RTC 2009-10 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Atlantic South) are located here.

It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)

south_impact

Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

  • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
  • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
Share this story

Weekly Bracketology – 02.09.09

Posted by zhayes9 on February 8th, 2009

A few notes:

  • As you’ll notice, I included a comment about each and every team in the bracket. I’ll be doing this in each of my final four brackets (2/16, 2/23, 3/2 and 3/7) as we head towards Selection Sunday.
  • Expect a Bubble Watch post from me on Thursday updating the current bubble picture, a feature that will run very similar to ESPN’s weekly bubble watch.
  • As always, any questions/comments/complaints about this week’s bracket, feel free to comment.

Automatic Bids: Boston University, Xavier, North Carolina, East Tennessee State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Weber State, VMI, Michigan State, Long Beach State, Northeastern, Memphis, Butler, Princeton, Siena, Buffalo, Morgan State, Northern Iowa, San Diego State, Robert Morris, Morehead State, UCLA, Holy Cross, LSU, Davidson, Sam Houston State, Alabama State, North Dakota State, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Utah State

Last Four In: Arizona, Miami, Nebraska, Michigan
Last Four Out: Wisconsin, BYU, UNLV, Kansas State
Next Four Out: Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Providence, Penn State
Also Considered: Georgetown, Texas A&M, Baylor, Creighton, Maryland, Saint Mary’s, Northwestern, Tulsa

020809-bracketology

1 Seeds

  • Connecticut- The #1 overall seed and #1 team in the polls, Connecticut boasts 6 wins against the top 50 and still has two contests against Pittsburgh remaining on the schedule.
  • Oklahoma- The Sooners have the most wins vs. the top 100 (15) of any team, but only 1 of those victories has come vs. the top 25. They’re the #2 overall seed.
  • North Carolina- The projected ACC champion has continued to win while Duke and Wake Forest slipped up multiple times. The showdown with Duke on Wednesday is for a #1 seed.
  • Pittsburgh- Despite two conference losses, Pitt garners the final #1 seed due to their #2 RPI, 4 wins vs. the top 25 and a much stronger non-conference resume than Louisville.

2 Seeds

  • Duke- Despite the throttling by Clemson, Duke still owns the top overall RPI and have 7 wins against the RPI top 50. They can reclaim the ACC automatic bid this week.
  • Louisville- A sexy 9-1 Big East record and 4 wins vs. the RPI top 25 keep Louisville a comfortable 2. They should watch out for pesky Notre Dame this week.
  • Michigan State- The projected Big Ten champion has stayed the same all season- Michigan State. A 7 RPI, 6 SOS and comfortable lead over Ohio State and Illinois means they should stay there.
  • Marquette- The final #2 seed goes to the fourth Big East team in the field already- Marquette. They slipped in Tampa but still 9-1 and 20 wins overall is enough to grab the honor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Unbeaten/Winless Watch (12.25.07)

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2007

We really wanted to do this two weeks ago, but as you know, life got in the way.  So we’ll make do with what’s left.

As of Xmas Day, out of a total 341 D1 teams, there were a total of nine unbeaten teams and only four winless teams remaining (see table below).   Four of the nine unbeatens are unsurprising – #1 UNC, #2 Memphis, #4 Kansas, and #6 Wazzu were all preseason top ten teams.  Pittsburgh wasn’t ranked in the preseason, but they’re always pretty  good, so we’re not shocked by their inclusion (esp. once Levance Fields got himself unTazed).  That leaves us with three shockers from the SEC/ACC and one ridiculous Southland Conference inclusion (although… we had ‘em).

Unbeatens & Winless 12.25.07 v.5

From the SEC there are two unbeatens.  Florida?  Nope.  Kentucky?  Nope.  Tennessee?  Nope.  Mississippi State?  Nope.  Those four teams have about a baker’s dozen number of losses between them.  But if you had Ole Miss and Vandy at 22-0 heading into the last week of 2007, proceed directly to the Bellagio sports book.  Do not pass go.   Do not collect $200.  Ok, so Ole Miss’s 11-0 start smells an awful lot like the annual Clemson torridness (in a somewhat ironic twist, Ole Miss’s best win was at Clemson last week – 85-82), but we have to tip the hat to Andy Kennedy’s squad for beating all comers so far, and setting themselves up for a possible run at the SEC West title and an NCAA bid.  (memo to University of Cincinnati:  how’s bailing on Kennedy working out for ya?  Oh right, losses to Illinois St., Bowling Green and Belmont.  Good luck with that.)  As for Vandy, they’ve probably got a little more upside than Ole Miss due to the addition of a freshman stud who incomprehensibly gets almost no hype, AJ Ogilvy (19/7).  With senior guard Shan Foster, this inside-outside tandem plus Vandy’s home court nearly assures the ‘Dores of an NCAA berth, and given the relative state of the rest of the SEC this year, possible SEC title.

The last two unbeatens are probably the most surprising of all.  Miami (FL) was 12-20 last season, and the Hurricanes have already matched that win total this year.  A very soft schedule has made this record possible, but two solid road wins (@ Providence and @ Miss. St.) show that this team will be worth watching in the ACC race this year.   The final unbeaten, Sam Houston St., has an early win over Bob Knight and Texas Tech on their resume, but little else.  Still, it’s a great early-season story, and we’ll be rooting for them to keep it up through their west coast trip to SDSU and Loyola Marymount this coming weekend.

As for the four winless teams, we can’t say there are any real surprises.  Furman and Grambling will win soon enough, but we’re not sure about the disasters otherwise known as Ball St. and NJIT.   NJIT, probably the worst offensive team in the nation, has only broken sixty points once this year; and has been under fifty points four other times.  Ball St. is still feeling the aftershocks of the Ronny Thompson fiasco, and there’s no telling when they’ll come out of that tailspin.  Last year’s winless streak leader, Iona, didn’t get their first victory until Feb. 3 (0-22), and we think NJIT has a chance to match or exceed that this year.

Share this story

ATB: David… so… close.

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.14.07

Story of the Night. Gotta be #20 Davidson giving #2 UNC all it could handle in a “neutral” (if neutral means a light blue haze falling over the proceedings) environment in Charlotte. When we did our SoCon preview, we mentioned that Davidson could position itself for an at-large NCAA bid with solid performances against the ACC troika of UNC, Duke and NC State + UCLA in its non-conference schedule. Consider tonight’s game Exh. A to the selection committee. It’s much easier said than done, but Davidson fans should try to keep their minds on the long-term benefits of playing well in a nationally-televised game v. UNC instead of bemoaning the loss of the game down the stretch. Now, about the game itself. Clearly Davidson had no answer for Psycho-T, that is, whenever Carolina decided to get him the ball (14/14 on only 3-6 shooting), but we find it downright criminal that the beef of UNC’s frontcourt (Hansbrough and Deon Thompson) only had eleven shots combined the entire game. We know Roy wants to run as much as possible, but he’s got to get his guards to understand where their strength really is – and it’s not with Danny Green chucking seven threes while the big guys set screens for him. As for Davidson, they played hard and put themselves in good position to win the game. Stephen Curry was really off on his outside game (2-12 from three), but what was really noticeable was just how easily he got to the rim on several occasions. The crossover in the open court on Quentin Thomas was particularly disgusting. Honestly, we didn’t know he had that, and color us impressed. So what does this game say about both teams? For Carolina, it showed a couple of things: 1) Wayne Ellington is ready for prime time this year (20 pts); and 2) at least right now, they miss the length and defense of Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry. For Davidson, they shot 39% and 18% from three, and yet they were within reach with a minute to go – that should be an encouraging sign for their other big games coming up. At least one DU blogger seems to have the proper perspective (UNC 72, Davidson 68).

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.440485&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Things We Saw. We also caught quite a bit of a pretty good Pac-10/Mtn. West matchup between Utah and Washington. The problem was that we spent most of the first half trying to figure out how every Utah player could coincidentally also have the last name “Utah.” We know Utahns have a tendency toward big families, but it still seemed a little much. We finally realized that some Nobel laureate adidas has decided to put the name of the team on both the front and the back of the jerseys. We’re not even sure how to respond to this other than to say this could be the most disturbing uniform trend since the late 80s NC State unitards. We were so confused by the uniform issue that we lost track of the game for a while, but when we got our head straight, we noticed that Utah appears to be on its way back to respectability. Center Luke Nevill provided 14/10/3 blks and two ridiculous fouls after a made basket that ended up fouling him out, but he could not match up with UW’s beast Jon Brockman (several inches shorter), who blew up for 31/18 and used his quick feet to do as he pleased inside. Still, new Utah head man Jim Boylen should be pleased that his Utes fought hard and showed promise, shooting 55% on the road in an arena where the home team simply does not lose non-conference games (29 in a row now) (Washington 83, Utah 77).

Big 12 Woes. Called it. Sam Houston St. at home defeated Knight and Texas Tech tonight by keeping Martin Zeno in check and killing TTU on the boards (42-29). We’re sure that Knight ripped some waitress/intern/ballboy staffer a new one after the game for some indiscretion or another – why won’t this guy just go away? His act was tired ten years ago, and he’s just not a very good coach anymore (Sam Houston St. 56, Texas Tech 54). Another Big 12 team went on the road in Texas and also came out of the evening with an L – Oklahoma St. Sean Sutton’s team allowed big nights from North Texas’ Keith Wooden and Josh White (combined for 50/14) while getting good production from only one of its own players, Marcus Dove (23/7). Could another .500 year be in store for the Pokes (North Texas 82, Oklahoma St. 73).

Ranked Teams.
#7 Tennessee 101, Ark-Monticello 44. We know it’s a D2 team, but whatsup with Lofton? 3-15 in two games.
#13 Michigan St. 83, UL-Monroe 65. Raymar Morgan is averaging 19/15 in two games this year.

#18 Texas A&M 81, UTEP 76. TAMU will meet Washington in the NIT semis.

On Tap Tonight (all times EST). Only 32 games, but a couple of good ones on the tube.

  • Houston (pick) v. VCU (ESPNU) 9am – PR Shootout features Eric Maynor.
  • Marist v. Miami (FL) (-7) (ESPNU) 11:30am – more PR shootout.
  • Temple v. Providence (-6) (ESPNU) 2pm – and still more (why do we feel like Borat in the cheese aisle?).
  • Arkansas (-15) v. Charleston (ESPNU) 5pm – we’d like to see how John Pelphrey handles this team.
  • Connecticut (-13.5) v. Gardner-Webb (ESPN2) 7pm – the GW story ends here.
  • Hampton (NL) v. Kent St. 7pm – fantastic mid-major matchup – give us Kent at home.
  • Georgetown (-15) v. Michigan (ESPN 360) 7:30pm - how is Beilein’s offense coming along?
  • Kansas (NL) v. Washburn (ESPN FC) 8pm – it’s on tv, so we put it on the list.
  • Mississippi St. (-4.5) v. Clemson (ESPN FC) 8pm – best game of the night potentially – we think one of these two is a fraud, but we’re not sure who yet.
  • Northwestern v. Stanford (-9.5) (ESPN FC) 9pm – the last 2 yrs, Stanford laid an egg in an early road game – this year?
  • Memphis (-8.5) v. Oklahoma (ESPN2) 9pm – early test for Calipari’s Tigers.

Share this story

Conference Primers: #26 – Southland

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish:

East

  1. Lamar (18-11) (11-5)
  2. Northwestern St. (19-11) (11-5)
  3. McNeese St. (14-15) (8-8)
  4. Nicholls St. (10-19) (7-9)
  5. Southeast Louisiana (9-19) (5-11)
  6. Central Arkansas (7-20) (4-12)

West

  1. Sam Houston St. (20-9) (12-4)
  2. Texas – Arlington (19-9) (11-5)
  3. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (14-13) (10-6)
  4. Stephen F. Austin (14-15) (8-8)
  5. Texas St. (8-20) (6-10)
  6. Texas – San Antonio (7-23) (3-13)

Southland Logo

WYN2K. On its surface, the Southland appears to be an improving league. Over the last three seasons, the league has won progressively more games against OOC D1 opponents (26/33/41) for an overall record of 100-212 (.321) during this period. Additionally, while the league has been a #16 seed in six of the last eleven NCAA Tourneys, it has earned a higher seed five of the last six years (#14/#15/#16/#15/#14/#15). The #14 seed in 2006 (Northwestern St.) paid off with one of the biggest upsets of that year’s tournament, as the Demons defeated #3 Iowa 64-63 in miraculous fashion (see below). We think that the competitive balance among the top of the league this year will allow the Southland to continue to earn a higher seed than #16.

Predicted Champion. Sam Houston St. (#15 seed NCAA). There are five teams who we figure can win this league, but out of the group, we like SHSU’s experience returning along with POY candidate Ryan Bright. Bright is a stat sheet stuffer extraordinaire – he finished in the top 250 players nationally last year in several categories, including eFG% (183), dReb% (120), blocks% (161) and steals% (178). The Bearkats were poised to challenge Texas A&M-CC last year before a first-round conference tournament upset at the hands of Lamar.

Others Considered. Texas-Arlington is a rising program, returning everyone of consequence from a team that won eight of its last eleven games last year. Still, we’re not completely sold on a team that had a losing record (13-17). Lamar is another intriguing team, as they return four starters and have brought in a couple of juco PGs to battle over that position, but again, they only went 15-17 last year. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi lost nearly everyone from a team that gave Wisconsin a huge scare last year in the NCAAs (Tx A&M-CC was up 25-7 at one point), but the one key player they return (7’0 Chris Daniels) was last season’s conference POY and tournament MVP. Northwestern St. can’t be counted out either, as they always seem to find themselves in the conference mix, having been to five of the last eight Southland title games.

Games to Watch. Again, only one Southland game will be on the national radar.

  • Southland Championship Game (03.16.08). ESPN2.

RPI Booster Games. The Southland hasn’t shied away from scheduling BCS teams, with 34 on the agenda this season. Last year the conference defeated three BCS bottom-dwellers (Texas A&M – CC over South Florida; SE Lousiana over Oregon St. and Penn St.), and there are some similar opportunities this year.

  • Northwestern St. @ Stanford (11.10.07)
  • Texas Tech @ Sam Houston St. (11.14.07)
  • Lamar @ Mississippi (11.16.07)
  • Northwestern St. @ LSU (12.15.07)
  • Mississippi St. @ Texas A&M – CC (12.21.07)
  • Texas A&M – CC @ Auburn (01.02.08)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. Slim to none. Had Texas A&M-CC not lost just about everyone, we could have made an argument for their inclusion as an at-large and likely 26-4 team, but that’s not the case. This is a one-bid league.

Neat-o Stat. Nicholls St. apparently believes in stomping on its players’ throats and eviscerating their spleens trial by fire, as its nonconference schedule last year was rated #17 by Pomeroy and it is on target for that level of difficulty again. Last year the Colonels played Mississippi St., Northern Iowa, Washington, Pepperdine, LSU, Texas, Ole Miss, Auburn and Vanderbilt, losing every game. This year NSU will play the likes of Florida St., California, LSU, Alabama, UNC, Minnesota and UNLV – all on the road, all before the new year, and all likely Ls. Hard to build much confidence that way.

64/65-Team Era. The Southland is 4-23 (.148) in the era, but those four wins are a little misleading – two of the wins were from Karl Malone’s Louisiana Tech team in 1985 that went to the Sweet 16, and one of the wins is from the PiG in 2001 (Northwestern St. defeated Winthrop 71-67). The only other first-round win was mentioned above – Northwestern St. over Iowa in 2006.

Karl Malone draft suit

We’ll Take Any Excuse to Bust Out this Pic

Final Thought. The champion of this league is a team to watch next March. Last year, Texas A&M – CC gave Wisconsin all it wanted for 30 minutes. The previous year we know what happened to Iowa at the hands of Northwestern St. And in 2005 #2 Oklahoma St. struggled against #15 SE Louisiana before pulling away to win 63-50. The championship-caliber teams that come out of this league can play, especially against the Big 10 (it seems)!

Share this story