The Week That Was: Feb. 21-28

Posted by jstevrtc on March 1st, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

 

Introduction

March is here. Need we say more? Those three little words should be enough to put an extra skip in your step this morning and the rest of the week. March is the month when it’s not only socially acceptable to call in sick from work to watch sports — it’s encouraged. The way this season’s gone, the Tournament should be beyond epic, possibly even exceeding last year’s chaotic first two rounds. And if more male cheerleaders are involved, that’s OK by us. It’s March and we’re in a good mood.

 

What We Learned

Baring an epic collapse during the final two weeks of the regular season, BYU should get a #1 seed when the NCAA Tournaments brackets are released March 13. And none of this “in the discussion” talk. The Jimmer Fredettes (er, Cougars) are definitely one of the top four teams in the nation after their 13-point shakedown of San Diego State at hostile Viejas Arena on Saturday afternoon, a place where the Aztecs hadn’t lost a game all year. After San Diego State took a brief 2-0 lead, the Cougars led the rest of the way in an eye-opening performance that proved two important things: BYU can play some D, and it doesn’t always have to be all Jimmer, all the time. The Cougars held Kawhi Leonard to 17 points on 6-14 shooting, blocking his shot twice and harassing the Aztec big man whenever the he set up in the paint. BYU also had three players other than Fredette score in double figures. Charles Abouo led the way with 18 points, while Noah Hartsock finished with 15 and Jackson Emery added 13. The knock on the Cougars was always that they relied too much on Fredette. While it’s still a justified criticism (Fredette has the fifth highest usage rate in the nation), BYU gave teams reason to think twice about doubling Fredette, especially on the perimeter.

Will This One Do It for the Hokies?

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Set Your Tivo: 02.26-02.27

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 25th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

We are now only about two weeks away from Selection Sunday. Teams are locking up bids and others are hurting their chances down the stretch. It’s another big weekend in the college hoops world, headlined by a top ten battle in the Mountain West. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#20 Syracuse @ #11 Georgetown – 12 pm Saturday on CBS (****)

Coach Thompson and the Hoyas Will Likely Be Without Their Most Important Player on Saturday

The Orange will look to avenge another home defeat by winning on the road, this time in Washington, D.C. Here’s a quirky fact for you: Syracuse has lost to all three of its repeat opponents (Georgetown, Villanova and Seton Hall) at the Carrier Dome but a win on Saturday would give them wins in the home buildings of all three teams. That has become more likely in this one, after Chris Wright broke his hand in Wednesday’s loss to Cincinnati. As a talented senior point guard, Wright is Georgetown’s most indispensible player. He doesn’t wow you with his shooting but he passes the ball well and does an excellent job of running John Thompson III’s complex offensive sets.

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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2011

Stephen Coulter is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

A Look Back

  • Three-Team Tie Atop Conference Standings: With UAB’s win last Saturday, the Blazers moved into a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings. Now, UAB, UTEP and Memphis share the top spot in Conference USA with five weeks remaining in the regular season schedule.
  • Tulsa Nips UTEP in 69-68 Thriller: Only days after losing a nail-biter to SMU, Tulsa got its own dramatic victory on Saturday when they knocked off UTEP on Justin Hurtt’s 16-foot jumper that went in with 6.8 second remaining. Hurtt scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half, soaring past Preseason Conference Player of the Year Randy Culpepper in the final seconds to make the clutch shot. Culpepper finished with 28 points and had made a big-time three-pointer only seconds before Hurtt nailed the game-winner on the other end of the court.
  • Memphis Slams UCF, Falters Against Marshall: Inconsistent play continues to sidetrack Memphis this season as the Tigers were able to earn a double-figure win earlier in the week against Central Florida, but couldn’t compete at all on Saturday night in a 85-70 loss to Marshall. DeAndre Kane continues to lead the Thundering Herd, scoring 20 points and adding four assists.
  • Southern Mississippi Recovers, Blasts Past ECU and Tulane: A week after losing a pair of conference games, Southern Mississippi retaliated by dropping East Carolina and Tulane by a combined 20 points. Gary Flowers continued his dominance, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 boards in the win over Tulane. The Golden Eagles outrebounded the Green Wave, 42-26, and went on to score 24 points in the paint, including 17 second-chance points.
  • UAB Sweeps Week, Hands UCF Sixth Consecutive Loss: Central Florida has plummeted from mid-major darling to Conference-USA doormat, losing six in a row, including a loss last Saturday to UAB. The Blazers couldn’t have marched to the top of the conference in a more dominating fashion. First they topped surging Marshall on Wednesday night 60-56, then beat the Knights, a team that was undefeated until earlier this month. Against UCF, the Blazers saw big games from Dexter Fields (19 points), Jamarr Sanders (18 points) and Aaron Johnson (11 points, 11 assists).
  • SMU Squeaks Pasts Tulsa On Game-Winning Shot, Completes Perfect Week by Knocking Off Rice: Junior Robert Nyakundi shined in Saturday’s win over Rice, notching a career-best 29 points. However, Nyakundi’s best moment of the week came in Wednesday’s victory over Tulsa, when he hit a game winning three-pointer from the left corner with 1.1 seconds remaining. The Golden Hurricane blew a perfect opportunity, missing seven free throws in the final eight minutes and allowed SMU to win a game in which they didn’t score in the final eight minutes of play.
  • Tulane Road Woes Extend Losing Streak To Five: It’s a toss-up as to which team is struggling more—Tulane or UCF. Although the Green Wave have the better conference record, they have struggled more than most people can see. During their six-game win streak, the team scored above 85 four of six times. However, that offense has disappeared, as the team has failed to score more than 67 in five straight losses that now have them at the bottom of the conference after starting 2-0 on the opening weekend.
  • Rice Edges Houston in OT. Arsalan Kazemi was the story once again for the Owls as the team claimed their second conference win this year, beating Houston 79-71 in overtime. The sophomore forward and sure-ballot First-Team Conference USA, scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. It didn’t stop there – Kazemi recorded four assists, four steals and four blocks as well. Teammate Connor Frizzelle carried a bit of the burden too, leading the team with 18 points and hitting a crucial three pointer with 13 seconds left in regulation.

Power Rankings

  1. UTEP (17-5, 5-2) –You can’t really blame Tim Floyd’s squad for coming up short at Tulsa, especially losing in the final seconds. While senior Randy Culpepper may get all the attention, fellow classman Julyan Stone has emerged as a team leader. Stone averages 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game, both team best.
  2. Memphis (16-5, 5-2) – The Tigers have to be disappointed in the loss to Marshall, however the conference crown is still a possibility. With their young talent, Memphis can be dangerous, what they really need is consistency. Freshmen Will Barton and Tarik Black are finding their stride.
  3. UAB (13-5, 5-2) –UAB survived 19 lead changes against a UCF team desperate for a win. The made it through with a win and a share of the conference’s No. 1 spot because they made 10 of 20 three-pointers. In addition, 19 points from sophomore Dexter Fields off the bench was gigantic. The team needs to continue that type of play against a tough upcoming schedule.   
  4. Southern Miss (16-5, 5-3) – Southern Miss got back on track against a struggling Tulane. Credit the Golden Eagles for a 16-1 run in the second half to close out the win. Trumping East Carolina had to give them some confidence as well. The team is 30th in the nation in rebounding behind Gary Flowers. The forward leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks.
  5. Marshall (14-7, 2-4) – Like the teams above them in the standings, Marshall has found its way to 14 or more wins thanks in large part to a dominating trio of scorers. For the Thundering Herd, these men are all starting guards—DeAndre Kane, Damier Pitts and Shaquille Johnson—who just defeated Memphis this past weekend. Credit senior Tirell Baines for dropping 17 points in the big game.
  6. SMU (13-8, 4-3) –Papa Dia and Robert Nyakundi have become the conference’s best duo over the past three weeks and they have the Mustangs surging heading into February.   
  7. Tulsa (10-9, 4-3) – The Golden Hurricane have interchanged a win for a loss since Dec. 30, hence their just above .500 record in conference play. Although not consistent, Tulsa has emerged as a looming threat thanks to Justin Hurtt. The senior, who averages 20.5 points per game, will have no problem being on the First Team All-Conference at the end of the season.  
  8. East Carolina (12-9, 4-3) – Jontae Sherron and Darrius Morrow have provided a spark for a team that appeared to be stuck in the bottom part of the conference only weeks ago.  
  9. Houston (11-9, 3-4) –A three-game losing streak has Houston reeling in the conference standings. It may be time to hit the panic button if the Cougars lose to Marshall on Tuesday night. They have an opportunity to get back to the top of the conference—the product of a tight conference race, which means Adam Brown will need to continue to be the team’s offensive spark.
  10. UCF (14-6, 1-6) –Coach Donnie Jones must right the ship and do it fast, because the Knights out of conference wins will be meaningless if this team doesn’t have a surge in February. Although they have lost six straight, they are only four back of the conference lead.   
  11. Tulane (12-8, 2-5) – Kendall Timmons is leading this team every single game, however, the support has faded and so have the Green Wave.
  12. Rice (10-11, 2-5) –You can’t mention sophomore Arsalan Kazemi enough when talking about the Owls. The Iran native is one of the more interesting stories in college basketball, averaging 11.6 rebounds a night, while carrying the team offensively.  

A Look Ahead

  • Houston and Marshall Joust To Stay Alive in Conference Standings: Tuesday night the conference schedule gets started early as the Cougars and the Thundering Herd square off. Houston is struggling currently, however, the league has been inconsistent thus far and the Cougars have the experience necessary to get back on track.
  • UAB Hosts So. Miss In Mid-Week Showdown: The game of the week has to be Southern Miss traveling to UAB. The inside match-up, as well as the guard play, will be more than interesting to watch. The winner adds a pretty solid win to their resume.
  • Struggling UCF Looks To Tap UTEP for Second CUSA Win: The Knights may rank last in the conference standings, and the Miners rank tied for first, however the standings don’t matter for a UCF team taking it one game at a time. Keith Clanton has been a consistent threat for the Knights, but can he top Randy Culpepper?
  • Memphis Looks to Avoid Consecutive Losses To Tulsa, Gets Ready for Gonzaga: Memphis remains atop the conference standings, because of their high-scoring offense, which is led by young, talented guards like Will Barton. The question remains though, can these youngsters be consistent for the Tigers? The home test versus Tulsa will gauge how serious this team is and then their out of conference showdown will display whether or not they are ready for March.
  • SMU and East Carolina Duel to Stay a Game Back of Conference Leaders: The Pirates have won their last two road contests. In addition, they played Memphis close on the road, losing by three on January 8. ECU remains a game back of the conference lead due to great road play. If they can beat a surging SMU team, it will be big for the program.
  • Rice Travels to Tulane In Battle of the Basement: Arsalan Kazemi and Kendall Timmons square off in a match-up between conference bottom-dwellers. Tulane looks to end a five game losing streak, while the Owls look to ascend from the bottom and reach the middle of the pack.

 

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Set Your Tivo: 12.20.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 20th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Not much on the schedule tonight but the action picks up on Tuesday and Wednesday. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Davidson @ St. John’s – 9:30 pm on MSG (**)

This is game two of the MSG Holiday Festival with the winner taking on Northwestern or St. Francis (NY) tomorrow night at the Garden. St. John’s is 5-3 but has lost two straight games to teams they arguably should have beaten, St. Bonaventure and Fordham. St. John’s hasn’t tasted victory since December 1, a win over Wagner. Steve Lavin makes his Garden debut tonight as coach of the Red Storm in a game pivotal for confidence moving forward towards Big East play. The keys to this game will be ball protection and inside scoring. Neither team shoots or defends the three well at all, though Davidson has a constant threat in Brendan McKillop. 6’10 big man Jake Cohen can also shoot it well from deep but he does most of his work inside, leading the team with 15/7 per game on 53% shooting. St. John’s has to defend the paint well because they’re not exactly a potent offensive club, either. The Johnnies are a poor free throw and three point shooting team but they do have some talent. D.J. Kennedy is a versatile forward who can score inside using his athleticism against bigger plodders and has a good mid-range game. Dwight Hardy is also a key player for Lavin’s team as he’s the main three point threat but has been dreadful so far this year, shooting just 26%. Hardy has to get going for St. John’s to make any kind of noise this year. When it comes to ball control, St. John’s has a strong edge. The Red Storm are second in the nation in turnover percentage, committing just ten turnovers a game. By contrast Davidson is ranked #220 and averages 15 per game. The Wildcats have to protect the ball much better than they have been doing in order to have a chance tonight on the road against St. John’s. With Cohen in the post, Davidson may have a rebounding advantage and should use that to create more possessions and limit the damage from possible turnovers. St. John’s should win but the two losses to inferior competition have to give you some pause. They’re at home but this game may be closer than you think.

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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010

Steve Coulter is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

A Look Back

  • Culpepper Ends Starting Streak: Once named the Conference USA Sixth Man of the Year, senior UTEP guard Randy Culpepper returned to the bench last weekend, snapping a streak of 40 games started in a row. The Preseason Player of the Year dropped 24 points coming off the bench and ultimately lead the Miners to a 65-56 win over Michigan.
  • ECU’s Young Reaches 500-assist Plateau: Senior guard Brock Young became the seventh player in conference history to reach 500 career assists during the Pirates’ 81-53 win over UNC Greensboro. Despite a slow start and limited playing time, Young was able to reach the milestone only seven games into the Pirates schedule.
  • UAB Tops Arkansas in OT: Senior guard Jamarr Sanders led the way with 19 points, while all five starters scored in double digits for UAB as they ousted Arkansas 70-65 in overtime. Sophomore Ovie Soko finished with 17 points, but the most impressive performance came from sophomore Cameron Moore, who ended up with his third double-double. Moore scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
  • Rice keeps it close with #20 Texas: Texas guard Cory Joseph’s layup with 37 seconds left lifted the Longhorns over the Owls. Despite beginning the second half trailing 23-20, Texas walked away with a 62-59 win after making nine three-pointers in the second half. The Owls (3-3) were led by Arsalan Kazemi, who finished with 13 points and has scored in double digits every game this season.
  • UTEP Splits in Atlantic City: After a win over New Mexico State on Tuesday, UTEP split a pair of games in the Legends Classic this past weekend. On Friday, the Miners were beaten by Georgia Tech 71-61, but rebounded with a 65-56 win over Michigan. The Miners finished third in the tournament.
  • Clarkson Remains hot, Tulsa Rolls Past Stanford: After being named C-USA Freshman of the Week, Tulsa guard Jordan Clarkson scored a career-high 20 points to lead Tulsa to a 66-53 win over Stanford. The day before, the Golden Hurricanes were dropped by UNLV, 80-71. Against the Rebels, Clarkson was limited to just nine points.
  • Houston Loses In-State Battle With TCU: Houston couldn’t win its first road game against in-state foe TCU. Ronnie Moss and Garlon Green led the Horned Frogs (4-2) with 17 and 16 points, respectively.  After winning their previous two games at home, the Cougars couldn’t overcome 19 turnovers and ended up losing 79-63.

Caught On Film

Marcus Jordan Dunking like Dad: Despite being in only his second season at Central FloridaMarcus Jordan has begun to compile a highlight reel. On Tuesday night, the guard intercepted an inbound pass from Stetson sophomore Ridge Graham and dunked over the dazed Graham. The result was Jordan ending up at #7 on SportsCenter next day as seen in the highlight below.

The Knights went on to win the contest 85-48, then obliterated Alabama State 84-48 on Saturday. Jordan scored 18 points in that contest and has scored in double figures in all five games this season. He leads the 5-0 Knights, averaging 16.8 points per game. Older brother Jeff sits on the bench this season after transferring from Illinois last year.

Power Rankings

  1. Memphis (5-0): The conference’s only ranked team also is in the top ten among scoring offenses in the nation. Everything seems to be running smoothly for the Tigers following the departure of Jelan Kendrick. Freshmen Will Barton and Joe Jackson are combining for 23 points a game, while junior Will Witherspoon is having a big season, scoring 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a contest. The team is a week away from taking on #4 Kansas in Madison Square Garden.
  2. Central Florida (5-0): The Knights have been absolutely dominant thus far, earning small wins over Stetson and Alabama State this past week. Currently, UCF is #12 in the nation in points per game and is shooting over 55% from the field. Limiting their last four opponents to fewer than 60 points has helped the quick start.
  3. Southern Mississippi (4-0): Winless Alcorn State looms for the Golden Eagles as the number three rebounding team in the nation looks to get to 5-0 before next weekend’s matchup vs. Ole Miss. Freshman guard D.J. Newbill has come on strong, recording two double-doubles so far this season. Meanwhile, seniors Josimar Ayarza and Gary Flowers have provided stability.
  4. UAB (4-1): The Blazers make a strong case to be inside the conference’s top four teams. Apart from a three-point loss to Arizona State, the Blazers are perfect and utilizing all team members. In their win over Arkansas, all five starters scored in double digits. Also, Aaron Johnson continues to shine, averaging 9.6 assists per contest.
  5. UTEP (4-2): The move of benching Culpepper paid dividends last weekend, but it is unseen whether or not head coach Tim Floyd is going to keep his superstar from the starting lineup. Senior Jeremy Williams grabbed ten rebounds against the Wolverines. He is currently second on the team, averaging 6.3 boards a game.
  6. Houston (4-2): Big performances off the bench helped the Cougars stay in their last game against TCU, but the starting lineup will need to play better if Houston plans on having the same success as they did last year. Tuesday night they will travel to LSU to continue their tough out of conference schedule. Senior guard Adam Brown is shooting over 50 percent from the three-point line and is averaging 15.5 points per game.
  7. Marshall (3-2): Tough loss to Louisville (4-0), but it is important to note that the Thundering Herd led 34-33 at halftime only to be outscored by 15 in the second half. DeAndre Kane finished with a career-high 25 points, averaging a little less than 14 per game. The biggest problem for Marshall right now: turnovers. Six giveaways in the first couple of minutes in the second half allowed Louisville to take over and never look back.
  8. Tulsa (4-2): With a trio of scorers in Justin Hurtt, Steven Idlet and Jordan Clarkson, the Golden Hurricane looks to be a spoiler team come conference play. Wins over Oral Roberts and Stanford have helped.
  9. East Carolina (5-2): Five weak wins for the Pirates, which means they still remain in the bottom tier of the conference. Senior guard Jontae Sherrod scored 17 off the bench. He currently leads the team in scoring and has scored in double-digits in three consecutive games.
  10. SMU (4-3): The Mustangs are one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation, despite the inside presence of Papa Dia who is averaging 15.3 points a game and 8.3 rebounds per contest. Dia’s double-double against Central Arkansas helped the Mustangs hold on for their fourth victory. With a three-game winning streak, SMU travels to Louisiana Tech, then return home to host Grambling.
  11. Rice (3-3): Despite never trailing by more than five points in the second half against Texas, this is a team that can comfortably set up shop in the bottom tier of the standings. It only gets tougher for the Owls as they travel to take on Arizona on Wednesday.
  12. Tulane (3-2): Getting dropped by Nicholls State (2-2) for the first time in 19 meetings didn’t help the Green Wave get out of the conference’s cellar.  On the bright side, the scoring duo of Kris Richard and Kendall Timmons is averaging over 30 points per game and gives Tulane reason to be confident as the season progresses.

A Look Ahead

  • Central Florida Gets a Shot Against The Gators: The Knights have an early season test this week when they host on in-state foe Florida. So far, UCF is 5-0 with small victories. The Gators (5-1) are a ranked #18 currently and are coming off a big road win against Florida State. Besides an early win over South Florida, this is the first quality game UCF will play this season.
  • UAB Hits the Road: On Friday, UAB will travel to Athens., to take on Georgia, which will be the second SEC team the Blazers have faced in as many weeks. Last Saturday, the Blazers took on Arkansas in a neutral location and walked away with the upset victory. After the game against the Bulldogs, UAB’s schedule gets a little easier until they have to travel to take on top-ranked Duke on January 5.
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Around The Blogosphere: Feast Week Begins

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2010

Those of you who were checking out the site yesterday may have noticed that this is going to be a busy week as we are in Kansas City for the CBE Classic and Maui for the Maui Invitational. We will also be making appearances at the Preseason NIT, 76 Classic, and Legends Classic along with a few random places like Utah State so be on the watch out as we could be coming to a basketball game near you. In the mean time, we have plenty of insider analysis of the games. If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Top 25 Games

  • #1 Duke 82, Marquette 77: “The Marquette Warriors sampled the bitter taste of defeat last night falling 82-77 to the top-ranked Duke Blue Devlis last night at the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City. The Warriors (4-1) have no time to grouse about the defeat, tonight they lace up the hi-tops once more as they face the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the 2010 version of the Jumpin’ Jesuit Jamboree.” (Cracked Sidewalks)
  • #5 Kansas State 81, #23 Gonzaga 64: “Often times in press conferences you hear coaches say ‘We were out-coached, out-manned, out-schemed, out-everythinged’.  This would be an ideal time for Mark Few to use that phrase.  What we saw tonight was a complete butt-whupping handed down by the Wildcats of Kansas State.” (The Slipper Still Fits)
  • #10 Kentucky 76, Oklahoma 64: “I am going to resist the temptation to blast the young Wildcats for this lackadaisical performance.  We have to remember that this team is not only painfully young, but that they have no experience in tiny, hot gyms 6000 miles away to draw upon.  Basically, I just used a lot of words to say, ‘This team is young, and tonight, it showed.'” (A Sea of Blue & Crimson and Cream Machine)

Other Games of Interest

  • UConn 83, Wichita State 79: “Kemba Walker played 1-on-5 against Wichita State in the second half. The Shockers needed more players. Just five days after making our eyes bug out like Looney Tunes characters by dropping a career-high 42 points on Vermont, Kemba may have outdone himself with Monday’s performance: Walker scored 31 points — 29 of which coming in the second half — on 8-for-16 (50%) shooting from the floor and 14-for-15 shooting from the charity stripe, and, just because he’s an equal opportunist, he threw in three steals and two assists while almost single-handedly erasing a nine-point deficit.” (The UConn Blog)

Pre-Game Analysis

  • Quick Look at Maryland-Delaware State: “First up, Delaware State is a cupcake compared to the two teams Maryland just went toe-to-toe with. That’s not to hate on DSU, but they’re bringing in eight new freshmen and returning only one starter. They were 17-12 last year but lost most of that team and were predicted to finish 5th in the preseason MEAC poll. A run-of-the-mill MEAC squad wouldn’t be all that imposing to begin with, but make them young and inexperienced and they should be one of the easier wins Maryland will get all year.” (Testudo Times)

News

  • Notes & Quotes from Legends Classic Teleconference: Jim Boeheim, John Beilein, Paul Hewitt, and Tim Floyd talking to the media in the build-up to the games later this week. (UM Hoops)
  • Butler: David Woods – Indianapolis Star: “Indianapolis Star writer David Woods previews Butler at Siena tongiht as well as his new book Underdawgs: How Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs Marched Their Way to the Brink of College Basketball’s National Championship.” (Siena Saints Blog)
  • Gators Basketball Rise Up? Not so much: “Sunday afternoon, Florida limped to a 61-55 win over Morehead State. The Gators allowed the Eagles to score 38 points in the second half, nearly erasing a 17-point halftime lead. While this was one game on a lazy Sunday against an inferior opponent, it revealed some dangerous trends for the Gators.” (Alligator Army)
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Jelan Kendrick Out Of Memphis And On To. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on November 13th, 2010

We first heard about trouble in Memphis for star small forward Jelan Kendrick when he was temporarily suspended from the team less than a month ago. At the time Josh Pastner and the Tigers staff tried to say that it was not a unilateral decision at the time, but today Pastner and his staff have decided to kick Kendrick off the team for good. According to sources the decision was not the result of a single specific incident, but instead the culmination of months of poor decisions by Kendrick. Clearly for the Tigers this is a big loss as a combination of Kendrick and Will Barton could have been lethal in Conference USA particularly if they had both stuck around for a few years, but on the plus side the Tigers know who they will have relatively early in the season and can adapt instead of having this happen in February or March.

Is the potential reward worth the likely headache?

The more interesting this is what will happen to Kendrick. As we have seen with Tony Woods there will undoubtedly be no shortage of suitors for Kendrick especially since Kendrick is more talented than Woods and has a much less serious charge against him. The question is where he will end up. While any program would love to add a player of Kendrick’s caliber there are probably a select few programs that we would expect to stay above the fray such as Duke, UNC, Syracuse, and several other well-known programs that could probably land a player of Kendrick’s caliber in the next year or two. That leaves the rest of the nation potentially open to Kendrick. While other coaches come to mind such as Bob Huggins particularly during his Cincinnati days as suckers for a reclamation project we suspect that Kendrick will probably be taking a step down in terms of notoriety of the program that he goes to. Our pick? UTEP with Tony Barbee (now Tim Floyd as the former Iowa State/Chicago Bulls/New Orleans Hornets/USC coach) had a modicum of success with Derrick Caracter, a perpetual malcontent, last season and got him to the NBA where is currently on the LA Lakers roster. Caracter may not have had as many altercations with his teammates as Kendrick reportedly has, but he had a well-known reputation for driving his coaches crazy. Having said that there are plenty of other options for Kendrick (and we suspect that he will have no less than 20 offers by the time Monday morning rolls around) and we will be eager to see which coaches would be willing to take a chance on a player with Kendrick’s reputation for a change to work with a player of Kendrick’s ability.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 11.01.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Although we have been mentioning that some of the recruiting buzz might start slowing down we still saw one big-time recruit commit this week and another back out of his prior commitment.

  • First we will go with the big commitment as Memphis picked up its first commitment of the recruiting season (shocking, right?) when local product and reality TV star Adonis Thomas committed to play for the Tigers. Josh Pastner utilized former Memphis star Penny Hardaway to appeal to Thomas during a video segment aired during their version of Midnight Madness. Thomas announced his decision on ESPNU, which is quite frankly less dramatic than we imagined for a player who went on ESPNU to announce his finalists.
  • Now for the less joyous news (if you’re a fan of the team that previously had a commitment) we will head to Texas where Rick Barnes lost a commitment from highly coveted Canadian (via Findlay Prep) point guard recruit Myck Kabongo who has not provided a definitive answer as to why he has reneged on his earlier promise. As of now he says that he is still considering Texas along with Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina. There has been some talk about Austin Rivers and Kabongo wanting to team up (anybody getting visions of college poor man’s LeBron-Wade in Cameron?), but we will probably have to wait until Spring to find out as Kabongo says he is 60% certain that he’ll sign in the late period. [Ed. Note: Where do these guys come up with these percentages?]

    Kabongo is on the market again

  • Stanford picked up a huge commitment this week when the received a verbal commitment from top 10 point guard prospect Chasson Randle, who decided to head to Palo Alto after considering Illinois and Purdue citing the combination of academics (4.0 high school GPA) and athletics.
  • Indiana might still be waiting on Cody Zeller to decide on where he wants to go, but they were able to pick up a commitment from Hanner Perea, a power forward in the class of 2012 that many recruiting experts consider the most explosive big man in the class. Some of you may remember Perea as being the focal point of Baylor‘s current cell phone/text message scandal, but we have a feeling you might forget that when you see how athletic he is (additional video after the jump).
  • [Ed. Note: Both videos–this and the one after the jump–are of Perea as a sophomore.]

  • Bruce Weber may have missed out on Randle and Anthony Davis, two of the top players in the state of Illinois, but he was able to get a commitment from Mike Shaw, a 6’8″ forward who many expect to improve significantly in college.
  • Last week we noted the apparent hesitance of Jahii Carson to officially sign with Arizona State, but now it appears like he will sign with the Sun Devils during November.
  • Duke lost a commitment from Tyler Adams, a 6’9″ center who the Blue Devils had been interested in to help them add depth on the inside. The decision might surprise some, but not those who have followed the process closely. As RTC interview subject Dave Telep notes the two sides had grown apart to the point that Adams attended Midnight Madness at Georgetown, which is never a good sign for a Duke commit. According to Telep, the two current leaders for Adams are Georgetown and Mississippi State.
  • Speaking of Mississippi State they picked up a big commitment from Rodney Hood, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, who opted to stay in his home state instead of going to a long list of potential suitors. With Arkansas picking up an outstanding class, Georgia starting to corner the market on in-state recruits, Kentucky being Kentucky, and other schools landing several solid recruits could the SEC be turning the corner and becoming a solid conference again? Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Conference Primers: #9 – Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 28th, 2010

Steve Coulter of the DU Clarion is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Memphis (15-1)
  2. UTEP (14-2)
  3. UAB (12-4)
  4. Marshall (10-6)
  5. Southern Mississippi (9-7)
  6. Houston (8-8)
  7. Tulsa (8-8)
  8. East Carolina (6-10)
  9. Southern Methodist (6-10)
  10. Central Florida (5-11)
  11. Tulane (2-14)
  12. Rice (1-15)

All-Conference First Team

  • G: Justin Hurtt, Tulsa, Sr.
  • G: Randy Culpepper, UTEP, Sr. (Preseason Player of the Year)
  • F: Wesley Witherspoon, Memphis, Jr.
  • F:  Gary Flowers, Southern Mississippi
  • F/C: Will Coleman, Memphis, Sr.

All-Conference Second Team

  • G: Brock Young, East Carolina, Sr.
  • G: Joe Jackson, Memphis, Fr.
  • G/F: Will Barton, Memphis, Fr.
  • F: Jeremy Williams, UTEP, Jr.
  • F/C: Papa Dia, SMU, Sr.

Memphis has a talented stable of young talent, including the recently-cleared Will Barton. (bouncemag.com)

Impact Newcomers

Several freshman and transfer players will suit up for C-USA squads this season, but three that have grabbed everyone’s attention before the season has gone under way.

  • Charles Carmouche, SG, Memphis: The junior transfer from New Orleans is a sharpshooter who can be the difference-maker late in the season. He is eligible to play right way, as the Privateers dismantled their program and moved to Division III status.
  • Scottie Haralson, G, Tulsa: The UConn transfer could get a lot of playing time and be one of those studs that people talk about at the end of the season. Of course, it really depends whether he is cleared to play.
  • Joseph Young, G, Houston: The freshman was a Parade All-America Third-Team selection from Yates High School. He is a talented young guard in a class with athletic forwards that makes Houston a contender in the conference once again. The infusion of a guy like Young into the lineup could spark a team looking for a playmaker. Young was the Texas Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year last season.

What You Need to Know

  • There are six first-year coaches in the league this season; Tim Floyd getting hired at UTEP was probably the biggest offseason coaching move.
  • The Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championships will be held in El Paso, giving UTEP a slight home court advantage against their conference opponents. The first game tips off on Wednesday, March 9. The tournament ends on Saturday, March 12 and the final will be broadcasted on CBS.
  • UAB’s Aaron Johnson enters the season in need of 173 assists to become the school’s all-time leader. 597 assists is currently the record and the senior point guard leads a well-balanced UAB squad that could emerge as an at-large dark horse. The 5’8 point guard finished his junior year averaging 9.6 points per game, 4.8 assists per game, and 2.5 rebounds per game.

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RTC’s Five Biggest Coaching Moves This Offseason

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

David Ely is an RTC contributor.

College basketball is finally back and as always one of the most interesting subplots of the new season is all of the coaches at their respective new schools. It seemed like this year had more coaching changes than normal, so here are the five coaching moves we’re keeping an eye on as well as a few of the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Steve Donahue at Boston College

Donahue Will No Doubt Find the ACC Challenging

  • Resume: 10 seasons as head coach at Cornell (146-138).
  • Postseason history: Three straight Ivy League Championships (2008-10); Three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2008-10), including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
  • How he got to Boston College: Donahue became one of the nations “It” coaches when the Big Red stormed onto the scene in March Madness, making and breaking brackets everywhere in their run to the Sweet 16. Actually, Donahue probably first garnered attention when Cornell nearly knocked off No. 1 Kansas in January 2010. Boston College, on the other hand, was nudging down the pecking order of the ACC and Al Skinner eventually became the scapegoat for the Eagles lack of success (two losing seasons in the last five). Skinner was fired after the end of the season, and Donahue got the job April 6.
  • Signature style: An up-tempo attack that is dependent on the three-ball. Cornell was the top three-point shooting team in the nation last year, hitting from downtown at a 43.3% clip.
  • Likelihood of success: Depends on what you label success. Will the Eagles duplicate Cornell’s run of three straight Ivy League titles in the ACC? Probably not. But Boston College’s rough play always felt out of place in the ACC, and a more open style should make the Eagles competitive against the Dukes and North Carolinas. There’s no reason to believe that Donahue can’t bring BC back to the level it was at when Jared Dudley and Craig Smith played in Chestnut Hill.
  • Will endear himself if: He can make basketball exciting at Boston College again. BC has always been an awkward match with its ACC brethren, and the school still feels more like a Big East program. Because of the Donahue’s lovable underdog history, he should have a decent-sized grace period before people start to expect results.
  • Will be on the hot seat if: His attempt to change BC’s style fails. Sometimes people don’t like change (just ask Rich Rodriguez at Michigan). If the local writers in Boston start throwing out terms like soft, then it might be that Donahue and Boston College just aren’t the right fit.

Tim Floyd at UTEP

  • Resume: 327-181 combined record in 16 seasons at four schools, including an 85-50 mark at Southern Cal. Floyd also coached for five seasons in the NBA at Chicago and New Orleans where he went 49-190 and 44-45, respectively.
  • Postseason history: Eight trips to the NCAA Tournament including two Sweet 16 berths (Iowa State and USC).
  • How he got to UTEP: Tony Barbee left UTEP during the offseason to become the new coach at Auburn, and UTEP athletic director Bob Stull reportedly contacted Floyd about the position immediately after Barbee resigned. Floyd was a Miners assistant coach under Don Haskins from 1977-86.
  • Signature style: In his introductory news conference at UTEP, Floyd said that the Miners would attempt to run a pro-style offense. Expect to see a lot of half-court sets and diagrammed plays at UTEP under Floyd. Defense might turn into the Miners’ strength. At times USC was a shutdown defensive program when Floyd was at the helm with the Trojans showing the propensity to get creative in their schemes on that end of the floor (i.e., USC’s triangle-and-two defense that nearly took down Memphis in 2007).
  • Likelihood of success: Pretty good. Conference USA is up for grabs in the post-John Calipari Era. The Miners went 15-1 in conference last year, and Floyd has the profile to become a powerful recruiter if he can take a veteran group and build on their 24-6 finish in 2010.
  • Will endear himself if: The Miners compete for the Conference USA title on a yearly basis. The program knew the baggage they’d get when they hired Floyd, but the tantalizing potential of a Memphis-like dynasty emerging at UTEP was enough to justify the move. If Floyd wins games and turns the Miners into a national player (he’s already said he wants to schedule the best in the nation), people will tend to forget his dicey past.
  • Will be on the hot seat if: He gets involved in another NCAA scandal. Everyone knows that Floyd would still be at USC if it wasn’t for violations in the recruitment of O.J. Mayo. If a situation like that arose again at UTEP, Floyd’s career as a collegiate head coach could be over.

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Myron Strong Dismissed By UTEP, Leaves Behind Flaming Bridges

Posted by jstevrtc on August 13th, 2010

As if things weren’t already hot enough in Texas this summer, something boiled over at UTEP yesterday as rising senior guard Myron Strong was dismissed from the basketball team by head coach Tim Floyd for, in Strong’s words, “violating dorm rules.”  When Strong communicated with the UTEP blog Miner Rush later on Thursday, though, he mentioned something else that might have had something to do with it:

The coaching in college isn’t fair to me. You know the coaches are gonna bring in who they want to bring in.  I only failed one drug test at UTEP. The first couple days Tim Floyd came to UTEP he tested our squad and the majority of the team failed.

The website pressed him on this issue, and Strong continued his harangue:

As far as the drug test, I’m not giving any names but if I got kicked out because of that, that’s just plain out wrong because I wasn’t the only person who failed. He wanted me out so he did anything in his power to do so. My senior year at that. I never wanted to leave UTEP and plus I failed a drug test months ago, so why am I now all of a sudden off the team? I don’t get Tim Floyd at all. He’s trying to basically ruin my image…

Floyd dismisses Strong, and has some holes to fill at the guard spot.

Strong, who averaged 2.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 2.0 APG in 13.3 minutes per game last season as a transfer from the University of San Francisco, continued to slam Floyd and the UTEP staff in that discussion, claiming that Arnett Moutrie and Derrick Caracter were pressured not to even consider testing the NBA waters or they “would not have a scholarship,” and that college coaches “preach to us to do the right thing but they’re the ones breaking all the rules.”  We don’t want to just repeat the whole story from Miner Rush, so go check out the link above after you’re done here.  The blog notes at the end that they’ve asked the UTEP athletic department for a comment but had received nothing.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of this.  Taking a page out of J.R. Inman’s book, Strong brought up on his Facebook page the relationship between Floyd and former USC guard O.J. Mayo, writing (among other things), “I’m hearing [Floyd] had a fake charity event to pay OJ Mayo $100,000 to play for him. How did the ncaa [sic] let that slide?”

UTEP has been all but silent on the matter, offering little comment other than to say that Strong was dismissed.  But Memphis Commercial-Appeal writer Dan Wolken tweeted yesterday that he had spoken with Floyd, who confirmed that the dismissal was due to the failed drug test.

Strong will attempt to play next season at either Azusa Pacific University in suburban Los Angeles or Victory University in Memphis, according to his comments to Miner Rush.  A comparatively minor (no homophonic pun intended) contributor in the UTEP system, Strong’s ouster nevertheless leaves Tim Floyd with only two returning officially-listed guards who played more than three minutes a game last season, specifically scoring leader Culpepper (17.9 PPG in 33.3 minutes) and fellow senior Christian Polk (9.3 PPG in 24.6 minutes), though junior forward Julyan Stone (6.1 PPG in 30.8 minutes) spent some time at both guard and forward last year.  With Derrick Caracter now a Laker, Arnett Moultrie’s transfer, and now Strong’s removal, Tim Floyd has a team to rebuild, let alone an image that needed repair long before Strong took his complaints to various public forums.

[h/t: VBTN]

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Morning Five: 07.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2010

  1. The biggest news in the world of college athletics came out of South Central today as USC announced that its longtime athletic director Mike Garrett will step down in the wake of probation for both the football and men’s basketball programs on his watch.  Pat Haden, another former USC quarterback, will take over for Garrett in that capacity.  New USC president Max Nikias, still weeks away from formally taking over, also decreed that the school will remove all athletic references (photos, murals and the like) to Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo prior to the arrival of incoming students next month.  They’re even sending Bush’s Heisman Trophy back!  Former head coach Tim Floyd, currently whiling his time away in El Paso, had little to say about the matter.
  2. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey to his irresponsible players Tim Abromaitis and Eric Atkins:  “A lot of sweating will be involved.”  Here’s hoping that they have to run a mile for every beer imbibed.  Y’know, because of the extra calories.
  3. Some coaching news from yesterday.  UIC’s Jimmy Collins announced his retirement effective at the end of August after fourteen seasons at the school — including three NCAA Tournament appearances and six other winning campaigns.  As Goodman reports, the timing of this is odd given that it’s currently the height of recruiting season, but Collins has had medical issues in the past.  We hope he’s ok.
  4. One piece of player news that slipped past us over the weekend — Gonzaga (ok, RTC) fan favorite Bol Kong is leaving Spokane for personal reasons.  Kong averaged 4.5 PPG in his only season for the Zags, but showed promise with a solid three-point stroke (43%) and a nose for the ball.  We hope to see him re-surface somewhere soon.
  5. Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander did a cool thing to get ready for this weekend’s recruiting extravaganza in Vegas.  They polled the top recruits to see whom they would choose as the best in several categories, and the results were interesting.  Austin Rivers was named the top player, Michael Gilchrist the best defender and hardest worker, Brad Beal the best shooter, Marquis Teague the best shooter, and Anthony Davis the best rebounder.  Oh, and best trash-talker: Quincy Miller (no surprise if you read his tweets).  It should be a fun weekend sorting through all of these players out in the desert.
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