Morning Five: 07.09.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 9th, 2014

morning5

  1. Here’s hoping everyone out there is enjoying the summer and had a safe and happy Independence Day holiday weekend. Legitimate college basketball news remains somewhat incorporeal at this time of year (unless you enjoy silly contrivances over which coach is the “best” at his job), but over the last week-plus there have been a few stories that have made their way into the chattering class. The one that probably holds the most interest from a train wreck meets a dumpster fire convergence is the ongoing saga of former North Carolina guard Rashad McCants. At this point, UNC fans no doubt wish that the key cog of the 2005 national championship team would just go away, as his personal media circus in the aftermath of admissions that he was kept eligible from 2002-05 through a series of bogus classes and other academic shenanigans continues to get weirder. On a SiriusXM radio show earlier this week, McCants made reference to both UNC and the NCAA having a deal worth a total of $310 million “in the works” for him, $10 million from the school to repay him for his exploitation and “lack of education received,” and $300 million from the organization to help him “facilitate sports education programs across the country.” Nobody seems to have a clue as to what he is talking about, as UNC claims that it has yet to speak or hear from McCants since a June 6 letter asking him to do so, and the NCAA probably lost his request somewhere down in the mail room.
  2. On a more serious note, however, UNC fans have been quick to character assassinate McCants, who very well may be in some strange way attempting to shake down the school for what he perceives to have been a lack of ongoing support. At the same time, whistleblowers and other informants rarely come without motive or personality flaws, so the question needs to remain focused on whether McCants (and possibly other members of the basketball program) were recipients of the benefits of sham African-American Studies classes at UNC rather than whether he alone is a reliable source. His unofficial transcript – which shows that all of the As and Bs he earned in Chapel Hill were within the beleaguered department — are enough to call into question the integrity of those courses. And that is presumably what the NCAA is doing with the news last week that it has decided to reopen its previously-closed case into academic misconduct at North Carolina. Also keep in mind here that, in light of the undressing over the concept of “student-athletes” that the NCAA suffered last month at the Ed O’Bannon trial, the organization needs a public “win” that supports the notion that it takes academics seriously. Coming down hard on one of the true blue-bloods of one of its primary revenue sports to set an example wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility in this climate. We’ll all have to wait to see how it shakes out.
  3. To that very point, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation at 2:30 PM later today is expected to tackle the topic of Promoting the Well-Being and Academic Success of College Athletes.” Chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va) and supported by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the committee will explore the NCAA’s stated mission to integrate college sports and academics, and whether the commercial enterprise unfairly exploits athletes. Sound familiar? The NCAA is taking hits on all sides, with interested parties from the political to the business to the legal to the educational sectors all clamoring to understand the justifications for a lucrative business model that doesn’t share the wealth with its labor source. If the NCAA is lucky, Mark Emmert won’t be asked to testify if for no other reason than to avoid another jaw-dropping Freudian slip
  4. The reason that everyone is getting so chummy with the NCAA’s operations, of course, is that there’s a ton of money involved. The crazy realignment of a few summers ago has calmed down (for now), but as Boise State‘s recent financial settlement with the AAC illustrates, organizations tend to lose their damn minds when there’s a windfall to be grabbed (even if said windfall never actually materialized because it wasn’t thought through). That’s right, Boise State has agreed to pay a total of $2.3 million to the AAC (formerly the Big East) as a penalty for joining and then leaving a league that none of its teams ever actually played for. The Big West, another league that never suited up a single Broncos team, has already received $1.8 million in exit fees, meaning that the final tally in penalties for never actually leaving the Mountain West is $4.1 million. Congratulations to everyone involved, and let there be a lesson learned somewhere within this.
  5. This has been a fun M5, so let’s end it by continuing the theme of poor behavior with some coaching news. College of Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik hit the news late last week with the release of a 50-page report (on a late afternoon heading into a holiday weekend, no less) summarizing a pattern of verbally abusive behavior levied toward his players. Among the details released were that Wojcik had used a homophobic slur on one of his players and generally made a habit of degrading and humiliating them during practice sessions. CofC’s athletic director, Joe Hull, initially wanted to fire Wojcik for his transgressions, but he was overruled by school president George Benson, who instead decided to give Wojcik a one-month suspension without pay (meaning he will miss July’s key recruiting window) and instituting a zero-tolerance policy for any future abuse. Personalities are difficult to change overnight, especially in such stressful positions, so it’ll be interesting to watch how well Wojcik does under these new constraints.
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Morning Five: 06.09.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 9th, 2014

morning5

  1. The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the 2005 North Carolina Tar Heel basketball team just got a little bit more awkward on Friday when ESPN released allegations by Rashad McCants that he had been enrolled in fake classes and been given A’s in these classes without having to do any work. Even more damaging was his claim that Roy Williams was aware of this and had essentially signed off on it. Many were quick to point out that McCants had previously given a very different statement comparing his time at UNC being imprisoned back in 2004. Although this does not absolve UNC of any potential wrongdoing it does raise questions about McCants’ credibility as do his past actions. Williams, UNC, and many former players were quick to deny McCants’ allegations. While we agree that it’s reasonable to question McCants’ motivations and whether or not he is telling the truth we do not agree with the large group of people who are calling out McCants for being a snitch. If nothing else this will add another layer of complexity to the ongoing scandal surrounding North Carolina and its issues academic fraud. We are unsure if the NCAA will ever go after North Carolina unless North Carolina reports itself on these issues; however, many will question the NCAA for not being more aggressive in their pursuit of UNC when they have been so strict against players and schools who are involved in payments to those players.
  2. The day that the NCAA and its member institutions have been dreading is finally here. After years of legal maneuvering including a deal by EA Sports to pay student-athletes a nominal sum for using their likeness in games, the “Ed O’Bannon case” will begin later today. By now you are undoubtedly familiar with case, but if you need a refresher or just want to be more educated on the case we suggest that you check out Lester Munson’s excellent article on the case. Having said all of that we would not expect this case or the penalties from it to be decided for a very long time. If you are looking for something interesting to come of it in the near-term, you will probably be disappointed.
  3. On Friday, Manhattan reinstated Steve Masiello as its head coach. Masiello made national headlines in March when he accepted the job at South Florida, but then had the offer rescinded when the school discovered that he had never actually graduated from college. Manhattan eventually accepted him back, but he was on leave until he completed the work necessary to graduate from Kentucky. Masiello will officially receive his degree from Kentucky in August, but apparently was able to produce enough documentation to make Manhattan believe that he has already done the necessary work. Now all Masiello has to do is convince the team, fans, and school that he wants to be there even though it was clear from his decision in March that he does not want to be there.
  4. Maryland fans won’t recognize their team next year. Outside of moving to a new conference, they probably won’t recognize most of the roster. The loss of five players transferring out of the program certainly hurt, but they will be bringing what is in the eyes of many a top-10 recruiting class that includes four four-star recruits. Then in the 2015-16 season, they will be adding Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter Jr., who announced his intent to transfer to Maryland on Friday. Carter Jr. averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore despite missing ten games during the middle of the season due to a torn meniscus. Assuming the incoming freshmen stick around (not a certainty given the way others have transferred out), Maryland could be a dangerous team in the Big Ten in a few years.
  5. If the Oregon administration thought that the sexual assault case involving three basketball players was going away after they dismissed the three players–Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson, and Brandon Austin–they were mistaken. The alleged victim wrote a scathing letter to The Daily Emerald (the school newspaper) stating that the school “prioritizes winning over safety of our students.” The issue (particularly this issues) goes well beyond this case and beyond athletics too, but hopefully it will add to the ongoing discussion of why events like this in their various forms happen at schools across the country.
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A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final Four

Posted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011

Until the season kicks off, we’re going to be taking weekly trips to the ACC and NCAA Vaults to look at classic ACC games of yore.

Rashad McCants

Rashad McCants' college career is sometimes overshadowed by his failed stint in the NBA.

In honor of the upcoming Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina, here’s a look back at the 2005 Final Four game between the Spartans and Tar Heels. Watching the game was also a great reminder of just how good Roy Williams‘ 2004-05 squad was (especially with regards to depth). The 2005 national championship team probably had a talent advantage over the current team at every position:

  • Point Guard: Raymond Felton over Kendall Marshall
  • Shooting Guard: Rashad McCants over Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock
  • Forward: Jackie Manuel, David Noel, Jawad Williams and Marvin Williams over Harrison Barnes, John Henson and James McAdoo (this is the most up-in-the-air position, but I’d give the 2005 team a slight advantage for going four players deep)
  • Center: Sean May over Tyler Zeller

See highlights and analysis after the jump.

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Around The Blogosphere: President’s Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 21st, 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.

Top 25 Games

  • #11 Purdue 76, #1 Ohio State 63: “In the last week, Purdue took down Wisconsin and Ohio State…back to back. The number 2 and 10 teams in the nation. Sure, they were at home, but that’s where you must dominate. Ask MSU or Illinois how much they’d like to be unbeaten at home this year and how hard it is to accomplish.” (Boiled Sports or Eleven Warriors)
  • Nebraska 70, #2 Texas 67: “The march toward a 16-0 conference mark is over as the No. 2/3 Texas Longhorns fall, 70-67, to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Despite a furious rally in the final three minutes of the game, aided by mindless Nebraska fouls, Texas could never overcome the lead they relinquished early in the second half. The Huskers dominated the glass from start to finish, crippled the Texas defense with dribble penetration, and limited the Texas offense by sagging four or five players in the paint and daring the Longhorns to score from the perimeter. In a game that looked eerily similar to the December loss at Southern Cal, Texas was thoroughly worked physically, especially in the low post. The Nebraska size gave the ‘Horns fits, got most of the Texas frontcourt into foul trouble, and forced Rick Barnes to play some odd lineups, mostly in the first half.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • #3 Kansas 89, Colorado 63: “Markieff Morris led the Jayhawks with 26 points and 16 rebounds including 9 on the offensive end. It was one of the best performances of his career and Colorado simply had no answer on the interior.” (Rock Chalk Talk: Part 1 and Part 2)
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BGTD: Early Games Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2011

It’s college basketball Saturday, and we’re back in action with this week’s Boom Goes the Dynamite.  We’ll be periodically briefing you throughout the day on the goings-on with various games, players and happenings throughout the nation.  The schedule doesn’t appear to be all that great on paper, but we’ve found through a number of years of watching this sport that it will always surprise you just when you think you’ve got it all figured out.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy…

  • Marshon Brooks Nearly Beats Georgetown By Himself.  Only in the Big East would you find a player averaging nearly 24 PPG that nobody talks about, but that’s generally been the case with Providence’s Marshon Brooks this season.  He’s having a spectacular individual year but PC has been brutalized by the ridiculous conference schedule, and even though he’s very likely a first-team all-conference guy, he gets no press.  Well, maybe he’ll get something after today’s 43-point performance where he nearly beat Georgetown all by his lonesome.  Using a variety of drives, jumpers and aggressive plays resulting in trips to the line, Brooks took over the game with about eleven minutes to go, scoring 19 points down the stretch and putting a big-time scare in the Hoyas who had been comfortably ahead.  On the last play of the game, Brooks was stripped by Chris Wright as he came upcourt, but it doesn’t take away from the scintillating day he had that represents just another weekend afternoon in the rugged Big East.
  • Who Decided a 10 AM Local Start is a Good Idea? We’re not idiots and we certainly understand that television drives scheduling, but who decided that playing a west coast game at 10 AM local time was a stellar idea?  The St. John’s-UCLA game tipped off in the mid-morning hours in Westwood and we’re trying to remember a non-gimmick game that started so early locally.  The question is why?  The players are used to practicing early, but the fans in Pauley Pavilion were clearly still shaking off the effects of Friday night, and it took until the last five minutes of action for them to wake up.  CBS could have easily shown Illinois-Northwestern in the 1 PM slot, and UCLA-St. John’s in the 3 PM slot instead of putting them opposite each other — why didn’t they?
  • CBS Needs to Make Other Options Available.  Which brings us to our other complaint…  if you’re going to split national coverage between two games, how about providing the rest of the country in non-blackout areas an alternative channel through which to watch the other game?  It’s not like this is the NFL and the only way to see the AFC or the NFC is through a single channel.  College basketball games are on fifteen different networks, and outside of say, NYC and LA, the interest in those two schools is relatively low.  CBS recognizes this viewing problem and provides an alternative during March Madness; we think it would make sense for them to do so for regular season games as well.
  • Lavin Bowl: UCLA and St. John’s are Both Dangerous March Teams.  All of that said about the television coverage, and we certainly don’t want to overstate this, but if we’re a #5-#7 seed and we see either UCLA or St. John’s opposite us in our first round matchup, we’re not very happy about that slotting.  Both teams are capable of causing significant problems to a favorite in a single-game matchup.  UCLA, with its bruising front line, and St. John’s, with its long athletes and pressure defense, are not easy teams to prepare for (ask Kansas and Duke).  Neither team is a threat to make the Sweet Sixteen, but to win a single game over a “better” team is entirely possible.
  • The Middle of the ACC Is a Steaming Pile of Doo Doo.  With Clemson’s road win over Georgia Tech, Maryland’s home win over Wake Forest, and BC’s win over Virginia Tech this early afternoon, there are now four teams tied at 5-4 in the conference race.  And we’re not sure any of the Tigers, Terps, Hokies or Eagles are worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid.  We’re sure that the tiresome ACC defenders will tell us that all seven deserve to be invited, but other than beating each other, can you find a quality win on any of these four team’s resumes?  A single one?  Can one of them at least beat North Carolina or Duke once?
  • Rashad McCants’ Dad Lashes Out.  A lot of folks have had differing opinions as to how demoted point guard Larry Drew II handled his exit from the UNC program last week.  James McCants, former Carolina star Rashad McCants’ father, wasted no breath in voicing his opinion of the matter on a Facebook post recently.  This is particularly interesting because, of course, it’s not like McCants the Younger had a bad career in Chapel Hill — he was one of three stars who led the Heels to the 2005 national championship, and arguably it was the arrival of Roy Williams that allowed that team to flourish.  Interesting stuff from within the Carolina family.

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Around The Blogosphere: January 19, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on January 19th, 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.

Top 25 Games

  • Alabama 68, #12 Kentucky 66: “Well, let’s make no mistake about it, the Kentucky Wildcats deserved to lose this basketball game, and they did. Once again, the Wildcats allowed an SEC team to physically dominate them in the interior, at least for one half of basketball, and that half was enough. It is a tough loss for Kentucky fans to swallow, and raises some serious questions about how far this team can realistically go in the post-season. It shouldn’t be overstated, but this loss was a major setback for Kentucky, one that could end up costing them at least one and possibly two seed positions in the tournament.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • #18 Illinois 71, #19 Michigan State 62: “There is no overstating the importance of this win for the Fighting Illini, after suffering a heart breaking road loss against Penn State, and a soul crushing defeat against the Badgers in Madison, the team needed a win badly to keep themselves in the hunt for the Big Ten championship.” (Hail to the Orange)
  • #22 Georgetown 80, Seton Hall 75: “Such is life in this year’s Big East. The conference is as competitive as it has ever been and every victory should be cherished, nurtured, and adored. Georgetown was down six points with three minutes to go, and rebounded to win 80-75 on the backs of their three seniors – Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Julian Vaughn. Say what you will about New Jersey, but it will forever be known as the state where Austin got his groove back. Freeman scored an otherworldly 28 points on 13 shots, while Wright added 17 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Vaughn, much maligned for the first 35 minutes of the game, took over after Herb Pope fouled out, scoring a quick bucket and grabbing a crucial rebound.” (Casual Hoya)

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Morning Five: 07.19.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 19th, 2010


It was a relatively slow weekend for major college basketball news so we are left to deal with issues off the court.

  1. Just five years after helping UNC to a NCAA title, Rashad McCants, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, is out of the NBA and struggling to find a way back in. McCants averaged a very respectable 14.9 PPG on 45% FG in his 3rd year in the NBA, but quickly fell out of favor with his coaches and now has a toxic reputation across the NBA. The Cavs offered him a shot on a Summer League, but McCants did not show up in Las Vegas (scroll to last section) for “personal reasons”.
  2. We touched on it briefly on Saturday, but we are still waiting to hear from Notre Dame what they plan to do to Eric Atkins and Tim Abromaitis in response to their arrest on Friday night. Our guess? Nothing more than a few extra suicides at the end of practice.
  3. Seth Curry suffered a sprained ankle during one of the loaded S.J.G. Greater NC Pro AM games. It doesn’t seem like it was that significant although Curry sat out the rest of the game. Curry said “It’s just a little sprain. I’ll be all right. I’ll be back out next week.” The bigger question for us is what Coach K plans to do with his starting backcourt next year as he will have to decide between Curry, Nolan Smith, Kyrie Irving, and Andre Dawkins. Our guess is that Duke will use 3 guards (with Kyle Singler at the 4 and Miles or Mason Plumlee playing at center) and Smith and Irving are basically guaranteed spots, which means that Coach K will have to decide between Curry and Dawkins as the first player off the bench. The problems of the rich…
  4. While his predecessor Oliver Purnell has been busy making news at his new job at DePaul, Brad Brownell, who won 20 or more games in all four of his seasons at Wright State (no Duke or UNC on the schedule though), has been trying to get a hold of the program that Purnell built at Clemson. While the Clemson faithful were undoubtedly frustrated with the fast starts followed by what seemed like annual collapses, Purnell did build them into a solid ACC team that made three straight NCAA Tournament trips and made Littlejohn Coliseum a place that opponents dreaded coming to every year. Brownell has a solid group of players left behind by Purnell, but will have to deal with the loss of All-ACC Trevor Booker to the NBA.
  5. Last month we mentioned the decision of Carrick Felix to back out of a commitment to be the first junior college recruit to commit to Duke, opting to go to Arizona State instead. Recently he sat down for an interview where he talked about the decision and, although he does not go into the specifics (we did not expect him to, either), he says that he went to Duke because that was where everyone said he should go, but it did not feel right so he went to the Duke coaches who then helped him find the right school.
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Team of the 2000s: #1 – North Carolina

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

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Ed. Note: check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

And so we reach the pinnacle.  Ladies and gentlemen, prep yourselves, as this will come as a complete shocker… but your #1 program of the last decade is the North Carolina Tar Heels.  We know that you were probably thinking it was Gonzaga or Pittsburgh, but alas, the fine programs from Washington and Pennsylvania will have to wait another decade for the RTC Good Hoopskeeping seal of approval.

Be sure to check back Monday as we’ll do some clean-up on the series, including a look at some of the programs who just missed the top ten.

#1 – North Carolina

team2000sunc2

Overview.  Maybe we should just call it the Decade of Roy Williams.  After all, most of Carolina’s success in the 2000s is directly attributable to Ol’ Roy.  If you consider his 111 more wins at Kansas, three more trips to the NCAA’s second weekend and two additional F4s in the decade, you’re looking at a coaching juggernaut.  But Roy isn’t North Carolina and UNC isn’t Roy – it only feels that way.  This is about UNC, and despite a one-season blip in 2001-02 that time has forgotten, mostly accounting for their relatively poor overall winning percentage, the Heels have the goods in almost every other way.  Were they as consistent as Duke or Michigan State?  Nope.  Were they as much of a conference titan as KU or their hated rival in Durham?  Nope again.  But their numbers stack up very well in all categories across the board, and they’ve utterly dominated the second half of the 2000s in much the same way that Duke/Kentucky lorded over their respective halves of the 90s.  From 2005-09, the Heels have won two national championships with completely different casts, went to another F4, lost in OT in an Elite Eight and lost in the second round against the biggest Cinderella of the last quarter-century.  Not.  Too.  Shab.  The Heels didn’t have as much success during the first half of the decade, but they still managed to tack on another F4 as an absurd #8 seed in 2000, as well as two other second round appearances and an NIT appearance.  All the while continuing to produce a slew of  all-americans and NBA draft picks.  What separates Carolina in our eyes is the second championship that Roy hung next to the others in 2009.  Florida’s 06/07 back-to-back was extremely impressive, because everyone knows just how difficult it is to repeat in college basketball.  But in our view, it’s even more impressive to endure massive defections of NBA talent the likes of which UNC had from 2005-07 and still be able to climb the mountaintop a mere four years later.  A reasonable argument could be made that UNC was the best team in the country in four of the last five seasons (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), and it wouldn’t necessarily render you a nutjob to contemplate it.  So North Carolina is our choice for the top program of the 2000s, and with the second championship currently shimmering in the Chapel Hill sunlight, we’re not convinced that any other school should be higher.

unc title 2005

Pinnacle.  The 2005 national championship.  Just three short years removed from the worst Carolina season in modernity (more on this later), UNC was once again the king of the college basketball world.  What seemed a million and one miles away under Matt Doherty’s tenure felt like a natural outcome under the coolest of cats, Roy Williams.  One of the very proudest fanbases in America could once again claim basketball supremacy, and after what they had been through, it must have felt like raining gold coins from heaven.   Carolina’s fourth national championship team was led by Sean May, Rashad McCants and Ray Felton, but it was a long, lean freshman by the name of Marvin Williams who saved the Heels from a trademarked (at the time) Roy collapse when he rebounded a wild reverse layup from the sometimes-erratic McCants and punched it back in for a 72-70 lead.  A Felton steal later and several desperation three attempts by the Illini, and the monkey was most definitely off of Roy’s back.  His back is so light right now that he turned around and did it again in 2009 and looks primed to have several more shots at it before he retires a Carolina hero.

Tailspin.   Without question, the 2001-02 UNC team represents the worst season for a traditional powerhouse school in two decades.  But just as Duke was Team of the 1990s despite the Pete Gaudet Incident; UNC made up for its one bad year with plenty of success the rest of the decade.  In ACC circles, UNC’s record of 8-20 is still brought up as a euphemism for terrible.  And that team was terrible – eight of their twenty losses were of the 20+ point variety as teams who had long been pushed around by UNC wasted no time in returning the favor, if only for a year.  It began with three straight opening losses to the likes of Hampton, Davidson and Indiana, continued with a series of whippings by Kentucky, Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke and Ohio (at home), but the most embarrassing part of the entire season had to be the Heels’ last game of the year in the ACC Tournament.  Deciding that UNC simply couldn’t stack up talent-wise with the defending national champion Blue Devils (who had defeated them by a total of 54 pts in their regular season meetings), Matt Doherty decided to slow the game down to a veritable crawl, holding the ball until under-ten on the shot clock before running a play.  The typically entertaining and high-scoring Duke-Carolina showdown was bastardized into a 28-22 at the half Big Ten game.  Doherty got one more year to turn the ship around, but a near-mutiny at the end of the 2002-03 season led to the Roy Williams era.

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Outlook for 2010s:  Grade: A+.   Roy Williams is 59 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down.  Unlike other coaches his age, he seems to embrace recruiting and it pays off year after year with NBA caliber talent coming through his program.  By our count, Williams has recruited an absurd THIRTY McDonald’s All-Americans in his twenty-one years of coaching (average: 1.4 per year) at Kansas and UNC, and there are no signs of this receding (14 at Carolina already, including four incoming freshman for 2009-10).  Duke is the only other program with thirty or more.  Furthermore, there’s absolutely no chance of Williams taking any other job, NBA or college – he’ll be at UNC until retirement.  We fully expect UNC to continue to make F4s and compete for championships throughout the next decade, and the Heels may be right here on top of this list again ten years from now.

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“I Could Give a Sh!t About North Carolina”

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 2008

I know the topic has been written about ad nauseum before, but I haven’t seen anything substantial written in the major news sources about it after the Elite 8 so I’m going to pretend that I’m breaking this story. . .

As most of you know after the 2003 season, Matt Doherty of 8-20 in 2001-2002 fame “resigned” from his position as head coach at UNC. Because Doherty resigned before the Final 4, much of the talk in the week leading up to the Final 4 that year (along with a freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony) was about who would take over the prized position as coach of the Tar Heels. After Dean Smith retired, he was succeeded for a brief period by Bill Guthridge, but that was only viewed as a temporary fix as, well let’s just say that Guthridge had a lot of “experience” by the time he became a head coach. UNC hired Doherty who was fresh off a great run at Notre Dame where he won a Big East Coach of the Year award. After a strong start, Doherty’s team fell apart the next year before entering the 2002-2003 season with a talented group of freshman that you may remember (Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Raymond Felton). They got off to a hot start that year winning the Preseason NIT with wins over then #2 Kansas (and Roy Williams) and a very talented Stanford squad. However, they fell apart when Sean May was injured soon after. Doherty’s resignation sparked widespread rumors with potential coaches ranging from the absurd (Dean Smith returning) to the more realistic choices (Williams and Larry Brown). Even Dick Vitale chimed in with his thoughts on the candidates.

All of this led up to the championship game, where after a week of questions about their coach leaving, Kansas fell to Syracuse 81-78 when Hakim Warrick came out of nowhere to swat away Michael Lee’s attempt to tie the game. In the post-game aftermath, Roy Williams was interviewed by Bonnie Bernstein. What followed was one of the great moments in sports TV history. Watch and enjoy:

It turns out that in some ways this “interview” became more famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) than the game itself. Some media members were quick to defend Bernstein. As for Williams, who late on April 7th denied even thinking about the UNC job for a second, he ended up leaving Kansas and his recruits and signed with UNC on April 14th. We won’t get into all the details of the process because it ended up being really convoluted, but Joe Posnanski covered it fairly well in his interview with Roy Williams soon after Williams decided to go to UNC.

The domino effect of this saga is pretty interesting in its own right:
- UNC hires Roy Williams from Kansas.
- Kansas hires Bill Self from Illinois.
- Illinois hires Bruce Weber from Southern Illinois.
- In 2005, UNC (Williams) defeats Illinois (Weber) in the national championship game.
- On Saturday night, Kansas (Self) gets a shot at revenge against Williams.

I can’t wait to see what the Kansas fans have in store for Old Roy on Saturday night. . .

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
- All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
- While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
- While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
- The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
- It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
- Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
- This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
- The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
- Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
- This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
- This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
- Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
- This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
- Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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