Ten Offseason Scribbles

Posted by zhayes9 on June 1st, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

It was easy to get energized about Vanderbilt’s chances next season once the somewhat surprising news was announced that versatile swingman Jeffery Taylor would return for his senior campaign. Taylor joining forces with an experienced and talented guard tandem of John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley, along with efficient big man Festus Ezeli and quite a bit of depth, immediately gave folks in Nashville reason to believe they could contend with the powerhouse roster Kentucky assembled in the SEC. While those are four legitimate reasons for excitement – it’s awfully rare a team without a brand name like Duke, Carolina, Kentucky or UCLA returns their top four scorers (including three possible first round picks) from a top-15 efficient offense in the one-and-done era – I won’t be completely sold on Vanderbilt’s chances to usurp the Wildcats, or even fend off Florida, if their team defense doesn’t improve dramatically. The ‘Dores ranked a meager 88th in the nation in defensive efficiency last season, a mark good for tenth in the SEC, well behind the likes of both Kentucky and Florida. Their inadequacies on defense were a major reason why those of us tantalized by Vandy’s talent last season was so dumbfounded when they couldn’t quite put it all together on a sustained basis and why they ultimately dropped their final two games of the season to Florida and to #12 seed Richmond. The most confusing part: Vandy seemingly has the ancillary parts to be a strong defensive club. Taylor is regarded by NBA scouts as a premier stopper on the perimeter and Ezeli ranked 16th in block percentage in 2010-11.

Taylor needs to coax his teammates into playing stronger defense

The near-unanimous reaction following the NBA Draft declaration deadline was that Texas was the big loser. This isn’t necessarily false, but were we all that surprised Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson bolted for the pros, especially once it was known Thompson would be a lottery selection? Playing with a fellow Canadian in Myck Kabongo may seem enticing until millions of dollars are staring you in the face. Hamilton was never suited for a structured college game, either, and could really take off in the pros as a polished, explosive scorer capable of putting up points in bunches. The most shocking decision was that of Cory Joseph, who opted to leave school primarily on the basis of one workout just prior to the deadline, a decision that very few saw coming from an undersized point guard without mature floor instincts. Joseph likely saw the writing on the wall – that he’d be playing primarily as a two-guard opposite Kabongo and this move would devastate his draft stock even more – and ditched while he had a chance at the first round. Ben Howland must have been even more crushed than Rick Barnes, though. With Derrick Williams and Momo Jones out in Tucson, the opportunity was there to re-establish UCLA’s status as the premier Pac-10 representative after two tumultuous seasons. Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee are far from locks to have their name called in the first round, yet both made the abrupt decision to forgo their remaining eligibility and take their talents to the NBA. With Honeycutt and Lee joining forces with Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith, Lazeric Jones, Jerime Anderson, Tyler Lamb and incoming two-guard Norman Powell in the fray, UCLA had a top-10 roster had the parts stayed together. It’s a shame, really.

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RTC 2011 NBA Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Posted by zhayes9 on May 19th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an RTC contributor, columnist and bracketologist.  For the next six weeks, he’ll also be our chief draftnik, mocking up the place with his first round selections.  For additional detail, be sure to also check out our 35 draft profiles of the top collegians that we are rolling out over the next five weeks. 

As a college basketball fan, the NBA Draft has always represented a final sendoff to the previous season and for the players we’ve followed religiously over the course of their collegiate careers. Even though some stops (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Greg Oden) have been shorter than others (Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick, Evan Turner), each player has provided a long list of memories while making their individual imprint on the college game. Similar to a parent sending their kids off to school for the first time, the draft in late June serves as one last chance to say goodbye.

It's 2003 All Over Again For the Cavs... Sorta

Now that the lottery order has been unveiled, it’s time to introduce our first ever 2011 NBA Mock Draft here at RTC. As someone who annually follows the happenings surrounding the draft for weeks leading up to the big night, hopefully my mock selections will provide both insight and expectation into what will transpire in around five weeks time, although with this year’s weak draft class we could see more trades than ever with teams looking to exchange picks this year for 2012 selections.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke.  In a point guard heavy league where a gifted court general is essential for any team with championship aspirations, Irving makes the most sense of any single pick in the draft. Irving has tremendous playmaking ability at the position both setting up teammates and generating his own offense.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona.  The most efficient player in college basketball who possesses phenomenal athleticism and excels in isolation, Williams is the clear cut choice if Minnesota hangs onto this pick. Although Williams is a bit of a tweener, an improved mid-range game will render Williams a matchup nightmare for opposing threes.

3. Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky.  This pick could certainly go in a different direction if the Jazz head honchos feel Devin Harris is their point guard for the foreseeable future. Even if Harris sticks around, Knight needs some grooming as a distributor before he’s ready to shine. Knight is already a capable shooter and offensive threat.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey.  After selecting Irving, it only makes sense to grab the best available big man and pick Kanter. A supremely skilled 7-footer with advanced footwork and scoring ability in the post, Kanter’s ceiling is very high. Kanter hasn’t played outside of a Kentucky practice in over a year, so there’s risk in this selection.

5. Toronto Raptors- Jonas Valanciunas, PF, Lithuania.  The Raptors have never been bashful about selecting international players and there’s certainly a need for more athleticism in the low post for Toronto. If the question marks surrounding Valanciunas’ buyout can be resolved, the Raptors are nabbing a projectable low-post threat who can really rebound.

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Early Entry Winners & Losers

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2011

Now that the NBA Draft early entry withdrawal has passed (Midnight ET on Sunday night), it’s time to take a look at who the winners and losers were from this year’s process.  Of the nearly 70 players who declared as early entrants for this year’s NBA Draft, we count a dozen or so who will return and make their teams significantly better next year.  The biggest impact will be felt at the following places…

The Winners

Jones Fills Out a Ridiculous UK Lineup in 2011-12

  • Kentucky.  How do we figure that a team that ends up losing its best scorer and best perimeter defender is a winner?  Because of who they didn’t lose.  Terrence Jones will team with Kentucky’s fabulous duo of incoming forwards — Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis — to produce the most dynamic and talented front line college basketball has seen in some time.  As good as Brandon Knight was in a Kentucky uniform, his loss to the draft also ensures that there’s no question as to who lead this team next year, as incoming superstar Marquis Teague will take over the reins from day one.  The loss of DeAndre Liggins was surprising and will hurt, but on balance, the player UK most needed to return did.
  • The Big East.  With the notable exception of NPOY candidate and Final Four MOP Kemba Walker and the somewhat shocking departures of Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott and Louisville’s Terrence Jennings, the Big East avoided losing three of its better returning players for the 2011-12 season.  Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs and West Virginia’s Kevin Jones will all return to teams that could not afford to lose them; with so many talented seniors leaving the Big East, it was imperative for the league’s overall health that these talented upperclassmen come back.
  • Missouri.  A very early Christmas came for new Tigers head coach Frank Haith as two of his best returnees, Kim English and Laurence Bowers, made smart decisions to return to Columbia for their senior seasons.  With leading scorer Marcus Denmon already back in the fold, Haith is walking into a situation where his top six players will be back next year.  So long as he can enable his more methodical system with a group that loves to run and press, Mizzou fans should be excited for the possibility of something special in 2011-12.
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Conference Report Card: Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 25th, 2011



Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.

Year In Review

Before the start of the season, pollsters bought into Kansas State as the sexy pick to take the Big 12 in 2011 on the heels of an Elite Eight appearance in 2010. The Big 12 was not overly impressive in non-conference play, as the Wildcats fell hard to Duke in a de facto home game in Kansas City, and Missouri did the same against Georgetown in one of the more thrilling matchups of the early season.

As league play began, the preseason #3 Wildcats disappointed, starting 2-5, and the usual stalwarts of the Big 12, Kansas and Texas, rose to the top. After topping the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in January, the Longhorns looked to be in the driver’s seat, especially after Kansas was blindsided at Bramlage Coliseum to give Texas a two-game lead. However, Rick Barnes‘ team suffered another late-season collapse, going 2-3 to finish the regular season while the Jayhawks dusted off the competition to pull ahead to take their seventh straight conference crown.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Wildcats bounced back to end the season in third place. The middle of the conference wasn’t settled until the latter stages of the season with Missouri falling lat and Texas A&MColorado and Nebraska treading water. Baylor underachieved, given the talented personnel in Waco, and Oklahoma State never really looked in sync. OklahomaTexas Tech and Iowa State all had awful seasons to finish at the bottom of the standings.

In the conference tournament final, Kansas played its best basketball of the season, topping Texas to gain some revenge entering the Big Dance. Colorado was snubbed on Selection Sunday despite beating Kansas State three times, but the Big 12 still managed to get five teams into the NCAA Tournament. However, only the Jayhawks made it out of opening weekend alive, and they fell short of expectations as they lost to Shaka Smart and the Rams’ reign of BCS destruction.

KU's front line of Thomas Robinson (left) and the Morris twins evolved into a strength, and the Jayhawks struggled most when they weren't utilized on offense. (AP/Jamie Squire)

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Around The Blogosphere: April 25, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on April 25th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.


  • Jim Larranaga to leave George Mason, accept Miami head coaching job: Looking at Larranaga’s move from a George Mason point of view. (GMU Hoops)
  • Early favorite to replace Jim Larranaga could be Bill Courtney: Looking at the candidates who could replace Larranaga. (GMU Hoops)
  • Hamilton, Joseph, and Thompson All Declare for NBA Draft: Looking at the three Longhorns who declared for the NBA Draft and where they might be selected. (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • Hollis Thompson Enters 2011 NBA Draft: “Georgetown sophomore Hollis Thompson has entered the NBA Draft but has not hired an agent. Thompson, a 6’7″ small forward, averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 46% from three point range in just over 23 minutes per game for the Hoyas last season.” (Casual Hoya)
  • Jamal Coombs-McPoordecisionmaking: sophomore forward arrested for marijuana possession: “UConn police arrested sophomore forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel for possession of 5.6 grams of marijuana on campus last night. Coombs-McDaniel was also in possession of a marijuana grinder and a package of cigars that could presumably used for rolling paper. There were two other individuals arrested with Coombs-McDaniel, Shakwaan Ishmale Simpkins and Stanley Darnel Winn, both of Boston.” (The UConn Blog)

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Around The Blogosphere: April 22, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2011

After a brief hiatus we are back with our ATB2 feature. We will probably be doing these posts on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule although that is a moving target and will be related to the amount of newsworthy material. If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com.


  • Sources: Tristan Thompson To the NBA: “Thursday afternoon, Statesmen hoops writer Mark Rosner tweeted that a source close to Texas forward Tristan Thompson’s family and an NBA scout told him that Thompson will enter the NBA draft.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • Darius Morris To Enter NBA Draft Without Hiring Agent: The full text statement from the University of Michigan. (UM Hoops)

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Morning Five: 04.22.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 22nd, 2011

  1. Your daily NBA Draft early entrant rowboat took on a bit more water yesterday, as three more prominent players made it official that they will be entering this year’s June festivities.  Wasn’t the looming lockout supposed to scare most of these mid-level guys into sticking around another year?  Isn’t happening.  The most notable player to announce Thursday was Texas forward Tristan Thompson, who reneged on an earlier statement that he was returning for his sophomore season.  Thompson told the media prior to UT’s Third Round game against Arizona last month that he was “coming back another year” and that he couldn’t wait to play with incoming guard Myck Kabongo, a fellow Canadian.  And therein lies a lesson, young’ins — don’t make such statements until you’re mentally ready to do so and physically ready to back them up.  UT now anxiously awaits Jordan Hamilton’s draft decision to learn if they’ll have a legitimate chance next season.
  2. Two other sophomores also made their names available for the NBA Draft, Colorado’s Alec Burks and Michigan’s Darius Morris.  Burks, an all-Big 12 wing who led the league in scoring average and set school records for points in both his freshman and sophomore years, will sign with an agent and is expected to be the first shooting guard chosen in June.  Morris, on the other hand, is in a more tenuous position.  John Beilein said that this declaration was “exploratory” and it had better be, as Morris is projected as a second round pick (or worse) in most mock drafts — we’d expect to see him back in Ann Arbor next year.  Who’s next?  Step right up, folks, because there’s only two days left until the draft deadline on Sunday.
  3. There are always naysayers among us, and without them we’d have no reason for aye-sayers.  But if you thought that the 2010-11 season was pretty much a stinker from start to finish, that it never held your attention because of a lack of star power, that parity “sounds good on paper but looks bad on television,” then this article from Gregg Doyel is completely for you.  Rather than getting into a 500-word retort to this position, suffice it to say that our opinion is that last season was generally a good one that ended with a thud, and leave it at that.
  4. Somebody needed to say it, but Tim Dwyer at The University Daily Kansan does it better than most with his targeted missive on Bill Self’s program: “Start six years ago, when J.R. Giddens was stabbed in a 2005 fight that witnesses said he instigated. C.J. Giles, who was there at the Giddens stabbing, was arrested for battery in 2006. Sherron Collins was charged with sexual assault, though the charges were dropped when Collins filed a counterclaim for defamation. Then there was Markieff Morris’ battery charge. Morningstar’s DUI. Fights with the football team, highlighted by Tyshawn Taylor’s injury and Facebook posts. Little’s battery charge. And now [Thomas] Robinson’s [recent assault charge].”  He goes on to say that many KU fans criticize Self for his NCAA Tournament failures when they really should be looking at a demonstrated tendency toward lawlessness from his players.  Yet for some reason, at least at the national level, KU and Self seem to skirt this perception.
  5. The late-breaking news on Thursday revolved around reports that George Mason head coach and inspiration to mid-majors everywhere, Jim Larranaga, might be taking the open position at Miami (FL).  Whether this is a power play for a better contract at GMU or a genuine opportunity to leave NoVa’s unpredictable weather for a warmer climate, we’re not sure; but it is odd in that Larranaga has certainly had better offers in his lap before this one (Providence; certainly others), and yet according to the Miami Herald, they are reporting that he will make the move as soon as Friday.  Maybe the financial offer was too sweet to pass up, but we’re not sure we see this working out very well in Coral Gables for either party in the long run.
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Season in Review: By the (Jersey) Numbers

Posted by rtmsf on April 7th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is an RTC contributor.  When he’s not traveling all night to get to Vegas, Los Angeles, Tucson or Anaheim to cover games in the southwestern quadrant of the country, he’s acting as the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and writing about whatever strikes his basketball fancy.

When it comes to wrapping up a college basketball season, I have a hard time doing an All-American team, because, for one, it just seems hard to narrow down four and a half months of basketball to just five names (or even ten or 15 if I add a second or third team – although, I’ll probably do that too). Instead, in the interests of recognizing more of the players that filled up my brain this season, what I’ll do here today is take all 37 possible uniform numbers (only digits zero through five are possible uniform numbers in NCAA basketball, to aid referees in calling fouls and the foulers) and pick one player for each jersey number.  Note that I am not always going to pick just the best player here. My own prejudices and likes/dislikes will factor in, plus I want to be able to pick a guy that I will most remember from this season. And, in the case of a tie, a senior will get the nod. So without further ado, here is my list of Players of the Year by uniform number.

A Famous Man Once Said We're All Rooting For Laundry, Ultimately

0 – Jacob Pullen, Sr, Kansas State – As I said before, tie goes to the senior, and in this case, the freshman Jared Sullinger gets beat out by a guy who left his heart on the court in his final game as a Wildcat, scoring 38 amazing points in a loss to Wisconsin in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament. Pullen goes down in history as the all-time leading scorer in Kansas State history, and his exploits in March will be talked about there for years to come.

00 – Rick Jackson, Sr, Syracuse – As far as the scorekeeper is concerned, there is no difference between 0 and 00, but I see two big zeroes on Jackson’s back, and opponents saw a double-double machine for the majority of the season. He posted 17 double-dips on the season and, despite fading a bit down the stretch, was one of the most improved seniors in the country this year.

1 – Kyrie Irving, Fr, Duke – Irving’s college career is complete as he declared for the NBA Draft on Wednesday.  You won’t find his name on any all-timer lists in Durham, as he played just 11 games in his time as a Blue Devil due to a toe injury. When he was on the court, however, he was among the handful of the best players in the nation, with quickness, awareness and maturity rarely seen among freshmen.

2 – Nolan Smith, Sr, Duke – His college career ended with one of the worst games of his career, but for huge swaths of this season, Smith was in the conversation for National Player of the Year. He took over the point guard role when Irving went down with his injury and did a fantastic job of balancing his team’s need for a creator with its need for Smith to score.

3 – Jeremy Lamb, Fr, Connecticut – Jim Calhoun’s precocious freshman earned this honor almost entirely in March. Sure, he had a streak of eight-straight double-digit scoring games in January and early February, but in March, Lamb took his game to a new level and became a consistent second option to Kemba Walker. From the start of the Big East Tournament straight through to the National Championship game, Lamb never failed to score in double figures and averaged 15.3 points per game over that stretch.

4 – Jackson Emery, Sr, BYU – Aaron Craft almost got the nod here, but once again we’ll give the upperclassman the benefit of the doubt. And make no mistake, Emery is very deserving on his own merits, regardless of class, averaging 12.5 points and 2.7 steals per game as Jimmer Fredette’s sidekick in the Cougars’ playmaking backcourt. Emery goes down in history as the career steals leader at BYU.

5 – Kendall Marshall, Fr, North Carolina – I’m not sure Marshall is the best player in the country wearing a single five on his back, but he was likely the most important one – and the biggest story at that. He took over the starting point guard position in Chapel Hill in mid-January and led the Tar Heels to a 17-3 record from there, averaging 7.7 often spectacular assists per game and kick-starting much-heralded freshman wing Harrison Barnes along the way.

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2011-12 RTC (Way Too Early) Top 25

Posted by KDoyle on April 5th, 2011

The 2010-11 season just concluded — we are just as sad as you guys are — but rather than get all nostalgic, teary-eyed, and lament the next  seven months without college basketball, let’s look towards the future. That’s right, folks, hot off the presses: the first 2011-12 Top 25. Our assumptions on who is staying/leaving are within the team breakdowns.

  1. North Carolina—The Heels have a whole lot coming back and lose next to nothing. Harrison Barnes looked like the stud he was advertised in the preseason as he developed into Carolina’s top player down the stretch, and Kendall Marshall flourished at the point guard position once he was given the keys to the car. It sure doesn’t hurt that a couple McDonald’s All-Americans will be joining the program next year, either. Look for Roy Williams to be significantly happier next season than he was for much of this season.

    Roy Williams should be in a good mood next season

  2. SyracuseJim Boeheim’s squad returns virtually all the pieces to the puzzle — a puzzle that certainly went unfinished this year — and the Orange look like they may be the top dog in the Big East next season. Scoop Jardine has the ability to be one of the top guards in the BE and Kris Joseph is a very explosive scorer, who should continue to develop in the offseason. The development of Fab Melo is an absolute must in the offseason, though, if this team wants to reach its potential.
  3. Kentucky—With the instability of the NBA next year, the Wildcats may be fortunate enough to hang onto their young stars for at least another season. Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones are all NBA talents and all three of them could enter the NBA Draft, but if even one of them returns, this team will be very dangerous, particularly with the class that John Calipari is bringing in, which might be one of the best assembled in the past ten years. If two of those three return to play with that class, this team immediately becomes the favorite to cut down the nets next April.
  4. Ohio State—Will he stay or will he go? Obviously, we are referring to Jared Sullinger’s decision to remain a Buckeye for another year. While graduation will claim Jon Diebler and David Lighty, there is still ample talent returning to help the Buckeyes take care of some unfinished business. William Buford could be the X-factor that determines just how good the Buckeyes will be.
  5. Louisville—The coaching prowess of Rick Pitino and his most important assistant Ralph Willard was a thing of beauty this year. Not much was expected out of the Cardinals, but the ‘Ville had an exceptional season up until their Tournament collapse to Morehead State. Loftier goals will be set for Louisville next year with Preston Knowles the only player departing. The Cardinals might not have quite as publicized a recruiting class as their in-state rivals, but still have one of the top incoming classes in America. Read the rest of this entry »
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Around The Blogosphere: March 29, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on March 29th, 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.

Final Four Notes

  • Kemba & The Improbables Do It Again: UConn is Final Four-bound: “Somehow, someway, this impossible season is going to continue. Behind Kemba Walker and superstar-in-training Jeremy Lamb, UConn has beaten Arizona, 65-63, to win the West Regional tonight in Anaheim. I really don’t know what to say. That game had too many momentum swings, too many death-defying moments, and two great looks in the final seconds to put the dagger to our collective dreams. I suggest we all sit back and enjoy this.” (The UConn Blog)
  • UK Basketball: From the Outhouse, to the Penthouse, to (gasp!) the Final Four: “Where do I begin? How does one convey the emotions one feels when, at long-last, what it is one yearns for comes to fruition? For Kentucky Wildcat basketball fans the wait seemed eternal, but alas, it is now upon us. And depending on one’s point of view, either a year late, a year early, or 13 years too long (I fall into the latter category).” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Calipari Gets A Bad Rap, While Calhoun Skates Free: “John Calipari and Jim Calhoun are two of the top coaches of my generation. That is hard to dispute. However, many people like to discredit coaches based on NCAA violations. And that’s fine. That said, some people need to more carefully review the facts before choosing who to throw under the bus.” (Obsessed with Sports

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