Previewing This Weekend’s Big Ten Games

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 15th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

We have reached the point in the season where it feels like every game has conference implications of some kind, and there’s no better period of time to enjoy them all than Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Weekends through the end of the season will be packed with quality basketball, so let’s take a hard look at this weekend’s slate of games and what’s in store.

Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes have a tough game against the Badgers in Madison on Sunday.

Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes have a tough game against the Badgers in Madison on Sunday.

  • Purdue @ Indiana (2:00 PM EST on Saturday, ESPN): The Hoosiers might end up winning this one comfortably but the game features an excellent match-up in the low post between Cody Zeller and A.J.Hammons (11.2 PPG). It is easy to forget when you evaluate Zeller’s game that he is only a sophomore and Hammons, a freshman, has shown flashes of brilliance in the paint as well. During the first version of this match-up in West Lafayette, Hammons scored 30 points but picked up two early fouls due to poor defense. But if the Purdue big man can manage to stay on the floor, you could see his strong array of post moves – a hook shot, a 10-foot jumper, a nice turnaround – against Zeller tomorrow. This will also be a good test of Zeller’s defense if the game ends up being relatively close late into the second half.
  • Michigan State @ Nebraska (8:00 PM EST on Saturday, Big Ten Network): Nebraska head coach Tim Miles continues to motivate his team to compete against the top dogs in the conference despite many tough losses. The Cornhuskers hung tight with the Spartans in East Lansing on January 13, only to lose the game 66-56, but don’t expect them to roll over and hand the game to the Spartans on Saturday night. Gary Harris continues to play through his back spasms and even if Travis Trice suits up, his minutes may be limited because he is still recovering from an injury. Despite these issues, Tom Izzo has enough talent on his team to not let this game slip away on the road as he is trying to make a case for the #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and win the Big Ten title. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Power Rankings: February 15 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 15th, 2013

In this week’s power rankings, we take a look at what each team’s biggest improvement has been this year. Voters this week were Deepak Jayanti, Joey Nowak and Kevin Trahan.

The Spartans are surging after dismantling Michigan on Tuesday. (Justin Wan/The State News)

The Spartans are surging after dismantling Michigan on Tuesday. (Justin Wan/The State News)

  1. Indiana Hoosiers — The loss to Illinois last week hurt a little, but Indiana bounced back nicely and was able to hang on to the No. 1 spot in the country (as well the PRs). The Hoosiers took down Nebraska in fairly unspectacular fashion, but were very impressive in a road game against Ohio State. The schedule gets tougher, with games at Michigan and Minnesota coming up, so the Hoosiers have to play well on the road, where they’ve been very inconsistent as of late. However, Indiana proved that when it’s playing well, it is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were both very impressive against the Buckeyes and IU was able to pull out a nice win. Most Improved: This is a tough decision. We’ll go with Oladipo because of just how much he’s improved since last year. Cody Zeller has actually improved a lot within the course of the season after a so-so start too, though. Still, Oladipo has been the Hoosiers’ star and has his name in NPOY talk. Who could have guessed that at the beginning of the season?
  2. Michigan State Spartans — There’s no team in the conference on a streak like the Spartans (they’ve won 10 of their last 11 with their only blemish coming in a tightly-contested game at Indiana), one of the hottest teams in the country. The problem is, they’re trying to keep up with the one team that dealt them their only loss since 2012. The Spartans are somehow finding a way to get on without Travis Trice, and they’re doing a fantastic job of it. The romp over Michigan was the biggest statement made in Big Ten play this season, but things are going to get really tough on the Spartans now. Indiana comes to town Tuesday, followed by trips to Ohio State and Michigan before Wisconsin hits East Lansing. We’ll definitely get to see what Tom Izzo’s group is made of. Most Improved: On an individual level, this honor would have to go to Denzel Valentine, who has always been one of the Spartans’ most promising young players, but also one who needed to be reined in. But as he’s helped to fill the void left by Trice and cut down his turnovers, the Spartans have improved in the same department. After turning it over 18 times against Indiana, the Spartans have averaged just over 10 per game (including only five against Minnesota and eight against Michigan). This has to be remain the case if the Spartans are to continue this run.
  3. Michigan — The questions about Michigan have started to come up again. Earlier in the season, people questioned the Wolverines’ frontcourt and whether the freshmen could continue to play as well as they did early on. Well, Michigan seems to have hit a little bit of a wall, losing a nail-biter at Wisconsin and then getting blown out at Michigan State. The game against Michigan State was particularly draining, as the Spartans controlled the contest from the opening tip and basically nobody else played well other than Trey Burke and Mitch McGary. The remainder of the schedule is tough — although MSU and Indiana still have to go to Ann Arbor — and Michigan needs to get back on track before things spiral out of control. Most Improved: Over the first part of the season, McGary took a back seat to fellow freshmen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. However, he has shown great improvement over the past few games. Michigan needs him to play well down the stretch, especially during Robinson’s current slump. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Power Rankings: Focus On Areas Needing Improvement

Posted by KTrahan on January 18th, 2013

This is the tenth installment of our weekly Big Ten Power Rankings which we will publish each Friday. This week’s voters were Deepak Jayanti, Joey Nowak and Kevin Trahan of the Big Ten Microsite.

In this week’s Big Ten power rankings we discuss each team’s week and look at the area each team needs to improve the most.

1. Michigan — After the loss to Ohio State, there were questions as to whether this young Michigan team could win big games on the road. That question was answered with a very impressive win at Minnesota. The Wolverines jumped out early and built on their lead in the second half, using stifling defense to turn the Gophers over and get points in transition. The loss to the Buckeyes was disappointing, but Michigan almost came back and won that game, and the Wolverines still looked like the better team at times. Wisconsin is technically leading the conference now, but Michigan looks to be in the best shape to win it. Area most needing improvement: It’s really tough to fault the Michigan frontcourt after how it played against Minnesota, but that group still needs to be more consistent after a weak showing against Ohio State. The Wolverines are guard-oriented and have a number of impressive shooters, but they still need to have stability inside.

John Beilein's Club Appears to be the Class of the Big Ten

John Beilein’s Club Appears to be the Class of the Big Ten

2. Minnesota — Should the Gophers be ranked ahead of Indiana despite losing to them in Bloomington? Minnesota’s three losses came to Duke, Michigan and IU, each of which definitely deserves to be ranked in the top 10 in the nation. But Indiana’s losses came to Butler and Wisconsin, two very good teams but not necessarily great at this point of the season. Because we are purely using that argument, the Gophers edge the Hoosiers slightly in this week’s power rankings. Area most needing improvement: Tough to pick a specific area of improvement for the Gophers but if we are really nitpicking, they could use more production from their bench. Maverick Ahanmisi (4.3 PPG) and Julian Welch (3.3 PPG) can give more breathing room to the starting guards during the tough Big Ten season by contributing more during the “easier” games. But most of it is out of their control because head coach Tubby Smith prefers a very tight rotation during the important games.

3. Wisconsin — The Badgers are rising  fast through the rankings. If you weren’t convinced with their dominant win over the Illini, you should be after the stunner that they pulled off in Bloomington. But we’ll still keep them ranked at No. 3 for now because of their losses early in the season. Having said that, if they beat Iowa on the road, we may bump them up over Indiana. Area most needing improvement: This one is easy for the Badgers — free throw shooting. Ryan Evans is shooting 38% from the line and as a team and the Badgers as a whole shoot 62%. That is just unacceptable and very unusual for a Bo Ryan-coached team that’s known for their disciplined approach to the game.

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The RTC Podblast: Episode 10.5

Posted by rtmsf on January 18th, 2013

Welcome to this week’s RTC Podblast, hosted by Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114). There has been no shortage of big games this week and there will be even more on a blockbuster Saturday this weekend. We review everything and give our takes on who needs to do what, and when. The outline is below.

Remember that our full podcasts (roughly 45 minutes to an hour long) will publish on Tuesdays during the season, while our shorter (~15-20 minutes) podblasts will drop on Fridays with a quick look at the intervening week’s worth of news and action. Feel free to jump around using the outline below.

  • 0:00-5:31 – Michigan Bounces Back with a Win Over Minnesota
  • 5:31-7:44 – NC State Fails in Follow-up
  • 7:44-11:03 – UNLV Putting It Together?
  • 11:03-12:21 – Louisville-Syracuse Preview
  • 12:21-13:22 – Gonzaga-Butler Preview
  • 13:22-14:40 – Missouri-Florida Preview
  • 14:40-15:46 – Ohio State-Michigan State Preview
  • 15:46-16:28 – Oregon-UCLA Preview
  • 16:28-19:36 – Rapid Fire Predictions

Also make sure to add theRTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after each recording. Thanks!

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The RTC Podcast: Episode Nine

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2013

As we’re now back on a regular schedule with The RTC Podcast, we hope that those of you listening out there will continue to give us feedback in terms of some of the things you like and don’t like about our weekly venture. And definitely please feel free to continue to hit us up with commentary via Twitter and/or email if you have a good idea of something you’d like for us to discuss or add to the podcasts or end-of-week podblasts.

This week, as always, we’re hosted by Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114), where we took a hearty look back at the Big East’s blunderful weekend, talked over the new transfer rules and their possible downstream ramifications, and discuss some of the most indispensable players in college basketball. We’ll be back Friday afternoon with the shorter RTC Podblast, per the usual schedule. Thanks!

  • 0:00-8:58: Big East Blunders – Pitt, Georgetown and Cincinnati Lose
  • 8:58-15:22 Illinois Wins Big in Champaign Over Ohio State
  • 15:22-23:00 The Importance of Home Court Advantage
  • 23:00-31:50 What’s Right, What’s Wrong with the Proposed Transfer Rules
  • 31:50-37:21 Most Indispensable Players
  • 37:21-42:27 Is Kansas State as Good as Their Resume?
  • 42:27-45:18 UNLV Ranking Based Off Talent
  • 45:18-48:10 UNLV @ New Mexico Preview
  • 48:10-51:44 Minnesota @ Illinois Preview/Wrap

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: Week Eight

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on December 28th, 2012

This is the eighth installment of our weekly Big Ten Power Rankings which we will publish each Friday. This week’s voters were Deepak Jayanti, Joey Nowak and Kevin Trahan of the Big Ten Microsite.

John Beilein's Wolverines are the best team in the B1G heading into the conference season.(AnnArbor.com/Lon Horwedel)

John Beilein’s Wolverines are the best team in the B1G heading into the conference season.(AnnArbor.com/Lon Horwedel)

  1. #2 Michigan - The Wolverines took care of business in the non-conference season and head into the Big Ten slate in good position, ranking No. 2 in the country. The Michigan freshmen needed hardly any time to grow accustomed to the college game, and the backcourt — particularly Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. — is widely regarded as the best in the nation. There are still concerns about the frontcourt, however. Can Jordan Morgan improve his production in conference play this year? Can Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary continue their impressive starts with tougher teams looming? That remains to be seen, but the Wolverines certainly have the pieces in place for a special year. (Last week: No. 1)
  2. #5 Indiana – Indiana still plays Jacksonville Friday night before Big Ten play begins, but assuming no slip-up there, they’ll head into conference play with just one loss. The Hoosiers certainly have enough weapons to win a national title, but their failure to get their top weapons in the game for the full 40 minutes — like the failure to fully utilize Cody Zeller against Butler — could hurt them at some point. They’ll get a stern test to begin conference play as they head to Iowa City to take on an upstart Iowa team that could pose problems due to its depth. That game will be a good barometer to see just how much Indiana has improved since the Butler loss. (Last week: No. 2)
  3. #12 Minnesota – The Gophers make the big leap in this week’s power rankings because Ohio State and Illinois lost over the weekend. Tubby Smith’s crew has one loss to the top ranked team in the country (Duke) and has been very impressive in every other game. When you beat formidable opponents such as Memphis and Florida State but only lose to the best team in America, you’ve had a great non-conference season. But the Gophers can’t rest easy because they have a great opportunity to knock off a very good Michigan State squad at home on New Year’s Eve. At this point, the Gophers are a legitimate contender to win the Big Ten if they take care of business in Minneapolis. (Last week: No. 5)
  4. #11 Ohio State - We dropped the Buckeyes because they lost to Kansas and they may have trouble in the conference season if they can’t find a consistent second scoring option. Aaron Craft (8.9 PPG) impacts the game in other ways than just scoring, but one of Shannon Scott (7.2 PPG) or Laquinton Ross (9.1 PPG) needs to  step into that scoring role for Thad Matta. The first three games of their B1G schedule are winnable games – Nebraska, Purdue and Illinois – if the Buckeyes can manage to put up 60 points on the board. (Last week: No. 3) Read the rest of this entry »
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ATB: Oklahoma State’s Freshmen Rise Up, Ohio State’s Scoring Imbalance, and Colorado Flexes Some Muscle…

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 19th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC National Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Your Weekend Lede. Nonleague Tournaments Offer Raw But Exciting Brand of Hoops. The best teams don’t peak in November. They use the non-conference season as a testing lab to kick around various formations and tactical tweaks. They fashion early judgments on rotation splits and playing time allotments. The college basketball season is a process that involves building and maturing over a four-month period, rounding into form around late February, then peaking in time for the postseason. Most squads are far from finished products. So the basketball you see being played in exempted tournaments across the country in recent days isn’t nearly as crisp or fundamentally sound as the fine-tuned brand of tourney hoops. Think of early-season tournaments as more as barometers for improvement: Based off its performance, each team gets a decent sense of the progress of its development, and how much tweaking needs to be done before conference play. Sloppy or not, nonleague play gives us no shortage of storylines. Here are a few that stuck out over this pre Feast-Week weekend.

Your Watercooler Moment. Another Big 12 Contender Throws Its Hat In Ring.

The Cowboys look invigorated by the arrival of Smart, and it showed in Sunday’s big win over NC State (Photo credit: AP)

Talent is the primary governing force of college basketball. It is the lifeblood of any successful team. Sure, you can do without it, but a marginally-talented team will only get you so far. We saw the tremendous implications of talent with last year’s Kentucky team, when three preternaturally-gifted freshmen carried the Wildcats to a national championship. And we saw it Sunday night, when Oklahoma State – led by sophomore forward Le’Bryan Nash and freshman guard Marcus Smart, both top-10 recruits in consecutive years – routed NC State to take first prize in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Much was made this preseason about NC State’s talent, and without doubt, the Wolfpack have it in droves. What separated the Cowboys Sunday was their defense. Travis Ford’s team held C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Rodney Purvis and the rest of the Wolfpack to just 35.5 percent shooting. Leslie, a likely future first-round draft pick and a popular choice on preseason All American lists and top-player rankings, finished just 1-for-5 from the field with two points. Poor shooting helped doom the Wolfpack, to be sure, but for a team that entered this game missing several key players due to injuries (Brian Williams, John Paul Olukemi) and/or unsuspected departures (Cesar Guerrero), this counts as a massive victory over an ACC contender that the Cowboys can bank for the rest of the season. I’m not sure Ford could have drawn up a more favorable start to his tenure-defining season. If Nash and Smart continue to connect on this level, and the Cowboys can replicate Sunday’s defensive effort to any effect, the Big 12 title race could be more undecided than once believed.

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College Basketball By The Tweets: Opening Weekend

Posted by Nick Fasulo on November 12th, 2012

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

The concept was exciting, the buildup palpable. Friday, the hard start to the 2012-2013 season, was supposed to be a grand way to officially tip off the new season by building off of last year’s success of playing a game on an aircraft carrier. But this time around, things went horribly wrong. Yeah Kentucky – Maryland was a good watch. Alabama provided a thrilling finish in their victory over a dangerous South Dakota State team. And UConn surprised many with an impressive victory over Michigan State.

But two games had to be canceled. Canceled because they were being played outdoors on an aircraft carrier in humid areas. Marquette – Ohio State (the Carrier Classic)  and Georgetown – Florida (Navy-Marine Corps Classic) were canceled due to excessive condensation on the court, an embarrassing pair of incidents that will likely put an end to this novel idea, or at least make organizers proceed far more cautiously when attempting to schedule a basketball game in a unique setting.

Naturally, fans took those responsible to task on Twitter. We’ll start with those directly affected, as Marquette blog “Paint Touches” was the first to state the obvious:

Then just under 24 hours later, he dropped some valuable empirical knowledge as San Diego State and Syracuse held their Saturday afternoon shootaround.

And while it seems as though the Orange would have handled the Aztecs if they played indoors, Steve Fisher’s team struggled to get to the rim, relying on perimeter shots that were likely affected by sun and wind.

Meanwhile, Marquette/Ohio State event organizer Morale Entertainment had a major PR crisis on their hands, tweeting out the following to a number of ticked off fans.

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After the Buzzer: On Aircraft Carrier Games, Kevin Ollie’s Debut, Top Five Dunks of the Weekend…

Posted by Chris Johnson on November 12th, 2012

This Weekend’s Lede. It’s time to put all that preseason chatter on the backburner, and start drawing first impressions, because the 2012-13 season officially got underway Friday night. Unlike the murmuring fizz of an opening that usually christens a new college hoops campaign, we were treated to several high-profile clashes over the weekend. College basketball set out to establish a definitive starting point, and this year (more than any other in recent memory), it succeeded. There are inherent risks to overanalyzing single-game sample sizes, but even after just one weekend’s action, we were able to learn quite a bit about some of the teams headlining the opening weekend. 

Your Watercooler Moment. Stick to Dry Environments (or, Why Naval Ship Games Need to Only Take Place in San Diego).

Things Started Off Well, But Quickly Deteriorated With These Games

When inclement weather forecasts pushed the Syracuse-San Diego State game from Friday to Sunday, you knew this year’s slate of naval ship games were off to a bad start. That game, which concluded Sunday evening with Syracuse pretty much dominating the hometown Aztecs (62-49) in one of the Orange’s rare non-conference games outside the state of New York, was played under gorgeous 60-degree San Diego skies. The two other scheduled match-ups – Ohio State-Marquette in South Carolina and Georgetown-Florida in Jacksonville – did not proceed as planned, as both games were called off when officials noticed condensation developing on both playing surfaces. The Florida-Georgetown game tipped off and ran into the half with minimal fuss. Up the coastline, though, the slick playing surface aboard the USS Yorktown prompted coaches and players from Ohio State and Marquette to mop the court in the hope that some good old-fashioned clean-up work could diffuse mother nature’s influence on their much-hyped shipside season-opener. As both teams quickly learned, the condensation kept coming back, and officials then made the logical move of calling the game off. Spiritually, emotionally and patriotically, the outdoor aircraft carrier games are an excellent idea. Last season’s Carrier Classic, played before gorgeous vistas and naval troops, and featuring two of the nation’s most respected programs in North Carolina and Michigan State, was a definite win. And there have been few times when a college basketball non-conference game to begin the season has drawn so much national attention. It was a special night. Logistically, though, playing basketball games outdoors in November on the East Coast is fraught with risk, and event organizers learned as much Friday. If the aircraft carrier trend is to continue, the games must be played on the West Coast, where a more favorable late fall climate will increase the chances of staging contests without conflict.

Also Worth Chatting About. Give That Man a Contract (Or, Kevin Ollie Has His Squad Playing Hard).

Kevin Ollie Cannot Escape His Former Coach’s Shadow, But With Wins Like These, He May Not Have To (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The long-term status of UConn’s head coaching job remains unresolved for the moment, but we gained some clarity on the issue Friday night. Its leading candidate, former assistant Kevin Ollie, made a resounding statement to open his one-season job trial by knocking off Big Ten contender Michigan State 66-62 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The Huskies lost the core of last season’s underachieving yet talented team, including two first round draft picks (Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond) and two transfers (Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith). Backcourt mainstays Ryan Boatwright and Shabazz Napier carried the torch Friday night against the Spartans, with Napier pouring in 25 points on 8-for-16 shooting and Boatwright adding 13. Highly-touted freshman Omar Calhoun logged 25 minutes but finished with just one point, two rebounds and two assists. The season could not have begun in a better way for Ollie, who faces the massive burden of proving athletic director Warde Manuel he’s the right man for the job, the right personality to succeed the legend that preceded him in Storrs. There were concerns as to whether UConn would lack motivation this season, given their ineligibility for the postseason, but that was hardly the case Friday night. The Huskies played inspired basketball against a top-tier Big Ten foe known for its toughness and grit. If I were to grade Ollie’s job candidacy one game into the season, nothing less than an A+ would suffice.

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #7 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. Enjoy!

#7 – Where An Aerial Assault of Seat Cushions Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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The RTC Podblast: Big Ten Preseason Review

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2012

It’s time to start running down each of the power conference previews on the RTC Podblast, so we’ll be rolling one of these out every few days until we’ve got all six in the books. We hope to also knock out an Other 26 podblast along the way at some point. We begin with our good friends Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) and Big Ten microsite correspondent Deepak Jayanti breaking down the 2012-13 version of the Big Ten Conference.

We welcome any and all feedback on these podcasts including topics for future discussion or if you want to send us any questions for our “May Not Be From Actual Listeners” segment. Hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com or @rushthecourt on Twitter. For now, enjoy the listen and feel free to jump around to the areas you’re most interested in by using the below outline.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after each recording.

RTC Podblast: Big Ten Preseason Review
  • 1:00 – Indiana Not as Perfect as Portrayed?
  • 3:45 – Ohio State and Michigan as Challengers
  • 8:45 – Conference strength and Expectations
  • 12:33 – Michigan State Discussion
  • 15:23 – Wisconsin Discussion
  • 19:03 – Surprise Teams in the Big Ten
  • 23:08 – Can Northwestern Finally Make It?
  • 24:27 – All Big Ten Candidates
  • 26:00 – Breakout Players
  • 27:20 – Big Ten Predictions

 

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Morning Five: 10.19.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2012

  1. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski went on the Colin Cowherd Show yesterday on ESPN Radio to riff about the state of college basketball as he heads into his 38th year as a head coach. During a conversation about one-and-done players (of which Coach K has had four: Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving, and Austin Rivers), Krzyzewski gave his opinion that it his belief that the NBA-imposed age limit of 19 has hurt the college game. “Overall I think it hurts our game, the college game, a little bit because it kind of ruins, or can hurt, the relationship we have. You know we are all members of academic institutions and it kind of throws the academic side of it down because you’re not there for a total education, you’re there for six or seven months.” Krzyzewski goes on to say that he prefers the preps-to-pros route with the caveat that if players choose to come to college, they must stay in school for at least two years. It’s not an uncommon position for head coaches weary of investing so much energy in recruiting the services of players for a single season on campus, but as we’ve written in this space before, coaches like him don’t seem to remember or realize how important it is for the greater good of the sport to have marketable players such as Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving representing the NCAA side of the equation.
  2. The Colonial Athletic Association has been actively in pursuit of replacements for the three schools it has already lost or is losing in conference realignment: VCU (Atlantic 10), Old Dominion (Conference USA), and Georgia State (Sun Belt). After somewhat surprisingly being spurned by Southern Conference member Davidson earlier this week, fellow league member College of Charleston is expected to take the CAA up on its own offer. The school’s Board of Directors is planning to meet on Saturday morning to put the move to a vote. According to George Mason athletic director Tom O’Connor, the addition of the Cougars would bring the league to 10 and “there is nobody (else) we’re targeting right now.” You have to wonder if Davidson, one of the more consistent basketball powers from the low-major conferences, may have made a long-term mistake in rejecting this offer to move to a better league.
  3. Former Oklahoma State player Darrell Williams has filed a notice to appeal his recent conviction of rape by instrumentation and sexual battery. His case has drawn national attention outside the insular world of sports media for what he argues is a clear and convincing case of misidentification at a 2010 house party where two young women were groped. Last week, Williams was given a suspended sentence by an Oklahoma judge and ordered to register as a sex offender; he plans to move back to his home state of Illinois, where he will be held to a very restrictive set of daily living conditions such as avoidance of children, erotic materials, and yes, hitchhikers. There’s clearly been a lot of he-said/she-said in this case on both sides, but we’d hope that the appellate court will give the Williams case a fair and comprehensive review of the facts to make an independent determination that the allegations against him are legitimate.
  4. While on the subject of criminal matters, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe could face additional jail time for his recent DUI conviction. Mbakwe has collected reams of meaningless adverse letters in his permanent file by now, but his previous conviction for a felony assault charge in Miami in 2009 could come back to seriously bite him in this instance as he may have violated his probation as a result. Mbakwe has already violated his Florida probation once by sending a public Facebook message to his former girlfriend, but his July DUI in Minnetonka puts him in a do-or-die situation where his senior season as a Gopher is seriously in jeopardy. The talented (possible) first-team Big Ten forward could be facing significant jail time depending on how Florida chooses to handle his recidivism — at a certain point, you wonder whether all the trouble is worth the headaches. Good luck, Tubby.
  5. Finally, this week, let’s take a look at Seth Davis’ examination of one of the most confounding teams of the 2012-13 preseason: The Ohio State Buckeyes. Last season, on paper at least, OSU was one of the very best teams in America. It took a couple of comebacks the last two seasons from blue-blooded programs such as Kentucky and Kansas to keep the scarlet and gray out of the national finals, but we have to believe that the combination of experience and talent that Bill Self and John Calipari had at their disposal were part of the issue each time around. Thad Matta will certainly have his work cut out this season without William Buford and Jared Sullinger in tow, but the question everyone is asking themselves is whether the remainder of his blue-chip recruits can continue to push OSU ahead as an elite team.
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