Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
In honor of President’s Day, RTC is putting together the Mount Rushmores of the six power conferences. For all the history in the SEC, picking four who represent all of basketball proved difficult and will surely (hopefully) create good debate. So without any delay, here’s the Mount Rushmore of SEC basketball:
Adolph Rupp – Kentucky: Rupp, a fixture on the Mount Rushmore for all of college basketball easily earned one of the four coveted spots. Rupp learned under Phog Allen while playing at Kansas, then came to Kentucky and ultimately passed Allen before retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball history. His Wildcat teams won four NCAA titles (1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958) and 27 SEC titles in his 41 years on the bench. In 11 of those years, he posted undefeated seasons in SEC play. In SEC Tournament play, he posted a 57-6 record with 13 more titles. During the height of his reign, he made it nearly impossible for teams to win at Kentucky. Rupp authored the longest home court winning streak in Division I history, winning 129 straight from January 4, 1943, to January 8, 1955. As part of his legacy, his name adorns the current Wildcat home court, Rupp Arena, the student section is named the eRUPPtion Zone, and one of the major national player of the year awards is the Adolph F. Rupp Trophy.
Pete Maravich – LSU: When your conference boasts the all-time leading scorer in Division I despite only getting to play three seasons due to an NCAA rule prohibiting freshmen from playing for the varsity team, you can guarantee another spot on Mount Rushmore. Combine his mythical status and ball-handling wizardry, the choice of Pete Maravich is almost as easy as Rupp. He still holds 15 NCAA records and owns the top scoring seasons for a sophomore, junior, and senior. On the LSU freshman team, he scored an additional 741 points and averaged 43.6 points per game. The Sporting News, AP, and UPI named Maravich a First-Team All-America in 1968, 1969, and 1970. In 1970, he claimed the Naismith Award and Player of the Year awards from The Sporting News and the USBWA. Like Rupp, Maravich’s name lives on as the Tigers play in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.
The Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED..…that the Big Ten announced Sunday it’s not looking to expand in the near future. This recent movement between conferences has been fine and dandy, but I’m all for reeling things in a little bit now rather than continuing to strengthen/expand the big boys. We like conferences in college basketball for a reason – their identities. Teams in the ACC get up and down, the Big East is super physical… etc. Let’s keep expansion under control and preserve that uniqueness.
Twelve is Apparently Enough
I LOVED…..a coach with no filter. Yes, Bruce Pearl, we’re talking about you. You were always one to let fly with a zinger once you got to UT. You spilled the beans about the rules you broke recently, and when given the chance, you had no problem lining up a zinger at a former UT employee.
“I’ve made mistakes, I clearly did, but what I was hoping for was that some other dumb%#& would get on the front page and take me off the hook,” Pearl said. “I miss Lane Kiffin.”
Thank heavens you’re still around Bruce, because we’d miss you.
I LOVED…..legacies getting into the act. On one hand we had Michael Jordan’s son, Marcus, making noise with his 18 points in a Central Florida upset over the freefalling Florida Gators. That sure beats making the headlines because you refuse to wear anything but Daddy’s shoes.
Then there’s Tyler Summit at Tennessee. The son of legendary UT women’s coach Pat Summit, baby-faced Tyler stepped onto the court — named after mom — during garbage time and promptly nailed a three. Sure he dipped his knees all the way and hoisted it up like he was ten years old (a distinct possibility), but you can’t argue with results.
I LOVED…..watchingthe ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and all interconference challenges for that matter. It’s great for a number of reasons. One, it gives us monster matchups like Duke-Michigan State, and is great for the fans. Two, it tests teams early on and makes them play in hostile environments, even if their coach would prefer otherwise (yes, Coach K, we’re talking about you and your affinity for neutral court non-conference games). And three, it gives us a decent way to peg different conferences early in the year – like how the ACC is down again.
WYN2K. Someone in PR at the Mid-Continent Conference decided that the league needed to be rebranded to effectively portray the goals and ideals of its member institutions. Hence, the Summit, which immediately reminds us of the orange and white monstrosity court at the University of Tennessee, but which league commish Tom Douple stated, represents “the top in athletics and academics.” Good luck with that, Tom. In the spirit of change, the league’s most well-known school (at least for hoops), Valparaiso, left for the Horizon League, while it added three new members – Indiana/Purdue-Fort Wayne (IPFW – shouldn’t it be IUPUFW?), North Dakota St., and South Dakota St. Of the three, only IPFW will be eligible for the league championship this season, as the Dakota schools will have to wait until 2008-09.
Predicted Champion. Oakland (#14 seed NCAA). We see four teams with championship credentials in this league, but Oakland stands out to us as the team most ready to take over the top spot from Oral Roberts. The small school from suburban Detroit (not California) returns three starters from a squad that finished second in both the regular season and tournament, and played ORU very tough in its last two meetings (Oakland won by 1 pt at home, but lost in the MCC championship game by 4 pts). Despite losing all-MCC player Vova Severovas, the Golden Grizzlies will have a superb backcourt led by Eric Kangas, an exceptional shooter who made 109 threes while shooting 43% from deep last year. Oakland is also expecting a big contribution from Rutgers transfer Dan Waterstradt, a 6’10 forward who possesses size and ability that most big men at this level do not have. We also like Oakland in close games – last year it’s ft% (76.9%) was third in the nation.
Others Considered. We’re not sure who will be the second-best team in the Summit, so we copped out and predicted a three-way tie among the next tier of teams – Oral Roberts, North Dakota St., and IUPUI. IUPUI is the media/coaches pick to win the league, with three of its top four scorers returning as well as guard George Hill, the presumptive best player in the league who had a broken foot that kept him out of action last season. Our main concern with IUPUI is whether Hill will be able to seamlessly transition into the backcourt after a productive first season from guards Austin Montgomery and Gary Patterson, the top two vote-getters for newcomer of the year. If things are rosy, IUPUI could make a run at the title. Another team we considered was North Dakota St., an independent last season who ran off twenty wins (20-8) including a win at Marquette (64-60) and near-misses vs. Texas Tech (81-85) and Kansas St. (81-83). NDSU isn’t eligible for the league title, but it returns four starters and seven of its top eight scorers. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they ended up with the league’s regular season crown? We’d be remiss if we didn’t also consider two-time defending league champion Oral Roberts as well. Scott Sutton returns a lot of players, but we can’t overlook the two he lost – Caleb Green and Ken Tutt, who combined for six all-conference selections, three POY awards (all Green), and scored over 4500 pts (!!!) for the program. If ORU’s depth, and there is plenty of that, can overcome the loss of those two stalwarts, we might just see the Golden Eagles in March again this year.
Games to Watch. The Summit will play a true round-robin of 18 games each, so there will be ample opportunity for each team to distinguish itself against the other good teams.
IUPUI @ Oral Roberts (01.17.08) & Oral Roberts @ IUPUI (02.16.08)
Oral Roberts @ Oakland (01.12.08) & Oakland @ Oral Roberts (02.07.08)
The Summit Championship Game (03.11.08) ESPN
RPI Booster Games. The Summit loves its Big 12 and Big 10 teams. Last year the league went 2-22 (.083) against BCS teams, with Oral Roberts pulling one of the biggest early-season shockers of last year (ORU 78, #3 Kansas 71) as well as defeating Seton Hall 76-74. There are some good opportunities this year, and several of them will be televised:
North Dakota St. @ Florida (11.09.07)
IUPUI @ Marquette (11.10.07) ESPN FC
UMKC @ Kansas (11.11.07) ESPN FC
Oral Roberts @ Texas A&M (11.13.07) ESPNU
Oakland @ Michigan St. (11.24.07)
Texas Tech @ Centenary (12.01.07) ESPN FC
North Dakota St. @ Minnesota (12.03.07)
Wichita St. @ UMKC (12.15.07)
Oral Roberts @ Oklahoma St. (12.20.07) ESPN2
Oregon @ Oakland (12.22.07) ESPNU
Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. Still none, although we wish they’d let NDSU into the Summit League Tournament just to see what might happen if they won.
Neat-o Stat. By most objective measures, Western Illinois was one of the worst teams in America last year. Its record was 7-23 and its offensive and defensive efficiencies were among the bottom fifty. However, it was also one of the unluckiest teams in America, losing two more games than would be expected by its overall statistical profile and losing eight games by four points or less, the most such instances in the nation.
64/65-Team Era. The history of the league shows that the MCC has had a tendency for one team to dominate for a while before ceding its power to another. From 1987-1990, Southwest Missouri St. won four consecutive NCAA bids. After a few years of several teams winning the league, Valparaiso started its run of seven NCAA bids in nine years in 1996. The last two years Oral Roberts has been winning the bids, with a great shot at a third straight this season. Over the 23-year era, the league has a solid low-major record of 8-23 (.258) in the NCAA Tournament, including two trips to the Sweet 16 (1986 – #14 Cleveland St.; 1998 – #13 Valparaiso). Unfortunately, in the nine years since that Bryce Drew-led run by Valpo, the league has lost its first round game (avg: #15.0 seed) by an average of 21.7 pts (excluding the 2005 PiG, where Oakland, with a 13-19 overall record, defeated Alabama A&M 79-69). Speaking of young Mr. Drew…
Note: video cannot be embedded, so double-click on the YouTube logo above to get it to play.
Final Thought. Notwithstanding the name change, the Summit appears to be a league in transition. Oral Roberts has already shown a commitment toward building a serious program by keeping Scott Sutton on board with a seven-year contract extension. Oakland and IUPUI have also shown signs of long-term progress, and a newcomer like North Dakota St. is well positioned to be competitive in the league immediately. Last year the league earned its highest computer rankings (mid-teens) of the last decade and even with the loss of Valpo, the conference should have enough talent in its top half to keep it among the best of the low majors.
JT3 gets himself a well-deserved raise (reportedly doubling his salary to $900k) and extension through 2013 at Georgetown, although he’s still grossly underpaid. He’ll have to start the 2007-08 season without backup PG Chris Wright, however, due to a broken foot. Wright is expected back later this season.
Considerable speculation over Duke Crews’ suspension ended when the Tennesseean reported that a bag of maryjane was found in his dorm room.
JJ Redick don’t play like dat, and his brother will let you know it…
According to Six Pack Sports Report, Jim Calhoun hates kids with cancer b/c he won’t play Holy Cross. Speaking of which, the Coaches v. Cancer 2007 regional schedules are out – the ripest upset possibility now that HC isn’t allowed in? Oklahoma.
Staying in the Big East, we talked about Melo’s $3M gift the other day, but Storming the Floor reports that his charitable contributions for the year 2006 ranks #8 NATIONALLY among celebrities. Go, Melo.
STF also gets their preseason primer started with the eight must-watch nonconference games this year. Marco, no UNC-UK (Dec. 1) or Pitt-Duke (Dec. 20) for a crisp ten?
What’s left unsaid in Demarcus Nelson being named captain at Duke? How about Greg Paulus’ demotion – he was a tri-captain along with Nelson and McBob last year.
Making the Dance takes a look at the last 25 and 10 years worth of NCAA F4 appearances by conference. Solid first post, if we’re interpreting that correctly.
NCAA Hoops Today evaluates the Nike Hoop Summit to prep us on the freshmen to watch this season.
Mike DeCourcey asks ten questions that we should know the answers to this season.
In MSM-world, Hoops Weiss informs us that John Beilein has a tough road ahead at Michigan; Jeff Goodman at foxsports.com lets us know that Gonzaga isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; Seth Davis portrays Coach K as the energizer bunny that could; and Gary Parrish contends that the one-and-done “argument” has been settled for good. Oh, and Andy Katz tries to explain why NYC-area schools suck so badly.
In news of Armageddon-esque proportions, Bruce Pearl is getting divorced from his wife of 25 years:
The third-year Vols’ head coach separated from his 50-year-old wife after the team returned from an 11-day trip to Europe that took place Aug. 8-19. The divorce was filed in Knox County on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, according to a UT spokesperson.
Wait, something sounds eerily familiar here…
Pearl is the second high-profile Tennessee coach to announce the filing for a divorce in the past month. UT women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt filed for a divorce from her husband, R.B. Summitt, on Aug. 15 in Blount County Circuit Court, citing “irreconcilable differences.’’
Oh no. Oh Lord no.
This cannot be a coincidence.
Please please please let Pat Summit be post-menopausal!!!
Nothing like 100-degree heat to make you think college hoops, right:
Our future Prez (ca. 2016 unless some redneck jacks him first) was a baller! Barack Obama starred at D3 Occidental College back in the day (highlights here – let’s hope his FT shooting acumen is not indicative of a lack of concentration under pressure)
FAMU head coach Mike Gillespie was fired for stalking his ex-girlfriend – and yes, because you wouldn’t need a girlfriend unless it were so, he is married.
What the hell is going on at Ball St.? Coach Ronny Thompson (son of JT2) resigned in July, leaving in his wake an athletic dept smeared by his cries of racism and unfairness (also leaving a 9-22 first year record on the table). The two black Ws – Wilbon and Whitlock – chime in with conflicting viewpoints on the situation, and new head coach Billy Taylor (from Lehigh) is now left with a mess to clean up. Why couldn’t David Letterman take care of this?
The NCAA says no more Pembroke States and UC-Davises in D1 for four years.
Al Skinner is getting a raise from BC. He’d better sign that extension quickly because Tyrese Rice by himself probably can’t cash those checks in 2007-08.
Im-ass is getting sued for slander by one of the “nappy-headed hos” at Rutgers. The conservatorium is up in arms over this, but we’re not really following their logic – are they really saying that this woman (and her teammates) were not defamed by Imus’s comments? Seriously?
Celebrations ensue in Madison, Columbus and other places midwestern as the Big 10 Network released its 2008 hoops schedule. We’ve already circled that Feb. 6 tilt between Minnesota and Northwestern on our iPhone.
W4M: ISO orange-clad GOB who won’t be offended by mannish tendencies and spirited versions of Rocky Top. Must be willing to be dominated in life and bedroom. Appreciates the nuances and subtleties of women’s sports (read: boring and lame).
ESPN invented a way to air OJ Mayo three times early in the season – create a new Tournament! The Anaheim Classic features USC and a bunch of mid-majors. Expect to see The Juice Deux on tv a LOT this upcoming season.
We’ve never heard of an athletic department bailing out the academic side of the shop, but we’ve also never seen an athletic juggernaut like Florida either.
Gary Parrish exposes the seamier side of recruiting in this article. Wait, there’s a seamier side? We thought the whole thing was slimy to begin with.
MMAS puts forth its summer thoughts in two detailed postings about (mostly) BCS teams, but there are some valuable insights here. Btw, we agree about the Vols.
The WWL has an interesting piece on how teams push the envelope with the rules to get an edge.
Rivals is well under way with its Top 64 teams of 2007-08.
The MAAC conference tournament gave us another buzzer-beater last night. Saint Peter’s guard Desi Washington rushed down the court and nailed a trey to eliminate Fairfield 65-62 on Washington’s THIRD game-winning buzzer-beater against the Stags this season.
Clown, thy name is UCSB fan. Although players and coaches alike are expected to behave professionally, fans also have a responsibility to contain themselves. Incidents like last night’s approach by a rabid UCSB fan are dangerous for everyone involved.