Morning Five: 10.24.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2012

  1. It’s now been about 10 days since the beginning of practices around the nation and you have to figure that coaches have started to get a sense as to what kind of team they’ll be able to put on the floor this season. But running against yourself only gets you so far by way of learning about your squad, so the NCAA allows coaches to set up so-called “secret scrimmages” between Division I schools so long as nobody other than the competitors are invited and nobody ever talks about them.‘s Jeff Goodman has mined his sources to put together a list of non-games for the next week and there are a few of which we’d like to see some surreptitious 47%-style tape released afterward — a Xavier-West Virginia battle on Saturday; a Georgetown-North Carolina tilt as well as a Creighton-Iowa contest on Sunday; and, a Stanford-St. Mary’s game late next week. How about we just tip off the season this weekend instead — these are good games!
  2. One of the few teams in America who would probably be better off from a competitive perspective playing five-on-five in its own gym rather than schlepping around to find its match is Louisville. Seth Davis reports from his time spent observing the Cardinals, and after describing in detail why he thinks that Rick Pitino truly is having the most fun coaching that he’s had in years (perhaps decades), he believes that Louisville brings back enough heart, defensive scrap and offensive firepower to make a return trip to the Final Four in 2012-13. While it’s true that outside shooting is probably going to remain a problem area and the Cards are prone to injuries, we really can’t disagree with him. With a healthy Wayne Blackshear and the continued improvement of Chane Behanan, we feel that Pitino’s offense will be quite a bit more fluid than the train wreck they often put on the floor last season.
  3. If you had to pick one college basketball team that was the most influential — not necessarily the best, mind you — in the history of the game, who would it be? The 1966 Texas Western team that shocked all-white Kentucky and blew off the doors of the stereotype that black players were undisciplined and couldn’t play championship basketball? Perhaps the undefeated 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, the last team to run the table with an undefeated season and become the archetype for “perfect basketball” forever more? These teams and many others are considered in Alexander Wolff’s latest SI piece examining this very question. His choice: the 1964 UCLA Bruins, John Wooden’s first national championship team, a group that shocked the college basketball world in how it redefined how the very game was played (did you know that this unbeaten team wasn’t even ranked in the AP Top 20 to begin the season?). It’s an interesting read, and one frankly we find more compelling than the tired debates over which teams were “better,” an impossibly futile question to answer.
  4. If you’re a college basketball junkie who loves mid-major hoops, you may want to considering finding the NBC Sports Network on your cable or satellite package this season. The network will show more than 50 games this season, but the majority of those will involve teams from four non-power leagues — the Atlantic 10, the Mountain West, the CAA, and the Ivy League. It is also the only place to find realistic television coverage of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas (apparently something called will cover two quarterfinal games), which for our money is by far the best of the various preseason tournaments this year — VCU, Duke, Memphis, Louisville, Northern Iowa, Missouri, Stanford and Minnesota will all be there this year. The network will also show both semifinals and the championship game of the CAA Tournament next March.
  5. Finally, we’ll end with injury news. If you still have some college eligibility left and possess some semblance of a passing game and floor leadership at the point guard position, give Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard a phone call. His only legitimate point guard, sophomore Aaron Cosby, has sprained the PCL in his right knee and will be out of action for the next four to six weeks. Although the news could certainly be worse, entering the first month of the season and facing games against the likes of Washington, LSU and Wake Forest prior to the semester break isn’t exactly a recipe for winning without someone to run the offense.
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Morning Five: 08.01.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 1st, 2012

  1. The NCAA on Tuesday hammered Central Florida with a one-year postseason ban as a result of the dreaded “lack of institutional control” violation in both its football and men’s basketball programs. The penalty is effective next season, which means that UCF’s last round in Conference USA before moving to the Big East will not contain the possibility of a league championship. For all the nitty-gritty details of the findings and what the probation means to the program, individual players and coaches, read Jeff Goodman’s piece on the matter, but the nutshell is that the athletic department allowed at least one agent to run roughshod through the program even though only one of the players involved (AJ Rompza) ever suited up at UCF. Comically, and as the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi writes: “The most tragically comical part of the whole ordeal is this: The Knights were cheating to get recruits, but none of those recruits ended up playing for the school. It’s one thing to be a cheater; it’s another to be an incompetent cheater.” We’re sure that this makes Ohio State, USC, and all the rest feel much better.
  2. This has been quite a transitional week for a number of college basketball media personalities, as CBS Sports, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated all announced the signing of new talent on Tuesday. The biggest mover was perhaps ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb, who signed on with CBS to serve as a college hoops studio and game analyst, host his own drive-time radio show on CBS Sports Radio and a television show on CBS Sports Network, and provide exclusive online content for Gottlieb is one of our favorites in the business because his devotion to research is impeccable and, even when we disagree with his points (which is uncommon), he cuts through all the typical pandering you see on television to make them. This announcement came on the heels of ESPN’s Monday announcement of its own new hires, with former head coaches Bruce Pearl and Seth Greenberg joining the college basketball studio as analysts, and NBA analyst Jalen Rose slotted to replace the departed Hubert Davis on College Gameday. We don’t have much of an opinion on the coaches at this point, but generally feel like Rose’s transformation from Fab Five knucklehead to a solid NBA analyst is one of the greatest we’ve ever witnessed. Others are less impressed with these hires. Finally, SI announced internally on Monday night that the New York Times‘ rabble-rouser Pete Thamel is moving over to its writing lineup. For those wondering, your RTC editors have not yet been contacted by the Times for Thamel’s open position, but we expect the call at any moment.
  3. UNLV basketball has bounced in and out of the Top 25 the last few seasons under Lon Kruger and Dave Rice, but a jump into the national consciousness like the Runnin’ Rebels enjoyed two decades ago with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Tark the Shark and the rest has remained elusive. But, as Jeff Goodman writes about Rice’s 2012-13 Rebs, the upcoming team will be the most talented that Vegas has seen just off strip since that monstrous team some 20 years ago. With elite talent such as Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch available to him on the front line, and an athletic backcourt including Anthony Marshall, Bryce Jones and Katin Reinhardt, Rice is realistically talking about pushing tempo to put the “Runnin'” back in the Rebels nickname. If the pieces all come together and UNLV gets past its road woes, this team is a group worth watching all season long.
  4. Speaking of Sin City, Seth Davis is working hard this week, with a two-part piece he calls “Summer Springs Eternal” over on The article breaks down his July trip to Las Vegas where he no doubt wore a nice white golf shirt and pow-wowed on the bleachers with the top coaches from around the nation. In the first installment published on Monday, he relates anecdotes from Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, Colorado’s Tad Boyle, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Illinois’ John Groce, UCLA’s Ben Howland, Memphis’ Josh Pastner, DePaul’s Oliver Purnell, and Butler’s Brad Stevens. Part two published on TuesdayVir includes stories and quotes from Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, USC’s Kevin O’Neill, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Kansas’ Bill Self, and Georgetown’s John Thompson, III. Even if your team’s coach isn’t on this list, it’s well worth the read to see which guys are willing to drop hints of truth about their players and teams, and those who are completely full of coachspeak.
  5. Lists like the one that Athlon Sports just released naming the top 30 coaches in college basketball are a bit of an exercise in futility because the topic is so completely subjective that everyone has a complaint. Still, you don’t release such a list without asking for attention, so here are the top three problems we have with it: 1) It’s very hard to believe that any list of best current college coaches would have anyone other than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at the very top. Four national titles, 11 Final Fours, countless wins and accolades… but perhaps most importantly, he saved USA Basketball from the abomination it had become. 2) Roy Williams at #7 is astonishing as well. He has his issues, but is he behind Jim Boeheim and John Calipari? 3) Even if Jim Calhoun retired today, there is no way on this earth that there are 21 better college basketball coaches than him. And definitely not Mike Montgomery, Tom Crean or Mike Brey. Get over there and leave your comments on their list.
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Morning Five: 06.27.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 27th, 2012

  1. Providence appears to be turning things around at least on the recruiting trail, but their on-court product took a significant hit yesterday when it was announced that incoming McDonald’s All-American Kris Dunn will be undergoing surgery on his right shoulder for a torn labrum in the next two weeks and will miss the next four to six months. Although as much as a half-year is a relatively insignificant amount of time in the life of a basketball player, especially at Dunn’s age, it will likely derail the start of Providence’s season as they look to turn things around under Ed Cooley without one of its stars. We wish Dunn the best in his recovery and hope to see him playing in a Friar jersey soon.
  2. We have to give credit to Tom Izzo who is taking the idea of “playing anybody anywhere” to a new extreme as Michigan State is scheduled to open the season against Connecticut at an Air Force base in Germany (pending approval by the Department of Defense) just a year after the Spartans played North Carolina on an aircraft carrier. Fortunately for Izzo his opponent this year will be markedly weaker than the Tar Heel team MSU faced in the Carrier Classic a year ago and they won’t have to do it on the water. While we would welcome more page views from Germany, we do not believe that this type of game is going to generate any more interest in college basketball overseas, as many of the top teams already make international offseason trips and play against high-level teams including occasional match-ups against national teams.
  3. As he does before every NBA Draft, Seth Davis queried a group of NBA scouts, coaches, and executives and got what amounts to a consensus view on the top players in tomorrow’s NBA Draft. A few of the more interesting comments came about players such as Andre Drummond (“scares me to death”), Draymond Green (“his shot’s not broken”), Darius Johnson-Odom (“a killer”), Austin Rivers (“spoiled and selfish”), Marquis Teague (“not going to be playing against Mississippi State and Auburn up here”), and Renardo Sidney (“no chance”). As always, there’s a bunch of great insights from the quotes in the piece, so make sure to check out the entire thing sometime before Thursday night.
  4. We have already seen plenty of 2012 NBA mock drafts, but the latest ESPN Insider feature is the first one we have seen this year where current NBA players select the draftees who would be their eventual teammates (requires membership, sorry). Like most mock drafts there is a certain degree of groupthink here, but this one varies more from the consensus than most. You might say that players have a capacity to notice special skills that draftniks are unable to grasp; or, that players usually make for horrible general managers (we are going with the latter). If you have ESPN Insider access, it is worth a click just for J.J. Redick‘s analysis of Bradley Beal whom he selected 19th (!). Who knew that behind all that poetry there was a sense of humor?
  5. Duke or Ohio State is set to get some excellent news today when Mississippi State forward Rodney Hood announces his decision as to where he will transfer. The 6’8″ all-SEC freshman averaged 10/5/2 APG last year but decided to leave Starkville upon Rick Stansbury’s firing. If you read the tea leaves in his quotes about each school, it would seem that Duke is where he’ll end up. Regardless of where he heads, though, he’ll have to sit out the mandatory transfer year and will not suit up again until the 2013-14 season. There won’t be a many players in next year’s class of 2013 better than Hood as a rising sophomore, so whichever school gets him will be well ahead of the recruiting game a year from now.
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Morning Five: 02.07.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 7th, 2012

  1. Alabama star forward Tony Mitchell was suspended indefinitely on Monday by head coach Anthony Grant, who did not elaborate on specific causes other than to say that it wasn’t the result of a specific action but a series of transgressions. The junior wing who averages 13/7 on the season picked a tough time to fail to come through for his team, as the Crimson Tide travels to Auburn tonight and LSU on Saturday. Sitting firmly on the early February bubble, Alabama cannot afford to lose either game against two lower-tier SEC teams without one of its two best players in the lineup.
  2. From a player forced to sit to a coach choosing to do so, College of Charleston head man Bobby Cremins opened up Monday about his recent leave of absence from the team. Citing doctor’s orders, the 64-year old coach said that he was running himself into the ground: “I got physically exhausted, fatigued and lacked the necessary energy to coach our team. My doctor advised me to take an immediate medical leave of absence, which I did.” Coaches are competitive and stressed-out people in general, so it probably didn’t help matters that Cremins’ team got off to a 9-1 start this season before dropping eight of their next 11 games. Reading between the lines a bit in Cremins’ statement to the media, he didn’t sound like someone ready to stop coaching — let’s hope he gets his energy back in time to lead CofC to a run in the Southern Conference Tournament next month.
  3. If you were like most of America, you didn’t know Duke had lost another home game until sometime yesterday given that Miami’s overtime victory over the Blue Devils finished as most people were either en route or settling into their Super Bowl parties. One man who knew it all too well and no doubt carried it with him into a sleepless night on Sunday was Mike Krzyzewski. Already having assailed his team in the postgame interview for a perceived lack of effort, the venerable coach on Monday took to the airwaves on 99.9 FM The Fan in Raleigh to further chastise his team for not “playing hard” during parts of the loss to Miami. As we all know, Duke’s ridiculous success has always been predicated on its tough man-to-man defense; and its defensive success has derived from equal parts talent and effort. This year’s defense, however, is one of the worst the Blue Devils have fielded since Chris Collins and Jeff Capel were hoisting shots at the rim rather than dry erasers at the white board. Coach K cannot change the talent part of his defensive problem overnight, but he can change the effort issue. We’d expect his players to come at North Carolina like a pack of starving jackals in Chapel Hill tomorrow night.
  4. We’re really not sure what to make of this, but if your goal is to figure out who has the best chance of finding the sunny side of the bubble on Selection Sunday, maybe this simple equation from Drew Cannon at Basketball Prospectus is really all you need. Could it really be that easy — perhaps so. Considering that the RPI is the metric favored by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, it makes sense that teams rated highly in that manner have a bit of a leg up. When you then add Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency-based metrics to the RPI, you’re essentially favoring teams that play the game of basketball (from a possession-by-possession standpoint) a little better than those who do not. Voila, the combination seems to result in a hybrid model that is a fairly accurate predictor of the field.
  5. Seth Davis was back in action Monday with a new Hoop Thoughts column, and although we disagree with him that the Kansas-Missouri rivalry will take very long to see back on the regular season schedule (five years, tops), we completely concur with his sentiment that the entire rabbit hole of conference realignment is a very, very bad thing for college athletics. And yet this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re afraid. The Pac-12 on Monday just rewarded its commissioner, Larry Scott, with an extension of his contract through 2016. How is this relevant, you ask? Recall that it was Scott’s maneuvering two summers ago in trying to lure several Big 12 schools to the Pac-10 that set into motion much of the ensuing hysteria and deal-making among schools and conferences looking out only for themselves. Without Scott’s overtures, would Missouri and Texas A&M be going to the SEC? Would Pittsburgh and Syracuse be ACC-bound? It appears that there’s no honor among the barbarians at the gate, though — say it with us now — Scott’s contract extension was approved… unanimously.
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Morning Five: 02.03.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

  1. We suppose that we should recognize that there’s a football game going on this weekend in Indianapolis that involves a couple of well-known quarterbacks. It should come as no surprise that Las Vegas sports gambling establishments are offering all kinds of ridiculous prop bets on the Sunday evening Super Bowl, but as The Dagger’s Ryan Greene writes in this piece, there are an interesting array of crossover props available that institute both this weekend’s college basketball action as well as the NFL championship. That’s right, if you are inclined to pick between Northwestern star John Shurna’s combined points and rebounds vs. Tom Brady’s number of completions or any number of other crazy wagers, Vegas invites you to come on down and give them some of your money.
  2. It’s not every day that you’ll read an article that compares the New York Times and Deadspin in the same sentence, but this piece by Dave Pickle at the NCAA does exactly such a thing. Feeling a need to respond to an onslaught of negative reporting from the Times’ Joe Nocera, the NCAA is fighting back using its own media platform. We read the original pieces that Nocera wrote regarding Connecticut’s Ryan Boatright, but he’s moved well beyond that criticism into other areas including the right to privacy and other associated injustices that he accuses the NCAA of perpetrating. The organization has responded in kind by accusing Nocera of an inherent conflict-of-interest (his fiancee’ is the communications director for a law firm suing the NCAA on the “likeness” issue) and bringing up a prior rebuke for calling Tea Party members “terrorists.” We certainly appreciate the interest that Nocera has taken in the inner workings of the NCAA, but we’d prefer if there were more news organizations asking similar questions on multiple fronts so that the one-man crusade aspect of this would disappear.
  3. A bit of recruiting news beyond Nerlens Noel on Thursday — the Jordan Brand Classic rosters were announced for the April 14 game in Charlotte, and seven of the top 10 players according to Rivals will be on the rosters. Noel himself will not be there because he did not reclassify to the Class of 2012 in time for consideration, but somehow we don’t think that will affect his hyper-recruitment in the next couple of months. The West team will be comprised of consensus #1 player Shabazz Muhammad (undecided) along with “forward Brandon Ashley (Arizona), center Isaiah Austin (Baylor), forward Anthony Bennett (undecided), wing Archie Goodwin (Kentucky), wing Danuel House (Houston), wing Grant Jerrett (Arizona), guard Marcus Paige (North Carolina), wing Alex Poythress (Kentucky) and guard Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke).” The East team will consist of UCLA recruit Kyle Anderson, “guard Kris Dunn (Providence), wing Jerami Grant (Syracuse), guard Garry Harris (Michigan State), forward Brice Johnson (North Carolina), wing Ricardo Ledo (Providence), center Tony Parker (undecided), guard Rodney Purvis (N.C. State), center Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona) and wing J.P. Tokoto (North Carolina).”
  4. This story doesn’t involve Division I basketball, but it’s scary enough to be newsworthy. A charter bus from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, carrying the men’s and women’s basketball teams (the ‘Roos) caught fire during the trip to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Thursday forcing both teams to evacuate the bus to get to safety. One athlete was provided medical treatment for smoke inhalation, but the remainder of the traveling party was able to transfer to another bus and move on to its road trip to Colorado. Still, a harrowing situation that luckily didn’t involve anything more serious than that.
  5. It’s Friday, which means that Luke Winn‘s latest and greatest Power Rankings came out yesterday. In this week’s column, you’ll learn which of the elite teams in America has the most balanced offense (hint: it’s not a school near Lake Oneida), Ricardo “Right Hook” Ratliffe’s offensive tendencies, a titillating teaser for more defensive charting on Syraucse, and even a reference to St. Mary’s guard Matthew Dellavedova’s mouthguard. Read it. In case that doesn’t provide you enough hoops analysis for one morning, Seth Davis also released a new Mailbag, which features an analysis of all the unbeaten conference teams’ chances for an at-large bid. Compelling stuff, as always.
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Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2012

  1. Gray is the way, so says the shoe company behemoth Nike, which on Wednesday unveiled nine new “platinum” uniform designs that will be worn by hand-selected schools that have won national championships as members of the Beaverton, Oregon, product line. Seven men’s schools — Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Syracuse — along with two women’s schools — Baylor and Connecticut — will sport the post-modern uniforms for one game later this season. These uniforms are certain to be a marketing hit in much the same way that some of their alt-football jerseys have been, most notably at Oregon. The template for each uniform is basically the same — a silver base with one primary accent color as trim — and you can see a few of the examples here: Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse. One interesting note is that each school has an aerographic star on the back of the jersey for each national title it has won. Kentucky’s, for example, has seven stars on its back. North Carolina has five, while Duke has four, and so on. Somebody needs to get Phil Knight on the phone immediately to explain to him the necessity of claiming Helms titles as national championships too. Right?
  2. Michael McKnight of checks in with an in-depth look at the point-shaving scandalthat enveloped the San Diego basketball program last year, and concludes that the evidence that the federal government thinks it has against former Torero star player Brandon Johnson and the other defendants might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. For one, the primary informant that the government relied upon for its information is not only marginally credible, but there may be major problems rendering his testimony admissible in a court of law anyway. Further, a review of the possible game that Johnson was most likely to have shaved points from — February 18, 2010 vs. St. Mary’s — shows that the evidence to support such a claim is less than persuasive. It’s an interesting read about a situation that made a very mild wave last year before everyone moved on to conference realignment, but one that SI has clearly done its work on in the interim.
  3. Seth Davis has been busy this week as we slip and slide into the final six weeks of the regular season. His always-fun mailbag column has made a re-appearance, and this time the topics ranged from the legitimacy of Missouri (written before the Tigers were RTC’d last night at Oklahoma State), the highest NCAA seed that Murray State can expect in March (we’d generally agree), the passion of Iowa’s Fran McCaffery (don’t you hate Iowa?), doubting San Diego State (and San Diego State?), and a few others (and everyone else?).
  4. Star treatment — it’s a fact of life in basketball at almost every level of the sport. From grade school to the highest of the professional leagues, defensive schemes are typically designed around stopping the other team’s best player. Mike DeCourcy takes a look at how such treatment has impacted an RTC favorite, Creighton’s Doug McDermott this season as game plans have adjusted to compensate for his ridiculous numbers (24/9 on 62%/50%/83% shooting). It’s true that his numbers have dropped a bit in conference play as the double-teams have come at him in earnest, but great players get their numbers regardless, and we have no doubt that McDermott will learn to adjust on the fly as he’s been so capable at doing throughout his short collegiate career.
  5. We mentioned this in yesterday’s M5, but the public unveiling of Gary Williams Court at Maryland occurred prior to last night’s game versus Duke at the Comcast Center. Even though the game ended up as yet another loss to the hated Blue Devils (1-10 in the last five seasons), the moments prior to the game were touching as Maryland fans received a final chance to cheer for and say goodbye to the coach that led the Terps to their greatest heights as a basketball program. Remember that Williams decided to retire after his star player last season, Jordan Williams, left school in early May to enter the NBA Draft. His many supporters and fans at the school had not had a chance until last night to give him a proper sendoff.

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Morning Five: 01.24.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2012

  1. It seems like we’ve been doing a lot of this lately, but we all should get used to it because three of the top six leaders in Division I men’s basketball all-time wins are actively coaching and within 50 wins of each other. With Syracuse’s win at Cincinnati last night, Jim Boeheim earned his 877th career victory to pass Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp for fourth place on the career wins list. With three more wins he’ll pass North Carolina’s Dean Smith (879) and with 26 more he’ll move past Bob Knight (902) for second place behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (916 and counting). Just behind Boeheim is Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, sitting at 867 with a reasonable shot to pass Rupp himself before the end of this season. After Calhoun, it’s a substantial drop to the next active coaching leader, UNC’s Roy Williams with 659 wins to his name.
  2. Not only did Murray State receive positive national news on Monday when the school achieved its highest-ever national rankings (#11 AP; #9 USAT) as the last unbeaten team in America, it also received good news in the form of the return of a key player from injury. The Racers’ starting all-OVC forward, Ivan Aska, has been cleared to return to practice after missing several weeks with a broken hand, and is expected to be back in action for Saturday’s game against Eastern Illinois. Despite season averages of 13/6, Steve Prohm’s team was able to make do without him in the lineup, although the Racers were outrebounded in four of the six games he missed. With the burly senior back in action going forward, Murray State’s already-deep team will become even more dangerous.
  3. Speaking of Murray State, Seth Davis‘ Hoop Thoughts this week focuses on a program that is a lot better than most people are aware of. For example, only three other programs can claim longer streaks of winning seasons than the Racers (now at 25) — a not-shabby trio of Syracuse, Arizona and Kansas. The current squad, certain to win the OVC regular season title this season, is the two-time defending champion, and the junior class — led by Isaiah Canaan (18.7 PPG, 4.0 APG) and glue-guy Ed Daniel (7.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG) — has gone an astounding 74-14 in its two-plus seasons together. Those two players were instrumental in the Racers’ 66-65 upset of Vanderbilt in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and everyone forgets that it was upstart Murray State who gave Butler its toughest test en route to the Final Four that season, barely escaping the Racers, 54-52. This is no flash-in-the-pan program, and Davis eloquently makes that case.
  4. Former Oklahoma State guard Fred Gulley has enrolled at Arkansas and will become a Razorback at the semester break next season. The Fayetteville native averaged 4/3/2 APG in eight games for the Cowboys this season, but he apparently believes that getting back home and into Mike Anderson’s up-and-down style of play will help further his collegiate career. Next door to Arkansas, Memphis guard Charles Carmouche is considering sitting out the remainder of this season because of recurring pain in his knees (tendinitis). The danger with this strategy is that there’s no guarantee that the NCAA would approve a redshirt season for the senior, so he runs a significant risk of his career being finished if he is ultimately denied. He’s only seen action in seven games this season, but that number represents more than the maximum 20% of a team’s scheduled games to qualify for the hardship waiver. Given that fact, he’d need to make a compelling case to the NCAA to earn the extra year, certainly no easy task.
  5. Finally, after a compelling weekend of college basketball where three of the top five ranked teams lost and a number of other intriguing storylines emerged, The Onion reminds us that it’s all just fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Love this line: “College basketball went on to remind fans it puts a great deal of work into making each season dramatically satisfying, unlike college football, which just hands its championship to whichever school’s boosters give it the most money that year.”
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Voices of the Big East: Volume IV

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 31st, 2011

Voices of the Big East is an ongoing feature intended to capture the essence of the conference through the words of those involved and those impacted. This will come in the form of quotes, tweets, videos and anything else we feel like sticking in here. It’s perfect for you multitasking short attention-spanners. If you find something you think is a candidate for this feature send it to us and we might even give you credit!

Happy New Year!

The voices of Rush the Court would like to wish you a happy and safe New Year.  Thank you for reading.  We hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far.  Of course there is one ball drop we will always be watching. 

We Will Forego the Crystal for This

Khem-ical Reaction

Khem Birch left Pittsburgh two weeks ago after one semester at the school.  This his has led to a variety of commentary, including from himself.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 12.15.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2011

  1. In a recent interview with a local radio station, Purdue coach Matt Painter had some interesting things to say about last weekend’s Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. He laid a considerable amount of blame on the officials working the game for allowing things to escalate to the point of on-court mayhem (“experienced officials and guys who have control of games, they handle it, take care of it early and it’s not an issue […] to me, it was avoidable.”), but he also took some candid shots at XU’s players for their physical style of play and running mouths. “Right away, from watching film, they talk. They talk a lot. That was one of the first things we talked about in the scouting report (to our players) was don’t get caught up in that. In the game, I’m talking to officials about their guys coming running on the court and (bumping into, pushing) our guys coming off a time out and the referees look at me like I’m crazy. I go back and watch the film, and it’s easy to see and they just ignored it.” Cincinnati has rightfully taken the brunt of this week’s criticism for its role in the brawl, and much of the associated vitriol with UC well predates the Mick Cronin era, but if you listen to Painter, maybe fans and media should take a closer look at how the Musketeers are composing themselves on the court too.
  2. Well, at least he didn’t shove a guy to the ground, instigate a full-on brawl between two teams, and subsequently refer to his squad as a bunch of ‘gangstas’ and talk about ‘zip[ping] ’em up” when discussing the other team. No, New Mexico State guard Christian Kabongo (cousin of more-heralded Myck, at Texas), is guilty of grabbing his crotch area twice during a recent game against UTEP and has been suspended indefinitely as a result of his transgression. Kabongo is a significant loss to the Aggies, even in the short term, as he brings averages of 16/4/4 APG to the table for Marvin Menzies’ team. Just imagine how long he’d have to sit out if he was any better.
  3. With news Wednesday that the Hamilton County (OH) prosecutor will not pursue criminal charges stemming from last weekend’s brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier, it appears that we’re finally putting this ugly incident behind us. Had charges been filed, they would have most likely come against Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj for their respective punch and stomp to the face/head of Xavier center Kenny Frease. But prosecutor Joe Deters (a law enforcement name if ever there was one) said that he was satisfied that Frease’s recent outreach to Gates was met with a subsequent apology and, among other factors, his mea culpa contributed to Deters’ decision to not pursue the case. Historically speaking, US criminal law as a general rule has shied away from imposing jurisdiction on athletes during the bounds of competition, but there have been some precedents, particularly in the NHL, where that is not the case.
  4. While on the subject of legality, the NCAA‘s new rule allowing conferences to offer $2,000 stipends to next year’s recruits is in jeopardy after 97 of the 345 Division I institutions have signed a petition that will force the organization into a reconsideration of the measure at its upcoming January meetings. If 28 more schools sign the petition in the next 11 days to get to 125 institutions, then the legislation will be automatically suspended until further review or modification. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the support for rescission is reportedly coming from the non-BCS football schools whose budgets are far below its peers who can better afford up to a $2 million annual price tag for its scholarship athletes. As we wrote a couple of months ago when this news first came out, “this policy initiative could be another step toward the permanent stratification of college basketball between the haves and have-nots.” This petition to the NCAA from the have-nots clearly bears this out. If you’re interested in more analysis on this topic, USA Today‘s Christine Brennan skewers the idea in her commentary published Wednesday.
  5. SI writers Seth Davis and Luke Winn are going a little crazy with the “breakout” players angle this month. Recall that last week Davis published his list of 10 breakout sophomores; this week he’s decided to give us his list of eight breakout juniors (plus a mailbag). Not to be outdone, Winn comes correct with his list of five breakout seniors! If we see an article on breakout graduate students next week, we’re coming to the Sports Illustrated offices and with a sole intent of burning the place down. All kidding aside, we might have added juniors CJ Harris (Wake Forest), Chase Tapley (San Diego State) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) to Davis’ list, and Jae Crowder (Marquette) and Noah Hartsock (BYU) to the Winn’s. Give both pieces a read and see what you think.
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Big East Morning Five: 12.06.11 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 6th, 2011

  1. This week’s Big East accolades are out and Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson has earned Player of the Week Honors after averaging 17.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in a 3-0 week for the Hoyas.  Thompson’s week was highlighted by his game-winning three to give his team a win over then #12 Alabama in the Big East/SEC Challenge.  Providence freshman forward LaDontae Henton took home Rookie of the Week honors, scoring 17.5 points and grabbing 8.5 rebounds per game in two Friar victories.  Henton backed the honor up on Monday with a career high 19 points versus Brown.  Other Honor Roll recipients include Henton’s teammate, sophomore guard Gerard Coleman, Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones and Seton Hall’s Herb Pope.
  2. The latest installment of Top 25 rankings are out and the Big East welcomed a new guest to the party as Georgetown (7-1), fresh off a 3-0 week including the above mentioned road victory over Alabama (the Hoyas’ second victory over a ranked foe this year (Memphis)), debuts at #18.  On the strength of a good effort in the Big East/SEC Challenge, all of the conference’s previously ranked squads not only remained so, but four of five moved up.  Connecticut (7-1), despite not losing, slid a spot to #9 and looks forward to an intriguing matchup with #24 Harvard on Thursday.  Syracuse (8-0) hopped up a spot to #3 after taking down #12 Florida and faces a test tonight against 5-1 Marshall.   Louisville (7-0) continued its steady climb, again moving up one position to #5 after beating Vanderbilt and knocking the Commodores out of the rankings. Marquette (7-0) shot up five notches to #11, beating Wisconsin and sending them back seven spots to #14.  Lastly, Pittsburgh elevated two steps to #15 with wins over Duquesne and Tennessee.  No other Big East team received votes in this week’s Associated Press poll.
  3. Providence freshman point guard Kiwi Gardner has been ruled academically ineligible to play this season due to an issue with a core course taken at Westwind Prep (AZ), where Gardner studied last year.  Gardner had been ruled ineligible prior to the start of the season but Providence appealed the matter with the NCAA and had been optimistic about a positive outcome.  The news was announced by Providence head coach Ed Cooley in his postgame press conference following the Friars’ 80-49 victory over Brown on Monday night, adding, “my heart goes out to him.”  Gardner was recruited by Cooley and his staff last year while at Fairfield, as well as by former Providence head coach Keno Davis. Shortly after the news broke, Gardner indicated via Twitter that he would remain at Providence despite not being able to suit up this season.  The Friars have been playing with just eight scholarship players, as sophomore forward Kadeem Batts has also been serving a suspension for a violation of team rules.  As noted here yesterday, it was reported over the weekend that Batts will return for Providence’s December 20 game versus New Hampshire.
  4. Villanova will be without 6’11” junior Maurice Sutton for a month with a dislocated thumb.  Sutton, who injured the thumb in practice,  did not play in Saturday’s win over Penn but appeared in all six of Villanova’s previous games, averaging 9.2 minutes, 1.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest for the 5-2 Wildcats.  Head coach Jay Wright commented on the injury, “our staff and team is disappointed for Mo. He’s been making a contribution to our team on a daily basis and we’ll miss his presence, especially defensively. But the positive in this is that Mo can still maintain his conditioning while the thumb heals and we look forward to getting him back out there, possibly in time to start the Big East season.”  Sutton can only observe as his team takes on #10 Missouri tonight as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
  5. Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated came out with his annual column highlighting sophomores to watch, and there was a significant Big East presence.  The premise of Davis’ analysis is to highlight sophomore breakout candidates. Davis provides sound analysis in that the freshman year often involves a maturation process where prep stars are learning to adjust to many differences both on and off the court.  Not to mention the fact that many rookies simply do not play much as freshmen while they wait their turn, and inevitably see an increase in production based on a more significant role in year two.  The headliner of the list was Syracuse’s 7’0” center Fab Melo.  Melo was the target of significant orange-tinted venom a year ago, which Davis argues was unjustified, as the much-hyped big guy struggled both on the floor in limited duty (2.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 9.9 MPG) and with his weight.  Melo came in this year much lighter and seemingly more focused, and this has paid dividends for the as-yet-unbeaten Orange.  His playing time has increased (22 MPG) as has his productivity (6.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.4 BPG). Other Big East’ers on the list include:

Marquette guard Vander Blue, who struggled with his shot last year but has put up solid numbers there so far this year (51.2% FG, 37.5% 3FG) for the surging Golden Eagles.

Villanova guard James Bell, who clearly is one of those guys who had to wait his turn.  His playing time has tripled to 27 minutes per game, and although a bit inconsistent at times, he has responded with 9.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game overall.

Connecticut forward Tyler Olander has earned minutes in the face of some pretty stiff competition.  As Davis notes, Olander came back stronger this year and perhaps has benefited some from the inconsistency and grousing of Alex Oriakhi.

Finally, Georgetown guard Markel Starks, who took a year to develop behind the now departed Chris Wright and is averaging 8.7 points in 25.1 minutes per game.

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