Starting Tomorrow, We’re Talkin’ About Practices

Posted by jstevrtc on October 14th, 2010

Fall is the most appropriately named season. It is called that because the sun is falling below the celestial equator, for you amateur astronomers out there, but poets and writers far better than this one have described so many other reasons throughout time to illustrate why fall is known as the “season of descent”  — the decreasing number of daylight hours, the leaves, the mercury in your thermometer, the amount of filler material on SportsCenter. Of the few things that do indeed rise at this time of year, one of them has become one of surest signs that fall has arrived…

When the Tents Sprout in Lexington for Big Blue Madness Tickets, You Know That Fall Is Here.

True, in the Driesellian sense, nobody has true “Midnight Madness” anymore. And there’s so much more interaction now between coaches and players that happens prior to that circled mid-October day where once none was allowed. It doesn’t matter, because the psychosis to which college basketball aficionados across the nation willingly give in is real, and it arrives tomorrow.

That’s right, tomorrow. A big black “x” in the October 15th square on your wall calendar means that hoopheads are celebrating their own national holiday, which, inasmuch as it isn’t real Midnight Madness, we’ll call the First Official Day of Practice (FODP). Like it or not, the NCAA still calls the shots, and if they say that that particular day is open season for full-squad, you-can-use-a-ball workouts to begin, then celebrate we will, for the season is short but sweet for certain (apologies to Dave and the boys).

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Rihards Kuksiks Returns To Sun Devils

Posted by jstevrtc on September 2nd, 2010

Arizona State coach Herb Sendek is a happy man today. Dan Haller of the Arizona Republic reports that 6’6 senior shooting guard Rihards Kuksiks is back on the ASU campus and will indeed play for the Sun Devils in the upcoming season.

A step behind the line is nothing for Rihards.

There had been some speculation regarding Kuksiks’ participation for 2010-11, but after a stay in his native Latvia during the summer that included time playing for the national team, Kuksiks has decided to return to Tempe and finish his college career. Known as a streaky long-range shooter (and what three-point bomber isn’t?), Kuksiks has range out to the hash marks when he’s on. He had nine games last season in which he hit at least four threes, including seven against San Francisco on 11/20/09 and eight against UCSB on 12/21/09. He shot 38.3% from beyond the arc last year and is just over 40% for his career. Last season, he and fellow rising senior Ty Abbott both led the Sun Devils in scoring with 12.0 PPG, and he was fifth best in the entire Pac-10 in free throw percentage at 87.5%.

His return to ASU means Sendek gets back not just a senior leader and top scorer, but one with further seasoning over the summer, having helped the Latvian national side qualify for the 2011 European Championships. It also moves ASU back into the top contenders for the crown in the Pac-10, a conference which looks to be only slightly improved from last season’s dull version.

Share this story

Big West Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2009

Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports is the RTC correspondent for the Big West and SEC Conferences.

The Big West Tournament will kick off tonight at the Anaheim Convention Center, and anyone who claims they know who will be crowned on Saturday is either: (1) lying, or (2) not familiar with the way the season has gone thus far. The fact is that any Big West team is capable of beating any other team, and seeding means little in making your predictions.

2009-big-west-tourney-bracket

Top seed Cal State Northridge won the regular season title outright, but have faced injuries, legal issues and general inconsistencies that made the race a little closer than most expected when the Matadors were chosen as preseason favorites. Long Beach State, the #2 seed, started out on a blazing 5-0 conference start but has alternated between wins and losses for the remaining eleven games. Third-seeded Pacific hasn’t won a road game since January 31, and even lost to lowly Cal Poly early in the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Jimmy Connors Is Having None of Your Instructions

Posted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2008

Somehow in the libational haze of last Friday night’s self-induced dystopia, we noted a strange factoid surfacing across the ESPN bottom-line crawler.  Tennis great Jimmy Connors, he of the former #1 ranking and a current Santa Barbara resident, had gotten into some kind of row with another fan outside the UCSB Thunderdome prior to the Gauchos’ game with #1 North Carolina, and found himself arrested.  The story got lost among all the football and hoops this weekend, but we wanted to make sure that we remembered it correctly.  Turns out, we did.  From the NY Daily News report:

Tennis giant Jimmy Connors was arrested outside a college basketball game in California for standing his ground, police said.  Connors, 56, was ordered to move away from the entrance of the Thunderdome just before UC Santa Barbara and top-ranked North Carolina were set to play Friday night.  The eight-time Grand Slam champ, known for his fiery temperament in his heyday, refused and was arrested, police said.

jimmy-connors-dogs

(photo credit: MensVogue)

We can only speculate as to who the other guy must have been or what he must have done to elicit such rage in Connors so that he would miss the once-in-a-generation opportunity for the local school (of which he supposedly is a fan) to host the nation’s #1 ranked team.  Hmmm…

Just thinking out loud here, but who fits that description?  What nemesis is capable of eliciting such rage so that Connors would refuse to comply with police instructions and move his arse?  Who could that have been? 

Oh, right. 

john-mcenroe-unc-v3(photo credit: Ron Waite)

Share this story

ATB: Weekend Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Forget the BCS. None of the big college football matchups this weekend were worth your time – Texas Tech/Oklahoma: blowout; Ohio St/Michigan: blowout; Penn St/Michigan St: blowout; Utah/BYU: blowout – so hopefully you found some good hoops to watch instead.

The Return of our Lord and Savior Tyler Hansbrough. UNC 84, UC Santa Barbara 67. This game was a little past RTC’s bedtime on Friday night, so we’ll cover it now.  Did you guys hear?  Tyler Hansbrough made his triumphant return to UNC’s lineup Friday night! The stress reaction is no longer reacting!  There was to be no Santa Clara Pt. 2, as Psycho-T returned for 25 minutes of action and 13/7 in the box score.  The Heels put all five starters in double figures (led by Ty Lawson’s 19) + Ed Davis off the bench, but didn’t really start to pull away until the mid-second half.  James Nunnally had 22/7 off the bench for UCSB, who packed the Thunderdome for its first game against a #1 team in 18 years.  Mild cause for concern?  UNC is allowing its opponents to shoot 44% from the field in three games thus far this season.

Why Do We Ever Sleep on Xavier? Xavier 63, Memphis 58. Sean Miller just continues to get it done at Xavier year after year.  Memphis won’t need this game in March, but Xavier just might, and like Wisconsin, we should just go ahead and put the Muskies in the top 25 no matter what players they’re returning in a given year.  We watched this game, and guess what area of basketball once again bit Memphis in the arse?  Would you believe FREE throws?!?  Yep, 15-30 from the line, including missing seven of the last nine AND the last four as the game still hung in the balance.  Robert Dozier had a double-double (10/11) but Memphis isn’t very good at shooting the ball outside of the paint (24% from three this season), and this area of the game might be their major bugaboo this year.  Xavier exhibited a balanced attack, but Terrell Holloway’s 10-10 from the line helped XU secure the victory and the Puerto Rico Tipoff Championship.

Introducing Samardo SamuelsLouisville 79, Morehead St. 41; Louisville 81, S. Alabama 54. Samardo Samuels was the clincher as to why we chose Louisville to win the national title over UNC next April, and if his first weekend of games is any indication, we might start patting ourselves on the back soon.  Samuels is averaging 21/5 in his first two games, while shooting 17-22 from the field (over half of which were dunks).  Pitino is calling him the best freshman he’s ever coached, which is fairly high praise considering Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer and Francisco Garcia were all pretty solid players for Pitino in their first seasons.  Louisville has held its first two opponents to 32% from the field thus far.

Will the Hansbrough Effect Kill Another Big 12 Beast? Oklahoma 80, Gardner-Webb 76. Everyone pretty well knows that Tyler Hansbrough is going to win the NPOY awards again this year (assuming his stress reaction days are behind him).  But is he going to win it over a more deserving Big 12 big man for the second year in a row?  Google Michael Beasley/Kansas State for a comparison.  It’s still early, but indications are that Blake Griffin is going to absolutely pulverize everyone that gets in his way this year.  After four games, Griffin is averaging an utterly PREPOSTEROUS 26/20 on 75% shooting from the field.  The reason he won’t win is because of games like this one, where poor shooting (42% FG, 26% 3FG) nearly doomed Oklahoma  who probably should have lost to a vastly inferior team (and the fact that TH will have 30+ games on national tv, whereas Oklahoma will be lucky to have a third of that).  Griffin set personal records with 35 pts, 21 rebounds and 5 assists, but it was his three-point play with 2:36 remaining that finally gave OU a secure lead.  Gardner-Webb, now 0-3, was very close to making a name for itself for the second consecutive November.

Upset of the Weekend. Missouri 83, USC 72. This isn’t much of an upset, but it was a light weekend in that department.  USC was once again the Jekyll and Hyde team in terms of the tale of two halves.  They led Mizzou by six going into the break, but were outscored 46-29 in the second half to lose for the second time in three days.  Demarre Carroll blew up for 29/11 for the Tigers, who are 4-1 with their only loss to Xavier and appear to be finally turning the corner a little bit under Mike Anderson.  It’s going to take time for USC, as Demar DeRozan hasn’t adjusted to the college game yet (9/5) and Floyd’s teams usually get off to a slow start anyway.  What has to be distressing for Floyd is where the Trojans’ are going to get some outside shooting – they’re currently at 23% from deep this year, and if that keeps up, nobody will bother to cover them outside of the paint this year.

Ridiculous Score of the WeekendSan Francisco 74, Academy of Art 23.  Seriously, we think if you choose to schedule art schools and multi-directional high schools, then you should automically cede all claims on an NCAA Tournament berth.

Saturday Highlights.

  • Georgetown 81, Drexel 53.  Greg Monroe was a beast, contributing 20/8/4/3 stls/3 blks in his second game as a Hoya.  Georgetown held Drexel to 25% FG shooting for the game.
  • Georgia Tech 82, Mercer 76 (OT). Ga Tech barely escaped its trip south to Mercer’s home court by storming back from an 18-pt deficit to tie the game with 32 seconds remaining and getting a stop to send it to overtime.  Georgia Tech was led by Gani Lawal’s 27/9, but it was Mercer’s 27 TOs that ultimately killed the Bears.  Still, Mercer is making a name for itself this year in the deep south.
  • St. Louis 53, Boston College 50. In a game that both teams needed to win, Rick Majerus’ SLU team made just enough plays down the stretch to seal the game.  BC’s Tyrese Rice and Joe Trapani combined for 4-22 from the field.
  • Pittsburgh 86, Indiana (PA) 60. Dejuan Blair ripped apart the other Indiana for 27/18 in a mere 21 minutes of play.
  • Purdue 66, Coppin St. 46. Robbie Hummell had 20/11 and E’Twaun Moore had 10/8/5 assts/3 blks in an easy win for the Boilermakers.
  • Rhode Island 92, VCU 86. In a game that must have been played with absolutely no defense, URI put five players in double figures while shooting 54% from the field, while VCU shot an even better 61% led by Eric Maynor’s 22/6/8 assts (he also had an ungodly ten TOs).  So how did URI win?  Home court – the Rams shot 16 more FTS (making 11).
  • Clemson 71, Charlotte 70. In a game Charlotte really needed to win at home if it intends on making a case for an at-large later this year, Clemson managed to hang on led by Demontez Stitt’s 16/4/4 assts.  KC Rivers (12/8) put the Tigers ahead for good with a driving layup with 43 seconds left.
  • Missouri St. 62, Arkansas 57. Can we go ahead and put the SEC in the mid-major grouping yet?  Another loss to a mid-major – at least this one was on the road.
  • Marquette 100, UW-Milwaukee 80. Marquette’s Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward each had 25 pts in a blowout win over crosstown rival UW-Milwaukee.  Matthews is up to a fantastic start this year, averaging 26/7/4 over three games.
  • Nevada 79, Oregon St. 71. We’ll say this for Craig Robinson’s first year at OSU – he has his team playing competitive basketball on the road, and Nevada is no easy venue for a visitor to get a win.  Luke Babbit had 20/7 for the Wolfpack.

Sunday Highlights.

  • Duke 78, Montana 58. Greg Paulus didn’t play because of a bruised ego elbow, but Duke still had no trouble putting down the Grizzlies, despite playing four games in the last eight days.
  • Arizona St. 61, Pepperdine 40. This is a vintage Herb Sendek score, as James Harden’s 33/12 led ASU to a win over a Waves team that literally couldn’t throw it in the ocean (27% FG).
  • Connecticut 76, Miami (FL) 63. UConn advanced to the finals of the Paradise Jam (vs. Wisconsin) by holding Miami to 35% shooting, helped by Hasheem Thabeet’s patrolling of the inside (19/14 to go with 7 blocks).  The game was essentially decided when UConn held Miami to 8 pts for a nine-minute stretch of the first half.  Jack McClinton had 27/5 for Miami and his teammate Dwayne Collins had 16/14 in the losing effort.
  • Wisconsin 64, San Diego 49. The Badgers pulled away late from San Diego, ensuring that there will be no UConn-SD rematch from last year’s NCAAs.  Trevon Hughes appears to be the new stud in the Badger system, going for 22 pts tonight after 21 the night before.  Some things never change – UW held SD to 35% shooting while going for 51% themselves.

On Tap Monday (all times EST). Feast Week is our favorite basketball week until Championship Week starts in March.  There are so many good early-season tourney matchups, between the Maui Invitational, the Preseason NIT semis and finals, the Old Spice and Anaheim Classics, the Las Vegas Invitational, and even the ridiculous CBE and Legends Classic final rounds.  Here are the highlighted games for tomorrow.

  • Texas (-9) v. St. Joseph’s (ESPN2 & 360) – 3pm  (Maui Invtl.)
  • Notre Dame (-13.5) v. Indiana (ESPN2 & 360) – 5:30pm  (Maui Invtl.)
  • Miami (FL) v. San Diego – 6pm (Paradise Jam)
  • Florida (-3) v. Syracuse (ESPN2 & 360) – 7:30pm  (CBE Classic)
  • Connecticut v. Wisconsin – 8:30pm (Paradise Jam)
  • UNC v. Chaminade (ESPNU) – 9:30pm (Maui Invtl.)
  • Kansas (-5) v. Washington (ESPN2 & 360) – 9:30pm (CBE Classic)
  • Alabama (-2.5) v. Oregon (ESPN2 & 360) – 12am (Maui Invtl.)
Share this story

ATB: All Ends to Friday

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2008

afterbuzzer1

Game of the Day. Xavier 63, Virginia Tech 62 (OT).  This ending was almost as ridiculous as the Brandon Roy nonsense from a couple of weeks ago.  After it appeared the Va Tech had won the game on a layup by Jeff Allen with under three seconds remaining, Xavier threw it up ahead to Dante Jackson, who at that point was 0-8 with 2 pts in the game.  So of course he throws in a bank shot from 50 feet to win (see below).  This was easily the best game-winner of the young season, and will probably be in the running for best of the season this year.  XU’s Derrick Brown led the Musketeers with 16/6, but Va Tech may not have been in that position if their star had shown up on the offensive end – AJ Vassallo had a mere 4 pts on 2-13 (0-6 3FG) shooting, 15 pts below his average.  At least he stepped it up otherwise, though, with 10 rebs and 8 assts.

CvC.

  • Duke 71, Michigan 56. Hey, Duke won another tournament title at Madison Square Garden!  Never seen that before!  Coach K is only 94-10 in November at Duke, so if you didn’t see this one coming, then you haven’t watched college basketball in the last three decades.  It got us wondering, how many of these tourneys has Coach K won over the years?  Surpisingly, he’s only won three of the five PNITs that he’s been in (1985, 2000, 2008) – sure feels like more. The Blue Devils relied on a balanced attack–both in terms of depth and playing both halfs (looking at you Henderson and Singler)–to vault themselves into a #1 seed in everyone’s Week 3 NCAA tournament mock bracket. On the other side, John Beilein and the Wolverine faithful should leave New York City happy though as their win over #4 (not for long) UCLA has served noticed that the Wolverines should be significantly better than last season’s 10-22 record. Perhaps the biggest thing last night’s win over UCLA may have done is make more recruits think about heading up to Ann Arbor so one day Beilein can start more Manny Harrises (game-high 25 points) and less. . .well everybody else on his team. We may find out just how far along these Wolverines have come on December 6th when they get a rematch against Duke in Ann Arbor.
  • UCLA 77, S. Illinois 60. UCLA improved its east coast record to 2-3 under Howland by pulling away from SIU in the last quarter of this game today. The Bruins relied on a 20-2 second half run to win this game. This trip to MSG should be a useful motivation tool for Ben Howland to motivate his team, which is made up of hyped freshmen and remnants of a team that has made 3 straight Final 4s. The Bruins relied on their veteran leaders (Alfred Aboya, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison) to win the game as that trio combined for 49 of the Bruins’ 77 points. If Howland is going to make a 4th consecutive trip to the Final 4, his freshmen will have to grow up fast.

More Paradise Jammation.

  • Miami (FL) 70, Southern Miss 60. Honestly, I’m more interested in what Larry Eustachy was doing between games in the Virgin Islands than this game. However, I suspect that most of you are here for some keen insight into the game. Cliffs Notes summary: Lance Hurdle led the Canes to a victory despite an off night from Jack McClinton. I wouldn’t read too much into this game as a top 25 team should win games against teams like Southern Miss fairly easily, but it is still November so I’ll give The U the benefit of the doubt tonight, but they will have to step it up when they face the winner of. . .
  • UConn 89, Lasalle 81. Speaking of teams that didn’t quite play up to expectations, #2 UConn struggled to put away LaSalle, a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team. Jim Calhoun got big games out of Kemba Walker and Jeff Adrien to avoid the huge upset against the Explorers (seriously, what kind of nickname is that?) who shot 50% from the field. However, the biggest story of the night (other than Psycho T returning) was the return of A.J. Price, who was solid if not spectacular in his return. In a related story, Price maybe getting a Facebook invite from Cameron Newton that is assuming, um, Newton can find a computer to log onto the site.
  • USC 73, UT-Chattanooga 46. It’s the return of Taj Gibson who was AWOL for much of last season (I’m not sure who to name that type of performance after–Taj Gibson or Steve Slaton? We’re a college basketball site, so I’ll go with “pulling a Taj Gibson”.) Gibson paced the Trojans with 17 points and 15 rebounds. For the adolescent girl demographic, the big news of the night was that Lil Romeo took his first college shot. . .and missed.
  • San Diego, 73, Valparaiso 66. The Toreros were led by center Gyno Pomare’s 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Toreros, who knocked off UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year as a #13 seed face the winner of. . .
  • Wisconsin 60, Iona 58 (OT). The 25th-ranked Badgers snuck by the Gaels behind 21 points from Trevon Hughes. Somehow, the Badgers won despite going 15 of 48 (31.2%) from the field. So basically, it was a typical Bo Ryan win. I can’t wait to put my Big 10 TV channel to use this year.

Other Games of Mild Interest.

  • Utah 83, Ole Miss 72. The SEC is now 21-7 with losses to Mercer (x2), VMI, Utah, Illinois, Loyola (IL), and UNC. Other than UNC, not exactly murderer’s row there.
  • Syracuse 86, Oakland 66. Jonny Flynn brought 18/4 off the bench to assist four others in double figures, but most importantly, SU held Oakland’s Johnathan Jones to 7-23 shooting and only 16 pts.
  • Pitt 86, Akron 67. I’ll just leave you with this quote from Akron coach Keith Dambrot about Sam Young:
  • Sam Young physically reminds me of LeBron. Obviously, he’s not as good a player as LeBron, but he’s got that quick-twitch strength and ability to put the ball down. He’s a tough matchup.

    I will be waiting to see Young try LeBron’s patented bullrush to/through the basket this year.

  • Davidson 97, Winthrop 70. Stephen Curry with a ho-hum 30 points and 13 assists. The bigger news for Bob McKillop is the 20 and 15 from Andrew Lovedale. If the Wildcats can get a legitimate inside game going this year, they could be an extremely tough out in March with Curry bombing away from outside.
  • Memphis 84, Seton Hall 70. Not much to say here. Memphis took an early lead and never looked back. One interesting stat: 30/46 or 65.2%. I’ll let you guess what that represents. (Hint: Don’t ask John Calipari about it.)
  • Maryland 89, Vermont 74 (OT). That’s not a typo. The Terrapins outscored the Catamounts 17-2 in the 5-minute OT period. I think even Gary Williams will have to be happy with how his team finished the game. He may be a little pissed off about the other 40 minutes though. . .
  • Tennessee 76, MTSU 66. A thoroughly unimpressive win for the Volunteers. Do top 25 teams really struggle to put away Middle Tennessee State?
  • Notre Dame 65, LMU 54. Luke Harangody with a beastly 27 and 17. Hasheem Thabeet is still not impressed. . .

On Tap Saturday (all games EST):

  • Delaware State at Kentucky – Noon
  • Drexel at #22 Georgetown – 1 PM
  • Gardner-Webb at #12 Oklahoma -2 PM
  • Indiana (PA) at #6 Pittsburgh – 4 PM
  • Morehead State at #3 Louisville – 5:30 PM
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee at #15 Marquette – 8:30 PM
Share this story

Preseason Polls Released

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2008

Prediction:  by the end of the first week of December, UNC will no longer be #1 in the major media polls.

No way, there’s too much pressure and they have too many good teams to handle before we even get our advent calendars.  Oh, and did you hear, a small piece of their offense will be out for a while with a stress reaction?  Even if this substantial piece never misses a game, which is extremely unlikely, he’s going to miss practice and be out of ‘game shape’ for a while.  And no, we’re not talking about Marcus Ginyard, but his loss hurts too.

Here’s Carolina’s early schedule – you tell us how they’re going to come out of this unscathed…

  • v. Penn  (11.15.08) – easy enough at home, right?
  • v. Kentucky (11.18.08) – this home game suddenly becomes extremely interesting if TH is out or still ailing – Patrick Patterson will wipe up the inside.
  • @ UCSB  (11.21.08) – UNC fans will remember the west coast stopover game before Maui in 2004-05 well.  Trap game.
  • @ Chaminade  (11.24.08) – Maui Invitational first round – easy W.
  • v.  Alabama (probably) (11.25.08) – UNC should be careful to not sleep on an athletic Bama team, but will probably win regardless.
  • v. Notre Dame/Texas (probably) (11.26.08) – either of these teams could defeat a less-than-full-strength UNC in Maui.
  • v. UNC-Asheville  (11.30.08) – easy home win.
  • @ Michigan St. (Detroit) (12.03.08) – 40,000 people could watch this game at Ford Field, and UNC will absolutely need to be at full strength to win this game vs. MSU.

There are at least three opportunities for the major upset here, and if Hansbrough and/or Ginyard are out for any of those games, go ahead and mark it down.  UNC will not enter the second week of December #1 and unbeaten.

Now, on to the polls, where UNC was a unanimous #1 in the AP Poll for the first time EVER (nope, not even 1991 UNLV, 1992 Duke or 2007 Florida), and also unanimous in the Coach’s Poll.  No pressure or anything…  FYI – UNC has been preseason #1 six times in its history (incl. this year) – the results of those seasons are: 1982 (Natl. Champs), 1984 (S16), 1987 (E8), 1994 (R32), 2008 (F4) – all that’s missing is a first-round loss or a title game loss.

Here are the polls.

We plan on doing some broader-based analytics of preseason polls in a general sense next week, but for now, here are a few things that we noticed right away.

  • Biggest jumps from AP to Coaches – Georgetown (+4) and Duke (+3)
  • Biggest drops from AP to Coaches – USC (-3) and Wake Forest (-3)
  • Coaches tend to vote by available talent + belief in other coaches’ abilities – what does this say about Tim Floyd and Dino Gaudio in relation to JT3 and Coach K?
  • Overrated – UConn, Duke, Oklahoma, USC
  • Underrated – Wisconsin, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga
  • All 25 teams in both polls are duplicates, but it’s interesting that Xavier was #26 in the AP vs. #30 in the Coaches.
  • We’re a little surprised to not see St. Mary’s and Baylor ranked over teams like Villanova and Kansas, but whatever, that’s their poll, not ours.
  • Alabama gets 16 AP votes but a donut in the Coaches – Mark Gottfried, much?  And LSU is getting too much love for simply getting a new coach.
  • Conference Breakdown – Big East (7 + 2 others receiving votes); ACC (4), Big 10 (3), Big 12 (3), Pac-10 (3), SEC (2), CUSA (1), SoCon (1), WCC (1).
Share this story

ATB: Heytvelt Back on the Shelf

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.11.07

Story of the Night. Our preseason F4 picks are UNC, UCLA, Indiana and Gonzaga, so it’s no surprise that we really like the Zags this season. Imagine our own surprise, however, when we learned just before tipoff of today’s #16 Gonzaga-Montana game that Josh Heytvelt will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. Given what we know about these sorts of things, we wonder just how effective he’ll be when he gets back. Obviously, without Heytvelt, the Zags have no chance to reach their first F4. Or do they? Heytvelt’s replacement, 6’10 freshman forward Austin Daye, put on a show in his first game, going for 20/10/2 blks on 8-13 shooting and 2-2 from long range. Daye’s performance along with Jeremy Pargo’s high-wire act (he totally went B-Diddy on one of his dunks) and 17/5/5 asts were more than enough as Gonzaga put down Montana without much of a problem. If Heytvelt can come back healthy in January, this team is going to be a major player next March. (Gonzaga 77, Montana 54). One other comment from this game’s coverage on FCS Pacific – commentator Craig Ehlo needs to go back to guarding MJ or something; dude is terrrrible.

Things We Saw. We got to see pieces of five other games today, and here were our impressions. #4 Kansas once again showed just how good they can be, while never actually showing us how good they are. We never had a moment where we thought they were playing all that well, and yet they still won by 23. There were four missed dunks by the Jayhawks during the game, tons of missed foul shots (16-31), and still… UMKC was never really a threat to win in Allen Fieldhouse. Mario Chalmers was the lone bright spot, going 8-13 (6-9 from three) for 23 pts, but Bill Self said they have to get better at many phases of the game if they expect to do anything significant this year (Kansas 85, UMKC 62). Another game we watched was #11 Oregon v. Pacific. Judging by tonight, if there was any doubt as to whether Tajuan Porter can take over for Aaron Brooks, let that notion be put to rest. Porter was scintillating with 28 pts on 10-15 shooting (5-8 from three) and acted as much a leader as we had previously seen from him. Malik Hairston added 20/6 and Maarty Leunen contributed 17/10 in a well-balanced attack against a Pacific team that hung in there. We’re expecting big things from the Ducks this year (Oregon 80, Pacific 64). The Pittsburgh-St. Louis game was a little boring, but it showed us (once again) just how good of a coach Rick Majerus is, as the Panthers didn’t put the game away until a minute to go. If SLU can play like this all season, they’ll be a factor in the A10 race (Pittsburgh 69, St. Louis 58). We didn’t catch as much of the #17 Stanford-UCSB game as we would have liked, but we noted that Stanford once again handled business without much sweat, as Anthony Goods (23/6) outplayed Gaucho star Alex Harris (18/2) in the battle of the guards (Stanford 67, UCSB 48).

Upset Alert. Two minor ones. Nevada will need to win these games if it expects to make it back to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight time (UCF 63, Nevada 60). And Cincinnati dropped its second home game in a week tonight – the Bearcats are a long way from “Big East competitive” at this point (Bowling Green 69, Cincinnati 67).

Line of the Night. Michael Beasley (Kansas St.). Again. Only 30/14 tonight in a 29-minute, 5-foul performance against Pittsburg St., a D2 team. It should be noted that K-State was down 40-38 at halftime to this team, though.

On Tap Today (all times EST). 43 games, including Indiana’s debut and a solid test for Duke at home (i.e., not NC Central).

  • Indiana (-24) v. Chattanooga 7pm – Eric Gordon makes his long-awaited debut.
  • Duke (-17) v. New Mexico St. (ESPN2) 7pm - if Duke is playing with a chip this year, they’ll win this by 30.
  • Syracuse (-15.5) v. Siena (ESPNU) 7pm – looking forward to seeing freshmen Flynn and Greene(oh wait, we don’t get ESPNU).
  • LSU (NL) v. SE Louisiana (ESPN FC) 8pm – Anthony Randolph, anyone?
  • Missouri (-14.5) v. Central Michigan (ESPN FC) 3pm – year 2 of 40MoH begins.
  • Oklahoma (NL) v. Alcorn St. (ESPN FC) 8pm – more Blake Griffin.
  • Texas (NL) v. Texas-San Antonio (ESPN FC) 8pm – DJ Augustin is our favorite PG.
  • Ohio St. (-15.5) v. Wisconsin-Green Bay (ESPN2) 9pm – first game since the Findlay debacle.
  • Oregon (NL) v. W. Michigan (ESPN FC) 10:30pm – third game in three nights – any tired legs?
  • UCLA (-28.5) v. Youngstown St. (ESPN2) 11pm – first chance to watch K-Love’s superb outlet passing – haven’t you heard?
Share this story

Conference Primers: Single Bid Conference Recap

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

So we figure we’ll be done with these conference primers by Christmas 2008 Thanksgiving, which is about the time most people start keeping an eye on college hoops anyway.  In the meantime, we thought we’d take a moment to recap the seventeen single bid conferences we’ve already reviewed.  Keep in mind, our definition of a single bid league is a conference that does not regularly compete for multiple NCAA bids (even if they occasionally get multiple bids).

31.  SWAC
30.  MEAC
29.  Northeast
28.  Atlantic Sun
27.  Ohio Valley
26.  Southland
25.  America East
24.  Big South
23.  MAAC
22.  Ivy
21.  Patriot
20.  Sun Belt
19.  Big Sky
18.  Summit
17.  Southern
16.  Big West
15.  MAC

Some brief Single Bid Conference superlatives while we’re at this point:

  • Best Team. Davidson (#9 Seed NCAA) - this team has a shot at the Sweet 16 this year
  • Possible Spoiler. Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt) – everyone loves WKU in the Sun Belt, but ULM has an excellent team returning
  • Low Major All-Americans.
    • Stephen Curry (Davidson) – POY
    • Bo McCalebb (New Orleans)
    • Kyle Hines (UNC-Greensboro)
    • Jason Thompson (Rider)
    • Alex Harris (UCSB)
    • Hon. Mention – Courtney Pigram (ETSU), Arizona Reid (High Point), Courtney Lee (W. Kentucky), Tim Pollitz (Miami (OH))
  • Conference We Wish Were on TV More Often. America East. We dunno why, other than we’ve enjoyed watching teams like Albany, Vermont and BU over the past few years.  Seems like a fun conference.
  • Conference We Wish Would Re-Organize (or Implode). Sun Belt.  Despite a long and proud history, there are simply too many teams (13) located in too many places (from Denver to Miami).  This conference has lost its bearings.
  • Conference Champ You Can Count on to Cover the Spread in NCAA Tourney 08Big West.  Although Ivy league champs tend to stay close, Las Vegas knows that, so we like the Big West instead, where teams not named Long Beach St. have lost by an average of only 7 pts during the 2000s.
  • Conference Champ You Can Count on to NOT Cover the Spread in NCAA Tourney 08Summit.  In its last nine first round games, the Summit champ has lost by an average of 22 pts.

And here’s how our Consensus Conference Picks are shaping up (RTC choice in red):

Consensus Conf Picks 11.07.07

Since last time, we added the CBS Sportsline picks as well as the conference media days selections for each league.  We had three more leagues came on with a full consensus (Patriot – Holy Cross; Sun Belt – W. Kentucky; Southern – Davidson) to join the OVC (Austin Peay), while the Big Sky (Montana) was only one vote short.  The Big West (UCSB) and MAC (Kent St.) were solidly in one team’s corner, while the Summit (IUPUI) and Ivy (Cornell) weren’t far behind.   We’re still not buying that Ivy selection of Cornell, though.

Share this story