Morning Five: 05.29.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 29th, 2013


  1. If you threw a dart at a map of the United States and it landed somewhere in the hills of Eastern Kentucky or Southwestern Virginia, then drew a circle around that location with a radius of roughly 500 miles in distance, you’d pretty much have nailed down the ‘fertile crescent’ of college basketball. With powerful and tradition-rich programs like North Carolina, Duke, NC State, Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Ohio State, along with other well-supported programs like Tennessee, Xavier, Dayton and Wake Forest all within that circle, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that nine of ESPN‘s top 10 rated television markets for college basketball fall within its boundaries. The top 10: Louisville, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, Charlotte, Knoxville and Nashville. KC, with Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Creighton and Wichita State all somewhat nearby is the only outlier among this group.
  2. You know it’s gotten out of hand if politicians are getting involved, and that appears to now be the case at Rutgers in the latest scandal enveloping the school’s athletic department. Or not getting involved. Or getting involved to say that they’re not getting involved. Whatever. New Jersey governor Chris Christie told listeners on his “Ask the Governor” radio show Tuesday night that he has no plans to intervene in the hiring of new athletic director Julie Hermann. While it’s no doubt true that Christie has much bigger fish to fry than micromanaging every hiring decision at the state university, it’s worth asking whether any senior athletic department staff is paying attention at all (certainly Christie’s political opponents are doing so). The Mike Rice situation followed by the flub with Eddie Jordan’s resume and now this debacle is highly suggestive of an environment where leadership can’t see what they don’t want to see. It’s incumbent on university president Bob Barchi to get this problem fixed, and soon.
  3. The SEC Tournament may seek to reproduce the success that its football and baseball championships have had at permanent sites — Atlanta and Hoover, Alabama, respectively — by moving to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for good following the 2014 event in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. Commissioner Mike Slive was careful to avoid saying the word “permanent,” opting instead to call Music City the “primary” site, but the point is that SEC puppet-masters feel that the relatively central geographic location and easy access for large traveling basketball fan bases such as Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and home team Vanderbilt would merit this (as yet unofficial) decision. Can’t say we disagree. The best conference tournaments are generally in a city that really embraces the event every year, and Nashville seems to enjoy its status as a big-time basketball stronghold during the few times it has gotten to hold the event there.
  4. It’s not often we dig into Division II basketball on this site, but it’s also not common for there to be a formal indictment by a grand jury against a player for murder either. San Francisco State wing Decensae White — formerly of Texas Tech and Santa Clara in 2006-09 — was indicted in Georgia on Tuesday for his alleged role in gunning down a rapper named Lil Phat (nee‘ Melvin Vernell III) as he sat outside a hospital where his girlfriend underwent labor in Atlanta. White gained some degree of national notoriety for hitting a half-court game winner against Cal Poly back in February of this season, as the clip was featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter. White and four other men are due for presentment on these charges later this week.
  5. There was one notable bit of transfer news from Tuesday, as Oregon State’s Ahmad Starks has announced that he will spend the last year of his career at Illinois. He will apply for a family illness waiver to play immediately, as his grandmother is reported to be sick in Chicago. This is a good pickup for John Groce’s squad, as the Illini could use some experienced talent — Starks averaged 10.4 PPG and hit 62 threes last season for the Beavers — to pair in the backcourt with returnees Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand as part of a three-guard set. It may not be a group as talented as last year’s Paul/Richardson/Abrams trio, but it should work well within Groce’s trey-happy system.
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Pac-12 M5: 01.11.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on January 11th, 2013


  1. Sports Illustrated released its first “Bubble Watch” of the season earlier this week, and seven Pac-12 teams appear on the initial list. As expected, Arizona was the only one to be named a “lock” on the list, and the remaining teams (Colorado, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State, California, and Washington) are listed as squarely on the bubble. The only big surprise is Washington, and while the Huskies got a nice win at California on Wednesday, this is still a team with losses to Albany, Colorado State, and Nevada, all in Seattle.
  2. Also announced earlier this week was the news that Oregon State was added to the 2013 Diamond Head Classic field. This will be Oregon State’s third straight appearance in a made-for-ESPN tournament, following the Legends Classic in 2011 and 2K Sports Classic in 2012. The Pac-12 is no stranger to the tournament, as Arizona just made its mark on the tourney’s brief history three weeks ago. The Wildcats beat East Tennessee State and Miami (FL) in the quarters and semis before pulling out a one-point, comeback victory against San Diego State in the championship game. USC, Washington State, and Utah have been the other three Pac-12 schools to compete in the Diamond Head Classic, so add the Beavers to the growing list.
  3. The Pac-12 had its own rush the court moment last night, courtesy of Oregon staving off a furious Arizona comeback in the final minutes of a Ducks’ four-point victory. What had been hyped all week as the game of the week inside the conference ended up making a pretty good case for itself. The Wildcats opened the contest with an 11-0 run, only to see their lead become a one-point deficit just over three minutes later. For the remainder of the next 30 minutes, the game was all Oregon. Zona would make a mini-run once in a while, but up until their 14-5 run to close the game beginning at the 4:15 mark, this one appeared to be a runaway Ducks’ victory. All was not to be, however, as Nick Johnson turned the ball over before even attempting a game-tying three with 15 seconds left.
  4. Forty-five miles up the road, things were not nearly as cheery for Oregon State on Thursday night. Before its matchup with Arizona State, head coach Craig Robinson suspended both Eric Moreland and Victor Robbins indefinitely. Interestingly enough, Moreland likely would have been out for the game anyway with a strained back, but there was a possibility he wouldn’t be officially suspended for the game, so word of it didn’t drop until just before tip-off. The Beavers fell to Arizona State by 10 points, 72-62.
  5. The wheels are appearing to fall off in Berkeley for a California team that has lost six of its last nine games. In this interview with California’s official blog, coach Mike Montgomery claims that relying on talent alone and not getting up for each and every game is to blame for the recent struggles. The Golden Bears are close to slipping off the NCAA bubble for good, and a win against Washington State tomorrow is an absolute must to keep both their NCAA Tourney chances and season from dying on the vine, and fast.
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Craig Robinson Notches His Second Win of the Week

Posted by Rockne Roll on November 10th, 2012

Oregon State Head Coach Craig Robinson sat in front of the pressroom Friday night after with a smile on his face after his team’s home opener. It was his second win of the week, he said. The first was Tuesday night, when his brother-in-law won another term as President. And while Barack Obama’s final Electoral College score of 303-206 (pending Florida’s final count) over Mitt Romney was significantly higher than the 102-83 final score that the Beavers posted on the Niagara University Purple Eagles at Gill Coliseum Friday, Robinson sympathized with the stress his brother was under. “You think about me coaching 30-something games a year, they only have two games, your first election and your second election,” Robinson said. “The pressure is immense.”

It’s Been a Good Week For Both Gentlemen (credit:

To be fair, Robinson had a scoreboard to tell him that his Beavers led this one wire-to-wire by as many as 25 points. Beaver forward Eric Moreland scored 14 points on a perfect 7-7 mark from the field and pulled down 13 boards as the Beaver’s dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. “I just let the game come to me,” Moreland said afterwards. “They’re a smaller team, so we wanted to be able to take advantage of that.” OSU pulled 52 total rebounds and scored 48 points in the paint, while limiting Niagara to just 16 points inside. Six Beavers scored in double digits, with Roberto Nelson leading all scorers with 22.

But if the lane was the Beavers’ domain, a “blue state” to continue the political metaphor, the area beyond the three-point spent much of the game as a “red state,” firmly under the control of the Niagara backcourt. The Eagles scored their first 18 points from outside, going 6-7 on three-pointers during that stretch. A Malcolm Lemmons layup off a steal with 10 minutes left in the first half was their first two-pointer of the game. By the end of the first half, the Eagles had shot nine of 16 from beyond the arc. Many of those looks were wide open as Niagara took the ball down low and drew in the defense before kicking out to a shooter like Marvin Jordan, who led the Eagles with 17 total points. “You can’t help off of a guy who’s a terrific shooter,” Robinson said. “That’s something we’re going to learn from and have to get better at.”

On the other end, the Eagles rolled out a matchup zone defense that frustrated the Beaver’s shooters early. “You guys don’t know how hard it is to play your first game of the season against somebody who plays a matchup zone,” Robinson flatly told reporters. “We kind of had to figure that out on the fly.” When they did, the Beavers spaced the floor with their post play and set up their own shooters outside, turning the “red state” their way by  draining three-pointers on four consecutive possessions in a two minute stretch midway through the second half to open the lead to 25. They finished the game shooting 13 of 24 from downtown, with Ahmad Starks putting down six of them. After holding that 25-point lead for another five minutes, Robinson was able to go to his deep bench, a fact that Starks saw as a sign of a job well done for him and the other rotation players. “Everybody took care of business and we got to the century mark so [Robinson] was able to get people into the game, get some time and get the college experience.”

Robinson was pleased with his team’s performance as well. “I was really pleased with this game,” he said. “I thought our guys came out ready to play.” And with the election now over and decided, Robinson could enjoy his team’s success. “That makes this night even better.”

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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #28 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 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!

#28 – Where Quadruple Overtime 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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Morning Five: 09.05.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 5th, 2012

  1. Reading the tea leaves in the case of Dez Wells‘ whirlwind tour of several prominent basketball schools over Labor Day weekend turned out to be advantageous, as the rising sophomore wing on Tuesday decided to commit to Maryland. If you recall, Mark Turgeon’s program was the only school among the three he visited — Memphis, Oregon, and Maryland — where he tweeted out transparent clues such as #terpnation while he was on campus. The Terps will without question file a petition with the NCAA for an immediate waiver that would allow Wells to suit up next season rather than having to sit out the typical transfer year. Although we’re uncertain if there is a precedent for a player arguing as a basis for the waiver that he was wrongfully expelled from a school, the NCAA may face a veritable uproar if Wells is forced to sit out a season because of what an Ohio grand jury has decided is no fault of his own. And regardless of which year Wells actually suits up at Maryland, the news on Tuesday that the elite Class of 2013 Harrison twins will spend Midnight Madness at the Comcast Center has things looking up for Terp Nation indeed.
  2. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, the NCAA’s compliance and eligibility staff sure doesn’t seem to have much of an opportunity for vacation time right now. Providence super-recruit Ricardo Ledo told on Tuesday that he expects to have a decision in place on his eligibility sometime this week, and if you take the new college enrollee at face value, he says that he’s sticking around PC no matter what decision the NCAA makes. The site makes reference to three likely scenarios involving Ledo’s eligibility, but it doesn’t seem to contemplate what to us is the likeliest scenario: that Ledo is allowed to practice with the Friars this season but must sit out a number of regular season games as a fair punishment (think: Josh Selby). Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  3. We mentioned yesterday that Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie remains in a Lubbock hospital relating to a medical incident he experienced when his blood pressure reportedly spiked to dangerous levels last Friday. Nothing appears to have changed on that count, as Gillispie was still a patient at the facility as of Tuesday night, but with the report released by‘s Jeff Goodman exposing to the world the many shenanigans that the head coach has allegedly pulled, he may as well not pass go nor collect $200 on the way back to his campus office. You really need to read the article thoroughly to understand the breadth of the problems and the climate that Gillispie has engendered there, but they range from a musical chairs of hirings, firings and player transfers, forcing players to practice for as many as eight hours a day, and making them practice or play while nursing severe injuries. We’re really trying to figure out how this guy could have been so successful at UTEP and Texas A&M if he was using these or similar coaching tactics at the time, but perhaps these recent problems are isolated manifestations of his Kentucky debacle.
  4. The Athlon Sports College Basketball Yearbook won’t be out on news stands for another three weeks, but Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journalalready has a bead on the top three teams in this year’s publication and they have a rather lower midwestern/upper southern feel. Coming in at the top of the list is Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers; moving southeast 90 miles, we run into Athlon’s #2 team, Louisville; then, moving east another 70 miles you hit their #3 team, Kentucky. It’s a solid trio, as each team will no doubt do some damage this season. Still, we have considerable trouble with the placement of a team in the preseason top five when quite literally more than 90% of its scoring is now playing in the NBA. Apparently the good folks at Athlon do not care to recall that last year’s Wildcats team returned experienced talent in Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb to join all those fabulous freshman, two of whom were better than anyone entering college basketball in 2012-13.
  5. We’re honestly not sure why anyone outside of the punditocracy watches the snoozefest known as political conventions these days, but if you happened upon the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last night you may have caught Michelle Obama’s brother-in-law, Oregon State’s Craig Robinson, make a quick recruiting pitch at the start of his dual speech with Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-ng: “Any seven-footers out there, give me a call.” Obviously, the sheen of Robinson’s status as the First Bro-in-Law has worn off by now, but you never know where you might find unexpected leverage — maybe some young political-minded player out there will remember Robinson’s request in a few years and choose to make a visit to Corvallis one of his stops.

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ATB: Kroger Kontroversy, Chris Mack’s Dunk, and a Bunch of Non-Upsets…

Posted by rtmsf on January 9th, 2012

This Weekend’s Lede. This was the first full weekend of conference play, and as expected, teams that hadn’t played many legitimate road games prior to the turn of the new year found life away from home in hostile environments to be considerably tougher than lacing another game up at home. It wasn’t the best of college basketball weekends, nor was it the worst, but as we begin to settle ourselves into competition within the family for the next two months, it’s time to separate legitimacy from fraudulence through actual play on the court around the nation. Let’s jump into this weekend’s action.

Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Student’s Half-Court Shot Causes Kroger Controversy.

Meet Vincent Swope. No, he actually isn’t an SEC official, he just plays one when he attends Kentucky basketball games at Rupp Arena. The freshman who has turned a referee getup into his game-day trademark in UK’s eRupption Zone was selected to shoot a half-court shot worth $10,000 during Saturday’s game versus South Carolina. As you can see above, his heave from mid-court was true. According to published reports, shortly after the ball found the bottom of the net and Swope ran around the court rightfully celebrating his newfound riches, a representative from Kroger Foods, the contest sponsor, approached him suggesting that he had violated the terms of the contest by stepping over the half-court line. In the pantheon of snaky moves, Kroger’s reported attempt to screw a young student out of his winnings due to a technicality would have reached a new level of shady business dealings. Luckily, Matt Jones at Kentucky Sports Radio became aware of the situation and immediately mobilized his legion of Twitter followers to #occupyKroger in an anti-corporate social networking throwdown that would make Ralph Nader and Naomi Klein proud. Within an hour of the game’s finish, Kroger had caved and in fact called Jones himself to beg for his forgiveness, asking him to pass along to Swope that the company would make good on his prize. As of Sunday evening, Swope says that he hasn’t yet received the money, but we’d wager that Kroger has learned its lesson and won’t drag their feet too long on paying him. Great work from KSR/Jones in ensuring the right outcome here.

[ed. note: Kroger reached out to us, taking the stance that the company never suggested to Swope that he would not be paid for his shot. This contradicts Swope’s accounting of the sequence of events to Matt Jones, but it appears that Kroger will in fact pay the freshman his winnings, which is all anyone wanted in the first place.]

Then, There Was This. Chris Mack Gives Up His Knee For a Xavier Win. In an exceptionally odd situation, Xavier head coach Chris Mack jumped in the layup line during Friday’s practice and, after dunking the ball once, ended up tearing his patellar tendon in a freakish accident trying to do it again. Andre Walker said afterward that Mack’s injury was “really weird… a freak accident,” and to that sentiment we certainly agree. First of all, props to Mack for trying just about anything to get his team off the schneid (XU had lost five of six before beating Fordham Saturday) and for still being able to dunk a basketball at the age of 42, but he probably should have wowed the players just once and left it at that! What a weird season it’s already been at Xavier.

Five More Weekend Storylines.

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ATB: Jared Cunningham’s Reversal, Wisconsin’s D, and 1,092 Days…

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Whether you’re a student-athlete feeling the stress of exams or a fan of those players ready to pull your eyelids out with no excitement on the tube this week, the worst is nearly over. On Saturday we’ll have a full slate on the schedule and next week there will be a lot more action around the country in a mad rush before the Christmas holiday weekend. Let’s jump into what little there was going on tonight, secure in the thought that the worst is indeed over…

Dunkdafied. Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham didn’t have the best shooting night, but one of his two buckets on the night more than made up for it…

Tonight’s Quick Hits...

  • Oregon State’s 8-2 Start. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how down certain programs have been for so long, but Oregon State is one of those schools. With tonight’s easy win over Howard, the Beavers moved to 8-2 on the season. That record, a good but not exceptional mark for mid-December, represents the best start to a season in Corvallis since the 1984-85 season. That was last season before the shot clock, folks. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Pac-12

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences.  

Reader’s Take


Top Storylines

  • More Behavioral Problems – While the struggles of the Pac-12 conference as a whole has been well-documented, the sheer number of off-the-court distractions coaches up and down the conference have had to deal with has been astounding. There’s the ongoing Reeves Nelson soap opera at UCLA. Josiah Turner has been patently unable to get it together in Arizona. Jabari Brown quit on his team after just two games because he was “only” getting about 26 minutes a game. This week Utah suspended Josh Watkins, one of just three players in the Pac-12 to score in double figures in each of his team’s games (Washington’s Terrence Ross and Washington State’s Brock Motum the other two). Then there are lesser lights like Oregon’s Bruce Barron (quit on his team as well), Arizona’s Sidiki Johnson (suspended, dismissed and now transferring out) and Washington State’s D.J. Shelton (suspended). That’s not even including Joshua Smith’s issues, Jerime Anderson’s legal troubles, or Jahii Carson’s inability to get eligible. While the play on the court has been less than stellar around the conference, it is the off-the-court nonsense that is giving the conference the biggest black eye.

Josh Watkins' Troubles Are Only the Latest and Greatest...

  • Surprising Players Stepping Up – In the place of all the missing or invisible players, these teams have needed somebody to step up, and there have been some surprising players that are doing their part. Just looking at the five players that were nominated for the Pac-12 Player of the Week last week gives you a list of surprising names: Charlie Enquist, Ahmad Starks, Anthony Brown, Keala King and, the winner of the award, Solomon Hill. No disrespect to any of those guys, but I don’t think you would have found any of those names on most preseason all-Pac-12 teams. Hill has been a versatile and steadying force for Arizona.  Not only is the junior post leading the team in points (12.4 PPG), assists (3.1 APG) and minutes (31.5 MPG), but Hill is also grabbing the second most rebounds (7.8 RPG), and he’ll likely be a candidate for the Pac-12 award on a semi-regular basis throughout the year. But Charlie Enquist? That’s a guy who had scored a total of 50 points and grabbed a total of 41 rebounds in his 54 games in his previous three years in Pullman. This week he scored 28 and grabbed 19 rebounds. Meanwhile, King was awful at Arizona State last year (36.5% from the field, 1-18 threes, more turnovers than assists), but has scored 65 points in his last three games while posting a 75.8 eFG%. Starks had 16 points and four threes in Oregon State’s win over Montana, and Anthony Brown scored 27 points in two games for Stanford this week. For the underachieving teams in this conference to improve between now and March, they’ll need players to step up and make bigger-than-expected contributions.
  • Stanford For Real? – At the start of the season, it was more or less consensus that there were four teams in the upper tier of the Pac-12: Arizona, Cal, UCLA and Washington. It didn’t take long for one of those four teams to drop from that group (I’ll let you guess which one that was), but with Stanford sporting the best record in the Pac-12 at 8-1 so far (the lone loss a tough six-point defeat at Madison Square Garden to Syracuse), the Cardinal may have jumped up into that group. Of Stanford’s eight victories this season, seven of them have come by 12 or more, with only their most recent come-from-behind win against NC State being a tight one. And at least one RTC correspondent came away from that game impressed enough to confirm that Stanford is good enough, at least defensively, to contend for the conference title. The Cardinal are now in the midst of 13 days off surrounding finals, and really only have one challenging non-conference game remaining (December 22 against Butler). But, if the Cardinal can pick up where it left off, coach Johnny Dawkins‘ squad will be a tough out during conference play.

Player of the Year Watch

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RTC Live: Legends Classic Finals & Consolation

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2011

RTC Live is back at the IZOD Center this evening for another double-header involving four teams with a lot on the line in the early going of this season. In the third place game, Texas will face NC State, followed by the championship game featuring Vanderbilt and a surprising Oregon State squad.  Join us for the conversation on a busy Monday of Feast Week, after the jump.

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RTC Live: Legends Classic Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2011

It’s Feast Week around the hoops nation and RTC Live is in New Jersey tonight for the semifinal round of the Legends Classic. Interestingly, the only team with a loss is the only ranked team here, but Vanderbilt vs. NC State followed by Texas vs. Oregon State should make for a great evening of college hoops. Join the conversation from the Izod Center, after the jump.

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