RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

Just a mere five months ago, the once proud and feared Kentucky basketball program was mired in a state of chaos. The Billy Gillispie era at the university turned out about as well as the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination. Mystifying losses at storied Rupp Arena to such powers as Gardner-Webb and VMI, puzzling interviews with ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards making the blog rounds and exposing Gillispie as a clown, point guards refusing to enter games, rumors of bar scenes of an inebriated Gillispie making a mockery of his reputation and, worse of all, the Wildcats missing the NCAA Tournament in 2009 only to falter in the NIT. After Gillispie was fired, both parties sued each other and now Gillispie is releasing a book that nobody will read. It’s been a whacky offseason in Big Blue Country, and even though their new savior has some issues of his own, the Kentucky basketball program has experienced an unfathomable turnaround over the summer from the laughing stock of college basketball to a legitimate contender to win a national title.

The hiring of John Calipari and the return of forward Patrick Patterson has rejuvenated Kentucky to the point of being widely considered the favorites in an improving SEC this season. The addition of two top-five recruits- point guard John Wall and power forward DeMarcus Cousins- along with Gillispie’s recruits staying on board and a decent core returning from last season’s squad means expectations are once again sky-high in Lexington. Nobody is thinking about Billy Gillispie but rather the school’s first Final Four berth since the Jeff Sheppard era of 1998.

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Here’s the official schedule for a Kentucky team that may be the most exciting to watch this season in all of college basketball:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 7. The non-conference schedule in John Calipari’s first season features some big names and decent tests, but no overwhelmingly challenging road games are included on the slate. The only true road game is a trip to Bloomington in early December to take on a rebuilding Indiana squad that Kentucky should run out of the building. Emotions will be high for both the North Carolina and Louisville visits during the non-conference season. North Carolina has embarrassed Kentucky handily in two previous meetings and the Wildcats will be eager to exact revenge on their rival Cardinals following last season’s Edgar Sosa miracle (not to mention the coaches aren’t exactly best friends). The schedule also includes a trip to Cancun to take on Cinderella Cleveland State and the Stanford/Virginia winner, none of those teams posing close to a threat. One team that could surprise Kentucky is their opponent in the SEC/Big East Invitational in New York: the Connecticut Huskies. UConn did lose a boatload of scoring and rebounding, but Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson could be enough to hang with Kentucky’s immense talent. At least for a while.

Cupcake City: While Gillispie was prone to the shocking early-season upset, we suspect Calipari will have his team 100% prepared offensively and defensively every single night throughout the campaign. Kentucky has eight games at home against mid-major or low-major competition this season and one visit to Louisville to take on UNC-Asheville. They should sprint through this slate and remain a decent bet to run the table in non-conference play.

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RTC’s 09-10 Class Schedule: Kansas Jayhawks

Posted by zhayes9 on August 19th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

I’m extremely proud to introduce a new feature here at Rush the Court, one you’ll be seeing every few days or so up until the much-anticipated opening tip in November, called RTC’s 09-10 Class Schedule. The premise is simple: dissect and analyze the schedules of the most notable teams in the nation this season, from the easiest to the hardest stretch, the most intense rivalry to the early season tune-ups, upset watch to RTC potential. If your team is lingering around the expected preseason top-25, their schedule will be scrutinized in the next couple of months. There’s no rhyme or reason to the madness (we won’t be going conference-by-conference or ranking each team), just a prominent school every few days as the releases begin to trickle out from the respective schools.

We figured it would be appropriate to begin the feature with the team expected to represent the class of college basketball in the 2009-10 campaign: Kansas. Here’s the official team schedule:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 8. Bill Self realizes he must challenge his Jayhawks if they wish to reach the promised land in April this season, and while the Big 12 certainly provides distinct challenges, Self has loaded the non-conference slate with three games against potential top-15 competition and two more storied programs on the fringe of being ranked. Kansas will take on Michigan and California at home in back-to-back contests in December, two teams returning plenty of talent from a season ago and featuring playmakers like Manny Harris and Jerome Randle. Self also scheduled a home-and-home with Tennessee (last season’s barn burner) and the Jayhawks will make their return trip on January 10 in one of the more anticipated non-conference games this season. Other than Tennessee and a trip to Philly to take on Temple, Kansas’ only true road game during non-conference play is a meeting with UCLA as part of the Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Series. They also travel a short ways to St. Louis for a matchup with Memphis. While Kansas playing such big name schools sounds sexy, neither should pose an enormous conundrum for a loaded KU squad. Overall, give Self credit for challenging his team rather than padding the record. The RPI will notice when they’re battling for a #1 seed in February and March.

Cupcake City: The Jayhawks may have scheduled their fair share of below-average competition, but Self did a fairly decent job of bringing teams to Lawrence with a recent history of success. Even the typical November and December schools are somewhat formidable in the big picture (they may not be against KU, of course): Radford, Belmont and Cornell have recent tournament experience, Oakland is the favorite in the Summit and La Salle is one of the sleepers in the Atlantic 10. The portion of the schedule covered with frosting, though, has to be November 19- December 2 with Central Arkansas, Tennessee Tech and Alcorn State coming to Lawrence. I’m not going out on a limb when I say some lopsided scores could be in order.

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2010 ESPN College Gameday Sites Announced

Posted by zhayes9 on August 18th, 2009

Saturday mornings in the winter have become a schedule of habit for yours truly- stumble out of bed, put the coffee in the pot and settle down on the couch for another edition of College Gameday: Hoops Edition. The likely candidates will return for another run in 2010 including Rece Davis as the host and Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps, Bob Knight and Jay Bilas (assuming Erin Andrews will once again be involved) providing analysis and heated bracket discussion. While I’d love to see Hubert tied up behind the Bristol studios with his mouth taped shut and replaced by someone smart like Doug Gottlieb or Steve Lavin (or anyone who doesn’t think the eye test is the best way to determine NCAA Tournament teams), the Gameday crew has grown on me. Bilas has always been the most informative and intelligent analyst on the network covering college basketball, and once you can look past how big of a buzzkill Bob Knight is, he provides tremendous insight. Much like Chris Fowler on the football counterpart, Davis does a formidable job moderating and challenging his partners.

Here’s the schedule for this season:

January 16th: Storrs, CT- Notre Dame at Connecticut (women’s)
January 23rd: Clemson, SC – Duke at Clemson
January 30th: Manhattan, KS – Kansas at Kansas State (7 p.m.)
February 6th: Champaign, IL – Michigan State at Illinois
February 13th: Lexington, KY- Tennessee at Kentucky
February 20th: Seattle, WA – UCLA at Washington
February 27th: Syracuse, NY- Villanova at Syracuse
March 6th: Durham, NC – North Carolina at Duke

The women’s game doesn’t surprise me; in fact, I viewed it as inevitable for Gameday to make a trip to Storrs this season to commemorate the perfect season for UConn. And why not? I’ve never watched a full women’s college game in my life, and don’t plan on tuning in to that particular edition because Geno Auriemma will be prominently involved, but it’s well deserved. As for the other men’s contests, I think ESPN did a nice job considering they can only work with Saturday games and make the schedule in August rather than on a weekly basis, i.e., college football. You have potential top-ten teams in Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and Villanova entering raucous environments in Clemson, Manhattan, Champaign and Syracuse, respectively. Expect some memorable RTC moments on Saturday nights this season.

Some quick thoughts:

Best Game- UNC-Duke always gets us tingly inside, but the best game takes place in SEC country this season- Tennessee-Kentucky. The Big Blue will be rocking in appreciation of their highly-anticipated top-five team under new coach John Calipari and will surely bring the heat for their most hated sweaty headman, Bruce Pearl. These two bitter rivals will be the top two teams in the SEC this season. Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism battling down low with DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson will be tremendous to watch.

Likely Stinker- Most would vote for a possible 57-56 final in Champaign as the likely stinker, but I’ll go with Villanova-Syracuse. Some believe the Orange could surprise with the addition of Wesley Johnson, but Villanova is loaded and took care of Syracuse late last season at the Dome even with Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris around. This one has the potential for blowout city rather than upset city.

Who Knows Game- Kansas State isn’t likely anything more than a bubble team this season, yet Gameday is making the trip to Manhattan to see preseason #1 Kansas battle the Wildcats in what should be an insane environment. You’d think the Jayhawks’ immense talent would be able to wipe the floor with Kansas State, but don’t underestimate Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen and stud frosh Wally Judge. Feels like this could either be an 18-2 KU run to start the game or the most memorable upset of the conference season.

Missing Powers- A little bit surprised to see Texas without an appearance on Gameday. I love their makeup this year under Rick Barnes and coupled with a strong Big 12 + Austin providing a worthy destination = surprised at their absence. Purdue was snubbed. Butler was also a candidate to get some national TV love.

Cult of Personalities- As I mentioned before, the battle between Bruce Pearl and John Calipari, especially coming off the Josh Selby rumors/saga, will be eaten up by ESPN. It’s not exactly Rick Pitino-Calipari, but the storylines will develop.

Plus, we get more halfcourt shots. And those are always fun.

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You Have Until 5pm Monday, Jodie Meeks…

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2009

Well, we’re down to the wire again this year – the NBA’s early entry withdrawal deadline is 5pm EDT Monday – and there are still several notable players who haven’t made up their minds yet.

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Before we take a look at the stragglers, let’s take a quick peek at a few who made up their minds over the last few days.  It should be noted that, by and large, these are good decisions.  It will be interesting to see if that holds through Monday’s deadline.

Players Returning to School

  • Gani Lawal, Georgia Techinteresting decision, as Lawal was probably a late first round pick.  Tech may be this year’s Wake Forest (mucho talent on an underachiever) with Lawal and Iman Shumpert returning with superfrosh Derrick Favors coming in.
  • Damion James, Texasanother great decision, as James was staring second round or undrafted square in the face.
  • Tyler Smith, Tennessee – Bruce Pearl has to be thrilled as he couldn’t have expected to have the hard-working Smith back for a third year in Knoxville.
  • Devan Downey & Dominque Archie, South Carolina – neither of these players were ever serious about leaving because they weren’t going to be picked, but their return will make South Carolina a formidable presence in the SEC East next year.

Players Officially Leaving

  • Jrue Holiday, UCLAno big surprise as Holiday has been moving up the boards  in recent weeks.  Maybe Holiday is another example of a player who blossoms at the next level (he sure didn’t at this one).

The one player whose name is on everyone’s mind due to the fact that it will significantly impact next year’s rankings, however, is Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks.  If he decides to return, and there’s nobody in Lexington who seems to know definitively what he’s going to do, then Kentucky is your preseason #1 team without question.  If he does not return, then it’ll probably go to Kansas with Kentucky and several others coming in closely behind.

Here are a few of the names of other players who have waited to the last minute to let the world know their decisions…

There are quite a few smaller names, but we feel as if this year most of the impact players who should be returning have made a good decision to do so.  We’ll try to update things tomorrow as the news flows in.

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06.08.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2009

Another week has started, and we’re within one week of the NBA Draft withdrawal deadline, so let’s see who’s returning…

  • LSU’s Tasmin Mitchell will return to Baton Rouge for his senior season (smart move).
  • Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds is leaning toward a return to the Main Line for his senior year (also a smart move).
  • Arizona’s Nic Wise will also return for his senior season (a wise move, indeed).
  • Miami (FL)’s Dwayne Collins has wisened up and will also be back for his senior season (yep, these guys are getting it).
  • Memphis players continue to jump ship, with Shawn Taggart now deciding to forgo his senior season (not a great move, but he’s already 24 and who knows what penalties Memphis may face next season).
  • Tennessee’s Tyler Smith is still thinking about returning, but he’s also considering going to Europe to start his professional career.  While on the subject of collegians moving to Europe, Luke Winn explores the issue a little further in the context of Nick Calathes’ decision to play in Greece.
  • Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague injured his knee in a workout last week, but is expected to remain in the first round and therefore will most likely stay in the draft.

Some other news bouncing around the early summer months…

  • Memphis made its defense to the NCAA on Saturday, and we pretty much agree with most of what Gary Parrish writes here.  Details are scarce as to what was actually said at the hearing, but Kentucky’s John Calipari did phone in from China, and Memphis official stated on the record that they feel that they’d made their case to the NCAA.  Not sure what else they could say in that spot though.  Memphis should hear something from the NCAA in 6-8 weeks.
  • The Shane Battier Memorial Rule will be in effect beginning next season.  Wonderful.
  • We really don’t have a good feeling about the long-term prospects of Josh Pastner at Memphis.  Nothing against the kid, but Calipari is just too tough of a situation there to follow.  He’s showing his recruiting chops already, but can he coach?
  • In a cost-cutting measure, three Big Ten schools (Michigan, Ohio St., Wisconsin) are eliminating their annual media guides for their sports teams.  We’d expect this to be a major trend in the next few months nationwide.   The NCAA is also lending a hand by suspending members’ dues this upcoming year.
  • A Tennessee congressman named Steve Cohen is petitioning the NBA to change its “one-and-done” rule.  Interesingly, his district includes Memphis, who is of course dealing with the Derrick Rose fiasco.  Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt took offense at some of Cohen’s comments about his former player, Thaddeus Young, and is now demanding an apology.
  • Former Razorback Patrick Beverley threw Arkansas under the bus in an interview with DraftExpress when he said, “Someone from Arkansas was doing papers, was doing me and some of my teammates’ papers…”
  • UK countersues Billy Gillispie.  This could be really fun.
  • Gary Parrish explores Billy Donovan’s thoughts on the Orlando Magic making the NBA Finals two years after he backed out of his commitment to coach that team.
  • In a bit of a shock, Fairleigh Dickinson fired head coach Tom Green after 26 years of loyal service, including four NCAA Tournament appearances and 407 wins at the school.
  • UT-Martin’s head coach, Bret Campbell, resigned after an internal audit found that he had deposited $20k in basketball camp checks directly into his personal account.
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Debriefing the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Predraft Camp ended Friday in Chicago, and as we mentioned last week, there were twelve underclassmen who were still on the fence about whether to stay in the draft or return to school.  Given that this is a college basketball site, those are the players we’re interested in.  So let’s take a look at what we’re hearing about each of the dozen and how that may have impacted their decisions.  Thanks to ESPN’s Chad Ford, DraftExpress‘ Jonathan Givony, and NBADraft.net for their reports, which we borrowed liberally from.

fence-sitters

Derrick Brown, Xavier – Brown is not returning to school.  He officially announced his intentions on the first day of the camp, but he says that he’s known for several weeks.  He’s already graduated from school and with the move of his head coach Sean Miller to Arizona, he wasn’t interested in starting over with a new coach.  In drills, his mechanics apparently looked poor, but he has freakish athleticism and will hover in that guaranteed-money cutoff between the first and second rounds.

Austin Daye, Gonzaga – Daye measured out very well at 6’11 in shoes with a 7’3 wingspan, but at 192 pounds he might get blown away by a stiff breeze.  He also excelled in the workouts, showing a strong fundamental basis and a sure stroke from everywhere on the court.   There are still concerns about his relative strength, but according to Chad Ford, a couple of lottery teams were willing to give him another look after his workouts.  Probably leaning draft after this camp.

Taj Gibson, USC – Also measured well, standing 6’10 in shoes with an absurd 7’4 wingspan.  Given that Gibson will be 24 on draft day and he’s on the fence of the first round, he’s probably not returning to school.

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame – ‘Gody did not measure well, standing only 6’8 in shoes, a full inch-and-a-half shorter than his counterpart Tyler Hansbrough.  According to this report, though, he may have the best jumpshot in the entire draft class.  Still, he’s painfully unathletic and it would be a surprise to see Harangody stay in the draft.

Jrue Holiday, UCLA – Another winner in the measurement department, as Holiday showed he’s a big point guard (6’4 in shoes) with a long wingspan.  He was also extremely impressive in workouts, with one scout saying, “that’s the kid we fell in love with in high school.”  Given the exceptional workouts he was having in Chicago, Holiday was getting more buzz than any other guard there and is unlikely to return to Westwood.

Damion James, Texas – James must not have impressed much because most reports failed to mention him.  Given that he’s a projected second-round pick at this point and he told Andy Katz that he’s looking for a guarantee, he would probably do himself well to return to school another year.

Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech – Lawal showed explosiveness and good size for a PF prospect, but according to Andy Katz, he may not be willing to take the chance unless he can secure a first round guarantee.  Not sure he’s going to get that, which would mean probably a better than even chance that Lawal would join Derrick Favors and Iman Shumpert back in the ATL next season.

Jodie Meeks, Kentucky – Meeks is another player looking for a first round guarantee, and he’s unlikely to get it.  He looked like he’s in tremendous shape and he shot the ball well in the camp, but there are still visible holes in his game (most notably, defense).  This Wildcat is probably heading back to Lexington to play off-the-ball with John Wall in 2009-10.

Patrick Mills, St. Mary’s – Mills impressed scouts with his speed and shooting mechanics, but his size makes him a borderline first rounder.  He said that if he is going to be a second round pick, he’ll return to St. Mary’s for his junior season.  It says here that we don’t think that’ll be a problem.

Tyler Smith, Tennessee – Measured in at only 6’6 in shoes, so what position is he at the next level?  Shot the ball well in drills, but remains on the fence depending on whether he’ll be a first or second round pick.  Sound familiar?

Jeff Teague, Wake Forest – Gone.  Says he’s leaving Wake Forest so long as he’s a first rounder, and he assuredly is one.  Athletic point who had a longer wingspan and reach than expected, which helps to explain how a 6’1 guy can throw down such ridiculous dunks in transition.

Greivis Vasquez, Maryland – Vasquez measured well for a combo guard, and his quotes made it sound like this was just for show.  He has little to no shot at the first round this year, and it appeared that he acknowledged as much.  He should be back in College Park next season.

So of the twelve players still sitting on the fence, we’ve got the following staying in the draft: Brown, Daye, Gibson, Holiday, Mills and Teague.  Really only Daye seems to be questionable at this point.  The other six: Harangody, James, Lawal, Meeks, Smith and Vasquez are largely hoping for a first round guarantee that will not be forthcoming (Lawal excepted  in this group).

Once the measurements including the athletic combine stats come out (vertical leap, speed, etc.), we’ll re-visit the 2009 Predraft Camp.

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Welcome to the 2009 NBA Predraft Camp

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

Starting today, 52 NBA hopefuls will descend upon Chicago to go through a battery of athletic drills, medical testing and interviews in the hopes that an NBA team will see something dreamy along the way.  For our purposes at RTC, the twelve players we’re primarily interested in, the early entries who are still on the fence, are listed below in red.  It’ll be very interesting to see how these players perform in these tests, especially considering that unlike past years, there will be no five-on-five games where players can show their wares in a full-court setting.

In individual drills, we’d expect smooth athletes like Daye, Holiday, Mills and Teague to shine, but you never really know with these things.  It’ll be interesting to listen to the reports coming out of Chi-town the rest of the week with respect to these players.  According to Andy Katz (provider of the below list), this week will probably not determine the decisions of Teague, Lawal, Holiday, Mills, Gibson and Brown, but he expects Vasquez, ‘Gody, Meeks and Smith back in school soon.  He also says Damion James is expected to remain in the draft, but has nothing to say about Daye.   Stay tuned.

  • Jeff Adrien, Connecticut
  • Rodrigue Beaubois, Cholet (France)
  • DeJuan Blair, Pitt
  • Jon Brockman, Washington
  • Derrick Brown, Xavier*
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona
  • Nick Calathes, Florida
  • DeMarre Carroll, Missouri
  • Omri Casspi, Maccabi Elite (Israel)
  • Dionte Christmas, Temple
  • Earl Clark, Louisville
  • Darren Collison, UCLA
  • Dante Cunningham, Villanova
  • Stephen Curry, Davidson
  • Austin Daye, Gonzaga*
  • DeMar DeRozan, USC
  • Toney Douglas, Florida State
  • Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
  • Tyreke Evans, Memphis
  • Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
  • Taj Gibson, USC*
  • Danny Green, North Carolina
  • Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
  • Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
  • Luke Harangody, Notre Dame*
  • James Harden, Arizona State
  • Gerald Henderson, Duke
  • Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga
  • Jordan Hill, Arizona
  • Jrue Holiday, UCLA*
  • Joe Ingles, Melbourne South Dragons (Australia)
  • Damion James, Texas*
  • James Johnson, Wake Forest
  • Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech*
  • Ty Lawson, North Carolina
  • Eric Maynor, VCU
  • Jack McClinton, Miami
  • Jerel McNeal, Marquette
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky*
  • Patrick Mills, Saint Mary’s*
  • B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
  • Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State
  • A.J. Price, Connecticut
  • Tyler Smith, Tennessee*
  • DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
  • Jermaine Taylor, Central Florida
  • Jeff Teague, Wake Forest*
  • Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
  • Marcus Thornton, LSU
  • Greivis Vasquez, Maryland*
  • Terrence Williams, Louisville
  • Sam Young, Pitt
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Breaking Down the 2009 Early Entries…

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Draft Early Entry list is now official, and there are 75 collegiate players with eligibility remaining who think they have a shot at the League this year.  Keep in mind that there are only 60 picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, and the above number doesn’t even include graduating seniors as well as foreign players.  Mathematically speaking, it would serve a number of these players with stars in their eyes well to return to school for at least one more season.  Let’s evaluate each of them.

Players With Agents
First, the players who have already signed with agents, effectively ending their collegiate careers.  For the most part, this group is first-round material, but Brandon Costner, Eric Devendorf, Daniel Hackett and Dar Tucker must know something about their draft status that nobody else does. 

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Likely to Stay in Draft 
Next, we have a much smaller group of players who are very likely to stay in the draft, but they have yet to sign with an agent, and there’s been no official word yet.  All five of these players are probably first rounders, but with Nick Calathes, Jrue Holiday and Patty Mills, there remains a possibility of a return to school next season. 

2009-ees-likely

On the Fence
These thirteen players will decide the complexion of college basketball in 2009-10, much as Lawson, Ellington and Green did this season.  For example, if Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson return to Kentucky, that’s a top five team.  If Jeff Teague returns to Wake Forest, same thing.  Derrick Brown at Xavier, Austin Daye at Gonzaga, Luke Harangody at Notre Dame, Gani Lawal at Georgia Tech, Tyler Smith at Tennessee, Jarvis Varnado at Miss. St., Greivis Vasquez at Maryland.  Each of these players is all-american caliber.  This group of players could break a lot of hearts in the next six weeks.

2009-ees-fence-v2

You Gotta be Joking
This group of players has a fair mixture of guys who just want to get evaluated (even though Parrish points out most won’t actually get evaluated) for next season’s draft and players who have no idea what their true value is in terms of NBA scouts.  There are also several who have nowhere else to go, having worn out their welcomes elsewhere.  This list always makes RTC feel a little sad, yet as we now know, the NCAA has enacted a new rule making it so there will be even more ill-informed choices such as these in the future.  Thanks, guys.  Way to look out…

2009-ees-joking

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04.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on April 28th, 2009

It’s been a light few days, but we’re here to get you caught up on the few things surfacing…

  • Florida’s Alex Tyus was transferring, now he’s not.  This confused us until we remembered that he learned from Donovan two-step from the master himself. 
  • Bruce Pearl’s romantic overtures know no bounds… not even the head football coach’s wife (not that we blame him). 
  • Oddly, USC is no longer recruiting big man Renardo Sidney (who moved to LA three yrs ago for marketing purposes).  Now he may be heading back home to Mississippi St?  Stay tuned on this one.
  • Will Syracuse be the one-year football destination for Greg Paulus?
  • The NBA’s early entry deadline was Sunday – here are a few of the last-minute entries:  Mississippi St.’s Jarvis Varnado (no agent), UConn’s Ater Majok (no agent), Tennessee’s Tyler Smith (no agent), USC’s Taj Gibson (no agent) and BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari (no agent). 
  • Returning:  Iowa St.’s Craig Brackins (a major coup), Michigan’s Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
  • Gary Parrish doesn’t believe that Davidson will recapture the Curry magic for quite some time. 
  • It’s hard to believe this didn’t happen now that the FBI has brought charges against Karen Sypher for attempting to extort Rick Pitino for $10M, two cars, a paid-off house and college tuition.  Wow.  Regardless, we have to agree with Goodman when he says nothing good is ultimately coming from all of this.
  • He was only “holding it” for someone named “Luck.”  Welcome to Nevada basketball in the post-Mark Fox era.
  • Wichita St.’s Gregg Marshall got a one-year contract extension (to 2015) after an improved second year at the school.
  • Good to see the NCAA gumshoes going after the big boys like Northeastern, who received two years probation on Friday.
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East Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (pt. 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2009

EAST REGION GAME PREVIEWS – PART TWO (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Once again, we will be picking the East Regional games, while also pitting non-basketball alums from each school in a no-holds barred battle for March supremacy.

Friday’s Games – Dayton, Ohio

(8) Oklahoma State vs. (9) Tennessee (12:25 p.m.)

DZ: This match-up is about as even as they come. Both teams play fast-paced, high-scoring basketball. The Cowboys’ James Anderson (18.6 ppg) will be the best player on the court, but the Vols are stronger in the interior with Tyler Smith (17 ppg) and Wayne Chism (13.8 ppg). I’ll go with Bruce Pearl and the Vols here – but you might be better off just flipping a coin.

SM: Usually, these 8 vs. 9 games include at least one so-called mid-major team against a BCS conference team, and I usually lean toward the little guy with my pick. But as the only 8/9 game between two mediocre big boys, this is a total toss up. I have to go with the team I know more about, and that would be Tyler Smith and Tennessee. The real question is whether Bruce Pearl will break out the day-glo orange blazer.

Alumni Throwdown – Gary Busey (Oklahoma State) vs. Chris Hadfield (Tennessee)

DZ: Like the real game, this has all the makings of a great match-up with an actor lost in space going up against the first Canadian to walk in space. But the astronaut wins when Busey gets distracted trying to figure out the life force of a basketball.

SM: Busey had a great turn in a recent season of Entourage. But once you’ve appeared on a reality show called Celebrity Rehab, you’re disqualified. I’ll go with the Canadian astronaut, eh?

(16) East Tennessee State vs. (1) Pittsburgh (2:55 p.m.)

DZ: If the national championship hopeful Panthers have a hard time with this one, they could be in trouble. High-scoring guard Kevin Tiggs (21.5 ppg) helped ETSU win the Atlantic Sun tournament championship, but you may have heard Pitt has a couple of stars in its own in DeJuan Blair (15.6 ppg, 12.4 rpg) and Sam Young (18.8 ppg). The Panthers coast into the second round.

SM: I’ll lay it on the line – Pitt is my pick to win it all. So if they show ANY signs of trouble against a school whose finest alum is a late bishop, my bracket could be in trouble. Tiggs may be a small-conference gunner against Lipscomb and South Carolina-Upstate (yeah, that’s a real school), but DeJuan Blair is a big enough force to block out the (Atlantic) Sun. Panthers rest the starters late, and still run away by 20-plus.

Alumni Throwdown – Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr. (East Tennessee State) vs. Mark Cuban (Pittsburgh)

DZ: It will take a wing and prayer for ETSU to beat Pitt, but prayers are what the late bishop has (sorry, there aren’t many famous ETSU alums). Look for the bishop to prove faith is stronger than money by knocking off the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks in the feel-good upset of the (fake) tournament.

SM: I don’t want to vote against a bishop, but I also don’t want Mark Cuban to rip me on his blog or his Twitter or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Cuban politely edges Bishop Hunt in this one, but then gets fined by David Stern for excessive celebration.

Friday’s Games – Boise, Idaho

(4) Xavier vs. (13) Portland State (7:25 p.m.)

DZ: The Musketeers notched some signature wins early but have just a .500 record since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, pint-sized guard Jeremiah Dominguez, the two-time Big Sky MVP, fuels a very good shooting Portland State team that knocked off Gonzaga, on the road, earlier in the season. Xavier is a tourney-tested team under head coach Sean Miller, but I like Portland State here in the East Region’s upset special.

SM: I’m on record saying Xavier is a little high as a four seed, but Portland State may be the one team in this region with an even more favorable ranking. I was the one person who watched the Vikings win the Big Sky title at the buzzer, and they did not look like a 13 seed. The Musketeers handle their business rather easily in this one. After that, though, I make no promises.

Alumni Throwdown – Robert Romanus (Xavier) vs. Holly Madison (Portland State)

DZ: Madison, one of Heff’s girlfriends on Girls Next Door, matched up against the actor who played Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? This one would be over before it starts with the Playboy model easily wooing the overconfident sleazeball. (“I woke up in a great mood. I don’t know what the hell happened.”)

SM: Blondes aren’t usually my thing, but in this matchup, it’s a no-brainer. I mean she’s a Playmate, for goodness sake. Personally, I would’ve gone with Phillies legend and Xavier grad Jim Bunning, but a certain Mets’ fan picked this alumni matchup. At least he has a World Series title to back it … oh, wait.

(5) Florida State vs. (12) Wisconsin (9:55 p.m.)

DZ: Averaging over 20 points per game, the Seminoles’ Toney Douglas is one of the best players in the region. But Wisconsin is a pretty solid team for a 12 seed, allowing less than 60 points per contest. Florida State should win a close one, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 12-13 game in Round 2 here.

SM: I’m much higher on the Big Ten than most folks this year (Purdue to the Elite 8!), but not in this case. The Badgers have been totally unimpressive this year, and first-round games are often decided by the best player on the floor. In this case, that is FSU’s Toney Douglas – this year’s breakout star in the East Region. The ’Noles win a tight one late, possibly on a Douglas trifecta.

Alumni Throwdown – Burt Reynolds (Florida State) vs. Stephen Ambrose (Wisconsin)

DZ: Because why wouldn’t we pit a famous actor and former Florida State football player against a late historian and author of Band of Brothers? I’m going with cool guy Reynolds since Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing one of my old professors at Penn.

SM: That’s the best a large state school like Wisconsin has to offer? No Bud Selig, Steve Miller, Joan Cusack, or Charles Lindbergh? This one goes to Burt Reynolds in a landslide. The man nearly stole the show in Boogie Nights – a film that included Heather Graham and not a lot of clothing.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: NCAA Tournament Day Two

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2009

dynamiteWe’d like to apologize for our coverage yesterday. We had some technical/communication issues regarding the post yesterday, but I’ll be back covering the games today so everything should be back to normal. Here’s a quick rundown of the games we’ll be covering today:

Early Games

  • 12:15 PM: #14 Stephen F. Austin vs. #3 Syracuse
  • 12:25 PM: #9 Tennessee vs. #8 Oklahoma State
  • 12:30 PM: #11 Utah State vs. #6 Marquette
  • 12:30 PM: #14 North Dakota State vs. #3 Kansas

Afternoon Games

  • 2:45 PM: #11 Temple vs. #6 Arizona State
  • 2:55 PM: #16 East Tennessee State vs. #1 Pittsburgh
  • 3:00 PM: #14 Cornell vs. #3 Missouri
  • 3:00 PM: #11 Dayton vs. #6 West Virginia

Evening Games

  • 7:10 PM: #16 Morehead State vs. #1 Louisville
  • 7:10 PM: #12 Arizona vs. #5 Utah
  • 7:20 PM: #10 USC vs. #7 Boston College
  • 7:25 PM: #13 Portland State vs. #4 Xavier

Late Night Games

  • 9:40 PM: #9 Siena vs. #8 Ohio State
  • 9:40 PM: #13 Cleveland State vs. #4 Wake Forest
  • 9:50 PM: #15 Robert Morris vs. #2 Michigan State
  • 9:55 PM: #12 Wisconsin vs. #5 Florida State

Quite frankly, today’s slate looks a lot more interesting than what was on yesterday. There are 3 games in each of the 4 groups that seem like they will be entertaining except for the afternoon set where only the 6/11 match-ups really catch my eyes. Feel free to leave your thoughts or questions on any of these games or the ones from yesterday in the comment section. I’ll be back around noon to cover the day’s action.

12:15 PM: Ok. We’re about to get underway. I was a little delayed by the fact that the bus to RTC East decided to pick up 3 people in wheelchairs, which slowed down my trip significantly (had to get them in/out during 6 stops). Is anybody rooting for Stephen F. Austin just because they can’t stand Eric Devendorf?

12:20 PM: “The best look the Lumberjacks have had so far”? That was only their 2nd possession of the game. The crows is awful in Miami. I know its early, but there is nobody there. I have to say the NCAA did a pretty poor job with their pod placement. I’ll have to double check, but Miami is probably the worst pod location in terms of distance from the participating schools (and the fact that they don’t care about sports in Miami).

12:30 PM: Rough start for Stephen F. Austin in Miami. Already down 10-2. Hopefully they can keep it close although this was probably the game that was the most likely to be a blowout in this group.

12:35 PM: Did anybody pick upsets in this group of games? I have North Dakota State and Utah State.

12:40 PM: Good game in Dayton (Ok State 14, Tennessee 13 with 12:20 left in the first half). In Boise, Lazar Hayward is up 7-5 on Utah State.

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NCAA Preview: Tennessee Volunteers

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2009

Tennessee (#9 seed, East region, Dayton pod)

vs. Oklahoma State (#8 seed)
12:25 p.m. ET – 3/20/09

Vegas Line:  Tennessee -2

General Profile

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Conference:
Southeastern, at-large
Coach:
Bruce Pearl, 98-36 for 73.1%
08-09 Record
: 21-12, 10-6
Last 12 Games:
7-5
Best Win:
78-64, @ Siena, 11-27-09
Worst Loss:
67-70, vs. Alabama, 3-8-09
Off. Efficiency Rating:
114.9; #17
Def. Efficiency Rating:
95.7; #70

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Tyler Smith – junior forward – 17.2ppg…6th in SEC – 5.9rpg…17th in SEC – 3.36apg…leads team and 8th in SEC – 75.5% FT…8th in SEC – 1.63 a/to…5th in SEC…First-Team All-SEC
Unsung Hero:
Wayne Chism – junior forward – 13.8ppg…15th in SEC – 8.1rpg…5th in SEC – 71.6% FT…13th in SEC – 1.00bpg…13th in SEC
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s):
Tyler Smith, projected #24
Key Injuries:
none
Depth:
34.0%, #99
Achilles Heel:
The Vols simply rely too much on Tyler Smith and their paint play as a whole. Tennessee is a very poor three-point shooting team, easily the worst in the SEC at 31.4%.
Will Make a Deep Run if…:
Freshman Scotty Hopson plays up to his potential and sees touches from behind the arc.
Will Make an Early Exit if…:
The Vols become too uni-dimensional underneath the basket, or if Tyler Smith doesn’t show up.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2007-08 2nd round
Streak:
4
Best NCAA Finish:
NCAA Sweet 16, 2007
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present):
n/a

Other

Six Degrees to Detroit: None
Distance to First Round Site:
303 miles
School’s Claim to Fame:
Rocky Top
School Wishes It Could Forget:
Phil Fulmer’s last few seasons in Knoxville.
Prediction:
Unfortunately, I think the Vols are too reliant on post play to succeed in the postseason. The Vols also don’t seem to be playing inspired basketball right now, and I would think a second-round ousting by Pittsburgh is in order.

Major RTC stories: None

Preview written by… Kurt Wirth/SEC Hoops: The Good. The Bad. The Dirty

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