Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. IV

Posted by Justin Kundrat on December 16th, 2014

The Big East Weekend Wrap will cover news and notes from the weekend’s games.

With only two weeks left before conference play gets under way, eight Big East teams remain squarely in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid. While it might be too early to draw any definitive conclusions, it’s something to monitor as the season progresses. Currently both Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm project six Big East teams into their fields, with two others — Creighton and Providence — on the outside of the bubble. Coming off a light weekend of Big East action, below are three key takeaways.

Butler Failed to Close Things Out at Tennessee Over the Weekend (USA Today Sports)

Butler Failed to Close Things Out at Tennessee Over the Weekend (USA Today Sports)

  1. Butler and DePaul both lost their edge in the closing minutes. It was a tough Sunday for two teams in drastically different situations. Butler brought its #15 ranking into Knoxville – a difficult environment for any visiting team – while DePaul tried to prove that its 6-3 start was for real. Butler showcased its defensive stinginess in the first half versus the Vols, only to give away a 12-point lead and crumble in the final minutes. Roosevelt Jones and Alex Barlow struggled as perimeter defenders against Tennessee’s longer, more athletic guards, allowing them access into the lane time and time again. But if Tennessee’s 59.3 percent second half shooting wasn’t enough of an issue, Kellen Dunham’s tendency for poor decision-making made matters worse. The junior took 11 of his 14 field goal attempts from beyond the arc and then proceeded to use the second half to pass up open looks and dribble into traffic. If the Bulldogs can’t generate consistent stops, they turn into a much less effective team too dependent on getting Dunham open looks. On another note, it might be in Chris Holtmann’s interest to give rising freshman Kelan Martin more playing time; the 6’6″ wing is averaging just as many points as Jones (10.8 PPG) but in half the time (16.1 MPG). Meanwhile, DePaul managed to commit enough turnovers in the closing minutes of its game on Sunday to blow a solid lead against Illinois State. To be honest, the Blue Demons’ starting lineup is remarkably competent on the offensive end; Myke Henry has emerged as a true leader, with Jamee Crockett and Tommy Hamilton IV adding wing and inside dimensions. But as with prior years, many of the same issues remain: turnovers and defense. Oliver Purnell will have to find a way to fix at least one of those weaknesses before the program takes another step forward. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Up, Three Down in the Big East

Posted by George Hershey on November 21st, 2014

The Big East has gotten off to a strong start this season, having lost only one game among all 10 teams and heading into next week with tests which will help determine how it stacks up against some of the nation’s best. Here are three positives and three negatives from the opening week in Big East basketball.

Three Up

Blueitt has produced from the get go for the Musketeers (Frank Victores/USA Today Sports)

Trevon Blueitt has produced from the get go for the Musketeers
(Frank Victores/USA Today Sports)

  1. Xavier Freshmen – Chris Mack brought in a highly-ranked group of freshmen to restock the Musketeers, and they have produced from the get-go. In Tuesday night’s win over Long Beach State, Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura led the team in scoring, with 20 and 17 points, respectively. Both shot the ball well from three, combining to connect five times, and Bluiett especially had a phenomenal game, stuffing the stat sheet with eight rebounds and five assists to boot. With a strong group of experienced players led by Matt Stainbrook and Myles Davis, Mack does not need his freshmen to lead every night, but their demonstrated ability to score in bunches is helpful for any team over the course of a season.
  2. DePaul Transfers – This DePaul team is not your typical DePaul team. That might be said nearly every preseason, but after a couple of games, it appears that this could be the team that finally breaks through. Oliver Purnell returns two sophomore studs in Billy Garrett Jr. and Tommy Hamilton IV, but he also brought in four transfers to turn the program around. Myke HenryAaron Simpson, and the injured Rashaun Stimage have returned home to Chicago, and Darrick Wood arrives by way of junior college in Kansas. In Tuesday’s win over Drake, Henry contributed 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Simpson and Wood both contributed five points each. Stimage and Henry are athletic bigs which will pair nicely with big-bodied Hamilton, while Simpson and Wood can handle the ball and provide a spark off the bench when Garrett needs a break. Purnell needs smart players who buy into the system, and all signs point to his group of newbies doing just that. Read the rest of this entry »
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One on One: A Big East Preview with Jon Rothstein

Posted by Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) on November 3rd, 2014

RTC interviews one on one

Rush the Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you throughout the preseason with previews of each of the major conferences.

With the college basketball season nearly upon us, we thought it would be a good idea to gather some expert opinions on the nation’s major college basketball conferences. As part of our national preview with the Big East, RTC correspondent Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) recently had the pleasure of speaking with a Big East expert in CBS Sports Network College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein (@jonrothstein)

Rush the Court: Villanova enters the season as the pretty clear favorite to win the league. The Wildcats return four starters from a team that went 29-5 last season. What are some reasonable expectations for Jay Wright’s squad this season?

Expectations are high for Jay Wright and Company. (Getty)

Expectations are High for Jay Wright’s Villanova Team (Getty)

Jon Rothstein: I think reasonable expectations are to win the Big East title, have a chance at winning the Big East Tournament title, and get another high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was terrific last year in close game situations. I think there is a real possibility that Villanova could be a better team this year than it was last year, but have a worse record because its non-conference schedule is that much more difficult. What makes Villanova so good this year is that it does not lose 50/50 balls. Every ball that is being contested seems to go Villanova’s way almost every time. A big reason for that is Josh Hart. Hart is a guy who can go on a tear for Villanova this year, as he will step into a more enhanced role with the departure of James Bell. I think right now if there is one person who epitomizes Villanova’s culture and brand, it is Josh Hart.

RTC: Georgetown had a below average season last year [just 18-15 overall and 8-10 in conference]. There are no two ways around that. Does John Thompson III’s team have enough firepower to ensure a more successful campaign this season?

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Who’s Got Next? Trevon Bluiett to Xavier, Kevon Looney Going West, and More…

Posted by Sean Moran on November 4th, 2013

whosgotnext

Who’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.

Trevon Bluiett Now Off to Xavier

It’s been a whirlwind two months for four-star forward small forward Trevon Bluiett. On September 3, the No. 12 ranked small forward and No. 41 overall in the class of 2014, announced his commitment to UCLA. One month later on October 3, Bluiett decided to re-open his recruitment and look for a college closer to his hometown of Indianapolis. On Saturday, Bluiett ended his recruitment for a second time and chose to play for the Xavier Musketeers. The commitment gives Xavier one of its top overall recruiting classes along with a big-time scorer.

Bluiett stands at 6’5” and 185 pounds and is one of the top wing scorers in the class of 2014. This past summer, Bluiett played on the Nike EYBL AAU circuit and averaged 19.3 points per game while shooting 38.4 percent from the three-point line and 80.4 percent from the free throw line. He scored 20-plus points in 10 of his 22 games; including one where he went off for 41 points. Not only can Bluiett put the ball in the basket but he also contributes in other ways shown by his 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

With Bluiett’s announcement, Xavier now has five commitments from the senior class. Bluiett is the headliner, but the class also includes four-star power forward Makinde London (#71 overall, #17 PF) and four-star shooting guard J.P. Macura (#89 overall, #20 SG) to go along with three-star center Sean O’Mara (#25 center) and three-star shooting guard Edmond Summer (#27 SG). The additions of Bluiett, Macura, and Summer will help tremendously with the Musketeers’ outside shooting. Last season only three Musketeers hit 10 or more three-pointers, and only one of those, junior guard Dee Davis will be around when this renowned recruiting class arrives on campus.

Looney Heading West to UCLA

While Steve Alford might have lost four-star recruit Trevon Bluiett just one month after his commitment in September, he offset that loss this past week with another player from the Midwest in five-star forward Kevon Looney. Just last Thursday, Looney committed to UCLA from his Hamilton (WI) High School in a decision that caught most everyone by surprise. The No. 14 ranked player in the country chose the Bruins over Tennessee, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.

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Morning Five: 11.04.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 4th, 2013

morning5

  1. As we enter Opening Week of the 2013-14 college basketball season, we want to make everyone aware of all the cross-platform offerings we have available this year at RTC. Longtime readers are already familiar with our eight microsites focused on each of the major basketball conferences (click on the round conference buttons in the top right corner of the page). We also want to make you aware of our TumblRTC page, dedicated as the site’s “eyes and ears,” where we’ll be sharing interesting hoops-related things we find throughout the season. We’re also unveiling Rush the Court TV, our own YouTube channel devoted to capturing the best videos that the sport has to offer. Poke around over there for a while — you’ll find video streams for each major conference, this year’s Midnight Madness events, a bunch of oddball clips among other things, and of course, all the best RTCs. On the social media front, we hope that you’ll continue to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as we plan on doing some really cool and creative things through those platforms this season, but we’ve also got a new Instagram account and hope you’ll engage with us there too (read: send us pics!). Welcome back.
  2. Over the weekend there were plenty of exhibition games including several that featured highly ranked teams nearly getting beaten by unknown programs, but as we have often said the only thing notable that can happen in these games is somebody getting injured. Unfortunately for Providence it appears that happened to them with starting point guard Kris Dunn injuring his right shoulder in an exhibition win over Rhode Island College. The extent of the injury is not known at this time, but it is particularly concerning for Providence as it is the same shoulder that he tore last year that forced him to miss the first month of the season. The Friars open up at home against Boston College on Friday night, but based on what Ed Cooley is saying it seems unlikely that Dunn will play in that game.
  3. Like Providence, George Washington also suffered a big loss as sophomore forward Patricio Garino fractured his finger during a practice two weeks, but the school did not release the information until late last week. Garino, a selection to the preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference All-Defensive Team, had surgery on his finger on October 25 and is expected to be out for several weeks although there is no clear timetable on his return. As a freshman last season, Garino averaged 8.8 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.3 steals per game, but had much bigger things expected of him this season. Mike Lonergan will have to figure out a way to move players around until Garino return, but fortunately for the Colonials their schedule during November appears to be manageable.
  4. North Carolina State will be without fifth-year senior center Jordan Vandenberg for 4-6 weeks after he suffered a grade 3 sprain of his left ankle. While Vandenberg’s production during his time in Raleigh has been minimal the lack of experience on this NC State team will make his absence more significant than you might expect from looking at his numbers. We won’t go so far as to say that Vandenberg would have been a major contributor, but his losing 25 pounds summer at least suggests that he was motivated to make the most of his final season in Raleigh.
  5. On Friday night, less than two months after committing to play for UCLA then backing out, Trevon Bluiett to committed to play for Xavier. Blueitt’s recruitment has been particularly interesting because his initial commitment to UCLA was preceded by UCLA hiring his former high school coach, which seemed to suggest that a package deal was in place (something that is certainly not unique, but seemed unusual for a program with UCLA’s pedigree and a player of Blueitt’s caliber–a 4-star prospect). Blueitt eventually decided that Los Angeles would be too far from his home (in Indianapolis) and had narrowed down his choices to Butler, Memphis, Michigan State, and Xavier before eventually committing to Xavier.
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Morning Five: 10.04.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 4th, 2013

morning5

  1. UNLV may have lost Anthony Bennett to the NBA Draft and Mike Moser to Oregon, but that has not stopped Dave Rice, who got a commitment from Goodluck Okonoboh yesterday. Okonoboh, who is the #21 overall prospect in ESPN’s rankings, is a 6’9″ center with good defensive skills, but with a raw offensive game. We are not privy to the details of his recruitment, but are a little surprised that he chose UNLV over more established programs like Duke, Florida, Indiana, and Ohio State, which were his other finalists. If Okonoboh follows through on his commitment (see below), he would join Dwayne Morgan, a top-10 power forward, to give the Rebels an imposing frontline.
  2. One of the many reasons that we do not get too worked up about recruitment is the inevitable early commitment/decommitment. The latest example of this is Trevon Bluiett, who backed out of his one-month-old commitment to UCLA yesterday. Blueitt’s official reason for backing out of his commitment was the distance from his home state of Indiana to UCLA, but we would not be surprised if UCLA’s surplus of wings may have played a more significant role. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Bluiett’s decision is that the Bruins has already hired Ed Schilling, Bluiett’s former high school coach, as an assistant coach. Package deals like this are not unusual in college basketball, but it is unusual to see one part of the package fall apart like this.
  3. As we mentioned last month when he had his DUI charge reduced to a driving without a license charge, it did not take long for Connecticut to let Tyler Olander back on the team as Kevin Ollie announced yesterday that Olander, a 6’10” senior who has been arrested twice since March, was back on the team following his September arrest. We won’t pretend to know how to run a basketball team/program, but we are a bit surprised with how quickly Kevin Ollie let Olander back as he cited Olander’s “responsibility and maturity” as well as time management skills and academic work. We understand that Connecticut is in need of an inside presence, but we have a hard time believing that doing so for less than a month after his (second) arrest really demonstrates that.
  4. When the NCAA made its controversial decision to not allow coaches to attend practices for schools that do not participate in scholastic associations we assumed it was a backhanded attempt at questioning the legitimacy of the academic credibility of those institutions. If the case of Illinois State freshman MiKyle McIntosh is any indication, they may have targeted the wrong school. McIntosh, a 6’7″ forward from Canada, was ruled academically ineligible after the NCAA determined that some of his high school coursework could not be used. Of course, this is not an infrequent occurrence, but it is notable that McIntosh spent part of his time at Christian Faith Center Academy in North Carolina, the same school that Florida State non-qualifier Xavier Rathan-Mayes attended for part of his career. We do not have access to the details of what courses these two took that the NCAA deemed unworthy of meeting its requirements as both players appear to have bounced around high schools, but much like Prime Prep in Texas when multiple players who graduated from the same high school are ruled academically ineligible you start to wonder what is going on there.
  5. Ken Pomeroy writes some of the best publicly available analytic work available, but sometimes it takes someone else to put it into a format that makes others recognize its value. One example of this is the work of Dan Hanner who looked at two Pomeroy metrics–possessions per game and average possession length–to determine which teams had the biggest differences between perception and reality in terms of their tempo. The basis behind this is that a team that plays suffocating defense that leads to their opponent using up a large percentage of the shot clock will tend to have fewer possessions per game as their opponent will be consuming significant portions of the overall game time with their offensive possessions. We won’t get into the specifics of the analysis (you can check out the link for that), but it is interesting that teams that play faster on offense than standard metric suggest tend to be much better than teams that play slower on offense than standard metrics suggest.
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Morning Five: 09.03.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 3rd, 2013

morning5

  1. Although many Michigan State fans are probably concerned about the health of Gary Harris after he sprained his right ankle in a pick-up game with teammates that will keep him out for four to eight weeks based on what we have heard it does not appear to be a major injury. Of course we take every prediction of time to return from an ankle injury with a grain of salt since it can take several days to truly understand the extent of injury so the four- to eight-week timetable should be considered a guess at best. Some Spartan fans are probably also concerned with Harris’ tendency to get injured since he was plagued by a shoulder injury that he managed to play through while averaging 12.9 points per game on his way to Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. However the injuries appear to be unrelated so it seems that Harris is just unlucky rather than injury-prone.
  2. High school basketball recruiting has grown from a very specialized niche to a thriving industry, but few if any individuals cover it as well as Dave Telep does. So we were not shocked when the San Antonio Spurs decided to hire him to be part of their scouting department. We are still unsure what Telep’s specific role will be (given the Spurs recent history we suspect he will need to keep his passport handy), but we have no doubt given his and the team’s track record that he will be a success in his new job. We will miss having his analysis open to the public, but we wish him the best of luck.
  3. Unlike Telep and a group of other individuals we are by no means recruiting experts (particularly this early in the year) so we were a little surprised to see the media reaction to Trevon Bluiett‘s commitment to UCLA. Bluiett, who is ranked #41 overall in this year’s senior class, committed to UCLA after they hired his high school coach. We discussed this topic almost five years ago with Michael Beasley, a much more accomplished player than Bluiett, so we are somewhat surprised to see a school with UCLA’s reputation needing to resort to such tactics (admittedly within the rules) to get someone so lightly regarded. There are also rumors that Bluiett might be the first domino in a series of recruits that will commit to UCLA now. If that is the case, we understand the package deal, but for right now we remain skeptical about its impact on the national scene.
  4. Over the past year we have read plenty of analysts give their opinions on the issue of whether college athletes should be provided with monetary compensation beyond their current athletic scholarships. Most of these opinions have been voiced in Twitter rants or occasionally in the op-ed section with the primary focus being the huge TV contracts being awarded as well as the high salaries of coaches and administrators. What we have not seen (at least in mainstream media) is an economic analysis that is as thorough as what Jeffrey Dorfman provided to Forbes. Now you can take issue with the headline number of $125,000, which is admittedly back-of-the-envelope and something we would have never included if we published the article, but we agree with a lot of his underlying assertions regarding the difficulties of enacting such a system. Whether or not you agree with those assertions, the article should still illustrate why it will be a long time before any significant change is made.
  5. When we saw the news release that ESPN and Time Warner Cable had reached a deal allowing their customers in Texas to watch the Longhorn Network our first reaction was surprise that a deal had not already been reached. We are not sure how many people actually get Longhorn Network, but given the controversy surrounding its launch we are a little surprised that it has not even caught on locally. While most schools will stick with the conference contracts the difficulties of a network featuring the most profitable college brand in the country underscores some issues networks may have launching hyperlocal channels.
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Around The Blogosphere: September 8, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on September 8th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • The Rupp Arena Task Force Met Today: “The Arena, Arts, and Entertainment Task Force met today to discuss how far along the team is in the Rupp Arena project. There weren’t a lot of newsworthy notes from the meeting; and no progress other than listening to potential options has really been made.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Schedules from Big Ten Teams: Full schedules including non-conference games for a handful of Big Ten teams. (Purdue: Hammer & Rails; Indiana: Inside the Hall; Michigan: UM Hoops; Michigan State: The Only Colors)
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Around The Blogosphere: July 22, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 22nd, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • McDonald Injury Update: An interview with Leslie McDonald talking about his injury. (Tar Heel Fan)
  • Lute Olson releases statement on David Salinas involvement, Arizona fans can breathe more easily: Olson says that he did not invest money with Salinas before his retirement. (Arizona Desert Swarm)
  • Johnson Sidelined for Europe Trip: “Incoming Villanova Freshman Tyrone Johnson will not be able to play during Villanova’s Summer Tour of Europe. The 6’3″ point guard sustained a broken foot during a pickup game last month and had surgery according to Joe Juliano who spoke with Head Coach Jay Wright.” (VU Hoops)
  • Kansas Prominently Featured As Part Of The 2012 Big 12/ESPN Big Monday Schedule: “SPN released it’s 2012 Big Monday schedule and it’s no surprise that Kansas will once again play a prominent role in one of the premier weekly matchups in conference play. For years Kansas has dominated the Big 12 Big Monday slate and with 4 of 7 slots scheduled this year, that continues.” (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • Calipari Thinks A Redshirt Could Work Out Well For Hood: “With the news that Kentucky junior Jon Hood tore his ACL in a pickup game Monday came the question of whether or not he would end up taking a redshirt this season while he recovered. The man that will ultimately make the decision, John Calipari, doesn’t think that’s a terrible idea. He’s not sold on it yet, but he’s definitely considering it. Calipari told ESPN’s Andy Katz, ‘We’ll see how it goes. It’s a possibility. It might help him.’ If they end up giving Hood a redshirt, Calipari thinks that it could help his career out in the long run by letting him spend this season working out with the loaded roster the Cats have in place. He would return next season with two years of eligibility remaining.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
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Around The Blogosphere: July 18, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on July 18th, 2011

 

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Leslie McDonald Tears ACL in NC Pro-Am Game: UNC was dealt a major setback with McDonald’s injury, which could keep him out for the entire season. (Carolina March)
  • Bullock Cleared To Play: Reggie Bullock returned to the court last week for the first time since early March. (Tar Heel Fan)
  • Anthony Hubbard Leaving Iowa: The controversial recruit is leaving the Hawkeyes before ever stepping on the court for them. (Black Hearts Gold Pants)
  • Arizona’s Jordin Mayes’ foot surgery is a bigger deal than you might think: An update on how Mayes is doing following his foot surgery. (Arizona Desert Swarm)
  • So, Maryland Assistant Dalonte Hill is Making $300k: “That’s what the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Barker is saying, via a source. Which, in case you were wondering, is actually a couple dollars more than the entire assistant staff made during the 09/10 season.” (Testudo Times)
  • The Annual Syracuse Basketball Summer Slimdown Is On: An update on the Syracuse guards attempting to lose 10-15 pounds over the off-season. (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • Kenner League Day 5 In Review: Tyler Adams Debuts, Otto Drains from Deep and Greg Monroe Returns: A recap of the action in the Georgetown-laden summer league. (Casual Hoya)
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