basketball seasons have a tendency to work themselves out differently despite what the oddsmakers and pundits think.

Ed. note: These odds are published on The Greek as of October 27, 2011. If you’re unfamiliar with how futures odds work, +150 represents the amount of money a potential gambler would receive back if he placed a $100 wager on that team and it won.  He would, in other words, win back 1.5 times his original wager.  Those few teams sporting a negative odds notation (e.g., -175) represents a situation where someone would have to wager $175 to win back $100. Since the aggregate of futures odds are designed to add up to a figure much larger than 100% (removing the incentive to wager on every team), we’ve added a far right column normalizing the odds to a true 100% value for each conference.    

ACC

Quick Thoughts on the ACC:

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20 Questions: Will Renardo Sidney Get In Shape and Behave This Year?

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 17th, 2011

Brian Joyce is an SEC microsite writer and a regular contributor.  He can be reached @bjoyce_hoops on Twitter.

Question: Will Renardo Sidney Get In Shape and Behave This Year?

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is cautiously optimistic that troubled big man, Renardo Sidney, is on the road to redemption. Sidney has had numerous difficulties ranging from weight and conditioning issues, well documented fights with teammates, and even questions over his amateur status due to receiving improper benefits before stepping foot on the Starkville campus. Mo’ money has meant a lot mo’ problems for Renardo Sidney.

Renardo Sidney Behaving Himself

ISSUE 1: CONDITIONING – Now there is reason for Bulldog fans to be hopeful. Sidney lost 23 pounds over the summer while working out with former NBA star John Lucas. The weight loss has helped the 6’10” power forward improve his conditioning so far this year. He is actually finishing conditioning drills, according to Stansbury. “That doesn’t mean he was winning every race,” his coach says, “but he made it through it. For him, that’s a step in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep stepping the right way and not step back.”

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Renardo Sidney, Teammate of the Year?

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2011

The old adage is that there’s no “I” in team, but many people fail to remember that there’s actually a healthy dose of “me” within that word — half of it, in fact.  The current collegian who most embraces the modern and more cynical interpretation of that aphorism is none other than Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney.  The 6’10″, insert-weight-here, conundrum of a talent is entering his third year in Rick Stansbury’s Bulldog program, and his fifth as the sport’s poster child for more headaches and hype than peace of mind and production.  But give the portly kid from Jackson, Mississippi, credit — he keeps finding new and inventive ways to alienate himself.  The latest and greatest act in his own personal passion play is his decision to skip out on his team’s August trip to Europe in favor of returning to John Lucas’ training facility in Houston to try to get his weight under control before the start of next season.  According to Brandon Marcello at the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, Sidney recently said:

Another Strike Against Sidney?

Everybody has their own opinion but I’m doing what I have to do.  There’s nothing else going on. They can say what they want to say but, like I said, I know what I have to do basketball-wise. I wasn’t ready to go (to Europe) and I felt like I really wasn’t in shape. I wanted to come back down here and get some more work.

At one point during the late spring, Sidney had reportedly ballooned up to 320 pounds, well above his listed playing weight of 270.  He lost 23 pounds during his first cycle through Lucas’ camp at the early part of the summer, but his stated goal is to lose the remainder before school begins at Mississippi State on August 17.  Why Sidney doesn’t feel that traveling and training with his own team and setting an example as an upperclassman coming off an underachieving year is beyond us, but the enigmatic center has often made decisions that inspire head-scratching among most observers inside the sport. 

The big question on everyone’s mind is whether this decision is simply cover for something else, and if such a strange allowance on the part of the coaches and Sidney himself (who willingly gives up a free summer trip to Europe with your team?) represents the beginning of the end for him at Mississippi State.  Marcello’s follow-up column today addressed this very concern and it’s worth repeating — with as much trouble as Sidney has caused during his two-plus years at MSU and barely anything to show for it (unless you count a 10-9 record chock full of half-winded performances as something), it might simply be the right time for the two to permanently part ways.  Even if Sidney loses the requisite weight in Houston over the next month, he’ll have missed out on another chance to bond with his teammates and will no doubt find additional trouble somewhere else before the start of next season.  For a Bulldog program that has been consistently good for the better part of a decade, the best outcome for Rick Stansbury and the MSU faithful may be to simply hope that Sidney never returns.  We hate to completely write off a kid like that, but at what point do you finally say “enough is enough?”  Another month, and Bulldog fans may know the answer to that question.

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Morning Five: 07.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 12th, 2011

  1. It’s a somewhat weird time to come out with a Top 15 list for the 2011-12 season, but the folks in the City of Angels would be remiss if they didn’t do things a little differently.  There are no major surprises in this version, but Alabama at #11 is a bit ambitious for an NIT team.  The Big East carries the day with four teams — #4 Connecticut, #5 Syracuse, #13 Pittsburgh, and #15 Louisville –  which are the same four (albeit in a different order) our conference correspondent Brian Otskey chose in his summer update yesterday.  The team that is consistently showing up in everyone’s top ten because of its returning talent but despite consecutive First Round upsets as high seeds is #6 Vanderbilt.  The trio of Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli are all-SEC talents, but we’re going to need to see a little more evidence of getting over their mental hangups before believing that Kevin Stallings’ team is better than the likes of #7 Arizona or #8 Wisconsin.
  2. We may have missed out on this until now, but you shouldn’t.  CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy are halfway through a five-part series examining cheating in college football, and it’s clear that, put rather simply, cheating pays off.  In part three, an examination of the five-year program outcomes after major violations, the writers found that winning percentages actually rose.  Although their analysis doesn’t touch on college hoops, we all know that athletic departments are often rather insular places — some of the findings from this analysis will without question apply to basketball programs facing similar demands for success and a common enemy (the NCAA).  It’s a thoughtful series of pieces, and we highly recommend that you keep up with it.
  3. The hits keep on coming at Wake Forest, as the Demon Deacon basketball program, still reeling from the ouster of head coach Dino Gaudio last summer, lost two more players on Monday.  Rising senior/perennial disappointment Ty Walker and rising sophomore Melvin Tabb were suspended from the squad indefinitely, with no reasons stated other than to say the causes were not academically-related.  You probably recall that Tony Woods, one of the other highly touted recruits along with Walker in the Class of 2008, was booted after getting into a fight with his girlfriend that resulted in a misdemeanor assault charge against him.  He was also suspended at Wake indefinitely, eventually left school, and is expected to suit up at Texas next season.  Wake was one of the worst power conference programs in America last season; head coach Jeff Bzdelik has a huge rebuilding project ahead of him for the Deacs to merely rise back up to respectability.
  4. While on the subject of disappointments, Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney has transformed himself Jerod Ward-style from one of the elite players in his class to someone many scouts believe may have peaked at the age of 16.  The Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger caught up with Sidney as he is spending his summer working out at John Lucas’ facility in Houston, and having already lost 23 pounds, he seems motivated to get back into shape.  At his playing weight of 270 lbs. last season, he averaged 14/8 but often appeared winded and uninterested for several plays at a time.  There’s not much question that Sidney has the requisite size and touch to play this game for pay, but second and third chances won’t come easily, so he’d serve himself well to come into next season at a chiseled 250 lbs. and enjoy the spoils of hard work that will accompany it.
  5. Oregon State’s Roberto Nelson came to Corvallis as the most highly-rated recruit to enter the Beaver program in years.  After two-thirds of a freshman season in 2010-11 where he averaged 8/2 APG in about 17 minutes per contest, big things are expected for the talented Southern California native.  During a recent summer foreign tour called “Beavers Without Borders” in Macedonia, as the below video shows, Nelson destroyed a glass backboard with a dunk in a game that seemed more pick-up than organized (start at the 2:00 mark).  The ensuing spill Nelson took as a result of his force was no joke, as he celebrated his powerful jam in the aftermath with a bloodied and broken nose.  This isn’t the Jordan Crawford/LeBron dunk from a couple of summers ago, but expect to see this one shown on numerous Pac-12 broadcasts next season.

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Does the New SEC Non-Divisional Format Help Its NCAA Profile?

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

Yesterday the twelve SEC head basketball coaches voted to remove the east/west divisional format from their league.  Pending what amounts to a rubber-stamping approval process from the league presidents, the conference could move to a standard twelve-team format as utilized by the other major basketball leagues as soon as next season.  The impetus for this change has been the serious imbalance between the two divisions for a while now.  In 2010-11, five SEC East teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament (versus none from the SEC West), and in 2009-10, four SEC East teams received golden tickets while its western counterparts were left at home.  To put an exclamation point on it, in the last five seasons, a whopping 18 SEC East teams have been invited to go dancing (out of 30 possible bids) against only five from the much-weaker West division.

The SEC is Trying to Avoid 12-4 Teams Like Alabama Left Out of the NCAAs

The SEC coaches know that NCAA bids are where they earn their paychecks and job security, so they’re seeking better ways to position themselves to get more teams into March Madness.  What was once a consistent six-bid league has fallen to an average of four the last three seasons, and as already discussed, the vast majority of those are coming from one division.  The idea to have a single conference race where schools are ranked and seeded for the conference tournament #1 to #12 is highly dubious given unbalanced scheduling (the intra-divisional teams will stay play each other twice in 2011-12) — does Alabama’s 12-4 mark (8-2 against the SEC West) from last season correlate to Kentucky’s 10-6 record (7-3 against the tougher SEC East)?  From an NCAA profile perspective, is it better for a school to tout its status as #1 in the SEC West or #5 overall, as Mississippi State (9-7) dealt with two seasons ago?  Fourth versus fifth place may not matter much in a deep league like the Big East, but in the SEC, it could mean the difference between caviar dreams in the NCAA Tournament or franks n’ beans in the NIT. 

Along the lines of those questions, we thought it might be interesting to examine the last two SEC Tournaments through the old and new formats to determine if the coaches’ stated goal to create more NCAA bid opportunities for the league makes better sense without divisions.  The brackets on the left hand side represent the old divisional format (#1 to #6 in both divisions), while the brackets on the right represent the new format (#1 to #12 regardless of division).   NCAA bubble teams in both years are signified in red.       

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Morning Five: 06.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

  1. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun cannot go to any public engagement this offseason without considerable analysis as to what his future plans may hold.  The latest such situation was Wednesday, where the three-time national championship coach spoke at the commencement ceremonies of one of his first employers, Dedham (MA) High School.  Despite a lightning storm in the area, Calhoun said that he envied the 176 graduates “for all the great things that [they] have left ahead” of them, but in an interview afterward, he said he wasn’t even thinking about his future at this time.  Unless Calhoun plans on pulling a Dean Smith and leaving the UConn program in the hands of his assistant coach, George Blaney (playing the save-the-day role of Bill Guthridge), we don’t see him retiring yet.  Having now had two months to reflect on his latest title and career, we think he knows what he’s going to do at this point — it’s just a matter of when he wants to announce it.
  2. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen something like this before, but in the wake of the Jim Tressel mess at Ohio State, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is asking Wildcat fans around the country to drop dime on UA players if they “ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive).”  It’s certainly an innovative approach to a ubiquitous problem, and Byrne deserves accolades for at least acknowledging the possibility that Arizona players might do the wrong thing every once in a while.  Still… can you ever imagine an AD at an SEC school doing something like this?  They’d rather eat their own babies than support such a transparent nod to ethics.
  3. Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, the coaches on Wednesday voted in support of scrapping the East and West division format that it has had for two decades.  The reasoning behind this change is to reward the top four teams in the conference regardless of division by giving those schools byes into the SEC Tournament’s quarterfinals, and through some vague and undefined notion, help the overall profile of the league when it comes to postseason selections.  Considering the stark imbalance in recent years between the two SEC divisions — nine East teams have made the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons versus none from the West — we’re having trouble understanding how removing two byes from the weaker division actually helps the conference profile.  Consider a 9-7 Mississippi State team, the West division winner, in 2009-10.  The Bulldogs received a bye to the quarters and were able to rest while #3 Tennessee (11-5, East) and #4 Florida (9-7, East) played in the first round on Thursday; MSU was then able to beat UF and #2 Vanderbilt (12-4, East) in succession before dropping an overtime game to #1 Kentucky (14-2, East) in the finals.  Although the Bulldogs didn’t get an NCAA bid, its bye to the quarters undoubtedly helped its postseason profile, and if they’d been the overall #5 seed instead, we’re not convinced that they’d have been able to make a similar run.
  4. From the players behaving badly department (noticeably quiet lately, to be honest), Syracuse’s Fab Melo was arraigned on Wednesday for a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief related to “reaching through the open driver’s side window of a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, and breaking the turn signal control arm making the turn signal, headlight high beam control and windshield wiper control inoperable.”  Well, that’s certainly one way to do it.  The driver in question was allegedly a female SU student who has also filed a restraining order against Melo.  Something tells us that Melo is already running the stairs of the Carrier Dome over this.
  5. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Joplin, Missouri, Frank Haith’s program and local school Missouri Southern are attempting to put together a charity basketball game in October to raise money for the victims of the three-quarter mile-wide tornado last week.  Mizzou already has its maximum allotment of two exhibition games scheduled for next season, but the Tiger program is applying for an NCAA waiver to allow it to play the Division II program in Joplin.  As Missouri Southern head coach Robert Corn said in response to the waiver, the NCAA has “no heart” if the governing body chooses not to allow it.  Agreed.
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Season in Review: The Best of RTC

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2011

It’s been a great season here at RTC, our Year the Fourth covering this great sport, and before we pack up the boxes and head to our summer hideaways in the Hamptons, Aspen and Santa Barbara, respectively, we wanted to share a little bit of our “best of” for the 2010-11 season.

Some RTC Season Highlights

RTC Live

Through our network of correspondents from coast to coast, we were able to cover a grand total of 295 games at 82 different venues this year.  We saw every single NCAA Tournament team at least once, and 78 other schools just for kicks.  We witnessed the Final Four quartet of Connecticut, Butler, Kentucky and VCU a total of 56 times, and we sat courtside at every one of UConn’s unprecedented 14-0 neutral site victories this season — from Maui to New York, then Washington to Anaheim, ultimately culminating in Houston.  Perhaps most proudly, we managed to send someone to each of the fourteen NCAA Tournament sites this year, an accomplishment we hope is merely the first in a long line of such successes.

We put together a short video encompassing some of the photos we took along the way.  See you on the road next season!

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Morning Five: 02.23.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2011

  1. You know about the NCAA sanctions against UConn and Jim Calhoun already… so get yourself ready for another day of discussion about NCAA allegations, as Tennessee has learned and will release later today its notice of allegations as a result of the Bruce Pearl scandal and several other alleged violations.  Pearl in particular is “expected to be accused of unethical conduct and failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance,” according to FoxSports, one of the most serious allegations that can be levied against a head coach.  Mike DeCourcy points out that the UConn sanctions do not allow Pearl to rest easily, given that former Husky director of basketball operations Beau Archibald was given a two-year “show cause” penalty for unethical conduct, the same thing that Pearl is charged with.  Yikes.  UT won’t have its day in court against the committee of infractions until June, so it won’t impact this season any further, but the Volunteer program and fans cannot be feeling very comfortable today.
  2. Ohio State may have lost two of its last three games, but head coach Thad Matta is keeping things in perspective in realizing that the Buckeyes lost their games in two of the toughest road environments in the country against teams who could get to the Final Four.  We’re generally in agreement with Matta.  It took an insane performance by E’Twaun Moore last weekend to take down OSU in Mackey, and the Badgers were equally ridiculous in its comeback against the Buckeyes the weekend prior.  In our view, Ohio State is still the most balanced and capable team in America, and on a neutral floor we’re not sure anyone will beat them in March.
  3. Is it even possible that the lunatic fringe known as the Mississippi State basketball program could be surging at the right time to make a run just in time for the postseason after a tumultuous season of disappointment?  From Renardo Sidney’s haymakers to Ravern Johnson’s tweets to Dee Bost’s credits to Rick Stansbury’s hair turning gray seemingly by the minute, it’s been a wild ride in Starkville this year.  And the answer is a resounding NO, despite what these southern fried writers (this one believes that Sidney is deserving of praise, not criticism) are trying to sell their local fans — MSU might end up with a Thursday bye into the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament, but to expect them to (most likely) beat three solid East teams to win the event is all kinds of ridiculous.  They haven’t won three in a row since the start of the season playing a bunch of nobodies.
  4. Speaking of concerns, Butler’s Brad Stevens has had a lot to worry about this year as his Bulldogs have spent most of the season looking for a post-Final Four identity with returnees Matt Howard, Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack back in the fold.  In keeping with his cool cat persona, though, Stevens said recently that he didn’t “freak out” over Butler’s nine losses, all of which came before February 3.  Now, with his team on a six-game winning streak and having pushed itself back onto the NCAA bubble, Stevens believes that his team was always “pretty close” to being good.  With one more regular season game and strong opportunity to receive a double-bye in the Horizon League Tourney again (the tiebreaker scenarios are incredibly complicated), the Bulldogs appear almost there.
  5. Luke Winn is back with his Late Season Style Archive feature.  This is obviously a must-read, but which of his twenty different looks are your favorites?  For our money, Jay-R Stowbridge’s Yellow Man, Norris Cole’s high fade, Mike Bruesewitz’s Redhead Revival, and Justin Graham’s Flying Spicoli.  Submit your favs below…
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