RTC Live: Syracuse @ Providence

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2010

RTC Live will be coming to you from downtown Providence Tuesday night for a battle between a top-five Syracuse powerhouse and an upset-minded Providence team. Syracuse enters play tonight fresh off their monumental victory last Thursday at Georgetown but enter the Dunkin Donuts Center hoping to avoid a letdown in their sandwich game between the emotional win over the Hoyas and this coming Saturday’s hyped visit from Villanova to the Carrier Dome. The Orange are led by sensational Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson and the pinpoint long-range shooting of Andy Rautins. Productive big men are also imperative to Jim Boeheim’s success this season from the punishing Arinze Onuaku to the athleticism of Kris Joseph. Providence is hoping they can post a memorable win akin to their stunning upset over #1 Pittsburgh in 2009 at the Dunk. If the Friars win tonight, they must defend in the halfcourt and shoot well from outside, most notably Sharaud Curry and Marshon Brooks. Also, keep an eye on how sophomore Jamine Peterson handles the forwards of Syracuse down in the post. We could have a high-scoring, high-flying, up and down marathon tonight in the Big East. Hope you’ll join me courtside for Syracuse vs. Providence here on RTC Live tonight at 7 PM.

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RTC Live: Providence @ Villanova

Posted by rtmsf on February 13th, 2010

On Saturday February 13, Coach Keno Davis brings his Providence College Friars, a team led by senior guard Sharaud Curry but powered by freshmen, sophomores and JUCOs, to the Wachovia Center in downtown Philadelphia to play the #5 ranked Villanova University Wildcats in the 85th meeting between the two schools. Coach Davis runs the most up-tempo offense in the conference, and since Villanova is second behind Providence, expect at least one of the teams to break the century mark in a game that will mix long-range shooting with outlet passes and breakout buckets. The skies over Philadelphia, a city buried under nearly four feet of snow from two separate mid-winter storms in the last eight days, should be clear, but the forecast inside the Wachovia Center is for a blizzard of field goal attempts from both teams. Join us at 2 pm, as RTC goes inside the Wachovia Center for Villanova and Providence.

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ATB: Vandy is Dandy in Knoxville

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2010

Wednesday Night of Upsets.  Although all four of these games were upsets using the Vegas sense of the word, only UT and UConn were what we’d call significant ones.  Still, it’s not often that we see three unranked teams pull wins over ranked teams on a random Wednesday night.

Is Kevin Stallings' Vandy Team the Most Underrated in America? (AP/Wade Payne)

  • #23 Vanderbilt 85, #14 Tennessee 76.  Behold, the value of senior leadership.  On a night when A.J. Ogilvy and Jeffrey Taylor could only combine for 22 points on 7-18 shooting, senior Jermaine Beal stepped up to lead Vanderbilt to a message-sending road win in one of the toughest places to play in America.  The Commodores earned their tenth straight win behind Beal’s 25 points on 8-12 from the field, which included 4-6 from beyond the arc.  Those four treys were half of Vandy’s total of eight, which came on 14 attempts (57.1%).  Tennessee, by contrast, could only manage 6-20 (30%) from three, often settling for shots from deep when there were better ones to be had.  J.P. Prince led UT with 22/4/3, and Wayne Chism owned the boards in this physical game, pulling down 16 boards in addition to his eight points.  Still, Vanderbilt was able to out-rebound the Vols, 37-35 — a major reason why Tennessee just suffered their first home loss of the season.  At the start of last night, Kentucky was the only undefeated team in the nation; now, Vanderbilt is the only undefeated team (5-0) in the SEC, a game ahead of UK in the East.  Eleven days ago, the Commodores did what Kentucky couldn’t — win at South Carolina — but they’ll visit Lexington this Saturday.
  • New Mexico 76, #10 BYU 72.  The two best teams in the underrated Mountain West Conference faced off tonight with more than just conference pride on the line.  BYU came into the game riding a 15-game winning streak, and New Mexico was trying to get its swagger back after starting 0-2 in the conference including an almost unheard-of loss at their home venue, The Pit.  The swagger might just be back, as the Lobos endured a horrid shooting night from their star Darington Hobson (5/14 on 1-11 FG) in giving the Cougars their first loss in conference play.  Stepping up in his place was Dairese Gary, who scored a career-high 25 points, including nine in the last minute-plus to seal the win.  BYU’s star Jimmer Fredette did his part for the visiting team, but the New Mexico defense made him work for it, resulting in an 8-21 shooting night for 27/7 assts.  New Mexico has shown this season that they can play with anybody — beating four ranked teams — but losses to Oral Roberts, SDSU and UNLV show that they sometimes lose their focus.  Expect to see both of these teams remain at the top of the MWC standings during the next month, with the rematch scheduled for February 27 in Provo.
  • Charlotte 74, #15 Temple 64.  In a great way, the A-10 is a mess.  Charlotte’s win over Temple on Wednesday means there are three teams (Temple, Charlotte, and Xavier) at the top of the league with identical 5-1 conference records, Richmond and Rhode Island just a game back at 4-2, and three other teams have three wins apiece.  The 49ers’ Derrio Green went nuts for 26 points on 9-15 shooting, including a three (one of his four) with two minutes left that lifted a four point lead up to seven, and quelled a last comeback attempt by the Owls.  An under-the-weather Juan Fernandez tallied just 3 points in only 24 minutes for Temple, although Lavoy Allen (12/14/2) and Ryan Brooks (20/3/2) did all they could against a Charlotte zone defense that threw up traps at any possible chance at any location on the floor.  Temple was up 32-38 at the half, but just couldn’t decipher that 49er zone which forced The Owls into a poor shooting night (34.8% FG, 31.4% 3FG).  Charlotte took their first lead with seven minutes left, lost it for thirty seconds, and never trailed again after regaining it.
  • Providence 81, #19 Connecticut 66. Someone needs to tell these schools that Connecticut 2010 is not Connecticut 2004 or even 2009, and they don’t need to be RTCing every time they beat the Huskies (see below).  Trust us, they’re going to lose several more games this year.  According to Gavin Edwards, once the Huskies got a ten-point lead in the first half, they thought the game was won.  Providence, however, had other ideas, and used old-fashioned hustle and grit to storm back and dominate the last eight minutes of the game to blow UConn out of the building.  Despite PC’s porous defense this season, they were able to hold Connecticut to 39% shooting and 4-18 from three.  Kemba Walker (17/8/7 assts) and Stanley Robinson (14/4) were able to get theirs, but Jerome Dyson was poor (3-14 FG) and nobody else stepped up.  For Providence, Jamine Peterson had 23/14/4 stls and Sharaud Curry chipped in with 18 points, but this game ultimately came down to the who-wanted-it-more factor, and that team tonight was clearly the Friars.  Now, about that RTC…

Other Games of National Interest.

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Checking in on… the Big East

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009

checkinginon

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference.

You all were waiting for it.  And it finally happened.

You may not have noticed due to the beer and football induced stupor you were in on Sunday, but the Big East had a pretty rough weekend. Louisville, Providence, DePaul, Notre Dame, Villanova, Cincinnati and Marquette all lost as the Big East went 7-7 over the course of Saturday and Sunday. That’s seven losses in two days from a league that had 20 losses over the first month of the season.  Throw in the losses that UConn and Pitt suffered in the Garden during the week, and nine different teams from the league lost this week.  The question now becomes, is this simply the Big East coming back down to earth – hey, they had to lose at some point, didn’t they – or is it a sign that the league is not quite as powerful as some of us speculated in the last few weeks?

Last season, the consensus was that the Big East was one of the strongest in the history of college basketball, but most of that strength was at the top of the league. Less than half of the teams in the Big East made the NCAA Tournament, but of the seven that did, five reached the Sweet 16, four made the Elite 8, and two reached the Final Four.  Can a league be one of the best even when 9 of the 16 teams don’t even qualify for the Big Dance?  Part of the reason there was so much hype regarding the Big East was that they started off so strong. At one point early in the year, nine teams were ranked in the top 25. Two teams that spent time in the top 10, Notre Dame and Georgetown, ended up missing the dance completely.

So, as any reasonable blogger would do, I’ll compare.  Last year on December 16th, the Big East was 116-28 as a league. This year? 119-29. That’s a one game difference in the loss column.  Crazy, right?  Now take into account the disastrous weekend the league just had, and it is pretty obvious that as of last Friday, the Big East was well beyond where they were at this same point last season, and last season the conference was considered one of the best ever.

There’s more.  Seven teams that got out to great starts last season fell way off as the year went along:

  • Seton Hall and St. John’s both started the season 8-1 before hitting a mid-year swoon and finishing 17-16 and 16-18, respectively. Both the Pirates and the Johnnies are much improved this season, and despite neither playing at full strength right now, St. John’s is 8-1 while Seton Hall is 8-0.
  • Notre Dame (7-2) and Georgetown (7-1 on Dec. 16th, 10-1 to start the season) both shot up the polls early in the season, but for a variety of reasons collapsed during the rigors of Big East play, finishing 21-15 and 16-15, respectively. Georgetown is 8-0 this season and once again approaching the top 10, while Notre Dame is 9-2.
  • Cincinnati started the year 7-2 and looked like a team that could compete for a bubble spot, but struggled during conference play as a result of their lack of balance offensively and finished 18-14. They are 6-2 this year and have much more help for Deonta Vaughn.
  • Providence looked like they could also compete for an at-large bid as they started the season 6-3. They are 7-4 this year, but don’t look like they will be a factor come March.

What does all this mean?  Could the Big East actually be better this season than it was last season?  Depends on what you mean by better.

No, they don’t have the same powerhouses at the top of the league. Sure, Syracuse, West Virginia and even Villanova and possibly Georgetown may compete for #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, but will three of those teams be #1 seeds? Not with Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas around.  But the Big East is deeper this season. Teams like Marquette, Louisville, Pitt and UConn, traditional Big East powers, are going to occupy the middle of the league standings. Seton Hall, South Florida, St. John’s, Cincinnati and DePaul, teams that have been consistently at the bottom of the league, also look to be middle of the pack teams.  Does that make it a better league?

Player of the Week: Greg Monroe, Georgetown. Monroe carried the Hoyas to a 2-0 week against top 25 teams. On Tuesday against Butler, he went for 24 points and grabbed 15 boards while dominating in the paint. On Saturday against Washington, Monroe was much more of a distributor, as he went for 15 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists while orchestrating the Hoya offense. The most impressive part of his week was that he was seamlessly able to move between the roles of being a dominant post presence and being a a guy that the Hoyas can run their intricate offense through. While I still believe he needs to be assertive in the post for Georgetown to reach their potential, his versatility makes you realize just how good of a basketball player he actually is.

Honor Roll

  • Jamel Jackson, Seton Hall – Jackson scored 40 points and hit 12 threes off the bench in a 134-107 win over VMI.
  • Kevin Jones, West Virginia – Keep an eye on this kid. He averaged 19 ppg and 10 rpg in a 2-0 week for the Mountaineers, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
  • Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame – Fresh off of a 31 point performance, Abromaitis averaged 20.5 ppg in a 1-1 week for the Irish. His ability to shoot, score, and take prressure off of Harangody will be a huge factor in the Irish success this season. Full disclosure – I’m biased, Abro is a product of the same AAU program as me.

Team of the Week: Syracuse Orange.

Syracuse gets the nod thanks to their win over Florida in the SEC/Big East challenge in a game played in Tampa. What can I say about the Orange that hasn’t already been said too many times? Their ability to create points off of turnovers is astounding for a zone team, they can shoot, they are big, and they have a star in Wes Johnson. The Orange are arguably the best team in the East.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Syracuse

Last Week: 12/10 vs. Florida 85-73; 12/13 vs. St. Francis NY 75-51

Next Week: 12/19 vs. St. Bonaventure

See above.

2. West Virginia

Last Week: 12/9 vs. Duquesne 68-39; 12/12 vs. Coppin State 69-43

Next Week: 12/19 @ Cleveland State

The Mountaineers just keep rolling along, as they have been playing suffocating defense, overwhelming smaller, less physical teams. If there has been a knock on WVU this year, it is that they are not the most efficient offensive team. That could change once Devin Ebanks starts playing better. As I mentioned above, Kevin Jones might be the most pleasant surprise in the league this side of Abromaitis.

3. Georgetown

Last Week: 12/8 vs. Butler 73-65; 12/12 vs. Washington 74-66

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Old Dominion

I’m not completely sold on the Hoyas yet, but you can’t argue with their performance thus far. In depth analysis here.

4. Villanova

Last Week: 12/9 @ St. Joe’s 97-89; 12/13 @ Temple 65-75

Next Week: 12/19 @ Fordham

While you never want to lose a game, dropping a game on the road against a Big 5 rival is not the worst loss in the world. As you should know, you can throw the records out when rivals play, and it also serves to note that Temple is not a terrible team this season. They were a Greg Monroe layup away from winning at Georgetown. Two things to be concerned about: Nova allowed 53 combined points from Juan Fernandez and Ryan Brooks, and Antonio Pena was out played (especially on the glass) by Lavoy Allen, who had 17 rebounds.

5. UConn

Last Week: 12/9 vs. Kentucky 61-64

Next Week: 12/20 vs. Central Florida; 12/22 vs. Maine

Tough to knock the Huskies after their loss to Kentucky. UConn is going to be up and down all season. Their success is going to be a result of their effort. When this team is hustling defensively, crashing the boards, and attacking in transition, they are going to be able to compete with anyone in the league. But when they get pushed around inside like they did against Duke, UConn will look like a NIT team.

6. Cincinnati

Last Week: 12/10 vs. Miami OH 63-59; 12/13 @ Xavier 79-83; 12/16 vs. UAB 64-47

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Lipscomb; 12/22 vs. Winthrop

Like Villanova, take the loss at Xavier with a grain of salt. Losing a double overtime dogfight on the road against your rival isn’t a bad loss. The bigger worry should be the Bearcats offensively. Cincy can bang inside with anyone in the country, and they really have embodied their coach by playing intense defense, but until they become a more efficient offensive team and figure out how to utilize talents like Lance Stephenson, Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates, they are going to suffer some losses like this.

7. Seton Hall

Last Week: 12/12 vs. VMI 134-107

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Temple; 12/22 vs. Navy

Its pretty obvious that the Pirates are going to be able to score with just about anyone, but how well they defend this year is going to be the determining factor in where they end up this season. This team has so much talent. You should know about guys like Eugene Harvey and Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope, but how many teams in the country have a guy like Jamel Jackson on the bench, capable of scoring 40 in a game? Seton Hall will finally play at full strength when Keon Lawrence returns Dec. 19th.

8. St. John’s

Last Week: 12/9 vs. Georgia 66-56; 12/13 vs. Fordham 73-56

Next Week: 12/20 vs. Hofstra

DJ Kennedy is one of the most underrated players in the league, and have quite a few talented role players. When SJU finally gets Anthony Mason back (and that could be a few more weeks), this may be a team that can make the tournament.

9. Louisville

Last Week: 12/12 vs. Western Carolina 83-91; 12/16 vs. Oral Roberts 94-57

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Western Kentucky

Simply put, Louisville just isn’t playing well. Jerry Smith isn’t hitting threes, Terrence Jennings isn’t playing defense, and Samardo Samuels isn’t rebounding. Typical early season swoon for Louisville?

10. Pitt

Last Week: 12/12 vs. Kent State 71-59

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Mt. St. Mary’s

This isn’t your typical Pitt team, but getting Jermaine Dixon healthy and Gilbert Brown eligible will help this team get better offensively.

11. Marquette

Last Week: 12/12 @ Wisconsin 63-72

Next Week: 12/19 vs. North Florida

Marquette has now lost three of four before losing Jeronne Maymon, who left the team. Could that cost them Vander Blue as well? I’m not sure that the mismatches on the offensive end for Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler outweigh their ovewhelming lack of interior size.

12. Notre Dame

Last Week: 12/9 vs. IUPUI 93-70; 12/12 vs. Loyola D 85-87

Next Week: 12/19 vs. UCLA, 12/22 vs. Bucknell

Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough have been nice complimentary players for the Irish, but this group still needs to get better defensively on in the paint.

13. South Florida

Last Week: 12/12 vs. Central Michigan 56-59; 12/16 vs. Central Florida 69-65

Next Week: 12/19 vs. San Francisco; 12/20 vs. San Diego

I wonder how much the NCAA investigation (if there actually is one) will effect this team, that could get a boost from the return of PG Anthony Crater.

14. DePaul

Last Week: 12/10 vs. Mississippi State 45-76; 12/13 vs. Illinois Chicago 77-56; 12/16 vs. American 57-62

Next Week: 12/19 vs. Texas State

DePaul came back to earth when they played MSU. They really need to get Mac Kowshal back.

15. Rutgers

Last Week: 12/9 vs. Monmouth 66-52; 12/15 vs. Rider 80-70 OT

Next Week: 12/19 vs. NJIT; 12/22 vs. St. Peter’s

The Scarlet Knights may end up dropping down these rankings in the coming weeks as second leading scorer Gregory Echinique is out for eight weeks with an eye injury.

16. Providence

Last Week: 12/9 @ George Washington 110-97; 12/12 vs. Iona 73-82

Next Week: 12/21 vs. Yale

With guys like Greedy Peterson, Marshon Brooks and Sharaud Curry, the Friars can put up points. But defense and depth is going to be an issue all season long.

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RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

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Make Your Case: Providence Friars

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2009

makecase1

As part of our ongoing quest to provide you with the best college basketball coverage in the nation, we have enlisted the help of some of the finest team-specific bloggers on the planet to help us. With the NCAA Selection Show coming up on March 15th there are still several teams on the proverbial “bubble”. We figured it might be interesting to see what kind of nonpartisan arguments these bloggers could make for their team deserving a spot in the NCAA tournament. We welcome any discussion of their arguments and praise or criticism of their reasoning in the comment section. If your team is on the “bubble” and you would like to submit something, please contact us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Providencesubmitted by Dave at FriarBlog.com.

Right now, the Providence Friars deserve an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. The big reason? 10 conference wins (possibly 11 if they can knock off Villanova on the road Thursday night) in arguably the “Greatest Conference in the History of the Universe” (or something like that). While it’s true the Friars have a few warts in their computer numbers, it can be argued that they have no bad losses. Providence has done a great job beating all the teams it should have, and have also picked up a few signature wins along the way.

Technically One Bad Loss
The one loss that is going to be consistently brought up come Selection Sunday is the Friars’ first game of the season against Northeastern. However, there is a perfectly cromulent reason for this loss. First off, this was the debut of the new Providence coach Keno Davis, who was bringing an entirely new system to a veteran team who mostly played 3 years under former coach Tim Welsh. Things obviously took some time to gel, and I have no doubt in my mind that PC would defeat Northeastern soundly if they came back to THE DUNK today. Another huge turnaround from how this team performed against Northeastern and early on in the season is a healthy Sharaud Curry.

Rust be Gone
Point guard Sharaud Curry missed all of last season due to a broken foot. In most of the non-conference schedule this year, Curry was clearly not himself. His quickness wasn’t quite there, and he had several poor shooting nights (averaged only 8 PPG shooting shot 30% including 1/8 FG and 2 points versus Northeastern). However in Big East conference play, Curry has arguably been Providence’s MVP. In 17 conference games, Curry is averaging 13.9 PPG, ranks #1 in FT% (87%), #2 in three-point FG% (44%), and #3 in assist/turnover ratio (2.5). A healthy Sharaud Curry clearly makes a difference on this team, which is why the early season non-conference losses should not be so heavily weighted.

The 10 Wins
For most of the Big East season, everyone was quick to point out how Providence had not beaten anyone of note in the conference. However, nobody seems to want to give them credit for what they have done on the road. The Friars are a solid 4-4 away from home in Big East games (with a chance to get to 5 Ws against Nova), beating Cincinnati, Seton Hall, USF, and Rutgers. While those teams aren’t the powerhouses of the conference, winning on the road in the Big East always tough — just ask Georgetown and Cincinnati after last night. Combine that with an amazing win versus #1 Pittsburgh and another big home win against #15 Syracuse, PC has performed very well in the BBBE (Big Bad Big East). They are guaranteed to finish in the top half of the standings, which should count for something.

The Biggest Blemish: RPI

  • As of Wednesday morning, Providence has an unsightly 69 RPI ranking. The team is hurt by a few things:
  • The aforementioned home loss to Northeastern. As BaseLineStats.com recently posted, “Don’t you dare lose at home: The story of the ‘new’ RPI”
  • Playing fellow Rhode Island teams Bryant (#304 in RPI) and Brown (#314) are just murder on PC’s RPI. Throw in another team over 300 (Dartmouth at #310), and the RPI is going to take a big hit.
  • I don’t trust RPI as far as I can throw it, but hopefully the committee doesn’t put too much stock into it.

The Friars could also be penalized by their 3-7 record versus teams in the RPI #26-100 (which could surely change in the last two weeks as teams move in and out). Four of those losses came early on during the non-conference schedule. However, a 7-5 record over the last 12 Big East games proves just how different this Friar team is than they were back in November/December.

I think it’s clear that this team belongs.

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RTC Aftermath: Providence 81, Pittsburgh 73

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2009

Normally, I would assume that most of you have seen the #1 team in the country getting knocked off, but thanks to some horrible TV scheduling only 2% (all numbers are estimates) of college basketball fans ended up seeing Providence beat Pittsburgh at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (DDC) on Senior Night. While the 11,187 in attendance and a few fortunate television viewers were able to witness what makes college basketball our favorite sport, we know that many of you were less fortunate. That’s where RTC Aftermath comes in. As part of our RTC Live coverage we answer questions from fans and also bring those questions to the players and coaches to answer. Last night, we were at the DDC for the fourth installment of RTC Live. Our first three games (Wake Forest at Boston College, Miami at UNC, and Clemson at Boston College) were all solid games, but I don’t think any of them would qualify as memorable games from a pure basketball standpoint. Being in the Dean Smith Center for an ESPN GameDay was a fun experience, but nothing like last night.

Site of the game of the night
Site of the game of the night

Pre-Game: The Friar fans (at least the ones in the student section) got there pretty early. The Friar fans were a lot more intense than I expected, but looking back on it I seem to remember some PC grads telling me that their student section was pretty crazy. I think they were even more amped up than usual though because they were facing the #1 team in the country (even if the SportsTicker fax at the game still had them at #4) and it was Senior Night (something I wasn’t aware of until they started the ceremony). After the ceremony, which went on for quite a long time (8 seniors), the Friars and their fans made it clear pretty early that they weren’t going to go quietly on Senior Night.

McDermott introduction
McDermott introduction

First Half: As I mentioned in last night’s After the Buzzer, the Friars got out to a quick start jumping out to a 15-4 lead after the first 5 minutes. The primary reason that they were able to do this was  a strong opening 5 minutes by Jonathan Kale, who scored 6 points on 3/3 FG to open the game, and their ability to force Pitt into 5 turnovers that they converted into 9 points during that stretch. The Panthers were able to cut the lead to 6 with 5:01 left in the first half thanks to Ashton Gibbs who hit two 3-pointers, but the Friars then proceeded to blow the game open with 13-1 run to close the first half. At that point, the crowd and Rush the Court (who had thought that it might have been a mistake to travel over an hour down to Providence as opposed to 15 minutes down Commonwealth Avenue to the FSU-Boston College game) began to sense that something special might be happening at the “Dunk”.

GameCast
GameCast

Second Half: Pitt was able to cut into the Providence lead (up to 20 just 17 seconds into the 2nd half) getting it down to a 10-point game with 13:50 left in the game. The Panthers were able recover from the awful ball-handing (at the 15:26 mark of the 2nd half they have 5 assists and 12 turnovers compared to Providence with 14 assists and 3 turnovers) and seemed to have the momentum, but that quickly changed with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game when DeJuan Blair picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in a 17-second span that sent the Friar fans into a frenzy. With the low-post player that they couldn’t match-up with out of the game, Providence was able to get the lead back to 17 with 6:30 remaining. The Panthers were able to mount a furious comeback that nearly silenced the rabid Friar fans after Blair tipped in an Ashton Gibbs miss to make it a 5-point game with 50 seconds remaining. The Friars managed to hold them off despite not making a field goal in the last 4:21 of the game thanks to a lot of trips to the free throw line (18-of-25 in the 2nd half).

Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul
Blair heads to the bench after picking up his 4th foul

Rushing the Court
When you name your blog “Rush the Court”, you are expected to stay there (and possibly join in) when the fans rush the court. We managed to do just that (the only media entity to not run in fear, much less join in). Some of the better pictures are below (try rushing the court with a laptop in your hands sometime). If you have some pics, send them into rushthecourt@gmail.com.

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ATB: #1 is the Pitts

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

When Rush the Court rushed the court. Providence 81, Pittsburgh 73. We’ll have a more thorough review of Providence’s huge upset of Pittsburgh in our recap of RTC IV early tomorrow morning, but we’ll talk about it here as well because it was the story of the night. Obviously we covered the action quite extensively in our RTC Live post of the game, but we have to say it’s a pretty amazing thing to be standing between a group of rabid fans and the court that they are about rush.  We’d also like to point out that we were the only media members to stay there for the buzzer and the fans’ RTC.  In fact, we ended up out there on the court to celebrate the moment with them (pictures to follow tomorrow).  Whether it was the “Curse of #1″ (teams are now just 8-5 as the #1 team since UNC lost to Boston College) or the fact that the Friars and their fans were pumped up for Senior Night, but Providence dominated this game from the opening tip. (Ok, maybe not the tip, which DeJuan Blair won, but everything afterwards) The Friars jumped out to a 15-4 lead just 5 minutes into the game thanks to some hot shooting and some poor ball-handling by the Panthers. Providence led by double digits for most of the game as they were able to force the issue getting to the FT line 29 times compared to 15 for the Panthers, but Pitt showed some of their mettle by cutting the lead to 5 with 50 seconds left on a layup (and push-off) by Blair. The Friars hung tough though shrugging off their tendency to give away big leads this year and held on by hitting their free throws down the stretch. I’m not sure what the loss means for Pitt at this point except that the #1 overall seed is officially up for grabs, but it probably would have been anyway on March 7th when UConn travels to western Pennsylvania. Jamie Dixon’s squad was killed by turnovers and the free throw disparity. The Panthers had 18 turnovers overall with 5 coming from Blair, who had a better stat line (17 points and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes) than we thought from just watching the game.  He even managed to play 30 minutes despite fouling out as he picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in a 13-second stretch midway through the 2nd half. Pitt got a strong performance from Ashton Gibbs (15 points) off the bench and a solid one from Sam Young (16 points and 8 rebounds), but it wasn’t enough to overcome the turnovers and free throw disparity. For Providence, this game was huge. The win, which was their first over a #1 since they beat Michigan in 1976, puts them at 9-7 in the Big East with a strong chance at a 10-8 conference record (PC is at Rutgers and Villanova to finish the season). None of the Friars had an exceptional game but everyone on the team played well (Weyinmi Efejuku with 16, Sharaud Curry with 15, Jonathan Kale with 13, Geoff McDermott with 11, and Randall Hanke with 10). They also did a great job handling the ball (18 assists with just 9 turnovers) as well as pressuring Pittsburgh (forcing 18 turnovers while allowing just 12 assists) and holding their own on the glass against the #1 rebounding team in the country (-6 rebounding margin). For more on this game and the aftermath, check back in the morning for a complete post.

We Have a BCS Conference Regular Season Champ. LSU 81, Florida 75.   Possibly the biggest question-mark team going into the NCAA Tournament is going to be this LSU Tiger team of Trent Johnson’s.  Last season with largely the same group of players but a vastly inferior coach, LSU went 13-18.  Currently LSU is 24-4 and 12-1 in the SEC, which makes them the regular season champions.  The problem is that the SEC is so incredibly weak this season that it’s difficult to discern how good LSU actually might be.  Their OOC schedule was pitiful, and they lost to every good team they played, but in watching this team this evening, they “looked” like a typically talented and athletic SEC team of any other year.  But can they get past their weak conference to make a run in the NCAAs – that’s the difficult question to answer.  Marcus Thornton had 32/5/5 assts in the winning effort.  What about the Gators, now 8-5 in the SEC with an RPI still in the 40s?  Nothing really impresses us about this team.

A Bubble Team You Probably Haven’t Considered. Texas A&M 57, Nebraska 55.  At first glance, a game between two middling Big 12 teams wouldn’t arouse much interest, but a little closer analysis shows that this buzzer-beating shot by A&M’s Josh Carter to cap a huge comeback from down 18 pts may have put the Aggies back onto the bubble.  Consider that A&M is now 6-7 in the Big 12, has two games against bottom-feeders Colorado and Iowa St. (+ Missouri) and has an RPI at #40.  Their SOS is 33d, and they boast wins over LSU (looking better and better) as well as Arizona (also looking better and better).  It says here that an 8-8 TAMU team gets in, which is why this shot was enormous.  Nebraska, incidentally, is also 6-7, but their RPI and overall profile are significantly worse than A&M’s.

Some Other Games For Your Fat Tuesday.

  • Iowa St. 71, Baylor 62.  How does a top-25 caliber team lose eight of its last nine games without any significant injury?  The Bears really had almost no chance of an NCAA bid prior to tonight, but this loss to a bad ISU team was the coffin nailer.
  • Boston College 72, Florida St. 67.  RTC considered going live at this bubbly game instead of Providence-Pitt.  Glad we went with the game in Rhody, but BC probably guaranteed itself a bid with a minimum .500 record in the ACC after tonight.  Tyrese Rice hit the dagger three with 20 seconds remaining to lock up the game for the Eagles.
  • Ohio St. 73, Penn St. 59.  Jeremie Simmons came off the bench to hit four threes as OSU moved into a four-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten at 8-7.
  • Syracuse 87, St. John’s 58.  Cuse dominated from start to finish, shooting 65% behind Jonny Flynn’s 21/8 assts.
  • Northern Iowa 69, Illinois St. 67 (2OT).  UNI got an unlikely tip-in to keep the pace in the MVC with Creighton, who…
  • Creighton 65, Missouri St. 59.  …rallied from a double-figure second-half deficit behind Casey Harriman’s three triples in that half.
  • BYU 69, San Diego St. 59.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette dropped twenty of his 28 pts in the second half as the Cougars made a huge comeback (theme of the night) to get a key road win to stay one game off the Mountain West pace behind Utah.
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Set Your Tivos: 02.24.09

Posted by nvr1983 on February 24th, 2009

Set Your TivosI’m back with another edition of Set Your Tivos, which should be daily now until the NCAA tournament where you won’t need your Tivo because you’ll be glued to your couch for 3 weeks. Obviously the big game of the night at RTC East will be our RTC Live coverage of #1 Pittsburgh at Providence, but there are a lot of games for you to watch when you are not following our coverage and sending in your questions/comments to us courtside.

#1 Pittsburgh at Providence at 7 PM on The Big East Network, Fox Sports, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: As I mentioned before, this will be the site of the 4th installment of RTC Live so we’ll be covering this game from the lay-up lines until they turn out the lights. The Friars come in needing a signature win (beating a depleted Syracuse team in Providence doesn’t qualify) to bolster their chances of getting an at-large bid as I can’t remember seeing any “bracketologist” with the Friars in the NCAA tournament right now despite the fact that they have an 8-7 record in the Big East going into their game tonight. Pitt comes in as the #1 team in the country following their win at previous #1 UConn in a game where DeJuan Blair destroyed Bill Russell Hasheem Thabeet. After all the talk by Jim Calhoun and ESPN about how Thabeet was the Big East POY, Blair has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential Big East POY candidate. Blair, who is averaging 15.8 PPG and 13.0 RPG, has 22 points and 23 rebounds against the Huskies and followed it up with 20 points and 18 rebounds against DePaul. Providence coach Keno Davis will counter with. . .ok, he has nobody who can guard Blair if the Pitt big man avoids dumb fouls. Providence doesn’t really have an athlete of the caliber of Sam Young that Jamie Dixon has, but few teams in the country do. Davis does have a fairly deep rotation with seven players averaging more than 8.0 PPG. Davis will have to hope that Weyinmi Efejuku has a big game and that Sharaud Curry can give Levance Fields (still over 4 to 1 for his assist to turnover ratio) some trouble. The Friars will probably keep the game close for 30 minutes to keep this RTC co-editor entertained, but in the end the Panthers should have enough

Penn State at Ohio State at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This is a pretty big game for both teams. They both are probably in the NCAA tournament if the season ended today, but both could use a little work on their resume to guarantee a bid and move up a seed line or two. Penn State has bounced back to a 3-game losing streak to pick up two solid wins (Minnesota and at Illinois) while Ohio State has struggled recently losing their last 3 games by a combined 10 points. We’ll be watching two potential first team Big Ten members (Evan Turner and Talor Battle) as the winner of that match-up will probably determine the outcome of this game since this game will likely come down to the last few minutes. In any event, we’re just hoping that this game will be slightly more aesthetically pleasing than the last time Penn State took the court.

Northern Iowa at Illinois State at 8:05 PM on GameTracker: After dominating the Missouri Valley Conference for most of the season, the Panthers have fallen apart losing 3 straight and 4 of their last 5 games falling into a tie for the conference lead with Creighton. The losing streak has taken them out of consideration for an at-large bid so they need to right the ship before the MVC tournament (covered by Rush the Court). The Redbirds are coming off a BrackerBusters loss at Niagara and will be looking to rebound against a Northern Iowa team that it lost to by 4 points on the road at the end of January. Neither team really has a superstar player you should focus on, but they both have  a lot of depth. UNI has 5 players averaging between 9.0 and 11.6 PPG (Adam Koch, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Jordan Eglseder, Ali Farokhmanesh, and Johnny Moran) while Illinois State has 5 players averaging between 9.1 and 14.9 PPG (Champ Oguchi, Osiris Eldridge, Lloyd Phillips, Emmanuel Holloway, and Dinma Odiakosa).

I couldn’t find this one listed on any TV stations so I threw up a link for GameTracker. If any of you know what channel(s) this game will be televised on, post the info in the comment section and I will update this.

Florida at #18 LSU at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: LSU is running away with the SEC regular season title and a win here would essentially clinch it for them unless they lose their last 3 (at Kentucky, home against Vanderbilt, and at Auburn), which I don’t think will happen. Billy Donovan‘s Gators are most likely in, but could use a marquee win to solidify their resume for the Selection Committee. [Side Note: What happens to Donovan’s reputation if his team fails to make the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years immediately after winning back-to-back titles?] Nick Calathes (18.6 PPG) will have to have a big game as LSU has 2 guys who can fill it up in Marcus Thornton (20.5 PPG) and Tasmin Mitchell (16.8 PPG). I’m expecting this one to be close, but for LSU to pull away in the last 2-3 minutes.

#25 FSU at Boston College at 9 PM on ESPNU: FSU is already in the tournament and BC is most likely in as well (wins over UNC and Duke should guarantee you a spot even if you do blow a game against Harvard) so both teams are playing for seeding right now. One interesting thing about this game that a lot of people might not be aware of is that FSU still has a shot of catching UNC for the ACC regular season title. Even though FSU has been the more consistent team (see the aforementioned BC loss to Harvard), I think that Tyrese Rice and Jeff Trapani will be enough to overcome Toney Douglas, who is amazingly the only double-digit scorer (20.5 PPG) on a top 25 team.

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RTC Live: #1 Pittsburgh @ Providence – Tuesday Night 7pm EDT

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2009

rtc_live

Newly-minted #1 Pittsburgh, fresh off their huge win over Connecticut on last week’s Big Monday, will return to the Northeast Tuesday night to take on the bubbling Providence Friars.   Keno Davis’ team, sitting at 16-10 and 8-7 in the Big East, probably need to win their last three games to secure an NCAA Tournament bid – anything less and they’re sitting right on the fence come Selection Sunday.  Getting a big fish like the Panthers on their “quality win” resume would be a great first step toward that goal.   Pitt, on the other hand, looks like a surefire #1 seed in next month’s Dance, and they don’t want to drop a game to a middling Big East team with Marquette and UConn coming up soon.

Blair & Co. Are Happy to be #1 Again

Blair & Co. Are Happy to be #1 Again

Be sure to check in with us Tuesday night at 7pm EDT live from the Dunk in Providence.  Dejuan Blair will be there.  Sam Young will be there.  Sharaud Curry will be there.  Heck, we might even run into Katz again.

RTC will be liveblogging the game from courtside and will be taking questions and comments from fans to ask players and coaches in the locker room afterwards.  You want to know how a Hollywood guy like Jamie Dixon gets such toughness out of his players?  Ask away.  You want to know if Jeff Xavier’s bro is still attending games at PC?  Feel free.  You want us to ask the Pitt coach whether he intends on giving any of his salary back to the state of Pennsylvania…?  Ok, maybe we won’t ask that one.

Pics from the first half below.

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ATB: Upset Wednesday

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2009

afterbuzzer1The Lead. There were seven ranked teams playing conference road games tonight, and only three of them survived.  One of the survivors, the Greatest Team of All-Time, did so by a sliver.  It’s a rough life playing on the road in the conference, and did anyone else notice that the calendar is turning to February very soon?  The shortest month of the year is when all those gaudy 20-2 records suffer scrutiny, as great teams start to hit their stride, and merely good ones begin taking their lumps.  We have a sneaky suspicion that it began tonight – let’s lock in for the ride.

Game of the NightWake Forest 70, Duke 68. This game was everything that was anticipated, and a little more.  Sick dunks, clutch shooting, and some tremendous hustle and defense were the markers on both ends of the court.  Oh, and one really bad call.  Call us crazy, but we’re not sure how you call a travel on Duke when a player is lying beneath him on a rebound, but the call was moot (Wake still would have possession on the inevitable and ensuing jump ball).  Still, as we watched this game, we had much the same sentiment we had two weeks ago when Wake “upset” North Carolina, which was, Wake appears to have the superior talent on the floor.  Now, the Deacs certainly showed signs of youth and inexperience in the last few minutes (missed FTs, poor decision-making) when Duke fought back to tie the game, but we never once thought Duke might actually win the game (ok, one time, and that was when James Johnson failed to hustle after the rebound after Jon Scheyer missed what would have been the go-ahead three – but no others).  Wake’s defense was once again spectacular, harassing the Duke shooters into 33% from the field (and 18% from three), including nine blocks and ten steals.  But the fact of the matter is that Duke plays every possession and Wake tends to take some off (both mentally and physically), and that’s why the Deacs didn’t run away with it in the second half.  Wake got dub-dubs from Al-Farouq Aminu (15/10, including a filthy follow flush, below) and James Johnson (13/11) to help pick up for Jeff Teague (11 pts on 4-14 FGs), who Duke swarmed all over the court.  Duke got good nights from their only two consistent scorers, Kyle Singler (22/12) and Gerald Henderson (20/8, including a nasty flush in his own right, also below), but Scheyer struggled (2-10 FGs) and there was no other production for the Blue Devils.  Wake has now won five of its last six home games against Duke, and definitely gotten a huge leg up on the ACC regular season race with wins over Duke, UNC and Clemson so far.  One final note:

HEY WAKE FANS!  This delayed rushing the court nonsense has to end.  You’re a top five team.  You’re a national title contender.  Act like it.

Life On the Road is Tough.

  • Villanova 67, Pittsburgh 57. Just another night in the Big East, right?  Playing in the last college basketball game in the Spectrum (site of the greatest NCAA Tournament game of all-time), VU’s Reggie Redding channeled Christian Laettner and went 10-10 from the line for 18 pts.  It also helped that Villanova was able to get DeJuan Blair in foul trouble and limit his effectiveness in the form of 7 pts in only twenty minutes of action.  This game, along with the Louisville loss two weeks ago, showed just how vulnerable the Panthers are when Blair is not on the floor – in the four games this season where he has had 4+ fouls, Pitt has been outscored by 4 total points and is just 2-2 in those contests.  In all other games, they’re +324 total points and 16-0.  No other player in America has such a huge impact.
  • Providence 100, Syracuse 94. In what was a wild game at the Dunk (luckily Jonathan Xavier wasn’t out on supervised release), Providence nailed ten threes against the SU zone and held on down the stretch for a victory that now puts the Friars in a tie for third-place in the Big East.  Who saw that coming?  Syracuse nailed twelve threes on its own but simply could not get necessary stops at any point in the second half against the PC shooters, particularly Sharaud Curry (22 pts) and Marshon Brooks (17 pts).  Syracuse, who has now lost four of its last five games in this rugged league, was led by Jonny Flynn’s 35 and Eric Devendorf’s 27, but Paul Harris didn’t bring much (8/6) and Arinze Onuaku was ineffective in fifteen minutes based on recent swelling in his knees.  If PC can get to nine wins in this league (and they should, with 2 games against Rutgers and one against S. Florida), they should be in good shape for an NCAA invitation.  Cuse has now lost four of five and has five more tough games upcoming – they need to win a couple of those to stay in the middle of the pack of the league.
  • Cincinnati 65, Georgetown 57. Georgetown has now officially fallen apart.  Was it really only thirty days ago that the Hoyas went into UConn and eviscerated the Huskies with such precision?  Now they’re 3-5 in the Big East with a road trip to league leader Marquette this weekend.  And possibly even worse news – Dajuan Summers turned his ankle tonight and may not be available for a couple of games down the line.  Georgetown already had a minuscule bench – how are the Hoyas to be expected to replace their best wing scorer?  Cincy might be making a Providence-type run of its own now, after having won four of their last five games to move to 4-4 in the conference.  But the bigger story of this game is of course what has happened to Georgetown, and can they recover?
  • UNC 80, Florida St. 77. It looked as if UNC was going to take its third loss of the season tonight in Tallahassee, but Ty Lawson’s running floater from THREE (see below) made sure that wasn’t going to happen.  FSU stormed back in the second half behind Toney Douglas’ 24 (32 for the game), but the Noles couldn’t take advantage of a poor shooting night from UNC (38%) and a single-figure scoring night from Tyler Hansbrough (first time in 56 games).   We’re becoming more and more convinced that this UNC team is the same team as last season.  In Deon Thompson and Tyler Zeller, they have two one more scoring option, but their defense is still marginal at best for a supposedly “great” team, and it’s not going to surprise us when these Heels drop 2-3 more games this conference season because of it.  Wasn’t tonight, though.

Other Scores of Meandering Interest.

  • Ohio St. 72, Michigan 54. Is it safe to now say that Michigan has officially come back to earth? – this loss to OSU is four of their last five.
  • Louisville 80, South Florida 54. Louisville is really starting to play like the team we thought they’d be back in October.  A second half 22-3 run finished off USF, behind 16 from Edgar Sosa (averaging 13 ppg in his last three).
  • Memphis 85, East Carolina 64. The Tigers won their 48th in a row against CUSA competition behind Antonio Anderson’s 28/8 assts.
  • Davidson 92, Chattanoooga 70. Stephen Curry had 32/5/8 assts in another easy win for the Wildcats.
  • St. Joseph’s 68, Richmond 58. Watch out, but with tonight’s road win, SJU is now 5-0 in the A10.  And Ahmad Nivins (15/14) is a beast.
  • Kansas 68, Nebraska 62. Kansas got itself in an early 13-pt hole but was able to rally back and stay unbeaten in the Big 12.
  • Xavier 69, Charlotte 47. XU improved to 6-0 in the A10 behind a dominant performance from their defense, holding Charlotte to 31% shooting.
  • Florida 83, Georgia 57. Nick Calathes had a triple double (20/13/10 assts) in another game on the Dennis Felton death watch.
  • LSU 79, Tennessee 73. We think that Tennessee is pretty much garbage this year, and the fact that LSU can go into Knoxville (after losing to Xavier at home) confirms it.
  • Northern Iowa 59, Illinois St. 55. NIU continues to roll right along in the MVC (now 9-1).
  • Northwestern 77, Indiana 75. IU continues to get so very close to winning one of these games, but they can’t seem to get over the hump (now losing ten in a row).
  • Connecticut 71, Depaul 49. Not every Big East road team lost tonight.  Depaul is an abomination, and Jerry Wainwright should be fired for this (0-8) disaster.
  • Kansas St. 88, Missouri 72. Mizzou had been rolling (4 Ws in a row), so this was a minor shocker.  We guess 12-22 from three will do that, though (KSU).
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After the Buzzer: Opening Weekend Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

News & Notes.  First, a few notable pieces of news from the weekend.

  • As many as six of Arizona’s players could be ineligible for their opener Monday against Florida Atlantic in the Preseason NIT.  This relates to the ‘big mistake’ that Lute Olson made by allowing a letter with his name affixed to it go out to boosters seeking financial support for a local AAU Tournament (an NCAA violation).  The named players may have received impermissable expenses during this AAU event.
  • We’re shocked, shocked we tell you, in finding Ole Miss and West Virginia (of all places) received Fs in a minority hiring report.  Not sure what’s up with Dayton, though.
  • South Carolina starting guard Brandis Raley-Ross will miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained left knee.  Similarly, Villanova guard Dwayne Anderson will join teammate Shane Clark on the injury roll with a stress fracture in his left foot – he’ll be out indefinitely.
  • This Quinnapiac racial threat thing is just getting more and more bizarre – now the victim is harassing one of the other victims?  Get a grip, folks.
  • And here’s another example of Nebraska pushing into the gray area with the rules relating to their supposedly non-public scrimmage with Marquette last week.

Game of the Weekend. Duke 82, Rhode Island 79. Maybe it was the light blue uniforms.  Mere days after barely surviving Brown, URI nearly pulled off a major upset by going into Cameron Indoor Stadium and leading the Blue Devils most of the way before losing at the end in a hard-fought 82-79 battle.  Jimmy Baron’s 24 (8 threes, several of which were ridiculous) led the way for the Rams, but the Devils scored on their last seven possessions to erase a 7-pt deficit with four minutes to go.  Duke was led by Kyle Singler’s 21/5/5 assts and Jon Scheyer’s 23, but it was Duke’s defense that put the Devils in danger of breaking their 62-game home court non-conference winning streak (dating back to 2000).  They gave up 10-14 from three and allowed URI to shoot 55% from the field.  This game was on the U, so of course we couldn’t actually watch it – if anyone did get to see it, feel free to leave comments below.

Upset of the Weekend. Mercer 72, Alabama 69. The middle of the SEC looks pathetic so far this season.  Already there were the Friday night debacle at Kentucky (VMI) and the near-miss at Arkansas (SE Louisiana); well, tonight Mark Gottfried was back to his old underachieving tricks.  The Crimson Tide are projected to be in the SEC West mix for a division title and NCAA bid, but tonight’s game exposed some serious issues with this team.  First, other than Ronald Steele (the good news for Bama fans is that he finally appears healthy), who put up 25 pts tonight, and JaMychal Green (17/12/3 blks), where will points come from?  Alonzo Gee contributed a mere four points, and only one other player reached double figures (Mikhail Torrance).  Perhaps even more importantly, the Tide were outrebounded by the smaller Bears, 49-32, which is simply inexcusable for an SEC team with vastly superior size.  (like anyone in Alabama cares about hoops right now…)  As for Mercer, this is becoming old hat for them.  You may recall last year that Mercer went into USC and dropped the Trojans in their home opener, 96-81.  They then promptly lost their next five games en route to an 11-19 campaign – will this year be any different?  James Florence led the way for Mercer with 23/6/5 assts.

More Upsets.

  • Northeastern 70, Providence 66. New Friar head man Keno Davis didn’t want to start like this.  Providence is facing a tough enough conference season in the Big East; they didn’t need to put themselves behind the RPI eight-ball with an opening home loss to a mid-major.  Northeastern has a good team, but what happened to Sharaud Curry (1-8 for 2 pts)?  Matt Janning killed PC with 24/6 on 10-14 shooting.
  • Portland 80, Washington 74. Ditto for Lorenzo Romar.  Washington is a trendy pick to make some noise in the Pac-10 this year, but if the Huskies find themselves on the bubble next March, they will lament losing this game.  Jon Brockman had 30/14, but he got absolutely no help on the inside (Quincy Pondexter in particular laid an egg with zero points).  An old bugaboo killed Washington – the free-throw line (19-32, .594).  Nik Raivio (Derek’s little bro) led a balanced Portland attack with 19/7 rebs.

How’d #1 Look? UNC 86, Penn 71. The nation’s #1 team had a solid, if spotty, performance without reigning POY Tyler Hansbrough and their best defender Marcus Ginyard on the court Saturday.  Six players reached double figures, including two freshman bigs, Tyler Zeller (18 pts) and Eric Davis (10/14).  Bobby Frasor played 21 minutes, despite reports late last week to the contrary.  Penn managed to get the game down to a ten-point deficit with four minutes remaining behind 11 threes and a big game from guard Tyler Bernardini (26 pts), but they never seriously threatened.  All in all, considering what UNC didn’t have on the court in this game, we’d have to believe Roy feels pretty good about his team’s performance.

Mid-Major Corner. These games matter on resumes in March.

  • George Mason 80, Vermont 79 (OT). This looked like a tremendous battle of mids in Burlington, VT, on Saturday.  GMU’s Darryl Monroe was awesome, tallying 19/17 including a beastly nine offensive rebounds and the game-winning FTs with 0.7 showing on the clock.  Marquis Blakely, his counterpart on Vermont, was equally effective, going for 24/8/4 stls/4 blks in a game that was back-and-forth until the last possession.
  • Butler 58, Drake 48. Butler held Drake to 31% shooting and 14 first-half points in a methodical road win between two prominent mid-majors.  Is Drake finished now that Keno Davis is gone?
  • UNLV 65, San Diego 60. An undermanned USD team with three players serving suspensions still nearly pulled the upset at UNLV Saturday night.  This game was close throughout until UNLV, led by Wink Adams’ 19/4, made six key FTs down the stretch.  Rob Jones led San Diego with 19/10/4 assts.
  • Creighton 82, New Mexico 75. Incredibly named P’Allen Stinnett (30 pts) and Booker Woodfox (26 pts) led a huge second-half surge for Creighton (19-3 in the final three minutes) to start its season off with a nice win.

    FIrst Looks. Some coaches had their first games at new schools this weekend.

    • LSU 79, Jackson St. 65. Trent Johnson started his LSU career with a victory fueled by a late 17-6 run.  Tasmin Mitchell had 17/7.
    • Indiana 83, Northwestern St. 65. Devan Dumes scored 21 pts in Tom Crean’s Hoosier debut.  This was a good win for this program no matter what happens the rest of the way.
    • California 68, Pacific 56. Monty returned to coaching on the other side of the Bay by winning his first home game, a hard-fought victory led by Jerome Randle’s 24 pts and Patrick Christopher’s 18 pts.

    Statistical Oddities. More like, offensive offensiveness.

    • Manhattan 56, NJIT 32.  The abomination continues.  NJIT shot a blistering 23% in tying the NCAA record for consecutive losses (34).  Up next: @ Penn St. Monday night for the win, er, loss.
    • Washington St. 76, Mississippi Valley St. 25. Memo to MVSU: stop scheduling Wazzu.  In the last two years, Washington St. has outscored MVSU 147-51 (or, the score of one of Wazzu’s Pac-10 football games).

    Saturday Games of Interest.

    • Gonzaga 83, MSU-Billings 52. If Josh Heytvelt is once again healthy, this team is legit, and it appears that he is (15/8/3 blks).  Austin Daye added 15/12/4 blks for as talented a front line as there is in the country.
    • Tennessee 114, UT-Chattanooga 75. UT set a new record for assists (32) as it won its 33d straight home game in a rout.  Six Vols reached double figures, led by Tyler Smith’s 21/4/5 assts.
    • Memphis 90, Fairfield 63. Tyreke Evans came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 19/5/3 in his debut for Memphis.  Despite the blowout, Calipari was upset with his defense – the Tigers allowed Fairfield to shoot 50% from the field and 44% from three.
    • USC 78, UC Irvine 55. USC struggled for a half before blowing out UC Irvine behind freshman sensation Demar DeRozan’s 14/3.  Dwight Lewis added 18/7 and Taj Gibson 17/6.

      Sunday Games of Interest.

      • Florida 81, Bradley 58.  The Gators rode fourteen threes to an easy win over a decent Bradley squad.  Nick Calathes dropped 13/7/6 asst/4 stls, and Dan Werner had Walter Hodge each contributed 17 pts.
      • Clemson 76, Temple 72. Clemson held on after blowing a 14-pt second half lead by hitting some big FTs down the stretch in the Charleston Classic.  CU’s Trever Booker had 15/16, while Temple’s Dionte Christmas was relatively quiet with 14/5 and six turnovers.
      • Virginia 107, VMI 97.  No upset magic today for VMI, coming off of its miraculous upset at Kentucky.  UVa was led by Sylven Landesberg’s 28/8/8 assts, who set a freshman debut scoring record for the school.
      • Wisconsin 68, Long Beach St. 61. Marcus Landry’s (23/4/3 blks) huge three with 22 seconds remaining gave UW just enough cushion to avoid the home upset.  Of some concern for Bo Ryan will be the Badgers allowing 48% shooting from their Big West foes.
      • Michigan St. 100, Idaho 62. MSU cruised behind Chris Allen and Raymar Morgan’s twin 21-pt performances.
      • Holy Cross 73, St. Joseph’s 69 (OT). This is a really good early win for the Patriot League against an A10 stalwart.
      • Notre Dame 94, USC-Upstate 54. Luke Harongody blew up for 30/14, including his fourth career three-pointer, in a blowout at home.  Luke Zeller added 18/5 off the bench.
      • Kansas 71, Missouri-Kansas City 56. KU shook off a 1-13 shooting night from three to pull away from UMKC in the second half on the strength of their defense, which held their opponent to 29% shooting.

      On Tap Monday (all times EST).

      • Davidson (-17.5) v. James Madison – 6pm (NIT)
      • Connecticut v. Hartford (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
      • Boston College (-13.5) v. Loyola (MD)  (ESPNU) – 7pm (NIT)
      • Pittsburgh (-14) v. Miami (OH) (ESPN FC & 360) – 7pm
      • Purdue (-20.5) v. E. Michigan (ESPN2 & 360) – 7pm (NIT)
      • UAB (-10) v. Santa Clara – 8pm (NIT)
      • Missouri (-14) v. UT-Chattanooga  (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
      • Oklahoma St. (-11) v. N. Texas (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
      • Marquette v. Chicago St.  (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
      • Belmont v. Austin Peay – 8pm
      • Texas Tech v. Sam Houston St. (ESPN FC & 360) – 8pm
      • Oklahoma (-30) v. Miss. Valley St.  (ESPNU) – 9pm
      • Arizona (-18.5) v. Florida Atlantic (ESPNU) – 11pm (NIT)
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