Big Ten Morning Five: 02.16.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 16th, 2012

  1. Not only was Indiana‘s 71-66 win over Northwestern a good one for the Hoosiers in terms of the Big Ten race and their NCAA profile, it was an important milestone for Tom Crean. After the first couple years of Crean’s tenure  at Indiana, he had a few 20-loss seasons on his resume, that that obviously was not good enough for the Indiana faithful. But Crean’s squad has turned the corner, and now boasts a 20-win season after their victory over the Wildcats. Not only should Hoosier fans be happy about the culture being changed back to a winning one, Indian also a much-needed win over Northwestern, who they were 1-6 against in their last seven against before last night.
  2. The game between Purdue and Illinois was a turning point of sorts for both schools, as each needed a win desperately, and it was the Boilermakers who not only got the victory, but grabbed it on the road. As the Illini continue to reel, Purdue has won two in a row after losing four out of their previous five. With a record of 17-9, 7-6 in the Big Ten, Purdue could very well be dancing in March if they keep up their winning ways. Also, grabbing a win in Champaign against a team that wanted it just as bad may show that Robbie Hummel and Co. may finally be coming together at the right time.
  3. It will be a battle tonight between Michigan State and Wisconsin, which has been one of the best basketball rivalries in the conference over the last few years. What has been a battle for the Badgers this season has been making shots. Wisconsin is the second-worst shooting team in the Big Ten this season at 42%, and if they want to try and win a conference championship, that number is going to have to go up. It will start with Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, and their teammates making a concerted effort to try and get to the basket and find better shots. If they are able to do that, and the #1 scoring defense in the conference can continue to hold opponents to 50 PPG, Wisconsin will be tough to beat.
  4. I know that if you are reading this site, you love college basketball. I’m going to assume if you are like me, you also like free food. Well, Pat Chambers cost his fans free food when he decided to have Penn State pull back on the reins in their most recent win against Nebraska. The Nittany Lions have a promotion going that states any time the team scores over 70 points at home, all the fans in attendance will win free Big Macs from McDonald’s. By Chambers direction, his squad only scored 67 points when they could have accounted for more had they tried. Not to let mouths in Happy Valley go hungry, Chambers stepped up and served 200 free Big Macs to fans who showed up at a local Mickey D’s.
  5. After a disappointing effort at home against Michigan State, Ohio State rebounded with a nice 78-68 win over Minnesota Tuesday night. Thad Motta clearly had his team playing much better basketball, and stars like William Buford (24 points) played much better than they did against Michigan State. Motta also used his bench much more liberally than he has all season, getting many players into the game early on against the Gophers. However, fans should not expect that trend to continue, as Ohio State is going to rely on their stars to try and capture a Big Ten crown.
Share this story

Making the Leap: Tim Frazier

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 14th, 2012

It is 1,244 miles from Houston, Texas, to Penn State University.  That is where Tim Frazier grew up.  He’s the only player from the city of Houston to be playing in the Big Ten conference, and only two other players (Nebraska senior Toney McCray and Northwestern freshman Trey Demps) are even from the state of Texas.  Tim Frazier has come a long way to be where he’s at, and his game has come even further.

It hasn’t been easy to notice the Nittany Lions this season, as their relation to first place in the Big Ten standings seems about as far away as Houston and University Park.  But it’s impossible to not notice the play of junior point guard Frazier, who has made an astronomical statistical jump from his sophomore season.  Last year, Frazier played in 34 games, averaging 30.0 MPG, 6.3 PPG,  and handing out 5.1 APG; good numbers considering his number one job was to facilitate offense for high-scoring guard Talor Battle.  With Battle gone this season, Frazier was expected to increase his scoring load and take leadership of the team, but not even the most die-hard Penn State fan could have imagined the lines that Frazier has been able to put up this season.

Tim Frazier has been phenomenal so far this season for Penn State (CDC Photos/Christopher Weddle)

Most points scored in the conference.  Second in scoring average.  First in assists.  Most minutes played.  Tops in steals.  Leading in free throw makes.  This is what Tim Frazier has been able to accomplish up to this point in 2011-12.  The 5’11″ guard is also tied for 16th in rebounding at 5.0 RPG.  The term “do-everything player” not only describes Frazier’s statistical impact, but it also rings true because he is head and shoulders the most effective player on Pat Chambers’ squad.  The Nittany Lions are currently the worst-shooting team in the Big Ten conference at 38%, and they only average 61.0 PPG as a team.  Frazier’s 18.5 PPG means that on a nightly basis, he alone is scoring almost a third of PSU’s buckets.  To make the numbers even more astounding, please note that before this season, Frazier had scored over 20 points in a game exactly once in his career.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 02.13.12 Edition

Posted by Ryan Terpstra on February 13th, 2012

  1. Michigan State currently has control of the Big Ten after the Spartans’ hard-fought 58-48 win at Ohio State on Saturday. Michigan State used a combination of great defense, hustle plays, and just-effictive-enough offense to down the Buckeyes and end their 39-game home winning streak. So, has the question of how to beat Ohio State been answered? Give the Spartans tons of credit for their game plan, but William Buford and company didn’t do themselves any favors. Having Buford and Deshaun Thomas both go 2-12 from the field obviously hurt the Buckeyes.
  2. One key player Spartan head coach Tom Izzo knew he would need a great effort from was sophomore center Adriean Payne. The Dayton native was expected to supply critical defense on Jared Sullinger, and Payne and his defensive counterparts were effective forcing Sullinger into 10 turnovers. What the Spartans didn’t expect was for Payne to go 6-for-6 from the field and finish with a career-high 15 points. Given the chance to play in front of his family and friends in his home state, Payne made the most of his opportunity.
  3. One team preparing for their second shot at Ohio State will be Michigan, and the Wolverines will have plenty of time to do it. Coming off their 70-61 win over Illinois, John Beilein‘s club remains undefeated at home this season and will have six days to prepare for Ohio State. Beilein admits that getting that much rest at this point in the season can be beneficial as guys can rest their legs a bit. But Michigan doesn’t want to get out of the groove they are currently in especially junior guard Matt Vogrich, a 20% three-point shooter this season who has gone 5-for-5 from three in the last two games.
  4. While there was plenty of celebration for Penn State after their win over Nebraska this weekend, there was some sad news in Happy Valley as junior forward Billy Oliver announced he will end his playing career. Oliver is struggling with recuring symptoms related to his history of concussions and migraine headaches and after talking with coach Pat Chambers Oliver decided to hang it up. His roommate Tim Fraizer was saddened by his decision, but agreed that Oliver is doing what is best for him.
  5. March is only a couple of weeks away, and teams are gauging their NCAA Tournament chances with every win and loss. Minnesota is a team that many experts thought didn’t have much of a chance of qualifying for the Tournament a couple of months ago, but the Gophers have a chance to earn their way in with some quality wins. They will have plenty of chances to do that, with four of their last six opponents currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. It will take some upsets, but Tubby Smith and his crew know the road that lays before them if they want to go dancing again this year.
Share this story

RTC Conference Primers: #2 – Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is an RTC contributor. You can find him on Twitter at @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • Mid-Majors Newcomers Will Make Major Impact – Two graduate student transfers from mid-major schools are going to make an instant impact in the Big Ten. Brandon Wood could start in Michigan State’s backcourt after scoring 16.7 points per game last season for Valparaiso. Sam Maniscalco averaged 9.7 points per game for Bradley last season and might end up scoring even more for Illinois. Both players give their teams veteran pieces at positions that would’ve otherwise been dominated by youth.
  • Healthy Living – Robbie Hummel returns for Purdue and has the opportunity to make a big impact for the Boilermakers now that his former classmates have graduated. While Matt Painter couldn’t get Hummel on the court with JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, he does get the added bonus of having an All-America caliber forward to help shepherd this team into the postseason. Injuries also delivered a blow to Indiana, as Maurice Creek is going to miss the entire 2011-12 season. That’s after missing all but 18 games last season, and it’s a big blow to the Hoosiers’ NCAA hopes.
  • A New Head Coach In University Park – After leading Penn State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, and falling to in-state rival Temple, Ed DeChellis saw the writing on the wall and left PSU for a more stable job at Navy. His replacement is former Boston University head coach Pat Chambers, who has a big rebuilding job on his hands after graduation of star guard Talor Battle.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Ohio State (16-2) 
  2. Wisconsin (12-6)
  3. Michigan (12-6)
  4. Michigan State (10-8)
  5. Purdue (10-8)
  6. Illinois (9-9)
  7. Minnesota (9-9)
  8. Northwestern (8-10)
  9. Indiana (8-10)
  10. Iowa (6-12)
  11. Nebraska (4-14)
  12. Penn State (3-15)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Summer Updates: Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 8th, 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 latest update comes courtesy of our Big Ten correspondent, Will Green.

Readers’ Take

Summer Storylines 

  • Sully’s Back, But With Demands – In the year 2011, in the age of ‘now,’ in a profit-first educate-yourself-later society, amidst a flittering of teenage NBA draft picks, ferocious freshman phenomenon Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school. How quaint. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing quaint about Sullinger, his (rightly) assumed sense of on-court leadership, his brutally physical style of play, or that Ja Rule-esque snarl that makes him look like a squirrel who just ate a questionable nut. But seriously, it’s highly unlikely that anyone other than Jordan Taylor will stand in the way of Sullinger winning the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, and rightfully so. He has spent the better part of the off-season slimming down and getting faster. The best player on the best team in the conference simply can’t suffer a slump; he’s worked too hard and has clearly made a commitment to improving his game before leaving for the pros. The question is less about what Sullinger’s level of performance will be than it is about the effect his performance will have on other members of his team. Last year, his 17 /10 were a reflection of consistent contribution that was also part of a greater team-wide cohesion. Jon Diebler, David Lighty and even Dallas Lauderdale each had pronounced and vital roles on last year’s team. They’re all gone now. While some of the supporting cast and several new stars-in-the-making will join Sullinger, will increased reliance upon him make OSU more of a one-man show? Or will the Buckeyes continue to roll out a team-focused squad with four scorers in double figures and a core group of five guys who notch 30 minutes a game? Whatever happens, Sullinger will be back and he will be better than last year. Consider yourself warned.
  • Welcome, Nebraska – On July 1, Nebraska officially joined the B1G, an acronym whose ludicrousness we continue to subconsciously validate by pronouncing it ‘Bih-one-ggg’. If you’re scoring at home, UNL’s entry makes for 12 teams in the Big Ten, a conference that shouldn’t be confused with the Big 12, which only has ten teams now since Nebraska left it. Now that we’ve all scratched our heads for second, we should pause to consider how massive the amount of potential football revenue must have been to persuade the intransigent Big Ten to alter its ranks. The Cornhuskers’ inclusion marks only the second change in league makeup since the 1950s. So how will the other 11 schools adjust to the adjustment? Football-wise, they should all watch their backs. On the basketball court, though, it probably won’t have a big (or should we say, a ‘B1G’) impact. Sadly for Husker fans, their roundball team loses two of their top three scorers and has some major offensive issues to solve in a league whose tempo of play limits even the country’s very best offenses. Head coach Doc Sadler continues to recruit a healthy mix of transfers and high school players, but over his five-year tenure nine of them have left due to reasons other than matriculation or the NBA. Nebraska has had some encouraging moments in recent years, including a five game improvement in Big 12 play from 2009 to 2010 (from 2-14 to 7-9). The team’s defensive efficiency would’ve finished fourth and it’s adjusted tempo would’ve finished fourth slowest in last year’s Big Ten. In some respects, Nebraska feels like a perfect match for the conference. And yet, for many of those same reasons, it might be a little out-matched in its first few years.
  • Ed DeChellis Leaves For Navy – Nowadays, stories like these are rarer than that bloody slice of carpaccio you once had at a fancy restaurant: a coach leaving a higher paying, higher-infrastructure, higher strength-of-schedule situation for a middle of the pack team in a unambiguously low-major conference. Make no mistake: Ed DeChellis didn’t become the new head coach at Navy. He stopped being the head coach at Penn State. Unless they’re ousted via scandal or especially egregious results you simply don’t hear about power six coaches voluntarily leaving for a “lesser” job. And yet, that’s exactly what happened. Or is it? The answer to that question centers around just how much “less” of a job the Navy coaching position really is, and if anything DeChellis might have done warranted the move. The wink-wink nudge-nudge consensus is that while DeChellis didn’t necessarily knock anyone’s socks off, the school refuses to take basketball seriously. Some have lambasted the athletic department’s commitment to DeChellis and the program overall at a school that’s known best for intense linebackers and an 84 year-old Italian-American man. It will be interesting to observe new head coach Patrick Chambersin his first few seasons and see whether or not he runs into a similar set of struggles as DeChellis did during his tenure. If the holistic drawbacks of coaching in University Park really outweigh the benefits to the extent that someone would walk away from the position, then PSU has bigger problems to fix than figuring out how to win in the Big Ten this season. But if anyone can overcome whatever said “drawbacks” may or may not be, it’s Chambers.

    The Buckeyes, led by big man Jared Sullinger, are easy favorites in the Big Ten.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 07.21.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2011

  1. “My account was hacked!” goes the common cry of players and sometimes even coaches who tweet something they soon end up regretting, right? Well, you wont hear anything like that coming from any of the University of New Mexico’s players. In fact, you won’t hear anything at all in the way of tweets from them, because Steve Alford has mandated a Twitter gag order for everyone on his squad. As of this writing, Facebook is still allowed. So, what do you think? Overprotective, or sound judgment by Coach Alford?
  2. And now, your daily Salinas: most of the talk in this area on Wednesday centered around the NCAA investigation into the matter. As in…does one exist? First, the revered Andy Katz stepped up with an article announcing that the NCAA had no intention of investigating the possibility of what would amount to a player-for-investment money scam (not to mention the simultaneous alleged Ponzi scheme being examined by the Feds). The only problem is that for the rest of the day people came forward with evidence that such an investigation had already begun. Was Katz lied to or did the NCAA change their mind extremely quickly on the matter? Or is this the difference between a formal vs. informal probe?
  3. Louisville will not be getting lei’d in 2012. They’ve pulled out of the Maui Invitational that year and will be replaced by Marquette. But don’t put the floral shirts, sunscreen and swimming trunks away just yet, Cardinal fans. Instead of Maui that year, you’ll have to settle for the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Card Chronicle has a pretty persuasive list of reasons as to why this is a better move for the team, not the least of which is that the Bahamas is emerging as fertile ground for basketball talent.
  4. There was a Sweet 16 ten years ago, but in the last 40 years that’s all that Penn State basketball has had to get happy about as far as NCAA Tournament achievements. We had to stop and consider that before immediately writing off the notion that, as Black Shoe Diaries asserts, the best days ever for Penn State basketball are now underway with the hiring of Pat Chambers. Obviously we’ll have to wait and see if they’re proven correct, but after reading the piece and the comments section we’ll at least give everyone involved full marks for how they’ve used Chambers’ arrival as an opportunity to renew their emotional investment.
  5. Andy Staples sure knows how to get your attention. Sports Illustrated is doing a series called “The Best Team I Ever Covered” in which it asks each of its writers over several sports about…well, you get it. For his submission, Staples chose the 2005-06 Florida Gators and included the words “Miss Sweden” in the title. We didn’t consider ourselves suckered, however, since his story was a nice insight into his coverage of that squad and the odd yet enjoyable journey it must have been. For the few of you who weren’t aware, Joakim Noah’s mother was a Miss Sweden. Yes, that Joakim Noah.
Share this story

RTC Summer Update: America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 13th, 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 America East correspondent, John Templon. John also writes about New York City basketball at Big Apple Buckets.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Coaches Moving On Up: Vermont and Boston University lost two very talented coaches this summer. The Catamounts’ Mike Lonergan went back to his Washington, D.C., roots and took the job at George Washington. Lonergan – who won a national title at Division III Catholic University in D.C. and also coached at Maryland – should fit in well at GW. Assistant John Becker replaced Lonergan, so there should be strong continuity. On the other hand, BU had to scramble after Pat Chambers was hired by Penn State to replace Ed DeChellis. The Terriers ended up with former Columbia head coach Joe Jones, who spent last season as an assistant at Boston College.
  • Playing With The (Future) Pros: The 2010-11 America East Player of the Year, Boston University’s John Holland, played in the Portsmouth Invitational. He finished tied for ninth in scoring at 15.0 points per game and 18th in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. He played with former Florida forward Vernon Macklin and former Villanova guard Corey Fisher on the Portsmouth Sports Club team that finished in fourth place. Holland had workouts with a few NBA teams before signing with Chorale de Roanne of France’s Pro A Division.
  • A World of Experience: America East continues to pick up steam as a worldwide conference. Four players in Maine’s incoming recruiting class aren’t originally from the United States and Albany has two players coming in from Australia and another from the Dominican Republic in its 2011 class. Another Australian, Corban Wroe, will be playing for Hartford in the fall. Many of the incoming recruits have experience playing with their respective international squads and incoming Maine freshman Noam Laish was selected as the captain of Israel’s U-18 squad for the European Championships.

Patrick Chambers parlayed last season's tournament berth with BU into a payday at Penn State, sending BU scrambling (credit: Steve McLaughlin).

Power Rankings

  1. Boston University: After making the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Terriers return all but one of their linchpins. Of course, that one guy is America East Player of the Year John Holland who averaged 19.2 PPG last season. BU will also be going without head coach Pat Chambers, but he certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Joe Jones. Darryl Partin (14.3 PPG) and Jake O’Brien (10.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) should provide scoring. Also watch out for sophomore guard D.J. Irving. He averaged 8.0 PPG as a freshman and his workload should only increase in 2011-12. The Terriers have won 21 games in each of the past two seasons and a postseason berth is definitely the expectation. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Around The Blogosphere: June 7, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on June 7th, 2011

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

General News

  • Big Ten tournament to rotate between Chicago, Indianapolis: “When Indianapolis’ five-year contract as the host of the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament expires in 2012, the event will begin rotating between the United Center in Chicago and Conseco Fieldhouse.” (Inside the Hall)
  • Pat Chambers: From Wildcat to Lion: The former Boston University coach and Villanova assistant takes over at Penn State. (VU Hoops)
  • Dre Winston Jr. Transferring From WSU, Ken Bone Searching For Backup Point Guard Tree: The rising sophomore guard has decided to transfer. (Coug Center)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 06.06.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 6th, 2011

  1. The weekend started off with Penn State finding themselves a basketball coach. Pat Chambers will leave Boston University to take over the Nittany Lions, with Penn State AD Tim Curley announcing that Chambers brings “proven success, an appreciation of and commitment to Penn State ideals, and the energy and enthusiasm required to compete at the highest level” to the table. The third of those is true. We’ll take his word on the second. But the first? “Proven success?” We suppose it’s technically true, since in his two seasons as a head coach at BU, Chambers posted a 42-28 record and took the Terriers to two postseasons (CBI in 2010, NCAA in 2011). It’s just strange hearing someone at Penn State described as having “proven success” after two seasons as a head coach, considering the old guy who’s currently got his feet propped up over in the football coach’s office.
  2. What’s this? Bill Self in a shiny silk green shirt and a gold chain? His wife in a rainbow dress and go-go boots? Fear not, Jayhawks, your coach and his wife haven’t lost their minds nor their fashion sense. The occasion for such sartorial splendor was Bill’s Basketball Boogie, a charity event co-chaired by Mrs. Self that offers attendees the chance to break out their disco-era garb. Sounds like it was hoppin’, with around 700 guests, but the one who stood out the most was not in costume at all. Rather, he donned his customary shirt-and-tie, just like he did on his recruiting visit (this is rare) to Kansas. Naadir Tharpe sounds like one of those kids for whom it’s easy to root.
  3. Can you believe it’s been nearly 25 years since Indiana won its last national title? Upon his arrival in Bloomington, Tom Crean was handed the keys to a Hindenberg-esque pile of wreckage and was asked to make it fly again. If you’re around the guy for even a few seconds, you can tell how much he cares about his players as individuals and about reviving the winning tradition at IU. And with a nice little recruiting class coming in, maybe this is the year that things start to turn for the Hoosiers. If it doesn’t, we’ll bet that Crean’s/IU’s detractors and rivals will throughout the year be repeating a quote that operates as part of the headline to this story from a Louisville television station: “All that’s left is the winning.”
  4. As the basketball world knows, Shaquille O’Neal formally retired from hoops on Friday with a legacy as one of the greatest big men to ever play the game.  We’ve been on record as saying we’ve never before or since seen a combined package of power, agility and athleticism as canned in one player at 17 years old as we did in 1989 when Shaq hit the LSU campus.  This piece from the Monroe (LA) News-Star gave a brief glimpse into the player Shaq was to become at the LSU media days event when O’Neal was still an unknown freshman — some 22 years later, we can’ t say that we’re surprised that Shaq was already commanding the center of attention.
  5. It’s been one year since the great John Wooden passed, and as Victoria Sun writes in this piece, UCLA’s Black Alumni Association hosted a private fundraiser on Saturday to commemorate the Wizard’s progressive view on race relations.  Even at this point, we’re still learning about the greatness of this man’s life.  It turns out that in 1946, nearly two decades before the national civil rights movement resulted in the banishment of Jim Crow, Wooden stood up for one of his players — a black player — named Clarence Jackson whom NAIA officials would not let play in their national tournament in Kansas City.  He was a bench player — not a star by any stretch — and yet Wooden, cognizant of the injustice of such racism decades before most of his peers, pulled his team from the tournament.  This may just seem trite to some of our readers too young to know the difference, but let’s be explicit about this — as hard as it was to take a stand like this in the mid-60s at the height of the civil rights movement, it was nearly unheard of in the 1940s.  Most people simply didn’t think that way at that time, and the fact that Wooden not only sensed the unfairness but did something about it speaks volumes about the character of this man.  A national treasure, he.
Share this story

Morning Five: 05.31.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2011

  1. The biggest news involving college sports on Monday was the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel after ten very successful seasons amidst swirling allegations of misconduct involving at least 28 of his players trading memorabilia for tattoos, marijuana and cash (as reported by SI).  Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t involve this site unless the allegations leaked over to the basketball program, but speculation on Twitter and around the web about whether Tressel may face a show-cause penalty set off a mini-firestorm among several going back and forth over Kentucky’s John Calipari as a basketball equivalent (Searching for Billy Edelin noted several others here).  Calipari himself added a little fuel to the fire with his tweet on Monday night needling “the triumvirate and compadres” for their “radio silence” with respect to positive stories surrounding the Kentucky program, one of which was Brett McMurphy’s piece Monday on Cal’s association with Dick Vitale’s Jimmy V gala recently and his general philanthropy.  Remember the mantra when it comes to Calipari: loved, hated but never ignored.
  2. After quite a few names thrown around in recent days (including the itinerant Larry Brown of all people), Penn State appears closer to making a hire to replace abruptly-departed Ed DeChellis.  Andy Katz reported on Monday that three names were likely candidates — Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, Boston University’s Pat Chambers, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter — with Everhart confirmed as interviewing at PSU on Tuesday.  Frankly, Penn State fans would likely be thrilled with any of those three, as each has shown a proven capability of success at the mid-major level, but recruiting a winner to a basketball wasteland with a low (for Big Ten standards) salary will require a rather compelling pitch from AD Tim Curley.
  3. Welcome to next year.  One of the first jobs that new Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin has in front of him is to face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in two weeks to answer for allegations that occurred under the previous guy’s direction (a jocular dude named Bruce Pearl; remember him?).  The Vols don’t expect that any probation ultimately coming their way will involve a postseason ban, but they expect to at least lose a scholarship for a year or two and have some restrictions placed on his recruiting.  We’re not sure exactly what Martin will be asked to say at this hearing other than “yes, sir” and “no, sir,” but we’re quite certain that he’ll be hoping all the while that his appearance at this sort of thing in Indianapolis will be his last.
  4. Mike DeCourcy writes about the five teams that he believes have a pretty good shot at ending NCAA Tournament droughts next season.  We won’t spoil the surprise other than to say that Ivy League fans based in Cambridge are not going to be happy with their exclusion from this list — 66 years!  Truthfully, though, his five are eminently reasonable, although choosing Northwestern to come through is probably just as dubious as referencing John Harvard’s school on any kind of such list.
  5. An elite Class of 2012 guard named RJ Hunter from Indianapolis recently committed to Georgia State over notable BCS-level schools Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Iowa.  Um, why would a player receiving offers from those schools commit to Georgia State?  Turns out that the school had a bit of an advantage in his recruiting process — his father, Ron Hunter, recently took the head coaching job at GSU in Atlanta after nearly two decades at IUPUI.  RJ said that Bryce Drew’s experience playing for his dad, Homer, at Valparaiso had an influence on his decision, and we’ve seen in recent years as Ray McCallum, Jr., and Trey Ziegler both had successful freshman seasons playing for their old men at mid-majors Detroit and Central Michigan, respectively, last year.  Good for him.
Share this story

Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East conference.

A Look Back

  • Believe It or Not: Ripley’s should consider sponsoring the America East this season, because the standing are mind-boggling. Hartford (6th in the preseason coaches poll, 3-10 OOC) went into the week on top of the league, before being overtaken by the undefeated Binghamton Bears (who were tabbed 7th, and were also 3-10 outside the America East)
  • Don’t Play for New Hampshire, Kids: After Alvin Abreu, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, from last year went down with a season ending injury, sophomore Ferg Myrick stepped into the lead scoring role and showed promise of being one of the better players in the league, that is until he ruptured a patella tendon. There’s been about five similar cases in the last half decade… are the Wildcats turning into the Clippers?
  • Who’s On Top?: Vermont handled upstart Albany, while Boston University dropped a game to Maine on the road. Then Maine lost to Hartford at home. Then BU beat Vermont in Boston. Then Hartford lost on the road to a hobbled New Hampshire squad after blowing a huge early lead. If you figure out who is going to win the league, let me know.

Power Rankings

1) Vermont (11-4, 2-1): Vermont stumbled away at Boston University and were actually down at halftime to Albany. The Catamounts are the still the most consistent team in the league because they play harder, make smart plays and control the boards. But leader Evan Fjeld has been slowed for a couple of games, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up his production during conference play.

2) Maine (9-7, 3-1): Maine dropped a two-point decision on their home floor to a then-streaking Hartford team. It was a tough loss after a banner victory over Boston University to open the season. Forward Troy Barnies has worked himself into an All-Conference player, out of nowhere. The senior big man leads the team in points (13.3 PPG) and rebounds (7.3 RPG).

3) Boston University (7-10, 2-1): Boston Univesity received forward Jeff Pelage back from injury and his return has been a boon to the team. He is still well off 100%, but coach Pat Chambers is clearly pleased to have his muscular rebounding specialist back- played him significant minutes. Keep an eye out for rookie point guard DJ Irving after he abused Vermont’s weak defense guard play for many open layups. The talent on the team is starting to come together- if it does, the rest of the America East could be in trouble

4) Hartford (5-11, 2-1): Hartford embarrassed Albany to take first place in the AE standings, but then blew an enormous lead to a weak New Hampshire team. Morgan Sabia has been putting up the numbers for this team, but Milton Burton has been exceptional in the middle of a 1-3-1 zone. The 6’5 senior has wrecked havoc for opposing teams and leads the league in steals (2.2 SPG).

5) Binghamton (6-10, 3-0): Kudos to the Bearcats for the hot start to the conference and especially for doing it without leading scorer Greer Wright, who has been sidelined with an injury, but we still have no proof this team will compete in the America East. Their wins are over the three worst teams in the league, but, if Mahamoud Jabbi keeps playing like a all-league player (17 points, 14 rebounds in a win over UMBC) who knows…

6) Albany (8-11, 1-3): Albany had a very tough opening schedule, but just hasn’t been able to spring the upsets. Against Maine at home, they had the ball in a tie game with 40 seconds left, and both a seven-foot floater and a mid-range jump shot didn’t fall. Tim Ambrose has been slipping, so Albany will need more aggression from point guard Mike Black and the oft-quiet bench and bigs.

7) Stony Brook (6-9, 1-2): Stony Brook sandwiched a loss to Cornell in between similar outcomes to Vermont and Binghamton. The talent on this team is young, but they do no look ready to compete. Marcus Rouse stepped up on offense, but there hasn’t been much else. A lot of youth and talent on this team that might have come together under the insane effort of Tommy Brenton, but for now, the season appears lost.

8) New Hampshire (7-9, 1-3): Yes, they beat Hartford and yes, they still have two of the more talented players in the league, Dane DiLiegro and Tyrone Conley. But even their comeback might have a drawback – Conley is well known for shunning his athleticism to pop from deep and a 6-10 game from three against Hartford will likely encourage him to keep chucking the ball.

9) UMBC (1-15, 0-3): Free hugs! If you’re team is on a skid, there might be a leftover Christmas surprise if UMBC is waiting on your schedule.

A Look Ahead

Are You For Real?

  • Perhaps we’ll find out when Binghamton travels to Maine. If Binghamton holds onto the top spot in the league after that road trip, time to start giving credit to Bearcats. (January 15)
  • Boston University at Albany: The Danes gave Maine fits in Albany but let the game slip through their fingers- will they have more luck against the Terriers? (January 15)
  • Maine at Vermont: Two of the best teams in the league go head to head, don’t be shocked if this is an AE Championship preview. (January 18)
Share this story