09.25.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 25th, 2008

It’s officially Autumn, which means cooler air is around the corner and the sweet cacophany of bouncing basketballs echoing through a gymnasium is coming…

  • Dana O’Neil gives a pretty good roundup of injured players who are either all the way healed or expected to be so by the time the meat of the season begins.  One of those players, Syracuse’s Eric Devendorf, is back from an ACL injury with another year of eligibility in tow.  Another, Alabama’s Ronald Steele, is a hard-luck guy who RTC is hoping catches a few breaks this year – he deserves it. 
  • Tubby Smith’s nephew, William L. Smith, was stabbed and killed last weekend at an off-campus apartment complex in Worcester, Mass. 
  • UConn’s Nate Miles, he of the five high schools, was arrested for violating a restraining order.  We’re shocked, I tell you, that Jim Calhoun’s charge is acting up!  Shocked! 
  • Jamie Dixon‘s deal with Pitt has been extended through the 2016 season at a minimum of $1.3M per annum.
  • Remember Pierre Pierce?  The former Iowa star who spent 11 months in prison for a multitude of charges will be allowed to serve his probation in France while playing professional basketball there this winter. 
  • Here are six teams to watch in the 08-09 season seeking to break long NCAA droughts.
  • More Stephen Curry.  The Wooden Tradition, not to be confused with the Wooden Classic (UCLA v. Depaul; San Diego St. v. St. Mary’s), will feature Purdue v. Davidson and St. Mary’s v. S. Illinois on Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.  In case you were wondering how the new Mr. March spent his summer, click here
  • HoopsAddict has it’s All-Americans out – Tyrese Rice over Darren Collison is a weak call. 
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2008 Early Entry Winners and Losers

Posted by rtmsf on June 16th, 2008

Whew. After an exhausting day trying to track the news feeds seemingly every minute to figure out who was staying and who was leaving college, we can finally take a deep breath and start to sort out what this means for all the parties involved. Of the 69 early entries of US collegians submitted to the NBA league offices last month, 35 will remain in the 2008 NBA Draft pool. Here are the 35 early entries:

  • Joe Alexander, West Virginia
  • Ryan Anderson, California
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas
  • D.J. Augustin, Texas
  • Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas State
  • Mario Chalmers, Kansas
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
  • C.J. Giles, Oregon State
  • Donte Greene, Syracuse
  • Kalen Grimes, Missouri
  • Eric Gordon, Indiana
  • DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
  • Kosta Koufos, Ohio State
  • Jamont Gordon, Mississippi State
  • Shawn James, Duquesne
  • Davon Jefferson, Southern California
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford
  • Robin Lopez, Stanford
  • Kevin Love, UCLA
  • O.J. Mayo, Southern California
  • Richard Hendrix, Alabama
  • J.J. Hickson, North Carolina State
  • George Hill, IUPUI
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
  • JaVale McGee, Nevada
  • Kojo Mensah, Duquesne
  • Trent Plaisted, Brigham Young
  • Anthony Randolph, LSU
  • Walter Sharpe, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
  • Brandon Rush, Kansas
  • Marreese Speights, Florida
  • Bill Walker, Kansas State
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

We’d Be Excited Too, Roy

Today’s Winners

  • Roy Williams. Ole Roy could slip into a coke-induced coma for half of next season and still watch his team win 30+ games and make the Final Four. Why? Because the nation’s top backcourt (Ty Lawson & Wayne Ellington) and sixth man (Danny Green) all decided to return to Chapel Hill today to join forces with the reigning NPOY and a top five recruiting class. Yeah, apparently Roy is living right.
  • Lute Olson. It’s been a rough year for Olson, what with all his divorce proceedings and the loss of Jerryd Bayless to the NBA. The surprising return of the sensational Chase Budinger for his junior season provides Olson a key bulding block to get his program back on track.
  • Mark Few. Few only had to sweat out his beefy point guard Jeremy Pargo’s decision, but this player remains the key to Gonzaga’s success next season. With Pargo back to run the system, interior players such as Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt can expect the ball in the right place at the right time.
  • Mark Gottfried. Alabama was facing a seemingly unthinkable situation where they would lose their best player from last season, forward Richard Hendrix, while simultanously losing their best player from two seasons ago, point guard Ronald Steele, even though Steele sat out the entire last season due to injury. We’ve shown previously how important a healthy Steele is to the Alabama attack, and with the additional return of Alonzo Gee to help offset the Hendrix loss, Gottfried must feel as if he dodged a serious bullet.
  • John Calipari. Why is he here? Didn’t he lose super-frosh Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts to the NBA? Well, yes, but he also retained the services of Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier, which when combined with incoming stud wing Tyreke Evans, there will be more than enough talent for Calipari to roll through CUSA pretty much unscathed again. Calipari isn’t as big a winner as some of the above coaches, but today was a good day for him.

Tough Day For Howland, But He Knows He’ll Have More Chances

Today’s Losers

  • Ben Howland. There was some talk that Kevin Love may return to Westwood, but that quickly died down. When Russell Westbrook decided to leave as well, few were surprised. Josh Shipp made the wise choice to return, but today’s decision by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to leave early has to leave UCLA fans scratching their heads – he’s unlikely to be drafted in either round, according to some people.
  • Rick Stansbury. It’s bad enough that all-SEC guard Jamont Gordon left Stansbury’s Mississippi St. program, but it’s even worse when there’s a strong sentiment that Gordon may not get a sniff of the second round. This feels a lot like Kennedy WInston from Alabama a few years ago.
  • Bill Walker. Yes, he gets his own mention here. The popcorn munching, towel-pissing, former K-State guard had it in his head all along that he was going League. So even though he sat out the NBA Predraft Camp and then proceeded to seriously hurt his knee during a workout last weekend – giving scouts even more pause about his shaky sticks – Walker decided that he was ready for the NBA and shouldn’t be too surprised if he finds himself in the D-League next season.
  • Bill Self. How bad can it be if you just won the national title? Not very. Still, there was a chance Mario Chalmers would return next season to lead Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and the other Jayhawks back to another F4 opportunity. Only Collins of the quartet of he, Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush is returning, but somehow we think Bill Self is still smiling.
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06.03.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2008

It sure is boring without basketball on the tube…

  • Alabama PG and former all-american Ronald Steele made the smart decision and is heading back to Tuscaloosa for his senior campaign.  Oops – maybe not yet
  • Arizona’s Nic Wise has decided to stick it out at UA – he had previously said he was transferring.  Since Lute finally got to the end of his divorce fiasco, maybe the good folks in the desert can get back to worrying about basketball this year. 
  • More OJ Mayo scandal – getting an Attorney General involved is never a good thing (unless Elliot Spitzer is springing for the booze and hos). 
  • Gary Parrish points out that former Iowa St. reject and D-League star Mike Taylor’s solid week at the NBA Predraft Camp in Orlando last week fashions him a sort of trailblazer for knuckleheads who can’t stick with college programs but still want a direct route to the NBA.  Um, good luck with that. 
  • How similar is this year’s draft class to the 1996 class
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Orlando Predraft Camp Days 3 & 4

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2008

We’re running a little late today on updating the news from the Orlando Predraft Camp (Day 1 and Day 2 reviews archived), so we’ll make amends by combining a report from both Thursday and Friday’s games and workouts. In short, Carolina fans had best hope Bobby Frasor’s injury is 100% healed next year because Ty Lawson now appears a lock for the first round, and NBDL star Mike Taylor (who?) may have played his way into the draft during the course of this week.

We’ll start first with some of the impressions given by DraftExpress on the fifteen ‘elite’ prospects who held workouts today but did not participate in games.

  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
    • Clearly the most impressive workout of any of the 15 players belonged to Derrick Rose. Not so much for what he showed, but mostly just for what he is. He got up and down the floor fluidly and smoothly, covering tons of ground with each and every stride, and looked excellent changing speeds and operating skillfully with both hands in the ball-handling drills. His athleticism is nothing short of stunning, starting with his phenomenal first step, his ability to change gears, and his incredible explosiveness finishing around the basket. He came out with a business-like approach, and left no doubt about just how unique his talent-level and physical tools are. A nice bonus was the way he shot the ball, hitting more than one NBA 3-pointer and looking solid from mid-range as well.
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

    • Also catching our eye was Russell Westbrook, who came out very seriously and didn’t seem to be taking anything for granted. He was fantastic in the transition drills, flying up and down the court with his terrific athleticism, and also shot the ball fairly well after starting off slowly. His ball-handling skills are just OK at this point.
  • OJ Mayo, USC
    • O.J. Mayo was very smooth and very confident in everything he did, barely missing in the perimeter shooting drills. He’s clearly not on the same level athletically as Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook for example, but already has the looks of an NBA player with the way his body looks and how he conducts himself out on the floor.
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas St.

    • Michael Beasley looked super fluid and athletic getting up and down the court, finishing with either hand and looking to be in pretty good shape. He attacked the drills with a lot of competitive fire, but most definitely was clowning around way too much throughout the day right underneath the noses of the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. There were a few people that expressed concern with some of his antics over the past few days.
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas

    • Darrell Arthur looks like someone who is going to impress mightily in workouts based off what we saw here. He passes the eye test and then some on first glance, and then showed really nice athleticism to go along with a fairly high skill level in the drills, although oddly attempting to bank every 3-pointer he took. He struggled a little bit remembering what to do in some of the drills, though.
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford

    • Speaking of lukewarm impressions, Brook Lopez didn’t do a whole lot to ease the concerns NBA people have about him, not moving all that well up and down the floor and showing a very average skill-level in most of the drills.

Among the rest of the players who were actually playing games, here are a few of the high (and low) lights (h/t to the usual suspects, DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Goodman & Katz):

  • Ty Lawson, UNC
    • Goodman – The speedy North Carolina point guard made the most intelligent move of the camp, coming up with a mysterious hip injury and bowing out of the rest of the camp after a terrific performance in his only game. Lawson displayed his athleticism and, according to NBA executives, should have solidified a place in the first round.
  • Wayne Ellington, UNC
    • DraftExpress – Wayne Ellington bounced back in a big way after his disastrous performance yesterday, starting off extremely hot on his way to a 7-13, 17 point outing in 20 minutes. His shot simply fell for him at a much better clip, as he did a great job moving off screens and being aggressive using fakes and utilizing his strong one-dribble pull-up. On the negative side, he again did not look very good putting the ball on the floor and making his way to the rim, not standing out that much in terms of his size, quickness, toughness at the rim or ball-handling skills. He still needs to have a strong showing in the last day of the camp if he’s truly serious about making a run at the late first round.
  • Joe Crawford, Kentucky

    • DraftExpress – Last, but certainly not least, Joe Crawford again had another very strong game (15 points, 6-11 FG) as the go-to scoring option for his team. He got to the rim very effectively, shot the ball well from mid-range and long-range, was excellent coming off screens and played fairly well in transition. His defensive effort was good, particularly in terms of pressuring the ball, and he showed absolutely no hesitation in anything he does, which people here have to like. He needs to become a little bit more efficient with his ball-handling (he pounds the ball a little too much), but it’s hard not to like what he brought to the floor today.
  • Mike Taylor, Iowa St./NBDL
    • Goodman – The athletic ex-Iowa State guard, who spent this past season in the NBDL, appeared to have the easiest adjustment of anyone in the camp and rightfully so. He’s been playing against older players and is also accustomed to the NBA game. Taylor was aggressive in getting to the basket and also proved he can make shots. He had 24 points on Thursday night.
  • Gary Forbes, UMass
    • NBADraft.net If there was to be a player of the day award, then without a doubt it would have to be given to Gary Forbes (30pts, 15-16ft, 2stl). Even though his team lost, it was no fault of Forbes, who almost singlehandedly brought his team back from a large deficit. Although he was very impressive scoring, he may have been just as good on the defensive end, where he chased Richard Roby (3-9fg) off screens and forced him to put the ball on the floor and settle for difficult shots.
  • Josh Duncan, Xavier (OH)

    • DraftExpress – Josh Duncan continued the trend of Portsmouth Invitational Tournament standouts who were able to translate their excellent performance from the all-senior pre-draft camp in April to this setting as well—scoring 20 points (5-8 FG, 9-10 FT) and pulling down 6 rebounds. Duncan knocked down a number of open shots from the perimeter, scored a bit in the post off good feeds from his guards.
  • Davon Jefferson, USC
    • DraftExpress – Davon Jefferson continued not to show the type of effort or fire you would expect to see from a player who is currently fighting for his professional future, after having prematurely hired an agent following an average freshman season. His conditioning looks poor, he’s dribbling the ball excessively, and he’s yet to make use of the terrific athletic ability that made him a prospect to start with. This is turning into a very disappointing pre-draft camp for him.
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA

    • Katz – UCLA junior Luc Richard Mbah a Moute hasn’t stood out enough to warrant staying in the draft. He still may, but there doesn’t seem to be any kind of buzz around him.
  • Ronald Steele, Alabama
    • Goodman – He still doesn’t look like himself — and for good reason. The Alabama junior point guard hasn’t played competitively in more than a year and needs to return to school.
  • Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga
    • DraftExpress – Jeremy Pargo had a game-high 20 points (7-16 FG, 5-7 FT) to go along with 4 assists. Unfortunately, he also had 6 turnovers and missed three of his four 3-pointers. He pushed the ball up the floor extremely well, showed terrific explosiveness getting by his man and giving himself options in the half-court, and also flashed some glimpses of solid court-vision, but his poor decision making led to way too many turnovers, which has typically been his problem. Going back to school and improving his decision making skills looks like a very good option at this point.

Final thought – we’re very excited to see how the height/weight and strength tests look when they come out.

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Orlando Pre-Draft Camp Day 1

Posted by rtmsf on May 28th, 2008

This week (Tues-Fri) is the all-important Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, the place where marginal second-round picks can become late first-rounders overnight, and all the other garbage players who weren’t going to get drafted anyway can prove their unworthiness in front of a collection of NBA types in attendance. Still, there’s always at least a handful of players who benefit from this event – last year Jared Dudley and Daequan Cook probably wouldn’t have gone in the first round but for strong showings, and Ramon Sessions, Stephane Lasme and Demetris Nichols may not have been drafted at all. Not to mention we always get to learn who can’t do a bench press to save his life (yes, that means you, KD).

Since we’re not there, we’ll have to rely on updates from the various NBA draftniks who are doing yeoman’s work sitting through these glorified pickup games this week. But first, let’s get educated on who is there, who isn’t there and what they’ll be doing.

Will Trent Plaisted or Sasha Kaun Parlay Orlando into the First Round? (photo credit: Orlando Sentinel)

The 15 players selected by NBA scouts for the “elite” list will only go through physicals and measurements, as they are expected to be high first-round picks. Expect to see our analysis of these players’ physical numbers later this week. These players are:

  • Joe Alexander, WVU
  • Darrell Arthur, Kansas
  • Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
  • Michael Beasley, Kansas St.
  • Eric Gordon, Indiana
  • Donte Greene, Syracuse
  • DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M
  • Brook Lopez, Stanford
  • Kevin Love, UCLA
  • OJ Mayo, USC
  • Javale McGee, Nevada
  • Anthony Randolph, LSU
  • Derrick Rose, Memphis
  • Russell Westbrook, UCLA

Several players took offense at not being placed on the ‘elite’ list and will bypass the camp altogether. These players are:

  • Chase Budinger, Arizona
  • Mario Chalmers, Kansas
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
  • Jamont Gordon, Mississippi St.
  • Roy Hibbert, Georgetown
  • JJ Hickson, NC State
  • Kosta Koufos, Ohio St.
  • Robin Lopez, Stanford
  • Marreese Speights, Florida
  • Bill Walker, Kansas St.
  • Kyle Weaver, Washington St.
  • DJ White, Indiana

Finally, there are 64 additional players who will actually participate in the camp, led by the following notables (if you’re interested in the Orlando rosters, check here):

  • Brian Butch, Wisconsin
  • Pat Calathes, St. Joseph’s
  • Joe Crawford, Kentucky
  • Joey Dorsey, Memphis
  • Josh Duncan, Texas A&M
  • Wayne Ellington, UNC
  • Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
  • JR Giddens, New Mexico
  • Kentrell Gransberry, S. Florida
  • Malik Hairston, Oregon
  • George Hill, IUPUI
  • Davon Jefferson, USC
  • Sasha Kaun, Kansas
  • Ty Lawson, UNC
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA
  • Drew Neitzel, Michigan St.
  • DeMarcus Nelson, Duke
  • David Padgett, Louisville
  • Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga
  • Trent Plaisted, BYU
  • Sean Singletary, Virginia
  • Ronald Steele, Alabama
  • Deron Washington, Virginia Tech

Sean Singletary & Ramel Bradley Mix It Up (photo credit: Orlando Sentinel)

Finally, to the action. Here are some tidbits from Tuesday night, which consisted entirely of drills (Wed-Fri will have game action).

  • Jeff Goodman reports that Alabama guard Ronald Steele is still favoring his bum reconstructed knee, and looks to have no chance at getting drafted this year. He also says that New Mexico forward and former Jayhawk JR Giddens looks fantastic and is ready to show off his eye-popping athleticism this week.
  • Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (via Yahoo) reports that players generally looked nervous on Tuesday night – Wayne Ellington and Shan Foster had trouble finding their strokes, and there were a boatload of mishandled passes. Brian Roberts of Dayton appears to have had the best overall night, exhibiting quick hands and an ability to initiate an offense as a poing guard (his position at the next level).
  • Carolina fans can’t like hearing this – Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green all scoff at the idea of ‘testing the waters.’ According to Andy Katz, each player is at the camp to get drafted, not just to see how they stack up with their peers. Great quote from Green: “I’m not in Tyler [Hansbrough’s] situation,” Green said. “He’s breaking records, and he has money. I’m not broke-poor, but my family doesn’t have as much as Tyler. He’s more fortunate, and I’m trying to do what’s best for my family.”
  • One thing to remember throughout all of this scouting – it’s often more art than science, according to Chris Ekstrand, publisher of the NBA Draft Guide. Ten years from now, “there’s going to be some kid who went with pick No. 37 who turns out to be a big-time player, and somebody who gets picked between 10 and 15 who doesn’t play two years.”

Reports from Day 2 are already coming in… we’ll post more tidbits soon.

Update:  See our summary of Day 2 here and Days 3 & 4 of the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp here.

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Post-Championship Fast Breaks (04.08.08)

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2008

A few more drops of residual knowledge in the wake of Super Mario’s bomb…

  • Where does 2008 KU rank among this decade’s champions?  We’d put them higher than seventh but lower than fourth. 
  • Brandon Rush is going pro, according to Yahoo Sports.  What an amazing silver lining for Rush and KU after he blew out his knee during NBA workouts last spring.   
  • As a mirror question to the one floated about One Shining Moment below, is there anyone alive who actually likes Billy Packer?
  • More blowback on Roy’s Kansas decal last night.  And here
  • Arizona’s Chase Budinger will test the waters of the NBA Draft, joining teammate Jerryd Bayless from last week. 
  • In a bit of a surprise, Florida’s Marreese Speights (14/8) will also test the waters of the draft.
  • When does that two-year rule start again?  LSU’s Anthony Randolph will also be testing the waters.
  • After not playing in the entire 07-08 season due to an injury, Alabama’s Ronald Steele is also putting his name into the draft. 
  • While not official at this point, reports are indicating that Kansas St.’s Bill Walker will also declare for the draft soon. 
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ATB: Northwest Passage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2007

ATB v.4


Game of the Day. #7 Washington St. 51, #18 Gonzaga 47. How fun would it be to watch a game at the Kennel? It wasn’t too much fun for the Gonzaga fans tonight as they watched their Zags lose for only the second time in that building and in the process, score their lowest total of points in almost eleven years. Although the stats would lead someone to believe that this was an ugly game, we didn’t really see it that way. There were enough bricks on both sides (esp. Gonzaga) to build a smokestack, sure, but the game was intense, defensive-minded and filled with show-stopping plays. For the second time in a week (Baylor), Wazzu went into a veritable lion’s den and slugged its way to a close win. This team is experienced, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the ball – its only real weakness is a style of play that allows teams to stay in the game with them (i.e., Gonzaga shot 26% but was still in the game until the last ten seconds). It didn’t hurt that Kyle Weaver (12/6) seemed to make every big play for the Cougars each time the Zags crept withing striking distance. His airball rebound-turn-putback sequence was sick. On the Gonzaga side, Matt Bouldin (0-9 FG), Jeremy Pargo (3-11) and Austin Daye (1-12) should be ashamed of themselves for their performances at home tonight. We were really high on the Zags early, even going so far as to pick them for the F4, but their inconsistent performances are making us a little wary – still, we’ll wait to pass ultimate judgment until we see how they play once Josh Heytvelt returns.

Other Good Games. Syracuse 70, Virginia 68. Regrettably, we didn’t get to see anything but the last four minutes of this game. This is a very good win for Syracuse, especially in light of its loss at home to UMass last week. From what we can tell, UVa’s Sean Singletary was ill, and it showed in his shooting numbers (10/9/5 assts on 3-14 FG and 2-8 FT) and cramping at the end of the game. Virginia isn’t a one-man team by any stretch (Adrian Joseph had 19/13), but they’re typically not going to beat quality opponents unless SS has a solid game. Tonight was no exception. The Cuse’s Donte Greene (20/10) and Paul Harris (10/14) each had dub-dubs in the road win.

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SEC/Big East Invitational. What a joke this thing is. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s copy the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, except instead of, like, matching up teams based on relative abilities, we’ll just throw a bunch of cannon-fodder SEC teams out there against some good-to-great Big East teams and see how it washes out. Who came up with this plan – the Big East RPI Improvement Committee? Ok, we give them one mulligan. Georgetown v. Alabama was supposed to be a game between two top 25 teams, but then Ronald Steele went and got hurt again. Still, Bama put up a solid fight tonight in Birmingham (#5 Georgetown 70, Alabama 60), which is more than we can say for their mortal enemies over on the Plains. Thuggins and his band of merry men stormed Auburn like Sherman coming back through the South – the Tigers were down 28-6 before they knew what hit them. West Virginia 88, Auburn 59. Now let’s all put our hands together and furiously clap with excitement over tomorrow night’s slate of South Carolina v. Providence and LSU v. Villanova. Anyone got the Big East to go 4-0 in this event? We do.

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Upset of the Day. Charlotte 75, Davidson 68. We love Davidson, but after their recent losses at Eastern Michigan and now at Charlotte, they’re going to need to win the SoCon to make the NCAA Tourney (we’re assuming they will not beat UCLA this weekend). Stephen Curry ripped off 31, but he’s just not getting any offensive help from his frontcourt (7-22 shooting). Charlotte’s Leemire Goldwire sensed a shootout with Curry and ultimately one-upped him with 34 of his own points. Charlotte, with two solid wins in a row, is a team to keep an eye on going forward.

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #4 Kansas 85, E. Washington 47. Too bad Rodney Stuckey is already in the NBA.
  • #8 Texas 88, North Texas 72. The DJ blew up with 29/10, representing our #1 vote well.
  • #17 Pittsburgh 73, Duquesne 68. Pitt really struggled to win this crosstown rivalry game.
  • #18 Clemson 82, East Carolina 67. We’re not voting for you Tigers until you win ACC games.
  • #21 Xavier 79, Creighton 66. Drew Lavender with 28/10 as Creighton takes its first loss.

Other Notable Scores.

  • Florida 91, Florida A&M 52. UF now 4-1 against other Florida teams.
  • Drake 79, Iowa St. 44. Wow, how do you win at Oregon St. then get drilled by Drake?
  • George Mason 57, Hampton 54. Mid-major nirvana in Fairfax.
  • Purdue 70, Ball St. 57. How’s that Ronny Thompson thing working out for Ball St.?
  • W. Kentucky 69, Nebraska 62 (OT). WKU couldn’t afford to drop this BCS win at home.
  • Oklahoma 81, Tulsa 55. OU had a thirty-pt lead at the half.
  • Vanderbilt 83, Wake Forest 80. Vandy remains unbeaten behind Shan Foster’s 26 and Andrew Ogilvy’s 23.
  • Georgia Tech 72, Georgia St. 67. From what little we saw, Ga Tech sleptwalk through this one.

On Tap Today(all times EST). Yeah, a few tv games, but um, good luck with that.

  • Providence (-3.5) v. South Carolina (ESPN2) 7pm – set your alarm for more of the thrilling Big East/SEC Showdown!
  • Connecticut (-17) v. Northeastern (ESPN FC) 7:30pm. ugh.
  • Ill-Chicago (-5.5) v. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ESPN FC) 8pm – if you’re going to show mid-majors, pick GOOD teams!
  • Villanova (-9.5) v. LSU (ESPN) 9pm – we cannot get over the garbage the SEC trotted out for this event.
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Coaches Poll!

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2007

Per ESPN today…

ESPN Coaches Poll - Preseason 08

Initial reactions:

  • UNC is #1, yet UCLA garnered more first-place votes (12-10).
  • 9 of the top 10 match the online Blogpoll – the one difference is that coaches like Indiana more than Marquette. Fwiw, so do we. (come on blogpollers! We should represent the non-MSM contrarian voice!)
  • Did the coaches go with the “name” programs over Calipari’s squad at #1? Interesting that the bloggers voted Memphis a solid #1 while UNC/UCLA were left behind.
  • Only one coach agreed with us that Kansas is preseason #1 (Bill Self?), although we aren’t predicting KU to win it all.
  • Buy: Oregon (mighty mite Tajuan Porter!), Gonzaga (magic mushroomania), Texas (hey mr. DJ put that record on…), S. Illinois (you sexy mother Falker!), Davidson (spicy Curry), VCU (Eric Maynor alone is worth more than five votes).
  • Sell: Duke (anxiously awaiting the Brian Zoubek experiment), USC (Young+Pruitt > Mayo+Jefferson), NC State (folks, they were 5-11 in the ACC last year!!), Alabama (no Steele = no chance).
  • Conference breakdown (top 25, all 54 teams receiving votes): Pac-10 (6, 8), Big East (5, 8), ACC (3, 6), Big 12 (3, 5), SEC (3, 6), Big 10 (2, 5), MVC (1, 2), CUSA (1, 1), WCC (1, 1), Colonial (0, 3), WAC (0, 3), A10 (0, 2), Mountain West (0, 2), Horizon (0, 1), Southern (0, 1).
  • Word to the Colonial and WAC with three teams each receiving votes even though none are in the Top 25.
  • Is there any value in this meaningless poll whatsoever? Some. Last year the top 6 (and 8 of the top 10) in the preseason coaches poll finished in the top 11 of the final poll (before the NCAA Tournament), and every team in the final top 11 had been ranked somewhere in the top 25 before the season started. Additionally, all four F4 teams were ranked in last year’s preseason top 8 (#1 Florida, #4 Ohio St., #5 UCLA, #8 Georgetown).
  • Only six of the preseason top 25 last year didn’t make the NCAA Tournament (#7 LSU, #12 Alabama, #16 Washington, #18 Connecticut, #20 Syracuse, #23 Creighton), so that’s fair evidence that the coaches (at least last year) have a bit of a clue. Note we said only a bit.
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09.26.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 26th, 2007

Some news flotsam and jetsam we’ve accumulated this week…

  • It was an expensive week for Ohio State paying its head coaches, as Thad Matta got a $500k raise (to $2.5M per annum) and contract extension through 2016.
  • Tennessee forward Duke Crews has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. How long is “indefintely?”
  • We mentioned it briefly above, but it deserves its own note. Former Hawg PG Corey Beck was shot Sunday morning during a robbery attempt – he is listed in good condition.
  • Free Shoes University is embroiled in another cheating scandal – the question is which sports are involved?
  • Porsches, Polo & Ponies. SMU basketball avoids NCAA sanctions – wait, SMU still has a basketball program? Oh, right. Matt Doherty. So the answer is no.
  • Plissken at the Buzzer gives a thorough and interesting breakdown of Memphis’ schedule (following up on Andy Katz’s top 10 last week) and how that will affect the Tigers’ NCAA seed next March.
  • Melo is giving back to Syracuse, as Jim Juli Boeheim convinced him to fork over $3M toward a new practice facility for the Orange.
  • Injury Report – Louisville freshman Clarence Holloway will miss the entire season after open heart surgery (!!), and NC State’s PG Javier Gonzalez will miss the next twelve weeks with a shooting thumb injury.
  • BC’s success in the ACC on the gridiron and hardwood have increased its applications from traditionally ACC country.
  • Construda still loves Luke Recker, oh these many years later…
  • We guess Shawn Stockton isn’t as good as his uncle John.
  • According to Jeff Goodman, 2008 #1 player Greg Monroe has narrowed his list to LSU, Kansas, Duke and Georgetown. Although Gary Parrish disputes this in a meandering article about Monroe’s eight finalists.
  • Speaking of Parrish and Goodman, the former riffs on Bama’s point guard situation after losing Ronald Steele, and the latter notes that Bruce Pearl is in search of outside shooters and Arizona is looking at possible successors for Lute Olson.
  • It’s NEVER too early for a projected field of 65.
  • MascotLove: College Hoops Heaven takes a look at the top 15 mascots.
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Bama Steele-ing for the NIT Again

Posted by rtmsf on September 18th, 2007

Quick, during which of the last two seasons did Alabama have a better record?

Before answering, fans would be wise to remember the following two facts:

1) In 05-06, the Crimson Tide overcame a midseason knee injury to big man Chuck Davis, and led by point guard Ronald Steele regrouped to a 10-6 SEC record and NCAA berth (defeating Marquette 90-85 and pushing eventual national runner-up UCLA before losing 62-59).

2) The 06-07 Tide was a chic preseason pick for the F4 and even reached a national ranking of #4 during early December. But after starting 13-1, injuries to Steele railroaded the promising season, ultimately culminating in a first round NIT loss to UMass.

So it should be a little surprising that the 06-07 Tide ended with a record of 20-12, while Coach Gottfried’s previous edition was only 18-13. This illustrates how expectations define perceptions. Little was expected of the 05-06 Tide after all-SEC first-teamer Davis got hurt, so Bama’s subsequent run to the NCAAs and defensive standoff with the Mighty Bruins in R2 engendered the perception that Bama had a successful season. Conversely, last year’s squad was burdened with high expectations from the beginning, and even though the team managed to get 20 wins without the services of a healthy Ronald Steele, the 06-07 season was deemed a failure.

Which brings us to the news today that Ronald Steele will be redshirting the 07-08 season to rehab his knees, and the value of the heady point guard to this team.

Ronald Steele pic

Consider Steele’s numbers and resultant effect on the Tide’s fortunes in the 05-06 season:

Ronald Steele Stats 7

Steele Steps Up. As you can see rather starkly, Steele (and Bama’s) fortunes rose considerably in 05-06 after Chuck Davis’s injury. Despite only a small rise in minutes played (Steele was a veritable ironman that year), his key stats increased across the board – most notably, his scoring and shooting percentages were considerably better in Davis’s absence.

Unfortunately for Alabama, 06-07 was a lesson in the importance of one player. Steele gamely played through injuries to his ankles and knees, but the ironman of the previous season was no longer available. In twelve of Bama’s thirty-two games, Steele either did not play or played well below 30 minutes. Even in the games where he played starter minutes, he wasn’t nearly as effective. Here are his stats for 06-07:

Ronald Steele 8

Lack of Explosion. It’s easy to see where Steele’s “explosive” stats dropped in 06-07 – PPG (he could no longer get to the rim and finish); RPG (he couldn’t jump); SPG (he couldn’t cut off passing lanes); FG% (less athleticism = tougher shots). But it’s also apparent of his value as the Bama floor leader in the wins/losses column. Bama was 13-7 with a less-than-healthy Steele in the lineup, and the 06-07 nonconference schedule wasn’t exactly Clemson-lite either – the Tide went 4-1 against Iowa, Xavier, NC State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The harshest evidence of his steadying influence comes, however, when looking at how Bama finished the season – as Steele missed games and played sparingly during the last few weeks, the Tide limped into March losing five of its last six games.

Mark Gottfried is facing a difficult situation in 07-08 without his all-american point guard, but all is not completely lost. At least this year Alabama will know to move forward without Steele in the lineup, thereby giving other players a chance to step up much as he did two years ago upon Chuck Davis’s injury. Forwards Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix provide an athletic pair of wings, and Brandon Hollinger and Rico Pickett may yet prove capable in the backcourt. Even so, it’s difficult for us to believe that Bama will be able to overcome an injury to a player of this importance enough to make the NCAAs. Yet another tough break for Gottfried and Bama basketball.

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