SEC M5: 11.27.12 Edition

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 27th, 2012

  1. After a disastrous showing in the Maui Invitational, Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray has spent the last few days reflecting on his team’s performance in Hawaii. Ray, who also battled a stomach virus while on the trip, discussed several reasons why the Bulldogs underperformed in the tournament. Ray said that his squad, while losing by an average of 29 points per game, “played harder than the other teams for the most part” and a lot of the second-chance opportunities for opponents came from MSU’s rebounding woes. He also noted that the team’s assist-to-turnover ratio (1:2) “needs to be rectified before beating anybody that’s a quality opponent.”
  2. Tennessee got into the Cyber Monday/holiday spirit yesterday by offering $7 tickets to any men’s or women’s basketball home game other than those versus Kentucky for the rest of the season. The promotion, while ending at 7 pm on Monday (sorry), was good for any seat in the 300-level section of Thompson-Boling Arena. There is no official word on whether the online deal resulted in an increase in ticket sales, but such a promotion on Cyber Monday surely could not have hurt the Vols’ chances of packing the arena for their remaining games — especially with great games ahead including Wichita State, Memphis, Xavier, Alabama, Florida, and Missouri all coming to Knoxville this season.
  3. How has Alabama grown this season? The work of veterans Trevor Releford, Andrew Steele, and Trevor Lacey have combined for 37.8 points per game (54% of the team’s scoring) along with an outstanding 2.57 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. With Rodney Cooper (15 PPG/4 RPG) currently out due to shoulder tendinitis, heralded freshman Devonta Pollard emerged as a fourth contributor in keeping the Crimson Tide undefeated, and was listed as one of Al.com‘s three points of the game regarding Alabama’s win over Charleston Southern last weekend. Pollard, who came into that game averaging only four points per outing, was able to control the game to the point where he “could take advantage of his God-given talents”, as stated by coach Anthony Grant. With a healthy Cooper expected back in the lineup as well as a star freshman quickly learning the college game through ample playing time, the Tide could become another legitimate contender for the SEC title.
  4. It seems to be exact opposites in the state of Mississippi this year: Ole Miss has the advantage over in-state rival Mississippi State in basketball while the Bulldogs hold the upper hand on the gridiron. Ole Miss already has five wins in its first five games this season on the hardwood compared to the Bulldogs’ single victory. Of course, Ole Miss has the advantage of not enduring the change of leadership and player exodus that has occurred in Starkville over the last few seasons. The Rebels’ Murphy Holloway was named SEC Player of the Week on Monday, and even while winning versus low-quality opponents, Ole Miss still has a projected higher season win total (22-7, 12-6) than Mississippi State (9-21, 3-15), according to KenPom.com. Regardless of the quality of opponents and game results, the momentum on the hardwood is clearly in Oxford this season.
  5. The learning curve in the SEC might come quicker than imagined for South Carolina‘s Frank Martin.  The Gamecocks concluded their holiday festivities by winning the Hoops for Hope Classic over Arkansas-Little Rock in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last weekend. Martin’s squad, now 5-1 on the season, is quickly gaining confidence with each win they accrue in the non-conference schedule. A win over St. John’s this week in the SEC/Big East Challenge could give the Gamecocks the momentum they need as they face rival Clemson next week. Wins over both teams could serve to propel South Carolina to an outstanding 12-1 non-conference record before playing Mississippi State in its first SEC game in early January. As the games will become more difficult in the waning months of the season, more wins now could help ease the pain later on for Martin and his young, inexperienced squad.
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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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Checking In On… the SEC

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 14th, 2011

Gerald Smith (@fakegimel) is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference. 

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • That’s Why You’re Mad: Kentucky was seeing red on Saturday as they dropped a game to Indiana. Coaches across the country (especially in the SEC) had a good look at the blueprint to upset Big Blue: Hot outside shooting, strong post play, and good interior defensive positioning to take charges on driving Wildcats. Much has been made about Terrence Jones‘ malaise and Marquis Teague‘s resurgence. Although the Wildcats have plenty of time to lick their wounds the pride of being the last undefeated SEC team was trampled by the Hoosier faithful rushing their court.
  • Desperately Seeking 3-Goggles: Another SEC power-team also had its pride damaged last week. Dayton exploited Alabama’s weakness — awful three-point shooting — to pull off a 74-62 upset. Though the Crimson Tide’s next game yielded a better result (64-52 win over Detroit), the three-point shooting woes continued (2-15 vs. Detroit, 10-58 the last four games). Coach Anthony Grant was counting on one or more of his freshmen guards — Trevor Lacey, Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph — to provide the outside shooting. None of them have risen to the challenge yet. Alabama will be particularly vulnerable to upsets from streaky-shooting teams until they find a solution to their outside shooting woes.

The Iron Has Been Unkind To Trevor Lacey's Three-point Shooting. (Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE)

  • Big: A pleasant surprise in the SEC this season has been the play of Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie. The transfer from UTEP, averaging 17.1 PPG and 11.2 RPG, is exceeding the expectations set for him. Unfortunately the 6’11″ forward is battling with knee tendinitis. He has missed three games for the Bulldogs, including yesterday’s 75-68 victory over FAU. Moultrie will hopefully be ready for Mississippi State’s next series of games which include two away games, including a tilt at #6 Baylor.
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SEC Morning Five: 10.18.11 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on October 18th, 2011

  1. A dramatic turn in SEC Expansion 2011: ALL YOUR TEAMS ARE BELONG TO US! The New York Times’ Pete Thamel reported yesterday evening that Missouri‘s application to the SEC was “inevitable and imminent” according to an unnamed source close to the process. Thamel also reports that the SEC Presidents will accept Missouri’s application barring any legal problems that would complicate the school’s exit from the Big 12. (For the sanity of the nation, somebody please keep Baylor President Ken Starr from registering the domain name dontmesswithmissourifootball.com.) Missouri’s Board of Curators will be meeting later this week and may actually finalize an application to the SEC.
  2. What has been the hold-up for Mizzou? An excellent article published last weekend by the Kansas City Star relates the differing opinions of Missouri’s conference alignment with the diverse population. The article does an excellent job of showing that Missourians’ identity is a mixture of sub-identities: the cowboys of the west plains, the farmers of the northern midwest, the traditionalists of the south and the big-city indifference from St. Louis. If each of these factions are represented on the Mizzou Board of Curators, then perhaps we finally understand why the school has been very deliberate in making its decision.
  3. Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli should try being more deliberate when making travel decisions. Over the summer the senior center accepted a furnished meal and hotel room from a Vandy alumnus; a violation specified somewhere in the NCAA Huge Book O’ ByLaws. Vanderbilt Athletics self-reported the violation and he will sit out the Commodores’ first six regular season games. He will return for Vandy’s November 28 game versus Xavier. Vanderbilt’s Vice Chancellor David Williams said in a released statement that, “we have a very good compliance education process in place and this incident shows how easily someone can fall astray, even with the best intentions.” Remember, Vandy student-athletes: Don’t accept any illicit gifts, even if the gift is a near-mint copy of Detective Comics #27.
  4. It’s pretty easy to deduce that the quote war between Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is nothing but a little hype from two coaches that don’t necessarily get along with each other. A Lexington-area sportscaster often jokes that Pitino and Calipari are acting like “a bunch of catty schoolgirls”. Yesterday, CBS Sportsline’s Gary Parrish believes he discovered a new layer of cattiness with the Wildcats head coach: The recent emphasis of the phrase “Players First Program” to describe Kentucky is to trump the Cardinal’s newest team phrase of “Louisville First.” We tend to disagree. Most of Coach Cal’s “Players First” talk was in direct build-up of his “State of the Wildcat Nation” speech. The emphasis about “Players First” was primarily given in sections of the speech written directly for the 2012 recruits attending and those who didn’t attend but would watch the highlights later. Additionally Calipari had no problem directly dissing Coach Pitino during his speech: He left out Pitino when referencing a list of former coaches and explicitly omitted the 1995-96 National Championship team (led then by Pitino) when listing some of the great Wildcat teams of the past. The coaches will probably not stop being snippy until the Cards and the Cats play on New Year’s Eve in Rupp Arena. Maybe we should take away their cell phones and ground them from going to the mall until the game.
  5. Full team practices launched over the weekend. Check out my homeboy Brian Joyce’s SEC Practice Report from yesterday for a detailed look. Bryan ran out of time before he could preview Alabama. ‘Bama is returning one of the most powerful and experienced frontcourts in the nation which includes senior forward JaMychal Green and junior forward Tony Mitchell. Last season the Crimson Tide struggled to find consistent shooting from deep. (Last season only then-senior guard Charvez Davis made more than 40 three-pointers in the season [71].) The additions of freshmen Trevor Lacey, Levi Randolph and Rodney Cooper will more than make up for Davis’ departure due to graduation. In an interview after ‘Bama’s first practice Green said, “I think we’re a better scoring team. We’ve got better 3-point shooters this year. We have more than one.” If head coach Anthony Grant can find multiple consistent deep threats from his freshmen, they will spread out defenses and let Green and Mitchell feast in the middle. Mmmmmmm… post-up play.
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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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Who’s Got Next? Commitments, Misspellings and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 20th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

The top unsigned prospects committing and a new section unveiling is just a couple of the highlights on the first ever Friday edition of the Who’s Got Next? column. We take an inside look at why the guys committed and the impact on the class rankings as well as what it means for the Class of 2012 and how prospects are affected by the coaching carousel in college basketball. We also analyze a top ten 2011 recruiting class and take an in-depth look at how a school that made the Elite Eight last year will try to replace the potential number one draft pick.

What They’re Saying

NCAA President Mark Emmert speaks out on the issue of one-and-dones.

  • NCAA President Mark Emmert on one-and-dones: “I think it creates difficult problems inside universities when we’re trying to promote an emphasis on (players being) students as well as athletes.”
  • Senior Trevor Lacey (#37) on committing to Alabama: “My relationship and trust with [Alabama coach Anthony Grant] set the Crimson Tide apart. I also feel the University of Alabama will provide the best opportunity for me when basketball is over. I love the people in Alabama.”
  • Senior Nick Faust (#38) on why he stuck with Maryland: “Coach [Mark] Turgeon’s goal is to win a national championship and I would play a big part in that immediately.”
  • Senior Jamari Traylor on committing to the Jayhawks: “It’s a good fit for me. I really like Coach [Bill] Self and coach [Kurtis] Townsend. I really like the players. On my visit I saw the campus and everything I knew it would be a good place for me.”
  • Senior Sidiki Johnson on Arizona’s incoming recruiting class (which he is apart of): “We are a good class, every player brings something valuable to Arizona next year.”
  • Senior P.J. Hairston (#12) on his reaction to Duke not spelling his name correctly: “I’m like, ‘OK. How can I go here? You can’t even spell my name right.’”
  • Junior Devonta Pollard (#40) on climbing the rankings: “It makes me feel good. First of all it shows me that I’m not just working hard to be working hard. The work is paying off and I’m improving and I can see that.”

What You Missed

The top unsigned prospect left, shooting guard Trevor Lacey (#37), committed to Alabama Wednesday.

Lacey Stays In-State, Commits to Alabama. Class of 2011 shooting guard Trevor Lacey (#37) committed to the Crimson Tide Wednesday (to see why, check out the “What They’re Saying” section above) over Kansas and Kentucky which gives Alabama its second top 50 shooting guard along with Levi Randolph (#31). He has said all along that playing time and the school’s fan base would be two factors in his decision and it seemed like he really warmed up to the Crimson Tide crowd when they chanted his name at the Alabama vs. Miami (FL) NIT game, just one of multiple visits he made there. Lacey, who was the top unsigned prospect left on the board, will be joining small forward Rodney Cooper, power forward Nick Jacobs and center Moussa Gueye in addition to Randolph in Tuscaloosa. Alabama head coach Anthony Grant has done an excellent job reeling in top in-state talent as Lacey, Randolph and Cooper are all Alabama natives. The addition of Lacey also gives the Crimson Tide the #9 class in 2011 because of how well he will fit into their system. Lacey is a great shooter who has outstanding range and consistency and can both catch and shoot and shoot off the dribble at a high level. He can also shoot coming off a pick and with guys in his face. The bottom line about him is he won’t wow you with his athleticism but he does have good size and strength for the two-guard and he can put up big-time numbers.

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