09.30.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2009

You know what tomorrow is, right?  Yeah, October.  Us too. 

  • Scare at Tennessee.   A very frightening story out of Knoxville earlier this week was that Vol sophomore forward Emmanuel Negedu collapsed while lifting weights on Monday and reportedly had to be revived by UT medical staff prior to his transport to the hospital.  He’s spent the last two nights there under watch, and doctors continue to perform tests on him to make sure that he’s not suffering from something deadly.  We all know the stories over the years, from Len Bias to Hank Gathers to Reggie Lewis, and these are always scary incidents.  RTC wishes Negedu the best of luck and wishes for a full recovery. 
  • Cleaning up at Binghamton...  Two ugly incidents put an early stain on the 2009-10 season, as we discussed in separate posts when they happened last week.  Both were stories capable of sending shock waves through college basketball this week, though, as Binghamton yesterday fired an adjunct lecturer who claimed in a NYT article last February that basketball players were receiving preferential treatment in the classroom (grade changing, independent study, and the like).  The Binghamton program is now in shambles on the court, but we continue to be shocked and amazed that Kevin Broadus, the recruiter of all the problem children who ended up dismissed (and arrested), is skating on this one.  Seriously, think about this – Binghamton cans the whistleblowing prof but not the coach who orchestrated the entire mess?  How is this possible?  Isn’t the SUNY chancellor now the same woman who stood on the library steps and shouted “no more” to the Cincinnati faithful when she 86ed Bob Huggins four years ago?  And yet she’s curiously silent (along with BU’s president, Lois B. DeFleur, for the most part).  Something’s not right here, and we figure there’s more to come.  If there is, we can rest assured the NYT’s Pete Thamel will figure it out.     EDITED TO ADD: Yep, the AD is gone, can Broadus be far behind?
  • …and Kansas.   Perhaps the uglier incident last week was the three fights between members of the KU basketball and football teams.  Much was written about how embarrassing this was to the university, the athletic department, the coaches and players involved, and Thursday’s public, formal apologies did little to defuse the PR hit that Bill Self’s program took last week.  The word is that players were fighting over (what else?) girls and rep, but KU football players shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that just because they’ve had a nice run in that program the last few years that Kansas will ever be anything but a basketball school.  The question now is what will Bill Self do to punish the guilty parties?  We already know that Tyshawn Taylor was involved due to his dislocated finger that’ll hold him out of workouts for around a month.  We also know that one of the Morris twins pushed a football player down the stairs, a very dangerous act of battery (this would be Markieff’s second, btw) that was mitigated by another player catching the falling player as he made his way downward.   News outlets all report that there were some other hoops players involved as well.  We think that, for the sake of his program, Bill Self has to take a very serious stand on this one.  You simply cannot have the players on a preseason #1 team running around campus fighting indiscriminately with players from the football team.  Not only can your own players get hurt, but with so many big bodies involved, run-of-the-mill students can also get hurt.  Luckily, that didn’t happen here, but Self needs to show that he’s totally in charge of his program.  Anything less than a several-game suspension for all of the players involved would reveal that early-season Ws are more important to him than discipline.  If it were us, we’d sit the Morris who threw the player down the stairs for ten games and the others for five each.  No questions asked.  If Kansas loses an early game or two versus Memphis and/or UCLA because of it, well, too bad.  The good will that Self engenders as a no-nonsense coach will provide far greater benefits over time in terms of recruiting and public reputation than it will by letting these players off easy.    
  • Non-BCS Schools Receive Harsher Penalties Than BCS Schools – No Way!!  This jewel made it into our inbox last week from the Orlando Sentinel.  The Michael Buckner Law Firm performed an analysis that showed that the average years of probation meted out to non-BCS programs was longer than those handed out to BCS programs over a 4+ year period in the late 2000s.  The average amount of probation time for a non-BCS program was 2.74 years versus 2.58 years for BCS programs.  There’s no accounting for whether the difference is simple error or actual bias, but what is more damning from this study is the finding that the HBCU schools (historically black colleges and universities) were given 3.83 years of probation versus the aforementioned 2.58 for BCS schools.  That seems a little ridiculous to us.  Of course, the NCAA predictably dismissed the study on statistical grounds, and we understand their complaint.  So here’s our suggestion to the NCAA: hire an independent researcher to examine your enforcement policies and practices for consistency and bias, and get back to us.  Something tells us we’ll be waiting on that for quite some time.
  • Quick HitsBlue Ribbontop 25 and all-americansJames Ischgood luck, sir.   Billy Clyde: offered a plea bargain in Ky.  Gary Williams: one-year extensionNolan Richardson: the descent continuesMVC Nonconf Schedulestremendous analysis.   Gonzaga:  are they reloading or rebuilding in Spokane?  Luke Winn: charting peaks and valleys of the offseason.  Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger: get to know themCvC: pushing for healthcare reform on Capitol Hill.  Goodman: top 20 backcourts and top 20 frontcourts AND his Big 12 previewTyler Smith: who will be the first person he follows on TwitterJim Crews: fired at Army after 7 years.  Herb Sendek: busily not gloating in TempeDemetrius Jemison: Bama forward out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.   Shocker: Derrick Rose says he took his own SATA Decade Ago: Harold “The Show” ArceneauxRay McCallum, Sr.: walking the fine line between parent and recruiter

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08.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…

  • Comings and Goings.  There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation.  The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen.  Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester.  Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester.  Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.  On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season. 
  • 2009 NIT Bracket.  The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it.  They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field.  But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings?  Take a closer look at the thumbnail below.  If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right?  In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU.  What’s the point of this?  If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience.  Sigh…   For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.

2009 NIT Brackets

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Official Word: “The Squid” to UK…

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2009

(h/t to L4B for Calipari’s new nickname… but, um, will it stick?)

John Calipari Headed to LexingtonOfficially.  What does this hire by Kentucky (at a reported $5M+ per year) do?  It makes the Wildcat program nationally relevant again.  Instantly.  With a single stroke of the pen (still pending), every major recruit from 9th to 11th grade (and several in the 12th) who has visions of wearing a hideous suit to meet David Stern on Draft Day suddenly has Kentucky back on their radar screens.  At the McD’s game practice today, Xavier Henry has already made it clear that his recruitment is open “to everybody and anybody.”  Another Memphis commitment, DeMarcus Cousins, may feel the same way, and who knows where this leaves John Wall (a strong Memphis lean)?  With arguably the strongest recruiter this side of Roy Williams and Ben Howland vacuuming up numerous kids with serious dreams of the L, and the commitment to resources that a school like UK brings to basketball, is there any doubt whatsoever that The Squid will have the Cats hunting for Final Fours again very soon?  The pressure to win and win big will be gargantuan, but Calipari is one of the few coaches with enough ego to handle it. 

Coach, this is Jeff from down in Hyden.  Now, about the team’s free throws…

calipari2

Domino, Motha____ers!  And like Doughboy so eloquently stated in BnTH, the dominoes are already falling elsewhere.  Georgia reportedly offered over $2M per year to Missouri’s Mike Anderson (although others dispute that) to take over the chronically underachieving Bulldog program, but now there is chatter that Anderson might have an interest in the newly-opened Memphis positionUpdate: Anderson is staying at Mizzou for a payday nearly doubling his annual salary.  Some other names being thrown around for the Memphis job are Tony Barbee from UTEP (former Calipari assistant) and even former Arkansas Razorback coach Nolan Richardson, who regularly mined the playgrounds of Memphis for his stellar 40MoH teams.  Whoever takes over this job, a top 20 destination, will be without the services of Tyreke Evans, who also announced his decision to go pro today

The Other Ego in Kentucky.  Louisville figures to be impacted heavily by the arrival of Calipari at Kentucky, if for no other reason than to escalate a rivalry between coaches that goes back to the early 90s and into the NBA (Celtics vs. Nets).  Can you believe that two titans of ego coaching such as Pitino and Calipari – both hot-blooded Italians – will be battling for bragging rights in the same basketball-nutty state?  Still, if you believe in rumors that won’t die, there is speculation that Rick Pitino is a legitimate candidate for the open Arizona job, vacated by Lute Olson and seat-warmed by Russ Pennell this year.  Seth Davis wrote today that he doesn’t believe this rumor for a second, and neither do we, but we could definitely see the other name mentioned for this job, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, getting into the mix down in the desert. 

Final Question.  It’s not like Billy Gillipie was completely shamed out of Lexington, although it certainly played out so.  Still, the guy has a relatively strong coaching resume, and unlike some other epic failures at regal programs (Matt Doherty at UNC; Steve Lavin at UCLA), he’s proven that he can build a program and recruit players to fill those spots.  So where will Billy Clyde end up?  You have to figure that he’ll be back in coaching next year, and if you saw his interview on ESPN with Jimmy Dykes yesterday, it was painfully apparent that he’s angling for another position with the ‘aw shucks’ persona.  Just so long as he doesn’t have to give any advice, cuz, you know, he’s not an advice-giver. 

Dykes: Do you think not signing a 30-page contract is gonna affect what you feel is fair to you at this point?

Gillispie: Oh, I have no idea. I mean, I think it’s all gonna work out fine, and I’ve never been involved with too many things that didn’t.

Dykes: What advice would you give to John Calipari if the deal goes down?

Gillispie: I’m not an advice-giver. I heard a long time ago, “The worst advice is bad advice … or giving advice.” And so, I don’t really have a whole lot of advice.

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03.02.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

We have a weekend full of links for you today as I was sort of busy over the weekend. On Saturday there was the RTC Live from Storrs, CT on Senior Night/Day, which was followed by RTC Aftermath that recapped the event. On Sunday, I was busy running Boom Goes the Dynamite and making some new friends from Duke (see the comment section).

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RIP to The Bear, Don Haskins

Posted by rtmsf on September 10th, 2008

Over the weekend, we too heard the disheartening news that one of the game’s most historically important figures had died.  Don Haskins, longtime coach of UTEP (nee’ Texas Western), passed away on Sunday at the age of 78. 

(photo credit: UTEP)

Most of Haskins’ career was before our time, and it’s not like UTEP games were burning up the airwaves anyway, but the 1997 Hall of Fame coach (719 wins) consistently put quality teams into the NCAA Tournament (14 trips) throughout his 39 seasons in El Paso.  Of course, Haskins will forever be historically notorious for his 1966 Texas Western squad, who won the national title with an all-black starting lineup against the all-white Kentucky Wildcats.   While the real-time impact of that game on a nation embroiled in the civil rights movement can be extensively argued (no major media outlet mentioned this artifact at the time of the game), there can be little question that Haskins’ national championship team represents a significant tipping point in collegiate athletics, particularly in the South.  No longer could it be argued that predominantly-black teams didn’t have the necessary discipline (and coachability) to compete at the highest levels of the game.  Soon thereafter, the floodgate of black athletes at SEC, SWC and ACC schools opened.

With that said, we don’t presume to know much about Don Haskins other than his role in that game, so we’ll leave it to those who did know him and his stories to fill out the remainder of the post.  RIP Coach Haskins.

From CBS Sportsline:

We’ve spent a large part of the past few months hearing about how one politician is breaking barriers and another is putting cracks in ceilings. These are historic times, for sure. But 42 years ago Haskins accomplished similar things in his own little way, only he wasn’t similarly celebrated like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin. Instead, he was ridiculed and threatened and, well, I’ll just turn things back over to Wetzel.

“His friends asked him ‘Don, are you crazy? Are you f—ing nuts?'” Wetzel said. “They said ‘If you play five blacks they’re going to call you the black coach. Even if you win you’ll never get another job. And if you lose and get fired, nobody will ever hire you. And if one of those kids f—s up, then you’re done. Your entire career is done and you’ve got kids to feed. Don’t do this. It’s stupid.'”

Haskins’ response?  “He said ‘F— that,'” Wetzel said. “He said ‘Seven of my best eight players are black, and I’m playing them. I don’t care what the repercussions are.'”  So he played them, started five of them, and you know the story by now.

From the El Paso Times:

So many people in this city have treasured memories of the man … a friendship, a chance encounter, a vision of the fiercest of them all prowling the sidelines. He touched all in this city, one way or another.

We can never forget the fierce man who stalked the sideline, barking at officials, growling at players. He was, quite simply, the ultimate competitor. He had the quickest basketball mind you ever saw. Practice would be going full steam, 10 guys on the court going 110 mph. Nothing else would do. One of those 10 would be out of place, make some wrong move, and that big voice would instantly come booming through the arena and he would charge out into the middle of the action. The man never used a whistle. Didn’t need one. He had that voice.

From the Washington Post:

Recalling the ’66 team 25 years later, Mr. Haskins told The Washington Post: “That wasn’t the first time I’d started five blacks, and I really didn’t think it was all that unusual. What made it so is that Rupp had an all-white team and didn’t make a secret of how he felt about it.”

Mr. Haskins got his nickname, “the Bear,” not only because he growled and grumped a lot but also because of his burly physique. The fact that he threw a player out of practice one day for trying a behind-the-back pass and once kicked a chair so hard he broke a toe only added to his ornery ursine image.

“Lord knows, I hated that man when I first started playing for him,” said Nevil “the Shadow” Shed, a native of the South Bronx who played on the national championship team. “He really got after us, but he never killed our spirit.”

From Nolan Richardson (ESPN):

“Everyone should remember and never forget that he broke a line that should have been broken years and years before,” said former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, who played for Haskins as a junior and senior at Texas Western in the early 1960s.

“Coach Haskins wanted to win and to do what he did at a young age, that’s the kind of man he was,” Richardson said of Haskins’ starting an all-African-American starting five. “It didn’t matter how tall you were, but can you play? Can you take coaching? He was that kind of guy. It’s going to be a big loss for his immediate family and all the guys that played for him and learned their coaching techniques from him. There’s no question that he had a tremendous influence on my life, as a person and as a coach. He will truly be missed by all of us.”

From Bob Knight (Dallas Morning News):

“There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. He got more out of his teams and players than any coach who has ever coached college basketball.”

“I have had no friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins. There was never anyone like him before and there never will be anyone like him again.”

“Don Haskins was absolutely a pure golden original. He took a school that had no reason to be a basketball giant and made it in to one.”

Haskins’ memorial services will be Thursday in El Paso.  Billy Gillispie, Nolan Richardson and Tim Floyd are expected to speak.

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
– All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
– While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
– While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
– The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
– It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-“What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
– Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
– This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
– The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
– Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
– This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
– This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
– Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
– This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
– Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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East Regional Analysis

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2008

As I stated earlier during my live blog of the selection show, the East Regional definitely seems likely the toughest of the four regions, which seems a little unfair to #1 overall seed UNC. I also included links to the team’s ESPN pages that includes schedules and rosters.

Teams
#1 UNC: Despite all the hype that the analysts are giving UCLA, I still think UNC is the team to beat as they have Hansbrough, the most reliable player in the nation on a team that doesn’t have a #2 guy who lay a 0-for-14 in a big game, a very good if not great yet perimeter player in Ellington, and one of the best PGs in the nation in Lawson (still unsure when he will be back to his prior form). They also have Roy Williams, who despite his record of losing tournament games with superior teams has also won a national title before so at least he knows how it is done. Schedule/Roster.

#2 Tennessee: Out of all the #2 seeds, the Vols definitely got the short end of the stick. For all the talk of Wisconsin being cheated out of a #3 seed, I would almost prefer to be in Wisconsin’s position rather than Tennessee’s. The Vols have one of the most exciting/athletic teams in the country, but sometimes they just don’t show up. I’m still waiting for Chris Lofton to turn into the potential national POY that he was hyped as coming into the season. Even though their first round game should a cakewalk, the second round will be a challenge as they will end up with either Butler (much, much better than its 7th seed) or South Alabama (the game is in Birmingham, AL). This is a pretty rough bracket for the team that most would consider the best #2 seed especially since Wisconsin didn’t even get a #2 seed. Schedule/Roster.

#3 Louisville: Despite their horrendous early-season start, Rick Pitino (and the team recovering from injuries) turned the season around and has Louisville at a very respectable seed. While they lack the star power of some of the top teams, Louisville makes up for it with their depth. Their most explosive scorer (Sosa) comes off the bench and they also have solid (if somewhat anonymous) play out of the backcourt to compliment Padgett, Character, and Palacios, who actually started on their Final 4 team. Normally, I would give this group a good chance to make the Final 4, but with UNC and Tennessee in their bracket they will be hard-pressed to make it to San Antonio. Schedule/Roster.

#4 Washington State: It’s hard to believe that earlier in the season this team was ranked #4 and now they are probably getting the 4th most hype out of the Pac-10 teams in the tournament. With tons of experience and solid play from Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low, the Cougars should be competitive with almost any team in the tournament, but their lack of firepower and depth will probably cost them if they get deep into the tournament. I’m sure that all of you are also looking at Winthrop as a potential Cinderella based on their prior performance so the Cougars also have that to worry about. Schedule/Roster.

#5 Notre Dame: Led by Big East POY candidate Luke Harangody, the Irish were one of the big surprises for us out of the Big East. We didn’t get to see them play much, but when we did they looked very good. Part of their success seems to be related to their home-court winning streak. It’s too bad for the Irish the tournament isn’t played in South Bend. They play the 2006 Cinderella George Mason in the first round, which should be an interesting matchup (we’ll leave the Irish/Cinderella commentary/jokes to someone else). Like Duke, the Irish rely on the 3 although they are not completely lacking an inside presence. This makes them dangerous on a given night, but also subject to an early upset. Schedule/Roster.

#6 Oklahoma: It looks like that whole Kelvin Sampson leaving thing didn’t turn out so bad for the Sooners. Somehow they ended up a higher seed than Sampson’s more recent previous team. The Sooners are led by Blake Griffin who managed to put up big numbers (15.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG) despite injury both knees this season. Jeff Capel has done a good job replacing Sampson on the sideline while staying off the cell phone (we hope). The Sooners aren’t a force offensively so they have to rely on their defense. While that normally is a good thing for a team, we wonder how far this team can go with all the offensive firepower in this region. Schedule/Roster.

#7 Butler: Seriously, this is unbelievable. 29-3. Ranked #10 or 11 depending on which poll you believe. They’re a #7 seed?!?!? Normally with a balanced attack (4 guys average double figures), experience (a Sweet 16 trip last year), and several impressive non-conference victories, we would expect the Bulldogs to outperform their seed, but Committee Chairman Tom O’Connor must think Butler head coach Brad Stevens looks like a bitch because. . .well you know the rest of the line. This is one of the all-time great screwjobs. They play #10 seed South Alabama in the first round in Birmingham, Alabama. If they survive that, the Bulldogs will likely face Tennessee, the best #2 seed in the tournament. Schedule/Roster.

#8 Indiana: Honestly, this is the most surprising seed that I can remember. I wouldn’t have pictured the Hoosiers as anything lower than a 6. It’s amazing that the team with the Big 10 POY (DJ White) and possibly the best freshman in the nation (Eric Gordon) along with a host of other solid players could be a #8 seed. I realize they lost 3 of their last 4, but one was in OT and the other was on a last second miracle shot (I wonder if Tubby got the idea after hearing about it so much while he was at UK). We would pick the Hoosiers to go deep in the tournament, but they have lost to every elite team they played this year (Xavier, UConn, and Wisconsin). Perhaps, Dakich can work some of his magic or Dick Vitale will be calling for the return of Robert Montgomery Knight. Schedule/Roster.

#9 Arkansas: Led by new coach John Pelphrey (look for him in the background of rtmsf’s favorite March moment), the Razorbacks have had an impressive season after a few bad non-conference losses. Much like Nolan Richardson’s teams (although not nearly as good), the Razorbacks like a quick pace. After a nice run to the SEC tournament finals, Arkansas might be a trendy pick to make a run, but they have a killer draw (Indiana then UNC if they want to make the Sweet 16). While this stat won’t help you make your picks, watch for how the Razorbacks start the game for a hint at the outcome. During the regular season, they were 18-0 with a halftime lead and 2-10 when trailing at the half. Schedule/Roster.

#10 South Alabama: After failing to win the Sun Belt tournament, South Alabama was on the edge of not making the tournament. The good news: they’re in and their pod is in Alabama. The bad news: to make it out of the sub-region they will have to be Butler and Tennessee. If they are going to make a run, they will have to feed off the home crowd and need a big performance out of star Demetric Bennett. Schedule/Roster.

#11 Saint Joseph’s: Led by Pat Calathes (older brother of UF star Nick Calathes), the Hawks made the tournament by winning the Atlantic 10 tournament. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, St. Joe’s was on the verge of a perfect regular season and almost made the Final 4. It’s also hard to believe that Jameer Nelson and Delonte West played at St. Joe’s at the same time. If Phil Martelli wants to survive the opening weekend, the Hawks will need to step up their defense. Fortunately for them, they start off with Oklahoma, a team that isn’t know for being high-scoring. Schedule/Roster.

#12 George Mason: The Patriots (Final 4 Cinderella in 2006) are back and they start off against Notre Dame. We don’t see the Patriots making a deep run this year, but then again we never would have imagined they could beat a loaded UCONN team back in 2006. Schedule/Roster.

#13 Winthrop: If the Eagles are to pull off another upset, they will need a big night out of Michael Jenkins (14.3 PPG). Before you go out and make the Eagles a Cinderella you should realize this is a different team, which is most noticeable when you see they have a new coach on the sideline.Schedule/Roster.

#14 Boise State: It looks they know one thing at Boise State and we’re not referring to the hideous blue football field that makes you try to adjust your TV every bowl season. Like the football team, the basketball Broncos can light up the scoreboard averaging 81.2 PPG (12th nationally) and shoots 51.5% from the field (2nd nationally). They are led by first team All-WAC Reggie Larry (19.3 PPG and 9.1 RPG) along with 2 other forwards who average double figures. Side note: We loved watching replays of their Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma (didn’t see live because I had to be in the hospital at 4 am for an orthopedic surgery rotation) and would love for them to meet in the 2nd round of the tournament so we can root for that. Schedule/Roster.

#15 American: I’m not going to put much time into this because well they aren’t going to be spending much time in the tournament. They like to slow the game down and they shoot 40.9% as a team from 3. Unfortunately, both of their starting guards are under 6′ tall. The result is that they might hang with the Vols for 10 minutes then it’s over. Schedule/Roster.

#16 Mount Saint Mary’s / Coppin State: Honestly, we don’t know anything about either of these teams except that Coppin State is the first 20-loss team to ever make the tournament. Nothing against either of these teams, but a detailed analysis of these teams isn’t really worth the time since they will likely be gone 5 minutes into their game with UNC. Mount Saint Mary’s Schedule/Roster. Coppin State’s Schedule/Roster.

P.S. Kelvin Sampson must love this region with his two former teams in it. I wonder how much he will be mentioned during their games. We know it’s pretty much impossible, but we would love the possibility of an Indiana-Oklahoma Elite 8 match-up.

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Welcome Back, Big Nasty!

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

When we saw the news today that the “Big Nasty” is retiring from the NBA and returning to the college ranks to become an assistant coach for Arkansas Baptist College, our easily distracted brains floated back to reflect on what we believe was one of the top half-dozen or so college careers of the 90s. 

Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Arkansas teams of Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman, Corey Beck (who in completely unrelated news, was shot on Sunday!) and others represented more than a gimmicky name, they represented an ethos.  An ethos mandating that they would run and substitute and run some more with the express purpose of ramming the ball down your throat until you got so tired from the harassing and pressing and constant stream of 6’5 defenders hawking you all over the court, that you simply succumbed to their collective will and gave it up.  They could make excellent teams look downright silly when the 40MoH avalanche gained momentum – ask Richard Williams (Feb. 20, 1993 – Arkansas 115, Mississippi St. 58) or Norm Stewart (Dec. 2, 1993 – Arkansas 120, Missouri 68) about that.  In those days, Arkansas basketball was absolutely must-watch tv for fans because if you watched Frasier instead, you might miss a display of Al Dillard 35-foot bombs and Big Nasty’s pirouettes into a timeout after a patented 11-0 run by the Hawgs.  These were also Nolan’s last great teams before he deteriorated into a paranoid and raving lunatic retired.   

Corliss Williamson 

This take-no-prisoners attitude derived as much from the Big Nasty as it did from the coach.  One look at his shaved dome and lips curled into a snarl as he sought to molest another rebound or eviscerate another defender in the post (using every inch of his 6’7 frame) was all you needed to see that this guy meant business.  When a bucket was needed (he was a career 58% shooter), the ball would enter into his surehanded mitts, who, for those short on memory, had the touch and agility of Glen “Big Baby” Davis with a far greater passion and understanding of the game (this is one case where given nicknames seem appropriate).  We’ll never forget how he utterly abused the much-taller, longer and athletic Rasheed Wallace in the second half (19 of his game-high 21 pts) of the 1995 national semifinals, leading the Hawgs from seven down at halftime to a seven-point victory.  It was the kind of performance that separates champions from pretenders at that level, and Big Nasty backed down to nobody. 

In three seasons at Arkansas, Corliss and friends won the national championship in 1994 and lost to the eventual national champions the other two years (1993 – lost to UNC in OT; 1995 – lost to UCLA in the title game).    They went 85-19 including a sparkling 13-2 NCAA record during this period.  Big Nasty was the team leader and best player, averaging 19 ppg and 7 rpg in just under 30 minutes.  He was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, and re-focused his game on the perimeter to utilize his stature and quickness over the next several years.  He ultimately played twelve seasons in the L, garnering a reputation as a great locker-room presence, and earning Sixth Man of the Year in 2002 plus an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004.  We’re not completely sure, but we think he is one of only three players so far who won NCAA titles in the 1990s and later won an NBA title (Rip Hamilton – UConn (99), Pistons (04) and Nazr Mohammed – UK (96, 98), Spurs (05)).

Welcome back to the college game, Big Nasty.  We wish you well.   

Update:  Always a nice guy off the court, we found this clip of Big Nasty playing along with the interviewer (and rockin’ the fly Jesus shirt) at a charity bowling tournament.   One question – who is the white guy and who is the black guy here?

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SEC Diversity = Blondes and Redheads?

Posted by rtmsf on April 24th, 2007

One of the most amusing anecdotes in a book about Greek life in the South called “Pledged” goes something like this:

State U. is a pretty liberal, relatively tol­erant school and when one sister at State U. was asked if there was diversity in the [sorority] house, she responded: “Oh sure, we’re di­verse, we have blonde, red and a lot of brown-haired girls. I think we also have a Spanish girl.”

Sorority Girls

As anyone who has ever lived there recognizes, racism in the South is a lingering unspeakable that infests itself into nearly every situation (good and bad) whether you want it to or not. College athletics is no different, and in fact, team sports push the issues to the fore in ways that they otherwise would never be. Life in the modern SEC has fostered a peculiar “working relationship” between blacks and whites in that environment. The largely black football and basketball teams are expected to perform on the field and court, while the largely white coaching staffs are expected to harness the athletic talents of the players with discipline and structure, which will result in wins for the program and money in the university coffers. Some have gone so far as to conclude that what goes on in Tuscaloosa, Fayetteville, Athens and the like every fall and spring is nothing more than a modern-day plantation society.

To that end, as Gary Parrish points out in a recent CBS Sportsline article – with Tubby Smith’s recent departure from UK and the firings of Stan Heath (Arkansas) and Rod Barnes (Ole Miss) in the last two years – the SEC has taken a step backwards in terms of its head coaching diversity. He blames this “trend” on little more than racism shrouded in performance expectations. And while there is always some racial politics to any decision about hiring/firing of coaches in the South, a trend may not always be what it seems without appropriate context. Read the rest of this entry »

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