What’s Trending: NCAA Tournament Edition

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 25th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Looking back at the first two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament has to begin with the opening weekend’s most memorable game. In Sunday afternoon’s UCF vs. Duke game, there was much more to it than the average #1 vs. #9 match-up. How would the battle of Zion Williamson vs. Tacko Fall unfold? How would the pupil (Johnny Dawkins) fare against his teacher (Coach K)? Williamson definitely had to earn his 32 points — the superstar freshman shot just 9-of-17 on his two-point attempts, representing the first time he has been under 60 percent inside the arc since a 4-of-7 performance on January 12 against Florida State.

Despite falling behind by as many as eight points in the second half, UCF rallied to take a four-point lead with under two minutes to go. The Knights were racing upcourt with a chance to extend the lead, but a failed alley-oop followed by a Cam Reddish three-pointer cut the lead to a single point.

Push off? Verticality? Down three points in the dying seconds, Duke put the ball in Williamson’s hands and he made a play.

Zion went on to miss the game-tying free-throw, but the ball ultimately ended up in the hands of R.J. Barrett, who put in a bunny to give Duke a one-point lead. While many were arguing that Barrett pushed off to get the rebound, the bigger grievance with a missed call on this play came with this missed hook and hold. An emphasis was placed on this call all season long, yet it appears to have been blatantly missed here. This is a call that would have all but ensured the end of Duke’s season…

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Introducing the RTC Preseason All-America Teams

Posted by Walker Carey on November 2nd, 2018

With the season tipping off next Tuesday, there’s no better time to roll out our 2018-19 RTC Preseason All-America Teams. More than anything, these three groups of outstanding players are here to foster and encourage discussion over the next four months. Our crack panel of 10 RTC writers provided their ballots over the last week and this is where we ended up.

First Team All-Americans

  • Carsen Edwards, Purdue (unanimous) – Purdue has plenty to replace this season with former mainstays Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas now gone from West Lafayette. Luckily for Matt Painter’s Boilermakers, Edwards opted to return to Purdue for his junior season. The standout point guard will look to build on what has been a dynamic collegiate career. Following a freshman season where Edwards showed he belonged in the Big Ten, he took a big step forward in his sophomore campaign, averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting a commendable 40.6 percent from the three-point line. The Boilermakers lose nearly 50 points per game from last season’s Sweet Sixteen team, but it would not be surprising to see the play-making floor general take Purdue back to the second weekend next March. Factoid: Edwards participated in the NBA Draft combine last spring before deciding to return to Purdue. A noticeable change since his return has been in his physical stature, as he added around 10 pounds to his frame. Purdue men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach Gavin Roberts attributes Edwards’ strength gain to a “professional” demeanor in the weight room.
  • R.J. Barrett, Duke – Duke bringing in a star-studded recruiting class is certainly nothing new, but you would be hard-pressed to find another time when such a unique talent as Barrett descended on Durham. At 6’7″, the incoming freshman can handle the ball, create his own shot and relentlessly attack the basket. His size and athleticism will also allow him to effectively defend multiple positions and contribute on the boards.  The Blue Devils figure to once again be an offensive juggernaut, and it is fair to speculate that Barrett will be their most productive component. Factoid: Hailing from Canada, Barrett has a unique connection to basketball lore. He is the godson of two-time NBA MVP — and fellow Canadian — Steve Nash.
  • Caleb Martin, Nevada – Nevada exploded onto the scene last season, as the Wolf Pack won the regular season Mountain West title and earned the program’s first Sweet Sixteen berth since 2004. Expectations are now sky high for Eric Musselman’s group entering this season, as his team is already ranked #8 in the preseason AP Top 25. A major reason for all the lofty hopes in Reno is that Martin decided to put the NBA on hold in returning for his senior season. The rangy forward will look to build on a junior campaign when he averaged 18.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. If Martin can once again put up dominant numbers, the preseason hype encompassing the Wolf Pack will likely prove to be warranted. Factoid:In addition to the RTC All-America team, Martin was named a preseason first team All-American by the AP, becoming the first player in program history to receive the honor.
  • Luke Maye, North Carolina – There might not be a player in the country that has had as unique of a collegiate career as the North Carolina senior. Recall that Maye did not have a guaranteed scholarship in place when he originally committed to the Tar Heels in high school, and while playing time was difficult to earn through a majority of his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, his breakout finally came in the 2017 Elite Eight when he scored 17 points and buried a game-winning jumper to beat Kentucky. Maye followed up those heroics with a junior season averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest while earning first team All-ACC honors. The Tar Heels have a lot of new faces in place this season, but the transition should be relatively seamless with double-double machine Maye on the blocks. Factoid: Maye joined rarefied North Carolina air last season with a 32-point, 18-rebound performance against Boston College and a 33-point, 17-rebound effort against NC State. Those two performances made him only the fourth player in program history with multiple 30/15 games in a season.
  • Ethan Happ, Wisconsin – Last March represented the first time since 1998 that Wisconsin did not earn an NCAA Tournament bid. The young Badgers battled injuries and inconsistency throughout the season as they sputtered their way to a 15-18 overall record. Despite the lost season, Happ still managed to contribute very productive numbers. Building on impressive freshman and sophomore campaigns, the junior forward tallied 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on his way to becoming a first team all-Big Ten player. Assuming Happ takes another step forward during his final season in Madison, it is likely Wisconsin will find its way back to the NCAA Tournament. Factoid: Happ was so distraught about Wisconsin not making the NCAA Tournament lats year that he kept the TV in his apartment from showing anything about March Madness.

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Predicting a Breakout Star From Each Power Conference

Posted by Ryan O'Neil on October 19th, 2018

In every Power 6 conference, there’s an established hierarchy in which the league’s most notable teams comfortably reside. In the ACC, there’s Duke, UNC, and Virginia. The Big East championship has in recent years gone through the Villanova Wildcats. In the Big Ten, Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue have controlled the conference since former Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan’s retirement a few years back. Kansas has won the Big 12 regular season championship 14 years in a row. Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA have had a relative stranglehold on the Pac-12 for seemingly decades. In the SEC, Kentucky has been without question the league’s best team since John Calipari arrived in Lexington. But with the new season comes the possibility that the traditional powers may be toppled.  In this article, I’m going to identify one player from every power conference league who has the ability to lead his team to a surprise finish in the standings.  There’s just one rule — he can’t be a freshman.

ACC

Ky Bowman (USA Today Images)

  • Ky Bowman, Boston College. Boston College’s junior point guard often looked like the Eagles’ best player last season, even though he played in the same backcourt as eventual lottery pick Jerome Robinson. Bowman, an under-recruited prospect from North Carolina, is a great athlete whose best game last year included 30 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists against Duke. He’s dynamic in the pick and roll, and he has the ability to score at all three levels of the floor. An athlete that makes NBA scouts salivate, Bowman is especially nasty in transition. If he can become more consistent in his approach this season, Boston College is going to surprise some teams in the ACC.

Big East

  • Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s. Ponds was a first-team Big East performer last season for St. John’s after dropping at least 30 points on six separate occasions. Possibly no game better demonstrated his scoring ability than when he put up a whopping 44 points on a 16-of-23 shooting performance against Marquette. The arrival of Mustapha Heron from Auburn this season should take some of the offensive pressure off of Ponds by allowing him more space to operate. The Red Storm were a thorn in the side of several ranked teams last season, a trait that should become only more prominent with a more mature Ponds and Heron in the backcourt.

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What’s Trending: Welcome to the Wild World of Conference Play

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on January 8th, 2018

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Conference Play, where mayhem happens…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/950205852434264064

Prior to last Tuesday night, Kansas had beaten Texas Tech 16 consecutive times and had never lost against the Red Raiders (20-0) in the Sunflower State. Only twice had Texas Tech managed to keep the final score within 10 points at Allen Fieldhouse, so naturally Chris Beard‘s squad methodically beat the Jayhawks by 12 points to send shockwaves throughout the conference.

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After a Forgettable Regular Season, What Does Georgetown Do Now?

Posted by Chris Stone on March 7th, 2017

Sitting directly in front of the Georgetown student section during the Hoyas’ 81-55 blowout loss to Villanova on Saturday, it wasn’t difficult to hear the occasional chants regarding coach John Thompson III directed toward the school’s administration. Whether it was some variation of “Fire Thompson” or “We Want Change,” a vocal collection of students made their feelings clear — after what will likely be consecutive seasons of missing the NCAA Tournament (and three of four campaigns), they’re ready for a new regime. What’s less clear is how Thompson himself feels about those chants. When he was asked about it afterward, a school official stepped in and requested that reporters limit their questions to those related to the game. The uncertainty surrounding the Hoyas’ program, however, is something worth examining, and it starts with trying to figure out what is going to happen with Thompson.

Georgetown is in an unenviable position with regards to John Thompson III. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

The available evidence seems to suggest that change isn’t coming to Georgetown anytime soon. That was the conclusion of ESPN’s Jeff Goodman after speaking to four ex-players who, on the condition of anonymity, suggested that a move is necessary. But institutional inertia in support of Thompson is very strong. His father, John Thompson, Jr., built the program to national prominence in the 1980s and the school recently opened a $62 million practice facility with “Big John’s” name on it. Add in the younger Thompson’s history of success that — although starting to feel rather dated — includes a trip to the Final Four, and it becomes more understandable that Georgetown is willing to give him more time to correct course. Read the rest of this entry »

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Seven Sweet Scoops: National Prep Showcase – Kobie Eubanks, Jeremy Hill, JaQuan Lyle & More

Posted by Sean Moran on November 28th, 2014

http://rushthecourt.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/7sweetscoops.png

Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

The National Prep Showcase held each year at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven is the signature event to kick off the high school season. With a variety of prep schools competing against each other a variety of college coaches were seen in the stands from low major schools from the east coast to high major programs from the west coast. A lot happened during and after the three day tournament, so let’s catch up with the seven sweet scoops of the week.

1. Kobie Eubanks Excels And then De-commits

In the spring of 2014, four-star shooting guard Kobie Eubanks chose Baylor over schools such as Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Minnesota, but failed to qualify academically. He subsequently ended up at Elev-8 Prep School in Delray Beach and after two standout performances last weekend he decided to re-open his commitment. What does this mean? With only four of the top 35 shooting guards still available in the class of 2015, Eubanks just became a hot commodity. Numerous schools reached out to Eubanks expressing interest including Louisville, Virginia, Maryland, Iowa State, Michigan, Providence, UConn, and more. The 6’5” strongly built guard scored 37 points in a Saturday performance which included high arcing shots from the perimeter and strong drives to the basket. Baylor’s loss will soon be another team’s blessing.

2. Anyone Interested In A 6’7” Scorer?

Throughout the National Prep Showcase, observers were impressed with Jeremy Harris and the consensus was that Coastal Carolina got themselves a steal.

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Who’s Got Next? Justise Winslow to Duke, European Commitments, & the Class of 2017…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 27th, 2013

whosgotnextWho’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Justise Winslow Lands in Durham

Last Thursday afternoon, five-star small forward Justise Winslow announced his intention to play for Coach K and the Blue Devils. The 6’5” Winslow is currently rated as the No. 10 prospect in the country and No. 4 small forward in the class of 2014. With the commitment, Duke wrapped up an extraordinarily successful seven-day period which started out when the Blue Devils received commitments from the top player in the country in center Jahlil Okafor as well as the No. 2 ranked point guard in Tyus Jones. Winslow is set to join a talented team next year that will have numerous options on the perimeter in juniors Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon and Alex Murphy along with sophomores Matt Jones and Semi Ojeleye. Playing with talented wing players is nothing new for Winslow who played AAU ball the past two years with two other top 10 talents in Kansas commitment Kelly Oubre and North Carolina commitment Justin Jackson. Just like AAU play, Winslow brings a different skill set to the table when compared to his wing counterparts.

On the offensive end, the Houston native can do a variety of things. With his chiseled frame, he uses his notable strength advantage to crash the glass, score down low and finish with contact. He is tough to guard off the dribble and can often finish with a powerful dunk. Winslow is also fairly adept at handling the ball and using his passing ability to find cutters or shooters on the perimeter. On the defensive end, Winslow can guard numerous positions. He is quick enough to stay in front of most guards and strong enough to battle most big men in the post. This past spring and summer, Winslow’s versatility was on full display as he averaged 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and a couple steals per game. The main weakness in his game right now revolves around his outside shooting. Although still a work in progress, he shot just 31 percent from the three-point line in AAU play. Winslow’s weakness will be offset by the numerous Duke players who can already shoot from the outside and his versatility will be used elsewhere. This past summer Winslow played on the U-19 USA World championship team and was one of only two high school players to make the team (along with Okafor). He averaged almost 10 points per game there and the time he spent playing against older players proved that he will be more than ready to contribute next year in Durham.

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Big East M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on October 12th, 2012

  1. The Sports Business Journal gathered a small group of sports media consultants to predict which networks will win some of the upcoming television rights battles, and wouldn’t you know it, but the Big East deal was first on the table. And the consensus is… that no one agrees on how this deal is going to shake out, who is going to win, or if multiple networks win and just share the rights. At this point I think it is safe to say that everyone should just stop speculating because everyone admits it could go in a number of different directions.
  2. So apparently it has been 50 years since Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim first stepped on the upstate New York campus as a freshman and this season will be Boeheim’s 37th at the helm of the Orange program. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising given how long Boeheim has been a larger-than-life presence in the conference, but it is still quite an incredible example of perseverance, sustained success, and school loyalty. There is a lot of talent left over from last season’s impressive squad, but it will be a transition year on and off the court for the Orange as they lost four key contributors, a longtime assistant coach in Bernie Fine, and are preparing to move to the ACC next season. As if there wasn’t enough on Boeheim’s plate, he is already fielding questions about when he will retire and he even admitted he will probably leave “sooner rather than later.” The man has a lot on his plate, but until he actually leaves, we won’t complain, because even if you don’t like Syracuse basketball you have to admit that the sport is more fun with Boeheim a part of it.
  3. If there was ever any doubt that recruits are interested in what St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has to say, then take a look at the list of recruits scheduled to attend the Red Storm’s Midnight Madness event that will kick off tonight. There are 14 players on that list, from 2013 star Jermaine Lawrence to 135-pound Tremont Waters representing the class of 2017. It shouldn’t need to be said that showing up to a Midnight Madness event and committing to that school are two entirely two different things, but just the amount of interest that Lavin has been able to generate in such a short period of time — while battling cancer — is incredibly impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lavin lands a stud recruit from the Tri-State area in the very near future.
  4. You knew an article like this one was coming. Cincinnati enters the season with very high expectations, so it’s only natural that local reporters are going to write the old “expectations are high, but the team is staying grounded” article. We don’t mean to be insulting, because it is an worthwhile article to publish, especially when it’s true. With the exception of maybe Louisville, there is no team in the conference with more expectations on their shoulders than the Bearcats. Syracuse will be good but they are young; Notre Dame will be good but they are young also. Cincinnati has a blend of excellent veterans and promising newcomers, and everybody from pundits to local fans is expecting a repeat of last season’s success at the least. It sounds like coach Mick Cronin has done a good job of keeping his players focused, but it will be interesting to see what happens if the Bearcats stumble once or twice in the non-conference slate like they did last season.
  5. It is hard not to root for Notre Dame big man Jack Cooley given that he looks so out of place among the athletic specimens that populate the frontcourt of conference foes. Last season Cooley came out of nowhere to earn second-team All-Big East honors and develop into a consistent offensive and rebounding force in the paint. This season he isn’t going to sneak up on anyone and he has also been given some additional leadership responsibilities on his young team, and he has responded well to the added duties. From the quotes from his teammates and coach in the article, it seems like Cooley has transformed himself from an afterthought to essential presence over the past two years and now he is poised to lead the Fighting Irish to one of their better seasons ever.
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