The RTC Interview Series: Big East Preview with Jon Rothstein

Posted by Walker Carey on November 5th, 2013

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. To read through the entire 2013-14 preseason interview series, click here. As part of our national preview with the Big East, RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking with a Big East expert in CBS Sports Network College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein.

Jon Rothstein Shares His Big East Preseason Thoughts With Us

Jon Rothstein Shares His Big East Preseason Thoughts With Us

Rush the Court: The new Big East has formed with its roots based almost exclusively on basketball. What will that do for the conference’s reputation from a national standpoint?

Jon Rothstein: I think we are going to have to wait and see how these schools that are left in the conference perform on a national level. From the periphery, I think everyone is looking at the Big East as a conference that can send either five or six teams to the NCAA Tournament. That would put the Big East probably on the same par as the American Athletic Conference. A lot of its reputation is going to be formed by how many teams the Big East will send to the Tournament on a consistent basis.

RTC: Marquette has been the popular preseason pick to win the league. The Golden Eagles lost Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue and Trent Lockett from last season’s Elite Eight team, so what is it about this season’s squad that makes it so formidable?

Rothstein: This is the deepest and most talented frontcourt that Buzz Williams has had since he has been the head coach at Marquette. On the other hand, this is also going to be the least experienced backcourt that he has had. I initially picked Marquette to win the Big East at the start of the offseason, but going back on it now, I wish I had picked Georgetown to win the league.

RTC: What makes you believe Georgetown has the talent to win the league?

Rothstein: To me, Georgetown replenishes talent as well as any team in the country. The thing about the Hoyas that is interesting to me is that they are able to win with different styles. You saw them feature a perimeter attack when they had Chris Wright, Jason Clark and Austin Freeman. You saw them use an inside attack with Henry Sims leading the way. Last season, we saw Otto Porter really blossom and do a bit of everything. Georgetown always finds a way to win consistently, but it does it in different ways.

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Morning Five: 09.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 17th, 2012

  1. In the wake of last week’s announcement by Notre Dame that it was leaving the Big East to join the ACC in all sports except football, new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said on Friday that his league is not dead, and as a matter of fact, is still “the strongest basketball conference in the country.” We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that when he made reference to conference strength he was talking about the upcoming season only — before he loses the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame from his lineup of stalwart programs. At the end of the day, much will be written about the relative strength of the two leagues once all the realignment moves have propagated, but from our view a top eight of UNC, Duke, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State and NC State looks equal to or better than Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, Memphis, Georgetown, Villanova and Temple. Of course, the bottom half of the Big East is where the ACC really increases its lead — UCF, SMU, Rutgers, DePaul and the rest have no business competing with programs like Virginia, Miami, Clemson and Wake Forest.
  2. Right on cue, Luke Winn last week analyzed a similar comment made by Aresco (“We’re still the strongest top-to-bottom basketball conference in the country.”) in his own inimitable way. Winn used KenPom efficiency data to compare leagues based on their current configuration and their new configurations, and with the caveat that past performance does not accurately predict future success, the Big East as a whole falls from the second-best basketball conference over the last 10 seasons to sixth. As he notes, “realignment has made the Big East the weakest top-to-bottom major conference, not the strongest.” He also shows a chart exhibiting that only four of the top 11 leagues have improved themselves on the hardwood through conference realignment — the WCC, ACC, Atlantic 10, and SEC. Each of these leagues has added at least one solid basketball school to its mix.
  3. Sam Cassell caused a commotion upon his entry to the ACC two decades ago with his brashness, outspoken demeanor, and his talent on the court. Late last week some of those same characteristics came to bear as the now-Washington Wizards assistant spoke to Jeff Goodman about the NCAA’s rejection of his son’s appeal to play as a freshman next season at Maryland. Comparing the organization to “neighborhood bullies” and accusing the governing body of wanting “kids to fail,” Cassell is clearly unhappy with the NCAA’s decision to invalidate courses his son took at Notre Dame Prep as a high school junior even though other players such as Pittsburgh’s Khem Birch and Marquette’s Todd Mayo took the exact same courses and were eligible to play last season. Cassell, Jr., has not made a decision on what his next step will be, but
  4. The other player hurt by the NCAA’s decision to invalidate those Notre Dame Prep courses may not have a famous father to speak on his behalf, but Myles Davis will sit out next year at Xavier — paying his own way — and he’ll have some additional company doing it. Jalen Reynolds, another member of Chris Mack’s incoming recruiting class, was deemed ineligible by the NCAA on Friday for a similar issue, and he too will have to sit out the entire 2012-13 season while paying his own tuition at XU. With these two losses and the recent expulsion of Dez Wells, Xavier is now down to only eight scholarship players — none of whom were significant contributors on last year’s Sweet Sixteen team. The Musketeers’ first season in a revamped Atlantic 10 boasting new instant impact programs Butler and VCU will certainly be interesting with such a young and inexperienced squad — Mack will need to find a way to work miracles on the banks of the Ohio River if he plans on keeping Xavier’s NCAA Tournament streak of seven straight seasons alive.
  5. College basketball is legitimately just around the corner, and what better way to get your juices flowing than to read an interview with Gus Johnson. Johnson, of course, is spending his time nowadays as the lead college football announcer on Fox while also doing some Big Ten Network work on the side. This Q&A with Johnson isn’t necessarily ground-breaking in its breadth, but there were two college basketball takeaways that came out of it. First, and perhaps unsurprisingly since Johnson is a Detroit guy and given his obvious enthusiasm during games, he said he has long admired Dick Vitale as a sportscaster. Next, out of all the great games he’s covered over the years, his favorite? The 1996 NCAA Tournament Princeton upset over the defending national champions, UCLA. Give us more Gus, anytime.
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Morning Five: 09.13.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 13th, 2012

  1. There were obviously two huge stories yesterday and we could lead with either one, but for us the imminent retirement of Jim Calhoun is the top story. Over the next few days you will see an endless stream of stories recounting Calhoun’s spectacular work turning a program that was essentially nothing into one of the top programs in the country. You will also see a number of anecdotes from media members about some of their memorable interactions with Calhoun. For now we will just focus on the near-term future for the Huskies, who will apparently name Kevin Ollie as their interim coach. Ollie certainly has his work cut out for him taking over a team that was expected to struggle next season even with a legend like Calhoun at the helm. We hope that the school grades Ollie on a curve here because otherwise his position will probably last only one season before the school looks elsewhere. If that does happen, it will certainly test the rankings we released last year for the most desirable coaching spots in the country. Will the brand appeal of Connecticut be enough to overcome the location and the current condition of the program for potential coaches?
  2. We are guessing that most sites will go with Notre Dame moving to the ACC in all sports except for football with the expected moved happening in 2014 at the earliest. While this is certainly another significant loss for the Big East it doesn’t come close to the significance of losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse especially since the real prize of Notre Dame’s athletic program is its football program, which isn’t exactly a revelation to anybody. The ACC was able to get Notre Dame to play a certain number of football games (five) against other schools within the conference, but Notre Dame was still able to keep its ludicrous lucrative contract and BCS privileges. Having said that, the Irish do bring a solid if unspectacular basketball program to the conference that will add more depth and strengthen its claim as the best in the country again [Ed Note: Many ACC fans would have you believe that they always were the best conference in the country.] For us, the more interesting facet of the story is that Notre Dame becomes the 15th basketball team in the conference, which as you may notice is an odd number. The ACC has insisted that there are no plans to expand to 16 teams, but it seems more than a little naive to think they won’t be looking out for another school to add to reach an even number. More on this later today.
  3. After a disappointing year in 2011-12 (and any Brad Stevens team that doesn’t make the Final Four is by definition, disappointing), Butler was looking to rebound with a strong 2012-13 season, but those hopes were dealt a significant blow when the school announced that Chrishawn Hopkins had been dismissed from the basketball team. Hopkins was one of four returning starters on a team that is also adding Arkansas sharpshooter Rotnei Clarke and was expected to be a tough out in next year’s NCAA Tournament. Fortunately for the Bulldogs they have some depth on the perimeter, but anytime you lead the #3 scorer from the previous year it has to hurt at some level. We are still not aware of which team rule Hopkins broke, but the fall term at Butler just started on August 22 so whatever he did was probably not related to grades.
  4. Another player who will not be seen on campus any time soon is Maurice Jones, who announced yesterday that he was transferring from USC after having been ruled academically ineligible. Jones, who was supposed to be the leading returning scorer for the Trojans, will certainly draw some interest despite his 5’7″ frame, but it will most likely be in the form of mid-majors where a smaller guard could be even more successful. Assuming Jones is able to get his academics in order he could be an excellent addition for a top mid-major and can give his new school two more years of eligibility. A potential destination somewhere in Michigan would not be out of the question given that is where Jones hails from, but with his skill set he should be able to look broadly.
  5. While the NCAA continues to fall behind on investigations into the wrongdoing of schools and their administrators it continues to excel at chasing after teenagers with questions regarding their eligibility. Two highly touted incoming freshmen – Sam Cassell, Jr., and Myles Davis – have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA as the result of classes they took at Notre Dame Prep, the same school that produced Michael Beasley, Lazar Hayward, and Ryan Gomes, among others. As Jeff Goodman points out, there are eight other individuals currently cleared by the NCAA to play who took those same classes. The entire situation appears to revolve around classes they took last academic year that at least Davis’ family claims were cleared by the NCAA until it was too late to change and maintain their eligibility. While this case will probably start out of the mainstream media for the most part it will be interesting to follow to see if the NCAA backs down or if the eligibility of the other students in those classes is questioned.
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Around The Blogosphere: July 20, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 20th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Jon Hood Torn ACL: The Kentucky guard tore his ACL in a pick-up game on Monday and will undergo surgery in the near future, but there is no estimate for his return at this time. (A Sea of Blue)
  • Syracuse Orange Basketball Schedule: A preliminary look at Syracuse’s schedule for next season. (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • Mark Few also involved with David Salinas: Reports on a potential connection between the Gonzaga coach and the deceased AAU middleman. (The Slipper Still Fits)
  •  Ponzi Scheme Burns Gillispie The Worst: “Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie was named by CBS Sports as a participant in a Ponzi scheme organized by an AAU team founder, which took advantage of college coaches.  And according to a story by Sports Illustrated, Gillispie wasn’t just a part of it. He was the biggest victim. In fact, he contributed nearly double the money of the second largest contributor, former Utah head coach Ray Giacoletti.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • LSU transfer Garrett Green will visit Indiana: The Hoosiers, with one additional available scholarship for next season, have contact the big man who averaged 6.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 18 minutes per game last season. (Inside the Hall)
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Morning Five: 07.20.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on July 20th, 2011

  1. Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy posted a fine summary yesterday of 2012 prospect Myles Davis‘ decision to verbally commit to Xavier, and we also saw that Mr. DeCourcy later tweeted a confirmation that Myles Davis was indeed named after…Miles Davis. This automatically makes him the coolest player in the 2012 class. We hope someone someday challenges Davis about his shot selection in some post-game press conference, so he can reply with something to the effect of, “There are no bad shots, just shots in the wrong places.” If this happens, inasmuch as we can’t reward Davis, we pledge to mow Chris Mack’s lawn on an as-needed basis for the entire off-season next summer.
  2. As MSNBC’s Mike Miller tweeted early yesterday, the fallout from this David Salinas possible Ponzi scheme story will come in the form of a “slow burn of incriminating details” over the rest of the summer. SI.com’s Pablo Torre has the latest on this fiasco, including names of coaches, amounts of money with which they entrusted Salinas, and a list of players who came through Salinas’ AAU program in Houston that, as the author says, “sparks potential questions.” Certainly true, especially when considering what (as the author notes in his article) former Houston coach Tom Penders told The Daily on Monday — that Salinas once offered him the chance to invest $100,000 with him, in the process making “a strong, strong implication” that the 100-large would grease the rails for Penders in terms of access to prospects at Salinas’ program. Yeesh. By the way, the biggest loss from Salinas’ business practices appears to have been $2.3 million (!!) that once belonged to new Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie.
  3. Kentucky’s Jon Hood tore his right ACL during a pick-up game on Monday and will likely have to redshirt the 2011-12 season. Surgery has yet to be scheduled as they wait for inflammation around the knee to subside. You might look at Hood’s 0.8 PPG and 4.3 MPG from last season and write this off as an unfortunate incident for the young man and just a minor loss for the team, but beware; Hood is the only rising junior on the team, and Kentucky lost a potential senior when DeAndre Liggins left a year early for the NBA. They still have Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas as returning seniors, but when you’re as heavy on freshmen and sophomores as Kentucky, you’ll take any upperclassmen leadership you can get.
  4. Any coach will tell you that when you take over for another coach at a struggling program, it’s not just about new offenses and new defenses and so on. It often involves a change of the very culture of the place, and sometimes even a re-commitment to basic matters of professionalism by everyone concerned, and the process can sometimes take a couple of years. Coach-turned-announcer-turned-coach Mark Gottfried has a long row to hoe at NC State, but he knows that his first job is to convince his players that success begins with things as elementary as daily off-court habits that have little or nothing to do with basketball.
  5. If the latest “Hoop Thoughts” from Seth Davis doesn’t get your mid-July college basketball juices flowing, we wonder what will. In the latest edition, Davis takes the pulses of nine programs, each based on recent conversations he had with the coaches of those teams. We don’t want to give too much away, but Duke, Louisville, Michigan State, and Ohio State backers should take note. And he leads off with a proclamation of who will be the next official Cinderella in the vein of Gonzaga and Butler.
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