Morning Five: 10.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 12th, 2010

  1. Unfortunately, there will be more and more of this over the next few weeks as players get back to full practice sessions.  Penn State forward Sasa Borovnjak injured his knee last week during a workout and will have to miss the 2010-11 season due to a torn ACL.  This leaves head coach Ed DeChellis with only two returning players taller than 6’8, a proposition fraught with pitfalls in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten.
  2. Mike DeCourcy brings up the legal doctrine of respondent superior in a roundabout way in describing how the NCAA might evaluate UConn’s (and Jim Calhoun’s) defenses to over $14,000 in impermissible benefits.  His quote: “your program, your problem” rings true, and we wonder if we’re starting to look at a potentially ugly situation where the longtime coach who essentially built the program from scratch doesn’t know when it’s time to move on for the betterment and long-term stability of said program.
  3. Luke Winn ranks his top sixteen backcourts for the upcoming 2010-11 seasonDuke is quite obviously #1, with Michigan State, Georgetown and Villanova coming next in order.  Sounds about right.
  4. Fanhouse does a nice prognosticative (?) roundup of the major preseason publications that are already on the newsstands, finding that there’s (as always) a good deal of groupthink involved.  Not necessarily a bad thing, as last year’s Final Four teams were all ranked in the preseason top eleven of the AP poll, but we’re partial to publications that take a bit of a chance, and Blue Ribbon’s pick of Ohio State to get to the Four behind Jon Diebler, David Lighty, William Buford and Jared Sullinger is what we’re talking about.
  5. This is a good read from Steve Irvine at The Birmingham News about UAB’s Aaron Johnson, the Blazers’ senior leader and point guard who has experienced more than his share of ups and downs growing up in a tough Chicago neighborhood with eleven (!!!) brothers and sisters.  He’s set to graduate next spring and already has his sights on giving back to his family if he’s fortunate enough to find a professional paycheck somewhere down the line.  The 5’9 wisp of a player who averaged 10/5 APG last season will have trouble finding steady work stateside, but with his work ethic and perseverence we figure he’ll find that paycheck eventually.  Stories like this get us every time, so we’re definitely rooting for the kid.
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10.21.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2008

Let’s see if we can get through some of the news piling up…

  • CHN averages the rankings from the three preview magazines that are already out (Athlon, Lindy’s and TSN/S&S).  UNC still #1.  CHN gives us the mid-majors to keep an eye on this season as possible NCAA Cinderellas.  And here’s your EA Sports NCAA Basketball 09 Top 25 (now partnered with Blue Ribbon).  We know you were waiting for it.
  • Hahahahaha, so it appears the ACC is cooking the books Wachovia-style in an attempt to act like it has more televised games this year than it actually has. 
  • North Dakota Fighting Maize?  According to the North Dakota state legislature, the Fighting Sioux are out
  • Syracuse had best hope that Jonny Flynn doesn’t get hurt this season, as the Orange’s backup PG Scoop Jardine is redshirting.
  • Nevada starting guard Brandon Fields and two freshmen were charged with petty larceny last week, and suspended indefinitely.  Brilliance.  Oh, and Fields was all-academic WAC, proving that good grades doesn’t necessarily mean you have a brain. 
  • Seth Davis asks twenty questions as we get started with the 2008-09 season.  Gary Parrish has 24 things that he can’t wait to see this season, and his Top 26 teams.  Mike DeCourcy offers five things he hopes to see this year.
  • Katz hints on our issue with UConn as a F4 threat (zero postseason wins since 2006) in this story about Stanley Robinson.   He also provides us with a nice update of open questions as we head into the first week of practices. 
  • Yep, this is going to get old real, real fast.  Tyler Hansbrough, the symbol of all things good and merciful.   
  • Dan Hanner over at YABB throws us some love (thanks, Dan!), and does a breakdown of the preseason tournaments by school participation – cool concept. 
  • Truly, the most Epic Post of all-time.  Maybe the author wants to be an RTC correspondent???  Our fave blurbs were Florida and Colgate, fyi.
  • Being Cinderella (Davidson) can pay dividends.
  • This is pretty awesome over at STF – Drake U’u and Da’Veen Dildy are our favorites.  Honorable mention to An’Juan Wildnerness (isn’t that in Alaska?).
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2008-09 Season Preview

Posted by rtmsf on October 3rd, 2008

Yes, it’s that time again.  We at Rush the Court are 100% focused and ready to provide comprehensive coverage of every scrap of interesting news that occurs in college basketball this year.   The quips, the clips, the stats, and of course the commentary and analysis that so many of you come to this site for. 

We’re once again kicking off the five-month sprint from the November 10th opening tipoff  to the April 6th finish line in D-town with our Season Preview materials.  Will anyone be able to challenge the ridiculously loaded North Carolina Tar Heels for the crown?  Find out over the next several weeks as we roll out the following features beginning this weekend. 

1. Conference Primers – we have 31 correspondents lined up who are experts in each of the D1 conferences in NCAA basketball; they’ll be providing comprehensive primers on the names and games to watch for this season from the America East to the West Coast Conference.  Transitioning into the regular season, these correspondents will keep us up to date with their respective conferences as we roll on to March Madness 2009.

2. Feature Columnists – we also have several feature columnists lined up to write for us this year; one columnist will focus exclusively on Vegas odds in college basketball; another will provide quality pieces on timely issues facing the game at-large; and still another will provide an alternative voice to the one you’re already reading here every day.

3. Preseason Magazine Reviews – we did this last year, and will be doing this again this season with a few changes, including some additional analysis into the predictive acumen of these magazines.

4. Blogpoll - once again, we’ll be contributing to the preseason blogpoll and its various iterations as we progress through the season.

5.  Projected Bracket – we’re not satisfied with simply letting the correspondents have all the fun with preseason predictions; we too will be updating a projected bracket as we get closer to opening tipoff.

5. 30 Reasons – just for fun, we’re going to provide a new YouTube feature to get everyone riled up and excited for the new season: Where 2008-09 Happens – 30 Reasons We Love College Basketball.

7. Anything Else – we’ll continue with our usual fare of linkage and thought-provoking (gulp…) commentary where appropriate. If anyone has an idea of something else they’d like to see, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

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Breaking Down the Preseason Mags… pt. 3

Posted by rtmsf on October 21st, 2007

A month ago we gave you our reviews of the Athlon and Lindy’s preseason mags.

We’ve been busy plugging away at the conference previews, but in the interim, a few more mags have hit the shelves. So here’s the third installment of our continuing series of reviews of the preseason magazines.

Next Up: Sporting News/Street & Smith’s.

Note: Yes, TSN and S&S, two of the oldest and most respected preview issues, have joined forces this year on their college basketball preview. It remains to be seen whether this is a good idea.

TSN / S&S Cover 08

I. Covers (5 pts) - are they cool? inclusive?

  • 12 regional covers hitting only the BCS conferences. Definitely a major conference bias here.
  • Coolest Cover – see above – one thing we really like is that most of the covers are full-color action shots. The Roy Hibbert (getting serviced by Vandy’s Ross Neltner?) and Mario Chalmers shots are our favs after Richard Hendrix above. Great cover.
  • Oops. The Athlon, Lindy’s and TSN issues all use the exact same action shot for Brook Lopez of Stanford on their Pac-10 cover. Unfortunately for Cardinal fans, Lopez is not reaching for a textbook.
  • Total Points = 4

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

  • Not a fan of their setup here. They divide the conferences into high, mid, and low-major categories, then list them alphabetically within each section. Quick – is the Big West a mid-major or low-major league? The MAC? How about the Southern Conference? TSN considers the MAC a high major (???) and the others as mid-majors, which means we were flipping all over the place to find these leagues. Difficult navigation.
  • Within the league, they then list each team by predicted order of finish. Typical fare here.
  • Standard format otherwise – roundup, features, analysis of teams, recruiting, stats and schedules in that order.
  • Total Points = 2.5

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

  • The Late, Late Show is a short article explaining the basis behind TSN’s pick of UCLA as the #1 team in America.
  • Decourcy’s Directives are short narratives on the following topics: Coach Calipari’s calculations; Don’t Cry for Duke; One-and-Outs to Watch; and, Recipe for a Championship. The only interesting information here is in the Recipe section, which explains that most national champions for the last 20 yrs have had at least one NBA-caliber big man and guard on their roster (exceptions: MSU-2000; Arkansas-1994; Syracuse-2003).
  • TSN also provides three teams of All-Americans, led by seven sophomores and two freshmen among the fifteen. We like that they took some chances, going with Eric Gordon (Indiana) and Chase Budinger (Arizona) on the first team over some of the better-known names.
  • There is also a Top 25 with a couple of sentences describing each team’s strengths, but it is notable that TSN doesn’t bother with predicting the NCAA field anywhere within the magazine.
  • There is one page devoted to listing the Top 100 freshmen, but rather than listing them #1-#100, they made a confounding decision to order them geographically (all-east, all-south, etc.) and then alphabetically. There’s no way to intelligently distinguish OJ Mayo (all-east) from Edwin Rios (all-south).
  • Another page lists transfers eligible this season and next, but again they’re not ranked in any discernible manner. This page also lists all the coaching changes from the offseason.
  • Overall, this section is incredibly weak compared to the other previewed magazines, and especially considering that TSN and S&S were once considered the bibles of this genre. We literally learned nothing new in this section.
  • Total Points = 3

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

  • Features – what features? There is only one feature article, which if we said was shocking would be severely understating our sentiment. So surely that one article has something to do with this season, right? Nah. Try Whatever Happened To… Teddy Dupay, JR Van Hoose and Dane Fife, three (white) players who were HS stars ten years ago but didn’t ultimately make it to the League. Don’t get us wrong, we actually appreciate the concept of an article like this. The problem is that it’s the only feature article TSN felt necessary to give us in the entire magazine. That’s beyond unacceptable, especially when you consider the cache of writers that TSN has at its disposal.
  • Cheerleaders. Ok, we enjoy a photo collage of college cheerleaders as much as the next guy, but the only other “feature” that TSN insults us with offers us is a five-page spread of various gals in tricky positions. Again, this just seem so beneath TSN and S&S to pull out the cheerleader photo section to try to increase sales. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that they just don’t care anymore. Good grief – they even put the Duke cheerleaders in the spread (Doherty was right)!!
  • FWIW, the Texas gal on p. 21 is absolutely scorching hot, with nods to Miss UCLA and Miss Florida on p.19. Surprisingly, we found Miss Kentucky (p.20) to be one of the fugliest of the group, along with Miss Hawaii (p.19). And Miss Wichita St. (p.18) can bend in ways that aren’t quite believable.
  • Total Points = 3

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

  • TSN’s Top 25 is pretty standard issue big conference fodder. They do put Memphis at #2, Gonzaga at #12 and Xavier at #25, but every other team is a BCS school. Since there are no NCAA predictions, we can only assume their top 4 is their predicted F4, which would mean UCLA, Memphis, UNC and Kansas are their choices.
  • Big Conference Bias. Assuming top 16 = Sweet 16, then Gonzaga and Memphis are the only exceptions. As for the Top 25, here’s the conference breakdown – Pac-10 (5), Big 12 (4), Big East (4), ACC (3), SEC (3), Big 10 (3), CUSA (1), WCC (1), A10 (1).
  • Surprises. Some teams that are getting some preseason pub that TSN doesn’t think much of include: Syracuse (10th in the Big East, which presumably would mean not an NCAA team); UConn (7th); USC (7th in Pac-10) & Vanderbilt (5th in SEC East). On the flip side, teams that TSN values more than others include: Georgia (3d in SEC East); Penn St. (4th in Big 10) & NC State (3d in ACC).
  • Boldest Prediction. Not much in the way of excessively bold predictions, but we believe that a lot of these prognosticators are going to regret giving a 5-11 ACC team (NC State) so much preseason hype this year.
  • We’re really annoyed that TSN doesn’t give us a field of 65, at minimum.
  • Total Points = 12

VI. Conference Pages (5 pts) – as a primer for the conference, how much can we learn here?

  • High Majors. The twelve conferences TSN designates as high majors each gets a full page primer, and there’s a lot to like here. The predicted order of finish uses a cool feature with arrows that shows how the team is trending this year – up, down, or steady. There’s a five man all-conference team, a short narrative breakdown of the league, and the most inclusive list of superlatives we’ve yet seen (15-20 different superlatives). There is also a third of the page devoted to ranking the recruiting classes within the conference and short analyses of each incoming player.
  • Mid Majors. TSN anoints only six leagues as mid-major leagues, and each of these leagues gets a half-page of analysis, including the predicted order of finish, a short narrative, an all-conference team, recruiting rankings and three superlatives.
  • Low Majors. The remaining conferences receive one page each, nearly the same as the mid-majors with the exception that the narrative is really just a paragraph wrapup.
  • Total Points = 5

VII. Team Pages (20 pts) – how in-depth is the analysis? where does it come from? is it timely and insightful given this year’s squad or is it just a rundown of last year’s achievements?

  • Roughly the top 2/3 of the high major teams get a full page of analysis from TSN; the remainder get a half page. Again, there’s a lot to like here – the writing is solid, giving decent insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each team without merely another rundown of each player and his stats. There is also a section on power ratings by five categories, a five-year wins trend, an impact rookie blurb and a brief but useful team statistics table.
  • The mid-major conference projected champions get the same treatment as the lower third teams of the high majors – a half-page with much of the same information above. The remainder of mid-major teams simply get the one-paragraph rundown treatment.
  • The low-majors all get a single paragraph, whether they’re the projected champion or not.
  • For the top twelve conferences, the analysis is the best we’ve seen this year thus far. The writers clearly know these teams and do a good job at breaking down what to watch for this season. The remaining leagues get short shrift, but those fans are not the target audience.
  • Total Points = 16

VIII. Recruiting (5 pts) – we want to know who the top players are coming into college bball, where they’re going and who to watch for next year.

  • As mentioned above, each major conference page has a substantial section on recruits for each school and rankings within each league.
  • See above for our issue with their list of the top 100 incoming players.
  • There is no listing of the best incoming recruiting classes nationally anywhere in the magazine, which is incomprehensible to us.
  • Once upon a time, S&S was the best place to get recruiting information, but that time again seems to have passed. They have four pages of names of players without ranking any of them outside of their Boys All-America Team (top 20). It’s nice they give a paragraph describing the skill set of each of those twenty players, but there’s just no way to compare players outside of that grouping.
  • With that said, we continue to enjoy the All-Metro Teams of twenty or so HS basketball hotbeds around the country. It gives us something to look for in our local area.
  • We also enjoy that TSN lists the top 25 HS teams for 2007-08.
  • This magazine has more information on high school prospects than any other we’ve seen, and yet they muff it by not presenting the information in a way most people would want to see it. Lists are fine, but they have to be useful for comparison.
  • Total Points = 4

IX. Title IX Guilt (aka Chick Ball) (5 pts) – the less the better…

  • The women’s preview is a Top 25 with four pages of analysis, but thankfully they stuck it in the back of the magazine.
  • Where they really go wrong is by wasting five more pages in the back on girls’ HS All-Americans and a HS top 20. We cannot believe that anyone would buy this magazine to get this information.
  • Total Points = 2

X. Intangibles (15 pts) – what’s good and bad about the magazine as a whole?

  • This magazine is trying to be everything to everyone. You can easily tell which parts were the expertise of TSN and which were the responsibility of S&S, and as such, the magazine seems random and incomplete in parts. For example, in addition to the prep information in the back, the magazine also gives us a full page on D2, D3 and NAIA basketball (with top 10s and All-Americans). And if that’s not enough, it also has a juco section, complete with a Top 10 and an article explaining why juco talent is getting deeper.
  • There is also a full page of individual and team stats for D1, D2, D3 and NAIA, plus two pages of women’s stats. Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to give us six pages of D1 stats instead? Are a substantial number of NAIA fans really buying this magazine?
  • Schedules. By virtue of its release date, TSN has most every team’s schedules in complete form at the very back of the magazine. The back page also has a nice roundup of all the in-season tourneys and conference tournament information.
  • The writing of this magazine is better than Lindy’s and Athlon, but the only writing actually performed is in the conference and team previews. It was very disappointing there weren’t more features at the front.
  • Total Points = 10

RTC Grade for Sporting News/Street & Smith’s = 61.5 pts

Basis: We have to say that we were really disappointed with this magazine, largely because when we were growing up, the TSN and S&S previews were must-reads in our house. Wow, how the mighty have fallen. How can you not have feature articles or build an NCAA field? How can you not rank-order recruits? How can you add a cheerleader section and spend page after page giving us NAIA stats? At this point, and we never thought we’d say this, the TSN magazine is definitely worse than Lindy’s and no better than Athlon. This would have been unheard of a few short years ago. The only value of this magazine is in the quality of the writing of the analyses for the high major conferences and teams – that is the one (and only) area where TSN trumps the other two. What a disappointment.


Grading Scale:

  • 90-100 pts - exceptional quality in all areas – must buy and keep on-hand all season!
  • 80-89 pts - very good quality mag – worthy of purchasing and reading cover-to-cover
  • 70-79 pts - average, run of the mill magazine – some value in certain areas but weak in others – tough call as to whether to purchase it
  • 60-69 pts - magazine on the weaker side, but may still have some positive attributes – probably not worth the money, though
  • 0-59 pts - such a low quality magazine that it’s not worth any more than the five minutes you thumbed through it at the store
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2007-08 Season Preview

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Now that we’re firmly into October, roughly ten days from Midnight Madness and only about five weeks from the opening tipoff of a regular season game, we’re going to try our hand at providing some preseason content here. Here’s what we envision (but please don’t hold us to it):

1. Conference Primers – a daily rundown of some useful and not-so-useful information on all 31 conferences from worst to first.

2. NCAA Bracket – a semi-weekly update as we go through the conferences as to where we predict each team will be slotted in the 2008 Dance.

3. Preseason Magazine Reviews – as they come out fast and furious over the next month, we’ll grade them as we already have with Athlon and Lindy’s.

4. Blogpoll - we’re teaming up with our new friends over at March to Madness (administrator extraordinaire), NCAA Hoops Today, SEC Hoops: TGTBTU, March Madness All Season, A Sea of Blue and College Hoops Heaven (likely more to come) to provide the first annual college hoops preseason blogpoll.

5. All-Everything Teams. We’ll do a traditional all-american team right before the season begins, but we’re going to try to mix that up with some other nontraditional all-whatever teams here.

6. Anything Else – we’ll continue with our usual fare of linkage and thought-provoking (gulp…) commentary where appropriate. If anyone has an idea of something else they’d like to see, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

 

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Breaking Down the Preseason Mags… pt. 2

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2007

So Wednesday we established that the Athlon Sports preseason magazine is one that you probably shouldn’t take home with you. Unless you’re the type of person who goes gaga over seeing your favorite team/player on the cover and must own them all in a Sisyphian quest to document every newsworthy event involving it throughout history. Consider this excitable Carolina fan’s tale we stumbled across today (re: the Athlon issue)…

Yep, arrived in Atlanta area stores last week, and every darn store I checked had the Georgia edition (one UGA player and one Ga Tech player on the cover). Same as last year. And the year before. Ad nauseum.

So I will do what I do every year – wait until all the mags are out, then drive up to visit my brother in NC and buy every mag with a Heel on the cover. That is always one of my most happy trips of the year.

Hey, we don’t judge. So here’s the second installment of our continuing series of reviews of the preseason magazines.

Next Up: Lindy’s.

Lindy’s

 

I. Covers (5 pts) - are they cool? inclusive?

  • 21 regional covers is a nice number, but the Rocky Mtn states aren’t represented in the least – Does Lindy’s realize that the Mountain West and WAC have fans too?
  • Coolest Cover – none – they’re pretty much all the same format, with multiple players photographically stacked on top of each other.
  • Say What? The Tennessee issue highlights UT, Memphis, Vandy and the Lady Vols?? The NE issue features UConn, BC and something called the “Lady Huskers,” which we assume is supposed to be “Huskies.” Either way, we have no tolerance for this.
  • Total Points = 2

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

  • Somewhat difficult upon first glance. Eleven major conferences are arranged alphabetically, then by predicted order of finish of its teams. The rest of the conferences are shoved into the back of the mag with the teams arranged alphabetically within. Confusing.
  • Standard format otherwise – roundup, features & predictions; analysis of teams; recruiting, in that order.
  • Total Points = 2.5

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

  • Scoping the Nation dives into the one-and-done phenomenon, and pretty much makes the same assessment we made here back in May – that coaches at the elite programs recognize the necessity in assuming the risk of taking potential one-and-dones. The potential reward, as in the cases of Greg Oden and Mike Conley for Thad Matta at Ohio St., is simply too much to pass up. They also take a look at the ten most likely one-and-dones for this season and next.
  • The Nov/Dec Action to Check Out section is a bit of a copout by Lindy’s in the sense that its early publication resulted in not being able to review full schedules. Still, they make an attempt by reviewing the big pre-conference game possibilities in the holiday tournaments.
  • Lots of Lists – that’s ok, we like lists.
    • Top 10 “under the radar” players
    • Top 10 transfer players
    • Top 10 juco transfers
    • Top 10 jump shooters
    • Top 5 defenders
  • Lindy’s also provides a complete Top 25 (+15 fringe teams), a listing of the NCAA field of 65 by conference, as well as predictions of the Sweet 16 and Final Four.
  • There is also a complete list of coaching changes and the conferences are rated first (Pac-10) to worst (SWAC).
  • We also appreciated seeing deserving blurbs on Rick Majerus‘s return to college coaching at St. Louis, and Skip Prosser‘s passing at Wake.
  • They also rate the Top 25 players at each position…
    • PG – Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.)
    • SG – Chris Lofton (Tennessee)
    • SF – Brandon Rush (Kansas)
    • PF – Tyler Hansbrough (UNC)
    • C – Roy Hibbert (Georgetown)
  • …and the top frontcourt (UCLA) and backcourt (UNC).
  • Cool Stat Award. Utah St. guard Jaycee Carroll’s shooting numbers – .527 from the field, .432 on threes, and .888 from the foul line!
  • Total Points = 9

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

  • Kentucky-centric. Three of their feature articles relate to the UK head coaching position – Tubby’s leaving of the job (He’s Gone), Billy D’s courting of the job along with his about-face with Orlando (He Couldn’t Leave), and Gillispie’s acceptance of the job (Billy & the Believers).
  • What’s Good for the Zags… is a good article about the pressures that other mid-major programs (even the successful ones) now face in light of the Gonzaga Effect.
  • Embracing Kelvin is an insightful piece about the “my way or the highway” coaching style of Kelvin Sampson, and validates why we expect big things from IU this season.
  • Early and Often is a somewhat weaker article describing how coaches are faced with recruiting players earlier and earlier in high school (and sometimes back into junior high).
  • Total Points = 11

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

  • Lindy’s uses both the 65-team prediction model and the Top 25, as discussed above. Like Athlon, they too have UCLA defeating UNC in the final game, but we give them a little bit of credit for projecting first-timer Tennessee into the F4. They don’t predict an Elite Eight, but only half of their Sweet 16 made it there in 2007, which is realistic.
  • Big Conference Bias. Still, 14 of that Sweet 16 are from BCS conferences – Gonzaga and Memphis are the only exceptions. NCAA Bids – ACC (5), Big Ten (4), Big 12 (5), Big East (8), Pac-10 (7), SEC (7).
  • Mid-Major Watch. Mid-Major bids – 3 A10 (Xavier, St. Joe’s, St. Louis), 2 CAA (George Mason, VCU), 2 CUSA (Memphis, UAB), 1 Mountain West (BYU), 1 WAC (New Mexico St.), 1 MVC (S. Illinois).
  • Surprising Omissions. Florida loses everyone, but are there really seven better teams in the SEC this year? Billy D. has the #1 recruiting class coming into Gainesville. We also think Lorenzo Romar’s Washington squad is primed for a return to the NCAAs this year. Also, we gotta believe that the always-underrated MVC will manage to get another team in there, while seven (Georgia and Vandy??) from the SEC is a little ridiculous this year.
  • Boldest Prediction. Again, Lindy’s doesn’t go too far out on a limb with any of their picks, but Alabama winning the SEC West completely depends on Ronald Steele’s knees, and Cornell winning the Ivy League is also dubious.
  • Total Points = 14

VI. Conference Pages (5 pts) – as a primer for the conference, how much can we learn here?

  • The major and mid-major conferences get a predicted order of finish with brief analysis, a substantial recruiting roundup, three teams of all-conference selections, returning leaders in key categories, team stats and a fair superlatives section. While we appreciate a focus on acquainting readers with the newcomers, we would have liked to have seen less space used on this in favor of the returners.
  • The small conferences get a predicted order of finish, two teams of all-conference selections and a superlatives section.
  • Total Points = 3.5

VII. Team Pages (20 pts) – how in-depth is the analysis? where does it come from? is it timely and insightful given this year’s squad or is it just a rundown of last year’s achievements?

  • Lindy’s Top 40 teams get a full page of analysis, including player evaluations and team statistical rankings.
  • All other BCS and mid-major teams get a brief half-page of analysis with the same evaluations/rankings. Low major teams (even if predicted to make the NCAA Tourney) get a paragraph and a few key stats. Minimal info.
  • Again, similar to Athlon, analysis is lacking. Much of it is based on recapping last season’s accomplishments plus the obligatory coach’s quotes. For teams outside the Top 40, they barely get a mention.
  • Total Points = 12

VIII. Recruiting (5 pts) – we want to know who the top players are coming into college bball, where they’re going and who to watch for next year.

  • As mentioned above, each major conference page has a substantial section on newcomers and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Six pages of recruiting information, featuring the top 25 recruiting classes with a brief description of each.
  • The top 50 of 2007 is provided by Rivals.com, but Lindy’s focuses on the future classes more than present, listing the top 100 for both 2008 and 2009, plus the top 10 for 2010.
  • They also provide some much-needed context and analysis from Justin Young at Rivals.
  • Total Points = 5

IX. Title IX Guilt (aka Chick Ball) (5 pts) – the less the better…

  • We already established that they’re putting some women’s players on the cover.
  • They also give it four pages in the front features section, with a detailed top 25 and fifteen All-Americans. Unacceptable.
  • Total Points = 1

X. Intangibles (15 pts) – what’s good and bad about the magazine as a whole?

  • Errors. We’re not sure if the cause is shoddy editing or what, but who and what are Reyshawn Green Terry (formerly of UNC) (p.9), David Lightly Lighty (Ohio St.) (p.18) and Gongzaga Gonzaga (p.28)? – these errors were found in the first few pages and seemed pervasive throughout, mitigating the mag’s credibility from the start.
  • Whereas Lindy’s provides far more interesting detail in almost every other area over Athlon, its writing (and clearly its editing) is weaker on the whole.
  • Again, no schedules due to the early publication date.
  • It takes some risks with its predictions (which we like), but its analysis really doesn’t explain why, e.g., Georgia is an NCAA Tournament team and Florida isn’t.
  • Total Points = 9

RTC Grade for Lindy’s = 69 pts

Basis: Lindy’s is a better magazine on the whole than Athlon, but it has serious weaknesses with respect to its team analyses. Where it excels is in the areas of roundup and recruiting information, but it needs better writing, editing and much more consideration of the smaller conferences. A little more attention to detail would make this magazine a legit value in future iterations.

Grading Scale:

  • 90-100 pts - exceptional quality in all areas – must buy and keep on-hand all season!
  • 80-89 pts - very good quality mag – worthy of purchasing and reading cover-to-cover
  • 70-79 pts - average, run of the mill magazine – some value in certain areas but weak in others – tough call as to whether to purchase it
  • 60-69 pts - magazine on the weaker side, but may still have some positive attributes – probably not worth the money, though
  • 0-59 pts - such a low quality magazine that it’s not worth any more than the five minutes you thumbed through it at the store
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Breaking Down the Preseason Mags…

Posted by rtmsf on September 12th, 2007

We’re heading into the middle of September already, literally thirty days until Midnight Madness, and the first batch of preseason mags are already proliferating on B&N shelves like West Virginians on crystal meth at a swap meet (no offense intended to the West Virginians not on crystal meth, of course). We know many of our readers are asking, “what’s a magazine?” To which we reply, “it’s what old people read while they’re on the toilet.” For our few readers here over 30 (present company excluded), we offer the first installment of our continuing series of reviews of the preseason magazines.

First in line: Athlon Sports.

Athlon Preseason Cover 07

I. Covers (5 pts) - are they cool? inclusive?

  • 34 regional covers seems like overkill, but we suppose having a Minnesota/Iowa/Iowa St. cover matters to someone.
  • Coolest Cover – for some reason, we particularly like the elated yet menacing look Patrick Beverly gives the camera on the Arkansas edition.
  • Say What? Athlon’s UCLA/USC cover (above) features Kevin Love and OJ Mayo in their Burger Boy unis – was it really too much trouble to shoot them with their correct jerseys on?
  • Total Points = 4

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

  • Conferences and teams are arranged alphabetically, allowing for quick navigation assuming you know your conference.
  • Standard format otherwise – features & predictions; analysis of teams; recruiting, in that order.
  • Total Points = 4

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

  • 10 Things to Watch is ok, but we didn’t learn anything new (i.e., the Pac-10 is great, keep an eye on Love/Mayo/Gordon, etc.).
  • Hoops Madness is a little better, mostly because of its lists of emerging stars (hot sophs to watch), top transfers and coaches on the hot seat. Also enjoyed learning that Dayton’s band has become the band by proxy for the Niagara Purple Aces (since NU doesn’t have one).
  • Cool Stat Award. Memo to Adam Lonon (VMI) – shoot more! (31 starts, 26 FGs)
  • Total Points = 5

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

  • Next Generation is a decent article about the young brigade of coaches who have been successful so far (Donovan, Matta, JT3, Howland, etc.). It wasn’t unique, as we expect to see a lot of this in the rags this year.
  • The Fix relates the story of the Tulane pointshaving scandal two decades ago. Although the article briefly mentions the Tim Donaghy story, it focuses primarily (and misguidedly) on the people involved in the scandal. What we needed to see here was an article about the existence of gambling among college athletes and efforts to prevent it. Big swing & miss here.
  • The Scoop is three one-page interviews with Ronald Steele (Alabama), Bill Walker (Kansas St.) and Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.), none of which are very interesting.
  • Total Points = 5

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

  • Athlon uses the 65-team prediction model, eschewing the traditional Top 25 (they get pts for that). But Athlon goes waaaaaaaaay safe by predicting six of the elite eight the same as 2007 (Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, UNC, Oregon, UCLA with Louisville and Tennessee added for good measure). UCLA defeats Carolina in the championship.
  • Big Conference Bias. 15 of its Sweet 16 are from BCS conferences – highly doubtful and incredibly LAME! NCAA Bids – ACC (5), Big Ten (5), Big 12 (5), Big East (9), Pac-10 (7), SEC (6).
  • Mid-Major Watch. Only Memphis from a mid-major conference (CUSA) into the Sweet 16. Mid-Major bids – 2 CAA (George Mason, VCU), 2 MVC (Bradley, S. Illinois), 1 A10 (Xavier), 1 Mountain West (BYU), 1 WAC (Nevada). We’ll bet anything Athlon’s editors choose that those six conferences will get more than eight bids next March.
  • All-Americans. Athlon really likes Drew Neitzel for some reason. He joins Psycho T, Chris Lofton, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison (?) on their first team. They took a big flier on putting oft-injured Ronald Steele on the third team.
  • Boldest Prediction. It’s sad that we had to dig this deep to find it, but it’s probably their pick for Cornell to win the Ivy League over Penn & Princeton. The last time a team other than those two won the Ivy Championship was in 1988 with (guess who?) Cornell.
  • Total Points = 10

VI. Conference Pages (5 pts) – as a primer for the conference, how much can we learn here?

  • The major conferences get a predicted order of finish, a brief recruiting roundup, and three teams of all-conference selections plus a “superlatives” section, which is fairly weak compared to others we’ve seen (POY, DPOY, most underrated, newcomer).
  • The mid-major and small conferences only get a predicted order of finish, one team of all-conference selections and an all-time NCAA Tourney stat for the conference (which is interesting).
  • Total Points = 2.5

VII. Team Pages (20 pts) – how in-depth is the analysis? where does it come from? is it timely and insightful given this year’s squad or is it just a rundown of last year’s achievements?

  • All major conference and projected mid-major NCAA Tournament teams get a full page of analysis, including evaluations of the frontcourt and backcourt as well as a team roster (w/ stats) and a team-oriented stat.
  • Non-NCAA Tournament mid-majors and low majors get at most a half-page analysis and roster, but most only get a paragraph with a very brief synopsis.
  • Clearly much of the analysis is based on what coach’s interviews, which results in analyses from “glass half full” perspective. We would have liked to have seen more contrarian viewpoints.
  • The depth of analysis is solid if not spectacular for the major conference teams, but largely lacking for the others.
  • Total Points = 14

VIII. Recruiting (5 pts) – we want to know who the top players are coming into college bball, where they’re going and who to watch for next year.

  • Four pages of recruiting information, including the top 100 (Scout.com) of 2007, the next 200 players, and the top 20 by position. Solid raw data.
  • It also includes the top 25 classes, but only as a list, with no additional details.
  • The top 100 in the class of 2008, top 25 in 2009 and top 10 in 2010 are also listed.
  • Total Points = 3

IX. Title IX Guilt (aka Chick Ball) (5 pts) – the less the better…

  • Only two pages worth, and at the very back of the magazine.
  • Total Points = 5

X. Intangibles (15 pts) – what’s good and bad about the magazine as a whole?

  • In the past, Athlon’s mag hasn’t always looked as professional as some of the others. This is no longer the case. Its layout looks great, the photos and graphics are solid, and the writing has improved.
  • Because it comes out so early, the advantage it gains in being one of the first published is mitigated by other temporal factors. Most notably, there are no schedules within the magazine – for that reason alone, Athlon cannot be your “go-to” preview issue during the season.
  • Additionally, its early publish date means that it misses late summer news involving injuries, transfers and coaching changes. While they did get the Skip Prosser news in there, they did not, for example, consider how Andy Rautins’ knee injury will impact Syracuse.
  • As a nontraditional magazine (i.e., not Street & Smith or TSN), Athlon should have taken more risks with their predictions – going all chalk won’t separate it from the pack.
  • Total Points = 8

RTC Grade for Athlon = 60.5 pts

Basis: Athlon is on the lower side of quality with the preseason magazines, but they have gotten better, and there is some value in their analysis. Its best use (given its early arrival on the newstand) is simply to refamiliarize yourself with the names and faces of the upcoming season. We wouldn’t recognize purchasing it unless you simply cannot wait for the better ones to come out.

Grading Scale:

  • 90-100 pts - exceptional quality in all areas – must buy and keep on-hand all season!
  • 80-89 pts - very good quality mag – worthy of purchasing and reading cover-to-cover
  • 70-79 pts - average, run of the mill magazine – some value in certain areas but weak in others – tough call as to whether to purchase it
  • 60-69 pts - magazine on the weaker side, but may still have some positive attributes – probably not worth the money, though
  • 0-59 pts - such a low quality magazine that it’s not worth any more than the five minutes you thumbed through it at the store
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