Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington Huskies

Posted by KDanna on November 5th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Washington Huskies.

Strengths: Overall, the Huskies have a solid group of guys. They won’t be as explosive as last year, but a report from the Seattle Times has noted that this year’s team has better chemistry. That probably is due to the presence of Abdul Gaddy, who has really developed into a solid floor general and knows how to find his teammates while taking care of the basketball — his 2.43 assist-to-turnover ratio was second in the Pac-12 last year. One such teammate who will be a benefactor of Gaddy’s decision-making is C.J. Wilcox, who is one of the best pure shooters in the country. Now a junior, Wilcox shot 40 percent from downtown last season, good for ninth in the conference. He will be joined on the wing by Scott Suggs, another good shooter who is returning from a broken foot that forced him to redshirt last year. The Huskies also have one of the most physically imposing returning big men in the Pac-12, as seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye will patrol the paint for head coach Lorenzo Romar, who will transition this year’s team to a high-post offense. That’s a good move for the 2012-13 Huskies, as they are more suited to play in a more structured half-court set than the typical motion offense they ran in previous years. It also doesn’t hurt that the Huskies play in Alaska Airlines Arena, which gives the Huskies a huge home court advantage; in fact, the Huskies have won more games at Hec-Ed than any other NCAA team has won at a single facility.

Wilcox Has No Problem Knocking Down Jumpers With Defenders On Him, But It’s Even Easier When No One Is Within A Five Foot Radius (credit: Dean Rutz)

Weaknesses: Washington loses a ton of firepower in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross, both of whom left early to become NBA first round draft picks. The loss of the duo is probably as good of a reason as any to move away from a motion look, because these were the two guys who really made the Huskies go. However, the Huskies lost more than just firepower with these guys; they also lost a lot of the patented “U-Dub swag” that has been a feature of Romar-coached teams in recent memory. This is where the loss of Darnell Gant also comes into play, as he probably played to the Hec-Ed crowd as well as anybody on the Huskies. With the power forward spot up for grabs, in addition to losing three of the four guys who averaged five rebounds a game or more from last year, defensive rebounding could turn into an issue for this team; as it was, the Huskies finished eighth in the Pac-12 last year in defensive rebounding percentage.

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Washington Week: Q&A With UW Dawg Pound’s Ben Knibbe

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 15th, 2012

As we go to wind down our coverage of the Washington basketball program, we head back to Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound for his perspective on the Huskies. Here’s our conversation on the immediate future for Lorenzo Romar and Washington.

RTC: Washington loses Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross at the guard spot. Will the role there be filled “by committee”, with C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy leading the charge, or something else?

BK: While the losses of two NBA lottery talents in Wroten and Ross will sting, the Huskies have the depth to survive the loss. The production of two such talents can rarely be reloaded with the ease John Calipari displays at Kentucky. Coach Lorenzo Romar almost always is deep at the guard position, and this coming season will be no different. Ross’ outside shooting will be replaced by the return of senior guard Scott Suggs. Suggs redshirted last season after suffering a foot injury before the season started, and while he could have returned partway through the season, he decided to redshirt and play in this upcoming season. Suggs also has the ability to handle the point guard position in a pinch. Wroten may have been a major talent, but he frustrated many Husky fans, myself included, with his constant boneheaded mistakes, ball dominance and complete and utter lack of a jump shot. His slashing ability will be replaced by redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews. Andrews impressed in practice, and is considered a talent that just has to be put on the floor.

There will also be the maturation of a healthy Gaddy and Wilcox. Gaddy was never completely confident with his knee following tearing his ACL in practice his sophomore season; Wilcox was not only limited in practice after suffering a stress fracture in his femur, he was relegated to 50 jump shots per day as his entire practice. I may be in the minority on this, but the growth and healing process or Suggs, Gaddy, and Wilcox, combined with the addition of Andrews and junior college transfer Mark McLaughlin (more on him later), will more than replace the losses of Wroten and Ross.

Senior Scott Suggs Returns From A Right Foot Injury To Bolster An NBA Draft-Depleted Husky Roster (credit: Drew McKenzie)

RTC: Did you think Washington deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament last season, or did losing the final two games before Selection Sunday seal their fate?

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Washington Week’s Burning Question: How To Replace A Pair Of First Round Draftees?

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 14th, 2012

Pachoops’ Adam Butler is once again back to assist with our Burning Question, along with Washington basketball insider Ben Knibbe of UW Dawg Pound. Here’s our question of the week:

In this “one-and-done” era of college basketball (or two-and-queue, or even three-and-leave), it is pivotal for upper-tier teams like Washington to reload, not rebuild, after losing two guards to the NBA Draft. It looks as if the Huskies have the pieces in place to do just that, as Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox return, Scott Suggs comes back from injury, and newcomers Andrew Andrews and Mark McLaughlin are there to back them up. But of course, replacing a pair of first-rounders is much more difficult than it may seem. Do you think the Dawgs will be able to make a smooth transition that leads to a fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years, or will they be relegated to the NIT in back-to-back seasons?

Terrence Ross (right) and Tony Wroten, Jr. (left) were selected eighth and 25th in the 2012 NBA Draft, respectively. (credit: Ted S. Warren)

Connor Pelton: By the end of the season I expect the Huskies to be right on the NCAA bubble, and most likely on the good side of it. But while I do expect them to put out a solid group of guards night in and night out come January, there are bound to be struggles early on after replacing Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross. I don’t think they will miss a beat at shooting guard, as C.J. Wilcox has ridiculous range, and although he isn’t as great a rebounder (which is why Ross went in the top 10), the Huskies have enough bigs in Aziz N’Diaye, Desmond Simmons, Shawn Kemp, Jr., and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take care of those loose boards. Even if Wilcox is having an off night, Lorenzo Romar can pull the Mark McLaughlin lever, who just happened to lead all junior college players in scoring last season, or even go to Scott Suggs, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in his foot. The problem lies at the one spot. Wroten was solid in all three phases of the game — scoring, rebounding, and passing — so replacing him is going to be a much tougher task. Abdul Gaddy may be a more pure point guard, but his ability to take the ball into the lane and consistently put it in the hoop is nowhere near Wroten’s; at least it wasn’t last year. Wroten’s ability to force his way into the paint also clogged things down low, constantly leaving Ross open. Overall, the Dawgs have a fine group of guards, but the one thing missing is that special take-over ability, and that could lead to a few extra losses. Losses that were turned into wins by Wroten last season.

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Washington Week: One-on-One With Shawn Kemp, Jr.

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 13th, 2012

Forward Shawn Kemp, Jr. will be a sophomore for Washington next season. With Darnell Gant graduating, Kemp will see a major increase in playing time and enter October competing with Austin Seferian-Jenkins for the backup spot at forward. RTC’s Connor Pelton had a chance to talk to Kemp this week.

Connor Pelton: Describe your game for people who didn’t get to see you play last season. Similar to your father’s?

Shawn Kemp, Jr.: Our games are kind of different. I’ve been working on my game, trying to change it up a little bit. I’m trying to be able to shoot the outside shot and also bang in the post. I mean, our game is different, but in a way it’s kind of the same. People expect to see the same but it’s not exactly identical.

Kemp, Jr. Will Get More Playing Time In 2012-13 After The Departure Of Darnell Gant (credit: Dean Rutz)

CP: You didn’t see the floor much as a freshman. Will that change in 2012-13 with Brendan Sherrer and Gant departing?

SK: It should change because we’ve had a couple big guys leave. I should be looking at a lot more time this year because I’ve been working a lot this summer. I should be on the court more.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 04.05.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on April 5th, 2012

  1. Lorenzo Romar met with local media on Wednesday and had a ton of news as Washington heads to the offseason. While the early entries of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross to the NBA are by now old news, it is newsworthy that freshman point guard Andrew Andrews underwent hip surgery and junior center Aziz N’Diaye is scheduled for wrist surgery, although neither issue is serious enough to impact their availability for next season. Romar also noted that although the Huskies have yet to sign any new recruits for next season, he expects to land two or three new players. Mark McLaughlin, a recruit from Tacoma Community College, verbally committed to the program but has yet to sign a letter of intent. And, among other things, Romar said an offseason focus would be on improving perimeter defense and finding an inside scoring presence. That last goal does not have an immediately obvious answer, although guys like Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau and Martin Breunig will all get a chance.
  2. When Trent Lockett announced his decision to transfer from Arizona State, he cited his desire to be closer to his mother who is fighting cancer at her home in Minnesota. So, while schools like Iowa State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all made perfect sense as possible landing grounds, the news that Gonzaga is somehow in the conversation comes as a bit of a shock. Still, Iowa State appears to be the leader for Lockett’s services, but the graduating senior must find a school that offers a graduate program that ASU does not in order for Lockett to be eligible to play next season.
  3. It’s no secret to anyone that’s read this spot this season, but Shabazz Muhammad is more or less a must-get for UCLA. If Muhammad goes to Westwood, it means Ben Howland has landed an elite recruiting class and it means the Bruins may even have a shot to land power forward Tony Parker as well. If Muhammad chooses Kentucky, it reinforces the idea that John Calipari and the Wildcats are the place to be for potential one-and-doners and it likely slams the door on the potential for Parker in blue and gold. Sure, the Bruins will still have a nice little recruiting class with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, but with Muhammad in tow, the Bruins are possibly the Pac-12 favorite and a force again on the national stage. My gut feeling? Muhammad will be wearing a blue and gold hat on April 10.
  4. A day after Muhammad’s decision will be announced on ESPNU, Tony Parker will announce his decision, with UCLA also among the favorites. On Wednesday, the Memphis Roar reported that Parker’s father had said that his son had cut his list of potential schools to UCLA, Duke and Memphis, but later in the day he retracted that statement, noting that his son would not be trimming his list until the April 8. Still, for the three schools on the supposed short list, this should be seen as good news, while the others – Kansas, Ohio State and Georgia – should probably start making other plans. And, if Brooks Hansen – the author of the piece – is to be believed, the Bruins are the leader in the clubhouse for Parker’s services.
  5. Arizona would certainly have something to say about the idea that the Bruins would be the Pac-12 favorite with the addition of Muhammad. After all, as of right now, the Wildcats have the best incoming recruiting class in the country. And, with the proliference of all the silly 2012-13 preseason rankings that have come out in recent days, it is interesting to see UA, presently sans a set-in-stone answer at the point guard, showing up near the top of many lists. Andy Katz, for instance, has the Wildcats at #12, but two writers at the Daily Wildcat have differing thoughts on such a lofty ranking. One thinks the love is deserved, even if Josiah Turner never wears an Arizona uniform again, while the other prefers to see the team prove it before giving them such praise.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 8th, 2012

  1. Oregon’s loss at Colorado on Saturday night was not the type of game from which it is easy to bounce back. The last-second loss on a controversial foul call left the Ducks tied for fourth place in the conference with Arizona, an especially precarious position to be in, since the top four teams in the conference will earn an opening round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Still, Dana Altman knows that his team doesn’t have much time to feel sorry for itself with a big game against bitter rival and current conference leader Washington due up tomorrow night.
  2. Arizona’s defense was a big key to their sweep of the Bay Area schools last weekend with Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, and Josiah Turner providing stellar perimeter defense at every turn. But a new weapon for Sean Miller’s squad lays waiting for intrepid souls find their way into the paint against the Wildcats, as freshman forward Angelo Chol has seen a bump in his minutes in the wake of Kevin Parrom’s season-ending injury. Against Stanford and California this weekend, Chol played a total of 36 minutes (his highest total in consecutive games since Arizona’s first two games), blocked six shots, and provided a disincentive for opponents to challenge him inside. As a high-schooler in San Diego, Chol blocked 1,120 shots in his career (good for second all-time at that level), but has been unable at Arizona to earn significant minutes, and hasn’t been all that effective in his time, until this past weekend. If he can turn into a strong presence in the paint for the Wildcats, they’ll be much better off as a result.
  3. Another freshman who is starting to earn some more minutes for his team is Washington’s Shawn Kemp Jr. Kemp played 24 minutes over the weekend against the Los Angeles schools and scored ten points in and around the paint. The son of the former SuperSonic superstar has taken a circuitous route to Lorenzo Romar’s team, committing to both Alabama and Auburn in the past, but failing to get his grades together in order to play at either school. Now, two years later, Kemp is working hard on his game to earn playing time and may be a significant piece to the Husky puzzle in 2012-13.
  4. Following a home loss against Arizona on Saturday, Stanford has now lost four of its last five games, falling from first place to a tie for sixth with UCLA. But, as Jon Wilner notes, this is more or less par for the course for the Cardinal thus far in the Johnny Dawkins era. Last year Stanford lost four in a row after starting conference play 3-1. The year before it was a 4-3 start and another four-game slide,while in 2009 the Cardinal dropped eight of their last ten after starting 3-3 in the conference. While Dawkins’ job is likely safe for the time being, at some point this Stanford team needs to prove that progress is being made.
  5. The conference announced the 2012 inductees into the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor on Tuesday, and there are some great names on the list. One inductee from each member institution will be honored during the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Here’s the list: Richard Jefferson (Arizona), Kurt Nimphius (Arizona State), Lamond Murray (California), Burdette Haldorson (Colorado), Jim Barnett (Oregon), A.C. Green (Oregon State), George Selleck (Stanford), Ed O’Bannon (UCLA), Sam Barry (USC), Arnie Ferrin (Utah), George Irvine (Washington), and Steve Puidokas (Washington State). While there are some great names on that list that most college basketball fans are very familiar with (Jefferson, Murray, O’Bannon, Green, for starters), it is fun to go back through the brief bios on the Pac-12 site and read about guys you may not be all that familiar with. Just as a “for instance”, did you know that former USC head basketball coach Sam Barry helped the Trojans post 32 consecutive victories over UCLA and helped push for the elimination of the center jump after every made basket, as well as the implementation of the ten-second rule? Good stuff from the Pac-12, but my concern is that by inducting one player from every school every year (and this has been going on for many ten years already), it’s not going to be long before the Eugene Edgersons, George Zideks, and Isaac Fontaines of the world have to wind up in the Hall of Honor as well.
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RTC Conference Primers: #6 – Pac-12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 1st, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences as well as a Pac-12 microsite staffer. You can find him on Twitter @AMurawa.

Reader’s Take I

With only two of the ten players named to last year’s All-Pac-10 team returning, the race for the conference player of the year is wide open.

 

Top Storylines

  • Twelve Is The New Ten: After 33 seasons, college basketball fans on the west coast are getting used to calling their conference the Pac-12. With Colorado and Utah along for the ride (and currently taking their lumps in football), gone are the days of the home-and-away round-robin schedule on the basketball side of things. But lest the traditionalists complain too much, it could have been much different, as schools from Oklahoma and Texas (obviously the very definition of “Pacific” states) flirted with changing their allegiance for the second consecutive year before heading back to the Big 12.
  • Fresh Blood: As mentioned above in our poll question, the conference loses eight of the ten players on last year’s all-Pac-10 team, with just Jorge Gutierrez of Cal and UCLA’s Reeves Nelson returning. In other words, it is time for a new set of players to step up and take the reins of the league. The most likely candidates are a talented group of freshman guards – names like Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson at Arizona, Tony Wroten, Jr. at Washington, Jabari Brown at Oregon, Norman Powell at UCLA and Chasson Randle at Stanford.

Jorge Gutierrez Is A Lightning Rod Of A Guard For Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, And Big Things Are Expected.

  • The Carson Show On Hold. A seventh highly-touted freshman guard, however, is stuck in limbo. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson has yet to be cleared for practice while an investigation continues into an online course the 5’10” point guard took this summer at Adams State in Colorado. That school has yet to release his course transcript, and until that happens, Carson is unable to practice with the Sun Devils, making an already difficult situation (being regarded as a savior for a team coming off a 12-19 campaign) even worse.
  • Hard Times for Kevin Parrom: Sometimes, just when everything is going well, life conspires to deal you a set of circumstances that just suck. It’s not bad enough that Parrom took a couple of bullets on September 24 during a home invasion, while in the Bronx visiting his sick mother. But on October 16, Parrom’s mom then passed away after a long battle with cancer. While both incidents will have lasting effects on Parrom, the bullet wounds are the biggest obstacle to him getting back on the court, with bullet fragments lodged in his right leg, a boot on his right foot, nerve damage and his left hand currently wrapped up to protect lacerations sustained in the attack. Parrom is rehabilitating his injuries and as of this writing, no hard timetable is set for his return. But if anybody is due for a good break or two, Parrom’s the guy. Get well soon, Kevin.

Predicted Order of Finish

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 26th, 2011

  1. While college hoops aficionados might be most interested in seeing how guys like Tony Wroten Jr., Terrence Ross and Abdul Gaddy acquit themselves for Washington this season, there is another name on the Husky roster that might ring more of a bell with casual hoops fans: Shawn Kemp. Sure, there’s a “Jr.” attached to the end of that name, but the son of  “The Reign Man” is ready to showcase his own skills. He’s spent a couple of years since he graduated high school getting his academics in order, but now entering his freshman year, he’ll likely earn some minutes in Lorenzo Romar’s frontcourt this season.
  2. California head basketball coach Mike Montgomery received a clean bill of health this week from his doctors, following a surgical procedure that kept him in the hospital for a day and out of the gym for going on a week now. The nature of that surgery hasn’t been disclosed, but the Pac-12’s active leader in wins is expected back with the team by the end of the week.  Considering that Montgomery has led the Bears to two NCAA Tournaments, a Pac-10 regular season championship and an NIT in his three years at the school, Cal fans are hopeful that this health scare is a mere blip on their head coach’s radar.
  3. Montgomery’s old school, Stanford, was among the several Pac-12 schools that held public intrasquad scrimmages this past weekend. In two 12-minute halves, the Cardinal offense was still stilted at best, a trait carried over from last year. But freshman guard Chasson Randle made his debut for head coach Johnny Dawkins and scored six points, tying Josh Huestis (winner of the event’s dunk contest), Dwight Powell and John Gage for the high total in the game.
  4. Everyone’s got their own theory as to who should be the favorite in the conference this year, but Arizona head coach Sean Miller’s opinion might surprise you. Miller pegs California and UCLA as the favorites, mentioning the Bruins’ size and the Bears’ experience as the deciding factors. While it’s hard to argue with that stance, one suspects that Miller might just be playing possum a bit, deflecting attention from his young squad.
  5. If there’s one thing that college kids love, it is to get up bright and early in the morning and getting to work, right? Not so much. But new Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak is getting his team out to practice by 7 AM and so far the response is positive. Senior center David Foster sees the early morning routine as a character building exercise, while freshman guard Kareem Storey says practicing first thing in the morning helps the team remain focused. We’ll see how this plan works throughout the season, as the Utes will need all the help they can get in their first Pac-12 season.
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Morning Five: 07.08.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 8th, 2011

  1. The Reign Man is heading back to Seattle. Sort of. Washington announced yesterday that Shawn Kemp Jr. (yes, that one; no, we won’t be making the obvious Jr. joke) had signed a financial aid agreement to get the final scholarship the Huskies had available. Kemp Jr. has taken an interesting path to get to Washington as he previously committed to Alabama in 2008 before being declared academically ineligible and to Auburn in 2009 before being declared academically ineligible again. Now it appears that he is academically eligible although coach Lorenzo Romar has already said, “The first thing he’s going to have to do is get into condition.” Unfortunately that isn’t the first time we have heard that about a player named Shawn Kemp.
  2. After Kyrie Irving went down last December, Jared Sullinger stepped up to become the premier freshman in the country. This season the Ohio State star is looking to take his game to another level by attempting to lose up to 30 pounds in an effort to get into better shape and develop his game more. It is rare that we would question any big man trying to lose a few pounds, but given Sullinger’s inside game and his relatively good conditioning (not falling apart late in games even as a freshman) we have to wonder if Sullinger’s play might actually suffer in a weird way from him getting into shape.
  3. UNC coach Roy Williams was honored yesterday in Marion, North Carolina, where he was born, with the unveiling of a sign honoring him with the official ceremony to follow on July 18, which Williams is expected to attend. Before fans of rival teams start harping on the cost of the sign in these fiscally challenging times it is worth noting that the sign was paid for with private donations. The more interesting thing for us is that due to his very well-documented difficult childhood Williams actually spent very little time in Marion and grew up in Asheville, North Carolina.
  4. Luke Winn checks in with his summer update from the FIBA Under-19 Tournament in Latvia, and the biggest storyline involves a player who isn’t even suiting up this summer.  Youssef Mejri is a 6’8″ power forward prospect who has committed to Davidson despite never playing a minute of American high school basketball, and few people are quite sure as to whether the Wildcats are getting a major sleeper or an unfulfilling headache.  Several other D-I players that Winn evaluates include rising freshmen Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Sim Bhullar (Xavier), Jackson Aldridge (Butler), and Hugh Greenwood (New Mexico).
  5. Finally, one of our correspondents, Kelly James Powers, was in Indianapolis yesterday for the adidas Invitational and noted that in addition to the star power on the court (Andre Drummond and Shabazz Muhammad were showcasing their considerable talents) there was plenty of star power in the stands (John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, and Tom Izzo, just to name a few). As exciting as the on-court skills of the players might be, the positioning and interactions of these coaches while evaluating these prospects would be fascinating to watch. Obviously Calipari and Pitino have to act like the other doesn’t exist, but what about the other coaches there?
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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.

A Look Back

Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson was suspended indefinitely this week.  Of course, at Mississippi State “indefinitely” generally means a game or two.  In this case, two.  This team was picked to win the SEC West, but talk about a team in turmoil.  Let’s take a look at the timeline:

  • Nov. 12 Mississippi State begins the season without point guard Dee Bost and power forward Renardo Sidney.  The Bulldogs get a 75-65 win over Tennessee State. Record 1-0.
  • Dec. 18 Sidney plays in his first college basketball after a year and a half suspension.  The Bulldogs lose 88-57 to Virginia Tech. Record 7-3.
  • Dec. 21 Sidney is suspended for a game after playing in just one game for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
  • Dec. 23 Sidney returns and the Bulldogs defeat San Diego 69-52. Sidney and forward Elgin Bailey get in a fight in the stands after the game while watching Utah play Hawaii, because Elgin Bailey wouldn’t move his feet for Sidney to get through.  Record 8-4.
  • Dec. 24 Sidney and Bailey are suspended indefinitely.
  • Jan. 3 Mississippi State announces that Elgin Bailey will seek a transfer and has been granted a release.
  • Jan. 8 Sidney and Bost return from suspension and open SEC play with a 75-57 home loss to Alabama. Record 8-7 (0-1).
  • Feb. 4 Following a 75-61 loss to Alabama, Ravern Johnson sends “inappropriate tweets” and violates a class attendance policy.  He is suspended indefinitely. Record 11-10 (3-4).
  • Feb. 12 Johnson’s “indefinite” suspension ends after two games.  He returns just in time for the low point in the Bulldogs’ season, a 65-62 loss to SEC last place team Auburn in a game that MSU led 51-32 with 11:25 to go.

The reality here is that coach Rick Stansbury has completely lost control of this team both on and off the court.  This season is nothing short of a train wreck and I hope that this will be the last time that I write about the silliness that is Mississippi State basketball.

  • In less ridiculous news, Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology has six SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament.  If his prediction holds true and Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama all make the tournament, that will be the best showing in the Big Dance for the SEC since 2008, when last place Georgia made a crazy run through the SEC tournament and became the sixth team to qualify along with Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

Power Rankings

1. Florida (20-5, 9-2) At this point, there can be no question that Florida should be in the top spot here.  While still having deficiencies, Florida by hook or by crook has managed to get to 20-5 overall and 9-2 in conference play by gutting out close ones whether at home or on the road.  Florida has won nine games decided by six points or less.  The Gators have also played in four overtime games this year, winning three of them.  Two of those overtime wins came on the road.  However, just when things are starting to look really good for the preseason SEC favorites, Chandler Parsons sustained a deep thigh bruise and internal bleeding associated with it.  He is likely to miss the Gators’ game against LSU on Sunday.  If LSU were not on an eight-game losing streak, I might be a little concerned.

2. Alabama (16-8, 8-2) After a disappointing early season in which Alabama started 5-6, the Tide has become one of the best defensive teams in the nation holding teams to just 58.4 points per game.  Because of that defense and an improved offense, Alabama is 11-2 in its last 13 games.

3. Kentucky (17-7, 5-5) Right now, you have to ask whether this team is just not as good as we thought, or is it simply a bad road team?  Maybe it’s a little bit of both.  Kentucky still has good wins over Washington, Notre Dame and Louisville, but that seems like a long time ago for a team that is 2-6 in true road games, with five of those losses coming in league play.  Lucky for Kentucky, only two of the Wildcats’ last six games are away.  The Wildcats should be safe this week as they don’t have to go on the road for their contests against Mississippi State and South Carolina.

4. Vanderbilt (18-6, 6-4) Vanderbilt had a great week after winning two close ones at home against Alabama and Kentucky.  Like Kentucky, Vandy has been weak on the road, going just 1-3 in conference road games.  Unlike Kentucky however, the Commodores must go on the road for four of their last six including games at Georgia, and Kentucky.

5. Georgia (17-7, 6-4) Georgia lost to Xavier early in the week in a game that was close throughout.  This was the first game between the two teams since 2008 when they met in the NCAA Tournament following Georgia’s Cinderella run through the Southeastern Conference tournament, winning three games in two days after a tornado at the Georgia Dome forced the league to move the games to Georgia Tech.  Xavier won that game in 2008, too.  Following their loss to the Musketeers, the Bulldogs held South Carolina to just 30.5% shooting and 4-23 from the field.

6. Arkansas (15-9, 5-6) After losing three straight to Georgia, Mississippi and Mississippi State, Arkansas finally got a win at home against Louisiana State.  Rotnei Clarke scored 25 points while going 5-6 from three.  More importantly though, the Razorbacks have now won 15 games for the first time in three seasons, having won 14 games in each of the past two seasons.

7. Tennessee (15-10, 5-5) It’s been an up-and-down year for the Volunteers, mostly down of late.  Coach Bruce Pearl made his return from suspension to face Kentucky in Lexington.  The result?  Tennessee was thoroughly outplayed in a game where Bruce Pearl said he didn’t help his team.  The Vols followed that up with a tough 61-60 home loss to Florida.

8. Mississippi (16-9, 4-6) Chris Warren tied his season high of 26 points in a win over LSU.  Speaking of Chris Warren, he’s made 29 of his last 31 free throws in Mississippi’s last three contests and leads the SEC in free throw shooting at 93.8 percent.  Not only that, but Warren now has 1,821 career points, good for fourth place on Ole Miss’ all-time scoring list.  It is all but a given that Warren will pass Carlos Clarke’s 1,822 points in the Rebels’ next game taking his place as Ole Miss’s third leading scorer.  It remains unlikely that Warren passes number one Jon Stroud (2,328 points) and number two Joe Harvell (2,078 points).

9. South Carolina (13-10, 4-6) Things haven’t gone well for the Gamecocks of late.  They started the conference season at 3-1 including wins over Vanderbilt and at Florida.  Now the Cocks are losers of five of their last six.  A terrible shooting night at home against Georgia this week only added to their woes.  In that game, Bruce Ellington shot just 1-12 from the floor.  But then again, he hasn’t shot at least 50 percent in a game since a January 12 loss at Alabama.

10. Mississippi State (13-11, 5-5) Look, it’s never good when you lose to Auburn, but when you blow a 19-point lead with 11:25 to go in the game, well that’s just completely unacceptable.  At one point Auburn went on a 17-0 run.  Really?  Auburn?  I don’t think Auburn’s gone on a 17-0 run in years.  How did they possibly manage it this year with such and offensively challenged team?  I’m sure Mississippi State’s utterly despicable play had a little something to do with it.  Really Bulldogs, this is just getting embarrassing.

11. Auburn (9-15, 2-8) With all of the players, that Auburn lost from last year’s team including 73 percent of the Tigers’ scoring and 62 percent of their rebounding  and then losing three freshman commits in Luke Cothron, Shawn Kemp Jr. and Josh Langford who were all expected to contribute right away, Auburn has more excuses than any other team in the league.  Add to that the fact that leading returning scorer Frankie Sullivan has only played in six games and you have a team that just can’t get a break.  So simply not being in last place for just one week is quite an accomplishment.

12. LSU (10-15, 2-8) Somehow, LSU has been able to wrest the bottom spot from Auburn and that is quite a feat.  LSU has now lost eight straight games, including an 80-61 loss this week at Arkansas.  LSU is one unusual team that seems to do really well or really bad.  Let’s look at how LSU has finished in each of the past five seasons.

  • 2006 – 27-.9 Won SEC, Final Four
  • 2007 – 17-15 Last in SEC West. No tournament.
  • 2008 – 13-18 Fourth in SEC West. No tournament.
  • 2009 – 27-8 Won SEC. Lost to UNC in second round of NCAA Tournament.
  • 2010 – 11-20 Last in SEC. No tournament.

The Week Ahead

  • Feb. 16 Vanderbilt @ Georgia I’m not convinced that Georgia is firmly entrenched in the NCAA Tournament just yet.  A win over the Commodores could go a long way towards cementing that spot.
  • Feb. 19 Georgia @ Tennessee Same story as above, except substitute Tennessee for Georgia.
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Early Signing Period Starts Today

Posted by jstevrtc on November 11th, 2009

Wednesday, November 11th was the first day of basketball’s early signing period for high school seniors, and several noteworthy prospects signed on the dotted line throughout the day.  A recap (all rankings from the ESPN 100):

jared sullinger

The biggest story came out of Columbus, Ohio.  Thad Matta is flexing right now, as he brought in four players in the top 100, including two players in most recruiting analysts’ top 10-12; Jared Sullinger, an almost unanimous #2 in this year’s whole senior class (pictured above), and #12 DeShaun Thomas, a smooth 6’7 three-position threat.  Also signing with the Buckeyes were top-60 players Jordan Sibert and Aaron Craft, so you can see why OSU boasts the best recruiting class for 2010 to this point.

Perry Jones, considered the third-ranked prospect in the current senior class, signed with Baylor today, thus continuing Scott Drew’s highly commendable rebuilding of that program.  Jones verbally committed back in 2007 but today’s signing made it official.  The 6’10 Jones has the skill set to play the 3, 4, or 5 at the collegiate level.

Other signing notes:  Marquette inked a couple of top-100 recruits in the excellently-named 6’3 shooting guard Vander Blue and 6’6 wing Jamail Jones.  A couple of former NBA stars saw their sons sign letters; Shawn Kemp, Jr. (6’9, 215) signed with Auburn, while Tim Hardaway, Jr. (6’5, 185) pledged his support to Michigan.

harrison barnes

Two of the biggest names in the class of 2010 also revealed their plans to announce soonHarrison Barnes (dunking above) is touted as possibly the best player in the class, and says that he’ll announce this Friday at 4 P.M. ET.  The leaders for his services are said to be Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Top ten recruit Tobias Harris, according to his father, will not sign a letter of intent this week, but will announce his college choice next week; Maryland, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and West Virginia are listed as the top possibilities for the 6’8 combo-forward.

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07.25.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2008

Some things we’ve missed while lounging in a pool of indignant contempt (and mineral hot springs)with Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill and friends the past few weeks…

  • It’s Extension Season! – Davidson’s Bob McKillop (3 more yrs until 2015-16), UCLA’s Ben Howland (7 yrs at approximately $2M per until 2014-15), Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl (1 more yr until 2013-14, but with a raise that will average out to $2.3M per over that span), Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (2 more yrs until 2014-15), Temple’s Fran Dunphy (2 more yrs through 2013-14), and Oregon’s Ernie Kent (3 more yrs until 2012-13) all got their wives a new car last week.
  • UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero is the new NCAA Tournament Committee chairman for 2009-10.   Expect UCLA to play in Pauley and the Staples Center during its first four rounds that year.
  • Tim Floyd breathed a sigh of relief when he learned last week that Demar DeRozan passed the ACT and will be eligible next season for his Trojans.  DeRozan is a likely 1-and-done, which means Lute Olson has vowed to not recruit players like him for the rest of his career (still feeling the burn of Jennings and Bayless, Lute?)
  • Gonzaga forward and RTC fav Austin Daye both tore and didn’t tear his ACL at the Lebron Skills Camp recently.  He should be ok for the upcoming season. 
  • Welcome to the Kyle Taber Hoosiers.  Speaking of which, ex-Hoosier Jordan Crawford is transferring to Xavier. 
  • Memphis guard Doneal Mack has decided to return to Calipari’s squad after all – he had previously stated that he was transferring to the University of FEMA New Orleans. 
  • This is interesting.  Georgia Tech center Ra’Sean Dickey has decided to forgo his senior season so that he can begin his professional career in Ukraine?  Wow, thie Euro thing is starting to heat up, eh?
  • The fall of former Florida gambler guard and gunner Teddy Dupay is now complete.  He was recently charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping of a Utah woman, according to court documents. 
  • It’s sayonara to the Top of the World Classic in Alaska.
  • The extremely poorly situated Kentucky Basketball Museum closed its doors in the face of large financial losses. 
  • We wanted to get a take in on the Brandon Jennings Experiment, as articulately described by N-Bug upon BJ’s announcement that he’ll spend his “1-and-done” year playing in Europe.  Generally, we think this will be a disaster and wouldn’t be surprised if Jennings absolutely submerges his draft stock during the season (that is, until he returns next spring and excels in the 1-on-1 workouts given by teams).  Gottlieb nailed it when he pointed out that EuroLeague ball is of a much-higher quality than what Jennings probably thinks it is (and certainly well above college hoops).  Lots of risk of exposure here for Jennings.  Bad decision. 
  • Gary Parrish makes a compelling point about the inherent conflict of interest in referees working for schools calling games on international trips and scrimmages, then turning around and calling games for those same teams during the season.  As you may recall, we wrote exactly a year ago that the Donaghy situation happens way more than anyone thinks, and this is just another loophole that encourages it. 
  • Maybe we’re cynical, but there has to be a Shawn Kemp is Broke story somewhere in this tender piece by Luke Winn.
  • Davidson’s Stephen Curry has noticed that his life has changed after his spectacular March run.
  • Where does Super Mario’s shot rank in the all-time great NCAA shots pantheon?  His former teammate Sherron Collins won’t have to worry about watching the highlight from the pokey, as prosecutors stated there was not enough evidence to substantiate allegations against him stemming from an alleged incident in an elevator with a woman on the KU campus. 
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