Big East M5: 12.20.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 20th, 2012


  1. The biggest statement game last evening was Cincinnati‘s dispatching of crosstown rival Xavier 60-45 on a neutral floor. The Musketeers made just 2-of-13 three-pointers and were blown out in the second half thanks to Cincinnati’s physical defense and a steady barrage of shots from Bearcats’ star Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick needed 27 shots to get his 25 points, but he was the team’s best offensive option all night and one of the main reasons the team’s offense came alive in the second half. After the game, talk quickly turned to the future of the rivalry. Bearcats’ head coach Mick Cronin prefers the neutral court, but the Xavier contingent would prefer campus contests in order to cater to their season-ticket holders (read: money-makers). A resolution has not been decided as of yet but as everyone noted, the atmosphere was positive all night, something that may play a role in where the game is played given its sketchy history.
  2. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Marquette, who didn’t show up to play against a Wisconsin-Green Bay team that only had eight players available for last night’s game, and the result was an uninspired 49-47 loss that snapped the Golden Eagles’ four-game winning streak. Buzz Williams, a man who never saw a hyperbole he didn’t like, called it “the slowest game in Division I basketball this year” because of the Phoenix’s stubborn insistence to play zone defense and run a methodical half-court offense. Of course the strategy paid off for Phoenix coach and Marquette alumnus Brian Wardle as he was able to keep his eight players as fresh as possible and compete against the more athletic and deeper Golden Eagles. As for Marquette, the rebuilding project is still in process clearly after last night’s loss. There are pieces and talent in place, but there is not a lot of experience and even fewer players capable of being consistent offensive threats. Until they fix those issues, they will struggle against any competition, much less conference foes.
  3. One way Marquette can find some instant offense is if sophomore guard Todd Mayo is able to return to the team after sitting out the fall semester because of academic issues. A blizzard is preventing Mayo’s mother from flying to Milwaukee and Buzz Williams is unwilling to make a decision on his mercurial sophomore until he has spoken to her. Assuming Mayo is able to bring his grades up, it seems likely that he will rejoin the team — which is good — because his offensive ability and shooting prowess make the Golden Eagles a more dangerous team. But you can bet that Williams will have Mayo on thin ice after his numerous off-the-court issues during his time in Milwaukee. Mayo doesn’t have any more room for error, so if he can clean up his act, Marquette will use him liberally. But if he can’t get it together, don’t expect Williams to show him any more sympathy.
  4. Will UCLA castaway Josh Smith join Georgetown in time to start taking classes for next semester? If the fact that Smith is scheduled to visit the Georgetown campus this weekend is any indication, then things are looking good for the Hoyas. Now whether getting Smith is actually a good move or just a risky stunt by John Thompson III still remains to be seen. The good folks at Casual Hoya took a look at the 300-pound enigma, pointing out that Smith’s soft hands, good footwork, and size make him an offensive weapon no matter how out of shape he is. Of course they also point out that Smith’s conditioning limits his playing time, ruins his defensive positioning, and frequently frustrated Bruins’ coach Ben Howland. They actually used video to back up their points and break down the nuances in his game and it is an excellent scouting report on exactly what is right and what is wrong with Smith’s game.
  5. Leave it to Providence coach Ed Cooley to think of one of the more fitting sports tributes to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The always eloquent Cooley joined the boys from WEEI in Boston to discuss Providence’s decision to leave 26 seats empty in their last game and wear green jerseys that were then sent to the school. The former Fairfield head honcho was hit hard by the tragedy and spoke passionately and eloquently about his feelings, the tribute, and how it affected him. It is really an excellent interview so give it a listen.
Share this story

Set Your DVR: Opening Weekend

Posted by bmulvihill on November 9th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The college basketball season is finally here! This season Set Your DVR (ed. note: sadly, nobody has TiVos anymore) will be a twice-weekly column outlining the must-see games for the upcoming week and weekend.  This column will lay out the key factors in each game to focus on and how those factors could affect the outcome. It’s a military-themed weekend of hoops with three games taking place on aircraft carriers and one game taking place at a military base located across the Atlantic Ocean.  Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Game of the Weekend

#16 San Diego State vs. #5 Syracuse – 4:00 PM EST, 11/11/12 on FSN HD (*****)

Jim Boeheim takes the Orange to the USS Midway to take on San Diego State

  • The USS Midway provides the backdrop for an exciting opener between Syracuse and San Diego State. SDSU returns four starters including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin as well as Chase Tapley, James Rahon, and Xavier Thomas. Keep a close eye on the match-up between the Aztec guards and Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche. Triche is taking over for Scoop Jardine and faces a tough test against this crew. Steve Fisher’s squad will have to improve in two areas if they are going to start beating top-tier programs like Syracuse – shooting and offensive rebounding. The Aztecs grabbed only 30.8% of their offensive rebound opportunities last season, so if they are only going to hit 33% of their three-point attempts and 49.8% of their two-point attempts like they did in 2011-12, it’s going to be difficult to beat the best teams in the country. Watch to see if transfers Dwayne Polee II and J.J. O’Brien can help the Aztecs grab more of those missed shots.
  • After losing four starters to graduation and the NBA Draft, Syracuse is in a much different place than SDSU. Jim Boeheim’s ability to fill the talent void will be a key factor in determining if this Orange team can beat an experienced Aztec team. The ‘Cuse returns two significant contributors from last year’s team – C.J. Fair and Triche. Both players need to improve their sub-50% eFG in order to prevent the team from taking a step backwards.  The key to the Orange’s success in this game and in the future, however, may be 6’8” senior forward James Southerland. In a somewhat limited role last year, Southerland put up some impressive shooting numbers from inside the arc. Keep a close eye on Southerland’s ability to take advantage of his size inside the three-point line. Syracuse will also be able to throw additional size at the Aztecs with 6’9” sophomore Rakeem Christmas, 6’10” junior Baye Keita, and 6’7” 275 lb. wide-body freshman, DaJuan Coleman. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

“We Ain’t Come Here To Play School”: Todd Mayo Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 6th, 2012

Note: The hope is to turn this into a recurring feature that chronicles the academic troubles of Big East players that seemingly pop up every season. Of course if everyone in the conference hits the books and stays academically eligible, then this will be the only piece in this feature and I will feel foolish. Carry on.

The quote above came from Cardale Jones, the third-string quarterback for Ohio State who made waves on social media in early October when he tweeted out this opinion, letting the world know exactly how little he cared for academics. While Jones may have made for an easy target, he clearly is not the only elite athlete with disdain for schoolwork — just ask Marquette’s Todd Mayo, who will be academically ineligible until at least the end of the fall semester and won’t be allowed to practice or play with his team in the interim. Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles were hoping the dynamic Mayo would make some strides offensively, become more consistent, and play a major role in Marquette’s attempt to reload following the departures of stars Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. Unfortunately for Williams and the rest of his team, Mayo didn’t come to Marquette to “play school.”

Todd Mayo Has Been A Continuous Source Of Frustration For Buzz Williams

If this were Mayo’s first off-the-court incident, the Marquette faithful and his coaches might be more willing to cut him some slack. But Mayo, the younger brother of Dallas Mavericks’ guard O.J. Mayo, has been with the program for less than two seasons and has already earned his fair share of negative headlines. Mayo was suspended last season for a game against West Virginia and suspended again during the summer for violating team rules. His teammates complained that he was aloof and didn’t want to be a part of the team, so Williams sent him home during the second summer session in hopes of helping Mayo mature and become more responsible. Apparently that strategy only worked for a while and now the Golden Eagles will be without one of their best scorers for the first part of the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #5 Marquette

Posted by Will Tucker on November 6th, 2012

Last year was Marquette’s most successful season since Dwayne Wade graced Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles finished second in the Big East for the first time ever, had a player named Big East Player of the Year for the first time since joining the league (Jae Crowder), and went to their second consecutive Sweet Sixteen. How will they rebound in 2012-13 after losing nearly half of their scoring and 12 rebounds per game in graduated seniors Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom? This question was magnified when we learned yesterday that Todd Mayo is academically ineligible and parked indefinitely on the bench. Mayo’s absence may have dropped Marquette in our predicted standings when our writers deliberated in October, but there’s no turning back now, and it’s hard to discount Buzz Williams’ coaching ability when he has any measure of talent to work with.

2011-12 Record: 27-8, 14-4

2011-12 Postseason: 2-1, Lost to Florida in the Sweet Sixteen

Buzz Williams Has Averaged Nearly 25 Wins Per Season at MU (Photo Credit: AP)


Marquette faces one of the toughest non-conference slates of any Big East team this year. The Golden Eagles open the season on November 9 against #4 Ohio State in the Carrier Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. They’ll get an opportunity cut their teeth in home games against Colgate and Southland Conference pushover Southeastern Louisiana before then heading to Maui on November 19 to face Butler. Potential meetings with #11 North Carolina, Texas, Illinois and Mississippi State loom should they take down the Bulldogs. The warm weather continues through the end of November, when Buzz Williams’ team travels to Gainesville to seek redemption against the Florida team that knocked it out in the Sweet Sixteen. A week later, Marquette hosts #23 Wisconsin at home to conclude the most unforgiving leg of the non-conference slate. Marquette’s Big East schedule is pretty daunting as well, with home-and-homes against Pitt and Georgetown and road contests against Louisville and Cincinnati. The Golden Eagles are granted some reprieve in avoiding Syracuse and Notre Dame on the road.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 11.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 6th, 2012

  1. The season is just a few days away, but that doesn’t mean teams can’t still receive bad news. In Marquette‘s case, it was an announcement that sophomore guard Todd Mayo is academically ineligible. Mayo, who averaged 7.9 minutes and 2.7 rebounds per game last season, was expected to have a greatly expanded role with the graduation of the team’s top two players. We aren’t sure how long Mayo will be out for, but we would guess he couldn’t come back until Christmas break at the earliest based on Marquette’s academic calendar. On the other hand, Arkansas will only be without sophomore guard B.J. Young for two games (an exhibition game last night and the season opener on Friday against Sam Houston State) after he violated some undisclosed team rules. We doubt that Young’s suspension will have a long-term effect on the Razorbacks, but Mayo’s absence may for a team that is already losing a lot from last season.
  2. While it was a relatively quiet day for current college basketball players, the next crop of incoming players were making quite a bit of news. Yesterday Dakari Johnson became the fourth five-star prospect previously in the class of 2014 to reclassify to the class of 2013. Johnson, who was the #4 overall recruit in the his old class, joins Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh, and Wayne Selden in a group of talented players who have decided to leave high school a year early. We have no idea why so many highly rated players are choosing to leave the class of 2014 (we can always hope that there rumors that the NBA’s two-year rule is coming), but it promises to make the class of 2013 a very solid one although it should raise questions as to what the class of 2014 will look like when this is all finished.
  3. As for players making decisions on where to play college basketball, five-star power forward Chris McCullough made the biggest announcement of the day when he committed to Syracuse. McCullough may actually be part of a package deal that could bring four-star shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead to an already-impressive class. While the Monday commitment of Austin Nichols to Memphis isn’t as big as that of McCullough to Syracuse,‘s Jeff Borzello points out that it was a big coup for the Tigers as Nichols was considered a Tennessee lean before using his 58-page binder on schools to pick Memphis.
  4. Many of you probably remember the story of Austin Hatch, a 2014 Michigan commitment who was involved in a plane crash that killed his father and stepmother and left him in a medically-induced coma. After 18 months of recovery, he has now been cleared to begin conditionally practicing again with his high school team. Hatch, who was in the plane crash shortly after committing to play for the Wolverines in 2011, was given a fifth year of prep eligibility by the Indiana High School Athletic Association and reportedly still has an offer on the table to become a member of the Wolverines’ class of 2014. Before we get ahead of ourselves it is worth pointing out that the Hatch family is still not sure if Austin will play for his team this season. Regardless of whether he plays for Canterbury High School, Michigan, or any other team, we are sure that basketball fans across the country will be pulling for him.
  5. As you hopefully have noticed today is Election Day. Here at RTC we try to stay above the political fray for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that not every member of our staff has the same political beliefs), but we feel like we should express our one and only wish for this election. We aren’t going to proselytize about how you have to vote as a good American (that’s your choice), but we do hope that however the outcome of this election turns out that members from both sides of the aisle can come together after the election to do what they honestly think is best for the long term interests of the country rather than continuing the same antagonistic and destructive tactics that we have witnessed for years.
Share this story

Big East Summer Capsules: Marquette Golden Eagles

Posted by mlemaire on August 6th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Marquette.

1. Will the Golden Eagles get Todd Mayo back and when?

Marquette Needs Todd Mayo To Provide Scoring, Too Bad He Is Suspended Indefinitely. Photo: Getty Images

As a freshman last season, Todd Mayo showed moments of brilliance for Marquette. Sure, he was a streaky shooter who took some questionable shots and turned the ball over a lot for a guy who doesn’t work with the ball in his hands all that often, but he was also a freshman, and a very talented one. Coming into next season, many have pegged Mayo as the team’s breakout offensive star thanks to the increased touches he is likely to see with Darius Johnson-Odom gone and the assumption he would improve his game over the course of the summer. Those plans have been put on hold for now though as in late June news leaked that coach Buzz Williams had suspended Mayo indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Since then, absolutely no information has been released about what the violation was or how long Mayo will be suspended, but some have speculated the sophomore will miss a large chunk of time if he even returns at all. Williams wouldn’t have suspended Mayo indefinitely unless it was warranted, but this is a disappointing turn for both Mayo and the program. The 6-foot-3 guard had the look of a breakout player poised to become one of the more versatile offensive weapons in the country and his team definitely needed that scoring punch. Now everyone will just have to wait until the powers that be decide Mayo has served his punishment or that he is not worth the trouble, and who knows how long that wait will take.

2. How will they replace Jae Crowder?

With Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan,Trent Lockett, and potentially Mayo all returning to campus with another season of experience under their belts, the backcourt should be one of the team’s strengths, even with the news that junior college transfer T.J. Taylor is leaving the program for personal reasons. The real question will be how the Golden Eagles plan to replace their do-everything forward and reigning conference player of the year, Jae Crowder. Crowder was second on the team in scoring, first on the team in rebounding and steals, and was an irreplaceable defender because of his athleticism and versatility. The onus now falls on forwards Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson. Both players were leaned upon heavily last season, and each showed flashes of their potential, especially Gardner who finished third on the team in scoring (9.7 PPG) despite starting just 19 games. Unless  Williams got hit on the head and changed his philosophy, the Golden Eagles will still be a stingy defensive team without Crowder, where Gardner and Wilson will really need to step up is on the offensive end of the floor and on the glass. The team has perimeter weapons, but in order to keep the defense honest, they will need one of their bruising forwards to become a consistent offensive threat. The presumptive favorite to fill that role best is Gardner, but he will need to stay healthy to make that happen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

NCAA Tournament Tidbits 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 21st, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

West Region

South Region

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big East Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 21st, 2012

  1. The good news for Georgetown was with their NCAA Tournament second round victory over Belmont the Hoyas snapped a two-year NCAA one-and-done streak.  The bad news?  A third round loss to #11 seed North Carolina State meant another early tournament upset exit at the hands of a double-digit seed.  Of course this type of thing falls right into the wheelhouse of doomsday embracing fans and nay saying media but, as this Bleacher Report piece by Bryan Toporek aptly points out, to call for John Thompson III’s head at this point would not only be premature, it would be foolish.  Thompson has led the Hoyas to six twenty win seasons in the last seven, including a Final Four appearance in 2007.  He has consistently brought in high level recruits and players that fit his system well and is one of three finalists for Nerlens Noel, the nation’s best high school senior and a potential game changer.  Lastly, even if one could put the previous points aside and still want Thompson III to go, who do you replace him with?  The grass is not always greener on the other side.
  2. This just in.  College kids party. That is why it comes as no surprise to find out that six Marquette players, who are not of drinking age, received citations for being in a nightclub back on January 29. The players: Todd Mayo, Vander Blue, Jamail Jones, Juan Anderson, Derrick Wilson, and Jake Thomas were not believed to be drinking.  Head coach Buzz Williams acknowledged the issue was dealt with later the same day as January 29 was a Sunday.  Reading between the lines it sounds like Williams handled it the old fashioned way with some good old intense physical fitness early on a Sunday morning.  It is not known if the February partial game suspensions of Mayo, Blue as well as Junior Cadugan and Darius Johnson-Odon during Marquette’s February 24 game at West Virginia were related to the nightclub incident. This is also not expected to impact any of the players’ status for the Golden Eagles sweet sixteen contest against Florida on Thursday.
  3. The University of Rhode Island has hired a young upstart coach in Danny Hurley away from Wagner to be its head coach and revive a struggling program that has not been heard from nationally for awhile.  College basketball fans in southern New England only have to look back a year, and a short distance up route 95 north, to when Providence hired Ed Cooley with the same goals in mind. Providence and Rhode Island have a great and long standing interstate rivalry, so it is likely that the comparisons between Hurley and Cooley will be fodder for discussion in the Ocean State for some time to come as their journeys are now aligned. Further, as this article by Kevin Farrahar of outlines, Friar fans should be happy about Hurley’s hire because it gives more cachet to the rivalry, especially if both coaches have overall success, and is good for the suffering state of college basketball in Rhode Island on the whole.  Further buzz will be created by the news that Danny’s brother Bobby, the former Duke star, apparently will join him in Kingston as an assistant rather than moving into the head role at Wagner as had been rumored.
  4. Marquette received a verbal commitment from a hometown star yesterday as Milwaukee’s Dominican High School point guard Duane Wilson, a member of the class of 2013, pledged for the Golden Eagles.  Wilson is ranked 128th nationally by and an grade of 92 (out of 100).  “The main reason that made me go to Marquette was coach Buzz Williams,” Wilson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “That was my first scholarship offer and they stayed on me. I just really liked his attitude. He gets the best out of his players all the time and they just play hard.”  The highly recruited Wilson chose Williams and Marquette over the likes of Missouri and Memphis among others.
  5. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced its All-America teams yesterday and the Big East checked in with three honorees spanning the second and third teams.  West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones (19.9 PPG, 10.9 RPG) and Syracuse senior forward Kris Joseph (13.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG) were named to the NABC’s second team. Marquette senior forward Jae Crowder (17.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG), who edged out Jones for Big East Player of the Year honors, received third team All-America honors.  The first team consisted of: Anthony Davis (Kentucky), Draymond Green (Michigan State), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Thomas Robinson (Kansas), and Jared Sullinger (Ohio State).
Share this story

NCAA Tournament Tidbits 03.18.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 18th, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

West Region

South Region

Share this story

Rushed Reaction: #3 Marquette 88, #14 BYU 68

Posted by jstevrtc on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Not Just the Big Three For Marquette. In the first half, BYU had nobody who could contain Davante Gardner. The Marquette big fella scooped in 12 first-half points that all came from either attempts within five feet or free throws. We mention him specifically (he finished with 15/6) because his first-half performance was indicative of Marquette’s wise and efficient shot-selection on the day. Jae Crowder (10-20) was phenomenal, posting a 25 point/16 rebound performance enhanced further by the fact that he led his team with six offensive rebounds and pilfered five steals. Darius Johnson-Odom was his usual imposing self, as well (20/5), but Buzz Williams will laud his team’s effort from top to bottom; the Warriors had four players in double-figures (Todd Mayo added 10/6) and had six players pull down at least five rebounds.
  2. Hump Day. As in, the 10-point one BYU just couldn’t get over. BYU improved their shot selection in the second half and, for the most part, played much better defense than they did in the first. Seemed like every time they’d string a few nice possessions together, Marquette would drill an open three. This happened on four different occasions when the Cougars were able to cut the lead to ten.
  3. Your Turn, Kevin. No disrespect to WVU’s Kevin Jones, but Jae Crowder showed why he’s the Big East player of the year. The 6’6” senior was everywhere, playing the one, two, three, or four at any given time, talking like mad on defense, and being the leader they expect (and need) him to be.

Star of the Game. Crowder, without question. BYU was led by Brandon Davies (19/12), but he left a lot of points at the free throw line (5-11). Crowder was the best player on the floor right from the tipoff.

Sights & Sounds. What in the world was going on with the slippage? For years we’ve been talking about players slipping on the floor decals of tournament sponsors, but this wasn’t decal-related. Four stoppages of play to wipe the floor, multiple players slipping, sliding, falling…did they sneak a hockey rink under the Yum! Center floor while nobody was looking?

Marquette Fans Appreciate a Balanced Effort From Their Warriors

What’s Next?  Marquette gets Murray State on Saturday. Marquette showed that it’s going to be a tough out in this tournament. They shot well (30-66, 45.5%), hit from range (9-20 from three, 45%), and absolutely owned the boards against the Cougars (48-32). Of the two winners today, Marquette would our choice to move on based on their opening performances.

Share this story