In Their Own Words, SEC Style: Inaugural Chapter

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 19th, 2012

In Their Own Words will be a regular feature on the SEC Microsite that will explore tweets, quotes, videos or any other type of media outlet where players or coaches choose to communicate.

Ole Miss – Mississippi State

The Egg Bowl rivalry has created some good ole-fashioned trash-talking from some of the players involved. Mississippi State’s Dee Bost had this to say about the game:

@DBost3: We in Oxford tomorrow lol

LOL indeed, Dee. Oxford… Laughing out loud. But I guess in retrospect, playing in Tad Smith Coliseum is no laughing matter. It seems like Bost waged war with the Rebels with that comment, but then later he was ready to call a truce. Sort of:

Dee Bost added fuel to the fire in an already hostile rivalry against Ole Miss

@DBost3: I wish these ole miss ppl stop tweeting me damn get a life

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Set Your TiVo: 01.13-01.15

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 13th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

A couple of Mountain West battles highlight Saturday’s action but the big one is late Sunday afternoon in the Big Ten.

#14 Connecticut @ Notre Dame – 11:00 AM EST Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Led by Andre Drummond’s 20/11 on 9-11 FG, Connecticut got back on track by defeating West Virginia on Monday night. To win on the road, the Huskies will need quality efforts from most of their roster. That starts with Shabazz Napier protecting the basketball. Jim Calhoun’s sophomore point guard sets the tone for this team, good or bad. Napier (and UConn as a whole) has struggled with turnovers, especially in Big East play. On the road against a team looking to make its mark in the middle of the conference, the Huskies have to do a better job handing the ball if they are to win this one. The more possessions UConn can earn by using its strong rebounding advantage while minimizing turnovers, the more opportunities there will be for talented players such as Drummond, Jeremy Lamb (25 points vs. WVU) and Ryan Boatright to score.

    Can Napier Step Up To Lead The Huskies?

  • Believe it or not, Notre Dame actually has an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament. 37 at-large bids have to come from somewhere and the Fighting Irish are on the bubble according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. This will be a tall order for Notre Dame, even at home. The Irish have won 29 consecutive home games but that will be tested mightily against the Huskies. The emergence of Jack Cooley in the paint could be the biggest reason why Notre Dame has a chance to upset UConn. Cooley has averaged 16.5 PPG and 9.7 RPG over his last eight games, the latest Notre Dame big man to develop nicely under Mike Brey. However, Cooley will likely have a more difficult time against Connecticut’s stifling interior defense. The Huskies have always owned the paint under Calhoun and this year is no different. Notre Dame has to make outside shots in order to win because it can’t count on Cooley alone inside. Jerian Grant has turned into a consistent scorer but the Irish need a third option. Brey had hoped Scott Martin would be that guy but he has really struggled. However, Martin is impacting the game in other ways, rebounding well even when the shots aren’t falling. Notre Dame must try to get to the foul line as well. UConn historically doesn’t foul often so this could be difficult even at home.
  • If Drummond plays like he did against West Virginia, the Huskies will be a strong favorite. UConn must rebound aggressively to counteract any turnover problems it may have. The Irish have struggled shooting the three ball this year and Connecticut ranks second in interior defense. If those statistics hold true, Notre Dame will have an incredibly difficult time scoring. The good news for the Irish? They have been the best team defending the triple in Big East play (20.9%). For UConn, it’s simple. Protect the ball, rebound, and defend the paint. If the Huskies do that, they will snap ND’s 29-game home winning streak. Easier said than done, of course.
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SEC Morning Five: 01.12.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 12th, 2012

  1. ESPNU will debut the latest in the SEC “Storied” documentary series on February 11 with 40 Minutes of Hell. The film goes behind the scenes on former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson‘s success with the Razorbacks in the early 1990s. The “40 minutes of hell” fast paced and pressing style that Richardson employed in the SEC won him the National Championship in 1994. Richardson’s separation from the university was anything but amicable as he slapped Arkansas with a wrongful termination lawsuit. The Razorbacks hired Richardson’s protege, Mike Anderson, as head coach helping to bring the former coach closer to fans, players, and the University of Arkansas. Not to mention, the hire also brought back a style of play that is modeled after Richardson’s championship winning system.
  2. Senior forward Lance Goulbourne has found his role on Vanderbilt’s roster, and he is making his impact felt on the defensive end. Goulbourne has limited the role of several prominent big men in recent games, holding Marquette’s Jae Crowder to 30.8% shooting and Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel (just to name a couple) to just 2 points on 1-7 shooting. “He’s done an unbelievable job about three games in a row where the team’s best player was the four man,” Vanderbilt guard Brad Tinsley said. “He’s really figured out how to take what the coaches tell him and put that out on the court.” With the return of center Festus Ezeli and solid defense from Jeffery Taylor, Goulbourne’s defense is an added plus for a team known more for its offense. The Commodores’ commitment to the defensive end has their defense ranked ahead of their offense in latest Pomeroy efficiency rankings.
  3. Kentucky coach John Calipari has a theory for why his Wildcats haven’t been effective on the road in the last couple of years. He says the SEC is not an easy league to compete in, and declares that the league could have as many as five teams competing in the Sweet Sixteen. “This league, with the top five teams that we have, that are all NCAA Tournament teams, and really,” said Calipari. “I’ll make a prediction, other than us, of those five, I would say four of those, without us, will be Sweet 16 teams. How about that?” It’s not that far-fetched of a prediction. Vanderbilt and Florida have the talent to compete with anybody in the nation, and Alabama and Mississippi State have both proven its legitimacy within the top 25 teams in the country. And of course, Kentucky, which Calipari didn’t put as a Sweet 16 team, will be competing well into March and most likely early April.
  4. Billy Donovan wasn’t happy with Florida’s defense in its loss against Tennessee, but the Gators played with much more intensity in their win Tuesday night over the Georgia Bulldogs. With all eyes on the defensive end, Florida held the Dogs to just 36.4 percent shooting on the night. Donovan was satisfied this time around. “I thought we defended them very, very well,” Donovan said. “We held them to 48 points. I think if you hold any team to 48 points you’ve done a pretty good job defensively.” The Gators, however, continued to neglect Patric Young in the post, as Young attempted just five shots on the night. If Florida can continue to hold opponents to 48 points, the lack of a post game may be a moot point.
  5. Mississippi State’s big man Renardo Sidney didn’t start on Saturday for the Bulldogs because of a coach’s decision. “I wanted to save him some foul trouble,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “He had two fouls early in all those games.” The strategy wasn’t very effective as Sidney still committed three fouls in the first half. The fast paced action perpetuated by Arkansas’ full court pressure limited Sidney’s effectiveness. He scored just six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. His replacement in the starting lineup, Wendell Lewis had similar issues. Lewis was limited to two points in 14 minutes of action.
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SEC Morning Five: 01.11.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 11th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie has experienced a decline in points over the last three games. The power forward averaging 16.2 points per game has also grabbed 2.1 fewer offensive rebounds per game during this stretch. Coaches are keyed in on Moultrie’s ability to get second-chance opportunities in close range for the Bulldogs, and they’re scheming to keep him off the rim. The Bulldogs’ next opponent, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, discussed his strategy saying, “The way he rebounds the basketball, the way he scores on the block, you want to try to get him off the block. You want to try to keep him off the glass.” That strategy is certainly easier said than done, but it again reiterates the importance of forward Renardo Sidney’s play down low. Sidney needs to continue to stay in the ballgame by improving his conditioning and avoiding foul trouble so that he can help take pressure off Moultrie in the post. Moultrie only attempted six shots in the Bulldogs’ weekend loss to Arkansas.
  2. His star player hasn’t been as effective, but Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury isn’t panicking just yet. The players, however, believe that SEC teams have their gameplan for attacking the Bulldogs. “Pressure us and run us,” freshman Rodney Hood said. Moultrie added, “I think pretty much every team is going to come in and try to press us.” The strategy certainly worked for Arkansas. The Razorbacks forced 18 turnovers. But the Bulldogs’ head coach is more concerned with the 98 points the defense allowed, the most points a Stansbury coached team has ever given up. “They hit us in the mouth early and I don’t know if we ever recovered from it,” Stansbury said. The 56.5% field goal percentage is the only time a team has shot above 50% on the Bulldogs’ defense all season.
  3. Tony Barbee is finally under contract with the Auburn Tigers, signing a seven-year deal with the team he’s already been coaching for 22 months. Barbee and Auburn had been operating on a letter of understanding since March 24, 2010. “I’m glad it’s signed,” Barbee said. “The contract was a bigger deal for everybody else but Auburn and me. I was very comfortable with the letter of agreement we were working under… Auburn had committed to me. I had committed to them.” Barbee is 10-5 in his second year as head coach of the Tigers, and faces John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday night.
  4. Forward Murphy Holloway may be ready to to go for the Ole Miss Rebels after being sidelined with an injury sustained on December 21. “[He's] probable for tomorrow,” Rebels’ coach Andy Kennedy said. “The pain he feels is from that bone bruise. That tendon, the ligament is all pretty stable. For him, he’s still having some pain — which you can see in his gait. Some of it may be anticipatory, some of it may be in his mind.” (Ok, who had to google the word “gait?” Kennedy always keeps us on our toes.) Holloway’s return should provide a boost on offense for a team without leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson. Ole Miss has lost four of its last five games heading into a home matchup with the red-hot Razorbacks.
  5. Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn’t at all happy with the Gators’ defensive effort against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. “We didn’t play hard at all, on both ends of the floor,” freshman Bradley Beal said. “Our defense, we didn’t play great help defense, we didn’t guard the ball well. Our transition defense wasn’t good. We had too many breakdowns during the game. I mean, it really cost us.” The Gators allowed the Vols to shoot 51%, the highest percentage Florida has allowed all year. Florida isn’t a strong enough defensive squad to have off shooting nights, and Donovan’s three-point bombers weren’t hitting with their normal efficiency. The Gators shot 31.8% from beyond the arc, spelling a recipe for disaster on the road. Donovan needs to shore up Florida’s defensive effort to  protect his team against another bad shooting night, whether on the road or on a neutral site court deep during a tournament run in March.
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Baylor Preserves Its Undefeated Record, But Hardly in Encouraging Fashion

Posted by dnspewak on December 29th, 2011

Baylor beat a top-15 team on Wednesday night, and that’s terrific. The undefeated Bears locked down Mississippi State on the final possession of the game to ice the win, holding the Bulldogs to 41% from the field and they actually won the rebounding battle for a change. For good measure, they even threw down a few electric dunks in the second half to give a partisan crowd in Dallas something to cheer about. But this 54-52 win wasn’t anything for Baylor to brag about. In fact, the play on the court at the American Airlines Center hardly resembled a marquee matchup between two ranked squads. After Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson combined for five three-pointers in the first half, the Bears failed to make a trey after halftime and finished with almost twice as many turnovers (15) as team assists (8). With scouts from nearly every NBA franchise in the building, star Perry Jones scored just eight points, and Baylor’s big men looked frustrated all night against the beef and length of Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney. Scott Drew‘s halfcourt offense was not pretty in the second half, and that was punctuated by several missed layups, missed free throws and silly turnovers near the end of the game.

Baylor Knocked Off Mississippi State, But It Wasn't Pretty (credit: Austin Statesman)

You think that’s bad? Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney committed a technical foul with his team leading by two points in the final minute, and after BU took the lead, the Bulldogs’ final possession consisted of a few passes 30 feet from the basket and a wild, contested mid-range attempt by Rodney Hood to end the game. It was blocked, but you could have guessed that. The Bulldogs scored just 19 points in the second half, one less than Baylor’s 20. Point guard Dee Bost‘s struggles from three-point land continued with a 1-5 effort, and as usual, Sidney dominated when he played but only logged 19 minutes due to foul trouble. Rick Stansbury‘s team shot seven free throws but made just three, and it also finished with just nine team assists.

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Big 12 Weekly Primer: December 28-29

Posted by dnspewak on December 28th, 2011

GAME OF THE WEEK

  • #11 Mississippi State at #6 Baylor, Wednesday, 8 PM CT in Dallas (ESPN2)

Scott Drew's Team Is Flying High Heading Into Tonight's Game

At 12-0 and fresh off a Las Vegas Classic sweep of St. Mary’s and West Virginia, there’s not a whole lot left for Baylor to prove. The 6th-ranked Bears seem to have it all: dominant bigs, freakish athleticism, terrific dunkers and, most importantly, steady guard play. Junior college All-American Pierre Jackson, Boston College transfer Brady Heslip and junior A.J. Walton have formed a strong trio in the backcourt, and they’re helping Perry Jones and the crew lead the way in the paint. Cal transfer Gary Franklin has also impressed since gaining eligibility, as he’s turned the ball over just once in four games. That’s a striking contrast from last season, when Scott Drew wasted a boatload of NBA talent due to poor guard play and other issues. Baylor still has some work to do in the rebounding department, and it also turns the ball over a bit too much at times. But those are kinks Drew will work out during the course of the season, and they shouldn’t hold Baylor back against Mississippi State. In many ways, the Bulldogs are a mirror image of Baylor. They have a dangerous frontcourt duo in Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, but Rick Stansbury’s guards have stepped up to help the Bulldogs to a 12-1 start. Dee Bost may be this team’s most important player as both a scorer and leader of the offense, and it’s going to be up to him to make smart decisions on a semi-neutral floor in Dallas tonight. Let’s not be silly here, though. This game will be won in the paint, and it all depends on which stars show up to play. Jones had a lot of questions to answer this season after a somewhat disappointing freshman season, but he has looked like a new man so far in 2011-12. That’s also an accurate description for Moultrie, who has embraced his role as the enforcer in Starkville after two modest seasons at UTEP. In his first year of eligibility, Moultrie has already recorded seven double-doubles, and he’s both getting to the line (6.0 attempts per game) and converting his free throws (88.3 percent). Against Jones, Quincy Miller, Quincy Acy and the other forwards with giant wingspans on the Baylor roster, Moultrie has a chance to prove his worth on national television.

The key individual matchup is… Dee Bost vs. A.J. Walton/Pierre Jackson/Gary Franklin. Jackson has not started a game this year, and Franklin just became eligible four games ago, but they’re both stealing time away from starter A.J. Walton at the point. It’s not a bad problem for Drew to have, since all three are playing reasonably well. It’s no secret who runs the show for Mississippi State, though. Dee Bost will likely attempt the most shots for the Bulldogs tonight, he’ll lead the team in assists and he will also be the most disruptive defensive presence on the floor. After all, he’s in the top-10 all-time in steals at Mississippi State, which means Walton, Jackson and Franklin better take care of the basketball. The elite forwards in this game cannot get to work unless the point guards play well. For Bost, that means taking good shots. When MSU plays well, it’s usually because Bost finds a groove and plays within the offense. But when Bost struggles– say, like his 2-9 effort in a loss to Akron or a 4-16 performance in a near-collapse at Detroit– this team is in trouble. It will be interesting to see who Drew leans on at his point guard spot. Franklin and Jackson actually played more minutes than Walton in the team’s overtime win against West Virginia, and Jackson starred in that game with 23 points and a tying three-point in the final minute.

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SEC Morning Five: 12.23.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 23rd, 2011

  1.  In Mississippi’s 68-56 loss to Middle Tennessee State, the Rebels’ guards failed to take care of the basketball turning it over 21 times. Freshman Jelan Kendrick, playing in just his second collegiate game ever, might be the answer Andy Kennedy needs at point guard. Kendrick turned the ball over just one time while scoring eight points, dishing out three assists, grabbing four steals, and securing three rebounds.”I’m just looking for somebody that doesn’t throw it to the other team,” Kennedy said. “I don’t mean that flippantly, but that’s the truth.” Although that might be the first time we have ever heard a coach use the term “flippantly”, the point, both literally and figuratively, is not lost. Kennedy gave Kendrick a chance to restore his troubled career, and he may give the 6’7″ guard a chance to run this Rebels team at the point guard position.
  2. Kenny Boynton‘s increases in field goal and three point shooting percentages are not by chance or simply another year of experience. Boynton reviews film after each game to improve upon his shot selection. “I watch the whole game,” Boynton said. “Every game. I’m looking at the shots I’ve taken. Were they open shots or tough shots? I didn’t do that my first two years. It’s really helped me a lot, because it’s helped me learn about shot selection.” Boynton is averaging 18.3 points and 3.0 assists per game. His extra time has not only made him a better player, but has made Florida a legitimate SEC title contender.
  3. It’s the holiday season, and what Florida really needs in its stocking is a focus on entry passes to the low block for its big man Patric Young. Young is currently shooting 63.3% from the field, but his touches have been limited by an abundance of overzealous shooting guards on the perimeter. He is highly efficient and helps open up the three point shot in the inside-out game. Young’s best game of the year came against Arizona when he took 15 shots, converting on 12, to score 25 points and grab 10 rebounds. Now Florida’s guards need to make sure those kind of performances come more often for the center. And if it isn’t too much to ask, all I really want for Christmas is for Young to keep wearing those protective glasses. He is so much more intimidating in a cool pair of shades.
  4. Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney continues to make strides on the basketball court, and he is now making solid contributions for the Bulldogs. In his last three games, Sidney has averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds. “I’d like to still get more minutes from him but, again, I’ll take less minutes as long as they’re more productive,” Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. “There have been signs of him getting better.” While Sidney still breathes towards the end of games like a dog in 110 degree heat, he is averaging 21.8 minutes this season. Sidney’s increased presence in the post could give Mississippi State one of the most dominant frontlines in the country as forward Arnett Moultrie continues to be one of the most consistent performers in the SEC. Moultrie got his seventh double-double of the season against Northwestern State on Thursday.
  5. Speaking of Mississippi State, senior point guard Dee Bost still feels like the Bulldogs are underrated despite staking a solid spot in the polls. “I feel like people don’t respect us enough,” Bost said. “We just have to keep winning to get people’s respect. With polls, that’s people’s opinions. We have to keep winning because that’s all we can control.” MSU is playing top-10 ranked Baylor next week, and Bost, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity to knock off a talented team. “We have another chance to prove where we are in the nation. People don’t respect us. If we win that game, people will respect us.” Alright Bost, it’s a deal. Beat Baylor next week and you will have our respect. Fall short, and we reserve the right to keep questioning the Bulldogs’ legitimacy.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 14th, 2011

  1. Is 2011 the worst year in the history of Tennessee athletics? Bruce Pearl resurrected a Tennessee basketball program from the depths of the SEC, building the program from the ground up, only to singlehandedly burn it to the ground with a BBQ in his backyard. As much good as Pearl did for the state of UT basketball, he did far more to tear it down after the NCAA forced the Volunteers’ hand in firing him. The state of the Tennessee basketball program has fallen to the point where the Vols lost to a 1-9 Austin Peay team last week, and nobody gave the box score a second look. New coach Cuonzo Martin will restore Tennessee to a place where it has become accustomed, but it cannot be stressed enough just how far the Volunteers have fallen.
  2. Kentucky’s loss to Indiana on Saturday was an instant classic. The atmosphere in Bloomington, the buzzer-beating shot to win it all and the fall of the number one program in the land made for must-see TV. The game drew 3.5 million viewers, which is impressive, but as Gary Parrish points out, the series could be canceled because of the imminent addition of two SEC games to UK’s schedule. My knee jerk reaction is the same as Parrish’s — college basketball is better because of home-and-home series with bitter rivals. And so are the teams that get the experience of playing on the road in a hostile environment. Kentucky may have lost the game last Saturday, but the Cats will likely be a better team come March because of it.
  3. Much has been made over the last several days on the microsite regarding Terrence Jones‘ disappearance in Kentucky’s last game. Jones didn’t show up, and nobody, including Jones, is arguing that point. But it wasn’t just fans and overzealous bloggers who took notice of his disappointing play. Several NBA scouts are divided on where to take Jones in the next NBA Draft. Some indicate they would take him in the top half of the lottery while other scouts would pass on Jones altogether. The sophomore forward returned to Kentucky to win a National Championship and to raise his stock in the NBA Draft, and he can’t continue to play with the poor attitude he displayed on Saturday if he wants to reach either of those goals.
  4. Florida Atlantic gave Mississippi State everything the Bulldogs could handle Tuesday night until MSU pulled away in the final minute for a 75-68 win. Rick Stansbury’s club obviously missed the production of forward Arnett Moultrie, who sat out with knee tendinitis. Moultrie averages 17.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game on the season. Overweight forward Renardo Sidney did everything he could to fill in for Moultrie with 10 points and eight rebounds, but looked exhausted in the final few minutes. Sidney walked up and down the court in the second half, and still doesn’t have the conditioning or desire to be a star for the Bulldogs. Instead he has settled in nicely as a role player that complements Moultrie’s production. However, it is clear that Sidney doesn’t have the motor to provide the hustle and effort that Moultrie gives day in and day out for Mississippi State.
  5. South Carolina got a much needed 66-55 win over Presbyterian College on Tuesday night. Bruce Ellington came off the bench to give a steady influence the Gamecocks need at the guard position. Ellington scored 15 points and committed only two turnovers in 25 minutes of play. The Gamecocks have won two games in a row after a three-point win over Clemson on December 4. But wait… do the Gamecocks really think they can beat Ohio State on Saturday if they play like they did in the second half of the PC game? To be fair, the author says USC has “a proverbial puncher’s chance” and Ellington’s return has South Carolina looking like a much better team. At this point, there is no word on Jared Sullinger’s return from a back injury that sidelined him for the Buckeyes’ loss last weekend to Kansas. Maybe South Carolina’s chances aren’t such a longshot after all.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.12.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 12th, 2011

  1. Kentucky played really well on Saturday considering it was without its best player playing in a hostile environment against Indiana. Ok, so technically Terrence Jones played for the Wildcats, but he performed quite a disappearing act. “These guys are not machines, guys,” John Calipari said. “They’re not computers. They have bad games. You move on. Hopefully he plays better from here on. Maybe five games from now he has another bad game. You try to win without him.” In the end, the Hoosiers were too much to handle for the Cats with Jones playing the worst game of his career. Jones was limited to 28 minutes, four points on only three shot attempts, one rebound, and six turnovers. He failed to hedge on pick-and-roll situations multiple times leaving his teammates out of position on penetration. Jones’ defensive deficiencies helped create a 10-point deficit mid-way through the second half. What was even more alarming was Jones’ attitude as he sulked his way through almost the entire second half.
  2. The sky isn’t completely falling in Lexington. There were some positives from the Indiana loss for the young Wildcats, mainly the emergence of Marquis Teague in the second half. Teague played about as badly as I have seen a point guard play in the first half. He missed several open layups, he turned the ball over, and he failed once again to lead his team. But the second half was a different story. During the second 20 minutes, Teague was 6-6 for 15 points and one assist in 16 solid minutes. Anyone can see that Teague’s development at point guard is key to Kentucky’s play this season.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan had a heart-to-heart with his starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton regarding ill-advised shot selection following a combined 5-27 shooting night against Arizona. Walker and Boynton received the message loud and clear as both responded with improved play on Friday night against Rider. “I think sometimes those two guys get misconstrued of what they are about,” Donovan said. “They want to win and they have a strong desire to win. I do think that’s what makes them both great players is there is a fearlessness there of wanting to go out there and do it.” Boynton finished with a season-high 26 points and Walker added 12 points and four assists. Florida’s guard play has been both a strength and a weakness at times this year. The Gators have the talent to be a team that could win the SEC, but their guards can be overly selfish and can rely too heavily on outside shooting.
  4. Andy Kennedy‘s Mississippi Rebels have been a surprise so far this season at 8-1 overall, but the Rebels still have to work on their offensive efficiency. Ole Miss is shooting 27% from three-point range and 59% from the free throw line. “We’ve really struggled,” Kennedy said about Ole Miss’ offensive struggles. The Rebels currently average 69.3 points per game which is 153rd in the country and an adjusted offensive efficiency of 99.7 for 171st in the country. 5’11″ guard Dundrecous Nelson takes 31.4% of the Rebels shots, but he has an effective field goal percentage of just 43%. Look for Kennedy to work forward Murphy Holloway more into the Rebels offense as his efficiency is much higher than the remainder of his teammates, yet he is only averaging just over 11 points per game.
  5. Mississippi State enjoyed a 106-68 blowout win over Troy on Saturday. Despite their usual reliance on the inside game, the Bulldogs tied a school record with 16 three-pointers. Forward Arnett Moultrie still did plenty to establish himself on the low block with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was the outside shooters who helped MSU run away with this one. Senior Dee Bost was 7 for 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 28 points. Even Renardo Sidney got in on the action with a three of his own, his first of the season, mid-way through the first half. The 51.6% shooting clip was the first time Mississippi State has shot over 50% from three-point range this year. The Bulldogs are now 9-1 on the season. Not coincidentally, in their lone loss this year against Akron, the Dogs shot 2 of 13 (15.4%) from three.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.09.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 9th, 2011

  1. Sebastian Pruiti wrote an excellent piece on the pros and cons of Kentucky‘s Anthony Davis, complete with boxes and arrows. Pruiti breaks down how Davis has been able to excel at offensive rebounding, while remaining somewhat limited in defensive rebounding. Davis averages almost three offensive rebounds per game, using his speed and athleticism to chase down the Wildcats’ missed shots on the offensive end. However, those are not the same skills needed to box out an opposing player. Davis’ improvement was noted in the article by showcasing his effort against North Carolina, but effort doesn’t always grab defensive rebounds. Look for Davis to continue to improve over the course of this season as he is tested by stronger low post threats.
  2. Florida may have beaten Arizona 78-72, but the game easily could have gone the other way. Up three with 3.9 seconds left, Billy Donovan instructed Gator forward Casey Prather to foul Arizona forward Solomon Hill for a one-and-one situation. Instead, Hill was ruled to be in the act of shooting and was given three free throws to tie the game.  “He did exactly what we wanted to do,” Donovan said. But of course Donovan and the Gators didn’t agree with the call. “Nobody agreed with the call but you just have to turn around and start focusing on overtime,” Florida guard Brad Beal said. “Basically, just staying composed and playing basketball.”
  3. Freshman BJ Young has stepped in to fill much of the scoring void left by injured Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell. Young scored a career-high 28 points against defending national champion Connecticut. He is averaging 15.4 points per game thus far this year, while shooting an even 50% from the field. Coach Mike Anderson is hoping opposing defenses don’t just zero in on Young. “We have some other options,” Anderson said. “And so hopefully those other options are clicking like he was clicking the other night.” So far for the Razorbacks, those other options haven’t been able to get going on the offensive end.
  4. John Calipari has coached a number of talented teams in his career, but this year’s Cats may be Cal’s best. A rundown of Kentucky’s roster is enough evidence, but it’s Kentucky’s team defense that makes this claim legitimate. The Cats are holding opposing offenses to 32% shooting from the field, and easily outrebounding opponents on the season. While the author calls Kentucky’s game with Indiana on Saturday a “test”, it might be more of a practice run for the true test at the end of this month with in-state rival and top 10 team, the Louisville Cardinals.
  5. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has to be happy with the production off the bench from forward Wendell Lewis. Lewis averaged 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds a game last year, but has increased his numbers to 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds this year. Bulldogs’ forward Arnett Moultrie gave Lewis some confidence when Lewis needed to step in for the injured Moultrie. “This is your time to step and show the coaches you can play,” Moultrie told Lewis, who showed what he was capable of with 11 points and 11 rebounds, which was good enough for his first career double-double. Lewis has to be knocking on the door of a starting role with starter Renardo Sidney struggling to find his role. Sidney is averaging 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the 8-1 Bulldogs.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.29.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 29th, 2011

 

 

 

 

  1. The Florida Gators beat Stetson on Monday night for head coach Billy Donovan’s 400th career victory. However, the Orlando Sentinel says Billy the kid has a new nickname — Billy the Forgotten. Despite being the youngest active Division I coach to reach 400 wins, Donovan’s milestone victory was overshadowed and overlooked. Donovan is ready to move past this achievement and just get back to work.  “I think as it relates to fanfare, attention or exposure or things like that I just feel like that’s probably for other people to talk about. I just have a job to do,” Donovan said. “I have respect for Tom [Izzo], certainly what [Mike] Krzyzewski’s done, [Jim] Calhoun, [Jim] Boeheim and those guys, but I think if you’re coaching good enough players, you’re going to eventually win at that level.” Donovan would sure like to get win #401 on Friday when the Gators take on #4 Syracuse. That one might mean a lot more than win #400.
  2. The SEC honored Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway as the SEC Player of the Week. Holloway led the Rebels to wins over TCU and the University of Miami this week. Holloway scored 20 points and four rebounds against TCU, and came back with 13 points and 17 rebounds against Miami. He averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in this stretch. Florida’s freshman guard Bradley Beal took home SEC Freshman of the Week honors after he averaged 18.5 points and seven rebounds while leading the Gators to victories over Wright State and Jacksonville. Beal scored a team-high 22 points against Wright State. Congrats to both players for their outstanding performances.
  3. Mississippi State played with their full line-up with the return of big men Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie. Conditioning was again an issue as the Bulldogs ran away from North Texas. “I played them until they couldn’t play,” said head coach Rick Stansbury. “One of them was wanting to come out of the game and we just turned our heads and let him stay in the game. We gave up some points in that stretch but he (Sidney) needed that.” Moultrie finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Sidney continued to struggle as he only managed nine points and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes. Sidney will have to find ways to contribute without being a liability on both ends of the court because of his lack of conditioning. It doesn’t seem that Stansbury is ready to give up on Sidney just yet.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari is critical of his team’s slow starts so far this season. On Saturday, Portland led the Cats 7-6 going into the first TV timeout four minutes into the game. “The first play was great,” Calipari said. “Then we had about five plays after that (that) were just sloppy.” Calipari’s plea for better play coincides with a big week for the Cats as they face St. John’s on Thursday night and a huge test against North Carolina on Saturday. Kentucky was able to overcome sloppy play against Marist, Portland, and Radford, but North Carolina will require a full 40 minutes of the team’s attention. Despite the slow starts, the Cats opened the week as the #1 team in the country.
  5. Tennessee arrived back in Knoxville Friday night after a good effort in Maui. But head coach Cuonzo Martin didn’t expect a letdown against Oakland on Monday night. “We aren’t going to get caught up in any jet lag — Hawaii is in the wind,” Martin said. “This is an important game, and we’re going to have to be focused to win on the road.” Perhaps it wasn’t jet lag, but it could have been that the Volunteers were looking forward to a big game this weekend with Pittsburgh. Regardless of the reasons, the Vols dropped a big one to Oakland by the score of 89-81. Oakland is a strong team at home having won 41 of its past 43 home games. The Vols lost to the Golden Grizzlies by an almost identical 89-82 score last year.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.22.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 22nd, 2011

  1. Alabama‘s Tony Mitchell was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 17.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. The Crimson Tide won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off classic with wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue, and also beat Oakland earlier in the week. Mitchell scored 26 points in the win over Wichita State, but his evening was highlighted with two monstrous dunks showcasing his amazing athletic ability. Mitchell’s play has elevated Alabama to not only one of the best teams in the SEC, but in the nation as well. Mississippi State freshman Rodney Hood was named SEC Freshman of the Week. Hood contributed to wins over #19 ranked Texas A&M and #15 ranked Arizona with 9.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. The freshman has drawn the praise of coach Rick Stansbury and will continue to see increased playing time with efforts like this week. Hood may be on his way to winning the award again next week as he added a career-high 20 points last night in Mississippi State’s game against Louisiana-Monroe. Congratulations to both players for their outstanding play this week.
  2. The SEC has already won four preseason tournaments so far this month. Kentucky won the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off with a blowout win over Penn State and a tough victory over Old Dominion. Alabama won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with impressive wins over Maryland, Wichita State and Purdue. Mississippi State upset two ranked opponents in No. 19 Texas A&M and No. 15 Arizona on their way to win the 2K Sports Classic. Finally, Vanderbilt won the TicketCity Legends Classic on Monday night with a wins over Oregon State after beating North Carolina State over the weekend. After a couple of surprising early season losses, the SEC has recovered to play solid basketball over the past week. Ironically, a couple of those losses belong to Mississippi State (against Akron) and Vanderbilt (against Cleveland State) and would have kept them from winning their tournaments if it was a true win and advance style of play.
  3. In a win over Wright State, Florida center Patric Young sat out most of the game with a swollen right eye. Young was poked in the eye in the first half. He was limited to 21 minutes in the game, and did not start the second half. With their lack of depth on the inside, the Gators cannot afford to lose Young’s scoring and rebounding. Florida beat Wright State 78-65, but the game was much closer than expected as result of Young’s absence from most of the game. Luckily for the Gators, Young is okay and will return to full strength (and increased minutes) for Florida’s next game against Jacksonville on Friday.
  4. With Young playing limited minutes, Florida was forced to again rely heavily on their outside shooting. This strategy is not much different from previous games as Florida is a guard-oriented team that plays primarily on the perimeter. Florida hit double-digit threes for the fourth consecutive game this season. They are shooting over 43% on the season from beyond the arc. While they are extremely proficient shooting from distance, the Gators will have to develop an inside game to take the pressure off their erratic guards. Young is key to the Gators’ success, and will have to be more of a factor going forward.
  5. The injury bug hit Mississippi State even harder, as both Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie were held out of action against Louisiana-Monroe. Sidney was sidelined with a sprained left hand and Moultrie had tendinitis in both knees. The Bulldogs have dealt with Sidney being out of action as he was hampered by a groin injury against South Alabama. Mississippi State had difficult without their low-post threats against ULM before pulling away for a 15-point win. The Bulldogs need to put everything (and everyone) together before a big match-up in Starkville with West Virginia on December 3.
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