USC Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 16th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Next on our list: USC.

What Went Wrong

The biggest thing that went wrong were lofty expectations for a group of mostly transfers who had failed to have any success as a group in any of their previous stops. Despite the fact that this was a program coming off a six-win season, instead of playing with a chip on their collective shoulders, this team came out not just softly but selfishly. They went to a Maui Invitational with hopes of establishing themselves amid a flawed field, and instead got blown out by 30 in their opening round game against Illinois. They toughened up some after Maui, but then proceeded to blow several chances against good teams in excruciating fashion and took on eight non-conference losses. Senior point guard Jio Fontan looked terrible for the better part of two months after coming off a year lost to a torn ACL, Dewayne Dedmon seemed intent on throwing away his immense talent, J.T. Terrell pouted and fought his way through most of the early part of the year, and then on January 14, USC athletic director Pat Haden had seen enough, pulling the plug on Kevin O’Neill’s time in Los Angeles. The team rebounded somewhat under interim head coach Bob Cantu, winning six of eight games in the middle of the Pac-12 season, but then floundered down the stretch, culminating in an embarrassing brawl in downtown Pullman after the end of the regular season. All told, a mixture of immaturity and oversized egos appears to have done this team in.

The 2012-13 Season Gave Kevin O'Neill Headaches - And A Nice Buyout

The 2012-13 Season Gave Kevin O’Neill Headaches – And A Nice Buyout

What Went Right

Last year when we looked back on the 2011-12 Trojans, we said the best part about the year was that it was ending. This year, despite a net increase of eight wins, it is hard to say much of anything different. Maybe we call Omar Oraby, who quickly became a fan favorite, if not a coach’s favorite after transferring in from Rice, the team’s lone bright spot. Maybe we expand that to include Byron Wesley, who has been a rock for the Trojans in his two seasons there. But the fact is that the best things that have happened to this program have come since their most recent embarrassing season ended.

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Pac-12 M5: 03.04.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 4th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. UCLA head coach Ben Howland confirmed the obvious Sunday, saying that freshman Shabazz Muhammad had played his final game in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday when the Bruins defeated Arizona, 74-69. “That was his last game in Pauley. I knew going into this, this deal was a one-year deal.” Barring a huge reverse in plans or a major injury, Muhammad will be a lottery pick in June’s NBA Draft. Freshman guard Kyle Anderson didn’t want to discuss his future plans, saying that he is too caught up in the season to think about that. Muhammad went for 18 points against the Wildcats, with Anderson finishing right behind him at 17.
  2. Even more important than freshman Dominic Artis‘ physical return to the Oregon team on Thursday was the swagger and mental boost he provided to the Duck team. Even if he is not fully functional or playing a full compliment of minutes yet, getting the player back that led you to a 17-2 start is huge. Also big is the effect his return can have on the selection committee, who will take into account the injury for Oregon’s seeding if the Ducks play like they were in the first two and a half months of the season.
  3. On January 14, Bob Cantu took over a 7-10 USC team that was looking dysfunctional and heading nowhere. Since then the Trojans have gone 7-5 and have recorded wins over the likes of UCLA, Arizona, and Arizona State. SC is on the NIT bubble, and could very well make the field of 32 with a split in Washington and a win in the Pac-12 Tournament. At the very least, Cantu has at least earned the honor of being considered for the full-time stint in Los Angeles, but some are questioning if he was out of line by not playing senior Renaldo Woolridge during Saturday’s “Senior Night” game against Arizona State. As the piece points out, this was a big, Division I basketball game, and it’s not a time to play people just for the hell of it. But on the other hand, it wouldn’t exactly have hurt either to get Woolridge in for a minute or two. Regardless, Cantu is doing a great job with the SC program and this shouldn’t overshadow its terrific sweep of the Arizona schools this week.
  4. Oregon State will unveil the results of its re-branding efforts across all sports tonight at 6:30 Pacific. New logos, fonts, and uniforms will be revealed at the event that is more than two years in the making. Last month, one of the new logos was leaked, and the reviews were mixed. Whatever the final result is, it has to be better than what Arizona State rolled out earlier this week, right? You can view the festivities at osubeavers.com or follow along on Twitter at #ReBeaved.
  5. It’s Monday morning, which means John Templon’s NIT bracket projections are hot off the presses. Arizona State leads off the four Pac-12 schools that make the list as the top seed in the field, with a first round matchup projected against Northwestern. Stanford is right behind them as a two seed (making both part of the “last eight out of the NCAA”), also with an interesting game against Georgia Tech. Washington got a boost thanks to its Apple Cup win on Sunday, but the Huskies are still on the dangerous seven line, and they’ve got work to do to make sure their spot isn’t taken by an automatic bid. USC finishes off the Pac-12 list as an eight seed, with a projected first round game at Arkansas. The Trojans will need to win at least two of their final games to have a shot at making the field.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: USC Trojans

Posted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the USC Trojans.

Strengths: Fresh blood. You know the old legend about Keith Richards getting a complete change of blood in order to beat a heroin addiction prior to the Rolling Stones 1973 European tour? Well, if you’ll indulge a tortured analogy for a second: If Keith Richards is the USC basketball team, and his heroin addiction is SC’s 1-17 finish in a historically bad Pac-12, that blood transfusion is USC’s almost completely remade roster. With transfers, freshmen and players returning from seasons lost to injury, head coach Kevin O’Neill will likely only run a player or two out there who was around and active at the end of 2011-12. Instead Jio Fontan, J.T. Terrell, Eric Wise, DeWayne Dedmon, Aaron Fuller, Ari Stewart, Renaldo Woolridge and others will give the Trojans a chance to start anew, and with certainly a larger collection of offensive talent than has ever been assembled in the O’Neill era in Los Angeles. To reference the apocryphal story even further, it should be noted that even if Richards did undergo such a transfusion, it wasn’t his last run-in with addiction. But, nevertheless, that ’73 Stones tour was an undeniable success. And this Trojan team is capable of going from one with no expectations a year ago to one who could get some serious satisfaction this season, so long as that relapse can be withheld until after the tour.

Jio Fontan, USC

Jumpin’ Jio Fontan Is Back For The New Look Trojans, Who Hope A Complete Change Of Blood Will Reverse Their Fortunes

Weaknesses: While the Trojans have been strong defensively in each of O’Neill’s three years as head coach, they’ve been a plodding mess on offense, ranking no better than #93 in the nation in offensive efficiency (as always, per KenPom.com) before dipping to a putrid #326 last year. While he’s got tons of new pieces that could fit perfectly into his team’s jigsaw puzzle, KO’s got to prove that he can get it done with plenty of guys on this squad who have a history of bombing their way to unacceptably low field goal percentages (Fontan’s never even approached a 50% eFG rate, while Terrell, Stewart, Wise and Woolridge all had similar struggles at their previous stops). A newer concern for O’Neill is that, with the departure of last year’s point guard Maurice Jones, there is no margin for error at the point guard position for Fontan. If, god forbid, his surgically repaired knee causes him to miss any time again, the Trojans could be playing with fire.

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USC Week: One-On-One With Kevin O’Neill

Posted by AMurawa on July 5th, 2012

Kevin O’Neill took over the USC program in the wake of Tim Floyd’s abrupt resignation in June 2009.The instability within the program caused USC to lose much of its 2009 recruiting class, but O’Neill helped that team – playing without the hope of a postseason berth due to fallout from the Floyd era – keep it’s head above water, finishing with a 16-14 record. The following season, the Trojans were able to sneak into the NCAA Tournament, claiming a spot in the initial First Four, but last season the team was torn apart by injuries and recorded a program-worst 6-26 record. This year reinforcements arrive and folks around the USC program think they could be due for a big bounce-back season. As part of our week-long look at the Trojan basketball program, we had a chance last week to talk to O’Neill as he looks forward to 2012-13.

Kevin O'Neill, USC

In Three Seasons At USC, Kevin O’Neill Has Established A Tough Defensive Personality For His Trojan Team

Andrew Murawa: Obviously last year was one of those Murphy’s Law kind of years. Despite all of the bad luck and losses, are you able to find any silver lining in an otherwise bad year?

Kevin O’Neill: You know, once Jio (Fontan) got hurt in Brazil it all sort of fell apart. You kind of have to go back a couple of years. When we took over the program, there were no freshmen or sophomores – we lost two classes completely and we were able to piece it together with six guys per year for the first two years. And we knew we had to avoid injury for the third year. And then everyone got hurt. And once everybody got hurt, we didn’t have enough talent or enough players or enough depth. We had played without depth for two years and had been fortunate to avoid injuries, but it just caught up with up with us last year. But, it will make us appreciate this year a whole lot more.

AM: You did get some guys plenty of experience last year. Maurice Jones, for one, was forced into a pretty extreme role last year, playing a ton of minutes, having the ball in his hands a lot and probably taking more shots than he ever expected to take in his college career. With all the firepower you are getting back this year, is he looking forward to getting back to more of a normal role?

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USC Week: Reinforcements Arrive Among Seven Newcomers

Posted by AMurawa on July 4th, 2012

Coupled with the three players that the Trojans get back from season-ending injuries last season, Kevin O’Neill welcomes in four newly-eligible Division I transfers, two scholarship freshmen, and a walk-on freshman. This means that the USC team that finished off last season with an opening-round Pac-12 tourney loss to UCLA will bear almost no resemblance to the team that tips off the 2012-13 season in November. Below, we’ll introduce you to each of those seven newcomers, roughly in the order of impact that they’ll have on their new team.

  • J.T. Terrell, Junior, Guard, 6’3” 185 lbs, Wake Forest – Terrell played his freshman season as Wake Forest, scoring 11.1 points per game and finishing second on the team in scoring. But, two months before his sophomore season was to begin, he got busted for a DWI and decided to leave the school. He attended Peninsula College in Washington last season and averaged 24.4 points per game on his way towards earning the rating of the best junior college player in America (according to Swannys Roundball Review). In his single season with the Demon Deacons, Terrell showed a great fondness for shooting the ball, taking nearly 30% of his team’s field goal attempts while he was on the floor, but hitting only 38.8% of those. He showed improvement last season at the JuCo level, making 48% of his attempts from the field, but with this Trojan team featuring plenty of capable scorers, Terrell needs to show that he can be an effective offensive player even when not getting all the looks he wants.
J.T. Terrell, USC

J.T. Terrell Headlines A List of Four Newly Eligible Division I Transfers At USC (Chuck Burton/AP Photo)

  • Ari Stewart, Junior, Small Forward, 6’7” 205 lbs, Wake Forest – Stewart’s freshman season at Wake Forest came a year prior to Terrell’s, but they were remarkably similar. Like Terrell, Stewart took almost 30% of his team’s shots while on the floor (albeit in fewer minutes) and made just 37.5% of those. His sophomore season showed some signs of improvement as he became more judicious with his attempts and as a result shot a higher percentage, but for a guy who shoots a ton of threes, his percentage from behind the arc dipped from a solid 37.1% to a woeful 27.4%. Still, Stewart showed a new side to his game as a sophomore, taking on more of a ball-handling role and actually dishing out some assists; unfortunately, a big bump up in turnovers accompanied that change. At USC, he likely won’t be needed to do a whole lot of handling, but he will be asked to knock down the three from the corner and from the wing. He’ll at least need to bounce back to his freshman year efficiency to live up to expectations. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 05.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 2nd, 2012

  1. The biggest non-Amare Stoudemire basketball news on Tuesday was that the Atlantic 10’s courtship of Butler appears to have finally resulted in a match. ESPN.com reported last night that Butler will formally accept an offer today to join the league in 2013-14, replacing Temple in all sports. As one of the few truly elite mid-major basketball programs unaffiliated with a top 10 conference, this represents a major coup for the A-10 going forward regardless of whether the league is also able to also poach VCU and George Mason from the CAA. Butler’s admission helps to bolster the midwestern footprint of the conference, along with existing members Xavier, St. Louis and Dayton, and it will allow Brad Stevens an entree into the fertile recruiting grounds of the mid-Atlantic with multiple trips to the East Coast cities of New York, Philadelphia, Washington each year.
  2. The other conference realignment news that shook out on Tuesday related to another Atlantic 10 school, Charlotte, and whether that school will be on the move in coming days or weeks as well. The school rejected an offer to join the Sun Belt on Tuesday and reportedly did so because it anticipates an opportunity to join Conference USA after it adds a football program next year. Where this would leave C-USA is really anybody’s guess, as the conference is slowly but surely maneuvering toward an incomprehensible 30+ team behemoth (with the eventual pairing of the Mountain West). Whoever wrote the law of unintended consequences when all of this conference realignment stuff (re)started a couple of years ago could not have predicted this morass.
  3. In the 2008 presidential election, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky voted for Republican candidate John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama by a 58% to 41% margin. That 17% victory margin will be put to the test on Friday when the thing that Kentuckians love more than anything else in the world — their national champion Wildcats — will visit the Obama White House to honor and celebrate the school’s eighth NCAA trophy. Of course, these events are rarely political in tenor (apologies to the Boston Bruins’ Tim Thomas), but that hasn’t stopped full-time politicos from speculating that both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), who refused an invitation, and the White House, are playing partisan games in scheduling the event on Kentucky Derby week (which occurs Saturday). Is this an election year?
  4. Tuesday was a busy day in the world of comings and goings, but the most disheartening news is that college basketball will not get another year of Tim Abromaitis at Notre Dame. Abromaitis had petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility because he tore his ACL in November after playing only two games last season — he also had taken a redshirt year in 2008-09, meaning that he ultimately only suited up in South Bend for three full seasons. In other news, Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge (aka SwiperBoy) will spend his last year of eligibility at USC, no doubt spending his free time outside the gym over on the Sunset Strip pitching his audio wares.
  5. It was 10 months ago when Michigan recruit Austin Hatch lost his family, his dog and very nearly his own life in a horrific plane crash that left him with a severe brain injury and the possibility of a very restricted way of life. The Detroit Free-Press revisited his story on Tuesday and found that although there are still many steps to go, Hatch’s doctors say that his rehabilitation has been “as successful as anyone they have seen.” Hatch still plans on attending Michigan in a little over a year, and says that he keeps in touch with head coach John Beilein a couple of times a month. He hasn’t yet been cleared to play basketball, but he has the spirit and will to believe that he’ll get back on the court eventually. Considering how far he’s already come and with 17 months before his first collegiate practice in Ann Arbor, it’s hard to believe that he won’t get there and become one of the best stories in all of amateur athletics.
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Morning Five: 04.30.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 30th, 2012

  1. Later today Southern Mississippi will introduce Morehead State‘s Donnie Tyndall as its next head coach. Tyndall, who led Morehead State to two NCAA Tournament appearances (including an upset over Louisville in 2011) in six season, is expected to sign a four-year contract at Southern Mississippi. He will be replacing Larry Eustachy, who took the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 20 years this season before leaving to take over at Colorado State. Fortunately for Tyndall, Eustachy did not leave the cupboard bare as the Golden Eagles should have a very good team next season. We have not heard any word on potential replacements for Tyndall at Morehead State, but it seems like it would be a good location for a current assistant coach to step into his first head coaching spot.
  2. With all of the recent news surrounding transfers it was surprising to see that Duke transfer Michael Gbinije had decided to transfer to Syracuse. Although Gbinije, who saw little court time during his freshman year at Duke, will have to sit out a year, but the transfer is notable since he will be staying within the ACC with the Orange joining the ACC. Although we are sure that many of you out there are loath to hear the media heap any more praise on the Blue Devils we have to applaud their program for agreeing to do so or at least without all the fuss that other programs have created when a player tries to transfer.
  3. Wisconsin was one of the programs that found itself in the news over issues with a transfer (Jarrod Uthoff) recently and the person who was the symbol of the impeded transfer was Bo Ryan. While the ordeal was a bit of a public relations disaster for Ryan and Wisconsin and Uthoff will be leaving the school it seems like Ryan will be staying at the school through at least 2017 as the school gave him a five-year extension on Friday. Ryan, who has coached at Wisconsin for 12 seasons, has built the program into one of the premier programs in the Midwest and the entire country (probably a top 5 program if you ask Ken Pomeroy). We are looking forward to see what restrictions there are on Ryan if he wants to move to take another job.
  4. Renaldo Woolridge, best known for being the son of former NBA start Orlando and having produced music that pushed the boundaries of the NCAA rule book, will be transferring to Southern California and playing next season after playing three seasons at Tennessee. Woolridge has garnered quite a bit of attention for his musical exploits and his promotion of that music, but to date his production (never averaging more than 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game in any season) leaves quite a bit to be desired. Woolridge only has one season more at the collegiate level to make his mark on the court.
  5. What would a weekend be without a few idiotic run-ins with the authorities? This weekend’s “winners” are Josiah Turner and Pe’shon Howard. We will start with Turner, who decided to transfer from Arizona after a tumultuous freshman year. Turner was arrested this past week on suspicion of driving under the influence. The reports on the arrest do not provide further details including when the arrest happened, but it goes without saying that this will not help Turner in his search to find a program to transfer to although we suspect with his pedigree there will be plenty of Division I programs waiting with arms open for a player of Turner’s caliber. The details on Howard’s arrest are a little more clear as he was arrested at 2:35 AM on Sunday morning for his involvement in a fight out a restaurant in College Park, Maryland. Howard, who missed the last month of his sophomore season after tearing an ACL, was not directly involved in the physical altercation, but was involved verbally. Given the reports on the issue we doubt that Howard will get much more than a slap on the wrist from the Maryland coaching staff.
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Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 21st, 2012

  1. It did not take Rhode Island long to find a new head coach as they announced Dan Hurley as their new head coach at a press conference yesterday. Hurley has limited coaching experience at the college experience, but the experience he has had so far has been phenomenal as he turned around the Wagner program leading them to a 25-6 record in just his second year there. While almost everybody understands the move by Hurley, Gary Parrish notes that it is interesting in light of comments about how Hurley would not be using Wagner as a launching pad, but then did so just two months later.
  2. The situation at Southern Illinois appears to be a little less clear. Initial reports suggested that Bruce Weber had been offered his old job again. However, later in the day the school denied those reports and said its search was still ongoing. Weber appears to be the leader to become their next head coach, but the school reportedly has up to eight candidates (mostly current assistant coaches) who they would target to become their next head coach.
  3. Scott Sutton interviewed at Nebraska on Monday according to his father. Sutton, who is 250-161 in 13 seasons at Oral Roberts, appears to be one of the hotter names not named Shaka this offseason as we have also seen his name linked to Tulsa and Mississippi State. With so many options on the table, we suspect that Scott will have his choice of leaving Oral Roberts if that is his desire. We should also point out how humorous other reports of this story were that reported “sources” had indicated that Scott had interviewed with the Huskers. While his father is technically a source, he is probably a little more credible than your average anonymous source.
  4. Long time followers of our site are familiar with the musical works of Renaldo Woolridge (aka Baller Vol). Woolridge, who was a senior at Tennessee this season, was granted a hardship waiver and given an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. Interestingly, Woolridge plans to use that extra year to transfer to another school. We are not sure what his reasons are, but Cuonzo Martin appears to have signed off on the transfer unlike a certain coach in Philadelphia.
  5. There were a couple of big transfers in the Pac-12 yesterday. The biggest was the announcement that Trent Lockett, the leading scorer for Arizona State last season, would be transferring to be closer to his ailing mother. Lockett, who averaged 13 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season, is expected to head back to Minnesota to be closer to his mother although he has not announced which school he intends to transfer to for his remaining eligibility. Lockett is the 12th Sun Devil to leave the program in the past four years although we cannot pin this one on the program as there appears to be more serious family issues at play here. Alexis Moore and Curtis Washington both announced yesterday that they would be the second and third Trojans in a week to transfer from USC. While things may seem really bad for a team that was 6-26 this season and now has lost three of its better players from last season, there is some hope in the form of a talented group of incoming players.
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Freeze Frame: Tennessee’s Three-Point Defense

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 20th, 2011

Tennessee lost 71-65 to a good College of Charleston team in Knoxville on December 14, but this loss was avoidable. The Volunteers looked lost on defense because of inconsistencies in effort and a lack of communication on perimeter screens. The Vols didn’t body up to Charleston’s shooters, allowing open looks all night. This is not a new problem for Cuonzo Martin’s club. Tennessee has allowed opposing guards to light it up all season long. In each of its losses this year, Tennessee has been unable to lock down the opposition’s star player:

  • Duke: Seth Curry – 17 points, four assists
  • Memphis: Will Barton – 25 points, one assist
  • Oakland: Reggie Hamilton – 35 points, three assists
  • Pittsburgh: Ashton Gibbs – 16 points, six assists
  • Austin Peay: TyShwan Edmondson – 19 points, two assists
  • College of Charleston: Antwaine Wiggins – 24 points, eight rebounds

College of Charleston came into this game making 34.9% of its three-point attempts. Against the Vols, the Cougars were 7-15 (46.7%). In this installment of Freeze Frame, we will examine UT’s inability to close out on good shooters, which allowed CofC to win this game.

Play 1 (17 minutes remaining in the first half)

Antwaine Wiggins is the Cougars’ most prolific scorer at 18.1 points per game. Cameron Tatum started out the game defending him, however, Tatum got tangled up on screens several times allowing Wiggins to get free. In the first play, Wiggins takes Tatum through two screens to find an open three point shot on the perimeter. Trent Weideman (#44) for CofC sets the first screen at the top of the key.

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Morning Five: 08.17.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2011

  1. Boom.  That explosion you just heard coming from South Beach and nearby environs had nothing to do with Texas A&M, Mike Slive or Mark Emmert.  No, it was Yahoo Sports’ Tuesday release of a penetrating and ultimately damning piece exposing a long-term, sustained pattern of NCAA lawlessness, “some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs.”  While the majority of the allegations and claims made by currently imprisoned Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro involves the football program, former Hurricane head coach Frank Haith, former assistants Jorge Fernandez and Jake Martin, and current senior basketball player, DeQuan Jones, were all named as having benefited or been involved in some capacity (click the links on their names to see the specific allegations and evidence against them).  Notwithstanding the mess that new Miami coach Jim Larranaga has now stepped into down in Coral Gables, all three of Missouri (Haith), Western Kentucky (Morton), and Marshall (Fernandez) must all be wondering what kind of damage control they’re going to need to employ in order to keep the NCAA from roosting on their doorsteps.  Haith has already denied any allegations relating to Shapiro, for whatever that’s worth.  Certainly the NCAA is already on its way to south Florida, and depending on what else they uncover, Hurricane basketball could be in serious trouble (although not nearly to the extent of the football team).
  2. From the last-thing-on-anyone’s-mind department at the U, there was also a Tuesday announcement that DePaul freshman guard Shane Larkin, the son of former Cincinnati Reds baseball star Barry Larkin, is transferring to Miami to be closer to home (Orlando) because of an unnamed medical condition.  Since he already took part in summer coursework and preseason practices at DePaul before the Blue Demon team went to France this month, he’ll either have to sit out the 2011-12 season in Coral Gables or apply for and receive a medical waiver from the NCAA to play this year.  Larkin is already taking some heat from those who believe his “condition” is a mere smokescreen so he can get out of Chicago without penalty, but given what’s going on at Miami right now, he may want to reconsider.  Undoubtedly new head coach Jim Larranaga, whose program cannot help but feel some of the heat and fallout from this scandal, would be happy to have him on the court this coming season.
  3. We alluded yesterday to the fact that the vast majority of the top players in the Class of 2012 remain uncommitted.  Jeff Goodman points out that this is an anomaly in an environment where kids have usually been locked and loaded to a specific school for quite a bit of time at this point.  Whatever the reason for this year’s weirdness (15 of last year’s top 25 were committed at the same point), Goodman is correct in noting that the coming months of September and October will be an all-out war among schools trying to impress the top prospects with on-campus visits in the hopes of getting a verbal and, subsequently, a John Hancock during the November 11-17 signing period.
  4. Horrible story from down south this week involving a Sun Belt and Southland Conference referee who apparently committed suicide after learning that his wife had been murdered at their home in Houston.  Troy Raymond, a long-time NBA and college basketball official with a good reputation for his on-court skill set, was found in a hotel room in New Orleans on Friday only a few hours after his wife’s strangled body was discovered a few hours west.  There appears to be much more to this story, though, as CBSSports.com reported that his wife had recently asked him for a divorce and that at least one conference had recently informed him that he would not be brought back to officiate next season.  You hate to speculate as to what might have happened because two lives are already gone and assuredly countless others impacted, but let’s cross our fingers and hope against hope that it wasn’t the unthinkable.
  5. Last week we thought that Swiperboy, a/k/a Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge, had decided to hang up his microphone for good, but according to his blog in a post called “You really thought I was done?”, he now claims he was misinterpreted.  The new story is that his upcoming mixtape, Zazzzle, will in fact be his last; but, he has no plans to give up rapping and he expects his first studio album “Crossover” to drop in stores next spring.  Say what you like about Swiperboy, but he’s already got down the dramatic essence of becoming a hip-hop superstar — always leave them wanting more.  He also seems to enjoy rapping about his environment, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, although what America (and RTC) really wants to hear is a “Hit ‘em Up” missive on his former coach, Bruce Pearl.  For now, we’ll have to settle on his new single, “Teach Me How to Dooley,” a song dedicated to Derek Dooley, UT’s head football coach [ed note: is that pool located at Pearl's house currently for sale?].

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Morning Five: 08.09.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 9th, 2011

  1. It looks like you’ll have to go the rest of your life without any new rhymes from Tennessee senior forward Renaldo Woolridge, or at least until he decides to make his (inevitable) comeback. Going by Swiperboy as far as his rap, er, career is concerned, Woolridge has decided to pull the plug on his mic because he doesn’t get why other, lesser-talented rappers have achieved record deals while he remains unsigned, a common lament among countless rappers, garage bands, prog rockers, et al. We’ve been asking questions about the rules on this for a long time, by the way, without a satisfactory reply. Woolridge (1.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.5 APG last season) will be one of only two UT seniors in the upcoming season.
  2. “I look into the hills, whence comes my help,” was a scripture Adolph Rupp once quoted regarding his in-state recruits who eventually became wearers of the Kentucky blue. One former Wildcat who knows something about coming from the hills is Richie Farmer, a sharpshooting high school legend from the middle of nowhere in the 1980s who ended up not just donning the UK uniform, but found himself in the spring of 1992 playing in what most people still feel is the greatest college basketball game ever played.  RTC alum Josh Weill takes an enjoyable look back and also has the latest on this man whose name will always be associated with bluegrass basketball legend more than the bumpy political career that followed his time in Lexington.
  3. Andre Drummond. The top recruit in the 2012 high school class. Or is it 2011? Is he staying or going? Or staying in high school but going elsewhere? Drummond says he could enroll in college this year, but has considered staying in prep school another year. His coach says probably not. What’s going on, here? Is Drummond planning to go to prep school for another year and then enter the NBA Draft by the age limit rule? Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy examines the Drummond question and explains why that plan would certainly not be in the best interests of the young man.
  4. Considering the last two seasons, we almost don’t want to say anything out loud or write it anywhere on this site, lest something bad happen and we lose all of our Purdue readers, not to mention the chance to watch the young man play again…but Robbie Hummel is good to go. In case you missed his tweet on Friday, Hummel claims that he “passed all his tests.” If you’re not following him, that link takes you to his account, so now you’re out of excuses. How he comes back will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the early part of the 2011-12 season.
  5. LSU’s Matt Derenbecker would have been a sophomore for the Tigers this year, but, as he explained to NOLA.com, he will be withdrawing from LSU immediately to “address some personal matters.” Derenbecker played in all 32 of the Tigers’ games last season and averaged a pretty healthy 22.6 minutes per contest, putting up 6.5 PPG and 2.1 RPG. He was a two-time high school POY in Louisiana, and despite some growing pains as a freshman, we (and probably many LSU fans) were looking forward to seeing how his game progressed. Whatever he’s going through, we hope he comes out fine on the other end and is back playing basketball somewhere soon.
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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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