SEC Season Preview: South Carolina Gamecocks

Posted by Greg Mitchell on October 28th, 2014

The SEC microsite will preview each of the league teams over the next few weeks, continuing today with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Strengths. The league’s best backcourt may reside in Columbia, South Carolina. If that’s too much for you to process [Ed. Note: The one in Lexington might be pretty good too], then maybe the backcourt with the most upside in the SEC resides in the Palmetto State. Sophomores Sindarius Thornwell and Duane Notice assumed more responsibility last season than Frank Martin probably would have given them in an ideal world, but that experience should pay dividends this time around as Thornwell in particular flashed all-conference potential at times. The Gamecocks lost Brenton Williams, but will get Tyrone Johnson back from a fractured foot that ended his season in January. They also add four-star point guard and Columbia native Marcus Stroman to the mix. These four guys give Martin a nice mix of shooting, slashing and play-making ability that he could ride to his best season yet at South Carolina.

Screenshot 2014-10-27 at 9.13.33 PM

Sindarius Thornwell will be a giant part of Frank Martin’s third team at South Carolina (Credit: greenvilleonline.com).

Weaknesses. Depth. Not even a minute has ticked off the clock this season and the Gamecocks have already lost 75 percent of their freshmen class, as neither of James Thompson and Shamiek Sheppard will be taking the floor in 2014-15. Thompson was arrested in June and never enrolled in school while Sheppard tore an ACL over the summer. This was followed by freshman guard TeMarcus Blanton injuring his hip last week in practice, putting him also out for the season. This subjects the Gamecocks to potentially dicey situations since they had a penchant for foul trouble last season, with six players collecting more than 72 fouls during the campaign.

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SEC M5: 10.24.14 Edition

Posted by David Changas on October 24th, 2014

SEC_morning5

  1. South Carolina was picked to finish 12th in the SEC by the media earlier this week, but coach Frank Martin is encouraged about the progress his team is making as he enters his third year. He is especially pleased with the leadership he is seeing from his backcourt duo of sophomore Sindarius Thornwell and senior Tyrone Johnson. If the Gamecocks are going to make a climb out of the bottom of the league, they will need the pair to take another step forward.
  2. The SEC put three teams into the Sweet Sixteen last season, but there is no dispute that the league has lacked significant depth, and has struggled to find teams other than Kentucky and Florida that can consistently compete for an NCAA Tournament bid. As FoxSports.com‘s Zach Dillard points out, one way to remedy the perception the league has is by playing better collective out-of-conference schedules. Too often, teams that finish near the top of the league standings do not have enough of a resume to be considered for a bid. For instance, Georgia finished third in the league last season, but was an afterthought with the selection committee because of a handful of bad losses in November and December. The more the league’s teams do to take on tougher competition, the better positioned they will be come Selection Sunday.
  3. As he embarks upon his first season at Tennessee, Donnie Tyndall credits getting his first shot at a high-major school to another former SEC coach: LSU’s John Brady. Brady coached the Tigers to a Final Four in 2006, but was not exactly a favorite of coaches or fans in the league before he was fired two years later. Tyndall says the current Arkansas State coach taught him “how to build a program,” and he hopes to put those lessons into practice as he rebuilds the Volunteers.
  4. Everyone knew that having Bruce Pearl back in the SEC would be fun, and he continues to do whatever it takes to promote his Auburn program. Earlier this week, he invaded a marketing class to promote his “Pearl Jam” event next Friday. So while Pearl is at a new school and in a different shade of orange, he hasn’t changed, and though his team likely will struggle to compete this season, he will do all he can to raise the profile of the Auburn program, while at the same time bringing much-needed notoriety to the SEC.
  5. As preseason practice continues, Kentucky coach John Calipari is looking for more fight from his most ballyhooed freshman, Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns, a 7′ center, was selected by the media as a second-team all-SEC player before setting foot on the court, will have to live up to the hype if the Wildcats are going to win the national championship. Towns has plenty of opportunity to get better in practice each day, as he goes up against Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee. As usual with Kentucky, there will be ups and downs, but with the experience and depth this team has, Calipari can wait for his star freshman to come along.
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SEC M5: 01.17.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on January 17th, 2014

SEC_morning5

  1. That sound you hear rushing past you? That’s Missouri dive-bombing off the bubble. The Tigers wiped out a 10-point halftime deficit in just a few minutes, but Vanderbilt regained control to get a home win last night. The Commodores’ half-court defense was impressive, as they largely bottled up Missouri’s dribble drive offense, especially Jordan Clarkson. Their zone also forced the Tigers to shoot more threes than they usually do (26 attempts last night; they average 17.3 per game). The fight that Kyle Fuller, Rod Odom and the rest of team have shown since Eric McClellan’s dismissal has been laudable, and the Commodores were due a win. Fuller and Odom each logged 40 minutes and still found the energy to hit the deciding shots in the final moments.
  2. Andy Kennedy has had the tall task  this season of replacing two incredibly productive big men in Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway. So when LSU and its frontcourt bursting with talent rolled into Oxford it seemed obvious which team would have the advantage down low. But freshman Sebastian Saiz had a breakout game (20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, nine rebounds) and Jordan Mickey and Johnny O’Bryant were held to just eight points combined. “It’s amazing when the ball goes in the basket, and what that does for your confidence,” Kennedy said. “[Saiz] made a couple [shots] early. They were really extended on Marshall, and when teams play that way, we have to take advantage of it behind the zone. We have to finish plays, and Saiz finished the plays. It’s something we’ve been sorely missing.” Henderson is a lot of things, and one of them is an effective decoy (see: Jarvis Summers’ game tying-three against Oregon). There will be easy opportunities for Saiz throughout the rest of the season, so we may not have seen his last big game.
  3. Marshall Henderson is “going back to me,” and we’ll probably all end up better (or at least more entertained) for it. The Dagger’s Kyle Ringo wrote about the tight rope Andy Kennedy may have to walk as the excitable Henderson reaches the end of his career. “He is a senior with 15 regular-season games remaining in his career. If he goes a bit overboard with his showmanship or showboating and taunting, will the school step in and risk short-circuiting another possible NCAA tournament appearance by suspending him again?” Henderson hasn’t done anything this season to attract Deadspin‘s attention, but he does need to keep the shenanigans in check. Unlike LSU and Missouri, Ole Miss is a middle-tier SEC team that has a bit of momentum going its way. We’ve written this countless times, but the conference has a soft underbelly begging for a team to rise up and stockpile a number of wins. The Rebels have the talent to be that team, but only with Henderson on the court in a productive way. 
  4. SI.com‘s Seth Davis doesn’t seem that bullish on Frank Martin‘s prospects at South Carolina. In his weekly mailbag, Davis writs that Martin might be able to turn the program arond in the “long LONG run” and noted that he took the job mostly because he hated his athletic director at Kansas State. Maybe I’m just an SEC apologist (which is not an easy job these days), but the second-year Gamecock coach deserves some more slack here. He didn’t inherit much talent from Darrin Horn, and he lost some of what he did have to the transfer rule. While the Gamecocks are off to an 0-3 conference start, none of the losses were that alarming (going to Gainesville isn’t easy, after all). He’s starting three freshmen and a sophomore, so counting out a significant turnaround by a proven coach seems premature.
  5. But things won’t get easier for Martin this season, as Villanova transfer Tyrone Johnson is now out indefinitely after fracturing his right foot against Texas A&M. Johnson is second on the team in scoring (11.6 PPG), and while he didn’t start against the Aggies, he is also the team leader in minutes (27.3 MPG). This is the second major in-season loss to South Carolina’s backcourt after Bruce Ellington left the team to train for the NFL Draft. While it hurts to lose Johnson, it’s not the end of the world for Martin. A bid to the NIT is a pipe dream after its start, and getting heavy minutes for Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell can only help in the seasons to come when a postseason invite may not be so unrealistic.
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Big East M5: Opening Day Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 9th, 2012

  1. Given how well coach Jay Wright recruits guards, it should never be surprising when one of those guards finds themselves as the odd man out in the rotation and leaves the program. The latest to see the writing on the wall at Villanova is sophomore New Jersey native Tyrone Johnson, who played just nine minutes in the team’s scrimmage against Carleton University last week and is expected to transfer according to a release from the school yesterday. The Wildcats appear ready to hand over the point guard reins to freshman Ryan Arcidiacono and there wasn’t going to be a lot of playing time to go around for Johnson, a Montrose Christian Academy product. Johnson struggled as a freshman in trying to play too fast at times, but he would still have been a nice player to have for depth purposes. This does however give Wright another scholarship to play with next season, when a few big names may be keeping their eyes on the ‘Cats.
  2. For those intimately familiar with Big East basketball, the hallmark of Jamie Dixon-coached teams at Pittsburgh is their defense and toughness. That focus treated the Panthers well as they became one of the conference’s premier programs. But last year, one of the primary reasons Pittsburgh slipped so drastically was because their defense fell all the way to 151st in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Dixon isn’t about to let that happen again and has emphasized creating turnovers and pressuring the opponents on defense. The Panthers will still run a physical man-to-man scheme, but they may look to be more opportunistic this year as they try to bounce back. If the Panthers can maintain the offensive efficiency they achieved last season and regain even a portion of their defensive prowess, they will be a team to be reckoned with.
  3. Anyone who tuned in to Louisville‘s exhibition game against Bellarmine was treated to some of the ugliest basketball the Cardinals are likely to play all season. The Cardinals looked ragged, abysmal shooting the ball, and tired, which may have actually been the case since apparently coach Rick Pitino put them through a rigorous practice session earlier in the day. The Cardinals did a lot of shooting, ran zero set plays, and basically looked terrible against a team coached by former assistant Scott Davenport. The moral of this is that Rick Pitino is probably heartless inasmuch as he is also a master motivator. His team has enormous expectations surrounding them this season, and this may have been an opportunity for Pitino to show his team that they are not immortal. What else can you say? There is a reason why the guy is considered a legend in the sport.
  4. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey has made a reputation off turning less-talented teams into winners but this season will be a departure from that familiar storyline as Brey is finally blessed with not just talent but also depth. Two four-star freshmen, Cameron Biedscheid and Zach Auguste, are major reasons why. The duo left high school as consensus Top 100 players in the country and play will play significant minutes this season as Brey and the Fighting Irish try to avoid a letdown after last season. Neither of the freshmen will be expected to start right away, although Biedscheid has the type of offensive versatility that is hard to keep off the floor, but they give Brey a luxury he isn’t used to having — depth.
  5. On the eve of the start of the season, Johnette Howard at ESPN gives the Big East a send-off of sorts with this lengthy piece that assesses the state of upheaval the conference now finds itself in. It spends a little bit of time explaining how Rick Pitino‘s recent tiff with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim serves as a perfect example of the sort of potent cocktail the Big East has become, especially this season. Let’s just say that I am excited for the season to get started.
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Big East Summer Capsules: Villanova Wildcats

Posted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012

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

1. Bidding adieu to Kennedy and saying hello to Chennault.

The Wildcats made two important changes to their roster this summer. The first was officially saying goodbye to sophomore center Markus Kennedy who announced he would transfer, then reportedly reconsidered the decision, then ended up transferring after all. The second was welcoming former Wake Forest point guard Tony Chennault into the fold – the Wildcats also added former Rice guard Dylan Ennis, but he will have to sit out a year before making his Villanova debut. Kennedy showed some promise as a freshman last season, but he expected to be buried on the depth chart and decided to transfer to SMU. The Wildcats will miss the depth, but he wasn’t expected to make much of an impact this season anyway. The more important move is the arrival of Chennault, a Philadelphia native who received an NCAA waiver because of his mother’s health issues to play right away. Chennault averaged 9.2 PPG and 2.8 APG for the Demon Deacons before transferring and his arrival will be a huge boon for the Wildcats who lost starting guards Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek to the draft. Chennault may not become the same type of scorer Wayns was, but he should get every opportunity to start and instantly becomes the most experienced guard on the roster, so there is no doubt that Jay Wright is happy to have him.

2. Are the Wildcats starting from scratch?

Jay Wright Has His Work Cut Out For Him Rebuilding The Program

That is the question that the Philadelphia Daily News posed earlier this month in a long article and interview with ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright. Last season was an unmitigated disaster, and say what you want about Wayns and Cheek, but they would have been valuable players to have this season. There is still a lot of talent on campus and more talent coming in time for this season, but this team hardly stacks up against some of the best teams Wright has assembled in the last five years. Wright acknowledges that his team has a lot of work to do before it can again achieve the success their fans have grown accustomed to recently, but he also thinks the program has built up enough credibility that a rebound can happen quickly. It will likely depend on how quickly freshmen Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu can become impact contributors and whether or not mercurial sophomore Tyrone Johnson can make the leap and become a consistent playmaker. Down the road it will depend on whether Wright can continue to land high-profile recruits, the types that helped the Wildcats make the Elite Eight and Final Four in recent years.

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Villanova: 2011-12 Post-Mortem

Posted by mlemaire on May 2nd, 2012

Our apologies for plagiarizing borrowing the ideas of our colleagues over at the Pac-12 microsite, but we liked their post-mortem team breakdowns so much that we decided to replicate them with our conference. So over the course of the next two weeks, we will break down each team’s season, starting from the bottom of the conference standings. Next up is Villanova.

What Went Wrong

Despite the fact that two teams technically finished behind the Wildcats in the conference standings, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Villanova was the Big East’s biggest disappointment this season (apologies to Pittsburgh, you will get your turn at the table of criticism later). Although they played a number of good teams close, the Wildcats routinely blew early leads, turned the ball over with regularity, didn’t shoot well from downtown, and didn’t force many turnovers either. Of course it didn’t help that key players Maalik Wayns, James Bell, and JayVaughn Pinkston all missed time due to injuries, but the team was struggling so badly on both ends of the floor that it might not have mattered either way. The team’s key trio of Wayns, Cheek, and center Mouphtaou Yarou all improved their numbers, but none of them took the step forward that would have kept Villanova in tournament contention. Also, the freshman class was so inconsistent we are surprised Jay Wright had any hair left by the end of the season.

Jay Wright Did Plenty Of Teaching During A Trying Season (AP Photo)

What Went Right

The number one bright spot for folks on the Main Line was the emergence of Pinkston in conference play. His production tapered off in the final few games of the season, but he scored double-digit points in 12 conference games and hauled in double-digit rebounds in five conference games. He is candidate no. 1 to fill the scoring void next season left behind by some of the early defectors, and he will be a consistent double-double threat assuming he stays healthy. Although they struggled mightily at times, freshmen Tyrone Johnson, Darrun Hilliard and Markus Kennedy all got valuable experience that will serve them well in their increased roles next season. Wildcats’ fans can also take solace in the fact that six of the team’s conference losses were by four points or less, something that should change once the young team learns how to win close games.

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Villanova: The Season Is Lost, But Hope Is On The Horizon

Posted by mlemaire on February 27th, 2012

Coaches often explain their team’s struggles by saying his group is “still learning to play together” all the time. And Villanova coach Jay Wright used the team’s furious comeback win over lowly Providence on February 7 as a chance to dust off the age-old coaching platitude once more. The only problem is that the season is almost over proving the Wildcats have had a more gradual learning curve than most.

Since that win over the Friars, the Wildcats have lost all four games they have played including games against Notre Dame and Connecticut in which they had a 20-point and 18-point lead respectively. Just three seasons removed from a Final Four appearance, the Wildcats now sit at 4-12 in the conference and have almost no shot at playing any postseason basketball, let alone games in the NCAA Tournament.

After Turning Villanova Into An Elite Program, Things Have Not Gone Well For Jay Wright This Season

Needless to say it has been a trying season for Wright, his team, and Wildcat fans who had grown accustomed to annual NCAA Tournament berths and the occasional Elite Eight appearance. The Wildcats were expected to struggle when they lost Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Antonio Pena off last year’s squad, but Wright seemed to have amassed enough talent to make sure the decline wouldn’t be all that steep. Unfortunately, the Wildcats would miss that trio more than anyone could have imagined.

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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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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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Conference Report Card: Big East

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 19th, 2011

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap

  • College basketball has never witnessed a season like this year’s Big East. The conference destroyed its own record of eight NCAA bids by placing 11 clubs in the Big Dance this year and also claimed the national champion with Connecticut, which spent most of the season in the middle of the pack in the Big East. The Huskies also gave the conference its first title since the Huskies last did the trick in 2004. While there was not a truly great team in the Big East (including Connecticut), the league was better than any other from top to bottom. Of the five teams that failed to make the NCAA Tournament, only South Florida and DePaul were truly uncompetitive. Rutgers showed signs of improvement while Seton Hall managed to win seven league games and gave some good teams a major scare in the process. Even Providence, which finished 4-14, knocked off Louisville and Villanova in consecutive games back in January. Despite the lackluster NCAA showing by most Big East members, it says here the conference boasted the best player in the nation (sorry, Jimmer) and a deserving national champion. Additionally, ten Big East teams were ranked in the AP Top 25 at some point this season. Say what you want about its postseason performance (it’s certainly fair to bash the league in that regard), but this was by far the best conference in the nation this year.

Jim Calhoun (left) and Kemba Walker will be inextricably linked to UConn's memorable NCAA Tournament run. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Team-by-Team (teams are in order of finish, but grades are based on performance vs. expectations):

  1. Pittsburgh (28-6, 15-3): The regular season was terrific once again for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers but, as has become common over the years, they fell short of their goal–getting to the Final Four. Pittsburgh lost four of their final eight games after starting the season 24-2. A mid-season injury to Ashton Gibbs was thought to bring them down a peg, but Pitt responded with wins at West Virginia and Villanova without him to quiet any doubters. That turned out to be their peak. Dixon did not really test his team out of conference except for two games at Madison Square Garden against Maryland and Texas back in November as part of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer event and a “home” game (in Pittsburgh) against Tennessee, which they lost. Looking back, one theory could be that an average non-conference schedule did not adequately prepare this team for the NCAA Tournament which is all about match-ups and teams you haven’t seen before from other leagues. While Big East coaches love to use the strength of the league as a crutch when questioned about a lack of non-conference heft to their schedule, I think this is a theory that has to be taken into consideration. Big East play is obviously rough and tumble every night but that can actually be a detriment come tournament time when games are officiated tighter and you don’t have as much time to prepare for an opponent who you likely don’t know very well, if at all. Pitt will lose Gilbert Brown, Brad Wanamaker, and Gary McGhee to graduation while Gibbs tests the NBA waters. I expect Gibbs to come back to join a very good recruiting class led by five-star forward Khem Birch. Despite the loss of three senior leaders, look for Pitt to be in the thick of the Big East race yet again next season. Dixon has established a culture of winning and I have learned never to doubt him after witnessing the 2009-10 campaign, a season that certified Dixon as one of the best basketball minds in the country. While this year was a great success during the regular season, Pitt’s inability to get to the Sweet Sixteen and eventually the Final Four renders this year a disappointment. GRADE: B- Read the rest of this entry »
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Who’s Got Next? Reviewing the Jordan Brand Classic

Posted by rtmsf on April 18th, 2011

 
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Each 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 who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

Throughout the past week, there have been many great performances and match-ups at high school events such as Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) and Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) at the Jordan Brand Classic; there have been numerous developing stories such as where Oklahoma is on Perry Ellis’ (#20) list and what Greg Whittington’s (Georgetown) impact on Otto Porter’s (Georgetown) commitment to Georgetown will be; there’s been a key commitment which will make a big impact on the ACC; the New York Times did an interesting article linking Facebook and recruiting; a West Virginia commit joined the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard; and much more.

Austin Rivers (#1 – Duke) and Bradley Beal (#6 – Florida) fought for the #1 spot at shooting guard in the Jordan Brand Classic. (Credit: ESPN)

What We Learned

The Best SG in the Class of 2011. Going into the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday night you knew that the battle between Rivers and Beal would be the primary match-up to watch. Both of these guys are great scorers and can hit shots from anywhere on the floor. They also have excellent three-point range and finish well above the rim. In this game, Rivers got the best of Beal as he finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four steals (the steals being very impessive due to the lack of defense in all-star games) whereas Beal had 15 points and eight rebounds.  Neither player shot the ball very well, combining for 11-32 shooting from the field and 1-8 shooting from the three-point line. However, the bad three-point percentage is in large part due to both guys taking very long threes that they wouldn’t normally take in a serious game. Look for these two guys to be two of the best scorers in college basketball starting next season.

Perry Ellis Likely Not Oklahoma-Bound. From what Fonda Ellis, Perry Ellis’ mom, told me (see full quotes from her in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below), it seems as though Oklahoma is losing ground in the Ellis sweepstakes (#20). This loss of interest looks to primarily be a result of the Sooners’ coaching change from Jeff Capel to former UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. Although Kruger said in a phone call to Ellis last week that he was still the Sooners’ top priority and that he wanted him to take an official visit to the OU campus, Ellis will have to get used to an entirely new coaching staff there. Ellis is also considering Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis and Wichita State and told me in an interview last month that he’s looking to “be comfortable, have a good relationship with the coach and be in a system I like.”

Greg Whittington and Otto Porter’s Commitments. According to what Greg Whittington (Georgetown) told me Sunday after The Capital Classic, he is the one who got Otto Porter (#40 – Georgetown) to become a Hoya this past week (see full quotes from Whittington in the “What They’re Saying” Section, below). Whittington was able to convince Porter to commit to Georgetown due to the conference they’ll be in, among many other things. However, one thing that seemed to really help the Hoyas was the coaching change at Missouri since the Tigers were believed to have been the frontrunners. According to an ESPN source, the new staff at Missouri did not even have a chance to meet with Porter and his family before Porter made his decision to attend GU. Porter was a big-time pickup for the Hoyas since he is very long and has one of the best mid-range games in his class. He is a match-up problem for almost everyone he faces due to his height and he rebounds the ball and runs the floor well too. He is also good on the defensive end on the floor and is a solid ball-handler. Porter needs to improve on his strength more than anything else but his all-around game is solid and he should make a positive impact at Georgetown next year.

What You Missed

Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) and James McAdoo (#7 – North Carolina) were the Co-MVPs at the Jordan Brand Classic.

Power Forwards Dominated Jordan Brand Classic. Anthony Davis (#4 – Kentucky) and James McAdoo (#7 – North Carolina) were the co-MVPs in the 10th annual Jordan Brand Classic Saturday with Davis recording 29 points (second highest in event history to LeBron James’ 34 points) on 13-15 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds, and McAdoo tallying 26 points on 10-16 shooting from the field and 14 rebounds. Davis also added four blocks and McAdoo hit the game-clinching free throws with 1.6 seconds left which gave the East a 113-109 victory over the West. Both players ran the floor well and were able to knock down the perimeter shot. Although Davis had the better overall game, McAdoo was more impressive since he showed the ability to not only score in the paint, but he also made several nice mid-range jumpers and multiple three-pointers which showed off his range. Both showed good court vision and passing skills as well as an ability to  make the pass in transition or out of the low post when double-teamed. Kyle Wiltjer (#26 – Kentucky) also brought back his sky hook from the McDonald’s game to this event and Johnny O’Bryant (#28 – LSU) consistently knocked down a turn-around jumper that will be deadly if he adds other moves to his arsenal.

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