Big East Morning Five: 12.01.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 1st, 2011

  1.  With star forward Tim Abromaitis left to “live life” and ponder whether his basketball career is over, Notre Dame is in a lot of trouble without him. His replacement, freshman Pat Connaughton (11 points), was actually one of the Fighting Irish’s best players in last night’s 20-point loss to No. 19 Gonzaga. Point guard Eric Atkins had six points on 2-8 shooting and six turnovers, and senior leader Scott Martin went 0-6 from the field and scored just one point. Without their star in the lineup, Notre Dame’s offense sputtered and don’t be surprised if that is a recurring problem in the short term. Jerian Grant and Connaughton are solid young players, but Atkins has disappeared against every decent opponent and Martin is a solid role player but not someone who can shoulder the offensive load. It might be a long season for coach Mike Brey in South Bend.
  2. I am not buying Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier when he says the city-game between Pittsburgh and Duquesne doesn’t need to be played. Collier claims the game is never competitive and it has become little more than a “respectful little social event.” For one, it’s curious when juxtaposed with the paper’s game recap, in which the lede pretty much says it was the most competitive game in 11 years. The game hasn’t been must-see TV in the past, but this game was competitive and did nothing to assuage the doubt enveloping Pitt. The Panthers committed 23 turnovers but dominated the boards 39-15, including 16 on hte offensive end. Plus, what “respectful little social event” doesn’t sound like a good time, no matter the final score?
  3. With the scored tied at halftime, South Florida was in good shape against VCU. Then the Rams raced out to a 51-35 lead early in the second half and they never looked back. Stan Heath’s team has been snakebitten by injuries and seldom-used sophomore LaVonte Dority played just one minute tonight because of shoulder trouble.  The Bulls barely have seven healthy players on the roster and they won’t be competitive until center Augustus Gilchrist returns to the lineup. I hope Stan Heath isn’t getting too comfortable in that coaching seat, because his job is in jeopardy and these injuries aren’t going to help him save it. At this point, South Florida will have to find some sort of magic is Heath is going to be back on the bench next season.
  4. Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has the story that the universally hated and notorious publicity hounds of the Westboro Baptist Church will be picketing Saturday’s Syracuse-Florida basketball game. I am not going to link to the press release, as you can find that yourself, but this is the type of distraction the Orange will face all season long in light of the Bernie Fine scandal and it will be especially magnified in high-profile games between ranked teams. As for the game, it should be a good matchup and Syracuse’s first real test this season. Florida has played exactly one respectable opponent, and they lost by seven to Ohio State. It will be fun to watch Florida’s guards try to fill it up against Syracuse’s deep rotation of long and athletic defenders.
  5. Lots of interesting opinions to chew on in the ESPN post explaining Alex Oriakhi‘s displeasure with his role in the Connecticut offense. Some seem to think that one of the team’s best players during the Huskies’ run to the championship should be coming off the bench.  It is an interesting argument given the versatility of Tyler Olander and Andre Drummond but I think as the season goes on, Jim Calhoun will need Oriakhi to play major minutes, especially against conference opponents. Of course if that is going to happen, Oriakhi is going to need to grow up and act like the veteran he is. If he wants to prove his worth, he will need to play better on both ends of the floor, and change his attitude as well.
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Checking In On… the Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East conference. You can also find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was

  • A Rough Week for the Big East: Conference teams lost 13 times this past week to the likes of UCF, Illinois State, Northeastern, and Richmond among others. Only three undefeated teams (Syracuse, Louisville, and Marquette) remain and of the 13 teams with at least one loss, only three (DePaul, Seton Hall and Georgetown) have not yet recorded a bad loss. As we enter December, the middle of the conference doesn’t appear to be as strong as in years past. The Big East has a handful of great teams and a host of teams that appear to be very average at this point. It’s a long season, but the chances of seeing nine or ten NCAA bids from this league are certainly not promising.
  • Syracuse and Marquette Take Home Titles: The Orange defeated Virginia Tech and Stanford at their second home, Madison Square Garden, to win the NIT Season Tip-Off while Marquette took home the Paradise Jam championship, albeit against a so-so field. Both teams struggled in their respective championship games, but managed to pull it out down the stretch, the sign of a good team. Each team’s schedule ramps up this week against a pair of top ten teams as Syracuse hosts Florida on Friday and Marquette visits in-state rival Wisconsin on Saturday.
  • Tim Abromaitis Tears ACL: There was awful news out of South Bend late last week when it was announced that Notre Dame fifth year senior forward Tim Abromaitis tore the ACL in his right knee during practice on Friday. The loss of Abromaitis is a huge blow to a Notre Dame team already with two neutral court losses on its resume and a pair of road games coming up this week. The Fighting Irish rotation is pretty much only seven deep now with only three or four reliable scorers. Point guard Eric Atkins has played very well, but Scott Martin and Pat Connaughton will have to step up in a big way for Notre Dame to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament.

With A Big Game Against Florida Looming Friday, How Will Jim Boeheim Keep His Team Focused Amid The Bernie Fine Scandal?

Power Rankings

  1. Syracuse (6-0) – After feasting on four cupcakes to begin the season, the Orange were impressive late in victories over Virginia Tech and Stanford in the NIT Season Tip-Off. They struggled for the better part of both games, but the ability of this team to flip the switch and play like the top five team it is is something that will suit them well outside of conference play. However, Syracuse had better play well for 40 minutes once the Big East season arrives or else they’ll lose more games than you think. Jim Boeheim’s team ranks in the top ten nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency, one of only four teams at the moment. Syracuse has done a great job forcing turnovers leading to easy points in transition. Dion Waiters appears to have taken his game to the next level as a sophomore with transition play being a big part of that. How this team is affected by the Bernie Fine investigation, if at all, is something to watch over the next few weeks. This week: 11/29 vs. Eastern Michigan, 12/2 vs. #6 Florida.
  2. Louisville (6-0) – Rick Pitino was successful last year by molding a team of role players into a cohesive unit with no superstars through an incredible focus on defense. Louisville looks to be following that same formula again in 2011-12. The Cardinals rank third nationally in defensive efficiency and only one opponent has scored more than 54 points. Of course, offense is Louisville’s biggest challenge. Peyton Siva is back, but Pitino’s rotation has been scaled back due to injuries to Wayne Blackshear and Mike Marra. Blackshear may be back but Marra is lost for the season with a torn ACL. Louisville struggled against Ohio and has another tricky game with Long Beach State on Monday. Freshman Chane Behanan (9/9) is stepping up in the absence of Blackshear while Gorgui Dieng has been a shot-blocking machine in the paint at three rejections per game. This is a big week for the Cardinals as their competition gets stronger. This week: 11/28 vs. Long Beach State, 12/2 vs. #20 Vanderbilt. Read the rest of this entry »
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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume II

Posted by jbaumgartner on November 28th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish on Mondays throughout the season. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED….that classic first game of the season where you just get blindsided. With a lineup full of projected first-round picks and some much-needed experience from last season, many felt that it would take a while for top-ranked North Carolina to fall. But those Runnin’ Rebels from UNLV went Jerry Tarkanian on Roy Williams’ crew and gave us 2011’s first shocker. That was seriously out of nowhere, and just two weeks into the season we can start asking what seems to be an annual question about UNC’s ability to defend the perimeter.

UNLV RTC'd the Orleans Arena Floor Saturday Night (With Good Reason)

I LOVED….how Rick Majerus has Saint Louis rolling this early. The Billikens have already knocked off Washington, Boston College, and Villanova this season – marking them as a mid-major to deal with down the road. Majerus is a fascinating coach with plenty of supporters and detractors (see this great article from Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price in 2008) but he’s one heck of a basketball coach.

I LOVED….Griffin Lentsch’s 89 points last week for Grinnell College against Principia College. For those not familiar with Division III Grinnell, the Iowa school plays a crazy-fast, shoot-happy style that scores boatloads of points – so this kind of outburst makes a slight bit of sense. Still, I’ve been fascinated with point totals like these ever since Kobe Byrant dropped his remarkable 81. Scoring 89 points at any collegiate level is pretty remarkable.

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Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2011

SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a second installment of a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of FanDuel.com. The league, which is completely free to enter, will play on Tuesday night (November 29) involving several high-profile teams — Duke, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Clemson — and features $150 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 money. Test your college hoops knowledge to win! Click here to enter.

  1. This Bernie Fine/Syracuse story deserves more space than what we typically include here so we will keep it simple. Yesterday morning news surfaced of an audio tape recording a conversation between Bobby Davis, Fine’s initial accuser, and Fine’s wife in 2002 in which his Fine’s wife admits to knowing that Fine molested Davis, but there was nothing to do about it, as well as an indication that Fine gave Davis money to pay for student loans that he used as leverage for sexual favors. Fine’s wife also reportedly became sexually involved with Davis when he was older. The tape was turned over to ESPN in 2002, but they did nothing with it including turning it over to authorities at the time, because they could not corroborate the information. Meanwhile, another person, a man from Maine, has come forward claiming to be the third Fine victim, although the man’s father claims that the man never even met Fine and in fact is being charged with sexually abusing a child himself. Late last night, Syracuse decided to fire Fine with a short statement. Jim Boeheim, who had initially defended Fine and accused the alleged victims of chasing money, issued a much less aggressive statement that appears to have been run through a PR agency before being released. We will have more on this subject later when we find the time and can wrap our head around what is becoming an increasingly bizarre case.
  2. Black Friday was not a good one for Notre Dame as they lost Tim Abromaitis for the season after he tore his right ACL in practice. Not only did the Irish lose their best player, but they also lost one of their two seniors on the roster (Scott Martin is the other). Abromaitis had only played in two of Notre Dame’s six games this season as the result of a suspension by the NCAA resulting from a misinterpretation of NCAA rules by Notre Dame. While the Fighting Irish lost both games that Abromaitis played it would be foolish to read too much into that. Their four games without Abromaitis (all wins) were against weak competition. Their two games with Abromaitis (both losses) were against solid competition. This injury should move Notre Dame from a potential middle-of-the-pack Big East team to one that will be hanging out near the bottom of the conference standings.
  3. Minnesota may similarly devastating news coming their way as Trevor Mbakwe injured his right knee last night during a loss to Dayton in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic. While the extent of the injury will not be known until later today when Mbakwe has an MRI, initial reports from the scene and Mbakwe’s tweet (“Lord please get me through this”) do not appear promising. Mbawke, who came into the game averaging 14.8 PPG and 10 RPG, is the key to the Gophers this season and without him they may struggle to stay out of the Big Ten cellar.
  4. Steve Lavin missed Saturday night’s loss to Northeastern for what is being reported as management of his stamina andenergy. So far this season Lavin has missed three of the team’s seven regular season games (the season-opener, which happened more than a month after his surgery, and the last two games). As we said before we are not going to get into the medical stuff that Lavin is going through (PSA test results, post-operative complications, etc), but we will get into the basketball stuff. Right now St. John’s is not a very good team. They are young and missing a lot of what they expected to have on the court this season after the NCAA ruled that many of their incoming freshmen were academically ineligible. Now they have a game at Kentucky coming up on Thursday. Unless Lavin thinks he is going to get his energy and stamina back very quickly he might want to think about taking a longer leave of absence rather than making decisions on a game-by-game basis. For a team this young the change between Lavin and interim coach Mike Dunlap along with the uncertainty of who will be coaching will adversely affect the team’s development. For Lavin’s sake and that of his team, he should make a longer term decision about how he wants this team to be run.
  5. President Obama caught his second college basketball of the season as he took some time off from a variety of pressing issues to watch his brother-in-law Craig Robinson coach Oregon State against Towson in a game that the Beavers won easily. Interestingly, the President was not the only well-known person in attendance as Bill Murray was also there rooting for his son Luke Murray, an assistant coach at Towson. We are guessing that President Obama will not get the chance to see many more college basketball games this season with all the other things that he has to attend to, but with the way the Beavers are playing he may have to schedule some time during March to catch them in the NCAA Tournament.
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Black Friday for the Irish: Abromaitis Tears ACL

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on November 26th, 2011

Notre Dame was dealt a heavy blow yesterday when it learned that team leader Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL in practice and will be out for what was to be his final season in South Bend.  Abromaitis, a fifth year senior forward, was set to lead the Irish (currently 4-2) on a quest for another NCAA Tournament bid coming off a stellar season (15.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG) supporting the departed Big East Player of the Year, Ben Hansbrough.  It is not known if Abromaitis will seek a rare sixth year of eligibility.  He has already earned both undergraduate and masters degrees from Notre Dame and will have surgery in the coming weeks.

The Irish Will Have to Make Due Without Abromaitis

Notre Dame has some experience playing without Abromaitis this season as he played in just two games, ironically the team’s only losses, after sitting out the first four contests due to an NCAA suspension for playing in exhibition games leading up to a redshirt year in 2008-09.  Even with Abromaitis, the Irish were running thin on the front line.  Coach Mike Brey will be forced to play small and juggle the match-ups to win, relying heavily upon sophomore point guard Erik Atkins (14.8 PPG, 3.0 APG), sophomore guard Jerian Grant (13.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.5 APG) and senior wing Scott Martin (11.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG).  Also look for a continued increase in responsibilities for freshman guard/forward Pat Connaughton (10.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 24.7 MPG) who saw increased minutes during the Abromaitis suspension and has shown well thus far.

Notre Dame, who is riding a two-game losing streak, hosts Bryant University on Sunday.

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The Big 12 Week Ahead: Thanksgiving Tournament Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 21st, 2011

With all the holiday tournaments going on this week, it’s time to take a look at the tournaments involving Big 12 teams.

CBE Classic: Missouri

Opening Round Opponent: vs. Notre Dame, Monday 6:30 p.m. CT

Down the Road: vs. Cal/Georgia, Tuesday

First-year head coach Frank Haith will get his first taste of real competition at Missouri this week, as his Tigers square off against Notre Dame on Monday night. The Irish are undefeated, but their only marquee victory came against a solid Detroit team at home by six points. They’ve completed their 4-0 run without forward Tim Abromaitis, who was suspended by the NCAA for participating in an exhibition game a few years ago. Monday will mark the senior’s first game back, however, and he changes the entire dynamic of the lineup. He was preseason First Team All-Big East selection, after all. Abromaitis is one of just two returning starters for Mike Brey along with Scott Martin, while Missouri, of course, returns just about everybody from an NCAA Tournament team. The Tigers have picked up Haith’s new style of play quickly so far, but we’ll have to wait until tonight to judge this team’s true progress.

Frank Haith Faces His First Test at Missouri

Pre-Season NIT: Oklahoma State

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Set Your TiVo: 11.14.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Two games from the ESPN marathon highlight tonight’s slate but don’t sleep on a potential upset special in South Bend and a power conference battle in LA.

Detroit @ Notre Dame – 9:00 PM EST on ESPNU (***) (cross-posted on RTC Live)

Eric Atkins Looked Great in ND's First Game This Year

  • Point guard Eric Atkins carried the Fighting Irish to victory in their first game this season, one of four (including tonight) without senior forward Tim Abromaitis, currently sitting out due to a suspension. The sophomore Atkins poured in 27 points on 6-7 FG (along with six assists) in a win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. Against star Detroit point guard Ray McCallum, Atkins will have to protect the ball and run the offense effectively against a hungry Titans squad looking to upset a Big East squad on its home floor. As a result, Atkins’ scoring opportunities may be reduced. Without Abromaitis, Notre Dame is very thin and must turn to Scott Martin for a big offensive output.  If Martin or Atkins is held in check, the Irish could be looking at their first loss in only their second game of the season.
  • Detroit’s offense is loaded with scoring threats from McCallum to Chase Simon and Nick Minnerath, among others. While McCallum deservedly gets most of the press, Minnerath and his front court teammate, LaMarcus Lowe, could be the difference in this game. Notre Dame has a collection of 6’5” and 6’6” type guys on its roster with only Jack Cooley and Mike Broghammer providing any kind of bulk in the paint. The Titans have a chance to really take advantage of the mismatch in the lane and offset any advantages Notre Dame may have elsewhere. Detroit and Notre Dame play at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of pace. Expect the Titans to push the pace all night, attacking Atkins defensively in search of turnovers and easy basket opportunities in the open floor. With McCallum’s play-making ability and Atkins coming off a four turnover game, this matchup sets up well for Detroit.
  • Will Mike Brey counter with the burn offense? It’s possible but Brey trusted Ben Hansbrough to run that for all 40 minutes last season. He’s no longer around so we doubt Brey will use it all game with a sophomore point guard. You may see it at times, especially if Detroit picks up a lot of easy buckets early, but the Irish just need to execute their normal half court offense and avoid turnovers. Pace, rebounding and defense will be what to watch for in this game. Cooley had ten rebounds last time out and a repeat performance may be needed for the Irish to avoid a loss. Neither team has a reputation for defending well so this could be a high scoring game. With Abromaitis out, Detroit may actually have more weapons to turn to offensively. The Titans have a terrific chance to win this game on the road.

Nebraska @ USC – 10:30 PM EST on Prime Ticket (**)

  • USC returns only one starter from last year’s team, Maurice Jones. At 5’7”, Jones has trouble getting his shot off and it showed against Cal State Northridge on Friday, going 0-7 (a major part of USC’s 0-15) from deep. It won’t get easier against Doc Sadler’s defense. USC is going to have to score points inside to win this game. Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller can do that but the Cornhuskers ranked #6 in two point defense last season. Kevin O’Neill also has to find some way for his team to rebound since Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson are no longer in LA. Nebraska outrebounded South Dakota 42-24 in its Friday victory.
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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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The 2011-12 ProZach Awards

Posted by zhayes9 on November 8th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @zhayes9.

Every August, ESPN college football guru Kirk Herbstreit releases his Herbie awards, a grab bag of honors and predictions about the upcoming season covering everything from quickest running back to hardest-hitting linebacker. The Herbies are so popular they even resulted in their own half-hour show hosted by Herbstreit and Erin Andrews. With no equivalent in the hoops world, I volunteered to step up to the plate. Some of these awards are Herbie knock-offs, some are 100% original and all are intended to be fun. Whether they look ridiculous by March…well, the jury is out. Here are this year’s Pro-Zach awards, passing out happy pills since 2011:

Washington's Terrence Ross is ready to make the leap

All-Next Chapter

  • Team Irreverence: Players Who Don’t Get Enough Respect – GOLD: Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), SILVER: Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion), BRONZE: Doug McDermott (Creighton)
  • Shhh, Don’t Tell: Best Kept Secrets – GOLD: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), SILVER: Alex Young (IUPUI), BRONZE: Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts)
  • Forwarding Address: Top Transfers – GOLD: Mike Rosario (Florida), SILVER: Royce White (Iowa State), BRONZE: Brandon Wood (Michigan State)
  • Fresh Approach: Top True Freshmen – GOLD: Anthony Davis (Kentucky), SILVER: Austin Rivers (Duke), BRONZE: Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
  • Off and Running: Ready To Take It To The Next Level – GOLD: Terrence Ross (Washington), SILVER: Keith Appling (Michigan State), BRONZE: Michael Snaer (Florida State)

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Preseason Tournament Preview: SEC East

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 21st, 2011

Pack your bags and get ready for some basketball!  Everything you need to know about the preseason basketball tournaments involving SEC East teams this season are right here… Well, everything except local travel arrangements and restaurant suggestions. Get ready for remote and beautiful destinations such as Maui, Hawaii; Kansas City, Missouri; somewhere in Connecticut; and East Rutherford, New Jersey. We can only hope that the basketball being played is as stunning as the scenery. If you’re ready to hit the Motel 6 in your city of choice and watch some great hoops then we have you covered with the rest of the details. Just don’t forget to leave the light on.

Progressive CBE Classic

  • The  field: *Missouri,  *Georgia, *Notre Dame, *California, Austin Peay, Bowling Green, Detroit, George Washington, Mercer, Niagara, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State (*automatically advances to championship round)
  • Dates: November 13 – 17, 2011; Championship rounds – November 21 & 22, 2011
  • Location: Kansas City, MO
  • 1st round Matchup: Georgia vs. California
  • Potential Later Round Matchups: Georgia vs. Notre Dame or Georgia vs. Missouri
  • Thoughts: In the opening round of championship play, Georgia plays a Golden Bears team that should challenge Arizona and UCLA to win the Pac-12. Cal returns three double figure scorers from last year and looks to build upon a fourth place finish. Meanwhile, Georgia lost Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins as early entries into the NBA draft. Mark Fox’s Bulldogs will be looking for leadership and scoring, and could find both in freshman McDonald’s All American Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Win or lose, Georgia will be matched up with either the Fighting Abromaitis’ team of Notre Dame or the Missouri Tigers. Missouri has outstanding guard play and will test Georgia’s young back court. Tim Abromaitis is a 6’8″ bruiser who will challenge the void left down low by the losses of Leslie and Thompkins.
  • Prediction:  Georgia drops both to come back to Athens 0-2.

EA Sports Maui Invitational

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Focus On… Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2011

Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are a bit of an unknown entering this season after last year’s wildly successful campaign.  Gone from last season’s 28-7 squad are Big East Player of the Year guard Ben Hansbrough, forward Tyrone Nash and forward Carleton Scott. The Irish return two starters in forwards Tim Abromaitis and Scott Martin.  Martin, who is versatile enough to play shooting guard and both forward positions, is looking to build his 2010-11 campaign where he averaged 9.9 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds.

Tim Abromaitis (#21) & Carleton Scott (#34) Will Be Expected to Lead the Irish This Year

Irish head coach Mike Brey believes that the time has come for Martin to light up the box score and he can do that by becoming more aggressive offensively.  “Scott has always been a great fit in our offense,” Brey said. “It is time for him to go ahead and be aggressive and be the man for us.”  Abromaitis returns for his fifth year after putting up averages of 15.3 points per game and 6.1 rebounds per game last season. He believes that he can improve on those numbers due to some facets of the game he concentrated on over the summer.  “I did a lot of work playing off the dribble, as well as refining my rebounding skills,” Abromaitis said. “I am usually looked at as a spot-up guy, but I think that can change a little bit this season.”

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Morning Five: 10.12.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 12th, 2011

  1. Indiana self-reported a violation to the NCAA yesterday, specifically the contacting of recruit Gary Harris by head coach Tom Crean on October 6 even though the period for allowable contact ended on October 5. The university report said that one of Crean’s assistants told the head coach that the contact was permitted and they didn’t realize the error until the communication had occurred. Self-imposed penalty: loss of two recruiting days, loss of an allowable contact, and no further contact with that recruit. That’s probably all that will be necessary to appease the NCAA, but this is just odd to us. We’re confident that in time Crean can bring the Hoosiers back to prominence, and we know that head coaches delegate so much to their assistants, but at a school with a recent history of improper contact with recruits like Indiana, it’s difficult to believe that the man who’s most responsible for what goes on there doesn’t know when the contact period ends.
  2. Notre Dame will be without fifth-year senior forward Tim Abromaitis for the first four games of the upcoming season as a penalty for playing two exhibition games before his sophomore season — yes, this happened three years ago — officially began. Abromaitis had taken that year off after the exhibitions to give himself an eventual fifth year of eligibility, but NCAA rules say that only freshmen are allowed to do this, not sophomores. Head coach Mike Brey took responsibility for the faux pas, and both he and Abromaitis knew this was coming, so it’s not like the team is caught off-guard on this one. According to the NCAA, Abromaitis’ fifth year is green-lighted because of a waiver that takes the program’s misunderstanding of the rule into account. An NCAA waiver that considers misunderstandings? Somewhere, Enes Kanter and his parents offer a bemused glower…
  3. Homer Drew was the designer of one of March Madness’ greatest upset moments. Actually, it’s just as accurate to eliminate the word “upset” in the previous sentence. The tip-pass play executed by Drew’s Valparaiso squad that resulted in Homer’s son Bryce drilling that jumper to beat Mississippi in the 1998 NCAA Tournament’s first round has become a lasting reminder of hope for all small-conference teams who find themselves in the Dance. Hope…is exactly what Drew and his wife now need, more than ever.  The school revealed yesterday that both Drew AND his wife were recently diagnosed with cancer. No further details. Awful, awful, awful news. Our best wishes and prayers go out to both of them and the entire Drew family.
  4. At a couple of spots on this site yesterday we covered  Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo’s comments about the ACC’s power grab in snagging Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East a while back, as they appeared in an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe. Now DeFilippo has apologized, saying that he was wrong to have his personal feelings appear to come off as the stance of the entire department. That might work for the comment about blackballing Connecticut from the ACC, but that surprised few. As for the assertion that ESPN nudged the ACC into making the play for Syracuse and UConn, he said he spoke “inappropriately and erroneously” about that. So, now we’re to believe that ESPN didn’t have a hand in it after he brought it up without prompting? Because his denial is of the non-denial variety, this matter won’t be put to bed until Mr. DiFilippo specifically states that ESPN was not involved at all — if then. If you believe the prevailing mood among journalists, bloggers and fans on Twitter, his first takes are still considered as the truth, and there’s nothing inappropriate or erroneous about speaking the truth.
  5. Listen, we don’t like the lack of Gus Johnson on CBS any more than you do, and we’ve expressed our sorrow here and over our Twitter feed more than a lot of our readers/followers probably ever hoped we would. It might still come up from time to time (especially about five months from now), but it’s real and there’s nothing more that we can do about it. In the spirit of moving on, we give you, via Sports Media Journal, the entire CBS college basketball schedule. From December 3 (North Carolina at Kentucky) to February 26 (Big East/Big Ten doubleheader), here it is in all its glory.
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