Morning Five: 01.31.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 31st, 2011

  1. Anyone who watched St. John’s take down Duke yesterday saw a strange and lethargic facsimile of the Blue Devil squad we’ve seen previously this year. That’s by no means an excuse and isn’t meant to take anything from the Johnnies’ victory, but before you fall victim to the tendency to put too much stake in one game and start selling your Duke stock, we offer you the calming tone of Mike Miller’s take at Beyond the Arc. By the way…whither the Red Storm? There are some bad losses there, but they have wins over Duke, Notre Dame, Georgetown, and at West Virginia. Their pressure-cooker January is over, and now we’ll see if that tough stretch of their schedule seasoned them for the second half of their Big East slate. If so, the Tournament awaits as a reward.
  2. Does anyone remember Central Florida? Donnie Jones‘ in-conference move from Marshall to UCF in the off-season (along with his reputation as a good up-and-coming coach) already had people aware of the Golden Knights, and then everybody got wise when they beat Florida and Miami (FL) on the way to winning their first 14 games this year. Since that start, UCF has dropped six straight and find themselves last in Conference USA. The Knights have eleven players who play at least 12 minutes a game, and Jones feels that one of the keys to UCF getting its mojo back is to shorten the rotation to seven or eight players for the last nine games. Unfortunately, that won’t be difficult, now that junior guard A.J. Rompza is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot.
  3. Having trouble finding a good comparison for The Jimmer with which to enlighten your unhip friends? Bob Ryan contemplates the methodology and validity of comparing one player to a former player and, in doing so,  offers an outstanding parallel to Fredette that we haven’t seen mentioned anywhere, even considering the unhealthy amounts of time we spend on Twitter and reading the works of our favorite columnists. The article also further justifies why you should be reading Bob Ryan on a regular basis.
  4. After the thrills that Butler provided all of us last season (and remembering how nice the people there were to us on our visit there last April), it’s been tough to watch last year’s finalist come back to earth as much as they have this year so far. Even with the early departure of Gordon Hayward, every Bulldog coach and player is aware of the difference between last season and this one: their effort on defense. In the article, Brad Stevens mentions how he’s ready to give walk-ons more minutes if it means better team defense, and Shelvin Mack includes himself in his own assessment, noting, “We gave up 60 points in one half [to Valparaiso on Saturday]. Last year we gave up sixty points in a game.”
  5. Even without rooting interest, the best part of this weekend of basketball was the hint of a smile we saw on the face of KansasThomas Robinson on a couple of occasions during the Jayhawks’ game against Kansas State. As much as fate has asked he and his little sister Jayla to grow up in the last month, it’s good to see that Robinson even still has the capacity to smile. It would be understandable if he had lost it for a while. One fellow who can relate to what Robinson is going through and recall that kind of loneliness is former Clemson defensive back Ray Ray McElrathbey, whose ordeal from five years ago bears some similarities to Robinson’s. A must-read from the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger.
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