Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 27th, 2011

  1. Yesterday we mentioned the report that West Virgina‘s potential Big 12 application was essentially pre-approved. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” It turns out that the Big 12 is looking at either West Virginia or Louisville as a replacement for Missouri if/when it leaves for the SEC. Amazingly, it appears that this has become such a hot-button topic that United States Senators are getting involved because you know there aren’t more important things they should be worried about right now. As more than one analyst commented on Twitter yesterday, conference expansion seems to be spiraling into something akin to pledge week where schools are strung along and asked to do increasingly humiliating things to join a frat (in this case a conference).
  2. With the Big 12 most likely poaching one of those Big East schools, the attention shifts to the Big East, who is losing members at an alarming rate. Rick Pitino, who appears to be assuming the role of “Godfather of the Big East” even if he might not be there much longer (see above), has two teams–Memphis and Temple–on his radar. Both are interesting choices and although Memphis has a higher profile basketball program (even if they are overrated) Temple has a much better football team right now. We find Pitino’s interest in Temple particularly amusing because the Owls were once a part of the Big East as a football-only member before they were essentially kicked them out for not being good enough. It is sort of like a husband dumping his wife then losing his job and his mistress and begging his ex-wife to take him back.
  3. North Carolina picked up its fourth commitment for this year’s recruiting class when Brice Johnson tweeted, “I will be a UNC Tar Heel”. Johnson is a 6’9″ power forward who is a consensus top 50 player overall and compliments a well-rounded class for Roy Williams. The one thing that this UNC class is missing is a superstar and it appears that they will have to wait on Mitch McGary to make a decision as their other top target, T.J. Warren, appears to have eliminated the Tar Heels from his final two (NC State and Georgetown) from which he will announce his decision next week.
  4. Last week we Tumblr’d what we believed to be a picture of the uniform that Michigan State would be wearing for the Carrier Classic. Yesterday, UNC released images of its uniform for the game and it appears to be very similar. While we appreciate the gesture including the decision to replace player names with USA on the back our feeling on the uniforms is indifference as we are not huge fans of all these alternate uniforms and neither of these are particularly attractive especially the UNC uniforms which would only serve as camouflage on a Teletubbies set.
  5. Secondary violations are becoming almost as irritating as conference expansion. The latest near-victim was Washington, who had to cancel a scrimmage between current players and alumni after coach Lorenzo Romar mentioned the scrimmage on a local radio station because that would violate NCAA rules. Just to clarify, the actual scrimmage between current and former players would not have been a violation, but playing it after it had been “publicized” would have been a violation. Two former player–Spencer Hawes and Nate Robinson–expressed their displeasure with the decision more specifically with the NCAA being so rigid that the decision had to be made. We are assuming current players felt the same way, but were advised to refrain from saying anything. While some claim that the rule (14.1.8.1.6 of the NCAA handbook) is intended to limit teams from essentially holding exhibition games in this case it seems asinine.
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07.03.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2007

Quite a bit of stuff we’ve missed over the past week or so… 

  • Iowa transfer and Tennessee native Tyler Smith will be eligible to play at UT next season, as his appeal was approved by the NCAA.  UT just moved into our Top 5 for 2007-08.   
  • Florida guard Brandon Powell‘s arrest for possession of a little ganja results in a transfer – expect to see him at Oklahoma St. or WVU next year.
  • Cliff Ellis resurfaces at Coastal Carolina – we guess there are worse places than Conway, South Carolina
  • Apparently the NCAA will revisit its recently-enacted text messaging ban after 34 schools asked for a review.   
  • Indiana will tear down Assembly Hall (the House that Knight built) and Auburn will tear down Beard-Eaves Coliseum (the House that…  um…  Barkley?  The Rifleman?  built?) in favor of new barns. 
  • New Mexico St. coach Reggie Theus alighted for the Sacto Queens and the golden opportunity to coach Spencer Hawes, opening the door for Louisville assistant coach Marvin Menzies to take over in Las Cruces.  Former UK & Celtic favorite and longtime crooner Walter McCarty will take the open position on Pitino’s staff.   
  • John Hollinger at espn.com (Insider, but if you look around you can find it copied/pasted elsewhere) has a tremendous article on evaluating college players before the draft. 
  • It’s never too early.  Chad Ford’s Top 10 for the 2008 Draft.  While we’re at it, here’s the projected mocks on NBADraft.net (2008 and 2009).     
  • Seth Davis has an interesting piece on the Under-19 USA team.  Looking at Sunday night’s box score – Stephen Curry continues to impress. 
  • UK has signed just about everyone lately, as Billy Gillispie has the Wildcat fans giddy over his recruiting prowess during his first three months on the job.  Oh, and he hasn’t found a place to live yet (has he looked?). 
  • Duke Dorks feigning comedy.  Jon Scheyer acting walking around campus with a camera nearby. 
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2007 NBA Draft Musings

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2007

Note:  If you’re looking for the 2008 NBA Draft Musings, look here. 

Some post-apocalyptic draft thoughts for your Friday, as we settle into a long summer of waiting for something to happen…

Oden

Championship or Bust in Portland?

  • One and Dones. These players acquitted themselves quite well in this year’s draft, which means they were getting good information from their schools and representatives. Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, Jr., Brandan Wright, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young were six of the top twelve players taken. Not coincidentally, five of those were among the top seven seniors of the Class of 2006, according to Rivals (Chase Budinger of Arizona was the lone holdout returning to school, and Conley was rated #18). Javaris Crittenton and Daequan Cook were also selected in the first round, meaning that every college freshman who declared was taken this year. Although it’s arguable whether the one-and-done system worked for college basketball (Ohio State – yes; Washington – no), we assert from a player perspective that it helped them exponentially in terms of marketability and readiness to perform at the next level. Every sports fan in America now knows who Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are – that wouldn’t have been the case prior the one-and-done rule.
  • Gator Rule. As we alluded to yesterday, the Florida Gators were set to greatly increase its all-time count of draft picks last night, and they did so with a flourish (see Joakim Noah‘s getup below), increasing its total from 10 to 15 overnight. Florida’s five entries into the NBA last night – Al Horford, Corey Brewer (who looked like the happiest man alive), Noah, Chris Richard (we figured he’d get a look), and Taurean Green – ties UConn for the most draft picks in one year. What, no Lee Humphrey?!?! The Huskies also entered five in 2006. One question, though. Where was Billy Donovan during this celebration of Pax Floridana? Maybe Christine hasn’t let him out of the house yet.

Joakim Noah Suit

Love the Seersucker, Jo

  • Conference Breakdown. The BCS conferences accounted for 39 of the 60 picks last night. The ACC (9 total; 6 first rounders) led the way, with the SEC close behind (8/3); the Big 10 (6/4), Pac-10 (6/4) and Big East (6/2) each showed moderate success, while the Big 12 fell behind the others (4/3). Considering that there were thirteen international players selected, that left only eight picks for the mid-majors. The highest mid-major player selected was Rodney Stuckey from Eastern Washington at #15; although Nevada also placed two players in the second round (Nick Fazekas and Ramon Sessions).
  • Dumb Declarations. By our count, only four players from D1 schools who stayed in the draft as an early entry candidate were not selected this year (most notably, Shagari Alleyne, formerly of Kentucky). This shows again that players are improving at determining their real value (vs. perceived inflated value) before making the decision to jump.

“Why Didn’t I Go Pro Last Year????”

  • A Year Late, A Dollar Short. Three players from big-name schools were probably kicking themselves for not leaving school early last year, when their weaknesses weren’t as exposed to the scouts. Duke’s Josh McRoberts (offensive skills), LSU’s Glen “Big Baby” Davis (weight issues) and Arizona’s Marcus Williams (headcase) all would have been much higher picks last year. Now each must battle for scraps as second-round selections this time around.
  • Parlez vous français? We always hate to see guys who put in their four years at college and were pretty good players, only to get passed over in the draft for Pau Gasol’s little brother. So a special shout-out goes to Zabian Dowdell (Virginia Tech), JR Reynolds (Virginia), Curtis Sumpter (Villanova), Mario Boggan (Oklahoma St.), Ekene Ibekwe (Maryland) , Brandon Heath (San Diego St.), Ron Lewis (Ohio St.) and Kyle Visser (Wake Forest) for providing wholesome collegiate entertainment over the last half-decade. We were tempted to also include Mustafa Shakur (Arizona) here, but he seemed to disappoint more than inspire during his tenure in Tucson.

SLAM Oden & Durant

Oden Wins Championships; Durant Wins Scoring Titles.

  • Final Thought. Oden vs. Durant was endlessly debated all season long. While we have to agree that we enjoy watching Durant play far more than Oden, that belies our bias against watching post men in favor of perimeter players in general. Still, Oden is the kind of player that championship teams are built around, and the Durants of history are comparitively light in the hardware department. We saw this played out in this year’s NCAA Tournament, where Oden’s team went to the national finals, and Durant’s squad was out (embarrassingly) in the second round. Either way, we wish the best of luck to both of them, as they made college basketball a more interesting game for the year they spent with us.
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The West Side is the Best Side…

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2007

2Pac

2Pac was right after all

Quite a bit was made last season of a renaissance in the quality of basketball in the Pac-10 conference, as it ended the season as a top three conference in both the RPI and Sagarin ratings in addition to earning a record six NCAA bids for the conference and enjoying the prestige as the only conference with multiple teams in the Elite Eight (Oregon and UCLA). There has always been a surplus of talent on the west coast, especially in the Seattle and SoCal areas, but it was largely characterized by players opting to play for an eastern school just as often as staying home to play for State U. This has been changing over the last five years, however, as new coaches such as Lorenzo Romar at Washington, Tim Floyd at USC, Tony Bennett at Wazzu and Ben Howland at UCLA have endeavored and succeeded in keeping as many of those talents as possible close to home. This is no more evident than in some of the recruiting wars over the last couple of years that resulted in top ten players such as Spencer Hawes (Washington), twins Brook & Robin Lopez (Stanford), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Brandon Jennings (Arizona) signing to play in the Pac-10 (notable exception: Lake Oswego’s (OR) Kyle Singler to Duke).

Steve Lavin

Lavin’s former conference is on the rise

Still, we were a little surprised when Rivals released its top ten players at each position for the 2007-08 season, and the Pac-10 claimed by far the most players, with thirteen of the top fifty. This is especially remarkable given that the league is losing all-conference performers Arron Afflalo (UCLA), Aaron Brooks (Oregon), Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Nick Young (USC) to the NBA next season, while it welcomes likely top fifty players Kevin Love and OJ Mayo (USC) to the league. With talent like this staying on the west coast, we should expect another great season from the Pac-10 conference next year. Somewhere Steve Lavin’s hair gel is celebrating.

The ACC and Big East have seven players each on the list; the SEC has six, and the the Big 12 has five of the top fifty players. The Mountain West and Conference USA both have three of the top fifty, outperforming the Big 10 (again), who only has two. The Colonial (Eric Maynor – VCU), Horizon (AJ Graves – Butler), Missouri Valley (Randal Falker – S. Illinois) and Southern (Stephen Curry – Davidson) conferences each have one top fifty player returning. Below is the list including multiple-player conferences:

Rivals 2007-08 Top 50 Players

You probably noticed that we shaded the teams with three top fifty players returning next season – Stanford, UCLA, UNC, Kansas. It’s certainly no coincidence that three of those will begin next year in the top five of the polls, and the fourth, Stanford, will probably be knocking on the door of the top ten.

Thoughts -

  • Where is all the Big Ten talent? Having less players on this list than CUSA and the Mountain West is cause for alarm, and helps to explain why only one Big Ten team played into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament last season. Where are the usual stables of talent at Michigan State and Illinois? Aside from the yeoman’s work that Matta is putting into recruting at OSU, the rest of the Big Ten has signed only two top thirty prospects during the last three recruiting cycles – Joe Krabbenhoft of Wisconsin in 2005, and Eric Gordon of Indiana in 2007. An influx of coaching talent has entered the league (Tubby Smith at Minnesota and Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but without the players to accompany those moves, the Big Ten is going nowhere fast.
  • Nitpicks. We probably would have found a place for the following players: Derrick Low (Washington St.), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), and Patrick Beverley (Arkansas). Expect each of these players to be all-conference performers in their respective leagues next season. We also have a sneaky feeling that guys like DaJuan Summers (Georgetown), Deon Thompson (UNC), Derrick Caracter (Louisville) and JaJuan Smith (Tennessee) will make a solid case to be on this list next season.
  • Surprises. NC State’s future looks bright with two young big men, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, returning for Sidney Lowe’s team. Alabama should be much improved next year as well, assuming Ronald Steele gets healthy (he was on many preseason all-american teams last year but struggled with tendinitis and ankle injuries that largely derailed Bama’s season). Apologies to the Mountain West, but who are Stuart Creason and Luke Nevill? Their inclusion on this list shows that the depth of talent at the center position in the college game is ridiculously thin.
  • Instant Impact Players in 2007-08. This list next season will be populated by the likes of OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (Kansas St.), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Anthony Randolph (LSU).
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NBA Predraft Camp Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on June 5th, 2007

Thanks to the guys over at draftexpress.com, we’re just getting our first look at some of the height/weight and athletic numbers coming out of the NBA Predraft Camp last weekend in Orlando. We don’t put a lot of stock in drafting players based on these measurements – after all, if a guy can play, he can play (tip of the hat to Jonathan Givony for making this very point perfectly on draftexpress.com) – but it’s always fun to see who wins for the “incredible shrinking” award (aka the Lonny Baxter Trophy) as well as who appears to be the top athletes coming out of college this year. Note we said “appears.”

mj-and-jw.jpg

The Logo and MJ discussing the talent in Orlando

Why wasn’t Maryland better this year?

Guard D.J. Strawberry was rated the top overall athlete this year, and Ekene Ibekwe had some of the most eye-popping big man numbers, featuring a 7’6 foot wingspan and a thirty-nine inch veritical leap. This is yet another example of superior basketball skills and IQ (see: Florida Gators) trumping a stable of athletes. Either that, or Gary Williams was too busy resting on his laurels to teach these kids anything the last four years.

Durant needs to beef up

We realize he’s only eighteen and he can score on just about anyone already… but zero bench presses of 185 lbs. is pathetic. That stat, combined with his surprising lack of speed and agility in the drills, may suggest that he’ll face long obstacles in becoming a solid two-way player in the long run. He’s also going to take a beating on drives into the paint the next few years unless he commits himself to a weight training program to improve his strength.

Perhaps not surpisingly, most of the one-and-dones were weaker than their older peers. Durant, Julian Wright (2), Brandan Wright (2) and Daequan Cook (4) combined for a total of just eight bench presses at the 185-lb. weight. Mike Conley, Jr., (13), Javaris Crittenton (11) and Spencer Hawes (9) did better. Greg Oden sat out that event due to his injured wrist.

Lonny Baxter Award

Corey Brewer. Routinely listed at 6’9 at Florida, he came in at just 6’6.75 by the camp measurements. Lucky for him, he’s not a post man, so this won’t likely affect his draft status too much. Another Floridian, Al Thornton, deserves a nod here too. FSU listed him at 6’8, but the measurements put him at a mere 6’5.75. Considering that Thornton logged significant minutes on the interior, this puts him at a major disadvantage going into the draft.

Who Knew?

Aaron Gray is a legitimate seven feet tall, and Joakim Noah is a solid 6’10.5. We would have guessed both were shorter. ACC bigs Brandan Wright and Josh McRoberts are both 6’8.75 tall, but Wright has the slightly longer wingspan and McBob needs to put… the… coffee cupcakes… down (camp high 13.7% body fat).

Guys who’ll get a look based on their measurements alone

SEC big men Major Wingate and Jermareo Davidson. Both measure in the solid 6’9-6’10 range, have extremely long wingspans (7’4) and solid if not spectacular athleticism. Clemson’s James Mays could be a Renaldo Balkman type – a 6’7 jumping jack with a 37″ vertical and long arms (7’1.5″ wingspan).

Major Wingate and Chris Richard

Wingate & Richard battle in the post

Watch for these guys in a future NBA dunk contest near you

  • Al Thornton – 6’6 with a 7’1 wingspan and a 41-inch vertical – wow!
  • Nick Young – 6’5 with a 7’0 wingspan and a 40.5 inch vertical
  • Jeff Green – 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan and a 38-inch vertical.

Dis-honorable Mention – Jared Jordan, who managed a standing still 14.5-inch vertical (to be fair, he doubled it to 28.5 inches in the running vertical).

jared-jordan.jpg

Can you outjump this JJ?

Quick bigs and slow guards

  • Greg Oden, Ekene Ibekwe and Chris Richard. We covered Oden yesterday and Ibekwe above, but how about super-sub Chris Richard? He never struck us as very fast. At 6’7.5 he’s a classic tweener, but his length (7’4.5 wingspan) and agility might just get him a spot somewhere eventually.
  • Marcelus Kemp and Sammy Mejia. Both of these guards were slower than big-ass Mario Boggan and a host of other big men at the three-quarter court sprint. Kemp in particular may need to think about heading back to Nevada for another season.

Classic Tweeners

Hard-luck Villanova forward Curtis Sumpter and BC forward Jared Dudley. Both are ferocious rebounders in the paint, but both happen to measure at around 6’6. Their only real chance at the next level is to re-invent their games to face the basket, akin to what Corliss Williamson and more recently, Chuck Hayes, have done.

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One and Done (2007) – was it worth it?

Posted by rtmsf on May 14th, 2007

In the hypercompetitive world of college basketball recruiting, last year’s new NBA rule requiring a player to be one year removed from his high school class prior to declaring for the draft sent repercussions throughout the game. Coaches at the elite programs generally fell into two camps – you either recruit players who you expect will stick around for more than one season, hoping to keep stability (and consistency) within your program; or, you recruit the very best talent available year over year, hoping to catch lightning-in-a-bottle Carmelo-style without experiencing the program volatility that such a strategy may entail. Now that we have one season of one-and-dones behind us, let’s take a look at how the programs employing that strategy fared. We considered the top twenty players in the Class of 2006 (login required) as the most likely one-and-dones.

Greg Oden

Looks like one and done worked out for Greg Oden.

Ohio StateWell Worth It

This program, along with UNC, had the most players listed (3) in the 2006 top twenty – Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, Mike Conley, Jr. As of today, they’re definitely losing Oden; Conley is likely to leave, and Cook is a tossup. However, even if they lose all three, it would be fair to say that OSU got its money’s worth. A 35-4 (15-1) record, NCAA runner-up, Big Ten championship, and the best season in Ohio State’s post-UCLA history will do that. Essentially, this group of players made Ohio State relevant as a national powerhouse again. For many programs, losing a group like this would equal the NIT or worse next season; but with Matta bringing in another group of blue chippers next season (and the season after), OSU won’t take a terrible hit. This gamble definitely paid off, and will continue to do so, long after these players have moved on.

North Carolina - Well Worth It
Brandan Wright, Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington were all potential one-and-dones when they were recruited by Roy Williams to Chapel Hill. UNC dodged a substantial bullet by losing only Wright to the draft. Led by these three rooks (+ Tyler Hansbrough), Carolina played itself into a 31-7 (11-5) record, an ACC championship and a run to the elite eight where they were simply out-executed by a game Georgetown squad. Still, with Lawson and Ellington returning, Carolina’s gamble came in like Ari Gold at the blackjack table – they’re set to be preseason #1 next year.

Georgia Tech - Not Worth It
Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton were the two jewels of Paul Hewitt’s class last year, and both have declared for the draft this year, but neither has yet signed with an agent. It remains to be seen whether one or both of these players will return, but with Young projected in the low lottery and Crittenton in the mid-low first round, it is likely both will stay in the draft. So how did Georgia Tech fare with these guys? Not as well. A maddeningly inconsistent 20-12 (8-8) record with a first-round NCAA loss versus UNLV isn’t the type of season that the teams above enjoyed. Hewitt has a couple of decent players coming into Atlanta next season, but the 2007-08 campaign will be made or broken on the decisions of these two players. This was clearly a tenuous gamble that may actually set the program back if both fail to return.

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