Morning Five: 08.08.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 8th, 2011

  1. John Pelphrey’s doing fine, thanks, and he appreciates your asking. The firing from Arkansas still stings a little, but he’s back at Florida as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a position he’s held before to considerable acclaim. While he seems happy to be back in a familiar place doing a job he loves, being a head coach again at a “network conference” school is something he won’t (and shouldn’t) allow to fall off his radar. We like following the career arcs of coaches in situations similar to the one Pelphrey’s in right now, to see how and where they bounce back.
  2. Last week,’s Luke Winn stepped up with yet another tour de force, this time an in-depth examination of the “commitment behaviors” of players listed as top-100 recruits in the recruiting rankings. Winn and his staff put some serious time into this investigation, so we don’t want to give away all of his findings, but his data revealed — and this is just one interesting factoid among many in the article — that kids who transferred high schools were almost twice as likely to eventually back out of a college commitment. Fascinating stuff here in the midst of these days of extreme college basketball “fickleness,” as Winn describes it.
  3. It’s only a matter of time until those rudimentary free markets and the walls at, say, People’s Basketball Collective #17 are awash with Duke merchandise and photos of the inestimable Mike Krzyzewski, if they aren’t already. We hope they’ve packed their guidebooks and downloaded those vocal translator apps, because the Blue Devils are off to China next weekend with a little side jaunt to Dubai thrown in there, too. Not only will the 13-day trip help Coach K see how his five new incoming frosh fit in with his returning charges, but, as Krzyzewski says, it also helps forward their “initiative to become a global entity.” Wait, you mean…they weren’t one?
  4. Last month, Notre Dame incoming freshman Eric Katenda was in Washington DC playing a pick-up game. He went up for a rebound, came down, and an opposing player went for the ball, but hit Katenda in the left eye…severing his optic nerve. While there’s plenty of research out there aimed at regenerating optic nerve tissue after it’s been cut, medical science isn’t far enough along right now to help Katenda regain his vision in that eye, so his college basketball career is already in question and he hasn’t even fully enrolled yet. We hate hearing things like this and we can’t imagine the disappointment Eric is feeling, but we were happy to read that Notre Dame still plans to honor the young man’s scholarship, whatever happens.
  5. Herb Magee has amassed 922 wins in his coaching career, ALL at Philadelphia University, and as of 48 hours ago he assumed his rightful place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. We’re sure you’ve already heard of Coach Magee and his coaching excellence, and how he’s known as The Shot Doctor. But that’s not just because he’s good at helping others with their form from distance. In his day, Magee could — actually, he still can — make it rain. He scored 2,235 points in his career (that’s 24.0 PPG) and was known as Baby Jesus, a nickname you don’t earn in Philly unless you deserve it. If he’d have had the three-point line, his numbers would have been even more impressive. The Philadelphia Inquirer did a great piece on Magee and his shooting prowess a day ahead of his HOF induction, and we recommend it highly. We love how Magee’s friends rib him about how his #4 jersey that hangs in the gym’s rafters isn’t so much his jersey number as it is his career assist total. Outstanding.
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Morning Five: 03.01.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 1st, 2010

It’s all over in Vancouver, and we admit that when there was no college hoops to be found, we caught a couple hours of it.  So we’ll sort of miss those tape-delayed images of Shaun White doing tricks, Bode Miller occasionally zooming down hills, Apolo Ohno whizzing around ovals, and Lindsey Vonn doing…well, doing just about anything. But this month, above all others, belongs to college basketball.  Welcome to March, people...

  1. Even though Philadelphia University’s Herb Magee is reeling him in for this particular title, Northern State’s Don Meyer is considered the winningest NCAA men’s basketball coach of all time because the NCAA counts ALL wins at all four-year colleges as long as the coach spent at least ten years at NCAA schools.  Meyer, who announced a week ago that he would retire at the end of this season, coached his final game on Saturday night — a loss to Southwest Minnesota State.  Meyer retires with a record of 923-324. Much respect, sir.  Godspeed and good health to you.
  2. Temple got seven threes from Juan Hernandez in leading Temple to a 65-53 win over La Salle on Sunday, but the victory didn’t just improve the Owls’ record to 24-5 and keep them in a tie with Xavier atop the Atlantic 10 (both 12-2).  Their perfect 4-0 record against the other member schools won them the Big 5 title for this year.  If you don’t think that means anything to anyone, consider the Big 5 creed: “They say there is no real prize for winning the Big 5.  They must not be from Philly.”
  3. A day ahead of his team possibly taking over the top spot in the rankings, Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson is enjoying the ride, and admits that he never could have predicted that the Orange would have ever been considered the #1 team in the land this year in a Skype interview he did with Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman on Sunday.
  4. In an article by Lexington Herald-Leader writer Jerry Tipton, Kentucky chief John Calipari claims that a couple of his players were “sleepwalking” through the whole game.  He doesn’t specifically name the somnambulists, but — careful not to take anything away from the Volunteers’ effort — he cites a combination of the quick turnaround from Thursday’s late game against South Carolina and (more alarmingly) what he feels is inexperience among some of his players in preparing themselves for important games.  Given Calipari’s recent statement about just wanting to “get on to the tournament,” it’s a legitimate question to ask:  has ennui crept into the Wildcat camp?
  5. Seriously, Steve Alford?  Yes, you are hearing correctly, Alford really does call Jonathan Tavernari that name right at the end.  This sure makes the chance of a New Mexico-BYU rematch in the finals of the Mountain West tournament an exciting prospect.  In the meantime, maybe someone can get Alford to echo his mentor by saying, “If Tavernari wants to sit down and talk with me…I’ll explain things to him!”  Come on, Coach.  You’re better than this.

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Philadelphia University’s Magee Tries For #903 Tonight

Posted by jstevrtc on February 23rd, 2010

Herb Magee goes for his 903rd win as a college basketball coach tonight as he and his Philadelphia University Rams host Goldey-Beacom College.  A win this evening, if it happens, will put Magee at the top of the all-time NCAA wins list for a men’s basketball coach.  Magee tied Bobby Knight on that list this past Saturday by achieving his 902nd win in a buzzer-beater against Post University.

It’s easy to tilt our heads, offer a short patronizing applause, and then forget about men like Magee, or like Don Meyer, the all-time wins leader for a men’s college coach (many of his wins came at Lipscomb when they were a member of the NAIA) who announced that he’d be retiring at the end of this season, because they don’t coach at the so-called “elite” level.  But these men don’t need our patronization.  They don’t coach basketball because it’s cute, because it’s easy — yeah, you try it — or because they want attention.  Magee (and certainly Meyer) could have had all the attention he wanted, given the number of offers he’s had for higher profile jobs.  These are men who coach basketball and stay at the Division II level or lower because this is where they feel they can best be both coaches and educators.  It’s where they feel they can do the most good for their student/athletes when teaching them about existence both on and off the basketball floor, and/or because they know that the brighter spotlight inherent in the higher-profile jobs also comes with innumerable extra headaches that might compromise what they’re really out to achieve.

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Morning Five: 02.22.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on February 22nd, 2010

  1. Appropriately, we begin with D2 Philadelphia University’s head coach Herb Magee winning his 902nd game on Saturday, which ties Bobby Knight for first place on the all-time NCAA victories list for a men’s basketball coach.  Magee, to whom the guys from our Backdoor Cuts feature devoted their column last week, has been at Philadelphia for 50 years — as a player from 1959-63, an assistant coach from 1963-67, and head coach since then — but his record-tying win wasn’t secured until the game’s very last second, when Philadelphia U.’s Jim Connolly hit a three-pointer to win it over Post University, 70-67.  Magee will go for win #903 at home against Goldey-Beacom College on Tuesday.
  2. Great stuff here from The Big Lead.  If you’re a college basketball player, it’s always important to listen to your coach, right?  Especially in a very important late-February game between a conference’s two best teams.  That can be tough, depending on what distractors are in the area.  In Saturday’s intense Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt game, while John Calipari was drawing up a play during a time out, the Wildcats’ DeMarcus Cousins was busted eyeballing an undeniably strong distractor in the form of a certain ESPN sideline reporter, not that we’re castin’ any stones…
  3. New York Times college sports reporter (and excellent tweeter) Pete Thamel had the privilege of spending his Saturday in Tempe, Arizona, the site of the secret little talks going on between USC and the NCAA’s infractions committee.  He logs an excellent summary here, with the reactions of two USC coaches (one current, one former) catching our eye:  1) we were moved to downright guffaws by the moral ascendancy Tim Floyd appears to be claming, as he opined that appearing before the committee was “the right thing to do,” and 2) we loved Lane Kiffin’s admission after the three-day hearings, proclaiming “I’ve never moved less in a 72-hour period,” which was only slightly shorter than his tenure in Knoxville.
  4. We also give Mr. Thamel an assist on this one, which we started checking out because of a tweet of his (seriously, he’s really good)…but it just keeps getting worse for Binghamton.  They’re now down to two coaches, now that assistant Marc Hsu has been placed on leave following a report by the school alleging that Hsu gave money to a player and did coursework for several members of the team.  Hsu hasn’t been on the bench for the last three games, and this suspension is indefinite.
  5. Oklahoma’s Willie Warren missed Saturday’s loss to Kansas State due to mononucleosis, a diagnosis that also caused him to sit out the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State two games ago.  Warren played in the loss at Colorado this past Wednesday, which struck us as odd, given the debilitating nature of mono and the fact that the older you are when you get it, the worse you usually feel.  If you’ve never had it, it causes flu-like symptoms but it absolutely drains you of energy.  What’s worse, in some cases it can cause enlargement of the spleen, an organ you don’t want to bust open, which is why kids and adolescents with mono are told to stay away from contact sports/ballet/wrestling with siblings/etc until further notice — usually at least a month.  You can also still spread it (through saliva) anywhere from six to 18 months after having it, and even though most people recover to full strength, the only treatments are the tinctures of time and rest.  The Sooners aren’t going dancing this year, and Warren’s health comes first, so we couldn’t blame the OU program if official word soon came down that Warren was going to miss the rest of the year.  Mononucleosis is no picnic, despite the fact that it gets glossed over quite frequently, so we hope Warren is back to his old self soon.
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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. X

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys riff on an underappreciated legend from outside the ranks of high-major college hoops.

DAVE ZEITLIN: If there’s one thing I know about you guys, it’s that you love upsets. Well, if you need your fill, you don’t have to wait until March Madness. One of the greatest upsets of all-time is going to unfold next week, and hardly anyone is talking about it.  Bob Knight, one of the most recognized coaches in the world, will soon be passed as the NCAA all-time wins leader by Herb Magee, a man who probably wouldn’t even be recognized in his own city. On Saturday, the 68-year-old Magee, who coaches at Division II Philadelphia University, won his 900th career game. He now has 901 and should surpass Knight’s 902 wins as early as next week.

Philadelphia U Students Celebrate the 900th Win

Of course, some might say that coaching at the Division II level is a whole different ballgame. And it is. But that’s what makes Magee’s story so unique. He’s passed up many offers to coach at a higher level for weird reasons like not wanting to uproot his family and avoiding sleazy hanger-ons. Check out this line from a 2006 Sports Illustrated story: “Magee’s aversion to change means that he’s passed up incalculable amounts of money. But by staying at Philadelphia U, he’s also passed up recruiting wars, street agents, glad-handing, boosters, call-in shows, reality-deprived expectations, nonstop travel and websites devoted to his firing.” Here’s another gem from the same piece:

John Nash, a longtime NBA executive and childhood friend, once called Magee late at night asking why he wasn’t more interested in ascending the ladder.

“What are you doing right now, John?” Magee asked.

“Watching film,” said Nash.

“Me too,” Magee responded. “Mine’s called Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Now let’s think about the man he is going to pass. While Knight should be commended for always running a clean program, let’s be honest: he’s a bully. I’m sure he’s a fun guy to be around if you crack his inner circle, but it’s hard for any writer to like a man who consistently chastises the media (even though he’s now joined it) and once said, “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” (As if writing a column for Rush the Court isn’t the GREATEST thing.) Magee, on the other hand, has always been gracious with the very few media members he talks to, even as he conducts interviews in the hallway between his small gym and smaller office.

Now let’s think about the number for a second. 900. Look at the man. He looks like he could run a marathon with two basketballs tied to his back. I bet Magee, who’s nickamed the “Shot Doctor” (which, I must add, is a lot more tolerable than “The General”) would beat Bob Knight one-on-one, 11-0, blindfolded. (Magee scored over 2,000 points in college and was selected in the NBA draft; Knight was a reserve at Ohio State.)  Are the comparisons between these two fair? Probably not. And I’ve been told the two coaches have great respect for each other, with Magee once buying a $2 pamphlet called “Let’s Play Defense” from Knight when the two were younger — which has techniques that he still uses today.

Still, if you like upsets … if you like nice people more than mean people … if you like cute puppies more than this … then you should root for Magee to set the NCAA record. And since I doubt either of you two “Division I fans” know much about Magee, I’ll open the floor. Let’s hear some other underappreciated stories, places of people in the world of college basketball. And no, the St. Joes’ Hawk flapping its wings for an entire game doesn’t count.

MIKE WALSH: I pass …

Frankly, nothing I could come up even holds a candle to Magee, and this achievement is so noteworthy that I don’t think we have even begun to scratch the surface. And, I’m always down for a little Bobby Knight bashing, although my wife’s Indiana-based side of the family might disown me.

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03.02.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on March 1st, 2009

We have a weekend full of links for you today as I was sort of busy over the weekend. On Saturday there was the RTC Live from Storrs, CT on Senior Night/Day, which was followed by RTC Aftermath that recapped the event. On Sunday, I was busy running Boom Goes the Dynamite and making some new friends from Duke (see the comment section).

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