O26 Weekly Awards: Princeton, Augustine Rubit, Joe Scott & NDSU…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 17th, 2013

It was final exams for many schools across the country this past week, meaning a relatively light college hoops schedule leading up to Saturday. But once the weekend kicked into gear, there proved to be plenty of intriguing match-ups, weird semi-neutral court games played in NBA arenas, standout performances and altogether surprising results to pass out weekly awards to deserving O26 performers. Heck, even the thinly-populated weekday slate offered up a noteworthy upset and a fine example of early-season coaching.

O26 Team of the Week

T.J. Bray and Princeton will be Ivy League contenders this season. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

T.J. Bray and Princeton will be Ivy League contenders this season. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

Princeton. It is official: the Ivy League has two legitimate contenders in 2013-14. For all the recognition Harvard has received nationally — which is certainly well deserved, considering the team’s loaded roster and excellent start to the season — there has been another Ivy squad lurking under the radar, playing great basketball and looking like a bona fide threat to challenge the Crimson this year. That team is Princeton, and last week was its ‘hello, world’ moment. It started Wednesday night in Piscataway when the Tigers took on Route 1 rival Rutgers, a team starving for a victory in the wake of three straight losses. After trading leads for much of the contest, Princeton took firm control of things at around the 10-minute mark by doing what it has done so often this season — calmly finding seams in the opposition, penetrating and kicking out for open threes on the perimeter. In all, the Tigers hit 16 of their 34 attempts from behind the arc, and T.J. Bray — the senior point guard who was suspended for the previous game — scored 15 of his 23 points in the final nine minutes to put the game away for Mitch Henderson’s seasoned group. The 78-73 victory was a nice one, moving Princeton to 7-1 and furthering its case as the best team in New Jersey. Yet, it was Saturday’s win at Penn State that turned the heads of many college basketball fans.

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Pac-12 M5: 11.01.12 Edition

Posted by KDanna on November 1st, 2012

  1. Finally, some good news for one of UCLA’s freshmen: Kyle Anderson has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. The main questions surrounding Anderson’s eligibility had to do with his father’s relationship with agent Thad Foucher, in addition to concerns about who paid for Anderson’s unofficial visits to UCLA (along with how many he took). Though Anderson’s father was confident all along that his son would be cleared to play, assuredly there were more than a few UCLA supporters who heaved a deep sigh of relief Wednesday. It has been a long four months for the Anderson family and UCLA, but there is now one less cloud hanging over the Bruins’ 2012-13 season. All of a sudden, the Bruins’ perimeter lineup looks a lot stronger and bigger, as the 6’9’’ Anderson is known for his great court vision and passing abilities. Now all that’s left is for the NCAA to clear Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2012 according to Scout and No. 1 recruit according to Rivals. At the very least, the Bruins are in a much better position to live up to the preseason hype as a top 15 team in the country and potentially make a push deep into the NCAA Tournament next spring.
  2. Another Pac-12 exhibition contest is in the books as Arizona defeated Humboldt State 108-67 in its exhibition opener last night. If this game is any indication (and it probably isn’t), our Kevin Danna might have nailed it on the head in last week’s burning question when he said Kaleb Tarczewski will be the best newcomer to the Pac-12 this year. The seven-footer had the game’s lone double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He seemed to always be in the right spot down by the bucket to collect rebounds and also showed off a very nice drop-step, albeit against a non-Division-I post player. Mark Lyons also looked comfortable handling Sean Miller’s offense and, as usual, he wasn’t afraid to look for his own shot either, finishing with 15 points. Nick Johnson filled up the stat sheet in just about every way imaginable with 14 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists, as well as throwing down a couple of nice dunks as icing on the cake. If any other school in the conference wants to claim they have the best fans in the conference, then show an attendance figure surpassing 12,431 for an exhibition game. From the best I could tell on the stream (which, by the way, was much less laggy than Oregon’s stream on Monday night), the Wildcat crowd was very into it aside from just showing up in large numbers to a meaningless game on Halloween night. Supporters in Tucson surely sense that Sean Miller has a potentially great team on his hands.
  3. And then there are the “secret scrimmages” that never seem to be too much of a secret. Later tonight, Stanford will travel to Moraga to take on the Saint Mary’s Gaels in a game that fans and reporters are prohibited from attending. While many Cardinal followers would prefer this to be an actual game on the non-conference slate, perhaps it could be the first step towards setting up a home-and-home with the Gaels in the near future. In the immediate future, this game will give the Cardinal some sort of idea how they stack up with a team that is more or less thought to be on the same level. Big things are expected out of the junior class that features Aaron Bright, Dwight Powell, Anthony Brown, and Josh Huestis, and this game provides the class with a chance to get some positive momentum rolling into the beginning of the season. A “win” against St. Mary’s in the scrimmage could provide a nice confidence boost, even if it’s not a real game setting and both coaches might tweak the lineups more than usual.
  4. The newest CBS Sports list deals with the best defenders in the nation and, unlike previous ones, this one is not ordered. Rather, 30 guys are separated into different categories of defenders, and two of the 30 defenders reign from the Pac-12: Colorado’s André Roberson and Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye. Roberson gets a nod under the “best glass cleaning defenders” category, for pretty much the same reason why Eamonn Brennan tabbed the Colorado forward the best rebounder in the nation. N’Diaye is filed under the “best rim protecting defenders” department. We talked about Roberson yesterday, so N’Diaye is a guy who has done a solid job as a lane-clogger for Lorenzo Romar during his first two years in Seattle, but you would expect a guy his size to finish better than 12th in the conference in blocks as he did last season. No love for Pac-12 perimeter defenders, but right now, there isn’t any guard in the conference that could feel too slighted by not receiving CBS Sports’ recognition.
  5. Finally, it’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day today, taking place this morning and afternoon in the Pac-12 Enterprises offices in San Francisco. All 12 coaches will be there, along with one player from each team: Solomon Hill, Carrick Felix, Allen Crabbe, André Roberson, E.J. Singler, Angus Brandt, Aaron Bright, David Wear (you didn’t think UCLA would take Shabazz, did you?), Jio Fontan, Jason Washburn, Abdul Gaddy and Brock Motum. Nothing earth-shattering usually takes place at these events, but it will be a good chance to get some more nuggets on Washington’s high-post offense, Craig Robinson’s role in the Obama re-election campaign, and an official “no comment” comment on the Shabazz situation now that Anderson is cleared to play. Most importantly, the preseason Pac-12 media poll will be released. Which team will the media pick to take home the Pac-12 regular season crown: UCLA or Arizona?
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NCAA Investigation Into Saint Mary’s Shows Incentives the Same Regardless of Program Size

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 24th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The list of power-conference athletic programs that have committed recruiting violations is long and wide-ranging. Just in the past five years, we’ve seen Connecticut men’s basketball, Ohio State football, Baylor men’s basketball, Oregon football, USC football and men’s basketball – among many other notable big-time programs – either accused or charged with breaking the NCAA’s strict recruiting codes. These brand-name programs are often hit with crippling sanctions that not only restrict competitive potential, but stain nationally-renowned schools with the stigma of cheat, deceit and fraud. Sometimes, as was the case with USC hoops, there are one or two rogue athletes responsible for their programs’ reckoning. For others it’s a problem embedded within the institution. SMU’s pay-for-play football setup, revealed to the masses more than a quarter century ago, underscores the latter. Still, there is a common denominator at play here. These scandals become national stories, all of them, because of the institutions at which they occur and the negative ripple effects the violations threaten to generate. When news broke of OSU’s “tattoos-for-swag” arrangement, it was the job status of former coach Jim Tressel and the speculation over his replacement that stole back-page headlines. The violations were compelling in and of themselves, but the national appeal stemmed from the long-term implications on the Buckeyes, a legendary, if iconic, football program.

Under Bennett, and thanks to an unusual influx of Australian talent, the Gaels have risen to the upper levels of mid-major competition (Photo credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire).

The media attention these stories capture obscures the true breadth and reach of illicit recruiting behavior: NCAA violations, viewed by the layperson through a prism of high-major perpetration, extending to the mid-major ranks. We got the latest example over the weekend courtesy of ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, who reported that the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball program has been subject of an NCAA investigation over the past year for potential recruiting violations. The focus of the investigation remains a mystery, though sources confirmed to Katz that David Patrick, a former Saint Mary’s assistant who was instrumental in the recruitment of several Australian players to the program (most notably Patty Mills), has spoken with NCAA personnel. Program officials, including associate athletic director Richard Kilwein, athletic director Mike Orr and head coach Randy Bennett, have all declined to comment. The Gaels broke Gonzaga’s more than decade-long stranglehold over West Coast Conference hoops last season by claiming the league title outright, the first time since the 1999-2000 season that a team other than the Zags seized solitary ownership of the conference crown. For a program that during Bennett’s tenure has evolved into one of the nation’s premier mid-majors, any punitive measures would represent a major stain in an otherwise sparkling recent history.

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