Pac-12 M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by AMurawa on November 9th, 2012

  1. We hit the big news yesterday about Omar Oraby being declared eligible yesterday for USC, but now Oregon has to sit back and wait for news on its own Rice big man, Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred out of Rice and to Oregon for reasons similar as Oraby. The common perception is that if Oraby got freed, then Kazemi must be next, but that is little comfort for the Ducks who face the prospect of opening their season tomorrow night without his services. Certainly, Oregon should be able to handle the likes of Northern Arizona and Portland State as they stand now, but the Ducks would sure like to have Kazemi in uniform a week from today when they host a young but talented Vanderbilt squad. With him in tow, the Ducks have a seriously strong frontcourt that could make a splash near the top of the conference standings.
  2. An important correction for a recent bit of misinformation. On Wednesday morning we relayed the Los Angeles Times’ info that Shabazz Muhammad, were he healthy, would be able to participate in UCLA’s opener since it was within the 45-day window for him to participate with the team. Actually, that’s not quite right. The 45-day window allows Muhammad to participate in practices, but he won’t be eligible to compete in games until officially cleared by the NCAA, a timeline of which is still unknown. So, as it stands, the Bruins will open their season and their new-look Pauley Pavilion tonight against Indiana State, the only other school of which John Wooden held the head coaching job.
  3. Speaking of Wooden, the Wooden Award Watch List was unveiled on Thursday and four different Pac-12 student-athletes earned recognition: Colorado’s Andre Roberson, California’s Allen Crabbe, Arizona’s Solomon Hill and Washington State’s Brock Motum. Of the four, Roberson is the one with the best chance of earning the individual honor, although Hill’s team is expected to have greater success. Still, Hill’s game is more of a below-the-radar game and, with guys like Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson expected to shoulder much of the scoring load, it’s unlikely he will put up the individual statistics necessary to shoulder the load. Speaking of Lyons, transfers and freshmen are ineligible for inclusion on the Preseason Top 50 list, which is why players like he, Shabazz Muhammad, and Kyle Anderson, to name just a few, are not listed.
  4. Our last bit of news for the morning is that a legacy, Kameron Rooks, son of former Arizona center and long-time NBA big man Sean Rooks, was offered a scholarship by Arizona. The younger Rooks is a seven-footer just like his old man, who possesses enough talent to have received similar offers from Washington, Arizona State, and Oregon State. Like his father, Kameron has a massive body, long arms, and is a back-to-the-basket scorer. Still, at 275 pounds, his conditioning will always be a concern and he is regarded as still a work in progress. He’s currently a senior in high school and is listed as a three-star recruit.
  5. Another week, another chance for me to rub in the fact that I am absolutely killing Connor in our weekly football pick ‘em contest. I took a three-game lead into last week’s picks and, behind UCLA’s drubbing of Arizona at the Rose Bowl, extended it up to four. But I ain’t about to pull a Phil Ford and drop back into the Four Corners here to run some clock. Nope. Even though Connor sent me his picks first, I’m confident enough to put half of that four-game lead on the line this week. And, assuming I don’t completely overdose on hoops action Friday night, I’m looking forward to another great Saturday (although not quite as great as last Saturday) of college football action. Our picks below, with, as always, our game of the week in bold.
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Colorado at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Utah at Washington Utah Washington
Arizona State at USC USC USC
Oregon at California Oregon Oregon
Oregon State at Stanford Stanford 26-23 Oregon State 17-16
UCLA at Washington State UCLA UCLA
Share this story

Morning Five: 11.09.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 9th, 2012

  1. We have seen a lot of inopportune suspensions leading up to the start of the season, but Florida may take the prize with the worst timing as they suspended their starting point guard, Scottie Wilbekin, indefinitely just one day before their first game. Neither the school nor Wilbekin has offered any additional insight into the reason for the suspension but from the words of Billy Donovan it sounds like a relatively minor offense. Fortunately for the Gators, they have quite a bit of perimeter depth. Unfortunately for the Gators, much of that perimeter depth is not particularly skilled at passing the ball.
  2. As bad as that timing is for the Gators Saint Joseph’s might have had them beat after the announced yesterday that they were suspending their leading scorer Carl Jones (17 points per game last season) for three games for violating the school’s community standards. Jones already served one game of that suspension sitting out last night’s exhibition game and will miss the team’s first two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic against Yale and Notre Dame. We would put this above the Wilbekin suspension as Jones is clearly a more important player for the Atlantic 10 favorites than Wilbekin is for the Gators, but at least this suspension is finite whereas we are not sure when Wilbekin will return. Jones’ suspension could end up costing the Hawks more in the long run in terms of seeding if they lose to Notre Dame due to his absence as that could be a very nice resume builder although they will get other chances to make up for that later in the season.
  3. With all of the injury issues that USC has had to deal with recently it must be nice for them to get some good news about a player’s status and they got that yesterday when the NCAA granted Rice transfer Omar Oraby a hardship waiver allowing him to play immediately for the Trojans. The junior, who averaged 6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game despite playing just 11.6 minutes per game.  Oraby is expected to start for the Trojans when they open their season tonight against Coppin State. Oraby adds to what promises to be a huge Trojan frontline that has three 7-footers and might be the biggest in the nation (at least of the top of our head). We are not sure if that will make the Trojans a good team, but we doubt they will go 6-26 again.
  4. He may get a lot of criticism from opposing fans,  but even his most ardent critics will have to applaud John Calipari for his work in helping raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims. Calipari along with his Kentucky players raised the money by answering phones during two telethons that raised $200,000 for the victims and now Calipari will be bringing a check for nearly $1 million to give to the Red Cross in conjunction with the Wildcats game in Brooklyn tonight. We are sure that there are plenty of other coaches out there who are doing similar work even if not quite to the same level in terms of dollar amount, but it is nice to note some of their work when we see it.
  5. If you are into advanced statistics, we have a page for you–John Pudner’s Value Add–to bookmark and check back in throughout the year. What the site promises to do is provide something similar to what baseball’s WAR (wins above replacement) does in interpreting a player’s contribution to his team. [Note: If you are looking for a better explanation including the formula, check out this entry.] Even though the season hasn’t started the rankings look like a reasonable estimation of what we would expect although there are at least two names in the top ten that you might not expect and that is not even including the two freshmen in there (we have no idea how the model adjusted for their high school competition), but it is worth checking to see if it performs as you would expect and/or we see some tweaks to try to create a better model.
Share this story

Omar Oraby Cleared For USC; Is Arsalan Kazemi Next?

Posted by AMurawa on November 8th, 2012

USC got a nice surprise this afternoon when 7’2” center Omar Oraby was cleared for immediate eligibility. Oraby announced his decision to transfer to the Trojans back in September after joining a rapid exodus from Rice, but applied for a hardship waiver which was granted today. Oraby will be a junior and is expected to start immediately for USC after averaging just six points and three rebounds for the Owls last season in limited minutes. While he remains a mystery to most, he’s been mentioned by some, including SC head coach Kevin O’Neill, as a potential future NBA Draft pick. And given that he’ll be joining a front line that already includes junior center DeWayne Dedmon, whom O’Neill also said last year had NBA lottery potential, the Trojans are loaded up front. Their chances of registering significant improvement over last season just took a big bump.

Omar Oraby, USC

Omar Oraby Has Been Cleared For Immediate Action By The NCAA And Is Expected To Start Tomorrow Night For The Trojans (Troy Taormina, US Presswire)

While this is undeniably good news for the Trojans, it is also excellent news for Oregon. You see, Oraby’s more accomplished teammate last year at Rice, Arsalan Kazemi, was also among the numerous players who bailed on Rice this past offseason, with Eugene his eventual destination. Kazemi has been among the best rebounders in the nation the past two years at Rice (he’ll be a senior when he is eventually eligible, this year or next), and given that he left Rice under the exact same circumstances as Oraby, you’ve got to assume that he’ll be cleared for action at Oregon as well (his hardship waiver is still pending). While no official reason for the transfers was ever announced, both Kazemi, who is a native Iranian, and Oraby, a native of Egypt, were recruited to the Houston school by assistant coach Marco Morcos, whose contract was not renewed this offseason by Rice head coach Ben Braun.

If and when Kazemi gets cleared, the Ducks’ NCAA Tournament chances get an immediate boost. Not only is the 6’7” Kazemi a stellar rebounder, but he’s also quite skilled on the offensive end and, paired with the veteran front line that already includes seniors E.J. Singler and Tony Woods, Dana Altman’s club would be imposing indeed. While this NCAA decision is a bit of a head-scratcher, it is good news indeed for a pair of Pac-12 teams.

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 10.30.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on October 30th, 2012

  1. Oregon opened up its exhibition slate last night, and unlike Washington, the Ducks won rather easily in a 102-75 decision over Concordia. After Concordia opened up the game with a 9-2 run thanks to a couple of threes, the Ducks took care of business in large thanks to the new guys. From what I was able to see (the game was streamed live on the Pac-12 website), the most impressive newbie of the bunch was Dominic Artis, who led the way with 17 points. He dished out some flashy passes and absolutely crossed up a couple of Concordia defenders. He was also able to knock down some perimeter jumpers, hitting three of his four three-point attempts. Damyean Dotson recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while another freshman, Willie Moore, scored 15 points. It’s only the preseason and it was a non-Division-I opponent, but Duck fans can come away from that game with some reason to be excited for the future even if this year doesn’t figure to be a banner one for Dana Altman and company.
  2. The Associated Press preseason All-America Team was released yesterday, and probably to the surprise of nobody, no one from the Pac-12 made the list. Instead, comprising the team were Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Crieghton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Michigan’s Trey Burke (yes, there were six players named because McCollum and Burke received the same number of votes). The one Pac-12 guy who an argument could be made that he deserves preseason All-America honors from a talent perspective is UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, but, considering his eligibility questions, there was no way Muhammad was going to garner this recognition. There has only been one freshman to be named a preseason All-American by the Associated Press (Harrison Barnes in 2010), and given how that worked out, there might not be another one for a while. The last Pac-12 player to make the AP preseason All-America Team was Darren Collison back in 2008.
  3. Continuing along with its preseason lists, CBS Sports released its top 30 breakout players for 2012-13 yesterday. Two Pac-12 guys found their way on there –Washington’s Scott Suggs (No. 17) and USC’s J.T. Terrell (No. 21), while former Sun Devil-turned-South Florida Bull Victor Rudd checked in at #20. We here at the Rush The Court Pac-12 Microsite tackled this topic on October 19 and not one of us picked Suggs or Terrell to be the top breakout guy in the conference. While both are worthy choices, surely Aziz N’Diaye, Dewayne Dedmon, Nick Johnson, Roberto Nelson and Dwight Powell are deserving of the same sort of recognition. Of course, there are only 30 players on this list and there are more than 30 conferences, so quite a few leagues are feeling more snubbed than the Pac-12 today.
  4. Jon Rothstein took a trip to the Galen Center to watch USC practice and came away highly impressed with the Trojans. Predicting the Trojans will finish in the top-half of the Pac-12 standings, Rothstein is particularly in admiration of the depth USC has thanks to all the transfers who are finally eligible to suit up for Kevin O’Neill. One player who might not be eligible is Omar Oraby, and Rothstein notes that O’Neill said he expects to hear from the NCAA this week with regards to the 7’2’’ transfer from Rice (he is applying for an NCAA hardship waiver to play immediately after transferring in September). If he can play this year, Rothstein writes that O’Neill’s plan will be to play both him and Dewayne Dedmon together in the starting lineup, giving the Trojans two seven-footers on the court at the same time. As far as the rest of the rotation, he expects Jio FontanJ.T. Terrell and Dedmon to start, with the other two spots up for grabs if Oraby isn’t able to play. With such a new-look roster, it’s almost easy to forget that the Trojans were a six-win team in 2011-12 and won only one conference game in perhaps the weakest Pac-12 of recent memory. An article like this will surely have Trojan fans salivating for the beginning of the season.
  5. A bit of unfortunate news out of the Pacific Northwest, as former Oregon State player Daniel Deane has been arrested for a marijuana-related incident… for the third time this year. All three of his arrests have revolved around the transportation of marijuana. Luckily, his jail stint shouldn’t be a long one, as Harney County Jail (where Deane is being held) suggests he will be released on November 7. Deane was a hard-nosed player on the court, one who could be counted on for hustle plays. It’s regrettable that he would commit the same offense three times in a year, but hopefully he will be able to learn from this arrest and at the very least keep his stash at home.
Share this story

Pac-12 Team Previews: USC Trojans

Posted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the USC Trojans.

Strengths: Fresh blood. You know the old legend about Keith Richards getting a complete change of blood in order to beat a heroin addiction prior to the Rolling Stones 1973 European tour? Well, if you’ll indulge a tortured analogy for a second: If Keith Richards is the USC basketball team, and his heroin addiction is SC’s 1-17 finish in a historically bad Pac-12, that blood transfusion is USC’s almost completely remade roster. With transfers, freshmen and players returning from seasons lost to injury, head coach Kevin O’Neill will likely only run a player or two out there who was around and active at the end of 2011-12. Instead Jio Fontan, J.T. Terrell, Eric Wise, DeWayne Dedmon, Aaron Fuller, Ari Stewart, Renaldo Woolridge and others will give the Trojans a chance to start anew, and with certainly a larger collection of offensive talent than has ever been assembled in the O’Neill era in Los Angeles. To reference the apocryphal story even further, it should be noted that even if Richards did undergo such a transfusion, it wasn’t his last run-in with addiction. But, nevertheless, that ’73 Stones tour was an undeniable success. And this Trojan team is capable of going from one with no expectations a year ago to one who could get some serious satisfaction this season, so long as that relapse can be withheld until after the tour.

Jio Fontan, USC

Jumpin’ Jio Fontan Is Back For The New Look Trojans, Who Hope A Complete Change Of Blood Will Reverse Their Fortunes

Weaknesses: While the Trojans have been strong defensively in each of O’Neill’s three years as head coach, they’ve been a plodding mess on offense, ranking no better than #93 in the nation in offensive efficiency (as always, per KenPom.com) before dipping to a putrid #326 last year. While he’s got tons of new pieces that could fit perfectly into his team’s jigsaw puzzle, KO’s got to prove that he can get it done with plenty of guys on this squad who have a history of bombing their way to unacceptably low field goal percentages (Fontan’s never even approached a 50% eFG rate, while Terrell, Stewart, Wise and Woolridge all had similar struggles at their previous stops). A newer concern for O’Neill is that, with the departure of last year’s point guard Maurice Jones, there is no margin for error at the point guard position for Fontan. If, god forbid, his surgically repaired knee causes him to miss any time again, the Trojans could be playing with fire.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 12th, 2012

  1. One of the things we love about college basketball is that every year, there are loads and loads of teams with brand new looks. You’ve got freshmen coming in and transfers and kids back from injuries. The entire makeup of a team can change from year to year, for better or for worse. This year in the Pac-12 is no different, but in some cases, these changes seem to be a bit more extreme than normal, with several teams across the conference ready to unveil a completely remade roster. Today, as practices kick off around the country, we’ll take a look at five of those teams, beginning with Utah, where second-year head coach Larry Krystkowiak welcomes in a roster that returns just two scholarship players from last year’s 6-25 team. Given the depths to which the talent level plunged in Salt Lake City last year, the remake was desperately needed, and Krystkowiak is certain that the team is ready to be much more competitive. With 10 new scholarship faces on the roster, the battle for time is tight and ongoing, with the head man mentioning that the Ute starting lineup may be a shifting five over the course of the year.
  2. As bad as the Utes were last year, USC was even worse, limping (quite literally) home to a 1-17 record. Along the way, the Trojans turned into the walking wounded with dozens, if not hundreds, of players (overstatement is of use here) lost for the season to injury. But not only does Kevin O’Neill have many of those players coming back from last year’s injuries, but he’s got transfers galore and, all told, plenty of talent up and down the bench. Never one for understatement, O’Neill last season called then sophomore center DeWayne Dedmon a future NBA lottery pick, while this year he is going out on a limb and projecting Rice transfer Omar Oraby as a future 12- or 13-year pro, although USC is still waiting on word from the NCAA as to whether he’ll receive a waiver to be able to play this year. But O’Neill is most excited about getting back the services of senior point guard Jio Fontan, whom he calls the heart and soul of the team.
  3. Washington State’s 2011-12 season was slightly more successful than either of the above teams’, but like both USC and Utah, the Cougs will unveil a new-look squad as well. Brock Motum returns after his breakout junior season, as does returning starter DaVonte Lacy and four other players, but things are going to have to be different in Pullman this season. But despite being minus recently-dismissed point guard Reggie Moore, head coach Ken Bone thinks this will be a better team than last year, with the combo of Lacy and Kansas-transfer Royce Woolridge being an upgrade over the would-be senior. And Bone hopes that the Cougs’ underdog status will help the squad “pull together.” Reading between the lines a bit, it seems I may not be the only one who thinks the loss of Moore could turn out to be addition by subtraction.
  4. Oregon advanced to the NIT last season, but after five graduating seniors and three freshmen transferring out of the program last year, the Ducks were in need of a talent infusion of their own. Enter a five-man freshman class, two junior college transfers, and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi (who is appealing to the NCAA for immediate eligibility), and returnee EJ Singler, for one, is excited about the additional size and athleticism added to Dana Altman’s roster. The number of new players could jump to nine once the football season ends, assuming freshman Arik Armstead joins the team in January, but the number could have even been 10. However, junior college transfer Devon Branch opted not to enroll at UO for the fall semester, instead opting to go the Division II route, which would give him one more season of eligibility than he would have had in Eugene.
  5. The roster makeover for Washington is not as massive as in any of the above four stops, but the Huskies are without their two highest profile stars from last season’s Pac-12 regular season champion. Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten Jr. left eligibility on the table when they split for the NBA, but it was no secret that last year’s squad underachieved in part due to chemistry issues that never got fully resolved. Lorenzo Romar commented on Twitter that this team has the chemistry and attitude that the coaching staff appreciates, a remark that seems to draw a direct comparison to last year’s squad. Put on your special glasses and it might as well read: “last year’s team had no chemistry because there were too many guys worried about getting the credit.” There’s still plenty of talent up in Seattle, with proven upperclassmen Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox and Aziz N’Diaye leading the way, so if the intangibles shift a little in the right direction, the 2012-13 edition of the Huskies could be an improvement on last year’s more talented squad.
Share this story

Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.14.12 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 14th, 2012

  1. Class of 2013 power forward Aaron Gordon has narrowed his list of schools down to five, with Washington, Arizona and Oregon making the cut. Gordon had a home visit with the Wildcat coaching staff on Monday and Washington will take a home visit this coming Tuesday. Gordon will also take official visits to the schools, with Oregon’s on September 21, Washington on September 28, and Arizona on October 19. His tremendous athleticism and force inside makes him a player that will be ready to produce results immediately at whatever school he chooses. The Archbishop Mitty prospect is also considering Kansas and Kentucky.
  2. Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson received a one-year contract extension Thursday, meaning Robinson will be in Corvallis through at least the 2016-17 season. While the decision may seem a little odd (Robinson has led the Beavers to no other postseason tournament than the CBI in his first four years), it is obvious athletic director Bob De Carolis wants to Robinson to have a public show of confidence and knows that the road back to national prominence is indeed a long and winding one. “Coach Robinson has done a remarkable job in building our men’s basketball program into something all of Beaver Nation can be proud of,” De Carolis said. “I’m thrilled to have him on our sidelines for many seasons to come, and to help him achieve the goals he has set for the program.” The key for Robinson to stay through that 2015-16 campaign will be developing the good recruits that he has produced year after year. He did that with guard Jared Cunningham, now playing with the Dallas Mavericks, but two huge prospects in forward/center Joe Burton and guard Roberto Nelson have unimpressed in their Oregon State careers. This is coach’s second extension in his tenure with Oregon State.
  3. Sean Miller continued his blistering recruiting pace on Thursday, landing five-star small forward Rondae Jefferson, the second piece in Arizona’s 2013 class. Jefferson is regarded as the #14 player in the class, according to ESPNU, and the third-best small forward in the class. The lefty is a lights-out athlete who excels on the break, hits the glass, handles well for his position and has a monster first step. His perimeter jumper remains lacking, but if he can dial that in, he’s a star in the making, capable of potentially stepping into that point forward role that Solomon Hill has manned in recent years. After landing three big men in the 2012 class, the Wildcats’ 2013 class looks to be adding pieces on the perimeter, as Jefferson joins Elliott Pitts – a 6’5” shooting guard out of De La Salle High School in northern California – in Miller’s third full recruiting class.
  4. The future of USC’s roster underwent a bit of a shakeup this week as, on the same day that news broke that Maurice Jones intends to transfer out of the program, Kevin O’Neill received a commitment from 7’2” Rice transfer Omar Oraby. Jones, last year’s leading scorer, was ruled academically ineligible back at the start of the month, but had initially been expected to return to the program in 2013-14. However, O’Neill confirmed to ESPN that Jones intends to transfer, although he is leaving the door open for a change of heart. As for the newcomer, Oraby, a junior from Egypt, was a solid, if under-utilized player for the Owls in 2011-12. In just over 10 minutes a game, he averaged six points and almost four rebounds, grabbing a quarter of his defensive rebound opportunities and nearly one in 10 offensive rebound opportunities, all while shooting better than 62% from the field and 71% from the charity stripe. USC will petition for immediate eligibility for the transfer, and if granted, Oraby could have a major impact right away for the Trojans.
  5. Lastly, it’s that time of year again where Drew and I get to exchange our weekly football picks. Last week I took advantage of a pair of home upsets (Utah State over Utah and UCLA over Nebraska) to extend my lead. Neither of us correctly picked Oregon State to beat Wisconsin, however. So, as it is I’ve got as four-game lead heading into week three. Drew hopes to ride the Sun Devils, Cardinal, and Utes to get right back in the thick of things, while I played the more conservative approach. It’s another typical September week in the Pac-12, as we have a few games of intrigue (WSU-UNLV, Cal-tOSU, USC-Stan) and more than enough snoozers to cancel them out. Picks below, with our game of the week prediction in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick (18-5) Drew’s Pick (14-9)
Washington State at UNLV Washington State Washington State
California at Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
Tennessee Tech at Oregon Oregon Oregon
Portland State at Washington Washington Washington
Arizona State at Missouri Missouri Arizona State
USC at Stanford USC 35-24 Stanford 23-21
Colorado at Fresno State Fresno State Fresno State
BYU at Utah BYU Utah
South Carolina State at Arizona Arizona Arizona
Houston at UCLA UCLA UCLA
Share this story

RTC Summer Updates: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 18th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our Conference USA correspondent, Steve Coulter.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Joe Jackson Goes Patriotic: The Memphis guard and MVP of the CUSA Championship was selected as a member of USA Basketball’s U-19 Would Championship squad on June 23. After a week of training camp, Jackson was among the final twelve players selected by the USA Basketball committee. The squad left for Europe on June 30 and returned July 10. While Team USA disappointed in finishing fifth, Jackson more than held his own against some of the top international talent in the world, averaging over 11 points and 4 assists in 9 games. Jackson was accompanied to Latvia for the competition with eleven other collegiate sophomores including Michigan State’s Keith Appling, Villanova’s James Bell, Stanford’s Anthony Brown, Arizona State’s Jahii Carson, Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr., Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, Butler’s Khyle Marshall and Florida’s Patric Young.

Memphis guard Joe Jackson was a bright spot for Team USA in Latvia, despite a fifth-place finish in the FIBA U-19 World Championships. (Vytautas Mikaitis)

  • Thundering Herd Runs Deep: Marshall already had one of the more loaded backcourts heading into the 2011-12 season with stars Damier Pitts and DeAndre Kane, but with the addition of Justin Coleman, a one-time Louisville commit, the Thundering Herd will certainly have the deepest backcourt the conference has to offer. Coleman sat out last year, but he will be coming off the bench as a shooting guard this season. Along with Coleman, junior college transfers Robert Goff and Dennis Tinnon will be new faces for the Herd. Goff and Tinnon are strong power forwards, looking to aid a weak Marshall frontcourt.
  • Memphis Coaching Legend Larry Finch Passes Away: Former Memphis coach Larry Finch passed away from natural causes at Saint Francis Hospital in Memphis on April 2 at the age of 60. Finch finished his career with the most wins in Tiger basketball history, a record he still holds today. Before leading the Tigers from 1986-97, Finch was a player at Memphis from 1970-73 and worked as an assistant at his alma mater from 1979-86. He passed away as not only a celebrated coach of the game, but a rare influence at the collegiate level. During his 11-year stint as head coach, Finch had seven 20-win seasons, made six NCAA appearances, amassed 220 wins and propelled 7 former players into NBA Draft selections. He finished his career with a loaded resume, having taken his alma mater to the Final Four, getting his jersey retired by the program and becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis: Freshman swingman Adonis Thomas, the No. 16 ranked prospect on Scout Inc.’s Top 100, is the conference’s best newcomer and he joins the already lethal Wesley Witherspoon as a scorer on a loaded Tigers roster that includes two of the nation’s best young guards in Joe Jackson and Will Barton. Head coach Josh Pastner can continue his Conference USA dominance this season, but the Tigers need to play solid defense and claim more out of conference wins then they did last season. Otherwise, they will be playing for their NCAA Tournament lives again come March.  As of now, Witherspoon and Barton are two of only four Conference USA prospects in the Top 100, ranking in at No. 79 and No. 80, respectively. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story