It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 25th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson getting so high on this alley-oop against Michigan State on Sunday that he was literally staring at the rim when he got the ball. That would have been enough, but then he chose to hammer home right on a poor Michigan State defender – just for kicks. Definitely one of the more impressive athletic plays I’ve seen this year.

Sam Thompson is not shy about attacking the rim

I LOVED…. the hilariousness that is Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on set. In this week’s gift from above, Raftery comically asks Bilas if he’s “ever been ridden” before. Take a look – it’s just too much.

I LOVED…. everyone realizing that Miami can be very, very average – or in this case, downright bad in a loss to a Wake Forest team that was 4-9 in the ACC going into Saturday. If Miami and Gonzaga somehow play their way into #1-seeds, I don’t think it’s overkill to say that they could be two of the more susceptible #1-seeds ever for a first-round upset. And Miami could even be the likelier of the two because of how much they love the three-ball.

I LOVED…. glancing at the Georgetown schedule and having my jaw slowly drop lower and lower as I looked at their defensive efficiency during this very impressive nine-game winning streak. Check it out – since losing to South Florida on January 19, the Hoyas have allowed 47, 51, 52, 56, 63, 55, 55, 66 and 46 points. That’s pretty stingy, and it bodes well for a Tournament run if they can continue mustering enough offense. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume III

Posted by jbaumgartner on November 26th, 2012

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

  • I LOVED… Ohio State. Maybe I’m jumping on the bandwagon too early, but I grew to really enjoy this team by the end of last year and feel strongly that they have two unique pieces in Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas. An elite (albeit annoying, in my view) point guard and a versatile wing scorer are two of the more important components in the college game, and any team that possesses them has a chance to be a tough out.
  • I LOVED… as I do every year, trying to figure out how deep this Gonzaga team can go. Each season I really get a kick out of trying to imagine the Zags playing against good competition all year, eventually accepting the reality that they don’t, and then trying to piece together a mental image of what team will show up in March when they inevitably get hit in the mouth by a legit squad with good guards. Still, it’s hard not to like Mark Few’s lineup this season. Not many teams will shoot it better than Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos, and even though Elias Harris is turning 32 or so next week, he’s an active presence on the glass to complement a VERY underrated Sam Dower. I guess the Zags can’t be a sleeper in the traditional sense, but this might be their best (and most well-balanced) team in a while.
  • I LOVED Tom Crean showing no shame with his stick of Wrigley’s finest. How can you not love this? If strict adherence to the five-second rule and the world’s weirdest/creepiest Tweet ever doesn’t appeal to this generation’s high-schoolers, I don’t know what does.

  • I LOVED… reading this Sports Illustrated article on Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. It seems like we get plenty of stories every year about father-son relationships gone bad, but this was a rather refreshing example of two kids that have really gone about things the right way and made it through the tougher parts of living in the shadows of their NBA All-Star dads. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 11.26.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 26th, 2012

  1. The ongoing suspension of Michael Dixon remains one of the most confusing elements of the season so far. When Missouri coach Frank Haith initially reported the indefinite suspension the decision on when Dixon would return was supposedly in Haith’s hands, but now reports are coming out that it might not be in Haith’s hands and the inciting incident may not be as benign as Haith and the Missouri basketball program initially reported. Based on a series of tweets from former Tiger star Kim English the case that Dixon is involved in is in front of the school’s Student Conduct Committee indicating that it is a fairly significant issue. We have heard several rumors about the case, but without confirmation it would be reckless (and unprofessional) to post them, but they are out there if you want to find them. If the rumors are true, we should be hearing about this case (officially) in the near future.
  2. One of the great things about getting talented recruits is that you get the talented recruits. The downside is that it often pushes your older players down the bench or in some cases out the door. The latter is the case for UCLA as Tyler Lamb has decided to transfer from the school. Lamb, a junior who averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game as a Bruin, saw his minutes shrink after returning from arthroscopic knee surgery and seeing the incoming freshmen–Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams, and Shabazz Muhammad–take away many of his minutes. Lamb has not revealed any of his potential destinations, but it is worth noting that his last four before he decided on UCLA were Arizona, USC, San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara. With the first two almost definitely out because of restrictions against transfers within the same conference that leave just San Diego and UC Santa Barbara unless Lamb decides he wants to continue to play at the BCS conference level.
  3. You will not being seeing Morehead State coach Sean Woods tonight when his team plays against Norfolk State as Woods was given a one-game suspension for his treatment toward Devon Atkinson late in the team’s loss at Kentucky last week. The suspension shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given the media’s reaction to it, but it is refreshing to see a school take action when a coach behaves badly instead of always seeing the athlete punished (obviously the athlete wasn’t going to be punished here, but you usually see the coach get away without anything more than a slap on the wrist). As we said last week, the bigger issue for Woods and Morehead State should be how recruits view Woods’ actions and whether they will want to play for him.
  4. We have to give the NCAA credit for sticking by its guns no matter how misguided they may be as it upheld its ridiculous nine-game suspension for Indiana freshmen Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin. We already have discussed our thoughts on this case (their sponsor was technically a booster based on an old $185 donation) so we won’t go into too much detail here about why this is so ridiculous, but it is unfortunate that “the kids” have to be punished here because of the NCAA’s disapproval of a certain AAU program. However, now that it is known this should be a warning to all players and programs that the NCAA will treat these interactions in this manner so we won’t feel bad for the next player that gets stuck in this situation.
  5. We have seen plenty of amusing attempts to lure a recruit to a school, but we have to tip our hats to a pair of students at BYU who printed 6,300 shirts saying “Chicago to Provo” in hopes of convincing Jabari Parker, considered by many to be the top recruit in this year’s class, to come to BYU. The shirts were a small part in a campaign that has gone viral (see the attached video in the above link) in hopes of getting Parker, who would be by far the biggest recruit to ever end up in Provo. Parker isn’t expected to announce for another month or two at earliest and he hasn’t commented on the campaign, but we doubt that it hurt BYU’s chances.

Bonus: Just after we completed the Morning Five the news came out that Louisville center Gorgui Dieng would be out indefinitely with a fractured scaphoid in his left wrist. This is a big blow to the Cardinals, who depend on Dieng’s interior defense as they lack an adequate back-up for his interior presence and solid if unspectacular inside game. The school should release more information about how long Dieng is expected to be out after he meets with an orthopedic surgeon later today.

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Morning Five: Black Friday Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2012

  1. Earlier this week we mentioned how the homecoming of Sean Woods might be marred by his comments regarding “a sense of entitlement” that he noticed with the current group of Kentucky players. It turns out we were wrong as instead the focus has been shifted to Woods’ behavior after bringing Devon Atkinson, his senior point guard, to the bench after Atkinson picked up a foul late in Morehead State’s loss to the Wildcats. Woods apparently took exception to Atkinson’s body language after picking up the foul and made sure everybody in Rupp Arena was aware of his displeasure as he shoved Atkinson in the back then berated him on at least two occasions (video here). Morehead State issued a statement yesterday that it was discussing the matter internally and would make a decision regarding any potential punishment later today. Woods has become a sudden target for criticism of overly aggressive head coaches, but we are not sure if the university needs to punish him. His players and recruits can make a bigger impact on him by voting with their feet in deciding not to stick with him if his actions are that big of a concern.
  2. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who had voiced some displeasure with his school’s departure from the Big East, sounded off on the ongoing conference realignment issue. When asked about Maryland and Rutgers moving to Big Ten, Boeheim initially deflected the question before going on one of his patented Boeheim rants suggesting that conferences just have a draft because their motivations do not appear to have any non-financial basis. While we agree with Boeheim and nothing that he says here is that remarkable, it is refreshing to hear any authority figure within the college sports hierarchy voice his displeasure with the way things are going.
  3. We are just a few weeks into the season, but there are already a few people who are looking at the postseason hardware. Obviously it is way too early to come to any conclusions, but Jeff Borzello and Jason King take a look at the top freshmen and players in the country, respectively. Obviously with such a small sample size it is hard to get any gauge of how any of these players will perform over the long haul, but perhaps the ones that will be the most variable are the freshmen, who are just getting used to playing at this level. It is interesting to see that only one freshman — Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart — is even among the listed candidates for player of the year albeit with a very small sample size thus far.
  4. One of the issues with the current crop of players who reclassified from the class of 2014 to 2013 is that several of them still have not committed, which is not surprising since until recently they all had over a year and a half until they matriculate to the college of their choice. Dakari Johnson, one of those players and one of the top remaining uncommitted recruits in the class, is in a similar boat and according to his mother has narrowed his list down to six choices — Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgetown, Syracuse, and Ohio State — with an understanding that he will go to the school where he is needed the most (read: will get the most playing time immediately). Johnson is joining a fairly significant group of players who do not intend to sign until the spring period.
  5. While on the subject of the Gators, it turns out that Billy Donovan is lobbying Georgetown to try to finish their game that was suspended due to condensation on the court on opening night of the season. If you recall from two weeks ago, Florida was leading the Hoyas by four points at the half when the game was called off — given that the contest currently doesn’t exist in the record books, both teams stand to gain from finishing it up from an RPI perspective regardless of who actually comes away with the win. According to The Palm Beach Post, Florida would be willing to help defray some of Georgetown’s traveling costs if the Hoyas were willing to return to Jacksonville to finish things up. Interesting.
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Ryan Harrow is a Necessary Piece for Kentucky to Reach Its Potential This Season

Posted by DPerry on November 22nd, 2012

Doug Perry is an RTC correspondent and SEC microsite writer. He filed this report from Wednesday night’s Kentucky-Morehead State game in Lexington.

After Kentucky’s closer than expected 81-70 win over Morehead State, members of the press wasted no time in addressing the elephant in the room: Ryan Harrow. The transfer point guard hasn’t seen the court this season, and after this week’s encouraging news that he was working out again, it was announced that the Georgia native would miss the next two games while tending to family issues. John Calipari indicated that Harrow’s mother is concerned about her son, and wants to make sure that he’s OK. “If I knew more,” Calipari told reporters, “I would keep it from you.”

Ryan Harrow prolonged absence has exposed some of Kentucky’s weaknesses. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The situation surrounding Harrow is mysterious, but the impact isn’t difficult to identify. Against the Eagles Wednesday night, the Wildcats’ offense once again looked out of sorts, appearing stagnant in its sets and committing 13 turnovers to only 11 assists. Though makeshift point guard Archie Goodwin was Kentucky’s best player against Morehead State, vision and playmaking aren’t strengths for the natural shooting guard. Eagles coach Sean Woods recognized the Wildcats weakness at the one. “(Calipari) gave Goodwin opportunities where he doesn’t have to think, and he did well,” Woods said, referring to the frosh’s opportunities to drive the lane. “But when he’s forced to make a play, he struggled.”

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SEC M5: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 20th, 2012

  1. Former Kentucky player and current Morehead State coach Sean Woods was critical of the “vibe” he received from the Wildcats’ young players at the recent Hurricane Sandy relief telethon. “They didn’t seem like Kentucky basketball players to me, and I’ll leave it at that,” Woods said. “There is just a certain way and a certain look Kentucky basketball players should have, and not have such sense of entitlement. I think today it’s still an honor to wear that uniform.” Woods played for UK from 1988-92 and graduated as part of The Unforgettables, a senior-laden Rick Pitino coached team along with John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, and Richie Farmer. All four were Kentucky-bred players who remained with the Cats for all four years of their playing career despite severe sanctions from the NCAA during that time. Woods’ Eagles will take on Kentucky on Wednesday.
  2. Freshman Braxton Ogbueze has spent most of his time on the bench, but Florida coach Billy Donovan says he still has confidence in his young point guard. “I have confidence in Braxton,” Donovan said. “I have confidence in all of those (freshmen), I think they are great kids, they still have a lot to learn but they are eager to learn and get better.” Ogbueze played just three minutes against Wisconsin and six minutes versus Middle Tennessee State. With the return of starter Scottie Wilbekin at the point, Ogbueze’s time remains up in the air. “(I’m) trying to put those freshmen in position where they have an opportunity to be successful on the court,” Donovan said. “It’s a lot for Braxton or any freshman to come in without a lot of older guys on the floor. It’s not good for our team if we have Braxton, Michael Frazier and DeVon Walker on the floor together at the same time, there’s too much inexperience.” Ogbueze was Florida’s top-ranked recruit coming into the year, but is averaging just 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in the first three games.
  3. It is never too early to begin evaluating the play on the court, and the Missouri blog, Rock M Nation, has put together some analysis from the first five games (including the two exhibition games) of the season. The most amazing stat of all is the Tiges’ balance on offense, as Mizzou possesses five players averaging double figures in scoring (And that doesn’t include Negus Webster-Chan at 9.7 PPG nor Michael Dixon who has been suspended). The least impressive stat thus far? That would be the Tigers’ three-point defense. SIU Edwardsville connected on 11 three-pointers, helping put Mizzou at 231st nationally in defensive three-point percentage. Missouri will get its first big test with Stanford on Thursday on a neutral court in the Bahamas.
  4. Flop-gate set the college basketball and Twitter worlds ablaze last week, but was there any merit to John Calipari’s halftime critique of Duke’s defensive philosophy? Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News took a look at the four first half charges drawn by Duke, prior to Calipari’s comments. DeCourcy concluded that one of the contact plays called by the referees was clearly a flop by the Duke defender, while the other three were legitimate charging calls. Of course this research was probably much ado about nothing since Calipari doesn’t even remember the conversation, but Cal certainly gained a new legion of followers for calling out the Blue Devils on national TV for a long time criticism of the Dukie’s patented defensive style.
  5. Calipari is looking for a little something extra from his team, and he is hoping they take the cue from the play of center Nerlens Noel. “The guy’s diving on the floor, playing with energy,” Calipari said. “Would the rest of you please look at him and try to do what he’s doing or do you think just let him do that and you’re not going to do it?” Statistically, Noel is already a standout. He is averaging 11.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 3.3 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game. But Calipari isn’t getting that same hustle out of the rest of his freshmen. “I told Nerlens, ‘Just keep doing it, and they’ll get it,’ ” Calipari said. “Because it becomes embarrassing when he’s diving and you’re jogging or you’re standing straight up and get beat on the back door, and this kid’s diving on the floor.” And to think, Noel is just three games into his college career. He, and the rest of Cal’s Cats, have a lot of potential that hasn’t even begun to be uncovered yet.
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Morning Five: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 20th, 2012

  1. The big news of the day happened off the court and likely behind closed doors in a room with paintings of men who have been dead for over 100 years as Maryland is headed to the Big Ten after its Board of Regents approved the move and Rutgers is expected to join suit later today. Obviously these moves are driven by football-generated television revenue, but it is unfortunate how this move will negatively affect some current college basketball rivalries, particularly Maryland-Duke. The decision to invite Rutgers, a school that has largely been irrelevant in revenue-generating sports, appears to be motivated by its proximity to New York City and the huge television market that comes with it. Our writers at the Big Ten microsite have already provided an overview of how these moves will affect the Big Ten, and the ACC microsite has chimed in as well, but for our part the loss of Maryland as a charter member of the ACC is one of the sadder stories of the entire conference realignment era and we wonder how Terps fans will take to their new conference.
  2. Nobody with half a brain these days still thinks that schools give much, if any, consideration to their student-athletes, fans or sentiment to longstanding and traditional rivalries when making these purely financial decisions to chase the highest possible payout. This mindset is perfectly laid out by ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil, who with a scathing edge to her pen, writes: “The landscape is a storm-ravaged mess and the last idealistic fan has left the building, seeing this entire enterprise for the sausage-making caper it is. College sports are gaining money and losing credibility, the sham of amateurism and purity reserved merely for the athletes and their vow of poverty.” Pat Forde follows her with a missive describing how Maryland and Rutgers’ incompetence both on the fields of play and in the boardroom are virtually meaningless in modern realignment calculus. What does matter: “Location, location, location [near major media markets]. That’s what this latest round of conference realignment is about.” Both are absolutely correct, of course — in just the last year we’ve lost (or will lose) Missouri-Kansas, Syracuse-Georgetown, and now Duke-Maryland. All in the name of more dollars. At what point do those dollars level off when fans realize that Rutgers-Michigan or Maryland-Iowa simply doesn’t have quite the same passion and intensity surrounding it?
  3. Wednesday’s game between Kentucky and Morehead State was supposed to be a nice homecoming for former Wildcat star Sean Woods (you may remember him as the guy who hit the shot before Laettner hit The Shot). It may not turn out to be so friendly, though, after a story was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal in which Woods criticized the current Wildcats for their sense of youthful entitlement. Perhaps as the result of some harsh local feedback, Woods backed off his earlier statements via his official Twitter account. We are guessing that Woods’ clarification will be enough for most Wildcat fans — his banner hangs in the Rupp Arena rafters, after all — but there will probably be a few of the less reasonable ones who use it as an excuse to create a minor scene on Wednesday night.
  4. While the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament has been able to bring in big name programs the past two years — Kentucky (2011) and Ohio State (2012) — it has failed to draw large crowds even when Big Blue Nation invaded Mohegan Sun last season with an absolutely loaded team. Now the organizers are trying to overcome that with a  2013 field that includes two powerhouses — North Carolina and Louisville — as well Richmond, Belmont, and a group of four local schools. Having been to the event once we would be surprised if even the presence of these two schools could make up for the odd atmosphere surrounding the arena and casino, but it should at least make for a better televised final. Along the same lines, the Maui Invitational announced its field for the 2014 tournament (two years from now), and it includes the following eight schools: Arizona, BYU, Missouri, Purdue, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Kansas State, Chaminade. It’s not the strongest Maui event we’ve ever seen, but we’d expect at least three of those teams to rank in the Top 25 that season, perhaps more.
  5. Speaking of the Garden Isle, we don’t typically discuss game results in this space, but on the 30th anniversary of Chaminade‘s historic upset over #1 Virginia in 1982, we thought it was too coincidental to fail to mention the Silverswords’ 86-73 victory over Texas on Monday night. Certainly there are failures in the comparison — first of all, Texas 2012 is not Virginia 1982. The Longhorns aren’t even ranked, and they are playing in Maui without their best player, Myck Kabongo, in the lineup. Secondly, the gap between Division I and Division II basketball isn’t what it was 30 years ago — better training methodologies and techniques at all levels of basketball have helped, but the regular gutting of high-D-I hoops by the NBA creates situations like at Texas where Rick Barnes faces a rebuild every couple of years (Ralph Sampson would have without question been one-and-one in today’s environment). Still, it’s pretty cool. Texas has by far the nation’s top athletic department budget (last check: over $150 million) and it’s unlikely that Chaminade even surpasses a cool million. Could the D-II darlings use a home court advantage to take down Illinois tonight — nobody knows the answer, but it’s stories like these that answers the question of why we watch the games.
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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Ohio Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 23rd, 2012

David Changas is the RTC correspondent for the OVC.  You can follow him on Twitter @dchangas.

Top Storylines

  • Can Murray State Repeat Its Success?  Last year, the Racers took the college basketball world by storm by being the nation’s last remaining undefeated team after starting 23-0. They lose several key contributors, but another run to a second-round NCAA Tournament win is realistic, and coach Steve Prohm proved he can coach in his first season at the helm. Should Murray State win the league’s automatic bid, it likely will not come with a lofty five-seed as it did last year, but any team with potential All-American Isaiah Canaan leading it in March will be dangerous.

Isaiah Canaan Is The Early Favorite For OVC Player Of The Year And Has A Shot At Even Higher Accolades. (Getty Images)

  • Belmont Arrives:  In an effort to raise its overall profile, Belmont left the Atlantic Sun and certainly will add cachet to a league coming off its best year in recent memory. The Bruins have been a dominant force in the A-Sun for the past dozen years, earning the conference’s automatic bid in five of the last seven. Their addition to an already formidable league raises its profile that much more, and though Murray State is the league favorite, Belmont will draw attention to the OVC in this and years to come.
  • Who is Robert Covington? With all of the hoopla surrounding Canaan and Murray State, plus the arrival of Belmont, the player who isn’t the subject of enough discussion is Tennessee State big man Robert Covington. The 6’9″ senior finished third in the league in scoring and second in rebounding last year, and is projected by some to be a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.  He scores, rebounds, and shoots the three proficiently, and has an NBA physique.  A player of the year caliber season should be expected from Covington, and the presence of NBA scouts will be commonplace at Tiger games.

Reader’s Take

 

Predicted Order of Finish

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Morning Five: 05.14.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 14th, 2012

  1. The competition for the best team in the West just got a little more interesting as Anthony Bennett, the top remaining recruit in the class of 2012, committed to UNLV. Bennett, a top ten recruit by almost any recruiting service, will join Mike Moser, Khem Birch, and several other talented, but less heralded player to form what could be the most formidable frontcourt in the country. Add in a veteran backcourt and one more scholarship opening for next year and you have the makings of a potential top ten team and one that might be more dangerous in March than their more heralded counterparts in the Pac-12–UCLA and Arizona.
  2. Just when you thought that John Calipari and Kentucky might be one piece short they pull out a surprise on Sunday afternoon in the form of Julius Mays, who will transfer from Wright State to Kentucky and will be able to play next season after graduating from Wright State this spring. We will skip over our thoughts on the transfer rule that has led to an explosion in individuals who plan “to attend graduate school in an area not offered” at their previous school (later clarified after a discussion with John Infante) and instead focus on the impact that bringing in a senior combo guard who averaged 14.1 points per game last season while leading his team in scoring, assists, and steals. It obviously is a big move that helps shore up some of the team’s deficiencies and provides them with an outside threat who shot 42.4% from three-point range this season. Given the depth the Wildcats have Mays will probably come off the bench, but if the fans are worried about Mays adjusting to the level of play in the SEC they can be comforted by the fact that like fellow transfer Ryan Harrow Mays spent time in the ACC at North Carolina State although his route to Kentucky included a detour before winding up in Lexington.
  3. Former Kentucky guard Sean Woods, best known to basketball fans as the man who hit the shot before “The Shot”, will move on from Mississippi Valley State to take over as the next head coach at Morehead State. Woods, who led Missouri Valley State to the NCAA Tournament this past season, will be introduced at a press conference scheduled for 2 PM tomorrow and immediately becomes the second most popular basketball coach in the state with the force of Big Blue Nation behind him. The hiring also means that we should expect to see more frequent matchups between Woods’ new school and his alma mater. Of course it is probably more important to note that Woods will also have to deal with an Ohio Valley Conference that will be markedly improved with Belmont joining the OVC this season giving it two very strong programs–Belmont and Murray State–in addition to the Eagles.
  4. After losing its appeal for a sixth year of eligibility for Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame won an appeal for a sixth year for another player as Scott Martin was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. While some Irish fans and NCAA critics will blast the NCAA for its decision to grant Martin a sixth year after not doing so for Abromaitis in reality the situations were quite different. Martin lost a year due to a transfer to be near his father who was battling cancer then Martin was injured before ever getting a chance to play for the Irish to account for his two years while Abromaitis took a year as his personal (or team-directed) choice due to lack of playing time then was injured after playing part of a season. While Irish fans and many college basketball fans hoped to see Abromaitis return for another year, Martin’s return is a nice consolation prize as it means that the Irish will have their entire starting lineup from last year back when it overachieved in the eyes of many observers.
  5. Derrick Nix, who was arrested the day after the National Championship Game, was ordered to pay $853 in fines and court costs and serve 24 hours of community service as part of his plea deal for a misdemeanor charge of impaired driving. In addition, the Michigan State rising senior will have attend eight to 12 sessions regarding marijuana use as well as a discussion led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The penalties appear to be appropriate for what is usually handed out in these type of cases for first-time offenders without serious criminal histories. Of course, most people in these type of cases do not have Tom Izzo waiting on the other end to dish out additional punishment.
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Rick Pitino’s Massive Coaching Tree Adds Another Branch As Richard Becomes FIU’s Head Coach

Posted by EJacoby on April 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Florida International has never made any meaningful noise on the basketball court (one NCAA Tournament appearance in school history), yet the Golden Panthers continue to create plenty of buzz off of it. Over the weekend it was announced that Richard Pitino, the 29-year-old son of famed Louisville coach Rick Pitino, would be taking over as head coach at FIU. Richard Pitino was a Louisville assistant and replaces the recently fired Isiah Thomas, who of course is one of the NBA’s all-time great players as well as a former head coach and executive at the highest level in the NBA. Thomas’ buzzworthy hire did not equate to any success in three years with the program (26-65 record) so FIU will now give it a second shot with another big name. Pitino immediately becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Division I, taking up after his legendary father who got his start at Boston University at just 26 years old. Richard is just one of many Pitino assistants that have moved on to become head coaches, as we take a look at how widespread and successful the Rick Pitino coaching tree has become over the years.

Richard Pitino (Left) Looks to Continue Blossoming His Father's Enormous Coaching Tree (USA Today)

We start all the way back in 1985 with Pitino’s head coaching gig at Providence, the first of three schools he would eventually take to a Final Four. The 1987 Friars that advanced to the Final Four included three young assistants by the names of Stu Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Herb Sendek. Jackson went on to become a head coach at Wisconsin and later for the New York Knicks, and he is now the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA, one of the highest executive positions in the sport. Van Gundy, of course, also went on to become an NBA guy, coaching both the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Sendek, meanwhile, has become a longtime college coach with NC State and Arizona State, where he remains today. Sendek himself has helped groom some tremendous head coaches like Thad Matta, John Groce, Chris Mack, and Sean Miller. In addition to all of the coaches that sprung from the Providence years, Pitino also coached Billy Donovan, the starting point guard for the Friars at the time. Donovan has since gone on to win two National Championships for Florida with assistants-turned-coaches Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart, among others. Pitino’s three years at Providence produced an extensive history of coaching talent, and we are just getting started.

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Bracket Prep: Louisville, New Mexico, Ohio, & Mississippi Valley State

Posted by EJacoby on March 11th, 2012

As we move through Championship Week, we’ll continue to bring you short reviews of each of the automatic qualifiers to help you fill out your bracket. In this post, we have your Big East, Mountain West, MAC, and SWAC conference champions. Here’s what you need to know about these recent bid winners.

Louisville

Peyton Siva was Named Big East Tournament MVP (AP Photo/F. Franklin)

  • Big East Champion (26-9, 14-8)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #18/#20/#18
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +11.5
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #4-#5

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. Louisville might be one of the toughest teams in America to project for the NCAA Tournament, by virtue of the fact that they’ve had such a schizophrenic season full of ups and downs. After winning 11 games in a row to start the season, the Cardinals then dropped five of seven. Then, after going on another hot streak to win six Big East games in a row, Louisville dropped four of its final six regular season contests before its most recent four-game surge to win the Big East Tournament. So which team should we expect to show up next week? The story will be told in the type of opponent that Rick Pitino‘s team draws.
  2. Louisville has almost no offensive firepower to speak of — six players average between nine and 14 points per game, but they can’t shoot straight (48% from two; 31% from three) and have trouble avoiding long scoring droughts — rather, the Cardinals have won 26 games through its exceptionally tough defense (ranked #2 in defensive efficiency). They cause over 15 turnovers per game and force teams into tough shots both on the interior and beyond the three-point line. In the Cardinals’ last 10 games, their opponent has only reached 60 points three times. It’s somewhat instructive, though, that Louisville went 6-4 in those games because they broke the 60-point barrier only four times themselves.
  3. We’d suggest that you be careful in presuming that a Big East Tournament champion is poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament just because they’re the Big East champion. Marquette was the only solid offensive team that the Cards defeated this week, and they’re likely to face teams that can really cause them some problems in the first two rounds. As a potential #4 or #5 seed, Louisville could be matched up against a dangerous team like Long Beach State (and Casper Ware) in the first game and a team like Creighton (and Doug McDermott) in the next round. While Pitino’s defense is likely to keep the Cards in either game, they’ll have significant trouble scoring enough points down the stretch to pull out a victory, while the other teams have players who can make plays. For that reason, this is a team that you’ll want to think carefully about putting deep into your bracket — the Cardinals can be successful playing other offensively-challenged teams, but those teams tend to not play very far into March and will be few and far between.

New Mexico

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RTC Conference Primers: #30 – SWAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Reader’s Take I

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  • Southern & Grambling APR Victims.  When the NCAA released its annual Academic Progress Rate report in May, the SWAC contained two of the five basketball programs facing a postseason ban in 2011-12 as a result of consistently poor scores over several years.  While this news shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed the APR since it was implemented several years ago, the teeth of the rule is finally taking hold on individual institutions.  Southern and Grambling probably were not going to be in a competitive position to make the NCAA Tournament this season anyway, but this is something that each school must take seriously in order to secure their D-I existence.  The two institutions submitted APR improvement plans to the NCAA over the summer, and with good reason — without a considerable short-term jump in scores,  the next penalty is restricted membership in Division I.
  • Will the APR Eliminate HBCUs in Division I?  Southern and Grambling’s APR predicament highlights a harrowing situation among the two Division I basketball leagues comprising historically black colleges and universities.  With the APR cut line increasing from 925 to 930 as of next year, and a corresponding postseason penalty for programs failing to make that cut in the future, the SWAC  and MEAC could face an untenable situation where every one of its members is ineligible for postseason play, and ultimately on restricted status.  If the 930 threshold had been in effect last year, for example, only one school — the SWAC’s Alcorn State, with its 4-24 overall record and 944 APR score — would have been eligible for the NCAA Tournament.  The APR has been shown to correlate strongly with African-American enrollment, and at the low-budget HBCUs that comprise the SWAC and the MEAC, this development presents tremendous cause for concern.  Whether this is purposeful or not, we’ll leave for you to decide.
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