Morning Five: 06.29.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2012

  1. Last night was NBA Draft night, and as always, some players shot up the board in the final tally while others fell off. We’ll have much more on the top draft storylines later today, but for now we’ll briefly tease it by saying the biggest winner of the night was no surprise to absolutely anyone: John Calipari. With six more players selected in this draft (four in the first round), Calipari has put an absurd 15 players into the NBA Draft in his three seasons in Lexington (11 in the first round). There have only been 90 first rounders selected in the last three years, and 83 of those spots went to US collegians, which means that 13.3% of that round has belonged to his recruits. Even in the one-and-done era, for a single school to account for one of every eight selections out of college over a three-year window is simply incomprehensible. You add the national championship to his sales pitch, and it’s easy to wonder how he ever misses on a targeted recruit.
  2. As for some of the other storylines surrounding the draft, it’s always interesting to us how fan bases respond to their players entering the NBA. A quick whirl around various message boards revealed some of the following viewpoints: Duke – Miles Plumlee’s selection (after Austin Rivers earlier) gave head coach Mike Krzyzewski the title as the head coach with the most NBA Draft selections in his career. Vanderbilt (via Tennessee fans) – Three of the top 31 selections led to a grand total of one NCAA Tournament win in John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor, and Festus Ezeli’s careers. Mississippi State (via Vandy fans) – Making fun of Renardo Sidney. WashingtonMaking fun of themselves. North CarolinaAnger at Creighton for ruining their season. Always fun stuff out there in these bubbles of equal parts insight and insanity.
  3. Getting back to the college game, the NCAA announced on Thursday that it has hired Dan Gavitt, son of the late Big East founder, Dave Gavitt, and current Big East associate commissioner, to take over as its VP of men’s basketball championships. This new position essentially duplicates the role that former NCAA guru and all-around good guy Greg Shaheen handled at the organization for over a decade — Gavitt will be the guy responsible for elevating the NCAA Tournament to even greater heights than those it currently occupies. Given that the blockbuster television deal that Shaheen negotiated is locked into place for the next 12 years, Gavitt will no doubt need to focus on expanding the popularity of the event through greater transparency in the selection process and cross-promotional opportunities to capture the hearts and minds of even more fans.
  4. While making mention of the Big East, the conference released its full schedule for the 2012-13 season on Thursday. Each of the 15 remaining teams (remember, West Virginia joins the Big 12 next year) will play a quartet of other schools in home-and-home games, while facing off with the other 10 schools once. We have absolutely no clue as to the logic behind which teams play each other in the home-and-homes, but according to this report, “each conference team plays nine or 10 games against last season’s Big East NCAA Tournament teams, including at least two of its four home-and-home series.” We’ll at least give the league credit for an attempt at competitive balance.
  5. Usually coaches have a fairly good sense as to when their players will need to leave school to satisfy a religious obligation, as in the common case of Mormon players at BYU taking a two-year mission after their freshman season. What’s less predictable is when a player gets called back to his home country to serve in the army, but that’s exactly the situation that Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold is facing as one of his incoming freshmen — a guard named Orel Lev who practiced with the team last year — has been called back to active military duty in Israel. There’s no possibility of a deferral, so Lev will head home for the next three years before he can give another shot at college basketball. It’s a shame that the rug was so abruptly pulled out from under Lev in this situation, but a lot of folks around the world hate Israel so they need all the help they can get. We hope to hear from him again in a few years.
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Into the Lion’s Den: It’s Awesome When ACC Teams Play in Strange, Hostile Arenas

Posted by KCarpenter on October 10th, 2011

Despite a minor kerfuffle over Andy Glockner dinging Duke‘s schedule for not playing “true” road games, I think that we can all agree that non-conference road games are a thing of beauty. While old conference rivalries are their own distinct joy, and an on-going series between non-conference foes can be reliably entertaining (Kentucky vs. North Carolina, for example), there is something special when a team goes somewhere it has never been before and takes on the challenge of playing in hostile territory. And while prime time showdowns between two big schools in power conferences are entertaining, it is almost always better when Goliath comes to visit David.

This season, we have more than a few of these lopsided showdowns in the ACC. And, again, apologies to schools who scheduled great games at semi-neutral sites, but we will be focusing on the “true” road games.  Sorry, Duke. It is great that you are playing Temple, but it’s a shame that it is at the Wells Fargo center. Sorry, Maryland. It’s even cooler that you are taking on Temple at the Palestra, but for now, let us give credit to teams that are willing to go head first into the belly of the (mid-to-low-major) beast.

Coming Off A NCAA Tournament Appearance, UNC Asheville Will Take On North Carolina at Home

After last season’s atrocious showing, a loss to just about anyone would not be too surprising for Wake Forest. That said, the showdown with neighboring High Point University in High Point could spell trouble if the Panthers smell weakness and decide to go for the weakened Deacons’ collective jugular. Fellow ACC basement-dweller Georgia Tech has scheduled a whole host of road games on hostile courts. While they should be able to take on the not-so-terrifying lineup of Tulane, Savannah State, and Fordham, a loss to any one of these teams could put an end to any modicum of momentum Georgia Tech might hope to carry into the conference season. The Citadel gets points for sheer chutzpah by scheduling Clemson for their home opener, and Clemson gets kudos for accepting. Getting the most dominant basketball school in South Carolina to come to your house to open the season is a bold move. There is no doubt that the Bulldogs and their fans will be amped for this game, and the Citadel will certainly give Clemson their best.

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Will the Duke Swoon Begin Tonight at Clemson?

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2009

Wait, did you guys hear that?  It happened over the weekend…  a strange ticking noise, more specifically, it happened as the calendar moved to February.  It has the faint sound like a bomb is about to go off, as if some well-known and respected ACC team is about to collapse.  Ok, maybe not collapse – that would characterize Clemson.  It’s become a pat line around these parts that Clemson inevitably collapses every season.  While the Tigers got over that particular demon last year and managed to actually find its way into the NCAA Tournament (losing in the first round to Villanova after leading by as much as 18), there’s still an elevated wariness about Oliver Purnell’s club as it enters the last month-plus of the season.


Ok, so how about swoon?  How about starting to jerk and fit and shudder and snort like some epileptic old fighter trying to make contact with his younger adversary (that would be known as… Rocky Balboa)?  Still good enough to not completely embarrass itself, but definitely not as dominant as the first two-thirds of the season.   Yeah, we’re talking about Duke.

It's Good Times Now at Duke - But What's Coming?
It’s Good Times Now at Duke – But What’s Coming?

How dare we?!?  The Devils are currently 19-2 (6-1 ACC) and #1 in the RPI.  They can spread, penetrate and shoot the rock.  They play defense like maniacal meerkats protecting their lair.  They even rebounded from a close road loss to Wake Forest last week with a demolition of Virginia (well, it was Virginia).   But hear us out.  There is a history that suggests that Coach K’s teams of recent vintage have more troubles at the end of the regular season than they do at the beginning and the middle.  Check the table below, which begins after Duke’s last truly great team, the 2001 national champions (keep in mind, these are regular season numbers):


Ok, so let’s reconcile the obvious criticism first and foremost…

  • Duke plays in the ACC, a tough conference, so it makes sense that their Nov-Jan record (full of cupcakes and fewer ACC games) will be much better than their Feb/Mar record.

Right and wrong.  Duke does load up on easy home wins in Nov/Dec, for sure, which builds the bulk of their guady annual Feb. 1 records.  But the ACC season is, on average, 42% completed by Feb. 1 during this eight-year period (6.75 games of a 16-game slate), and Duke still only has has a total of seven conference losses in Dec/Jan.  If you project that out to the remainder of its ACC schedule over the last eight seasons, we would expect to see 16 or 17 total losses for the Dukies in the ACC regular season.  Instead we’ve seen 23 ACC losses, a full 39% higher than the rate anticipated by the Dec/Jan ACC slate.

So what might cause Duke to “swoon” to the tune of a 39% higher rate of losses in the ACC regular season in Feb/March?  A few things…

  • They Play Carolina Twice. This is as good a reason as any, as ESPN and ABC want to push both editions of the premiere rivalry in the game to as late in the schedule as possible.  Only once in the past eight years has the first game been in January (1/31/02), and the other thirteen regular season matchups have accounted for six of Duke’s 23 ACC losses.  This year’s games, fyi, are on 2/11 and 3/8.
  • Duke Wears Down. We all know that Coach K gets his players to play REALLY HARD (if you don’t believe us, listen to any ESPN announcer for corroboration.  Or this.).  Seriously, they do get after it, especially on defense.  But when you’re playing with the same balls-t0-the-wall intensity in November as you are in late February, it makes sense that you might start to wear down physically and mentally.  Just a little.  Just enough to not have the same fire in the tank when you’re on the road in another ACC dogfight.
  • Coach K Doesn’t Develop His Bench. This is corollary to the above reason – part of the problem with players wearing down is because K plays them into the ground.   This year is better than others – there are only two players (Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer) playing 30+ minutes per game, but it’s a commonly held truth that K’s rotation is usually only seven players deep.
  • Other Teams Catch Up. Duke is traditionally one of those teams that doesn’t start off slow – just look at the above table for proof of that.  The Devils are usually excellent from the first tip, walking away year after year with Maui, NIT, you-name-it preseason tournament titles.  For whatever reason, some other teams aren’t like this.  UCLA is notorious under Howland for having great regular seasons, but not really working on all cylinders until the end of the year.  Maybe the rest of the ACC is ‘catching up’ with Duke by February and March.
  • Duke is Simply Evil, and the Basketball Weauxfgods are Making Them Pay.   Sorry, we think that our nephew must have gotten a hold of the computer for a moment there.

Whatever the reasons for Duke’s regular season swoons in February and March of the last several years, it will be interesting to watch this year’s version to see if it happens again.  The schedule (@ Clemson; @BC; @ Va Tech; Wake Forest; UNC twice) certainly lends itself to another swoon, but we’ll have to wait and see how the Devils respond.  Starting tonight.

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10.07.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2007

We’ve let the news accumulate for a while, so without any further delay…

  • Tom Izzo porked the media by putting them through a “typical” 2-hr MSU practice last week.
  • Ben Howland got a hefty raise and an extension through 2014 coaching his self-professed dream job.
  • If you haven’t heard, Jim Jones’ grandson Rob Jones will be playing for the University of San Diego this year. There have been multiple takes on this, but we like Extra P.’s at STF best.
  • Hoops Weiss has a scathing analysis of the Jim Calhoun / Holy Cross Coaches vs. Cancer situation.
  • Kyle Whelliston contributed a really insightful article on about high majors playing road games at mid-major schools this year.
  • Hard luck- former McD’s all-american Mike Williams ruptured his achilles tendon in a workout at Cincinnati last week and will the entire season (he sat out last year as a transfer from Texas). USC’s Daniel Hackett broke his jaw (on OJ Mayo’s elbow) last week and will miss up to six weeks. Vandy’s JeJuan Brown has withdrawn from school for personal reasons.
  • Speaking of OJ, this video of him playing in summer league is making the rounds.
  • AOL Fanhouse is continuing its analysis of all the Big East schedules.
  • NCAA Hoops Today continued its analysis of last spring’s HS all-star games with the Roundball Classic and the Jordan Classic.
  • The Big Ten Network’s twelve viewers will get to see several Midnight Madnesses next Friday, including Illini Madness, Hoosier Hysteria, Midnight Madness (MSU), Tubby’s Tipoff and Night of the Grateful Red.
  • Gary Parrish lists his top points and combo guards (Derrick RoseMemphis), top shooters and wings (Chris Lofton – Tennessee), and top bigs (Tyler Hansbrough – UNC) in the nation. He really likes freshmen.
  • DeCourcy lists his top players the more traditional way – centers (Hansbrough), power forwards (Darrell Arthur – Kansas), small forwards (Chase Budinger – Arizona), shooting guards (Lofton), and point guards (DJ Augustin – Texas).
  • And continuing our edification of various offensive and defensive schemes, here’s an explanation of Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin swing offense and a John Beilein-esque 1-3-1 trap.
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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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08.02.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 2nd, 2007

August sorta snuck up on us, and with it did the realization that we’re now only about ten weeks away from Midnight Madness. 2007-08 schedules are slowly leaking out (Hey Florida – way to challenge build confidence for your new guys), and students will be back in the school in just a few weeks. We’re getting closer…

  • Speaking of schedules, the four Preseason NIT first/second round sites are: Ohio St., Syracuse, Washington, and Texas A&M. Best chance for a first-round upset? Oral Roberts over TAMU.
  • Wazzu stepped up to the plate to compensate Tony Bennett for his fine first season, although his pay is still below the Pac-10 average.
  • The hits keep coming for New Mexico St. – star forward Tyrone Nelson was dismissed from the team hours after his conviction for the robbery of a pizza delivery man.
  • Over forty institutions were named as allegedly taking part in a student loan kickback scheme that could have affected non-scholarship athletes at schools such as Georgetown, UCLA, Kansas and Auburn. As student loan holders, this is a troubling development.
  • March Madness All Season released its midsummer Top 25 – Memphis is #1.
  • Oh, and a while back Dick Vitale released his 07-08 preseason Rolls-Roycers (we prefer Maybachs) with nary a Dookie to be found.
  • Ahh, our friends the Dookies. H/T to The Dude Abides for finding the Duke response to the infamous “This is Why Duke Sucks” vid from earlier this year. There is no way any of the guys in that video actually go to Duke. Also have to mention we love the Audi – is there any car more Duke?
  • Speaking of Duke douchebags, McBob has apparently found his way into the back seat with quasi-reality MTV star Lauren Conrad.   
  • So what you’re saying is that we’re like every other sports blogger, right? Actually this is a pretty cool (although admittedly unscientific) analysis of the typical profile of sports bloggers today.
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