Random Thoughts On Houston’s Win Over Morgan State

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 23rd, 2014

Houston‘s win over Morgan State marked the home opener for new head coach Kelvin Sampson at Hofheinz Pavilion. Yes, the box score will tell you the Cougars won by 15 but watching it in person, it did not feel like a dominating performance from Houston. They shot about the same percentage from the floor (32.9 percent for Houston; 33.3 percent for Morgan State). As it turns out, the Cougars also turned the ball over more times than Morgan State (23-19) and had fewer steals (9-12). So I was left with no choice but to write some random thoughts on last night’s confusing result and other stuff.

Houston's Cavon Baker (12 points, 10 rebounds) attempts a layup. UH would go on to beat Morgan State 72-57. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle)

Houston’s Cavon Baker (12 points, 10 rebounds) attempts a layup. UH would go on to beat Morgan State 72-57. (Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle)

1. Both teams got off to rocky starts for different reasons coming into the game. Morgan State was playing their fourth game since opening the season on November 14. Two nights earlier, the Bears played at Northern Iowa and led the Panthers going into halftime (yeah, the same Northern Iowa that won at Stephen F. Austin last Tuesday). Houston was playing in only their second game since defeating Murray State in Murray also on November 14. Eventually, the Cougars woke up and the Bears were hiberna–, wait, still sleeping. Phew, that was a close one.

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Morning Five: 01.10.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 10th, 2012

  1. After thinking it over on Sunday night Khem Birch announced that he would be transferring to UNLV. Birch chose UNLV over Florida and New Mexico State, his two other reported finalists. In the end, it appears that Birch saw what Mike Moser, one of several transfers on the UNLV roster, was doing in UNLV’s system and felt that he could play a similar role for the Rebels. Birch will join an interesting roster next year that will feature three other transfers and a solid incoming class with one more scholarship spot available. Of course, many Rebels fan will view this decision through the prism of how it will affect their recruitment of Shabazz Muhammad, the #1 overall recruit in this year’s senior class. According to Muhammad’s father, Birch’s announcement “only strengthens UNLV in the eyes of Shabazz.”
  2. While Birch knows that he will be playing college basketball in a year, the future is not so bright for UAB student Todd O’Brien as his appeal for a graduate student transfer exemption was denied by the NCAA. O’Brien’s saga, which technically began last summer, rose to national prominence last month when he wrote a column for Sports Illustrated calling out Saint Joseph’s and Phil Martelli for not granting him a waiver and not providing him with a reason for their denial. As we noted last week, Saint Joseph’s has tried to hide behind the veil of  student privacy although reports last week indicate that the school would not divulge its reason(s) even if O’Brien waived that right. Now it appears with little non-legal (the real legal system not the NCAA version), O’Brien appears willing to call Saint Joseph’s bluff and we will see how the school and Martelli respond.
  3. Over the past few years, Todd Bozeman has become known as the one coach who had managed to overcome the  now infamous show-cause penalty to become a success Division I basketball head coach. Unfortunately, Bozeman’s path to redemption took a detour over the weekend as Bozeman was involved in an altercation of some sort with senior guard Larry Bastfield. There are conflicting reports on what actually happened–Bozeman says it was “accidental contact” while others say it was a deliberate punch–but for the time being Morgan State has decided to suspend Bozeman indefinitely while they conduct an investigation. From the reports we have read the evidence does not appear to be clear cut especially since both Bozeman and Bastfield now claim that the incident was overblown, but for someone with Bozeman’s history this is the last thing he needs to have around him.
  4. It did not generate nearly the same level of buzz that Birch’s announcement did, but St. John’s picked up a commitment from transfer Jamal Branch, who left Texas A&M after just 11 games this season. Branch, who was a consensus top 100 recruit last season, will be a welcome addition to a Red Storm team that lost much of its heralded freshman class to a variety of eligibility issues and are still waiting on several members of next season’s incoming freshman class to finalize their decisions.
  5. In this week’s Hoops Thoughts column Seth Davis explores the downtrend in fouls called and scoring with some analysis from John Adams, the NCAA’s supervisor of officials. Adams provides some interesting insight and clarifies a few common misconceptions that some fans have about new or controversial rules. Seth also offers a variety of random thoughts on different teams and even touches on his belief that coaches should wear more casual/comfortable clothing on the sideline citing St. John’s big win over then #1 Duke last January when its coaches wore sneakers and open collars, which they also did when they when they lost at home in November to Northeastern by 14.
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Bruce Pearl, VP Of Marketing — For Now

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

The ink on Bruce Pearl’s three-year show-cause sanction from the NCAA is barely dry, and he’s already found his next job. Pearl has agreed to the position of VP of Marketing for the Knoxville-based H.T. Hackney company, one of the biggest wholesale grocers in the country. We haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but RTC is going on record as saying that Hackney’s CEO, William Sansom, will not have to go before the NCAA to justify why it wants to hire the former Tennessee boss.

Pearl: From Volunteer to VP to...We'll See

OK, we’re ribbing Pearl a little, there, but frankly, we like the move. A lot of guys who have achieved Pearl’s level of success would shun opportunities like this, knowing how they’d be made fun of for going from the heights of men’s Division I hoops to a wholesale grocer (though it is a $4 billion a year outfit). Pearl doesn’t care about this, and we think that’s something to admire. What’s more is…it’s a VP job in marketing. Not an easy day’s work, usually, but we also know a lot of marketing VPs who do absolutely no work at all. We predict that Pearl — a marketing and economics major in college, according to the linked article — will have a workload that falls somewhere in-between there but closer to the latter.

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Morning Five: 08.30.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

  1. We’ve been on record for a while with our belief that the summer trips abroad that teams take to play exhibitions against foreign squads pay off in currencies that have little to do with the on-court aspects of basketball and more to do with overall esprit-de-corps and the broadening of minds of 18-22 year-olds. We like that Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson seems to agree. The Des Moines Register‘s Mark Emmert (not that one, we assume) noted that a few schools in the state of Iowa got to go to some pretty amazing places this summer — Australia, Italy, and Brazil, anyone? — with Jacobson quoted as saying, “The time away from (strictly basketball activities) becomes beneficial, just building that team chemistry and the trust and the things that have to be there if you’re going to put together a good season.”
  2. Mark Turgeon has Gary Williams to thank for the recent inking of 7’1”, 225-pound Ukranian Olexiy Len to the Terps’ roster for the upcoming season — the program had been recruiting Len before Turgeon arrived and finalized the deal — and already Len has vaulted himself into the upper reaches of our favorite players for 2011-12. He said that the first time he ever saw Maryland play was against Duke at Comcast in 2010, a game that ended in a big ol’ RTC. Len’s impression: “I could not believe the atmosphere…it was unbelievable.” Around here, we don’t necessarily advocate every RTC, but when used properly…well, don’t tell us it doesn’t mean anything. It certainly did last year to a kid in the Ukraine who now finds himself en route to the College Park Campus.
  3. After seven years of the previous version, there is a new floor at Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum. We like the balance struck, here. There are some progressive tones but still a traditional feel. Put better, they didn’t go overboard but still made it cool. The purple octagon outline? Nice. The darker “intra-arc” wood? We’re on board. The PowerCat in the center? Perfect size. Well done all around. We imagine it will bring a smile even to Frank Martin’s face (we kid, we kid). Take note, Northwestern.
  4. Speaking of K-State, are they really, as the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger puts it, “one step above hosed” when it comes to likely shake-outs of the next phase of conference realignment? Some experts believe that Kansas would do better to disregard pressure from in-state influences and do whatever Missouri does. A KU-Mizzou bond pretty much cements a solid rivalry around Kansas City, one of the country’s most college-sports-crazy markets. Kansas State, says Mr. Mellinger’s expert, has the most to lose in the end, and in this swirling magma that represents the early evolution of eventual superconferences, has a profile that doesn’t fit the SEC as much as it does the MAC. My, the deals, alliances and secret handshakes that must quietly be happening in that proverbial Big 12 backroom. By the way, has anyone seen Texas A&M?
  5. Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman knows all about that big ice cube on which Bruce Pearl is about to sit. Bozeman was a 32 year-old hot shot at California when he got slapped with a show-cause from the NCAA for paying Jelani Gardner’s parents $30,000 and then lying about it. His show-cause penalty was for eight years, though, which ended up keeping him out of coaching for ten. Pearl will be 55 years old when his three-year show-cause ends in 2014. Could any coach hit with such a penalty ever come back to a level anywhere near that which they once achieved? It seems darn near impossible once you’ve been stigmatized with the show-cause, and that’s obviously the point. Nooga.com’s Brendan Quinn recounts the story of Bozeman and ponders the fate of Pearl in an interesting piece.

 

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NCAA Gets Change Out Of Kentucky, But Will It Go After The Rest?

Posted by jstevrtc on June 17th, 2011

On Thursday, the University of Kentucky issued a statement claiming that it was in error in celebrating John Calipari’s 500th win on February 26 after beating Florida, and that in future media guides and any published material it would depict Calipari’s career win total with the vacated wins from his time at Memphis and Massachusetts subtracted.

Behold, the Statistic In Dispute, From Kentucky's 2010-11 Factbook

Here’s what happened. At the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Kentucky considered Calipari to have logged 480 wins (vacated wins not removed), while the NCAA officially listed him with 438 (42 wins removed). The NCAA evidently considered it to be a slap in the face when Kentucky had its small post-game display to mark what UK considered Cal’s 500th win on February 26, as well as the fact that its media guides and website ignored the NCAA’s removal of the wins from Calipari’s record. It asked UK to change it and alert the media that the celebration of Calipari’s 500th was erroneous. Kentucky’s compliance office responded to the NCAA, but they were unmoved and sent another missive, again  pressing for the change. And the reason the NCAA knew about this and went down this road was…a tip from a fan of a rival program.

[Ed. Note: You can read the correspondence between the NCAA and Kentucky here. It’s pretty interesting. And we’re not sure how Lexington Herald-Leader sportswriter Jerry Tipton could ever comfortably show his face in Lexington again.]

This was the right move by Kentucky. It wouldn’t make any sense for the program to go out of its way to position itself on the NCAA’s bad side, and 42 wins is simply too small a prize to justify the continued poking of that bear. At some point John Calipari will move on and either coach somewhere else or retire. Kentucky won’t care how many wins John Calipari has then, but we guarantee the NCAA would remember it if Kentucky decided to openly defy them. As we all know, the NCAA is still judge, jury and executioner in this biz, and if anything should come up in the future, you’d rather they have a more favorable opinion of you. Kentucky noted the error, didn’t apologize — one really wasn’t warranted, though it sounds like that’s what the NCAA wanted — but promised to make the adjustment the NCAA asked for. And let’s be honest — if those are the rules everyone has to play by, then justice really was done here.

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Morning Five: 05.18.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 18th, 2011

  1. Coaches, administrators, and fans have been critical of unscrupulous agents for a long time, but were limited in their ability to get back at them. That group may now have a legal method to do so in the state of Texas as the state legislature has sent a bill to Governor Rick Perry proposing that agents and their runners could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison if their actions lead a college athlete to lose his or her eligibility. The details on how this law would work are not clear and we cannot even imagine how ridiculous these cases could get (many top agents are also lawyers) if they ever go to trial, but it’s certainly worth tracking in the coming months.
  2. It is always unusual to see a coach who once worked on a big stage take a step (or two) down to continue coaching at a lower level. In the case of Jim O’Brien the cause is a little more clear. As many of you may remember, O’Brien, who had previously coached at Ohio State and Boston College, was forced to leave the former after the school was accused of multiple NCAA violations and was hit with severe sanctions including having their 1999 Final Four run vacated. In addition, O’Brien also received a two-year show-cause penalty (he pocketed $2.4 million from OSU after a judge ruled that he had been wrongfully terminated, however). O’Brien will be returning to Boston to coach at Division III Emerson College. We doubt that O’Brien will ever get back to being a head coach at the Division I level, but he is one of the few coaches that that has been hit with a show-cause penalty that has received a head coaching job at the NCAA level with Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman still being the only one who got a Division I job. Bruce Pearl might want to keep that in mind going forward.
  3. On Thursday a segment on NBC’s Today Show will air (estimated at 7:45 AM ET) in which a (former?) Wake Forest student will speak about an alleged sexual assault involving members of the Wake Forest basketball team that occurred hours after the team was eliminated in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament. We are not sure if she will name names on-air, but luckily their attorney already has: Mike Grace stated that former Demon Deacons Jeff Teague and Gary Clark were accused on that fateful night in Miami, but both players were completely exonerated by both the Miami-Dade County police and the Wake Forest code of conduct hearing council.  It’ll be interesting to see how this student spins the interview in light of this new information on Thursday morning.  Quick sidenote: leave it to Andy Katz (link above) to drop recruiting news into a story about sexual assault — another former Wake Forest player accused of assualt, Tony Woods, is reportedly close to transferring to Kentucky.
  4. The schedule for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which has grown in popularity in recent years, was released yesterday. Looking through the schedule we have to say that it’s underwhelming. Outside of the Duke-Ohio State and UNC-Wisconsin games few of the games look particularly interesting. We’re sure that ESPN will find a way to hype it up as being a series of great games, but don’t fall for it. There are three other games that might be worth watching (Miami-Purdue, Illinois-Maryland, and FSU-Michigan State), but other than that most of the games are close to unwatchable. This could be because the ACC is experiencing a bit of a dry spell, but the organizers need to find a way to keep this fresh (switching conference match-ups?) or these type of events will lose the public’s interest very quickly.
  5. Doug Gottlieb takes a look at some of next year’s impact transfers (ESPN Insider required) and we have to say it is a pretty impressive group. Maybe we are forgetting how good prior transfer classes were or overrating the current crop (most of these guys left their prior programs for a reason), but this seems like an exceptionally talented group. Keep this group in mind when you are trying to figure out what impact the newcomers will have on college basketball next season instead of just focusing on the freshmen.
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BGTD: Saturday Afternoon Tourney Sessions

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2011

Throughout conference tournament weekend, we’re going to pop in with some BGTD-style analysis at least twice a day.  Twelve automatic bids will be decided on this day, let’s take a look at some of the top storylines so far.

  • Well, Hello, Memphis.  Nice to See You Again.  It’s seemingly been nothing but bad news out of the Memphis Tiger program this year.  From suspensions to players leaving to selfishness to really bad losses, pretty much everyone wrote Josh Pastner’s team off as a non-factor midway through the season.  Coming into the Conference USA Tournament, Memphis was considered one of several teams with a shot to win a balanced tourney, but with UTEP playing at home, the Miners were considered a slight favorite.  When the two teams matched up in today’s title game, you’ll forgive everyone for thinking the 74-47 beatdown the Tigers suffered two weeks ago might be indicative of what would happen today.  Instead, Memphis roared back from a 12-point deficit with six minutes remaining to nip UTEP by a single point and vault Pastner into his first NCAA Tournament as the head coach of the program.  This freshman-laden team has been unpredictable all year, but what #4 seed wants to see Memphis with its several Burger Boys opposite their draw as a #13 — are you serious?
  • The Re-Introduction of Harrison Barnes.  It’s taken most of the season, but the Harrison Barnes that UNC thought it was getting when it signed the top prep player in America last year has finally arrived.  In his last five games, he’s gone for a minimum of 18 points and has started to look the part as an elite scorer comfortable with the ball in his hands.  It culminated today in a 40-point explosion that tied the all-time freshman scoring record in the ACC (held by Tyler Hansbrough) and represents the largest scoring performance in sixteen years of the ACC Tourney.  He’s now hit ten threes in his last two games, not bad for a player who only hit 45 all season, but the more important thing for Roy Williams is that he’s playing and shooting the ball with confidence.  As long as the talented wing keeps playing like he has been recently, UNC can go as far as anybody in the field (although we wouldn’t recommend constantly trying to play catch-up, as the Heels have led for only 36 seconds during 80 regulation minutes).
  • Douglas Davis a New Ivy Legend.  In one of the best-played games of the entire Championship Week (it should have been on broadcast television rather than online), Princeton’s Douglas Davis had the moment of his young life when he dribbled right, pump-faked, and hit a fading-left step-through jumper to send Princeton back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years.  Put the slightly-built junior guard from Philadelphia in the annals of Tiger history along with Gabe Lewellus and Bill Bradley as bonafide postseason heroes, and chalk Harvard and Tommy Amaker up as the hard-luck school who can finish first in everything except Ivy League basketball (no NCAA appearances as a member of the league).  Expect to see this moment many times over the next five days, as America has once again found its new favorite Cinderella to root for next week.

  • Nolan Smith’s Toe.  Whatever concerns there were over Nolan Smith’s injured toe from yesterday’s ACC quarterfinals, those fears were quickly erased today as Smith went for 27/6 assts in 39 minutes of action where he looked pretty much as good as new.  This is obviously a huge relief for Duke fans everywhere, because even with the deep backcourt Coach K has at his disposal, not even the top Devil can overcome losing two All-American caliber point guards in the same season.  The win over Virginia Tech sets up a blockbuster rubber match between Duke and North Carolina on Sunday, with the winner very likely making a claim on a #1 seed in the Southeast Region (and playing in Charlotte/DC the first two rounds).
  • More Auto-Bids. Other than Princeton, there were a few other automatic bids handed out this afternoon.  In the America East, Boston U. came back from a fifteen-point second half deficit on the back of its star, John Holland, who torched Stony Brook with a 14-0 streak by himself.  In the MEAC, Hampton ended the Morgan State stranglehold on that league (2009 and 2010 champs) in a game where losing coach Todd Bozeman accused a referee of “bias” against his team afterward.  Way to go, coach.  In the Southland, UT-San Antonio outlasted McNeese State with a young team that will head back to the NCAAs for the first time in seven seasons.  Welcome back, everyone.
  • Bubbling Up.  Penn State is clearly off the bubble and into the Dance after today’s impressive win over Michigan State… Similarly, Richmond is likely safe after moving on to the A-10 championship game with an upset win over Temple…
  • Bubbling Down.  Alabama could have used a better performance against Kentucky today to again prove its worth to the Committee, but that didn’t happen… UTEP probably needed to win on its home court with a double-figure lead late in the game to secure its bid…  Harvard is likely waiting another year, even though many people think they should at least be considered…  Michigan State is probably ok after two wins this weekend, but today’s loss ensures they’ll cause a lot of problems for some high seed next weekend.
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The NCAA’s Verdicts On Calhoun & Pearl Raise More Questions

Posted by nvr1983 on February 23rd, 2011

Within a span of 24 hours the NCAA released a pair of statements that sent shock waves through NCAA coaching circles. The first involving Connecticut and its Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun had been expected since Yahoo! Sports broke the story on the recruitment of Nate Miles in March 2009, while the other involved Tennessee and both its basketball and football programs in an ongoing process, but just came to the media’s attention within the past year. While the verdict on Calhoun and the release of the NCAA’s notice of allegations against Tennessee has created quite a bit of controversy, they also raise a lot of questions.

Calhoun was less than thrilled with the NCAA's ruling

Before we get into the questions, it’s probably best to lay out each of the cases:

Connecticut

The Huskies were cited for the recruitment of Nate Miles that involved the use of a former student-manager-turned-agent Josh Nochimson who reportedly helped direct Miles to Storrs. Nochimson reportedly dealt with two UConn assistants in Patrick Sellars and Beau Archibald, both of whom are no longer with the program. According to the NCAA’s official release “the case includes more than $6,000 in improper recruiting inducements, (150) impermissible phone calls and (190) text messages to prospective student-athletes, failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere for compliance by the head coach, failure to monitor by the university, and unethical conduct by the former operations director, among other violations.”

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30 Days of Madness: Jason Kidd Ends Duke Dynasty

Posted by rtmsf on March 21st, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we re-visited some of the timeless moments from the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy.

NCAA First and Second Rounds

Dateline: 1993 NCAA Tournament Second Round – Duke vs. California

Context: Seventeen years ago this weekend, one of the greatest dynasties of the modern era of college basketball came to an end.  In March 1993, the Duke Blue Devils had been to five consecutive Final Fours, winning the previous two with the core group of Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Thomas Hill, Grant Hill, Brian Davis and Antonio Lang.  When #3 seed Duke met #6 seed California in the second round in Chicago, the Devils were riding a 13-game NCAA winning streak and although they had not had the season that their forebears had enjoyed, the sentiment at the time was that Duke would find a way to scratch back into the Final Four behind the senior Hurley’s talents for winning big games.  Hurley had 32/9 assts in the game, but Cal’s Jason Kidd had 11/14 in a display that presciently displayed the talents that he would later bring to the NBA and the Olympics.  It was a startling win, the kind of which made fans think that they were seeing a changing of the guard of sorts.  And while California was never the same after Kidd’s run to the Sweet Sixteen that year (Todd Bozeman soon after melted down the program), Duke rode a healthy Grant Hill back to the NCAA Championship game the following season.  Still, Duke didn’t win another title until 2001, and they’ve only attended one Final Four since.  Will today’s game derail another shot at glory for Duke and Coach K just like it did nearly two decades ago, or will this be a mere blip on their road to Indy?

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First Round Game Analysis: Friday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Friday afternoon games.


12:15 pm – #2 West Virginia vs. #15 Morgan State  (Buffalo pod)

West Virginia enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. They squeaked out an enormous road win at Villanova to end the regular season then swept through Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown en route to a Big East championship riding the heroics of Da’Sean Butler. The Mountaineers are an extremely gifted rebounding team; in fact, sometimes their best offense comes after a missed shot. They feature multiple weapons that can step out and shoot a mid-range jumper or three from Wellington Smith to Kevin Jones to the all-around dynamo Butler. Also, few teams can match West Virginia’s intensity in the halfcourt defensively. Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman will need a gigantic scoring output from their own star, Baltimore native Reggie Holmes. Holmes scored 25 or more points fifteen times this season, averaging 21.3 PPG and ranking in the top-50 in percentage of shots taken. The Bears also feature a rugged forward named Kevin Thompson who comes in at fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. In fact, Morgan State ranks 11th in the country as a team in that very category. Unfortunately for the underdogs, West Virginia is never outworked on the glass, not with Jones, Devin Ebanks and Bob Huggins prominently involved.

The Skinny: This one shouldn’t be close from the tip. Morgan State dominated the MEAC all season, but West Virginia is flying high at this point. Expect the Mountaineers to dominate by 25-30 points.

12:25 pm – #6 Xavier vs. #11 Minnesota  (Milwaukee pod)

The answer to which team will win this game depends entirely on which Gopher team shows up to play in Milwaukee.  Will it be the defensive juggernaut that held Purdue to 11 first  half points last Saturday, or will it be the team that got obliterated by Ohio State 52-29 in the second half on Sunday?  Tubby Smith’s team has been schizophrenic like that all year, following up strong wins with disastrous performances (two losses to Michigan?  really?), which probably explains why they were a bubble team up until Sunday evening.  Xavier comes into this one with the stronger resume, but it’s difficult to say if the Musketeers are the better team.  When he plays under control, XU’s Jordan Crawford is a talent, and his supporting case of Jason Love on the interior and Terrell Holloway running the show makes for nice balance throughout the Xavier lineup.  The question we have is who will win the defensive battle, though.  Xavier defends the three really well, while Minnesota behind Blake Hoffarber and Lawrence Westbrook both shoot it equally as well.  This game is essentially a tossup (Vegas agrees, setting Minny as a one-point favorite), and we really liked the first seven halves of basketball that the Gophers put up in Indianapolis on a neutral floor last week, so we’re going with the extremely mild 6/11 upset here, in a close game that comes down to the last possession. 

The Skinny: Despite the seedings, this is a tossup game and we like the Gophers to win it on the last possession. 

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That’s Debatable: Coaches Giving Thanks

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009

debatable

Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball.  Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts of our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season.  We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today.  Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.

This Week’s Topic: Thanksgiving week is upon us, and families everywhere around the country will come together to give thanks for the numerous people and things important to them.  What will some of the nation’s top college basketball coaches give thanks for during this week of reflection and thought?

nvr1983 – editor/contributor, RTC

One of the people who should be thankful this Thanksgiving is Thad Matta. When last season ended two of his players were contemplating leaving school early to go to the NBA: B.J. Mullens and Evan Turner. While Mullens was the more highly rated recruit, he hadn’t quite lived up to those expectations. Although Turner was no slouch in high school (he was a 4-star recruit), he didn’t come to Columbus with the same expectations. By the end of last season, both players we predicted to be mid- to late-first round picks. As you all know Mullens decided to leave school early and ended up being selected #24 overall by the Mavericks before being traded to the Thunder where he is averaging 3 PPG and 1 RPG in 15.8 MPG. Turner decided to stay in Columbus for at least one more season and is the early favorite for National Player of the Year after starting the season averaging 21.8 PPG (on 59% FG), 14.8 RPG, 6 APG, and 1.8 SPG for the Buckeyes. If Mullens had stayed and Turner had left OSU wouldn’t be a top 25 team, but because the roles were reversed they could be a top 10 team.

rtmsf – editor/contributor, RTC

While many coaches across the land will give thanks this week for a top recruit or a big win or still having a paying job, BYU coach Dave Rose will be thankful that he’s still around to coach his team.  You see, on June 17 of last summer, Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and as far as pancreatic cancers go, his wasn’t the worst kind, but seeing those two words together (“pancreatic” and “cancer”) is never a good thing.  He had emergency surgery the very next day to remove part of his spleen and pancreas, and after a quick recovery, he now sits as the head coach of a strong 3-0 team with aspirations to win the Mountain West and make some noise in this year’s NCAA Tournament.  Oh, and did I mention that all tests show that he is completely cancer-free?  BYU feels so highly about Rose that the school gave him a 5-year extension through the 2014 season, showing their faith in both his coaching acumen as well as his health.  There’s no greater gift than the one of life, and Rose is undoubtedly living each day as if it were his last — now that’s something to be thankful for!

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #31: MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 6th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the MEAC and SWAC conferences.  Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Morgan State (22-9)
  2. North Carolina A&T (17-14)
  3. South Carolina State (16-12)
  4. Coppin State (14-13)
  5. Bethune-Cookman (14-16)
  6. Hampton (12-18)
  7. Delaware State (10-17)
  8. Norfolk State (9-19)
  9. Florida A&M (9-16)
  10. Howard (4-23)
  11. Winston-Salem State (4-26)
  12. UMES (3-27)

All-Conference Team:

  • Tavarus Alston (G) – North Carolina A&T – Should lead the MEAC in assists this season, and could be a scoring threat as well.
  • Reggie Holmes (G) – Morgan State – 3rd leading scorer and leading 3pt shooter in the MEAC in 08 will expand his role in 09.
  • Jason Flagler (F) – South Carolina State – Dynamic scorer is SC State’s best chance at post-season success.
  • Neal Pitt (F) – UMES– Tenacious rebounder and defensive force under the basket will lead conference in glass cleaning for second straight season.
  • Kevin Thompson (C) – Morgan State – Could emerge as a secondary scoring option in the low post, and will fill role as interior stopper.
  • Alexander Starling (6th Man, F) – Bethune-Cookman –Versatile forward is Bethune-Cookman’s primary scoring option.

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What You Need to Know.  The MEAC is a mid-major conference that, while among the lowest rated in RPI, is among the more recognized brands in college basketball outside of power conference competition. The MEAC champion has won three first-round tournament games in the last 20 years, and has produced tough out of conference wins over quality competition in the last three years. (Morgan State defeating Maryland, Hampton defeating George Mason in 2008)

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