SEC Morning Five: 12.16.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 16th, 2011

  1. While Florida‘s guard play has been the most talked about aspect of the roster, the Gators are actually more effective when distributing the ball down low to center Patric Young. There are a lot of great points per possessions stats in Ballin is a Habit’s breakdown, but the most interesting to us is the amount of double teams in the low post. In nine games thus far this year, Young has been double teamed three times. I went back and read the post just to make sure: that’s right, three times in nine games. Florida’s reliance on three point shots (39.2% of its total points according to and accuracy from behind the line (40.3%) prohibit opposing defenses from double teaming Young, yet he is extremely accurate (58.7 eFg%). He simply doesn’t get the ball as often as he probably should. Young is fifth on the team in the percentage of possessions used (20.5%) behind Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal, and Mike Rosario. Notice any similarities between those four players? Yep, those are Florida’s aforementioned and often talked about guards dominating the majority of possessions.
  2. As mentioned in yesterday’s SEC Morning Five, Jelan Kendrick was eligible to play in his first game Wednesday night for Ole Miss, but did not even dress due to a “coach’s decision”. It appears that Kendrick hasn’t changed much from his old ways. The troubled guard was late for a team meeting on Tuesday night, and then showed up thirty minutes late for a team shootaround on Wednesday. That sort of behavior is exactly what landed Kendrick in trouble at Memphis where he was kicked off the team before ever playing a game. And if he keeps this up, his streak of watching his teams from the sidelines will certainly continue. Andy Kennedy doesn’t need this kind of headache regardless of Kendrick’s talent level.
  3. Should the College of Charleston students have rushed the court after beating a downtrodden Tennessee team? Regardless of your feelings on whether schools should RTC at all, we can all agree that the Volunteers weren’t a worthy adversary for College of Charleston to rush the court. The Vols are 3-6 on the year, and were actually the underdog playing on the road last night. But GoVolsXtra went one step further, calling their hometown team a mid-major basketball program. Ouch, that has to hurt. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has to be given credit, however, for playing a difficult schedule in his first year at the helm. And College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins gave him that praise. “I want to thank Cuonzo Martin,” Cremins said. “He honored the contract that we made with Bruce Pearl. I appreciate them coming here. They brought a great atmosphere. It was a great win for us.” Martin has the respect of opposing coaches, but will he have the patience of Tennessee fans and blogs to dig the Vols out of mid-major hell? Tennessee has losses to Austin Peay and Oakland to go along with this loss to the Cougars.
  4. At this time two years ago, Jeronne Maymon was averaging about four points and four rebounds for Marquette. Not making the impact he had hoped for, Maymon decided it was best to seek out a new beginning by transferring to Tennessee. Although Maymon probably didn’t transfer from Marquette envisioning losses like this one on Wednesday night. The power forward was limited to nine points in the loss to the College of Charleston. But the Vols need more production from Maymon. He was impressive when he poured in 32 points and 20 rebounds in a loss to Memphis in the Maui Invitational. Since that point, his production has been somewhat limited. In the five games after that tough loss to the Tigers, Maymon hasn’t reached double figures in rebounding at all and has only reached double figures in points twice. Tennessee needs Maymon to climb out of this hole.
  5. The Worldwide Leader recognizes the charitable work that Arkansas forward Michael Sanchez has done off the court. “He’s got a service heart,” said his mother, Kim. “He’d do anything for anybody.” Sanchez is currently growing his hair out for locks for love. While many assumed he was growing his hair out to keep current with the new style, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Trust me, this isn’t about style points,” Sanchez said. “People might think I want attention, and I guess in some ways I do. Just not for myself.”  Sanchez has been somewhat hobbled this year by injuries limiting his production on the court. While he hasn’t made the impact he would probably like for Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks, he is certainly making an impact on others. It is great to see that basketball players can use their influence and visibility on the court to help those in need off of it.
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SEC Set Yer TiVo: Dead Week Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 13th, 2011

Students across SEC schools are finishing up their term papers and cramming for finals before the Christmas break. To help their students, most schools have scheduled a bunch of high-calorie cupcakes for this week’s game. Beware of the sugar crash! A team might sleep through their on-court exam and end up with an embarrassing grade.

Which games are worth the extra case of Red Bull, and which you should just sleep through?

Tennessee at Charleston — Wednesday, December 14 at 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (***)

In the midst of a three-game losing streak — including an embarrassing 74-70 home loss to Austin Peay last Saturday — Tennessee has squandered a scrappy, feel-good start to the season. In order to build any momentum for being included on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March, Cuonzo Martin‘s team must stop the slide in the Carolina First Center. The College of Charleston has racked up an impressive 7-1 record this season with wins at Clemson and on a neutral court against UMass. They should win the Southern Conference and by extension make a potential win by Tennessee look especially good to the NCAA Selection Committee.

Tennessee Is the Only SEC Team Facing A Legitimate Threat This Week

Tennessee will need to find the defensive pressure of olden times to pull off the upset. For the season the Cougars are shooting 46.6% from the field and all five starters shoot better than 45%. Tennessee is 0-4 when allowing their opponents to shoot better than 43% from the field. Charleston is getting out-rebounded by their opponents by an average of three per game. If Tennessee can use their athleticism and length to contest shots and dominate the defensive glass, it will fuel their transition game and possibly help them avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.

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SEC Morning Five: 12.12.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 12th, 2011

  1. Kentucky played really well on Saturday considering it was without its best player playing in a hostile environment against Indiana. Ok, so technically Terrence Jones played for the Wildcats, but he performed quite a disappearing act. “These guys are not machines, guys,” John Calipari said. “They’re not computers. They have bad games. You move on. Hopefully he plays better from here on. Maybe five games from now he has another bad game. You try to win without him.” In the end, the Hoosiers were too much to handle for the Cats with Jones playing the worst game of his career. Jones was limited to 28 minutes, four points on only three shot attempts, one rebound, and six turnovers. He failed to hedge on pick-and-roll situations multiple times leaving his teammates out of position on penetration. Jones’ defensive deficiencies helped create a 10-point deficit mid-way through the second half. What was even more alarming was Jones’ attitude as he sulked his way through almost the entire second half.
  2. The sky isn’t completely falling in Lexington. There were some positives from the Indiana loss for the young Wildcats, mainly the emergence of Marquis Teague in the second half. Teague played about as badly as I have seen a point guard play in the first half. He missed several open layups, he turned the ball over, and he failed once again to lead his team. But the second half was a different story. During the second 20 minutes, Teague was 6-6 for 15 points and one assist in 16 solid minutes. Anyone can see that Teague’s development at point guard is key to Kentucky’s play this season.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan had a heart-to-heart with his starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton regarding ill-advised shot selection following a combined 5-27 shooting night against Arizona. Walker and Boynton received the message loud and clear as both responded with improved play on Friday night against Rider. “I think sometimes those two guys get misconstrued of what they are about,” Donovan said. “They want to win and they have a strong desire to win. I do think that’s what makes them both great players is there is a fearlessness there of wanting to go out there and do it.” Boynton finished with a season-high 26 points and Walker added 12 points and four assists. Florida’s guard play has been both a strength and a weakness at times this year. The Gators have the talent to be a team that could win the SEC, but their guards can be overly selfish and can rely too heavily on outside shooting.
  4. Andy Kennedy‘s Mississippi Rebels have been a surprise so far this season at 8-1 overall, but the Rebels still have to work on their offensive efficiency. Ole Miss is shooting 27% from three-point range and 59% from the free throw line. “We’ve really struggled,” Kennedy said about Ole Miss’ offensive struggles. The Rebels currently average 69.3 points per game which is 153rd in the country and an adjusted offensive efficiency of 99.7 for 171st in the country. 5’11” guard Dundrecous Nelson takes 31.4% of the Rebels shots, but he has an effective field goal percentage of just 43%. Look for Kennedy to work forward Murphy Holloway more into the Rebels offense as his efficiency is much higher than the remainder of his teammates, yet he is only averaging just over 11 points per game.
  5. Mississippi State enjoyed a 106-68 blowout win over Troy on Saturday. Despite their usual reliance on the inside game, the Bulldogs tied a school record with 16 three-pointers. Forward Arnett Moultrie still did plenty to establish himself on the low block with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was the outside shooters who helped MSU run away with this one. Senior Dee Bost was 7 for 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 28 points. Even Renardo Sidney got in on the action with a three of his own, his first of the season, mid-way through the first half. The 51.6% shooting clip was the first time Mississippi State has shot over 50% from three-point range this year. The Bulldogs are now 9-1 on the season. Not coincidentally, in their lone loss this year against Akron, the Dogs shot 2 of 13 (15.4%) from three.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.07.2011 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 7th, 2011

  1. When you hang banners in Rupp Arena, then you make that money! On Tuesday the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for basketball coach John Calipari, making him the highest paid college basketball coach in the nation. Including money for broadcasting and endorsements, Calipari will make $3.7 million the first year; if he stays through the eight-year duration, he will make $4.5 million in his final year. Compared to college football’s highest-paid coaches, the Kentucky basketball coach’s salary is less than Texas’ Mack Brown ($5.2 million/yr) and just five other coaches, including the SEC’s Nick Saban ($4.8 million) and Les Miles ($3.75 million), but it’s certainly not too shabby.
  2. The season series with North Carolina and Kentucky is now awaiting renewal. Officials from both schools aren’t exactly rushing out to secure the series, including newly-minted coach John Calipari. The Kentucky coach spoke on his radio show about removing one of the heads of the “three-headed monster” — UNC, Louisville and Indiana — in Kentucky’s non-conference schedule. The coach argued that one of the traditional rivals must be dropped to allow for a projected increase of SEC conference games and to protect his ever-constant flow of talented freshmen recruits. Calipari later clarified on his web site that Kentucky’s schedule should be tailored to the players and the team. Ultimately, Calipari is trying to find a solution for two problems: Traditional rivalry games don’t make the kind of broadcasting money that justifies the risk of losing; and without an earlier start for team practices, Calipari’s freshmen-loaded squads will always be more vulnerable in high-profile December games against traditional powerhouses. A Kentucky non-conference schedule without North Carolina would be strange but acceptable if Kentucky continues to sign up for marquee events like the State Farm Champions Classic. We think that a Kentucky season without engaging long-time regional rivals Louisville and Indiana, however, would just be wrong.
  3. One regional rivalry that won’t be going away anytime soon: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. The two in-state foes will clash for the 188th time on the hardwood tonight. This is truly a home-grown event: The Atlanta Constitution-Journal’s preview highlights that ten of fourteen players on each teams’ roster grew up in the Peach State. The Yellowjackets have not won at Stegeman Coliseum since 1976, though the teams played at a neutral court for 14 years since that time. (For more info about tonight’s games, check out our Set Yer TiVo post.)
  4. Good news for people who love Gator news: Erik Murphy has recovered from his knee injury and should play against Arizona tonight. The 6’10” junior missed three games since November 25 after suffering a bone bruise in practice. Murphy was a key figure in keeping Florida within reach in its seven-point loss to then #3 Ohio State and was desperately missed in the four-point loss against then #4 Syracuse. Arizona has been using a three-guard lineup recently, which may allow Murphy to contribute more inside-the-paint than outside of it.
  5. In this week’s SEC Check-In — which you checked out, right? — we rewarded Mississippi with a #4 position in our Power Rankings due to its ability to gut out wins against good-not-great opponents. The difference between this Rebels team and last year’s team is the lack of guard Chris Warren. Red Cup Rebellion wonders whether Warren’s absence is providing an example of a Ewing Theory-like effect on coach Andy Kennedy’s team. RCR notes that current guards Jarvis Summers and Nick Williams in particular have been controlling the offense more effectively than Warren’s efforts last season. With former McDonald’s All-American and Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick becoming eligible for a December 10 game against Mississippi Valley State, Ole Miss will need to adapt to continue their impressive tough-win streak.
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 25th, 2011

  1. Less than 48 hours after Kansas and Duke played the game of the season to this point in college basketball, the folks at Rock Chalk Talk have provided a statistical breakdown of the game. Once you sort through all the numbers, one stat in particular jumps out: turnovers. When you consider that Tyshawn Taylor turned the ball over 11 times himself, it becomes even more remarkable that the Jayhawks took the Blue Devils to the wire. If Taylor fixes his issues, Kansas will have no problem competing for an eighth-straight Big 12 title.
  2. For all the talk about the death of rivalries like Kansas/Missouri and Texas/Texas A&M, it is easy to forget that West Virginia, the Big 12’s newest member, will actually end rivalries of its own by moving from the Big East. With WVU set to take on Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl, the Mountaineers face the same issues as the aforementioned teams. The two schools have been playing for more than a century, but the football game between them appears in jeopardy. The same scenario may play out in basketball, where the rivalry is just as heated. Just as we have clamored for Kansas  and Missouri to work out their problems and continue the Border War, consider this a plea for West Virginia to do the same. Rivalries are just good for college sports in general.
  3. In other news involving a future member of the Big 12… TCU‘s Craig Williams has just one more shot to get it right. The Virgin Islands Daily News sat down with the senior, a native of the territory, to discuss his time with the Horned Frogs. After transferring from Temple, Williams will now attempt to help coach Jim Christian turn the program around before it moves from the Mountain West to the Big 12. He may never appear in this conference, but he has a chance to start something special at TCU. The Horned Frogs, by the way, are 3-2 right now, having lost by double-digits to Norfolk State and Mississippi in the Paradise Jam.
  4. With both national polls set to release on Monday, it will be interesting to keep an eye on where Missouri finds itself. The Tigers were considered a fringe top-25 team before the season, but after beating Notre Dame and California by a combined 58 points in the CBE Classic, they could be looking at a top-10 ranking. The scary thing is that Missouri will not have to face a tough opponent until December 6  when it faces Villanova, so it should continue its winning ways until then at the very least. How high could these Tigers rise?
  5. And as Missouri jumps in the rankings, so does the popularity of coach Frank Haith. Considered a poor hire by almost everybody back in the spring, Haith did not make any new friends this summer when Nevin Shapiro accused him of acknowledging an illegal payment to a recruit at Miami. After the CBE Classic, however, Haith has probably made friends in every city in Missouri. He’s a rock star now. Funny how winning fixes a lot of things.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 25th, 2011





  1. Did anybody try cooking for Thanksgiving? It’s okay, sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how you planned. I’m sure everybody grinned and ate it anyway. Well, LSU‘s season isn’t turning out how coach Trent Johnson planned either. In their most recent game, they fell to South Alabama despite building a 12-point lead. “Like I told the team, you just can’t show up and expect to win a game, whether you are at home or on the road,” Johnson said. “The one thing that sort of concerns me is that although we had 17 assists and 11 turnovers, and when we got up 10, I thought we had some guys try to go off on their own a little bit.” LSU came into the game with a two-game win streak, but were out-rebounded by the Jaguars 42-31. This is the Tigers third loss of this early season. The problem for Johnson and the Tigers is that nobody is grinning and pretending to enjoy what is happening to this LSU team.
  2. The Georgia student newspaper, the Red and Black, says coach Mark Fox is optimistic about how his young Bulldogs are coming along. Fox was impressed with how his team responded after a difficult loss to California with a hard-fought win over Notre Dame the following night. But Georgia’s schedule just gets tougher from this point forward. “This schedule is challenging and for a young team, it’s extra challenging,” Fox said. “You gotta learn how to beat good teams and you don’t learn how to beat good teams by just playing bad ones. So we’re gonna have to grow up on the job. We’re gonna have a lot of teachable moments like we had against Cal and Notre Dame. There is just so much for this group to experience.” Georgia will get plenty of opportunities to grow up on the job as they play Xavier, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Southern California over the next few weeks. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has filled in to produce some much needed scoring with 13.2 points per game so far. The Dogs are counting on Caldwell-Pope to increase his field goal percentage (40.4%) as he gets more experience throughout the season.
  3. Arkansas is still learning to deal with the injury of leading scorer Marshawn Powell. Freshman Devonta Abron started in place of Powell against Utah Valley on Wednesday night and finished with three points and three rebounds. The entire frontcourt really struggled in Powell’s absence. Abron, Hunter Mickelson, Michael Sanchez, and Marvell Waithe combined to score six points and grab 13 rebounds. “We have to work with what we have now,” 6’2″ guard Madracus Wade said of Powell’s injury. “The young guys have to step up. … We’ve all got to get in there and rebound.” Arkansas won 67-59, but it is clear that Mike Anderson’s up-tempo system can’t run entirely on guard play. The Razorbacks have to find frontcourt production soon to avoid a major letdown in Anderson’s first year at the helm.
  4. Tennessee‘s narrow losses against #6 Duke and #8 Memphis have the Vols confident that they can play with anyone in the nation. A big reason for the Volunteers success in Maui was the outstanding play of power forward Jeronne Maymon who scored 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Memphis. The performance was the first time a Division I player has scored at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Blake Griffin in 2009. “We know we’re good enough to play against anybody on any given night,” Maymon said. “Each night we go to practice like we’re getting ready for the No. 1-ranked team.” Maymon and Tennessee proved, despite losing two close games, that they were highly underrated with the potential to be an NCAA Tournament team. The Volunteers were picked to finish 11th in the SEC in the preseason and it is seems clear that the Vols will finish much higher than that.
  5. The Clarion-Ledger has a few observations from the first five Ole Miss games of the season. The most interesting note is just how bad the Rebels’ offensive efficiency has been this year. They are 17-97 (17.5%) from beyond the arc, bad enough for 340th in the nation. The Reb’s two point percentage is 49.8%, which is significantly better at 125th in the nation. Andy Kennedy seems to be struggling to replace do-it-all guard Chris Warren, who averaged 19.1 points per game last year. Terrance Henry is the Rebels leading scorer thus far with 12.2 points per game, but he is shooting at an alarming 41.2% from the field. The Rebels wins thus far are a bit misleading. While the Rebs are 4-1, a 30-point loss on Sunday to Marquette signifies that unless Kennedy can solve their offensive woes, more difficult times lie ahead for Ole Miss once they take a step up in competition.
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SEC Set Yer TiVo: Turkey Week Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 21st, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC non-conference basketball schedule heads into Thanksgiving by finishing up its early season tournaments. Those already back from their tourney travels kick off the holiday week with an easy-as-pie opponent. Which games this week are the turkey meat and which are the store-bought cold bean salad that stays unserved on the kitchen counter?

Tennessee vs. #6 Duke (at Maui Invitational) – Monday, Nov. 21st 5:30 PM EST on ESPN2 (***)
Tennessee vs. #13 Memphis or #14 Michigan – Tuesday, Nov. 22nd 2:00 PM (or 7:00 PM) EST on ESPN2 (or ESPN) (****)
Tennessee vs. UCLA/Chaminade/#15 Kansas/Georgetown – Wednesday, Nov. 23rd (Time and TV TBD)

As the sole SEC representative in this year’s EA Sports Maui Invitational, Tennessee faces quite the gauntlet. First up are the Blue Devils, whose outside shooting (42% 3FG) and size advantage in 6’11” forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be a significant advantage. The Volunteers will either need to find a way to score inside or keep riding a hot 3-point shooting streak (26 of 53 in two games) to find the exit with a victory. Memphis and Michigan have youthful teams that share a ghost-like quickness. Tennessee won’t out-shoot the Wolverines from deep and can’t out-run Memphis so Cuonzo Martin might have make some magic happen with his forwards in order for the Vols to overcome either team.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin really wants his team to stop shooting the magic potions. (Photo via AP Photo/The News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

With one victory in Maui before Wednesday, Tennessee will find a key that helps open the door to an NCAA Tournament bid. With two straight losses, the Vols would likely face UCLA or Chamiade on Wednesday and their NCAA chances in trouble early in the season. Tuesday’s game will be probably the best to watch especially if in-state rival Memphis is involved.

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SEC Set Your TiVo: Weekend of 11.18.11

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 18th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC got the Internets goin’ nuts this weekend. You’ll have to hook up your laptop to your TV if you want to catch nearly every game not involving Mississippi State, Mississippi or South Carolina. Check out our evaluations below for the games that’ll make you want to change television service providers to get The Tres.

#15 Arizona vs. Mississippi State (2K Classic Championship Game) – Friday, Nov. 18, 6:30PM EST on ESPN2 (***)

Renardo Sidney is available for basketball AND all your stamp-licking needs.

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury finally found some redemption for an embarrassing loss at home to Akron last week. In Thursday night’s 2KSports CvC Classic Semifinals, the Bulldogs sprinted to a 31-9 lead in the first half and held off #18 Texas A&M’s comeback to win 69-60. MSU’s eight-man rotation forced 16 turnovers and committed just 16 fouls, limiting A&M’s free-throw attempts (10-14). Another tough defensive assignment awaits in Arizona, who defeated St. John’s in the other semifinal, 81-72.

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SEC Preseason Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 14th, 2011

The college basketball season has tipped off, and we are well under way. There has already been plenty of action as some teams have injured superstars, out-of-shape stars, underappreciated stars and emerging stars. But there are plenty of stars in the SEC, nonetheless. Before we jump into the star studded matchups of Tuesday, let’s do a quick look back at our SEC microsite preview coverage from the last several weeks:

We looked at the non-conference schedules of several SEC teams to determine the three most important games in our Make or Break series:

We profiled several of the incoming transfers who will make an impact in the SEC this year through our Fresh Start series:

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The Best of the Rest: A Look at SEC standouts Not Selected to All-SEC Preseason Teams

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 25th, 2011

SEC and national media members selected their All-SEC and POY selections Monday morning. Their choices were as follows:

First Team All-SEC
  • JaMychal Green, Alabama – F, 6-8, 228, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.
  • Terrence Jones, Kentucky – F, 6-9, 252, So., Portland, Ore.
  • Dee Bost, Mississippi State – G, 6-2, 176, Sr. , Concord, N.C.
  • John Jenkins, Vanderbilt – G, 6-4, 220, Jr., Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt – G/F, 6-7, 225, Sr., Norrkoping, Sweden
Second Team All-SEC
  • Anthony Davis, Kentucky – F, 6-10, 220, Fr., Chicago, Ill.
  • Doron Lamb, Kentucky – G, 6-4, 210, So., Queens, N.Y.
  • Darius Miller, Kentucky – G, 6-8, 235, Sr., Maysville, Ky.
  • Kenny Boynton, Florida – G, 6-2, 189, Jr., Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Erving Walker, Florida – G, 5-8, 177, Sr., Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt – C, 6-11, 255, Sr., Benin City, Nigeria
SEC Player of the Year: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
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Morning Five: 10.12.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 12th, 2011

  1. Indiana self-reported a violation to the NCAA yesterday, specifically the contacting of recruit Gary Harris by head coach Tom Crean on October 6 even though the period for allowable contact ended on October 5. The university report said that one of Crean’s assistants told the head coach that the contact was permitted and they didn’t realize the error until the communication had occurred. Self-imposed penalty: loss of two recruiting days, loss of an allowable contact, and no further contact with that recruit. That’s probably all that will be necessary to appease the NCAA, but this is just odd to us. We’re confident that in time Crean can bring the Hoosiers back to prominence, and we know that head coaches delegate so much to their assistants, but at a school with a recent history of improper contact with recruits like Indiana, it’s difficult to believe that the man who’s most responsible for what goes on there doesn’t know when the contact period ends.
  2. Notre Dame will be without fifth-year senior forward Tim Abromaitis for the first four games of the upcoming season as a penalty for playing two exhibition games before his sophomore season — yes, this happened three years ago — officially began. Abromaitis had taken that year off after the exhibitions to give himself an eventual fifth year of eligibility, but NCAA rules say that only freshmen are allowed to do this, not sophomores. Head coach Mike Brey took responsibility for the faux pas, and both he and Abromaitis knew this was coming, so it’s not like the team is caught off-guard on this one. According to the NCAA, Abromaitis’ fifth year is green-lighted because of a waiver that takes the program’s misunderstanding of the rule into account. An NCAA waiver that considers misunderstandings? Somewhere, Enes Kanter and his parents offer a bemused glower…
  3. Homer Drew was the designer of one of March Madness’ greatest upset moments. Actually, it’s just as accurate to eliminate the word “upset” in the previous sentence. The tip-pass play executed by Drew’s Valparaiso squad that resulted in Homer’s son Bryce drilling that jumper to beat Mississippi in the 1998 NCAA Tournament’s first round has become a lasting reminder of hope for all small-conference teams who find themselves in the Dance. Hope…is exactly what Drew and his wife now need, more than ever.  The school revealed yesterday that both Drew AND his wife were recently diagnosed with cancer. No further details. Awful, awful, awful news. Our best wishes and prayers go out to both of them and the entire Drew family.
  4. At a couple of spots on this site yesterday we covered  Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo’s comments about the ACC’s power grab in snagging Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East a while back, as they appeared in an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe. Now DeFilippo has apologized, saying that he was wrong to have his personal feelings appear to come off as the stance of the entire department. That might work for the comment about blackballing Connecticut from the ACC, but that surprised few. As for the assertion that ESPN nudged the ACC into making the play for Syracuse and UConn, he said he spoke “inappropriately and erroneously” about that. So, now we’re to believe that ESPN didn’t have a hand in it after he brought it up without prompting? Because his denial is of the non-denial variety, this matter won’t be put to bed until Mr. DiFilippo specifically states that ESPN was not involved at all — if then. If you believe the prevailing mood among journalists, bloggers and fans on Twitter, his first takes are still considered as the truth, and there’s nothing inappropriate or erroneous about speaking the truth.
  5. Listen, we don’t like the lack of Gus Johnson on CBS any more than you do, and we’ve expressed our sorrow here and over our Twitter feed more than a lot of our readers/followers probably ever hoped we would. It might still come up from time to time (especially about five months from now), but it’s real and there’s nothing more that we can do about it. In the spirit of moving on, we give you, via Sports Media Journal, the entire CBS college basketball schedule. From December 3 (North Carolina at Kentucky) to February 26 (Big East/Big Ten doubleheader), here it is in all its glory.
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Get To The Point: SEC Edition

Posted by Brian Otskey on August 15th, 2011

Throughout the summer RTC contributors Zach Hayes and Brian Otskey will discuss the hot topics — or whatever comes to mind — around each major conference in college basketball.  This week, they tackle the SEC.  For the entire summer series focusing on each of the six power conferences, click here.

Brian: While football dominates the conversation when it comes to the SEC, most basketball fans know there is some quality hoops played in this league as well. The 2011-12 version of SEC basketball is no exception as three teams (Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Florida) should be top 25 mainstays while a fourth (Alabama) has the potential to make quite a bit of noise in its own right and crack the rankings. New coaches begin major rebuilding projects at Arkansas and Tennessee while LSU and Auburn should improve from disastrous seasons. There’s a renewed sense of optimism at Mississippi State but Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina have to start over after losing key contributors from last year. The SEC looks to be a very strong league at the top but full of intrigue from #1 to #12.

The Overall Top Four SEC Teams Will Receive SEC Tourney Byes Next Season

Perhaps the biggest news this offseason was the decision to scrap the East/West divisional format and rank the teams 1 through 12. In my opinion, this is the best setup and will result in better balance throughout the conference. However, the SEC athletic directors did not change the scheduling format for this coming year at their spring meetings back in early June. If it were up to me, I would have done away with the divisions and changed the schedule at the same time. What we will have this year is akin to what the Big 12 used for years before losing two of its members. While that isn’t the end of the world, it’s a bigger deal in the SEC. The three strongest teams resided in what was the East division while many of the weaker programs competed in the SEC West. With the scheduling format remaining the same for one more year, Alabama looks to be the biggest beneficiary. The Crimson Tide will play 10 games against Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi and Mississippi State while seeing Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt only once. While some of the West schools should be a bit better than they were, none will come close to matching what the top three East clubs bring to the table. Alabama went 12-4 in conference play last year and that would have been good enough for second place in the new setup. Does anyone really think Alabama was the second best team in the conference last season? I have nothing against Alabama but that simply wasn’t the case. I just don’t see why the conference ADs made this knee-jerk decision to dump the divisions without changing the schedule. Waiting one year and working it all out would have been the better approach. The East teams will benefit from playing each other twice (better RPI) but I’d like to see the league go to an 18-game schedule eventually. The rumblings about a true round-robin 22-game slate sound nice, but 22 conference games seems like too much to me. I’d label that as good in theory but unrealistic in a 12-team league.

My pick to win the league is Kentucky. John Calipari brings in his best recruiting class ever with four 5-star players heading to Lexington. With returnees Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas on board, UK is primed for a monster season. I expect Marquis Teague to take the reins at the point fairly easily while Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer headline the front court. Kentucky also has the luxury of the versatile Jones who, with added strength and quickness, can expand his game even further. He’s got an incredible shooting touch for a man of his size but I’m more interested to see how much better he gets in the paint with Davis now by his side to relieve some of the pressure. Despite all of this, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be Calipari’s best recruit. This kid is the type of player that scouts drool over, able to slash and take it inside or step out and knock down a mid-range shot. He needs to work on his shooting from behind the arc but Kidd-Gilchrist is an incredible athlete who will contribute right away on the defensive end as well as on the glass. Kidd-Gilchrist will bring a strong work ethic and commitment towards getting better to Kentucky and the Wildcats will reap the benefits all season long. I expect Kentucky to be one of the few national championship contenders despite all of their youth.

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