Morning Five: 08.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2013

morning5

  1. At this point it seems like the NCAA is just trolling us (ok, we passed that point long ago). The latest outrage is over the NCAA giving Pe’Shon Howard a hardship waiver enabling him to play at USC this season as the result of his grandmother battling an undisclosed form of cancer. Now very few people would raise strenuous objection to the NCAA’s waiver (ok, maybe those who feel that the NCAA hands them out too freely), but this comes at a particularly bad time as it was just last week that news came out the NCAA had denied another player a waiver after both his father and brother died last winter (see point #2). As for the actual on-court ramifications it is a big pick-up for Andy Enfield and will move Howard from a probable back-up at Maryland to a likely starter to USC.
  2. If you had any question about the impact of Emmanuel Mudiay commitment to Southern Methodist, which Chris Johnson covered yesterday in his post, look no further than the report by Jeff Goodman that Myles Turner was now considering going to SMU too. Turner, who emerged as a top-ten prospect during the summer, had cut his list to eight school as of earlier this month and at the time SMU was not on the list. Now it appears that Turner is planning on taking an official visit to the school. We are not sure if anything will come of this or if it is merely one high school star looking at a school that one of his friends from the AAU circuit opted to go to, but this type of attention can only boost SMU’s reputation among recruits and the school will have to hope that it can continue beyond this year.
  3. Most of our attention regarding the eligibility of incoming freshmen guards in the state of Florida has been focused on Gainesville where the fate of Chris Walker remains in limbo, but it turns out that Florida State is the first school in Florida to feel the brunt of the NCAA Clearinghouse this season as incoming guard and consensus top-50 recruit Xavier Rathan-Meyes was declared ineligible for the coming season after his file was reviewed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. According to reports the issue stems from the NCAA’s concerns with a year of his credits from Christian Faith Center in North Carolina. Rathan-Meyes will be allowed to enroll at FSU this year under his athletic scholarship and the school hopes to have him eligible for the 2014-15 season.
  4. Over the past few years TV deals for conferences and more significantly schools have become a topic of intense focus, but one area that has largely ignored was how schools that do not even generate headlines with their TV deals can benefit. The New York Times took an interesting look at how Louisville has benefited from its relationship with ESPN. As the article notes the school has had to make many sacrifices including playing many weekday college football games that at one time were considered a major negative for the program, but now have become a protected national stage for the program (both football and overall) to shine and make generate revenue for the school that goes well beyond that night’s gross sales. This obviously raises questions as to what will happen as Fox Sports 1 and other competitors enter the landscape and threaten to poach schools away from ESPN and how ESPN will respond, but we will leave that for another day.
  5. It would not have helped Syracuse’s APR if such a metric existed at the time, but it is nice to see that Syracuse legend Derrick Coleman is returning to school to finish the requisite coursework to graduate even if it is 23 years after he left the school to go to the NBA. For our younger readers who may not remember, Coleman actually did stay at Syracuse for four years before he was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Despite spending four years at Syracuse, Coleman is still 12 credits short of getting his degree and is supposedly set to graduate this coming spring based on his schedule although he will be taking his course online, which gives him a little more leeway in terms of when he will finish.
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Morning Five: 08.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 26th, 2013

morning5

  1. The biggest news of the weekend was the announcement by Emmanuel Mudiay that he was committing to Southern Methodist. Outside of being a shock to the fans of the top schools–Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State–that were reportedly in the running for his services, it is also surprising that he would choose SMU and may validate to a degree the decision by the school to hire Larry Brown, who may not even be there when Mudiay arrives on campus. Many in Big Blue Nation are still in shock that a second top recruit in a few months would spurn them (Andrew Wiggins being the other) as Mudiay had reportedly narrowed his choices down to SMU and Kentucky, but for us the bigger story (outside of the fact a top-5 recruit in the class of 2014 is headed to SMU) was the fact that Texas was not even a consideration for a top Texas recruit and it speaks volumes about the state of Rick Barnes’ program.
  2. For all of Gonzaga‘s success over the past 14 years they have often remained off the radar for many elite recruits for a variety of reasons (location, offers from bigger names, etc) so when Josh Perkins, a class of 2014 point guard who is ranked in the top 25 overall in his class, commits to Gonzaga it is pretty big news. Perkins, who was also seriously considering UCLA and Minnesota, has been Mark Few’s #1 target for this coming season and should fit in well when Kevin Pangos is ready to leave Spokane. Although there have been some other Gonzaga commits over the years who have been as highly sought after (Austin Daye comes to mind), but it is still quite a coup for Few.
  3. We are just a few weeks from the start of the college basketball season, but Texas Southern has managed to pick up one of the best available transfers on the market as the school announced that  Aaric Murray will be headed there. Texas Southern will be Murray’s third school as he transferred from La Salle, where he averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game during the 2010-11 season, to West Virginia, where he averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season, but battled disciplinary issues as he was arrested in December 2011 for marijuana possession and was suspended in a separate incident for an undisclosed disciplinary violation. Murray, who is eligible to play immediately as he graduated from West Virginia this past spring, should make Texas Southern, which went 16-2 last season, but was barred from postseason play, a strong contender for the SWAC’s automatic bid.
  4. Dave Rice’s job of keeping UNLV competitive this season despite the loss of several key players just got a little tougher as the school announced that Savon Goodman will not play this season after news surfaced that he was facing two felony charges of first-degree burglary and grand larceny. Despite Goodman’s paltry production last season–3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game–he was expected to be a much bigger part of the team’s game plan with the departures of Anthony Bennett and Mike Moser. Now Rice and the UNLV staff will have to scramble to find a replacement for Goodman, who would have been the team’s starting power forward. That role will probably fall to Jamal Aytes, a three-star recruit who committed to the school just one week ago.
  5. We are not sure how D.J. Haley, who averaged 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game at VCU last season, will fit in with “Dunk City West” after it was announced that he will be transferring to USC, but we guess playing in the Havoc defensive scheme should be good preparation for a frantic style of play. The 7-footer will be eligible to play immediately after graduating early from VCU and will be enrolling in USC’s engineering school. Despite his limited production last season Haley does have quite a bit of experience and actually started for the Rams during their run to the 2011 NCAA Final Four and his experience should help a Trojan frontcourt that is not very deep and lacks experience.
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Big East Realignment: Conference Looks to Add 12th Team and Sign a TV Contract

Posted by mlemaire on January 28th, 2013

Is everyone still interested in Big East realignment? Good, because believe it or not, everybody’s favorite conference to leave is in the headlines again as it looks to add a 12th team to the roster, keep their name despite significant re-branding efforts, and negotiate the all-important TV package with multiple networks.

Commissioner Mike Aresco dished on a number of topics following a breakfast at a chamber of commerce, and he believes that conference realignment may soon be coming to an end, which is a relief to everyone who enjoys college basketball but doesn’t enjoy watching school administrators work the back channels to wrangle more money for their programs. When Navy joins the Big East in 2015, that will give the league just 11 teams, so adding a 12th team makes plenty of sense if they can actually find a suitable program. Boise State and San Diego State have both backed out on the conference to return to the Mountain West, and it is possible that the Big East will have to compete with the Catholic Seven – which should be gone after next season assuming they work out a favorable deal – if they are looking to add some of the better programs from the Atlantic 10.

Mike Aresco

Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has his hands full with never-ending realignment manuevering. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Aresco says that he intends to keep the Big East name and stressed the importance of the conference “remaining geographically cohesive,” which is kind of hilarious because he followed that by saying the conference would not expand past Texas. Not sure exactly what Aresco’s definition of cohesive it is, but from our end, there is nothing cohesive about having Connecticut travel to play Houston or Southern Methodist University, but then again, we aren’t conference presidents, so what do we know?

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Morning Five: 05.18.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 18th, 2012

  1. ESPN released its most recent class recruiting rankings yesterday. The top three is about what you would except for the fact that it is shocking to see Kentucky and John Calipari ranked anything, but #1 in any recruiting rankings. If Big Blue Nation is looking for an explanation for this blasphemy, the guys at ESPN have offered up an explanation for you. Other than that nothing really jumps out at us other than Duke coming in at #11 with just two commits in this year’s recruiting class.
  2. In the latest chapter of the ongoing conference realignment drama, Old Dominion announced that it was leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference USA starting with the 2013-14 season. The article on the school’s site briefly mentions it, but the real issue here is football as the school was looking to make a move to the Division I level and moving to Conference USA was the easiest way. For the CAA this is a huge blow coming on the heels of Virginia Commonwealth‘s defection and they may be forced to poach some teams from another conference to remain viable. However, as is often the case in these situations, the conference also has a way to get back at the school with some punitive measures and can ban Old Dominion from participating in future CAA championship events (like the conference basketball tournament).
  3. When Delvon Roe announced before the start of last season that he was retiring due to degenerative knee pain to pursue a career in acting we suspected that he would find a measure of success in that new field, but we did not expect it to come so quickly and to such a high degree. Roe’s feature film debut in “Love and Honor” was shown at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. Now we are not exactly film connoisseurs, but getting your movie shown at Cannes even if it is not as the leading actor in the film seems like a pretty big role. At least that’s the way it seemed in Entourage.
  4. In one of the more bizarre administrative moves we have seen in a while Southern Methodist fired Steve Orcini as its athletic director just weeks after made one of the biggest coaching moves of the offseason by hiring Larry Brown to be its next head coach. The decision was reportedly based on continuing disagreements between Orcini and the school’s president. We are not sure what finally led to the decision being made, but it is not a good sign for Brown or the basketball program even though we doubt it was related to Brown or his hiring. If the program is not stable enough to keep its athletic director through a transition period like this, you have to figure there are some issues within the athletic department and the university itself. Of course, there is also the issue of the three years remaining on Orsini’s contract so the school has some things it needs to work out before it gets to dealing with its 71 year-old coach.
  5. If you thought that the media circus surrounding the attempts of several schools the block transfers of players to others schools would lead to a change in the transfer rules, you may be disappointed. While almost all of the individuals associated with the NCAA and schools that were willing to go on record seem to support the idea of letting student-athletes move more freely it seems like making that a reality will be difficult for a number of reasons. Our feeling are basically mirrored by this comments in this article and although it is unfortunate we do not expect to see any movement on this topic in the next few years.
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Why SMU’s Headline Hire of Larry Brown Could Actually Work Out

Posted by EJacoby on April 23rd, 2012

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

It’s been almost a full week since Southern Methodist officially hired Larry Brown to become the Mustangs’ new head coach, creating major headlines from a school that hasn’t had much to show from its program’s entire basketball history. The question surrounding the hire remains — Does SMU really expect Brown to turn around the program, or is the hire simply intended to draw publicity to a team in desperate need of some attention? We tend to think that the primary motive was the latter, but that it also just might be a smart move for the SMU program at this point in time.

Why Him? Hall of Famer Larry Brown (and his Assistants) are a Smart Hire for SMU (AP Photo/N. Raymond)

Larry Brown is in the Basketball Hall of Fame with a decorated legacy that includes being the only coach to win both an NCAA (Kansas) and NBA (Detroit) championship, but he hasn’t coached in the college ranks in nearly 25 years. At 71 years old, and with a track record of bolting from head coaching positions early in his tenure, why is there any reason to expect that Brown will be capable of turning around a struggling college program? The truth of the matter is there probably isn’t. College basketball is not what it was back in 1988 when he won a title for Kansas. There are now over 340 Division I teams, many of which have come to expect postseason success given the widespread parity that the sport has developed. The fact that SMU hasn’t qualified for an NCAA Tournament since 1993 doesn’t give Brown any slack either — the school is headed for the Big East in two seasons and desperately needs to turn things around in a hurry.

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Morning Five: 04.18.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 18th, 2012

  1. Over the past few months Saint Joseph’s and Phil Martelli took a lot of heat for their decision to block the transfer of Todd O’Brien. They are about to have some company with the decision by Wisconsin and Bo Ryan after they decided to place significant restrictions on Jarrod Uthoff in his attempt to transfer from the school. It is standard procedure for schools to restrict players from transferring within the conference or to rival schools and occasionally schools they feel may have tampered with their (former) player. But a list of 25 schools? Including the entire ACC? Ryan apologists might point to the ACC-Big Ten challenge as a potential obstacle, but unless Wisconsin is planning on moving to the ACC it seems like a rather odd set of restrictions. What is more odd is that Uthoff has not even played for the Badgers yet as they opted to redshirt him and even though he figured to be in their plans for the future the entire situation feels dirty. For now the only legitimate school that Uthoff appears to be interested in going to (and Ryan has not already blocked) is Creighton. Of course, there is still time for Ryan to put Creighton on his restricted list.
  2. Yesterday, Tulsa star Jordan Clarkson was granted a release by the school. The sophomore, who was First Team All-Conference USA last season, appears to have been significantly influenced by the firing of Doug Wojcik and it appears that the hiring of Danny Manning was not enough to make him stay in Tulsa. While initial reports sparked a minor frenzy on Twitter when it was revealed that Clarkson wanted to look at 8-9 schools, but Tulsa was only willing to release him to three schools (Colorado, TCU, and Vanderbilt). Since we are not sure which 5-6 schools were rejected by Tulsa we will hold back our criticism because for all we know those schools could all be in Conference USA in which case it would be considered nothing more than normal operating procedure. If those schools are not and we are talking about a Bo Ryan/Phil Martelli situation, we could be adding Danny Manning to an ignominious list.
  3. Normally we would have led with the news that it looks like Larry Brown will most probably be the next head coach at Southern Methodist, but those two transfers and the noise surrounding them stole some of the spotlight. While many journalists online are trying to make it seem like this is a done deal, there appear to be a few details that need to be worked out. According to reports the main hold-up is getting his assistant coaches in place. Brown’s staff appears to be made of Tim Jankovich, Jerrence Howard, and Rod Strickland. The latter two appear to have their bags packed, but Jankovich is waiting for an assurance that he will be a guaranteed coach-in-waiting since he is leaving a decent job as a head coach at Illinois State for a team that was at the bottom of Conference USA and is heading toward the Big East, which will be a shell of its former self and SMU will still be near the bottom of that depleted conference.
  4. For those of you who may be aspiring college athletes or in the business of recruiting them (or maybe just love to know the minutiae of the sport), the NCAA released new eligibility requirements that go into effect for the 2015-16 academic year. They are available as an executive summary or a short slideshow. Essentially what it is trying to do is be more explicit for the eligibility requirements for incoming athletes. It focuses on core course requirements, GPA, and standardized test scores. One major issue that it does not address is the omnipresent shadow of basketball factories, which seem to be an all too frequent problem when issues with eligibility are raised. Of course there are more than three years before these rules go into effect so there could be substantial changes before they are put into practice.
  5. As we mentioned yesterday, the five starters for Kentucky announced that they were entering the NBA Draft. It is amazing that we have come to the point where we can merely shrug our shoulders at the defending national champions losing their entire starting lineup of three freshmen and two sophomores without a second thought. Of course, this is not an indictment of Kentucky, but rather a reflection of the current state of college basketball. Or perhaps the real reflection on the current state of college basketball is that the Wildcats probably will not miss a beat next year as they will just reload with another set of five-star recruits.
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Morning Five: Tax Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 17th, 2012

  1. Three sophomores from the Big Ten announced that they were moving on from their current locations. The big move is comes from Ann Arbor where Evan Smotrycz announced that he was transferring from Michigan to Maryland. During his sophomore season, Smotrycz averaged 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game including making 43.5% of his three-pointers. Having a big man who can grab a few rebounds and step out to hit outside shots should be a big addition for Mark Turgeon’s squad that lacked size last season. The other moves should have a much smaller impact as Ohio State announced that two sophomore would be transferring: J.D. Weatherspoon and Jordan Sibert. Weatherspoon only averaged 3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game while Siebert averaged 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds per game last year so their numbers should not be missed too much. No information has been released about where either player is planning on going so where they will end up is anyone’s guess.
  2. Even with those transfers the Big Ten got a little tougher next season as Trevor Mbakwe was granted a sixth year of eligibility and will be returning to Minnesota. Mbakwe, who went down with a knee injury last season, was expected to consider entering the NBA Draft, but decided to return to handle “some unfinished business” (or his questionable NBA Draft stock). In either case, Mbakwe’s return should make the Gophers one of the better teams in the conference even if they are still probably just below the absolute upper-tier of the conference. At the very least, his return does mean that there should be some pressure on Tubby Smith to guide the Gophers back into the NCAA Tournament.
  3. The face of the SEC could change drastically over a 24-hour period. Well sort of. Yesterday, Alabama junior/transfer Tony Mitchell announced that he would be entering the NBA Draft. Mitchell is certainly athletic enough to get the attention of NBA scouts, but there are enough questions about his maturity and his all-around play that he is probably looking at a second round spot. As for that other team in the SEC–Kentucky–they will have a press conference tomorrow at 2 PM ET where five of their underclassman (Anthony DavisMichael Kidd-GilchristTerrence JonesDoron Lamb, and Marquis Teague) will announce their decision as to whether or not they will enter the NBA Draft. The first three players have always seemed like sure things to enter the NBA Draft, but the latter two seemed to be a little less clear. Now that they are announcing at the same time it seems almost certain that all of them will head to the NBA. This will be a huge loss for Kentucky who should feel the effects all the way until their next ridiculous recruiting class comes in.
  4. While the rumors surrounding a potential move that would bring Larry Brown to Southern Methodist persist we know that at least one member of his coaching tree will not be on his potential staff as Buzz Peterson announced that he will be staying on as head coach at UNC-Wilmington. Peterson, who will probably go down in history as Michael Jordan’s roommate at UNC, will remain a head coach for his 15th season during which time he has only been to the NCAA Tournament once (back in 2000 with Appalachian State). With Peterson firmly in place in Wilmington it seems like the new issue will be who Brown will bring along with him if he does indeed head to SMU.
  5. Two of the most successful programs in  college basketball had freshmen announce that they would be transferring and the effect should be negligible. Even though there should be a little more playing time available in the Duke backcourt next season Michael Gbinije has decided to transferring from Duke. Gbinije, who was a top 30 recruit coming in, only averaged 1.8 points and 0.9 rebounds while playing 5.8 minutes per game. Given his pedigree and the type of teams that were recruiting him he should have plenty of suitors. On the other hand Merv Lindsay may have a harder time finding minutes at a school of the caliber of Kansas after deciding to transfer from Kansas. Lindsay, who was much less hyped as a 3-star recruit, managed to land a scholarship at the school, but only averaged 0.9 points and 0.3 rebounds in 2.2 minutes per game this season. While most freshmen transfers from a program as prominent as Kansas who leave without injuries or significant behavioral issues would usually be guaranteed a spot at another major Division I program that may not be the case for Lindsay who had few suitors of the caliber of Kansas prior to matriculating there.
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Morning Five: 04.16.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 16th, 2012

  1. Even though there were a handful of players who could be considered potential early entry candidates after the April 10 soft deadline and before the April 29 hard deadline most of them were considered sure things to declare for the NBA Draft. Perhaps the most significant of those players who could have been realistically considered as being on the fence was Bradley Beal. On Friday, the Florida freshman ended any speculation as he announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft. Beal’s departure adds to the extra space in the once crowded Gator backcourt, but unlike some other individuals there really is no addition by subtraction as the Gator’s will miss Beal’s dynamic mix of talent. As for Beal, expect to see him gone in the first ten picks and more likely in the top five depending on what order teams are drafting in.
  2. The exodus from Storrs continued late last week as Alex Oriakhi announced that he would be transferring to Missouri from the imploding Connecticut program. Oriakhi, who will be able to play immediately next season for Missouri after Connecticut’s 2013 NCAA Tournament ban was upheld, will be part of an entirely different Tiger team than the one that you saw this season as a significant portion of the team graduated while they are bringing in a handful of talented newcomers. Oriakhi should be able to mitigate some of the problems that the Tigers had on the inside last season, but it will be up to Frank Haith to reinvent the team with its new pieces.
  3. With Trent Johnson headed to TCU, the administration at LSU did not waste much time finding his replacement as they hired Johnny Jones, the head coach at North Texas, to replace him. Although Jones was not LSU’s first choice he should appeal to many LSU fans as a former player and two Final Four appearances at the school (one as a player and another as an assistant under Dale Brown). Jones also lead North Texas to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as a head coach. Jones does inherit a decent LSU team, but he also leaves behind a solid North Texas team including Tony Mitchell, who had stated his intent to come back to North Texas for his sophomore season, but that may change with a new coaching staff to play under next season.
  4. Florida International may not have had much success on the court recently, but they know how to move the needle with their coaching hires. After firing Isiah Thomas, the school has decided to name Richard Pitino as its next head coach. Richard, who is best known as the son of Rick and was acting as an assistant at Louisville, will be taking his first job as a head coach at the age of 29, which might seem young until you consider that his father got his start at the age of 26 at Boston University although that was a very different era. When Isiah left he claimed that the pieces were in place for the next coach to succeed so the onus on Richard now.
  5. It seems like every few months a rumor comes to life about Larry Brown taking over as the head coach at some destination whether it is in the NBA, college, or even high school. The latest rumor, and one that has been picking up a lot of steam, is that Brown might become the next head coach at Southern Methodist. On the surface it seems ludicrous having a Hall of Fame coach, one who has titles at both the NCAA and NBA levels and perhaps more importantly one who will be 72 before the season starts, take over at SMU, a school that lacks any recent basketball success. It is also a school that will be heading to the Big East in 2013. Given Brown’s age and his tendency to have relatively short stays, his coaching staff could be a big story and we have heard several prominent names mentioned as potential assistants. Still we are having a hard time getting our heads wrapped around Brown being the head coach at SMU and the likely media circus that would follow.
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Checking In On… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 26th, 2011

Steve Coulter—is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can also find his musings online at http://www.duclarion.com/sports or on Twitter @broncos2thebowl.

Reader’s Take:

 

The Week That Was

  • Rice Upsets Texas A&M; Kazemi Records 36th Career Double-Double: The conference had arguably its best night of the season on Thursday, posting a 6-2 overall record, which was highlighted by Rice’s 65-58 upset victory over Texas A&M at College Station. Junior forward Arsalan Kazemi led Rice with 10 points and 13 rebounds, recording his ninth double-double of the season and 36th of his career, as the Owls snapped the Aggies’ 80-game regular season, non-conference home win streak. Kazemi is now six double-doubles shy of the conference record. The junior carried the scoring load in his sophomore season, but has found help this season from fellow junior Tamir Jackson and senior Lucas Kuipers.
  • Tulane Drops Second Game, Falling to Syracuse: The conference’s only losses Thursday night came against ranked competition. Tulane took on #1 Syracuse, losing 80-61 in a lopsided contest. However, the team’s trio of top scorers Kendall Timmons, Jordan Callahan and Ricky Tarrant were not shut out, combining for 41 points. Timmons was the top performer, scoring 16 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
  • Memphis’ Continues To Tumble: The high-powered Memphis Tiger offense was contained and exposed on Thursday night when it faced the #16 Georgetown Hoyas, falling 70-59. Despite averaging 80 points a contest, Memphis was held in check throughout the game, which has become a trend when the Tigers take on tougher competition. Sophomore guard Will Barton continued his fantastic play, contributing a double-double in the losing effort. Barton finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but fellow sophomore Chris Crawford led the team with 17 points. Barton currently leads the conference in scoring with an average of 19.9 points per game, which is more than two points higher than UCF’s Marcus Jordan, who is second in scoring.
  • UTEP Builds Mo’ In Hawaii: In the first game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, UTEP had a chance to make a statement and did, dominating Clemson. The Miners walked away with a 61-48 victory, following a 23-8 run during the game’s final 13 minutes. The Tigers recorded a lone field goal during that span. With the win, UTEP improves to .500 for the first time this season. Though they fell to the streaking Wildcats in the semifinal game, UTEP bounced back in the consolation round, holding off Auburn 83-76. The Miners are streaking at the right time, winners of four of their last five. Sophomore guard Michael Perez is finally filling the void left by Randy Culpepper, as he averaged over 17 points per game in the Diamond Head Classic.

Marcus Jordan Is Second In Conference USA In Scoring And The Knights Boast Two Of The League's Top Five Point-Scorers (Credit: Chris Schubert).

Power Rankings

  1. Tulane (11-2): The Green Wave suffered its second loss of the season on Thursday night, but they take a lot of experience away from facing the top-ranked team in the country. Tulane is the best defensive team in conference, allowing only 55.1 points a night. In comparison, the league’s worst defensive team, Memphis, allows 74.3 points per night. Kendall Timmons has found a long-term running partner in freshman Ricky Tarrant, who has blossomed into a star in the early part of this season.
  2. Southern Miss (10-2): It’s hard to pick nits on a team that has won six in a row. Southern Miss has emerged as one of the best teams in conference because they play complete team basketball. Lacking a consistent top performer, the Golden Eagles have relied on several players to make plays.  A lot of credit goes to the Golden Eagles seniors such as Darnell Dodson and Maurice Bolden, who each recorded a double-double in Thursday night’s win over South Florida. Read the rest of this entry »
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Welcoming The Big East Newcomers: SMU

Posted by mlemaire on December 12th, 2011

The Big East announced in a teleconference they would be adding five new schools to the fold. Three of those schools, Houston, Central Florida, and Southern Methodist, will play all of their sports in the conference starting in 2013. Of course it is far too early to tell what sort of impact these teams will have in their new conference, but that won’t stop us from pontificating. Next up is Southern Methodist.

The Past

The addition of Southern Methodist is the perfect evidence that the decision to add new teams was based on football implications. While the Mustangs’ football team has made improvements under June Jones and is actually a threat to make a bowl game consistently, the basketball program is a barren wasteland filled with mediocrity and little historical success. When compared to tradition-rich basketball programs like Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the Mustangs don’t even really deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

How Can You Not Love That Fabulous Hair?

SMU has never had a winning record in Conference USA and they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since they won the Southwest Conference in 1993. If you are looking for notable NBA alumni, you will have to look pretty hard until you stumble across Quinton Ross, or even better, Jon Koncak and his perfectly coiffed hair.  They brought Matt Doherty in to coach in 2006 and opened a brand-new $13 million basketball facility in 2007, but the added facilities and supposed recruiting prowess have yet to make a difference.

The Present

Last season was the team’s best finish in Conference USA, and they only finished 8-8 and were bounced in the first round of the conference tournament by Rice. Unfortunately, they will be lucky if they get back to that point again this season. Currently they sit at 5-3 and their best win is six-point overtime win against Arkansas-Little Rock. They have shown little semblance of solid defensive play at any point, and their offense hasn’t been much better.

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Big East Morning Five: 12.07.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 7th, 2011

  1. Maybe I am the only one, but I love it when Rick Pitino speaks about conference realignment and he was at it again today thanks to news that the Big East will add five new schools. Pitino didn’t hide his appreciation for Big East commisioner John Marinatto when he heard the good news. According to ESPN, the conference is set to announce the addition of Boise State and San Diego State as football-only schools. Houston,  Southern Methodist, and Central Florida will join in all sports. It was telling that even Pitino recognized that this is a move for football purposes first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean the basketball implications aren’t just as compelling. We will have lengthier pieces on each team later, so we won’t dwell on it in this space, but the conference definitely got a lot more interesting.
  2. It’s not always easy to dig up good stories for the Morning Five, as finding something beyond the game recap means scouring local newspapers and team-centric blogs, no matter how obscure. Luckily the head honchos here at RTC have got love for their microsites and now we have our own crack research team, what self-respecting college basketball blog doesn’t. Okay so our “team” is really just Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey), but Walker made a pretty big first impression, lacing us with three good stories we probably would have missed. The first is out of Cincinnati where coach Mick Cronin is making practice more competitive to make sure his team stays focused and plays for 40 minutes. The Bearcats erased a nine-point deficit entering the second half last Friday to beat Georgia, and they have not looked sharp yet this season. Cronin’s club better be ready to play 40 minutes soon, because they head to undefeated Xavier Saturday for the Crosstown Shootout and that is not a place you can start slow and expect to catch up.
  3. Perhaps my second favorite reading subject is Rick Pitino talking about injuries. Walker also dished us this story and it seems everyone at Louisville is likely holding their breath because Pitino announced today the team is supposed to get another big man back. Junior forward Rakeem Buckles hasn’t played since he tore his right ACL last February, but he is scheduled to play anywhere from “10-14″ minutes tonight against IUPUI. Buckles is a good rebounder and apparently an improved shooter who has the chance to be a big-time contributor. But let’s not get too excited just yet. Nine months is a long time away from live basketball and recently torn ligaments are fragile so his playing time will be limited early.
  4. Kudos once more to Walker for this excellent story — and an even better photo — about Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright. The story is quick to note that Florida State and Arkansas are only two games against scuffling opponents, but it is hard to argue with 23 points, five rebounds, six assists, and two steals against a Mike Anderson-coached Razorbacks’ team that loves to force turnovers. Boatright makes for good TV but he also is going to be instrumental for the Huskies the rest of the way. Not only does his presence allow Shabazz Napier not to have to shoulder the point guard duties by himself, but Boatright is going to be a contributor on both ends and a quick learner, obviously. Alex Oriakhi has stolen a lot of the UConn attention lately, but he will get that sorted out and with Boatright rising, the Huskies’ repeat chances are looking good.
  5. We finish from easily the best game involving a Big East team last night and perhaps the best one of the young season. After Villanova failed to even dent Missouri’s armor earlier at the Jimmy V Classic, No. 11 Marquette saved face with a 79-77 victory over Washington in the nightcap. Of course it was noted marksman Jae Crowder who hit his only three-pointer of the game with nine seconds left to win it. It’s true that the unranked Huskies basically coughed up there last few possessions and there is really no good reason for super-frosh Tony Wroten not to be taking all of Abdul Gaddy’s minutes, but that is not my conference. The Golden Eagles are still undefeated at 8-0 and that was a really big win coming on the heels of their upset of Wisconsin in Madison. Marquette has a new athletic director and it must be nice to be Larry Williams right now. Also, he knows how to please the crowd in Milwaukee (hint: mention Al McGuire and the national championship season.)
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Morning Five: 10.25.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 25th, 2011

  1. Over the past few months there has been a movement in some parts of the media to pay athletes money in addition to their scholarships with Taylor Branch and the NCPA being the two most prominent voices. Now it appears that the NCAA might actually be considering paying athletes a stipend although it may not be to the level that some are hoping for. According to reports, NCAA president Mark Emmert plans to finalize a proposal that would pay student-athletes $2,000 per year that he would send to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors for their approval. That $2,000 per year would be in addition to the scholarships that already cover tuition, fees, room, board, and books. As the NCPA study notes student-athletes currently receive funds that are $3,222 short of covering the average university’s stated full cost of tuition so even this extra sum would leave the athletes $1,222 short. Of course, even the initial payment opens up a whole other can of worms, which we delved into yesterday, but we have to say that for the pro-pay people this appears to be a step in the right direction.
  2. In an unrelated move, but one that ties in to the previous story a group of more than 300 players sent a petition to the NCAA asking for a portion of TV revenues to supplement scholarships to cover the full costs of attending college and for an “educational lock box” that would help cover additional education if their eligibility is up or just be a cash payment to the players after their careers are over. While many would be willing to agree with most of the request the last part is where you start to get on the slippery slope of professionalism. We haven’t seen the actual petition yet because it was just released to the Associated Press so they could get their stories up before everyone else, but we found it interesting that this based off the signatures from players at five schools (Arizona, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Purdue, and UCLA). As we mentioned in our aforementioned interview with Taylor Branch one of the problems that college athletes will run into is creating a strong union when the lifespan of the college athlete is so transient (typically four years). Perhaps if they can organize on a smaller scale (like these five schools) they can build some momentum to push for change in a relatively short time. That said we expect the NCAA to crush this petition given the amount of money that would be involved.
  3. It should not come as much of a surprise that the SEC and national media has selected Kentucky as the preseason pick to win the conference even if one site predicted that another team may end up taking home the title. What is surprising, or at least interesting to us, is that a Kentucky player was selected as the SEC Preseason Player of the Year and it was not Anthony Davis. That honor went to sophomore (yes, there are still a few left) Terrence Jones. Davis ended up as a preseason second-team All-SEC selection despite being one of only four players to receive a vote for preseason Player of the Year. The rest of the selections were about what you would expect as they were dominated by players from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and Florida.
  4. While expectations are high as usual at Kentucky they are much more muted at Kansas where Bill Self is apparently trying to temper what was already lukewarm expectations for a program of that caliber. Self decided to take some jabs at the media for pegging the Jayhawks as the co-favorites in the conference even though his Jayhawks have won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title the past seven years and, to be brutally honest, the conference is pretty weak. Self does have a point that the Jayhawks will be much weaker this year than in previous years especially with their depleted freshman class, but the only other team in the Big 12 that we have any faith in is Baylor and they are questionable with their point guard play although they may have enough talent at the other spots to overcome that deficiency.
  5. Coming into the season we expected St. Mary’s to have a difficult time replacing Mickey McConnell and now that task appears to have become even more difficult as Paul McCoy, a transfer from Southern Methodist, injured his right knee and might miss the upcoming season. McCoy, who already had his sophomore season at SMU end after he tore his ACL, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on the knee today with a second operation to repair the damage after three months of rehabilitation. For McCoy it is another significant setback in what appeared to be a promising career after he averaged 13.4 PPG as a freshman and now he is looking at a second medical redshirt. As for the Gaels, the injury will place even more pressure on Matthew Dellavedova, who has very little support around him in the backcourt with only two other scholarship guards on the team. Despite returning Dellavedova and Rob Jones the Gaels may struggle to play to the level that we have come to expect of them in recent years.
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