Morning Five: 12.07.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2011

  1. The Big East is expected to announce today that it will add five schools to its football lineup starting in the 2013 season, and the lucky ‘winners’ are quite literally all over the country. Boise State, San Diego State, Central Florida, SMU and Rice Houston will join the league in two years, with BSU and SDSU opting to join as football-only members, while the other three come on board in all sports, including basketball. We honestly never thought we’d see a day where the mighty hoops conference that Dave Gavitt created among a number of small private Catholic schools in the northeastern corridor would ever become a safe haven for the likes of a Methodist school, Phi Slama Jama, and a Florida commuter school, but the times they-are-a-changin’. Think of it this way — at least we’ll get to see more of Matt Doherty on national television.
  2. Shouldn’t we just go ahead and pre-write the story where UCLA’s Reeves Nelson is permanently booted from the team? For the second time in the young season, the moody Bruin forward was suspended indefinitely by head coach Ben Howland for “conduct unbecoming a UCLA player.” The latest incident that drew Howland’s ire had to do with Nelson’s apparent laughter/smiling on the bench as Texas stormed back to beat his team on Saturday afternoon. If you read the comments from some of Nelson’s teammates and Howland in the LA Times article, you get a strong sense that the enigmatic forward is unlikely to figure it out. It would probably make the most sense for UCLA to move on in trying to rebuild its program without Nelson acting as a regular distraction, but we’ve been surprised with how much patience the head coach has shown with him.
  3. Let’s stay in the Pac-12, also known as the conference of unhappy players, apparently. Merely one day after Arizona head coach Sean Miller noted that his freshman point guard, Josiah Turner, may get the start in tonight’s key game against Florida, the young player was suspended for that game for an undisclosed violation of team policy. Recapping the league’s recent player woes, we already know about UCLA’s Nelson. Arizona’s Sidiki Johnson and Oregon’s Jabari Brown didn’t even make it to their first semester break before deciding to transfer. Utah’s Josh Watson has been suspended indefinitely, as has California’s Richard Solomon. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson still has not been cleared by the NCAA to play this season. Things have already been a disaster on the hardwood for this conference; it appears that the instability of the league carries over to its personnel as well.
  4. It’s rather hard to believe that he’s been around this long, but Coastal Carolina’s Cliff Ellis picked up his 700th career victory on Tuesday night against The Citadel. Nearly 80 of those wins came as the head coach of NAIA’s Cumberland College, but his 622 as the top man at South Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and CCU puts him currently at #8 on the list of active coaches, ahead of such names as Rick Pitino and Mike Montgomery. Ellis always struck us a little bit as a guy who would be happy so long as he was coaching anywhere, but he’s turned the Chanticleer program into a powerhouse in the Big South (64 wins in the last two-plus years), and with a solid core led by Anthony Raffa and Chris Gradnigo, we don’t think he’s going to retire anytime soon.
  5. President Barack Obama made headlines on Tuesday with a speech he gave in Osawatomie, Kansas, yesterday, when he referred to the steadily-shrinking American middle class as having reached “a make or break” moment in its history. Harking back to a speech given 101 years ago by Teddy Roosevelt in the same spot, Obama stated that the crisis of income inequality and opportunity in America was the “defining issue of our time.” We won’t speculate on the merits of his argument, but it’s curious that he delivered one of the more notable speeches of the third year of his presidency immediately after meeting Kansas head coach Bill Self. Perhaps the leader of the free world felt so burned by KU’s NCAA Tournament meltdowns the last two seasons that it stirred up the orator in him to make a compelling speech.

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Morning Five: 12.06.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2011

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

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2011

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

  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance who has given their time and energy during their lives to help this nation stay safe, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back — trust us, they’ll appreciate it. This year’s Veteran’s Day has a particularly deep meaning for our purposes, as it also doubles as the official ‘unofficial’ opening night of the college basketball season. Several teams have already gotten under way in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but most everyone else begins this weekend. One hundred thirty-one games dot the schedule this evening, including 19 of the RTC Top 25 teams in America. The headliner game on this holiday is that curious little aircraft carrier game down in San Diego involving the consensus #1 team, North Carolina, and a perplexing but always-dangerous Michigan State squad. But there are several other noteworthy games tonight, including a talented Belmont squad visiting Duke at 9 PM on ESPNU and a rising Oregon team visiting a Vanderbilt program harboring massive expectations in Nashville. For a complete list of view-worthy games, be sure to click on our Nightly Nonsense tab above here, and check back this afternoon for our weekend version of Set Your TiVo, which will outline all the interesting games for the next three days.  As of tonight, we can say it without qualifying language — college hoops is back, baby…
  2. And what about that game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson? The temperature will be in the mid-60s and winds are expected to be in the 10-15 MPH range this evening in San Diego, but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting about the players is that every one of them has played outdoor pickup ball at one time or another. Sure, it’s not the same as playing in the controlled environment of a gym, but who hasn’t experienced the unique situation of having to slightly adjust your jumper to account for the breeze? Many of these players probably developed their games on the playgrounds across America. The players will probably be more jittery because President Obama will be there rather than dealing with the sun and wind.
  3. The NBA could be on the verge of a return with a 72-game season, or none at all, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the 2011-12 college basketball season as written for NBA fans, Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus is your man. It’s an intriguing look at the collegiate game in that the perspective changes when one’s only use for NCAA hoops is as a finishing school before the big time. While we’re on the subject of the pros, the current deal offered by the owners to the players has not yet addressed the ‘ancillary’ issue of a minimum draft age. We wonder that if the players cave here on the revenue split whether that will embolden them to ask for and receive concessions with respect to the draft age (among other things). From the perspective that a two-year minimum is better for the game of college basketball, it might actually be better in the long run if the players refuse the owners’ latest offer.
  4. Miami’s DeQuan Jones has been suspended by the university for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his alleged involvement with improprieties relating to his recruitment by Frank Haith, as uncovered by Yahoo! Sports during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Shapiro stated in interviews that Haith arranged for $10,000 to be paid to Jones’ family to secure his commitment in 2008. Given that the Hurricanes could potentially lose a number of wins if Jim Larranaga now played Jones and it was later determined that he was an ineligible player, this is a smart move. Still, it doesn’t help with the Hurricanes’ current glaring lack of depth, as UM will now have only seven scholarship players available heading into tonight’s opening game against Tennessee Tech.
  5. Finally, it’s time for the SI Crystal Ball, where Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner make their preseason picks on the 2011-12 Final Four, NPOY, surprise team, flops, and so on. Would you believe that the only category of consensus among the trio came when picking their Best Mid-Major team? We’ll give you three guesses to see if you can get it right… As always, it’s a good read, but even the best in the business (as these guys are) are lucky to bat just above the Mendoza line with their predictions — in last year’s Crystal Ball, for example, the three picked a grand total of zero Final Four teams (including darkhorses). College basketball prognostication is more art than science, we’ll readily admit, but we’re totally on board with Davis and Glockner’s darkhorse team this season (hint: it starts with an “X”).
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Morning Five: 01.19.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 19th, 2011

  1. Former Mississippi State forward Elgin Bailey of the refusal to move his legs for His Heiness Renardo Sidney’s passing fame, will re-surface at Southeastern Louisiana next season for his final year of eligibility.  The 6’8, 265-lb forward was kicked off the team for getting into a fight with Sidney even though he was the team captain at the time and Sidney had already been suspended once for bad behavior.  Bailey is a nice pickup for the Lions — teams in the Southland typically don’t have that kind of skilled size in the post (5/4 in 19 MPG).  We think he’ll do well there.
  2. Over at Memphis, Wesley Witherspoon, he of the let’s mock the assistant coach on the team bus fame, will remain suspended through Wednesday’s game versus Southern Mississippi, but he will be back at practice on Thursday and available to play in this weekend’s game at UAB on Saturday.  Perhaps Witherspoon has learned a lesson about comedic timing (e.g., probably not great when your season is headed back to the NIT), but Josh Pastner’s hope for the preseason all-CUSA forward is that he’ll start producing — the four games prior to his suspension resulted in a 7/4 average, well below his season numbers of 12/5.
  3. On a similar note, Washington State’s Reggie Moore hasn’t been officially reinstated by head coach Ken Bone just yet, but all indications are that the player who was charged with marijuana possession in December will be back in action soon.  Bone allowed him back at practice yesterday and he said to reporters that “there’s a chance” he could be back in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against Arizona State.
  4. It’s not always the best situation when the coach’s kid is starting as a freshman, but Creighton’s Doug McDermott is one such exception.  The son of head coach Greg has taken over the MVC by storm with a 13/7 average this year, good for first in both scoring and rebounding on the team and fourth in the conference.  The wild part is that if Dana Altman hadn’t taken off for Nike Nation up in Eugene last spring, then McDermott would be playing for league rival and tearing it up for Northern Iowa instead of Creighton.  Big, big things are already being predicted for the  young forward’s career, as White & Blue Review outlines here.
  5. In an attempt to become the Maui Invitational for the eastern time zone, the Bahamas have passed NCAA eligibility requirements for its new tournament (called the Battle 4 Atlantis… and yes, we hate the name already) that will begin next Thanksgiving.  While in theory this sounds like a great idea, we’re a little concerned about using a converted ballroom as the “gym” (similar to what the Cancun Challenge and some of the Vegas tourneys have done in the past).  There isn’t a high school gym somewhere on those islands that could do the trick?
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Morning Five: 01.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 4th, 2011

  1. Minnesota’s Devoe Joseph will be suspended for the second time this season as a result of “some things that he needs to work on” according to head coach Tubby Smith, and has apparently told team members that he intends to transfer out of the program.  Joseph missed the first six games of the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules and academic problems, but the timing on this particular suspension/transfer threat is particularly discouraging, as the Gophers need the talented guard in order to compete in the rugged Big Ten.  Minnesota is already 0-2 in league play after road losses at Wisconsin and Michigan State, so their margin for error going into games versus Indiana and at Ohio State is slim.
  2. Oral Roberts’ best player, Dominique Morrison, will be out of action for up to three weeks as a result of a torn left lateral meniscus that he  recently suffered.  The Summit League’s second-leading scorer this season at 18.4 PPG is a key component of a team that had been expected to compete with Oakland for the SL championship.  The Golden Eagles, though, have had trouble putting things together for Scott Sutton this season, limping to a 5-11 overall start and 2-2 in the conference.  Losing a player of this caliber makes it all but impossible to make up any ground on rival Oakland in the interim.
  3. Missouri has had a promising season thus far in no small part due to the services of KC-born Marcus Denmon, the junior guard who has put together a tremendous campaign with averages of 18/4/2 APG/2 SPG in leading the Tigers to a 13-1 record and a top ten national rating.  Sam Mellinger of the KC Star tells the story of the kid from the rough streets of Kansas City who has turned himself from Mike Anderson’s most valuable bench player last season to, quite simply, his most valuable player this year.
  4. Reggie Smith, the freshman guard who transferred from Marquette last week after only a handful of games played is being sought by several  mid-major schools including Fairfield, LaSalle, South Alabama and Tulane, with a few higher-majors such as Nebraska, TCU and UNLV also showing interest.  Whether Smith and his stepfather will find the star-making vehicle they hoped for at any of those schools remains to be seen.
  5. Were you left wondering how Oregon State handled Arizona over the weekend?  So were we.  And apparently so was head coach Sean Miller, as he called out the lack of toughness and aggressiveness from his team in that loss.  After Washington, you might as well throw a bunch of hats into a circle to pick who the second-best team in the Pac-10 is this year.  No fewer than five or six other teams have shown the capability to be that team, but as soon as you think somebody is wearing it well, something like an Arizona loss in Corvallis happens.
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Morning Five: 01.26.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2010

  1. Some suspension news: Creighton’s P’Allen Stinnett was suspended indefinitely by Dana Altman for conduct unbecoming to the team, and Michigan’s Manny Harris has been reinstated to play tonight against Michigan State.  Harris’ 85-game streak of games played for the Wolverines ended on Saturday when he was held out of their game against Purdue.
  2. Purdue’s Matt Painter and Lewis Jackson have a tough decision to make in the coming weeks over whether the talented point guard will play this season.  Jackson could help provide depth in the Boilermaker backcourt, but there’s a considerable dilemma over whether it’s worthwhile to play him for less than a third of the season.  Not that anyone cares, but we’d sit him out and let him get his legs and rhythm back in the offseason.
  3. Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts this week discusses Josh Pastner at Memphis, Texas’ poor foul shooting, Duke’s depth, and some SDSU students that remind us of our Halloween costume from a few years back.
  4. Did the UConn Huskies get their swagger back (and cred) by beating Texas on Saturday?  Jeff Goodman thinks so.
  5. Did you hear that John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats moved to #1 in both the AP and Coach’s Polls yesterday?  Coach Cal was so jazzed by it that he and ESPN’s John Buccigross (both Pittsburgh natives) had a little good-natured fun calling each other “jagoffs.”

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Morning Five: 01.05.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 5th, 2010

  1. Joe Dumars’ son, 6’5 freshman forward Jordan (is that a joke?), has already left the South Florida program and enrolled at Michigan for the remainder of his career.  He’s only played 27 minutes so far this season, scoring all six of his points in a single game against Kent State.
  2. Oklahoma State’s Marshall Moses was suspended for one game almost immediately after his arrest for possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license.  Averaging 11/10 on the season, he will miss tonight’s game against Coppin State.
  3. Tennessee update from the AD himself:  “we start at dismissal and work our way backwards.”  Sounds about right.  Let’s hope he means it.
  4. USC’s Kevin O’Neill said that delivering the news to his seniors that they would not have a chance to play in the postseason was much harder than ever getting fired (and he would know!).
  5. Here’s Seth Davis‘ annual Stock Report.  This is always a fun read, and his UNC “sell” looks particularly prescient after last night’s loss to Charleston, but there will always be a few quibbles on something like this.  We will not, for example, be buying anything Florida is selling, and we are definitely unloading what little Louisville stock we still have lying around, but overall, pretty good assessment.
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Morning Five: 12.22.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2009

  1. Matt Doherty appears ready to forgive and forget (mostly) his exit from North Carolina five years ago, but one quote in this probing article is revealing.  Speaking as to whether he was forced out because Roy Williams was ready to return to Chapel Hill, he said, “I don’t think that was the case.  But I also do know – I don’t think schools make changes like that without having feelers out there.”  Sounds like Doherty doesn’t believe himself.
  2. Doctors are shutting it down for South Carolina forward Dominique Archie yesterday, after realizing that his rehab would not allow him to return to full strength this season.  He injured the knee in a game against Miami (FL) four weeks ago and had not played since.  This will quite obviously hurt SC’s chances of getting through the rugged SEC East, especially considering the Gamecocks’ troubles on the glass (Archie was leading the team with 6.0 RPG).
  3. UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic pleaded not guilty yesterday to a charge of felony assault deriving from an incident outside a Hollywood (always up to no good) concert on October 28.  He is alleging self-defense for tackling a guy into a plate glass window which severed the man’s Achilles tendon.  Dragovic is averaging 8/6 for the struggling Bruins, but he has already served a two-game suspension as a result of this ongoing distraction.
  4. Remember this anecdote about Rob Senderoff, the assistant coach caught up in the Kelvin Sampson phone-call fiasco at Indiana, when Memphis gets its final ruling from the NCAA in a few weeks, or whenever.   Does anyone else feel that with Myles Brand not steering the ship that the NCAA is listing frightfully to starboard?
  5. First Laettner, now Bobby Hurley.  If we were Coach K or Grant Hill’s investment manager, we’d probably make sure that their financial tentacles never touch the Bluegrass State.  Those Kentucky people will get it back someway, somehow.  It, of course, meaning $946,961.58.
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The Bizarre Exit Strategy of Minnesota’s Royce White

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009

You guys remember Royce White, the uber-talented freshman power forward from Minnesota who has spent the better part of his first semester in college getting in various forms of trouble — allegedly shoplifting at the Mall of America followed by shoving a security officer onto the ground (twice), and somehow later getting mixed up in a laptop theft on campus where it’s still uncertain how involved (if at all) White may have been in that incident.  Needless to say, he’s been on semi-permanent suspension by Tubby Smith as the team and school awaited to learn how all of this would ultimately shake out.

royce white

Royce White (left) in Better Times

Gopher Nation probably didn’t think it would shake out like this.  Today White released a bizarre, somewhat rambling, six-minute mea culpa explanation buttressed by a couple of interestingly chosen musical montages at each end.  In the opening segment straight out of Eight Mile, he walks around the streets of Minneapolis while Beanie Sigel’s “Feel It In the Air” plays in the background.  After you get past the clear ripoff of the Geto Boys, a quick read of the lyrics of this song reveals a troubled mind given to fits of paranoia and instability.  White then enters the video at around the 3:20 mark as narrator in a Saw-like feed from his couch, where he riffs mostly about how the “wheels of justice” are putting a “stressful burden” on him, his family, Coach Smith and the Gophers.  This crescendoes to a point at the 7:20 mark when White announces that he is “leaving college basketball” but that he will not be transferring to another school, and as for his next steps, that’s “to be decided.”  The clip ends with another song chosen for maximum cinematic effect as photos of his friends, family and playing career cycle through: Timbaland’s “Apologize.”  (keep in mind that the chorus repeatedly states, ‘it’s too late to apologize…”)  But don’t take our word for it – check it out yourself.

There’s a lot here, not least of which involves his apparent resignation from college basketball.  White clearly strikes us as a troubled young man who might need some time away from the stresses of basketball and school to get himself together.  One commentator said this clip reminded him of Ron Artest in his role as emerging impresario, and he’s probably on to something, but we’re a little worried that he also has a bit of Avondre Jones in him as well, the former USC/Fresno State center and rapper who became notorious in 1998 for assaulting someone with a Samarai sword back when Samarai swords were cool (along with Raider hats and do-rags, but we digress).  White is only 18.5 years old, and he wouldn’t be the first kid to feel the weight of the world on his shoulders and think that exiting stage left is the answer to his problems.  But there was one segment of his diatribe that rang completely true, a morsel of wisdom of which we hope that White will heed.  Too many situations like this turn out to be utter train wrecks, so we hope he follows his own advice where he talked about his coach Tubby Smith, who is universally reknowned as a great teacher and man.  It’s very unlikely that Tubby would counsel White to fight the justice system by withdrawing from responsibility; even if White is telling the truth about the laptop incident, he still needs to own up to the shoplifting and assault.  People make mistakes, but character is earned by addressing them and learning from them.  Let’s hope that White’s story on the national level doesn’t end (today?) with people wondering what could have been.

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Morning Five: Turkey Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 26th, 2009

morning5

  1. It turns out that the layup-line injury to Texas guard Varez Ward suffered Tuesday night was indeed as bad as it looked.  He will miss the entire season with a ruptured quadriceps, and surgery is scheduled for next week.  It’s a tough break for Rick Barnes’ team, but the good news is that he’s loaded in the backcourt with J’Covan Brown, Avery Bradley and Dogus Balbay all currently vying for minutes, and Jai Lucas becoming eligible at semester’s end.   Texas will be fine.
  2. Bob Huggins announced on Wednesday that his star forward Devin Ebanks will make his debut in Thursday’s first round game at the 76 Classic against Long Beach State.  The world may never know what ‘personal issues’ struck Ebanks over the last week, but we hope that whatever it was it’s settled.
  3. On a related note, UCLA forward Nikola Dragovic has also been reinstated to play in Thursday’s 76 Classic by head coach Ben Howland, but he is not expected to start in James Keefe’s place just yet.
  4. Jeff Goodman totally one-upped us on our recent tour de basketball by ending up in San Juan, PR, but he shares with us ten things he learned on this road trip.   Major disagreement on one point, though.  We didn’t find Evan Turner to be all that inconsistent in NYC last week — after all, he had 49/25/10 assts in two games on 18-28 shooting.  We did have 14 turnovers, however, so we assume that’s what Goodman is referring to here.  Sure, he may struggle as a point guard at times, especially in terms of decisionmaking, but we’re really not seeing him having many struggles in terms of a player — his average game on a given night is still better than all but about ten players in the country, in our humble opinion.  And when he’s dialed in, we’re not sure there’s anyone better.
  5. One of our favorite annual columns from Seth Davis is when he predicts the top ten breakout sophomores for the upcoming season.  Last year he was right on the money with several, including superstars Jeff Teague, Kalin Lucas and Chris Wright.  This year’s column has a couple of interesting choices (Larry Drew II and Tony Woods come to mind), and we’re wondering how nobody among UCLA’s sophomore corps can be on the list, but it makes for interesting debate and discussion.

Finally, have a Happy Thanksgiving of Hoops, everyone!

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Morning Five: 11.25.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2009

morning5

  1. UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic plans to plead not guilty to his recent charge of assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert in October.  According to his attorney, Dragovic was only defending himself against a drunken aggressor who had slapped his friend, and when he tried to leave, the lout followed him.  There’s no way to know what to believe here, other than what eyewitness (video) evidence brings to bear.
  2. USC’s depth problems continue as junior forward Kasey Cunningham fell awkwardly during a weekend game and tore his ACL and medial meniscus for the fourth time in his career.  Talk about snakebit.  Kevin O’Neill is down to six serviceable players including Marcus Johnson, a UConn transfer who sat out two games serving an NCAA suspension.  Any additional injuries for USC and the Trojans may need to have tryouts or draft some of Pete Carroll’s bunch over to the hardwood.
  3. Ohio State guard Walter Offutt announced that he will transfer at the end of this quarter, with his destination presently unknown.  The sophomore guard was expected to provide defensive minutes for Thad Matta’s short bench this year, but he didn’t see time in two games in New York last week, and could probably see the writing on the wall with most starters expected to return next year in addition to a strong recruiting class coming in.
  4. An interesting development that Mike DeCourcy discussed yesterday involves the curious recruitment of Enes Kanter, a 6’10 Turkish player who has signed with Washington for 2010.  A proposed NCAA rule (2009-22) would allow players such as those in Kanter’s position (having played in a professional league without taking payment) to play immediately, rather than taking a game-for-game penalty, as in the case of WVU’s Deniz Kinicli, who must sit the first twenty games of the season this year before becoming eligible.
  5. Did you ever wonder how we got to the current situation where Thanksgiving week has become wall-to-wall basketball with all these preseason tournaments (not a bad thing)?  Luke Winn has your answer in his usual well-written style.  Four letters come to mind — E.  S.  P.  N.
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Morning Five: 11.23.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

morning5

  1. UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic was arrested and subsequently suspended by head coach Ben Howland for felony assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert last month.  This is the second physical-force-related arrest for Dragovic in the past two seasons, as he was also arrested on suspicion of shoving his girlfriend during an argument last year.  He was not prosecuted for that allegation, but we’re starting to have serious reservations about the talented Serb’s anger management.  UCLA is not off to a good start at all this season, including numerous injuries, a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and now an arrest to one of their top returnees all within the first five weeks.
  2. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined this year’s inductees to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, along with several other luminaries of the game, including former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote, Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale, all-time NCAA leading scorer Travis Grant, former UCLA/UAB coach Gene Bartow, USA Basketball leader Bill Wall, and Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA.
  3. To that end, here’s a Bird/Magic story you probably don’t already know.  From the KC Star, the two players were invited to compete on a World Invitational Tournament team coached by then-national championship Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall.  Astonishingly, both players were put on the second string by Hall, and shockers, neither of them particularly liked that.  Read about the whole story at the above link.
  4. A lot was written after the Syracuse second-half bombardment of North Carolina on Friday night, including here.  Some of the better pieces were from Jeff Goodman, Seth Davis, and Adam Zagoria.
  5. In case you missed it, the #1-rated power forward in the class of 2010, Tobias Harris, committed to Tennessee at the end of last week.  The 6’8 player who likes what Tyler Smith has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is the highest-rated player UT has ever signed.  He also considered Maryland, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.
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