Rushed Reactions, Maui Style: #11 UNC 95, Mississippi State 49

Posted by rtmsf on November 19th, 2012

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Some quick thoughts from today’s Maui Invitational quarterfinal game between UNC and Mississippi State…

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. The UNC Guards Are Big, Deep and Talented. This is a completely different type of North Carolina team from the last couple of seasons, and frankly, given a Roy Williams’ system that looks to get into transition at every available opportunity, it may work a little better. With all the size along the Tar Heel front line last year, it sometimes felt like the Heels got bogged down in the half court, but this year’s group doesn’t seem to have that same problem. At least not today, when a Mississippi State defense gave them every opening they wanted — to the tune of 15 threes (the fourth most in school history) and 21 assists — Roy Williams found a reason to be upset with his defense in the postgame (UNC held MSU to 27% shooting), but the fortunes of his team are going to ride on PJ Hairston, Leslie McDonald, Reggie Bullock, and Dexter Strickland (combined for 65 points today).
  2. Carolina’s Young Size is Raw But Promising. It won’t show up on the stat sheet as very impressive, but the trio of Joel James, Brice Johnson, Desmond Hubert and JP Tokoto is a collection of raw talent whose size, springiness and hustle are going to win Carolina some games this season. The seven-foot James is somewhat reminiscent of a young Brendan Haywood, while the beauty of the others is that they aren’t expected to score in favor of hustling and protecting the rim. Williams’ teams are at their best with featured guard and wing play, so this team’s interior corps, already seeming to already understand its role in the scheme, will serve the Heels well going into the heart of the season.
  3. Mississippi State Has a Long Way to Get Back to Respectability. Rick Ray seemed rather disappointed after this game, and why wouldn’t he be? The realization that his team is roughly 40 to 50 points worse than a top 10 opponent is humbling to say the least. His group of inexperienced players were clearly shaken by the match-up at the opening tip, finding themselves down 9-0, 29-6, and 40-15 at various parts of the first half. They were never able to figure out how to find a good shot in the UNC defensive creases, and turnovers (21) were a major problem. The one bright spot was the hustle and play of Gavin Ware off the bench — he contributed eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks against a much bigger front line.

Star of the Game. PJ Hairston, North Carolina. Hairston had the shot of the game (not the week, thanks to Rotnei Clarke) when his 60-footer at the buzzer of the first half found net. But his all-around game set the pace for the Tar Heels with 18 points (on 7-11 shooting), four rebounds, and three blocks this afternoon.

Quotable. We asked Roy Williams what he thought about Maryland leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, and this was his response:

  • “Stunned, shocked… Didn’t see it coming… Strange what’s going on with college athletics… Hate to see them go, but if they don’t want to be there… [hand motion waving goodbye].”

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SEC Power Rankings: Week One

Posted by DPerry on November 19th, 2012

Every week, the SEC microsite will post a composite power ranking list for the league’s performances coupled with a short commentary justifying each team’s specific ranking. We’ve been able to see each team in action, but with vastly different degrees of difficulty as far as scheduling, we’ll need to see more before the rankings truly take form.

A perfect night for Erik Murphy propels the Gators to the top spot.

  1. Florida- The Gators’ offense has shown the potential to be dominant. The lineup is bursting at the seams with skilled scorers, both in the frontcourt and backcourt. In going 10-10 from the field, we’ve probably seen senior Erik Murphy‘s best performance of the season, but he should have no problem improving on last year’s breakout campaign. Turnovers have been a concern, but with the reinstatement of point guard Scottie Wilbekin allowing Kenny Boynton to move to the two, Florida should be able to take better care of the ball.
  2. Kentucky- The loss to Duke isn’t a huge concern. The Blue Devils are a quality, veteran team. No, the real problem with the Wildcats so far is the lack of depth. Jarrod Polson, a star against Maryland, was completely ineffective against a more disciplined defense, and John Calipari only trusted Willie Cauley-Stein enough to give him six minutes. The continued absence of Ryan Harrow leaves Kentucky without a true point guard, a role not suited for Archie Goodwin or Julius Mays. Still, in watching the young Wildcats play, it’s tough to argue that they have the highest ceiling of any SEC team.
  3. Missouri- Frank Haith has used his first few games to assess all the new talent that arrived in Columbia this offseason. Auburn transfer Earnest Ross and freshman Negus Webster-Chan have been particularly impressive. We’ll know a lot more about the Tigers after the face three quality opponents in the Battle 4 Atlantis this week. Read the rest of this entry »
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SEC M5: 11.12.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on November 12th, 2012

  1. Point guard is widely considered the biggest question mark in Kentucky’s title defense, and Wildcat fans were hoping to see new floor general Ryan Harrow satisfy the skeptics with a strong debut against Maryland. However, with the NC State transfer battling flu-like symptoms, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jarrod Polson provided fans with a performance that won’t soon be forgotten. The former walk-on played 22 minutes (by far a career-high), scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting, and coolly sank two clinching free throws in the dying seconds. Why was a complete unknown able to have such an impact? Practice. “One of the overlooked benefits to all those No. 1 recruiting classes Calipari reels in year after year is the daily competition,” writes John Clay, “where terrific players and accomplished athletes go head to head as a matter of routine.” In Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague, and Harrow, Polson has faced a murderer’s row of opposing ball handlers in his three years of practice in Lexington. With competition like that, Maryland’s Pe’shon Howard couldn’t possibly be a problem.
  2. When Rick Ray was hired to replace coach Rick Stansbury at Mississippi State, he wasn’t only responsible for retooling a basketball team. He was charged with rebuilding a program’s reputation. They’ve had plenty of talent over the last few seasons, but the Bulldogs couldn’t shake the dreaded “underachiever” label. Off the court issues plagued the team as well, with Renardo Sidney’s countless shenanigans the most notable. Fortunately, Ray isn’t seeing any lingering signs of questionable character in his players. “The biggest thing I’m happy about with the team so far is they are giving the effort,” Ray told Starkville Daily News, “That is one thing I have not had to coach here so far.” That effort may be all Ray can count on from a team that returns very little talent and boasts very little depth. These deficiencies were exposed in a 56-53 defeat to Sun Belt also-ran Troy (the SEC’s only opening weekend loss). Ray is optimistic about what he sees from his squad, but consider it a surprise if the Bulldogs aren’t sitting in the SEC cellar by the end of the season.
  3. Tennessee wins the award for most misleading score of the weekend. The nine-point margin doesn’t inspire much confidence when the opponent is Kennesaw State (3-28 last season), but the Volunteers were predictably dominant in their season opener. “You have to take pride in dominating teams when you have the opportunity,” coach Cuonzo Martin said after the game. Tennessee held a 25-point lead midway through the second half, before mental slippage (Martin’s term, not mine) allowed the Owls to chip away at the lead. The Volunteers put on a clinic for their Atlantic Sun opponent, shooting over 60% from the field and hitting 58% from long range. Usual high scoring and rebounding forward Jarnell Stokes displayed his versatility by tallying five assists and five steals, both career highs. Tennessee heads to Puerto Rico next, and with possible matchups against Oklahoma State and NC State in the Caribbean, mental slippage will have to be avoided.
  4. Which SEC team utilized the most guard-heavy lineup on opening night? Has to be Missouri right? Wrong. In Alabama’s buzzer-beating win over South Dakota State, coach Anthony Grant relied greatly on his backcourt options, with guards accounting for 66 of the Crimson Tide’s 70 points. Trevor Releford led the way with 18, while Trevor Lacey’s buzzer-beating three gave Alabama the win over a quality Jackrabbits team. The Trevors lead a deep unit, but Grant will need Devonta Pollard to provide some balance in the form of low-post production. The highly touted recruit hasn’t delivered thus far, but his coach isn’t worried. “He’s going to be terrific,” said Grant, “This is a heck of a game for a freshman to come into.”
  5. Missouri will need Michael Dixon to compete with the elite in the SEC, but his indefinite suspension for the Tigers’ 83-69 win over SIU-Edwardsville gave coach Frank Haith quite a bit of freedom to see his backcourt newcomers in action. Dixon and point guard Phil Pressey have unquestioned starting positions, but with no other returnees, developing chemistry and finding the right rotation is paramount for Missouri. Transfers Earnest Ross and Keion Bell joined the starting five, but in going 2-for-10 and 3-for-8 from the field, respectively, neither impressed. Canadian freshman Negus Webster-Chan made a case for more playing time, however, displaying a nice shooting stroke and active hands on the defensive end.
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SEC M5: 11.07.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 7th, 2012

  1. We are under 60 hours away from college basketball’s first regular season games tipping off and both Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Andy Glockner of Sports Illustrated have released their first bracket projections of the 2012-13 season. Each bracket has only five SEC teams in the field as of today: Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, and Tennessee. Kentucky is projected to be a #1 seed in both Lunardi’s bracket as well as Glockner’s while they disagree on the seeds for the remaining four teams. Get over there and check them out — it’ll get you more ready for the season to start than you might think.
  2. The season has not even begun but the problems keep accumulating for Mississippi State and Rick Ray, as the Bulldogs just lost another player to injury. Brandon Marcello from the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger originally reported that freshman guard DeAndre Applewhite suffered a devastating knee injury late last week. On Tuesday, an MRI scan showed that Applewhite tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee, thus sidelining him for the entire 2012-13 season. Applewhite joins Jacoby Davis on the injured list with virtually the same knee injury that the point guard suffered back in July. Applewhite’s injury leaves the Bulldogs with only eight healthy scholarship players on the squad, but healthy or not, Mississippi State opens its season Friday versus Troy.
  3. The pundits writing for ESPN’s College Basketball Nation blog hosted a fantasy college basketball draft earlier Tuesday, drafting five starters, a reserve, a head coach and an arena for the season. The draft took place via live-blog on Tuesday afternoon while former-Tennessee-coach-turned-analyst Bruce Pearl recapped the proceedings in a more reader-friendly article. The draft results are also here for an easier view. Only four SEC players, coaches, or venues were drafted among the group. Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Missouri’s Phil Pressey were drafted as players, Kentucky coach John Calipari as a coach, and Rupp Arena as a venue. Makes sense.
  4. A lot of the press coverage the Missouri Tigers are receiving this preseason is with respect to all their talented transfers who will suit up this season. One player ready to play again on Friday (and going largely unmentioned in most of these analyses) is forward Laurence Bowers, a player finally ready to return from an ACL tear suffered 13 months ago. Bowers’ hard work in rehabilitation will provide another strong body in the post, a piece the Tigers desperately missed at times last year as when they were bounced in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament against Norfolk State. Bowers will join transfer Alex Oriahki from Connecticut (more on him in a moment) as a dynamic tandem in the Tigers’ frontcourt.
  5. USA Today released an article late Tuesday describing college basketball’s “free agency era,” a situation slowly gaining popularity with programs across the country. The article mentions former Connecticut Huskies forward Alex Oriahki, now with the Missouri Tigers because of the unique situation UConn was in last season regarding academic APR sanctions and including a postseason ban. As the APR takes greater effect with a higher threshold in the future, many more high-caliber players could follow suit, leaving schools to play for programs not similarly restricted. Could this usher in a new free agency system that directs certain recruits to certain schools? Oriahki has set the model in play for a potential change with the NCAA rulebook.
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SEC M5: 11.05.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 5th, 2012

  1. Two years removed from raising over a million dollars in Haiti earthquake relief efforts with a nationally televised telethon, Kentucky is at it again. The Wildcats are going to host another telethon this year to support the victims and recovery of the aftermath from Hurricane Sandy in the northeast. John Calipari will host this telethon on Wednesday evening and already has some ideas as to improve upon the last one, stating that the Hati fundraiser had over 70,000 calls. “We couldn’t take them all. We could only take 2,000. So we’re going to hope to have it so that whoever calls in, that phone will be answered somewhere.” The telethon will be from 7-8 PM EST online at WKYT.com.
  2. After the sudden change in roster spots and coaching, many Bulldog fans knew the Mississippi State rebuilding process would take some time, but even they probably did not think it would begin with a very close win in its exhibition game versus William Carey on Sunday night. Rick Ray’s club trailed by eight points in the first half but eventually came back to win, 80-74. Ray was asked if his team was ready for Friday’s regular season match-up versus Troy and he gave “no” as his response. While his team’s execution was poor, Ray focused on the positives and knew that their exhibition would help with teaching points for his squad going forward.
  3. It has been a few weeks since Missouri head coach Frank Haith suspended Michael Dixon and Dominique Bull for team rules violations. On Friday, Haith stated that Dixon would continue to sit out for the Tigers’ exhibition versus Missouri Southern yesterday (which Missouri won, 86-60). Haith said that Dixon is working better to meet the team’s rules and expectations and has rejoined the team in practice. The freshman Bull, suspended for a separate incident, dressed out on Sunday but he was not guaranteed any playing time (he received three minutes). There is no timetable set for Dixon’s return to the lineup.
  4. The first step toward new head coach Johnny Jones’ returning LSU to a premier SEC power is by establishing a solid recruiting base. Jones is off to a great start by already receiving verbal commitments from two 2013 ESPN Top 100 recruits in Jordan Mickey and Tim Quarterman. Late last week he made his biggest splash by landing Baton Rouge star and #14 overall player, Jarell Martin, a 6’8″ power forward who had offers from Alabama, St. John’s, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. LSU now has two verbal commitments in the Texas/Louisiana area with four more also considering the Tigers. Jones is successfully using his local geography pitch to help land these recruits and it could pay off with more to come.
  5.  The Georgia men’s and women’s basketball teams participated in “Painting the ‘G’” over the weekend, a tradition started two years ago by the Georgia football staff. They let Mark Fox and the basketball players physically paint the Georgia “G” on the football field before their most recent game, knowing that while football still reigns in the SEC, November is also the beginning of the basketball season. The football staff wants to convey the message that all its players and coaches support and respect the other sports at the university and looks to involve them in other projects.
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SEC M5: 10.18.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on October 18th, 2012

  1. One of the best articles you will read this week is regarding the interaction between Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel and Lane Goodwin, a 13 year-old teen from Beech Grove, Kentucky, who is battling a rare form of cancer. The last few weeks have brought the “Thumbs Up For Lane Goodwin” movement on Twitter and Facebook that quickly gained interest among Wildcat players and the Big Blue Nation. With the endorsement of these high profile basketball players, it quickly spread nationwide as celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Tim Tebow, Anderson Cooper, and many others have also given a “thumbs up” for Lane. Yesterday, Twitter and Kentucky Sports Radio reported the tragic passing of Lane. The sudden loss of a teenager fighting a terrible disease helps remind us that not only there are more things to life than college basketball but these players do care about the community and will help out as much as possible for those in need.
  2.  The preseason Top 25 USA Today Coaches Poll was released on Wednesday with Kentucky coming in at #3 with five first place votes, behind their neighbors Indiana and Louisville at #1 and #2, respectively. Florida was the only other SEC team to crack the top 10 (#10) while Missouri was the last SEC squad to be ranked in the poll (#17). Both Tennessee and Georgia were among the others schools who received votes, but neither was ranked in the Top 25.
  3. Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele spoke extensively to the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger on Wednesday regarding the style of play and the content of practice for the Bulldogs early in the season. Steele stated that MSU has been focusing on defense lately and that a lot of the practices are physical, comparing the hardwood practices to the gridiron. In terms of style of play, new head coach Rick Ray wants “more dribble drive and creating more shots for people”, according to Steele. He also mentioned the increased respect given to the new head coach in comparison to former leader Rick Stansbury, who abruptly retired after last season. Stansbury struggled in the latter few years with commanding respect and obedience from his players, both on and off the court.
  4. New Florida transfer Damontre Harris is already sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have to spend even more time without practice because of a dislocated shoulder. Harris transferred from conference rival South Carolina after last season where he averaged 6.8 points per game on 55% shooting in 25 minutes per game. Once healthy, Harris will provide quality practice minutes against Gator returnees Patric Young and Erik Murphy in the post.
  5. Texas A&M is preparing to host its Maroon & White scrimmage on Friday, October 18 at 8:15 PM CT. Head coach Billy Kennedy will have an opportunity to showcase nine returnees and seven newcomers to the Aggie faithful. The event is sandwiched in between a full sports weekend at A&M, including an important SEC football game versus LSU. Free food and drink will be provided by local advertisers and students of course are encouraged to attend.
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SEC M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 11th, 2012

  1. Billy Donovan is joining the Florida Gators. No, we didn’t flash back to 1996 when the elder statesman of the SEC moved to Gainesville to coach the Gators. We’re talking about Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, who has joined UF as a walk-on. The elder Donovan is excited about having his son around. “It’s going to be great to have Billy here, both for our team and for our family,” said the head coach. “I always want to be supportive and put him in a position to succeed, and hope this will be a great experience for him.” The younger Donovan spent the last two seasons playing for Division III Catholic University where he averaged 5.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He scored a team high 13 points playing against dear old dad when Catholic played an exhibition game against the Gators last season.
  2. Kansas coach Bill Self might be jumping the shark a bit, but he’s hoping his Jayhawks get a chance to face the newest SEC member, Missouri, in basketball sooner than anticipated. But Self recognizes that game won’t come during the regular season. While speaking at the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser on Tuesday, he pointed out that the NCAA Selection Committee might be interested in pairing the rivals together. “The NCAA Selection Committee has a strange sense of humor,” Self said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it does happen because they are going to be really good in basketball and hopefully we’ll continue to be OK.” If Self truly believed Kansas was just OK, somehow we don’t believe he would be so eager to face off with Frank Haith’s Tigers.
  3. New Mississippi State coach Rick Ray is looking for leadership anywhere he can find it, and he hinted that freshman shooting guard Craig Sword could end up playing some point guard this season for the Bulldogs. After a season-ending injury to point guard Jacoby Davis, Mississippi State needs a warm body to run the team.“For Chicken, he’s going to be on the court because he’s a talented kid,” Ray said regarding Sword. “The big thing we want to do with Chicken is not take away his enthusiasm to make plays and go score.” Wait, who’s he calling “Chicken?” Stay tuned for a news post with a follow-up on the story behind that one. During the summer, Sword was arrested in a residence hall for possession of a firearm. As far as we can tell, no livestock were harmed in the incident.
  4. The Bama hoops blog equipped with the most creative of blog names, Alabama Basketball Blog, has a writeup previewing the entire Crimson Tide schedule. The previews, all worth a read, are divided up into months, but one particular entry caught our eye as shocking. Bama goes into Memorial Gym on February 2 for a conference road game with the inexperienced Vanderbilt Commodores, and it is somewhat of a must-win game. The Tide haven’t won at Vanderbilt since 1990. We’ve never been very good at math, but that’s a really long time ago. Vandy is entering what could be a down year after losing its top six scorers from last season, making this the Tide’s best chance to win in Memorial in… well… a really long time. But do the Crimson Tide have the firepower to win a big one on the road? Last season, even with JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell leading the way, Alabama was only 4-6 on the road for the season.
  5. In a preview of guard play for the Ole Miss Rebels, the Clarion Ledger established some high expectations for coach Andy Kennedy. Before launching into some advanced statistics on Jarvis Summers, the CL says, “The expectation is clear: this team must make the NCAA Tournament. It is Ole Miss’ best chance in years to finally make it back to the Dance.”  The Rebels have no major additions to almost the same team that couldn’t make it out of the first round of the NIT last season. Ole Miss hasn’t made the Big Dance since 2002. In fact, the Rebs have only made the Tournament six times in their entire history. What makes this the year?  An NCAA berth or bust mentality may be a lofty goal for a team that did not have a single quality win a season ago. Kennedy’s club was 1-7 against RPI top 50 opponents. It will surely take a major swing in the category to move the needle in March.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

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SEC Transition Basketball: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted by Brian Joyce on September 5th, 2012

Let’s finish these off this week with the last few of what we’re calling it Transition Basketball, an offseason look at each of the 14 SEC basketball programs. Today’s update: Mississippi State.

State of the Program

After starting last season 19-5, Mississippi State’s year didn’t turn out quite like head coach Rick Stansbury had hoped. The Bulldogs were cruising through the early part of the year behind tireless forward Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost. After getting vindication with a home victory over rival Mississippi, however, the Bulldogs fell apart by suffering through a five-game losing streak late in SEC play. For a team that was nationally ranked and looked to be on cruise control for an NCAA berth, a 2-7 record to finish out the year was quite the letdown. MSU then lost to Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament, and proceeded to lose to Massachusetts in the first round of the NIT. That team gave up on Stansbury. And Mississippi State gave up on itself.

Renardo Sidney? Gone. Rick Stansbury? Gone. Regardless of whether or not you see the departures as a positive or negative, the new look Bulldogs might not be a look you’re familiar with.

Quick, name one player on next year’s Mississippi State roster? We’re waiting. Can’t do it? Yeah, didn’t think so. Well, that’s because not a single starter from last year remains in Starkville. Moultrie was a first round NBA Draft pick and will play in the big leagues next season. Bost and Brian Bryant graduated. Freshman Rodney Hood transferred to Duke. Deville Smith transferred. Renardo Sidney is most likely being Renardo Sidney somewhere. Six of the Bulldogs’ top seven scorers will be somewhere other than Starkville next season. That leaves Jalen Steele and Wendell Lewis as the only returning players who averaged more than one point per game. The 2011-12 season was frustrating for Bulldogs’ fans, but the first year under new coach Rick Ray might be downright depressing.

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SEC Weekly Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on May 25th, 2012

  1. The biggest splash this week in the SEC again came from the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats and its scheduling choices. First, some group of stuffy faculty members chastised John Calipari’s decision to move toward more neutral site games. So what does Calipari do? He announced that UK has added Baylor to its schedule in a Rupp Arena game in 2012-13, but the Cats will travel to play the Bears in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14. Now that’s an “experience.” But it’s not about playing Baylor. This move, as is seemingly everything Calipari does, is a strategic move to advance his program. First, four members of the 2013 high school class play in Texas, and all four are considering Kentucky. This is in part a recruiting move to gain an edge on his competitors. But first and foremost, Cowboys Stadium just happens to also be the host site for the 2014 Final Four. Calipari wants a practice run in the venue where his Cats hope to cut down the nets again in two years. That’s what scheduling huge neutral site games are all about — giving his squad a simulation of the biggest stage possible to prepare them for when the time comes.
  2. While Kentucky is adding Baylor to its schedule, another SEC school is calling off its match-up with the Bears. Mississippi State and Baylor have agreed to cancel the two remaining games on their contract. New Bulldogs coach Rick Ray realizes he has a rebuilding year ahead of him. “We play in the toughest tournament known to mankind out at Maui and then we come back from that and our next game is Baylor,” Ray said. “We open up our season at Troy. Our schedule — if I had my say so, we wouldn’t have that type of a schedule. So, that’s a concern.” Mississippi State was set to host Baylor this season in Starkville, but would have been required to travel to Waco in 2013 to return the favor. The decision to cancel was mutual.
  3. Yahoo Sports published a list of the top newcomers gracing the SEC with their presence next season, and a couple of Kentucky Wildcats were joined by a new member of the Missouri Tigers at the top of the list. Shouldn’t all of Missouri’s team be up for inclusion? Regardless, senior center Alex Oriakhi, a transfer from Connecticut, joins Kentucky freshmen Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel as the players most likely to make an impact next season. From the article: “Noel is a defensive difference-maker. While he lacks bulk, he is athletic and already has advanced shot-blocking skills. His offense is raw, but his defense and rebounding make up for that.” Hey, that sounds familiar. Here’s what the site said last year at this time about Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis: “His shot-blocking and rebounding ability make him a game-changer defensively. His offensive skill set is good and continues to improve.” Not a bad person to be compared to at this stage in his career.
  4. Arkansas added juco forward Coty Clarke to its roster earlier this week. Clarke averaged 14.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game with Birmingham (AL) Lawson State Community College last season. Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson is excited about the addition. “Coty is excited about being a Razorback and that excites me,” Anderson said. “He is an athletic forward who can impact on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. Coty has a blue collar mentality which is needed on this team. He is an excellent fit for the ‘Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.’” Depth is an important issue for this year’s Arkansas team, as injuries impacted how far Anderson could go down the bench last year.
  5. Our very own Rush the Court profiled a couple of former SEC players in our NBA Draft Profiles. Vanderbilt senior Festus Ezeli is viewed as a late first round pick in the mold of current Houston Rockets center Samuel Dalembert. RTC compared him to the big man, saying, “Ezeli has a similar skill set as a defense-first center with ideal size who can protect the rim. Dalembert, though, transitioned from a raw prospect to a 10-year NBA veteran who has averaged 8.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in a strong career thanks to the ability to adapt to the speed of the NBA game.” Kentucky senior Darius Miller is hoping to get picked up in the second round and RTC says he has at least has the look of an NBA player. “While his three-point percentage dropped from the blistering 44.3% he shot as a junior to a merely good 37.6% as a senior, he’s shown NBA range and a willingness to step into the right shot when needed. Throw in the fact that at 6’8” and 235 pounds he’s got the frame to handle the big boys at the next level, and Miller looks the part of an NBA wing.” Good luck to both of the seniors as well as the rest of the SEC athletes hoping to be selected.
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