In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part five)

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.

Part Five: SCHEDULING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.
  • Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: Williams has been the AD at Portland for six years now following a five year stint as the head of licensing and product marketing at his alma mater Notre Dame. Williams was a two-time All-American offensive lineman with the Irish before starting 44 games in the NFL.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Gregg Bach, Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, Akron – Bach was named to his current position this past summer after having spent the previous eight years on the media relations staff in the Akron athletic department. His new job makes him the spokesperson of the athletic department.
  • Eric Reveno, Head Coach, Portland – Reveno heads into his fifth season at Portland having turned around a program from a team that was 18-45 in his first two seasons to a team on the rise with a 40-24 record over the last two seasons. Reveno spent his previous nine seasons as an assistant at Stanford, his alma mater where he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Academic Team selection as a senior.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.

For the most part, our first two articles on scheduling at the mid-major level have talked about the difficulties associated with lining up game. We mentioned that some schools see benefits to playing big-time programs with talented rosters, both in recruiting and in preparing their teams for conference and postseason play. Another benefit to playing these types of games is the money. Very few of the programs at this level have huge athletic budgets, so the money from taking a guarantee game and going on the road to face a bigger school is important not only to the basketball program, but also to the entire athletic department and the university. So while getting a chance for publicity from playing these games is a great incentive, the money associated with them is also a strong enticement.

Guarantee Games Are Not Always Guaranteed

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: The Big 12, the ACC, they’re all paying out big guarantees. It all depends on that particular school’s budget – some big schools will pay $55,000 or $60,000 guarantees. You can even get up to $80,000 or $90,000. And the later you wait, if there is a BCS school still looking for games, they may have to raise up the ante, they’ll pay a larger amount than they would have three months earlier.

Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty: It’s an important part for most mid-majors. Here at Liberty, the athletic department typically tries to reinvest a lot of that money back into the program, so we’re able to use it in a way that enhances Liberty basketball and the athletic department in ways that everybody can appreciate.

George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: We think the money is very important, and the main thing when we play those games, you want to do everything you can to help out within the athletic department and the university. So we don’t have a problem playing guarantees. It’s a great thing for the guys to play that kind of schedule, you’re playing some of the top players in the country, some of the top coaches in the country, so I think it is a great experience for all of us.

Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: We will play guarantee games. At some places there are mandates where you’ve gotta play these many guarantees and earn this much money, but we don’t do that. We’re trying to be very conscious of the growth of our program. And if an appropriate guarantee presents itself, we’re not afraid to play it, because quite frankly, we can win those games too. So, we’ve gotta be conscious of the opportunity to get a win and a paycheck.

Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State: I wouldn’t say we have a mandate. My AD and I have a very good relationship, and I, based on conversations with him, know what he is hoping to get, in terms of number of guarantee games, and know what he is hoping for based on the current budget and the current situation. So he and I sit down and visit and based on those conversations I know what I need to do. The bottom line is, I don’t mind playing those games.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: You can ask ten different schools about guarantee games and get like five different answers. I don’t have a lot of pressure on me, on our basketball program, to play guarantee games. We do play them, but we don’t play too many of them. Last year for instance, we played one against Mississippi State, this year we play one at Pitt. It does help us with revenues within our athletic department at a school like ours, but fortunately our administration isn’t saying to me, you have to go out and play four guarantee games so that we can fund a different program. You know, I don’t have that pressure on me, I don’t have a certain number of dollars that we have to generate through guarantee games. If I choose to, if I want to maybe buck our RPI up in a year when we think we have a chance to be pretty good, maybe help us with getting into a postseason tournament, I have the opportunity to schedule them if I’d like. But I don’t have pressure from my administration to schedule them to bring in a lot of money, and I think that’s a very good situation to be in, where your program is funded enough that there’s not pressure to go take four losses, just to help out with the budget. And I’m very appreciative that I don’t have to do that.

While road guarantee games are the usual case for mid-major match-ups with BCS conference teams, there are other ways to get matchups with BCS schools in other environments, the most common and a greatly preferred way, is in the early-season tournaments like the NIT Season Tip-Off or the Maui Invitational. These tournaments often (although not always) give mid-major programs a chance to face high-majors on a neutral court.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part three)

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.

Part Three: SCHEDULING

Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: Williams has been the AD at Portland for six years now following a five year stint as the head of licensing and product marketing at his alma mater Notre Dame. Williams was a two-time All-American offensive lineman with the Irish before starting 44 games in the NFL.
  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Eric Reveno, Head Coach, Portland – Reveno heads into his fifth season at Portland having turned around a program from a team that was 18-45 in his first two seasons to a team on the rise with a 40-24 record over the last two seasons. Reveno spent his previous nine seasons as an assistant at Stanford, his alma mater where he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Academic Team selection as a senior.

Last time out, the topic was recruiting. This time around, we’ll take a look at how mid-major programs feel about putting together their non-conference schedules and the different strategies that are used in order to line up games. It’s a part of the sport that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, but it can have a big impact on how the program is perceived, and in turn, can impact a program’s ability to recruit successfully. One theme emerges as pretty unanimous: this is not a part of the job that is a lot of fun.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: It’s brutal.

Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State: It is tough. Recruiting is number one certainly, but scheduling is not an easy thing.

Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: It really is, next to recruiting, the hardest thing we do in trying to run a basketball program.

It's Not Easy to Get Teams to Visit Places Like the Chiles Center (Portland)

While just about everyone at the mid-major level agrees that the scheduling process ranges from unpleasant to demoralizing, each program is able to develop their own strategies for filling in a schedule.

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: Different programs have different philosophies. You have home-and-home series where a school will come to your place one year and you agree to go to their school the following year. There are guarantee games where the larger school will pay you to go play them or you can pay a smaller school to come play you. And there are tournaments. There are different ways to do it.

To begin with, a school has to decide what it wants from its non-conference slate, and what it can reasonably get. Non-conference schedules are generally filled in with a combination of home-and-home agreements (where each school in the game will agree to play one game against the opposing team on their own home floor and the opponent’s home floor), guarantee games (where one team, usually a bigger school, will pay another team to come to their arena for a game), early season tournaments and other neutral-site events. At Long Beach State, they have shown over the past couple of years that they aren’t afraid to take on a scary-looking schedule. Last season they played the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, with games at Notre Dame, Texas, Kentucky and Duke and neutral site contests against Clemson, West Virginia and UCLA. It doesn’t get any easier for the 49ers this season, with road trips to Washington, Utah State, North Carolina and Arizona State combined with neutral site games against St. Mary’s and Clemson (with two others to be determined by the results of an early-season tournament), and a home game against San Diego State.

Brown: We try to play some home-and-home series with teams in our region and then Coach (Dan) Monson’s philosophy is, given that the way our conference is set up and that every year only one team from our conference is going to the NCAA Tournament, his philosophy is to go play bigger schools so that when we get into our conference or into the NCAA Tournament, we’re not shell-shocked. We’ll play three guarantee games against three bigger schools, three BCS conference schools, where they’ll pay us to go play them. We also like to get into a tournament because they can guarantee three games where they only count as one game against your schedule. Like for instance last year, we were at the 76 Classic in Anaheim and this year we’re going to the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason: As far as Coach (Jim) Larranaga’s philosophy, he looks for balance in the schedule. You’ve got to play a certain amount of home games, a certain amount of road games and some sort of preseason event that is on a neutral site. I think that’s the key thing for us.

Balance in the schedule is the ideal for most mid-majors, mixing a handful of tough games with games against teams that they should beat, and finding a relatively equal number of road games for every home game on the schedule. But it is hard to achieve balance in a schedule when it is very difficult to get high-major and BCS-conference schools to come to your place, especially when you’ve had some previous years of success.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Random Tuesday: It’s Like Christmas in, um, December…

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2009

If you’re an obsessive schedule-tracker like we are — and you sorta have to be in this business — you quickly realize the rhythms of game scheduling.  It becomes more stark during the conference season when most schools play a regular schedule of two games per week (usually on the same days), but you can still see it in November and December based on general patterns of tv viewership, travel and holidays.  By way of example, Mondays and Fridays are usually not very good nights for games, as most teams are either going into or coming out of a weekend game (usually on Saturday).  Conversely, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often busy, with the penultimate day of the work week being preferred for many western-based teams.  Wednesdays, the Hump Day, are often busy just because it’s the middle of the week and games on that day maximizes rest and practice time for students before the next one on the weekend.  If you’re reading this site, none of this information will be new to you; you already inherently know it. 

Is There a Basketball Under There? Why Yes, There Is.

So it’s a little odd that this week — Christmas week — a random Tuesday night will be the biggest game night of the entire slate of games this week (Mon-Sun).  Most teams take time off for the holiday, allowing their players to spend some quality time at home if they’re close enough to travel and/or with friends and other teammates if they’re not.  To that end, there are a grand total of zero games this Thursday and Friday, one game on Saturday (RTC Live will be at WVU-Seton Hall), and only eleven games on Sunday.  Our point: if you want to satisfy your hoops jones, you’d best tune in tonight (91 games) and tomorrow (39 games) to cure the anxiety. 

And what a schedule of games it is!  Our little box of  Nightly Nonsense listings wasn’t big enough to hold all of tonight’s goodies, so we will do you the service of listing the games you should be tracking along with us throughout the day and evening (yes, there are day games!) and into tomorrow.  It may not be Christmas just yet, but the treats have come early this year.  Settle in for your long winter’s nap with nonstop hoops over the next two days. 

Christmas on December 22

  • 3 pm – Nevada vs. BYU (ESPN360).  This game, as part of the Las Vegas Classic, features a MWC/WAC matchup between two talented teams that could really use this RPI-increasing victory. 
  • 3 pm – Northeastern vs. St. Mary’s (ESPNU).  This 10 am (local time) game from Hawaii wil be one of your few opportunities to watch SMC’s Omar Samhan, who is averaging 22/12/2 blks while shooting over 60% from the field this season.
  • 5:30 pm – Tulsa vs. Nebraska.  Tulsa has looked good this year, but they’ve played nine home games (all wins) and dropped their only game away from home (@ Missouri State).  This neutral-site game in Las Vegas is a must-win if the Golden Hurricane want to position themselves for an at-large berth in March.
  • 7 pm – #9 Michigan State @ #2 Texas (ESPN2).  The Horns are plowing through teams to the tune of a 29-pt average margin of victory, but MSU has had their number the last three seasons (all neutral court wins, though).
  • 7 pm – South Alabama @ #18 Florida (ESPN360).  The Gators try to get off of a two-game losing streak with a home date against USA.
  • 7 pm – Ohio @ Pittsburgh (ESPN360).  These two top 35 defenses should deliver a close game that you probably won’t want to watch, so keep this one on in the background.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Top 65 Games Wrapup

Posted by zhayes9 on November 5th, 2009

seasonpreview

Over the past few weeks here at RTC, we released a series of posts breaking down our Top 65 Games for the regular season. These posts were released in monthly form while also including an overall ranking for the season in parentheses. With the 2009-10 campaign approaching quickly and as a service to our fans looking to circle their calendars from November to March, here’s the official order for RTC’s Top 65 Games of the upcoming season. First, our four posts in monthly form with brief synopses in case you missed it:

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately (coming this weekend).

We’re going to give you two views of the world on this (and you can always copy/paste from the Google Doc if you like).  First, here are the Top 65 Games in order of ranking, from #1 to #65. 

top 65 games by rank

If you’re interested in viewing these 65 games by date for viewing purposes (just make sure you’re home on Feb. 6 and March 8), we’ve hooked it up after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Gazelle Group Back Up To Its Old Tricks

Posted by rtmsf on August 25th, 2009

Take a look at these two news reports, spaced about seven weeks apart this summer:

Exhibit A (July 9, 2009): 

The next chapter of Isiah Thomas’ coaching career will start amid familiar territory for the Hall of Famer: the Big Ten. FIU’s new coach is prepping to debut Nov. 9 at Ohio State in the opening round of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.

Exhibit B (August 25, 2009):

Isiah Thomas’ coaching debut at FIU just got a little tougher.  FIU’s first season under the Hall of Fame player will begin Nov. 9 at defending national champion North Carolina, part of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. It’s also the opener for the Tar Heels, according to the schedule released Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

What in the name of Anucha Browne Sanders is going on here?!?

2k sports classic cvc

Look no further than our old friends, the Gazelle Group.  Yes, the entity that decided that the meaning of the word “tournament” is factually and legally ambiguous, (updated for 2009) has decided that a UNC-FIU opener would be more interesting to more eyeballs than an Ohio St.-FIU game, and as such, has switched the openers for both schools as part of its sponsored Coaches vs. Cancer tournament event.    Controversy does seem to follow Thomas wherever he goes, but we’re putting this one squarely on the shoulders of the Gazelle Group.   In comparison, these guys make college football bowl organizers look fair and transparent.

FIU’s AD Pete Garcia is no more impressed with GG than we are.  He claims that the event organizers “bullied” FIU into signing the contract under the pretense that they would face OSU, and you know what, we believe him.  He stated that Gazelle Group organizers approached him last week asking him to change teams, and FIU refused.  When they received the press release today showing UNC as their opening opponent, they were shocked, and now they’re threatening to pull out of the CvC altogether.  As for the Gazelle Group, they’re hiding behind their contract language (which does clearly state FIU will play OSU or UNC), but it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if they promised one thing and did another while they were busily redefining that a basket will be worth 4 points and a player will receive 11 fouls this year.  

Share this story

07.06.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 6th, 2009

Hope everyone had a brilliant ID4…

  • Class of 2009. Evan Daniels of Scout.com wrote an interesting piece on how wishy-washy the high school class of 2009 was before finally settling on a school. Six of the top ten players – John Wall, Xavier Henry, Lance Stephenson, Renardo Sidney, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors – had what Daniels terms an ‘interesting’ recruitment. Interesting in the sense that the propect took forever to decide on a destination, had eligibility concerns, switched up commitments, or all of the above. From our view, this is a predictable byproduct of the NBA’s 1-and-done rule, which is now impacting its fourth class of high school seniors. All of these above players are viewing one year in college as just another somewhat annoying hoop to jump through – an unavoidable pit stop on their way to riches in the League. When seen through that prism, there’s little emotional investment in the process of choosing a college (in fact, choosing a coach is infinitely more important) and the concomitant worries about staying eligible for that one season become mitigated by all the shady characters and hangers-on offering nickels now for promises later. There’s no easy fix for this problem and as we showed last week, 1-and-dones generally help programs more than they hurt, but the NBA requiring two years after high school could help players take more ownership over this process simply because they’d be forced to care more.
  • 2009-10 Scheduling.  The Big East announced its completely unbalanced schedule last week, and Andy Katz believes that Villanova and UConn have the toughest two slates, with each having all three ‘home-and-homes’ with other contenders (at least, on paper).  What’s interesting in going down this list is just how far off the talent level has fallen in this conference since last season – it’s phenomenal, really.  Moving on…  the Jimmy V Classic is going for slow and methodical this year, with its recent announcement that Butler v. Georgetown and Pitt v. Indiana will be the schools represented.  Pitt should easily desecrate IU, but we’d look for Butler-Gtown to be a very good game.  And if you browse to the bottom of this blog post by Katz, you’ll see a good analysis of the various preseason tournaments as they currently stand.  We’d have to agree that the Maui Invitational seems very weak compared to its norm, but the 76 Classic for the second year in a row is strong. 
  • Top Rivalries.  Pat Forde took an old-fashioned beating for his article last week outlining what he thinks are the ten hottest hoops rivalries heading into next season.  To recap, Kentucky-Louisville was #1, Michigan St.-Purdue was #2 (???), Kentucky-Tennessee was #3, and UNC-Duke was #4.  Something seems amiss here.  We think we understand his premise that these are the projected top rivalries for the upcoming season, but maybe what he should have said was ‘games.’  For a rivalry to exist, there needs to be historical gravitas behind it – countless incidents, slights, fights, etc., that give each school a bitter taste in its mouth for the other.  Do Michigan St. fans have such negative feelings about Purdue?  Villanova and Pitt?  Instead, Forde seems to rely considerably on coaching rivalries in making this list – Calipari vs. Pitino; Calipari vs. Pearl; Ford vs. Capel; Montgomery vs. his old school.  This is an interesting way to categorize school rivalries, but he probably should have been a little clearer about that; otherwise, it’s difficult to swallow some of his inclusions without question.  Syracuse-UConn? Maryland-Duke?  And many more…  
  • Some Quick Hits.  Duke: playing zone next season?  Jay Wright: loving life at VillanovaClass of 2009 (again): mapping the top 25Dave Rose: a harrowing month of JuneClass of 2010: time for the July scouting period.  AAU Ball: shocking lack of fundamentals (um, thanks for the investigative journalism, WSJ). July Recruiting Period: Gary Parrish’s FAQ.
Share this story

The First and Only Mississippi Valley St. Post You’ll Ever See

Posted by rtmsf on August 25th, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is RTC’s Big 12 correspondent and occasional contributor.

During the off season for college basketball, about the only real exciting thing to look forward to is speculation on the schedule for next year–like will a large conference team go on the road to play at a smaller team home court or will teams be playing RPI killers that will hurt them come Selection Sunday?  College basketball scheduling is a little different than college football scheduling in that it is almost an up to the last minute thing to develop a schedule.  Most college football fans have a pretty good idea who is on the schedule up to four years or more in advance.  Most college basketball fans have to wait until a month or two before the current season to find out that season’s schedule.  This probably is more exciting for a small college fan to speculate and wait for, but nonetheless interesting. 
 

Being a fan of the Creighton Bluejays, I was perusing some schedules that have been posted on CollegeHoopsNet.com to see if there were any teams having Creighton on the schedule that we as fans did not know were there yet.  But as I looked a little closer, there was a schedule developing that caught my eye—Mississippi Valley State.

The AD or coach or whoever does the scheduling for the Delta Devils must either dislike the basketball program as a whole or just want to throw the team on the floor because they know they are getting a lot of guaranteed money.  Check out this schedule so far for their month of November:

·         November 17th–@Oklahoma in the first round of the Preseason NIT

·         November 18th–@Oklahoma to play either James Madison or Davidson in winner or loser round of Preseason NIT

·         November 20th–@Montana

·         November 22nd–@Arkansas State

·         November 23rd–@Washington State

Are you serious?  I know SWAC teams are notorious for lining up all of these guaranteed games at schools to help fund other sports and things at their schools, but this makes no sense and you are creating a team that will definitely be tired.  Going from Mississippi to Oklahoma, then three days later go to Missoula, Montana, back towards home to Jonesburg, Arkansas and then back the other way again to Pullman, Washington in the next three days.  Now mapping out it would made a heck of a lot of sense to actually go to Missoula, take the bus ride to Pullman and then fly back to Jonesburg.  But, to cover both coasts back and forth over a couple day period and logging over 6000 miles doesn’t really make sense to me.  Doesn’t that destroy your profit margin? That is absolutely ridiculous.  BTW, the Delta Devils come into Omaha to play the Jays on December 2nd.  They should be a tired team.   

I am also excited to mention that I am taking the challenge of a conference correspondent with Rush the Court this winter.   Though I am a Creighton fan and would love to cover the Valley, I am right smack in the middle (well sort of) of Big 12 territory.  This season should be an intriguing one as we have several questions to answer.   Can Kansas reload and vie for a championship repeat?  Will Texas finally answer the hype machine and be in contention for a run in March to the Final Four?  Will Pat Knight be able to step out of his dad’s shadow to lead Texas Tech to the tourney?  And will Doc “Slingblade” Sadler be able to get Nebraska to the NCAA and notch that first tournament win in program history?  This will be a fun year and an exciting time to be a college basketball fan.

 

 

Share this story

10.22.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2007

The hits just keep on comin’…

  • Tough week at Pepperdine.  First, their top returning player Kingsley Costain was dismissed from the school; now they don’t have anywhere to practice due to the insane fires in Malibu.
  • Now that Maryland has instituted a new alcohol awareness program, what’s the over/under on some Terp like James Gist getting a DWI?  Or maybe it’ll be our favorite tool, Gus Gilchrist?  He committed to the Terps over the weekend and will play next season.
  • Maybe Purdue’s Gordon Watt should transfer to Maryland now – he was kicked out of Purdue for a DWI last week.
  • In a nice gesture, the ACC renamed its Scholar-Athlete award in honor of Skip Prosser.
  • BYU extended head coach Dave Rose‘s contract through 2011.
  • Bob Knight really hates cell phones.
  • Beginning next year, the Preseason NIT will guarantee each participant four games at on-campus sites, even for those teams that lose in the first two rounds.
  • We hadn’t seen this yet, but ESPN announced its College Gameday sites a week or two ago.  We cannot wait until Jan. 26 – Creighton at S. Illinois.
  • Thankfully, Myles Brand says there will be no expansion of the NCAA Tournament anytime soon.
  • Raymond Felton didn’t help Roy after all – Iman Shumpert chose Georgia Tech over UNC and Marquette.
  • Andy Katz has a really interesting article about Kevin Love asking the Wizard of Westwood (who turned 97 Sunday) for advice.  We like this kid already.
  • Thad Matta is hobbling around after back surgery this summer.
  • More Preseason Chatter –
    • ACC Media Days – the Research Triangle schools came in 1 (UNC), 2 (Duke), 3 (NC State) in the preseason conference poll.
    • Seth Davis breaks down Indiana‘s prospects.
    • Katz explains why Calipari opted to stay in Memphis over taking the NC State job two years ago.
    • DeCourcy gives USC some love for tough scheduling (even though they’re going to lose all those games), while he rates crosstown rival UCLA #1 in his poll.
    • STF gets us up to speed on what the mid-major conferences are bringing to the table this year.
    • SEC Hoops:TGTBTD chooses Jamont Gordon over Chris Lofton for SEC POY.   Interesting…
    • Final thought – believe it or not, the Colorado Lady Buffaloes actually have a Brittany Spears and a Whitney Houston on their squad this season.   Coke dealers in Boulder are already calculating their profits.
Share this story

10.16.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2007

An absolute ton of newsworthy stuff to catch up on from the weekend…

  • 2008 #1 player Greg Monroe committed to Georgetown after his visit there this weekend.  It couldn’t have had anything to do with that now-ubiquitous Jerry Rice dance, could it?  “Hoops” Weiss has the definitive take on how Monroe will impact the Hoyas.  Above the Rim writes that Duke (who was hot-n-heavy for Monroe) isn’t used to losing out on these guys. 
  • Making the Dance reports that after Georgetown (who obviously had the best MM weekend), Illinois (Bruce Weber can recruit after all?!?!), Indiana, Louisville and several others had good weekends. 
  • Lots of Midnight Madness and practice coverage from the weekend…
    • Huggins taking over the reins at his alma mater.  (there’s an amusing wmv file floating around where Huggins is giving a speech to some WVU booster club – it’s longwinded and rambling, but the DerMarr Johnson payoff is funny) 
    • A general roundup of MM from Lexington to Lawrence.
    • Catching up with Tubby in Minnesota. 
    • Pat Forde takes in the scene at UK with Billy Gillispie.  Apparently Goodman did the same.   
    • Andy Katz checks in on the hype surrounding Memphis. 
    • Goodman also took a road trip to Saluki country to report on the best mid-major not named Gonzaga, while en route to seeing Pitino in Louisville
    • Wake’s first practice without Skip Prosser
    • Dave Odom tries to save his job with transfers at South Carolina.
    • Pitt has XXXL expectations for DeJuan Blair
    • The defending champs (2x) start the rebuilding process.
  • Sad news that former Georgia star and current surgeon Alec Kessler died of a heart attack last weekend. 
  • Injuries, suspensions and dismissals:
    • Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt was reinstated on Friday but will miss the first week of practice due to shroom farming foot pain.
    • Louisville’s Juan Palacios injured his ankle and may have to redshirt his senior season. 
    • Brandon Rush reports that he’s on target for his Dec. 1 return to Kansas.
    • Georgia suspended three players for not attending classes, including top two scorers Takais Brown (9 games) and Mike Mercer (15 games).  Seriously, fellas?  SEC Hoops:TGTBTD has the take on how this will affect the Bulldogs.
    • Northwestern’s best player Kevin Coble is taking a leave of absence to be with his sick mother. 
    • Ball St. coach Billy Taylor booted two more players off the team, making a total of six since he was hired in August. 
  • More Preseason goodies:
    • Gary Parrish and Ben Howland converse about whether the Pac-10 will have the most first round picks ever this year.
    • Pitino bitches about the difficulty of the unbalanced league schedule Louisville is being forced to play. 
    • MMAS continues its comprehensive review with its non-BCS top 25
    • Seth Davis asks us 20 questions, then he answers them. 
    • Gary Parrish lists his start-of-practice top 26.  Memphis, eh?
    • The Fanhouse wonders if Memphis is even the best team in its own state.
    • Jeff Goodman takes a realistic look at Duke’s expectations for this season.
    • ESPN plans on showing a grand total of TWO Pac-10 games this year!  Up from zero last year. 
    • The Big 12 handed out its preseason awards – DJ Augustin is the projected POY. 
    • Shawn Siegel lists his top 25 Big 12 players and top 25 Big 10 players for 07-08. 
Share this story

09.21.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2007

21 days to Midnight Madness, folks.

  • Roy’s 05 studs may end up costing him a recruit. 
  • UK’s Joe Crawford got his knee scoped, but is expected to be ready for the season.
  • Arizona doesn’t plan on having McKale Madness this year.
  • Gonzaga plays hard teams.  Now you too can understand how they run their flex offense
  • Katz puts forth an informative article – he rates the top 10 teams’ nonconference schedules (not to be confused as the top 10 nonconference schedules)
  • Rivals projects how ten new coaches will fare this year.
  • Some folks think Florida’s Mareese Speights will become a beast. 
  • Hoopwise interviews the head coach of the Gonzaga of the East (S. Illinois), Chris Lowery
  • Coach Cal is looking for the next Yi Jianlian
  • Seth Davis points out that the recruiting world didn’t end with the text messaging ban in effect. 
  • What kind of sports blogger are we?  Thinking #9, #8, and #3 on this list.  Mmm… link whore. 
Share this story