Morning Five: 12.06.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2011

  1. You know those anthologies called the Top Fiction/Non-Fiction/Sportswriting/etc. in America that come out every year around the holidays? Have you ever wondered what the best college basketball sportswriting in America looks like (ahem, other than RTC, of course)? Here”s your chance. The USBWA announced its five winners for its Best Writing Contest in 2011, and each selection is well-received. The top column award went to David Teel of the Newport News (VA) Daily Press for a piece on Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith; the top game story award went to David Woods of the Indianapolis Star for his recap of the Butler vs. Florida Elite Eight game last March; the top enterprise piece award went to Dan Wiederer of the Fayetteville (NC) Observer for his three-part look at Mike Krzyzewski; the top magazine length feature award went to Sean Gregory of Time for his reflection on Princeton’s historic 1996 upset of UCLA; and, the top moderate length feature award went to Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated for his poignant story about Kenneth Faried’s life and passion for rebounding. If you have time, we’ll see you again in a half-hour. If not, just bookmark the page and get back to it later. Think of all the garbage you read (willingly or not) every day — if you’re a true college hoops fan, each of these five articles is well worth your time and energy.
  2. Speaking of SI, the magazine released its Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year yesterday and it had a decidedly college basketball theme. The all-time wins leader on the men’s side, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, will add yet another honor to his mantle with his selection, while the all-time wins leader on the women’s side, Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, will do likewise. The duo of coaching titans have combined for a total of 1,982 wins, roughly fifty to seventy wins behind the grand total that schools like Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina have had in their entire histories. In the nearly-60 year history of the award, only three other college basketball personalities have been honored — Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas (1961), UCLA’s John Wooden (1972), and North Carolina’s Dean Smith (1997). They will be honored tonight in Manhattan at a special ceremony.
  3. Folks around the college basketball nation are still buzzing about Anthony Davis’ game-winning rejection in the North Carolina-Kentucky game from Saturday, where one of the top storylines involved all the future NBA talent playing in that game. DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony (doubling up at Grantland) took a look at the game from an NBA scouting perspective, and here is what he found. Perhaps exhibiting how evenly matched these two teams are, Givony broke down each position and picked a player advantage between each starter — the final tally was a 3-2 advantage. You’ll have to get over to read the piece to see which team “won” the NBA Draft component of Saturday’s blockbuster of a game.
  4. Utah is already on its way to an epically disastrous season, having lost six games against Division I competition by an average of over 20 points per game. How bad has it been? So bad that Utah is rated lower than Utah Valley and Southern Utah within its own state in the KenPom ratings… ugh. On Monday it got worse. Starting point guard Josh “Jiggy” Watkins was suspended indefinitely by head coach Larry Krystkowiak for failure to live up to team expectations (reportedly he was late for practice and had fallen asleep in class). Considering the fact that Watkins is the top usage player (39.7%) and seventh-highest shooting player (37.7% of Utah’s possessions) in America through four weeks of the season, but accounts for over half his teams assists (52%), his benching might be a good thing or a bad thing. Then again, how much worse could the Utes get?
  5. Seth Davis was back yesterday with his Hoop Thoughts column, and as usual, it’s a must-read. The topic this week is ten sophomores who were not stars as freshmen to keep an eye on this season, and he lists many of the most important names. Here are five more that should most definitely be considered as super sophomores after quieter freshman seasons — Terrell Stoglin (Maryland), Trae Golden (Tennessee), Eric Atkins (Notre Dame), Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State), and Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State). All of these guys have made significant strides in their second seasons on campus.
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Morning Five: 11.15.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2011

SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of to tip off the season. The league, which is completely free to enter, starts TONIGHT involving several teams — Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State, Duke, Florida, Ohio State, Miami (FL), Rutgers — and features $200 in prizes. Even better, if you beat our trained monkey that we’ve assigned to make our picks (username: RTCmonkey), you’ll win even more. Test your college hoops knowledge to win! Click here to enter.

  1. Maybe you’ve forgotten or maybe you’re just dropping by, but today is pretty much a national holiday around these parts. One of ESPN’s better ideas, the 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon, tipped off at Midnight ET last night in Spokane and is currently plowing its way through sunrise in the eastern time zone after stopovers in California and Hawaii overnight. Of course, the late night and morning games are mere appetizers to a $50 steak dinner coming up this evening when we’ll be rewarded with two games from the Champions Classic (Duke vs. Michigan State and Kentucky vs. Kansas) and a Top Ten matchup between Florida and Ohio State in Columbus. From Coach K’s pursuit of win #903 to the fascinating development of Cal’s young Cats to the return of OSU’s Jared Sullinger for a second season, storylines abound on this day. If you’re lucky enough to not have to work on a random Tuesday in November (hint, hint), strap yourselves in for a smorgasbord of college basketball a full week before you’re legally allowed to stuff your face.
  2. Of course, the top storyline of the day remains Mike Krzyzewski‘s chance tonight to become the sport’s all-time wins leader in Division I men’s basketball. Coming into the Champions Classic game against Michigan State this evening, Coach K sits tied with his former coach and mentor, Bob Knight, at 902 total wins, and if you believe in Vegas odds, he has a 72% chance of doing the trick tonight in Madison Square Garden. We’re sure that the testimonials for K’s greatness will come fast and furious all day long, but here’s two good interviews to get you started.  Former Duke superstar and all-around good guy Grant Hill spoke with TSN’s Ryan Fagan recently about K’s far-reaching positive influence on him, and recent graduate Nolan Smith spoke with TSN’s Mike DeCourcy about some of the life lessons K imparted to him as a father figure. Expect to see many more of these in the next 24-48 hours.
  3. What UCLA head coach Ben Howland needs is more attitude problems on his team. Let’s recap recent events, shall we? After the vaunted Class of 2008 recruiting class nearly brought his program to its knees through various busts, poor attitudes and problem children, it appeared that the Bruins may have been turning the corner by shedding itself of most of those players (Jerime Anderson, currently on suspension, remains). Then, over the weekend, sophomore center Joshua Smith tweeted that his team had lost to a bunch of “bums” after an opening night loss to Loyola Marymount — but perhaps worse than that, he ‘lol’-ed about it, suggesting an alarming irreverence from a player whom Howland needs to stay on the floor (he contributed a paltry 5/4 in only 16 minutes of action). The latest kerfuffle involves UCLA’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, Reeves Nelson, a player whom an ESPN report alleges is causing problems within the UCLA team as a result of his attitude. After skipping practice Monday, he has been suspended for tonight’s game versus Middle Tennessee State and his long-term future with the team appears in doubt. What in the name of the Wizard is going on in Westwood?
  4. Seth Davis gives us his Hoops Thoughts for the opening weekend of college basketball and his first point about the ridiculous (and slippery) decals stuck to the floors of the various pre-conference events around the country is a salient one.  As he points out, Michigan State’s Branden Dawson is only the latest of disasters averted, as his right knee buckled on a Quicken Loans decal for the Carrier Classic, and for a few minutes it appeared as if the injury may have been much worse than it was. What’s amazing about this phenomenon is that college athletics has all kinds of rules meant to protect players in its various sports from injury, and yet even after years of complaining from coaches and media alike, the decals stay. Here’s an idea that seems a reasonable compromise — use the yellow-line first down technology in football to digitally layer the advertising images onto the floor. That way, the dollars that support these events remain secured, but not at the expense of potentially losing a player to severe injury. What are we missing here?
  5. Perhaps not since Damon Bailey was recruited to Indiana in the late 1980s has a single player held so much hope and promise for the Crimson and Cream denizens of the Hoosier State.  But freshman Cody Zeller represents a new beginning to many IU fans wishing for a return to the glory days of Indiana basketball under the General and even before him, Branch McCracken. Basketball Prospectus takes a closer look at the enormous expectations that are being placed on the young player, effectively (and graphically) showing that he faces perhaps more homegrown pressure than any other major recruit in the last four years. Can’t say we disagree with the premise, but it’s a little unfair that so much is riding on a young man who may need some time to develop into an effective player at the Big Ten level.
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Morning Five: Veteran’s Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2011

SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of to tip off the season. The league, which is completely free to enter, starts on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and features $200 in prizes. Even better, if you beat our trained monkey that we’ve assigned to make our picks (username: RTCmonkey), you’ll win even more. Test your college hoops knowledge to win! Click here to enter.

  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance who has given their time and energy during their lives to help this nation stay safe, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back — trust us, they’ll appreciate it. This year’s Veteran’s Day has a particularly deep meaning for our purposes, as it also doubles as the official ‘unofficial’ opening night of the college basketball season. Several teams have already gotten under way in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but most everyone else begins this weekend. One hundred thirty-one games dot the schedule this evening, including 19 of the RTC Top 25 teams in America. The headliner game on this holiday is that curious little aircraft carrier game down in San Diego involving the consensus #1 team, North Carolina, and a perplexing but always-dangerous Michigan State squad. But there are several other noteworthy games tonight, including a talented Belmont squad visiting Duke at 9 PM on ESPNU and a rising Oregon team visiting a Vanderbilt program harboring massive expectations in Nashville. For a complete list of view-worthy games, be sure to click on our Nightly Nonsense tab above here, and check back this afternoon for our weekend version of Set Your TiVo, which will outline all the interesting games for the next three days.  As of tonight, we can say it without qualifying language — college hoops is back, baby…
  2. And what about that game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson? The temperature will be in the mid-60s and winds are expected to be in the 10-15 MPH range this evening in San Diego, but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting about the players is that every one of them has played outdoor pickup ball at one time or another. Sure, it’s not the same as playing in the controlled environment of a gym, but who hasn’t experienced the unique situation of having to slightly adjust your jumper to account for the breeze? Many of these players probably developed their games on the playgrounds across America. The players will probably be more jittery because President Obama will be there rather than dealing with the sun and wind.
  3. The NBA could be on the verge of a return with a 72-game season, or none at all, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the 2011-12 college basketball season as written for NBA fans, Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus is your man. It’s an intriguing look at the collegiate game in that the perspective changes when one’s only use for NCAA hoops is as a finishing school before the big time. While we’re on the subject of the pros, the current deal offered by the owners to the players has not yet addressed the ‘ancillary’ issue of a minimum draft age. We wonder that if the players cave here on the revenue split whether that will embolden them to ask for and receive concessions with respect to the draft age (among other things). From the perspective that a two-year minimum is better for the game of college basketball, it might actually be better in the long run if the players refuse the owners’ latest offer.
  4. Miami’s DeQuan Jones has been suspended by the university for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his alleged involvement with improprieties relating to his recruitment by Frank Haith, as uncovered by Yahoo! Sports during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Shapiro stated in interviews that Haith arranged for $10,000 to be paid to Jones’ family to secure his commitment in 2008. Given that the Hurricanes could potentially lose a number of wins if Jim Larranaga now played Jones and it was later determined that he was an ineligible player, this is a smart move. Still, it doesn’t help with the Hurricanes’ current glaring lack of depth, as UM will now have only seven scholarship players available heading into tonight’s opening game against Tennessee Tech.
  5. Finally, it’s time for the SI Crystal Ball, where Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner make their preseason picks on the 2011-12 Final Four, NPOY, surprise team, flops, and so on. Would you believe that the only category of consensus among the trio came when picking their Best Mid-Major team? We’ll give you three guesses to see if you can get it right… As always, it’s a good read, but even the best in the business (as these guys are) are lucky to bat just above the Mendoza line with their predictions — in last year’s Crystal Ball, for example, the three picked a grand total of zero Final Four teams (including darkhorses). College basketball prognostication is more art than science, we’ll readily admit, but we’re totally on board with Davis and Glockner’s darkhorse team this season (hint: it starts with an “X”).
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.10.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 10th, 2011

  1.  The one word a college basketball coach never wants to utter is “suspension.” In Lon Kruger’s case, however, the suspension of junior guard Steven Pledger could be much, much worse. Pledger, who averaged 10.9 PPG last season for Oklahoma, will miss just one game after playing in a professional event this summer. If you’re wondering, OU plays Idaho State in its season opener Friday night, a team which finished 9-20 last season and lost three starters. Needless to say, when Pledger returns for the second game of the season against Coppin State on November 18, the damage should be minimal.
  2. The Michael Beasley lawsuit, part of which accuses Kansas State of serious NCAA violations, hasn’t gained much steam in the national media lately. One outlet in Manhattan, Kansas, is covering the story, of course, and this article breaks down the situation pretty coherently. Basically, it all comes down to any knowledge the coaching staff had of Beasley’s allegations. It’s very difficult to prove “knowledge,” though. Just ask Frank Haith, who’s embroiled in the same sort of scandal from his days at Miami. The issue for Haith is whether he knew about a payment to a recruit at UM, and that’s the same question raised in this case.
  3. The resignation of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno made national headlines Wednesday night, and it’s interesting to draw comparisons to the Baylor murder scandal from 2003. Like at PSU, the Bears’ situation also dealt with a cover-up by head coach Dave Bliss, though his role in that scandal was significantly more active. Bliss actually tried to paint the victim — former player Patrick Dennehy — as a drug dealer to hide several violations that had occurred during Dennehy’s career. The two scandals aren’t quite parallel, but they’re both landmark incidents in the continuing stain of college sports.
  4. Basketball prospects signed letters of intent all across the Big 12 on Wednesday, which marked the first day of the early signing period. And although Iowa State didn’t make national headlines with its signings, it did add Mr. Popularity. Georges Niang is already a Twitter sensation, and coach Fred Hoiberg says he’ll be replaced by Niang in terms of popularity “the minute he steps on campus.” And we’re talking about The Mayor here, folks. Here’s to a healthy and productive career for the likeable Niang over in Ames.
  5. Do you dare pick against Kansas in the Big 12 after seven league titles in a row? We didn’t, but Seth Davis has. He tweeted on Wednesday that he thinks Baylor would win the league — “eight is too much,” he said. After losing so much production from last season, it’s an understandable position. But with so many outspoken Jayhawks roaming the social media world nowadays, Davis had better be ready to defend his position.
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Morning Five: 10.17.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 17th, 2011

  1. And so begins the shortest ‘preseason’ in all of sports, the 24 days between the start of official practice — as celebrated by Midnight Madness all across the country on Friday night — and the opening games of the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, on November 7.  It’s an astonishingly short window, but all that means is that we’re that much closer to seeing bona fide college basketball on our televisions and in our local arenas very soon.  Let’s get you caught up.  On Friday night we put together a Storytelling piece capturing some of the excitement around the land as MM tipped off everywhere.  Yesterday we put together a list of the 13 best dunks from this year’s proceedings, several of which will have you drooling in anticipation for more.  Immediately following this post, we’ll publish the most interesting Friday night clips from several of the blue-blooded programs like Duke, Kentucky, Connecticut, Kansas, North Carolina and several others.  Midnight Madness weekend is great because it represents a new beginning — every team is still unblemished and ostensibly has an equal shot at doing something special.  Welcome to next year.
  2. During ESPNU’s Midnight Madness coverage Friday night, Andy Katz spent as much time talking football through the lens of conference realignment scenarios as he did discussing his favored sport.  Word leaked during the broadcast that the Big East had reportedly offered five schools membership to the conference — Houston, SMU and Central Florida in all sports, and Boise State and Air Force in football only.  The goal, of course, is to keep the conference’s automatic BCS bid, but each step ‘forward’ appears increasingly desperate for a league that built its reputation on basketball three decades ago and has never really been that significant on the gridiron.  As Lenn Robbins writes in the NY Post, the conference doesn’t expect to announce any movement until after the Big East’s basketball media day this week, but we truly feel that grabbing schools without regard for regional ties and rivalries is a shortsighted strategy doomed to ultimately fail.  The non-BCS Big East schools very seriously considered walking away from the rest of this madness, and who would blame them at this point?
  3. Aaron Torres writes that this will be a “golden season” in college basketball, and he makes a compelling case for his argument.  As everyone here already knows, the number of elite players who returned to college rather than face an NBA lockout, when combined with an exceptional class of incoming freshmen, could produce a quality of depth in the sport that we haven’t seen in a number of years.  Torres contends that the last time college basketball was this talented was in 1995-96, at the cusp of the preps-to-pros trend (Kevin Garnett skipped college that year) and featuring upperclassman stars such as Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, among others.  Let’s hope that the NBA’s eventual collective bargaining agreement makes seasons like this the future norm with a two-and-done rule allowing us to enjoy players for a couple of years prior to moving on to the professional ranks.
  4. Seth Davis gives us answers to his ten burning questions as we head into the 2011-12 season.  Starting today, we plan on rolling out our own list of 20 questions over the next several weeks, but we can guarantee you that none of ours will involve Utah State senior superfan, Bill Sproat.  We’re honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the one answer he gives that we can completely get on board with is #7 — which underachieving big man will make a giant leap?  The answer to that question is legitimately the difference between his team being a borderline Top 10 to 15 squad and the overall best team in America.  Tell us what you think.
  5. Kansas released some disappointing news on Friday afternoon just before its Late Night in the Phog celebration.  Two more members of its freshman class, Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, will join Braeden Anderson as ineligible to play this season because of high school transcript issues (all three attended three different high schools).  For a team suffering considerable losses of key personnel from last season’s Elite Eight squad, this is another blow to Bill Self’s aspiration to win an eighth straight Big 12 regular season title in 2011-12.  He worked to temper expectations on Friday, especially now that his Jayhawks are down to eight legitimate players and in need of significant improvements from returnees such as Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson.  If Self can outlast Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M again this year in the Big 12 race, he’ll certainly deserve any postseason COY accolades he gets.
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Morning Five: 09.22.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 22nd, 2011

  1. A couple of top prospects made their college choices within the last couple of days and the rich keep getting richer. On Tuesday night, Kentucky opened its account within the 2012 class when 6’4”, 180-pound shooting guard Archie Goodwin tweeted his intent to be a Wildcat. It was Perry Ellis‘ turn on Wednesday, and the 6’8”, 220-pound forward chose Kansas, citing Bill Self’s knack for getting the most out of his Jayhawk bigs as motivation for heading to Lawrence. Goodwin is ranked 13th overall and Ellis is 37th in the ESNPU 100 class of 2012 rankings. Ellis was also the first ranked recruit to commit to Kansas from that class, but it goes without saying that neither program is finished mining its talent.
  2. Oklahoma took some heat for the ultimatum it gave to the Big 12 on Tuesday, claiming that it would stay in the conference if, among other demands, some restrictions were placed on exactly what Texas’ Longhorn Network could show, and if current Big 12 commish Dan Beebe was removed. Nobody (including us) bought it as a good-faith negotiating tactic, but it turns out that OU might be getting at least part of what it wants. Evidently Oklahoma isn’t the only school that would welcome Beebe’s ouster, and the most recent word is that the presidents of the conference’s member institutions are having a conference call (no pun intended) tomorrow that will determine the future of the Big 12, beginning with the removal of Beebe and the installment of former Big 8 commissioner Chuck Neinas as the new boss.
  3. Last week, when people who follow college sports weren’t talking about conference realignment, they were talking about the piece that appeared in The Atlantic by essayist and historian Taylor Branch entitled “The Shame Of College Sports.” The 14,573-word diatribe against the NCAA was lauded by almost everyone as a stinging polemic, to say the least, and an utter rout for Branch. CBS’ Seth Davis, however, took Branch and his essay to task yesterday, charging Branch with basing his whole article on a faulty premise and conveniently leaving out obvious counterpoints. We provided a CliffsNotes version of the Branch essay, and we highly recommend you check out Davis’ response, too, linked above.
  4. Rick Pitino had a chat with ESPN’s Andy Katz yesterday in which the Louisville coach predicted that the Big East would survive Realignment ’11, that the conference would add two service acadamies (football only) by the end of the week, it would still remain one of the strongest basketball conferences in the land, and that he is “happy with Big East basketball.” Pitino has a gift for spin that makes even the most skilled of lobbyists envious, but he’s probably right about the Big East staying strong. Obviously it won’t be what it once was if Syracuse and Pittsburgh follow through with their departures, but as far as basketball power, assuming Rutgers and Connecticut leave and Notre Dame and West Virginia stay, you’d have those two programs plus Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Villanova, and St. John’s, all NCAA Tournament teams last year.
  5. We bet you can win a few bar bets — though your chances of success increase dramatically if you’re outside the state of Michigan — on one of the great riddles in college basketball: who was Michigan State’s only three-time basketball all-American? Hint: he was a point guard. Your sucker will probably pounce at the chance to answer “Magic Johnson!” and expect to relieve you of your cash, but he’d be wrong. Magic was a two-time AA as a Spartan (because he only played two years). It’s a Flintstone named Mateen Cleaves who holds that honor, and today he will be inducted into Michigan State University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Despite feeling as humbled and honored as you’d expect, the 34-year old Cleaves told Eric Woodyard of the Flint Journal and, “It does make me feel old that I’m entering the hall of fame.” No comment.
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Morning Five: 06.23.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2011

  1. It’s NBA Draft day, and depending on where you stand in the American basketball landscape, one of the best or worst days on the calendar.  As college hoops fans, we’re obviously very disheartened to see players we’ve watched closely for the last one/two/three/four years moving on to the next phase of their lives, but as people who like to root for good kids following their dreams, we have nothing but love for the players who will hear their names called by David Stern or Adam Silver tonight.  Hopefully every one of them will realize just how amazing an opportunity they’re receiving to play this beautiful game for big-time money and will make the most of it.  The very best of luck to all the draftees tonight.
  2. To that end, here’s a link to our 35 NBA Draft profiles of the top collegians who are most likely to hear their names called tonight.  From Kyrie Irving to Iman Shumpert and everyone in-between, they’re all there.  We break down their games, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, predict how they’ll be doing in three years, and project which teams would be best served picking them.  As writers who have followed these players as closely as anybody the last several years, we bring a somewhat different perspective on these prospects than your typical NBA-centric sites.  Take a look.
  3. If you don’t like our profiles, or don’t have the patience to wade through nearly 25,000 words this morning, head on over to Seth Davisannual breakdown of the top 40 prospects as relayed to him from six anonymous NBA scouts and one coach at the next level.  As always, there’s some insightful stuff in this piece, but it’s up to the players to perform — not the scouts to evaluate — after tonight.
  4. Former Binghamton head coach Kevin Broadus has found a place to land after his ugly resignation in the wake of a program meltdown under his watch in 2009 — John Thompson, III’s Georgetown staff.  Previously an assistant under JT3 from 2004-07, he will become the Hoyas’ fourth “assistant coach” even though his actual title is “aide” and he won’t be able to “coach, attend meetings involving coaching activities, or scout opponents.”  What exactly Broadus will be doing other than acting as a “sounding board” to Thompson is currently unclear, but the local product who grew up in the DC area will undoubtedly help the Hoyas work the fertile talent pool there.
  5. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar stated unequivocally to Percy Allen on Wednesday that he is not a candidate for the Minnesota Timberwolves job despite persistent rumors to the contrary.  With the talent pipeline and relative job security that Romar has up in Seattle, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to take a dead-end NBA job like Minnesota, unless, of course, he has lingering memories of Kevin Love spurning his Huskies for the sunnier skies and warmer climate of southern California and wants another shot to coach him.
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Morning Five: 04.28.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 28th, 2011

  1. We didn’t get to this on Wednesday, but Seth Davis checked in this week with a piece analyzing the offseason coaching carousel thus far.  There’s not much there to quibble with, as it’s been a relatively quiet year in this regard.  We completely agree with his take that Tennessee hiring Cuonzo Martin was a very smart play, while Missouri going after (and getting) Frank Haith was perhaps the most questionable.  At the mid-major level, Richmond’s Chris Mooney and VCU’s Shaka Smart choosing to stick on the banks of the James River was the most surprising (how often will runs like theirs at those schools happen?).  Jim Larranaga to Miami (FL) (with Kenny Anderson?) and Sydney Johnson to Fairfield?  Those two situations were just weird.  As of this writing, there are only five jobs left open — Mason, George Washington, UC Davis, Alabama A&M, and Florida A&M.  The Patriots have an excellent team returning next season; that opening left by Larranaga is clearly the true remaining plum of the group.
  2. Perhaps mad about John Calipari’s possible gig with the Dominican Republic (joking), Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has canceled his dalliance with Puerto Rico to coach their national team.  Citing conflicts with trying to manage both head coaching duties as the primary reason for his withdrawal, what was left unsaid in his statement on Wednesday was that he was trying to use the summer period to get some great practice time and competition for his Louisville squad against legitimate international competition.  The NCAA allows international summer trips for college teams once every four years, but they’re often against vastly inferior competition and, in this case, the governing body told UL that Puerto Rico, as a US territory, wasn’t “foreign” enough.
  3. Just prepare yourself for roughly one or two of these stories per month until we hit October — it never fails.  Two Winthrop players, including its leading scorer and a key reserve, have been accused of criminal sexual misconduct involving a 19-year old former student.  Sophomore guard Robbie Dreher and freshman center Julius Francis, according to the police report on the matter, allegedly assaulted the woman by restraining her in Francis’ room as the two performed sexual acts on her despite her claim of repeatedly saying, “no.”  Dreher is the team’s top returning scorer at 12.7 PPG in over 31 minutes per contest last season, while Francis played much more sparingly but has great size and considerable promise.  Needless to say, the two have been suspended from the team indefinitely.
  4. It was Huskies Day in Hartford, as the UConn men’s basketball national champs, the women’s Final Four team, and the Orange Bowl football team all visited the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday in a combined celebration of their successes.  Kemba Walker took the opportunity to address his comment made last week about only reading one book “cover to cover,” clarifying his academic prowess at the school (graduating in three years) fby stating that he was referring specifically to loving a book so much that he sat down to read it in one sitting.  Jim Calhoun said that he’s still considering retirement, but there’s no timetable on a final decision — we have a feeling he’ll be back on the sideline next year.
  5. All Jimmer, all the time.  That’s what we might have coming soon with the report that a television show production company named Tupelo-Honey Productions will be creating a reality show involving The Jimmer and his family in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft on June 25.  They plan on shooting over 100 hours of film over 30 days, and the question on everyone’s mind is whether anything Jimmer does or says when he’s not making 28-footers will be, you know, interesting.  Not to go too far down this path, but he’s Mormon — we shouldn’t expect anything resembling baby-mama drama or wild forays to the clubs with his agent.  Drinking a caffeinated soda might be the biggest taboo we’ll see from the guy.  It’ll be interesting to see how this company finds a storyline within its footage to make this something that the general public will want to see.
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Morning Five: 02.15.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 15th, 2011

  1. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger claimed via Twitter over the weekend that a Wisconsin fan spit on him during their RTC on Saturday after the Badgers knocked off then-#1 OSU.  We have no reason to disbelieve his take on what a fan may have done in the aftermath of a huge victory such as that one, but Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said in his Monday teleconference: “All I know is that we won the game, deal with it.”  Something tells us that Sullinger will remember both spittle and comment in the rematch in Columbus on March 6.
  2. This doesn’t sound good at all, but Florida’s versatile forward Chandler Parsons has been on crutches since Saturday’s win over Tennessee, 61-60.  According to this report, he suffered a deep thigh bruise during that game and it has since started bleeding — the expectation is that he’ll be out of practice several days and quite possibly through next weekend’s game against LSU.  Florida’s fortunes have risen the past few weeks directly in accordance with Parsons’ play — in the five games prior to the UT victory, Parsons had averaged 15/11 as UF went 4-1 over that period and moved to the top of the SEC standings.
  3. We love this column from Seth Davis each year — his annual Book of Finch, a mash-up of several scouts’ opinions on many of the best players in college basketball this season.  You  need to read the entire thing, but here’s a preview:  Finch likes Jimmer Fredette (comparing him to Mark Price) and Perry Jones (best talent in the class), but isn’t high on JaJuan Johnson (no post game) and Renardo Sidney (“no interest” in a “fat kid”).  Awesome stuff.
  4. San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher was reprimanded on Monday by the Mountain West Conference for his comments last week ripping Wyoming for firing head coach Heath Schroyer with a month left in the season.  We tend to agree with Fisher here when he noted that the MWC isn’t the NBA or the NFL.  While nobody around here will fall for the idea of amateurism in college athletics, we really don’t see the advantage that Wyoming earned by making the move when it did.  The Cowboys’ season will be over soon enough — there’s no reason to make such a change in the middle of the year like that.
  5. Syracuse beat WVU last night, but perhaps Jim Boeheim read this piece from Searching for Billy Edelin about SU only having three quality wins this season, because he came tonight’s press conference ready to spar with the assembled media about numerous things.  Seriously, though, his beef wasn’t with the quality win issue as much as what his record is against certain coaches (namely, Rick Pitino) and why the Syracuse media had printed only a snapshot of his career against him.   The whole video is worthwhile, but if you’re short on time, the good stuff starts at around the 3:00 mark up until around 7:30.  Enjoy.

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Morning Five: 02.08.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2011

  1. The Mountain West has received a lot of attention this year due to the excellent play of top ten teams San Diego State and BYU and, of course, the NPOY candidacy of the Cougars’ Jimmer Fredette.  Yesterday the attention on the league was of a different sort, though, as Wyoming, dead last in the league standings at 1-8, fired head coach Heath Schroyer after three-plus seasons at the helm.  This move comes after the Cowboys lost its seventh consecutive game on Saturday, a three-point home loss to Colorado State.  Schroyer was 49-68 during his tenure in Laramie, with his best season coming in 2008-09 as Wyoming went 19-14 (7-9 MWC) and made the NIT.
  2. Ugh.  Oklahoma State forward Darrell Williams was charged with three counts of rape and one of sexual battery on Monday stemming from an incident in December where he allegedly assaulted two women at a party.  The junior college transfer has given head coach Travis Ford a solid season, averaging 7/7 in twelve starts and around 21 minutes per game, but according to the coach, he will be held out of the lineup and practice until his legal issues are resolved.  His preliminary hearing is scheduled for the first week in March, which probably means that Williams’ season is effectively over.  OSU has been playing better of late, beating Missouri and Oklahoma to get back to the middle of the Big 12 pack, but any further push will be that much more difficult without the sometime-starter available to bang bodies down low.
  3. Dan Wiederer delves further into the phenomenon known as Kendall Marshall going for a record sixteen assists in UNC’s destruction of Florida State over the weekend.   We didn’t know, for example, that Marshall has a tendency to pull a Bill Russell during halftime of games, but we do now and we’re quite sure that Roy Williams will provide the rookie with his own four-year supply of barf bags if he keeps dropping double-figure dimes the rest of the season.
  4. A new Monday meant another version of Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts.  In this week’s edition, he deplores the fly-by-night departure of Larry Drew II from the program (blaming Drew’s mother more than his famous father), St. John’s as the most interesting bubble team at this point, and a Kyrie Irving update that you haven’t seen anywhere else.
  5. The ten final candidates for the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation’s top point guard were announced on Monday, and there were a couple of surprising omissions.  The complete list is below, but as Mike Miller at Beyond the Arc points out, there’s really no legitimate excuse for leaving out Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.  Both players have been outstanding for their respective teams, and outside of the NPOY candidates Fredette, Smith and Walker, arguably better than any of the other names on this list.
  • Norris Cole, Cleveland State
  • Corey Fisher, Villanova
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU
  • D.J. Gay, San Diego State
  • Brandon Knight, Kentucky
  • Demetri McCamey, Illinois
  • Mickey McConnell, St. Mary’s
  • Nolan Smith, Duke
  • Isaiah Thomas, Washington
  • Kemba Walker, UConn
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