Shocker: Blake Griffin declares for the NBA Draft

Posted by nvr1983 on April 7th, 2009

With all the suspense on college campuses about whether or not underclassmen will be leaving perhaps the least suspenseful announcement of the week came earlier today when everybody’s national Player of the Year Blake Griffin announced that he will forgo his final 2 years of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft. In his second year at Oklahoma, Griffin became the 3rd straight national player of year from the Big 12 (save your e-mails and comments UNC fans; we both know that Michael Beasley deserved it last year).

Blake Griffin dunk

Griffin, who averaged 22.7 PPG and 14.4 RPG, was clearly the best player in college this season and was only derailed in the Elite 8 by eventual champion UNC when his Sooner teammates went 2/19 from 3-point range. Even in defeat, Griffin showed everyone why he will be the most clear-cut #1 pick since LeBron James in 2003 as he dominated Tyler Hansbrough and the other UNC interior players. Griffin finished the year with 30 double-doubles (second all-time to only David Robinson‘s 31) and 504 rebounds (second all-time to only Larry Bird‘s 505).

While everyone knows that Griffin will go #1 (assuming some brain-dead NBA GM doesn’t do something completely insane–not outside the realm of possibilities), the big question is what will happen in Norman where Jeff Capel turned down numerous job offers to stay as the Oklahoma head coach. The Sooners will be losing Taylor Griffin, Austin Johnson, and Omar Leary with only the first 2 contributing significantly. Although the Sooners will certainly take a step back next year, they can still compete in the top half of the Big 12 next year if freshman Willie Warren can resist the temptation of the money that comes with being a lottery pick and sticks around Norman for another year (or two). With a nucleus of Warrnen, Tony Crocker, and Juan Pattillo, Capel has a team that should challenge Kansas and Texas next year.

Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: Regional Semifinals Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2009

dynamiteWe’ll be doing a full BGtD today so you won’t have any interruptions in coverage tonight. Honestly, last night’s games were kind of disappointing. Pittsburgh-Xavier was entertaining, but that was the only game that I would say was memorable from a pure basketball standpoint. Now the other games did have their own interesting subplots. UConn rolled over Purdue in a game that was close at points in the 2nd half, but I never really got the sense that the Huskies were in any danger of losing. I was particularly impressed with how the Huskies played despite the media circus that is going on around them. Missouri‘s victory over Memphis was entertaining although for me it was marred a little by the atrocious free throw shooting. As we mentioned last night, I really wonder what John Calipari does, if he does anything, for his team’s free throw shooting. At this point, I’m convinced J.J. Redick would have shot 70% from the free throw line if he had gone to Memphis. Also, what happened to vaunted Memphis defense. Missouri has a good offense, but they shouldn’t be able to hit triple digits in regulation against a team that went into the game with the #1 defense according to the Pomeroy numbers. I’m sure some of you took great pleasure in watching Villanova pick apart Duke leading to another early March exit for Coach K, but the game wasn’t exactly exciting if you didn’t have a rooting interest for (or in most people’s case against) a team.

The line-up for tonight should give us a couple of interesting games:

  • 7:07 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:27  PM: #3 Syracuse vs. #2 Oklahoma
  • 9:37 PM: #3 Kansas vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:57 PM: #4 Gonzaga vs. #1 UNC

We’ll be back around 7 for the start of tonight’s action. Leave your comments/questions and we’ll respond to them as soon as we start.

6:55 PM: A couple quick pieces of news to pass along in the midst of this Billy Gillispie madness and these somewhat important games tonight. Clemson‘s star forward Trevor Booker will return for his senior year. The news out of Iowa isn’t as good after Jake Kelly, Jeff Peterson, and David Palmer announced that they are transfering, which means that Todd Lickliter will need to replace 2 starting guards and a reserve forward.

7:10 PM: Chase Budinger makes a great play to temper Louisville’s great start. He’s going to need to have a great game tonight. If both teams use the press tonight, we’re going to get a blowout (and I think it will end up going in Louisville’s favor).

7:12 PM: I should warn you that I’m a big Chase Budinger fan so you’ve been warned. I haven’t seen a lot of him this year (stupid west coast starts), but I think he has the makings of a very solid NBA player.

7:14 PM: That’s not a good stat for Arizona. Only 6 Wildcats have scored in the NCAA tournament.

7:19 PM: Great play by Edgar Sosa feeding it to Preston Knowles. This pressure is going to kill Arizona if they only go 6 deep.

7:28 PM: I don’t think it will matter tonight, but I hope you paid attention to that FT statistic. Louisville shoots 63.8% as a team (307th out of 334 teams). That will come back to bite them. Just ask John Calipari. Actually he probably wouldn’t admit it because his team was just as bad last night. . .

7:30 PM: I think that any Blue Devil who mentions that they made the 1994 title game should put an asterisk by it on their resume saying that they rode Grant Hill‘s coattails there. If you don’t agree with me, see what happened the next year even if Coach K missed the last 2/3 of the season.

7:31 PM: It looks dead in Memphis. What do you guys think? I’m guessing it’s only 20% full. UNC fans must have bought up most of the stadium.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Sweet Sixteen: South Region Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on March 26th, 2009

RTC interns Matt P. and Mike L. are our NCAA Tournament East Region correspondents.

Isn’t it amazing how perfectly paired the Sweet 16 games look in the South Region? It’s almost as if the best four teams advanced, or something like that. Currently, Ken Pomeroy has both match-ups at nearly 50-50 odds: UNC with a 55% likelihood of beating Gonzaga and Syracuse with an even slimmer 52% of moving on over Oklahoma. Here’s hoping both games come down to the last shot so all the chalk haters out there can’t complain about a boring tournament.

Team That Almost Went Home
The Gonzaga Bulldogs were 0.9 seconds, some semblance of transition defense, and an acknowledged timeout away from going to an overtime session with Western Kentucky. Luckily for them, none of that happened and a guy who averages 3.8 points per game hit the shot of his life at the buzzer helping Mark Few’s team advanced. Things don’t look to get any easier though. After WKU’s starting guards, A.J. Slaughter and Orlando Mendez-Valdez, dropped 24 and 25 points each on the Zags, they get to try to slow down a rested Ty Lawson and hot-shooting Wayne Ellington from UNC.

Team That Has Cruised So Far
After their marathon time in the Big East Tournament, Syracuse desperately needed two no-sweat wins in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament, in which they only trailed once – a 24 second stretch in the first four minutes against Arizona State. Most likely, the ho-hum affairs end when they meet Oklahoma in Memphis. Guard Jonny Flynn is currently projected as a mid/late first round draft pick, but a dominant performance against Blake Griffin’s team could boost him into lottery contention.

Team With the Most to Prove
Despite having the player expected to be Player of the Year and first pick in the upcoming draft, there is still a bit of uncertainty surrounding Oklahoma. They’ve yet to win that defining game. They seemed to sputter a bit at the end of the season, but much of that is due to Blake Griffin’s injury. But what seems most uncertain is how freshman guard Willie Warren will play when facing the more experienced guards of Syracuse.

Team With Highest Expectations
For Gonzaga, Syracuse, and Oklahoma, a trip to the Sweet 16 might constitute a respectable 2008-2009 season. For a North Carolina team that came in with talk of running the table, it would mean an embarrassing failure. The week off before Friday’s game against Gonzaga has to help UNC’s chances of surviving, giving point guard Ty Lawson a chance to heal the injured toe that hobbled him for much of March. It should be interesting to watch the Josh Heytvelt/Tyler Hansbrough match-up after the Zags center owned Psycho T two years ago, admittedly while Bobby Frasor was still UNC’s main point man. Then, the Heels went as Tyler Hansbrough went. Now, they go as Ty Lawson goes. He’ll be the key to any championship hopes in Chapel Hill.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

Posted by nvr1983 on March 18th, 2009

Oklahoma (#2, South, Kansas City pod)

Morgan State (#15)
Mar. 19 @ 9:40pm

Vegas Line:  Oklahoma -16.5

oklahoma-ncaa-graph

Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Norman, OK
Conference: Big 12, at-large
Coach: Jeff Capel, 66-32
08-09 Record: 27-5, 13-3
Last 12 Games: 8-4
Best Win: 87-82, Purdue, November 28th at Preseason NIT
Worst Loss: 96-88, at Arkansas, December 30th
Off. Efficiency Rating: 117.8; 7th
Def. Efficiency Rating: 93.5; 46th

Nuts ‘n Bolts

Star Player(s): Blake Griffin 21.9 ppg, 14.3 rpg; Willie Warren 14.7 ppg, 3 apg, 1.2 spg
Unsung Hero: Taylor Griffin 9.6 ppg, 6rpg
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): Blake Griffin, 1st overall; Willie Warren 15th
Key Injuries: none
Depth: 20.7% (332nd nationally); percentage of total minutes played by reserves
Achilles Heel: Poor point guard play
Will Make a Deep Run if…: the guards play like they did in January and early February
Will Make an Early Exit if…: the guards play like they have the past 3 weeks

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2008, 2nd round
Streak: 2
Best NCAA Finish: 1988, runner up
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.47; on average they win 0.47 less games per year than you would expect from a team with a similar seed based on historical performance

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: Coach Jeff Capel played for Duke; Duke’s former football coach is Steve Spurrier; Steve Spurrier coached Heisman trophy winner Danny Wueffel; Billy Sims who won a Heisman was drafted number 1 by the Detroit Lions in 1980; which leads us to the Final Four site of Detroit
Distance to First Round Site: 368 miles (Kansas City, MO)
School’s Claim to Fame: Being that Oklahoma is a football school mainly; our claim to fame is 7 football National Championships and 5 Heisman winners. This year however we will be able to say we are the only school to have both the Heisman winner and The Naismith College Player of the Year for the same school calendar year.
School Wishes It Could Forget: Any ties to Kelvin Sampson and recent BCS bowl games
Prediction: If you had asked me for a prediction two weeks ago, I would have said Final Four or bust for this team. However the way this team has played over the last few games has me wondering if they will make it out of the first weekend.

Major RTC stories: Former Oklahoma Great Wayman Tisdale Loses a Leg
Preview written by… Nick Juby of Crimson and Cream Machine

Share this story

Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.

Current Records and my standings:

  1. Oklahoma (6-0)
  2. Baylor (6-1)
  3. Nebraska (5-0)
  4. Texas (5-1)
  5. Kansas (4-1)
  6. Kansas St. (5-2)
  7. Missouri (5-1)
  8. Texas Tech (6-1)
  9. Texas A&M (5-1)
  10. Oklahoma St. (5-2)
  11. Iowa St. (4-1)
  12. Colorado (3-2)

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma (2-0 this week)—Oklahoma won the NIT Tip Off defeating UAB and a pesky Purdue team as the Griffin brothers helped lead the team to victory.  Although  Purdue was able to somewhat contain Blake Griffin, he still came away with 18 points and 21 rebounds and averaged 25 points and 18 rebounds in the two games in New York.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story