The Rise of Aaron White and the Iowa Hawkeyes

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 28th, 2013

College basketball junkies like myself stretch for almost anything hoops-related to keep us going in the offseason. The summer months can be especially cruel. So when we find out about things like the World University Games, we pay attention. We check the rosters when the tryouts are over and usually there are some surprises. Iowa’s Aaron White was one of these surprises. Outside of those that follow the B1G on a regular basis, not many casual fans know about White. But with Iowa getting its share of (justifiable) hype given how the Hawkeyes finished last season, and what they have coming back, White has a chance to become a household name with the program rejoining national relevance. He doesn’t have to be a superstar, but if he can make incremental improvements along with a couple of the other returnees, Iowa will no doubt challenge for a top quarter finish in the league, and with it, a high seed in the NCAAs.

Aaron White looks to lead Iowa back a regular spot in the top 25 (Brian Ray, AP)

Aaron White looks to lead Iowa back a regular spot in the Top 25 (Brian Ray, AP)

White had a nice sophomore year, but nothing to make someone think he was necessarily ready to stand alongside other World University Games players like Doug McDermott, Luke Hancock, and conference names like Yogi Ferrell and Adreian Payne. He led Iowa in rebounding at 6.2 boards per game, and was the second leading scorer with an average of 12.8 PPG. These are nice numbers, but not anything to get too excited about. Where he really shined last year, though, was in getting to the free throw line. He shot an astronomical 258 free throws last season, good for 6.8 attempts per game, and over 40 minutes per contest, he drew an average of 6.5 fouls per game.

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Team USA Camp Provides Boost For Top Collegians Smart and McDermott

Posted by BHayes on July 26th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler.

Come October and November, when Midnight Madness gives way to preseason games and then eventually the real thing, much of the narrative will center around how the summer was spent. A trip overseas will have brought a team together, leaving them poised to improve upon the season prior. A special opportunity with a particular team or clinic will change a coach’s perspective, or a new diet and workout plan gives the once-heralded recruit one last chance to pan out. We hear all these stories each and every fall, so consider yourself forgiven if you are left a bit skeptical with every summer update.  It’s because you are right — many will end up as irrelevant activities, artificial confidence boosters to help raise morale at the outset of a new season. But don’t discount them all. Countless players and teams will have improved themselves in the six months between One Shining Moment and Midnight Madness, and after their stay at the Team USA camp in Las Vegas, Marcus Smart and Doug McDermott look like two prime examples this go-around.

Between Leading The USA U-19 Team To Gold And Making An Appearance At Team USA Camp This Week, Marcus Smart Has Had Himself A Busy Summer

Between Leading The USA U-19 Team To Gold And Making An Appearance At Team USA Camp This Week, Marcus Smart Has Had Himself A Busy Summer

Smart has had an interesting offseason. He shocked the basketball world by deciding to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, in the process tossing aside his presumed status as a top-five pick in this year’s draft. Before getting to Vegas he led the USA U-19 team to gold in Prague – a fine start to the summer, indeed. But his two days facing off against some of the best young players in the NBA provided a unique opportunity – one only afforded him and McDermott among those in the college ranks – and left him knowing he can play with NBA talent. Just listen to what Smart told SI’s Andy Glockner and tell me if you think his Team USA camp didn’t provide his confidence a shot in the arm – “It just lets me know that I decided to go back to college, but I can come out here and perform with these guys… Not trying to be cocky or anything, but I’m out here performing against top-level guys and competing and doing things that I’ve done in college and beyond, but I’m doing them on a bigger stage against guys who have competed against the LeBrons and Kobes.” Smart himself admitted to harboring loads of self-doubt in the weeks following his decision to go back to school, and with nearly everyone wondering aloud what he was doing, how could he not? But the NBA will still be there next season and the year after, and Smart should now know better than ever that he will be well-equipped to thrive there – no matter when he arrives.

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Morning Five: 05.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. With the news coming out at mid-week that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has agreed to coach the men’s basketball national team for three more years, the inevitable corollary question was how much longer is he planning to remain on the sidelines in Durham. Armed with his “lifetime” contract at Duke, he can presumably stay for as long as he wants, but the 66-year old legend said on Thursday that he won’t retire before the Olympics run is over in Summer 2016. That means he’s got a minimum of three more full seasons at Duke left, and the truth is that he probably will stick around even longer than that. His reasoning is that in order to stay sharp with the demands of the Team USA job, he needs to be coaching full-time the rest of the year. It’s a fair point. There’s also these little things called 1,000 wins (he’s 43 away) and five national titles (which would put him alone in second place all-time), which are without question drivers for the uber-accomplished coach who embraces competition (as a side note, he thinks the new and improved ACC will be the “best ever.”) 
  2. While on the subject of K and his ongoing role with Team USA, SI.com‘s Andy Glockner must have been working with the FBI to mine the RTC email boxes yesterday, as the very subject of “Duke: Better or Worse Off?” came up and was bandied about throughout the day. Glockner lays out a solid analysis that pretty much comes to the same conclusion that we had internally: Duke’s overall performance has dropped a notch in the period since Krzyzewski took over as the head coach of Team USA, but it’s specious at best to argue that the downtick has been a result of his focus on that team. Rather, our stance mirrors Glockner’s somewhat in that the corresponding one-and-done era (which began in 2006 as well) hasn’t helped Duke quite as much as it has some other schools, and to put it frankly, Duke’s recruiting (like everyone else’s) has taken a hit over the last five years in large part because of the Calipari Effect. While it’s certainly true that Duke’s 2010 national championship takes a lot of the sting out of a number of other earlier-than-anticipated exits from the NCAA Tournament, the fact of that matter from our view is that K by and large isn’t getting quite the quality of depth of talent as he was recruiting 15 years ago. A single Final Four in the last nine seasons is the longest such drought of his career, but it’s not because of USA Basketball — it’s because there have been too many Jon Scheyers and not enough Kyrie Irvings.
  3. The NBA Draft has been on everyone’s minds lately, with the lottery going off in favor of Cleveland earlier this week and a number of talented collegians vying for the #1 overall pick on June 27. Yesterday CBSSports.com produced an interesting historical perspective of how each team in the Western Conference has drafted over the last 15 years. For example, the San Antonio Spurs have tended to go with foreign players (48% of selections), while the Los Angeles Lakers have used more than a quarter of its selections (28%) on mid-major picks. The analysis comes replete with colorful pie charts, which shows that the guys over there have finally figured out how to use Tableau. For your Memorial Day weekend pleasure, they’ll be releasing the Eastern Conference rundowns later today. Check it out.
  4. Hopefully we’re at a point of stasis with respect to major conference realignment, but the mids are still actively crawling up the ladder at every available opportunity. Yesterday Elon University, a rising star in the academic world, announced that its athletic programs will leave the Southern Conference to join the CAA beginning next summer. The Phoenix have only been Division I participants since 1997, and this is already the school’s third conference affiliation — it was originally with the Big South followed by the SoCon and now the CAA — at this rate, Elon will be joining the ACC sometime around 2025. The men’s basketball program has enjoyed only two winning seasons since joining the big leagues, but one of those was last year when Mike Matheny’s squad went 13-5 in conference play and 21-12 overall. With a heavy emphasis on placement of alumni in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern corridor, this is a very good move for the profile of the school.
  5. The last time we saw Eric Devendorf, he was standing on a press row table at Madison Square Garden after hitting  a “game-winning” buzzer-beater in the Big East Tournamant Game That Would Never End, also known as the six-overtime Big East quarterfinals thriller between the Orange and UConn Huskies. Of course, that’s not completely true, as Devo played in five more games that season; but the indelible image of the Orange’s 14th-leading all-time scorer was that moment. He was brash, loud-mouthed, cocky, but wildly entertaining — sorta like the SU version of Marshall Henderson. Well, if you’ve missed him after he headed overseas to play professionally after that season, you’re in luck — Devendorf is back in the Syracuse area doing a Friday night radio show with popular local ESPN affiliate host Mike Bristol. We can’t say that we’re going to be taking time out of our schedules to find him on the dial tonight, but maybe you will. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, everyone.
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Team USA Will Not Regret Its Decision to Keep Coach K For Another Olympic Run

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 23rd, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Coaching the biggest basketball superstars on planet earth into one cohesive group with a compacted practice schedule and unflinchingly mountainous expectations, among other obstacles, is not as easy as it seems. With minimal exceptions, every player is accustomed to being “the guy” on his own NBA team, where the frequency and type of shots taken are, for better or worse, monitored liberally – superstars are going to get their shots up whether you like it or not. When you mash these egos together on one, putatively dominant, practically unwieldy Team USA squad, vast philosophical and schematic adjustments melding is required. Ego-massaging is another part of the gig. Reduced shots and individual credit-basking glory is part of the cost of doing business. It’s an entirely different style and breed of basketball, this quirky thing we like to call international play, and without the right head coach in place, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. Matter of fact, Before Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski arrived on the scene, they did: In 2002, a George Karl-coached Team USA became the first American team composed of NBA players to lose in international competition when it fell to Argentina in the preliminary rounds and finished sixth at the FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis. Two years later, then under Larry Brown, team USA lost a convincing semifinal game to Argentina at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. The days of Dream Team dominance and universal hoops royalty were slipping away. USA basketball needed a new face and culture and identity to offer a different spin on the stale and out-of-touch approach demonstrated by previous NBA coaches. It needed Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Making another run at Olympic glory, and picking up Coach K to lead the charge, is a wise move by Colangelo (Getty Images).

Making another run at Olympic glory, and picking up Coach K to lead the charge, is a wise move by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Getty Images).

You know the rest: after an initial bronze medal toe-stub at the 2006 World Championships, USA polished off two Olympic gold medals and a 2010 FIBA World Championship with a second-tier layer of then-rising stars, not once losing a game over four years. Coach K has accomplished everything he set out to do during his reign as USA Basketball’s transformative leader – blend a group of ball-dominant stars into one functioning whole not once or twice but for three sizably important world events, restore the rightful preeminence of the red, white and blue’s international hardwood stature, forcefully remind the rest of the world that yes, there is good basketball being played in Europe and China and South America, but no, you don’t have Kevin Durant ripping threes on the wing, and LeBron James guarding centers and point guards on the same possession, and Chris Paul whipping cross-court passes with pinpoint accuracy. This is USA Basketball, unbeatable and dominant and good. Mostly just good. Beijing 2012 restored the customary USA-headed international hoops hierarchy, and Coach K – who still, in case you forgot, kind of has a pretty good thing going right now in Durham – had ground off every bit of tread on the international tires. It was time to move on. Pass the torch. Recruiting and leading Duke to annual national championship contention is prohibitively exhausting on its own; the added onus of Team USA must have been a terribly draining, but hugely fulfilling, experience. Enough was enough.

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Morning Five: 05.22.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 22nd, 2013

morning5

  1. Perhaps feeling green with envy that Louisville’s Rick Pitino (championship, tattoo, Derby) and Kentucky’s John Calipari (recruiting, NCAA) were receiving all the offseason college basketball attention, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski got himself back into the conversation this week with his comment to SI.com‘s Pete Thamel that he is considering a return to coach USA Basketball’s men’s national team again in 2014 (Worlds) and 2016 (Olympics). We’re kidding about the jealousy bit — sorta — but coaches gotta coach, and everyone has trouble stepping away from doing the thing they love most. Mike DeCourcy writes that the numerous Duke haters who simply cannot endure anything associated with the four-time national championship head coach miss the point — Coach K (and certainly Jerry Colangelo) made the concept of preparing and competing for Team USA cool again. Prior to their involvement, players showed up and expected to win simply because, well, because they thought they could. Miserable performances in the 2002 Worlds (sixth) and 2004 Olympics (third) led to the system we now have in place, and for that Krzyzewski should absolutely be lauded and celebrated by every American who cares about USA basketball.
  2. It certainly doesn’t have the ring or cachet of its predecessor at the Garden, but the inaugural AAC Tournament is beginning to look a lot like the old Conference USA Tournament (and the old Great Midwest Tournament; and the old Metro Tournament) in that it may be headed to Memphis. Don’t get us wrong, the city of Memphis has a tremendous local fan base that loves college basketball and will fill the FedEx Forum with their beloved Tigers now in the new league. But can we liven this thing up a little bit in its first go-round — how about slotting in the top four seeds into the conference semifinals and leaving it at that? A semifinal round of Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis and Connecticut next March wouldn’t be awful, and we’ll even allow you to throw in Temple in place of Cincy if the Bearcats falter. Deal?
  3. We’re a big believer in second chances, especially when someone who has done wrong can show that they’ve learned from their previous mistakes. Still, we believe there should be limitations to those reprisals, and we’re having a little trouble swallowing the Zay Jackson story at Murray State. You remember Jackson — he was the Racer guard who rather infamously ran over a man with his car in a Walmart parking lot last September — according to Andy Katz’s report earlier this week, after serving 49 days in jail for hit-and-run, MSU’s athletic department has decided to allow him back on the team. The school apparently (?) did not have a protocol to deal with situations like these, but how about a protocol of redemption and common sense? Again, we support the concept of a second chance. The young man served his time and by all indications hasn’t caused any problems since his release. But wouldn’t this be a situation where both parties would be better served by shaking hands with each other and walking away? Wouldn’t Jackson want to have a fresh start at another school? Does Steve Prohm really want to endure the endless mocking and jeering his team will suffer as a result of this decision? At a minimum, how about ensuring that Jackson can keep his nose clean for an entire year (just school and practice) before allowing him the privilege of playing college basketball again? Poor form here, we’re afraid.
  4. Depending on whom you ask, the voluminous and growing number of transfers is destroying the integrity of the collegiate game or finally shifting the balance of power back to the producers of all that money flowing to the schools — the players. But the coaches still have several dirty tricks up their sleeve when needed, and the power to “block” transfers from alighting to certain schools is one of the more nefarious ones. Sometimes the notion derives from a misguided but legitimate attempt to protect “trade secrets,” but more often it just seems that the coaches are vindictively limiting the players simply because they can. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings’ blockage of freshman Sheldon Jeter from transferring closer to his hometown school of Pittsburgh has the look and feel of exactly that. Pitt and Vandy are not in the same league, nor are they scheduled to play next season; in fact, they haven’t played in over two decades. So what’s the deal here? Why on earth would Vanderbilt care if a mediocre freshman wanted to play closer to home for the rest of his career — what possible reason could Stallings have other than “because he can.” Remember, college athletics is about the student-athletes.
  5. Remember the San Diego/Brandon Johnson bribery incident a couple of years ago? That’s OK, nobody else does either. For something that supposedly destroys the very integrity of a sport by its very existence, it sure seems as if incidents like these are quickly reported and summarily swept right on under the rug so as to not get in the way of moving right along. As this FBI narrative reports, Johnson was convicted of point shaving during four games in the 2009-10 season, and he was ultimately outed when the criminal enterprise that had recruited him was investigated for drug trafficking. The FBI report states that “tampering with sports events strikes at the integrity of the games; this kind of betrayal is not merely disappointing—it is criminal and worthy of prosecution,” but the greater public has largely not seemed to care all that much. They still attend and watch games, fill out brackets, and enjoy all the other accessories of being a college sports fan. Maybe we’re all so ambivalent to scandal that we’ve become accustomed to it — as a sort of new normalcy. Oh hey, IRS. How’s it going?
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Morning Five: 08.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 2nd, 2012

  1. USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell published a piece on Tuesday with some rather inflammatory quotes about the status of big-time college basketball recruiting. Everybody already knows that agents and runners representing the interests of high school stars with their hands out is a big problem — but is it a 70%-of-the-elite-prospects problem? If you believe Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo‘s math, it is. “I am not saying that cheating is 80 percent of the game. It’s probably 20 percent. But it’s probably 70 percent of the top 20 percent [of player recruitments].” Izzo went on to say that he has “absolutely” lost recruits to other coaches because he was unwilling to play the agent/runner AAU game (which even Sonny Freakin’ Vaccaro says has gotten worse). In the same piece, North Carolina’s Roy Williams also made some interesting comments about stepping away from recruits who were ‘handled’ by AAU influences, saying, “Will I have a legitimate chance if I do it the right way?” There’s a lot of eyebrow-raising information in the article, and we highly suggest you read it — but the obvious question if Izzo’s numbers are anywhere near correct is… who exactly is landing all of these elite recruits if every major coach is on record blasting the system and doing it the right way? It’s not just Central Florida, that’s for sure.
  2. Team USA‘s men’s basketball squad is now 2-0 in round robin play with a game against always-dangerous Tunisia later this afternoon. Although there are no guarantees in a knockout tournament situation, we’re all too aware, it appears that the team led by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are well on their way to another gold medal. Jeff Goodman writes that NBA owners are pushing so hard for a 23-year old age limit on the men’s team in future Olympiads that there is “little doubt” as to its eventuality [memo to owners: how about another age limit -- one that limits inclusion in your league to players 20 years old and older]. If USA Basketball decides to go this route with the 2016 team, most of today’s elite high school and young college stars would be eligible — Goodman takes a stab at putting together a potential team, and would you believe that a player nobody outside of Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, had heard of this time last year is designated as the starting point guard? Basketball can be a funny sport that way.
  3. While on the subject of Olympic teams, A Sea of Blue put together an interesting analysis reviewing what the six men’s basketball teams in the “Dream Team” era might have looked like if USA Basketball had never ditched the amateur model. The cream of the crop is very clearly the 1992 squad, a team filled with players on in an era on the cusp of moving to a prep-to-pro mentality (Kevin Garnett began the trend in 1995). A starting lineup of Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Chris Webber may have even crowded out 1992 NPOY and two-time NCAA champion Christian Laettner. In the backcourt, do you run with Penny Hardaway and Jim Jackson over the dominant Duke duo of Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill? It’s really an unbelievable team. Conversely, the 2000 team — led by Kenyon Martin? Shane Battier? — is a joke. That team, decimated by the prep-to-pro era, may have finished dead last in the Olympics that year. It’s an interesting thought experiment, and we encourage you to visit ASoB and check it out.
  4. Going back to 1992 — was it the greatest year of basketball in American history? — former Duke star Bobby Hurley raised some major burn late Tuesday night after tweeting the following in reference to the gold medal-winning USA women’s gymnastics team (dubbed a modern-day “Fab Five”): “Proud 2 watch the “Fab Five” perform & bring home the gold! Who would have thought that the “Fab Five” could it get it done.” Of course, the Michigan group of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson not only lost the 1992 national championship game to Hurley’s Blue Devils, but they also lost two other regular season games to Duke during that era, giving the point guard the easy upper hand when it comes to taking those shots.
  5. With the exception of a notable tweeter, the Penn State story has died down in the national media as a result of the Olympics. And even though the long moribund basketball program was not implicated in the scandal or penalized by the NCAA in any way, it’s incomprehensible that Pat Chambers’ program will not be negatively impacted among the collateral damage to the Nittany Lion brand. In response to this piece by Jeff Borzello at CBSSports.com, it may very well be true that a recent de-committed recruit was already on the fence about heading to State College and another Class of 2013 recruit says he has no intention of backing out, but the issue will become more apparent in future classes where the semi-permanent negative message about Penn State has had sufficient time to stick. An argument that PSU will continue to recruit non-elite talent in the same way as before is not really an argument at all — the point is that every aspect of that university, from the chemistry lab to the jai alai club team to the local Penn State chapter of PETA, will be associated with this horrific situation for years to come. Whatever each group had to do to earn recognition prior to this fiasco, they’ll have to do so that much more in the future. This goes for basketball too.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.12.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on July 12th, 2012

  1. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery recently signed a seven-year contract extension. McCaffery will make approximately $1.7M after next season and will be rewarded with a raise up to $2M if the Hawkeyes make the NCAA Tournament over the next few years. Iowa has not received an NCAA Tournament bid since 2006, and the university certainly believes that McCaffery is the guy to get them there with this move. Even though the Hawkeyes only finished 18-17 last season, the program certainly has a different competitive feel since McCaffery took over. During the B1G season, Iowa had the highest tempo in the league at 65.1 possessions per game and appeared to maximize the talent available. The addition of two top 100 ranked freshmen — Adam Woodbury and Mike Gesell — certainly indicates the program’s upswing.
  2. Iowa is the not the only program that has increased the overall tempo of play in the Big Ten. New Illinois head coach John Groce plans to have Brandon Paul and Tracy Abrams run all over the place next season. Groce holds practice using a 24-second shot clock to increase his team’s endurance and hopes to make a difference in Champaign immediately. Illinois ranked in the middle of the B1G last season with 63.5 posessions per game but definitely has the athletes on the wings to push the pace. They featured a three-guard lineup with Abrams, Paul and D.J. Richardson but were primarily a jump-shooting offense under Weber, especially in the second half of the season. Groce is trying to change that and hopes to instill confidence into a team that stumbled down the stretch last season.
  3. High school sensation and arguably the best prep player in the country Jabari Parker apparently isn’t interested in joining the Illini per the latest reports. Parker, a 6’8″ wing, listed his top 10 schools in no particular order this week and Illinois was not one of them. Michigan State is the only Big Ten school that he is considering as he enters his senior year in high school. It is very likely that he only stays in college for one year so Kentucky might be a frontrunner if he plans to follow the footsteps of Brandon Knight, John Wall, Anthony Davis and the multiple “one-and-done” players who roll through Lexington, Kentucky, on their way to the NBA lottery.
  4. The 2012-13 season schedule is beginning to shape up. ESPN airs a 24-hour hoops marathon to unofficially tip-off the new season and Michigan State is one of the headliners that will participate in the event. Tom Izzo’s Spartans will face Kansas at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on November 13. Izzo is notorious in challenging his teams with tough non-conference scheduling to prepare them for March. MSU is already scheduled to play Connecticut overseas and the matchup with Kansas will continue to shape a challenging schedule for the Spartans who are a pre-season top 10 team next season. Junior guard Keith Appling looks to step up into a leadership role after Draymond Green’s exit and a healthy return of Branden Dawson should give Sparty a defensive stopper against the premier wings in the country.
  5. The Olympics are upon us and the USA Basketball team has been announced. The Big Ten will be well represented by current Brooklyn Net and former Illini great Deron Williams in London. Williams is one of the three point guards on the team in addition to Chris Paul (former Wake Forest guard) and Russell Westbrook (former UCLA guard). Williams earned a gold medal in 2008 and was joined by Michael Redd who made a career at Ohio State before taking his sweet shooting stroke to the NBA. Another former Illini, Robert Archibald, will be playing for England over the summer. Archibald was a key part of the Illinois team that lost to Arizona in the Elite Eight during the 2000-01 season.
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Olympic Basketball as an Under-23 Affair: Who Are the Top Candidates for 2016?

Posted by EJacoby on June 22nd, 2012

In the 20th anniversary year of the original 1992 ‘Dream Team,’ USA Basketball is once again sending a team of elite NBA players in search of the 2012 gold medal. But could this become the final time we see such a collection of professional stars? Rumblings over the past few weeks from all corners of college, pro, and international basketball suggest that Team USA will instead send younger players to the Olympics, perhaps through the old school method of all amateurs or rather in a new combination of college and young pros. The most likely scenario includes an all Under-23 squad, resembling the way the USA selects for its Olympic soccer teams. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, among others, has highlighted what Team USA would look like this year if it was an Under-23 team. But any new method would not take place until the next Summer Olympics in 2016, so what would that team potentially look like? In order to qualify for the Under-23 team four years from now, only players who are 19 or younger right now could be under consideration. Today we take a look at some of the best candidates, considering both current accomplishments and potential future growth.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would qualify for the 2016 Olympics if Team USA goes with an Under 23 approach (AP Photo)

A quick 15-man list of the top 19-or-younger players goes as follows:

  1. Anthony Davis
  2. Tony Wroten
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  4. Bradley Beal
  5. Andre Drummond
  6. Quincy Miller
  7. Nerlens Noel
  8. Shabazz Muhammad
  9. Cody Zeller
  10. James Michael McAdoo
  11. Kyle Anderson
  12. Jabari Parker
  13. Julius Randle
  14. Andrew Harrison
  15. Andrew Wiggins

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20 Questions: Is Coach K the Greatest Coach in NCAA History?

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2011

Matt Patton is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Coast Conference and an ACC microsite staffer.

Question: Coach K will become the all-time winningest coach soon. Is he the greatest coach in NCAA basketball history? If not, where does he rank?

Yes, but with a disclaimer. Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach of the modern era. You can define that era in many ways: the expansion of the NCAA Tournament (either when in 1975 it expanded to 32 teams, or when in 1985 it expanded to the truly modern 64 teams); the adoption of the shot clock (1985-86); the addition of the three-point line (nationally in 1986-87); or the advent of ESPN (1979 NCAA Tournament).

Truthfully, the best interpretation is somewhere in between, for all four of these events led to the game we know and love today. The expansion of the Big Dance made the NCAA Tournament more difficult both because more games separated teams from the championship and because at-larges increased the overall talent of the field. The shot clock redefined offenses and frankly made the game more exciting. The three-point field goal introduced statistical “noise” that created large swings in performance and allowed for more upsets (basically, a 40-minute game is a small enough sample size that even a horrendous shooting team like Florida State to go 9-19 from three and a good shooting Notre Dame team to go 7-30 from downtown). Finally, ESPN’s consistent coverage of college basketball symbiotically raised the popularity of both ESPN and men’s hoops.

Krzyzewski Will Pass Bob Knight for the Most Wins in Men's Division I History Early this Season

But to suggest that Coach K is a better coach than John Wooden would be too presumptive. There are plenty of arguments, but no sound logic can definitively put Krzyzewski over the Wizard of Westwood: Wooden won ten national championships in 12 years including an 88-game winning streak that is without a doubt the most dominant stretch of college basketball ever. If you still want to try to argue Coach K over John Wooden, read that one more time. I am not saying that Wooden would see that success now, but it is not like we are dealing with similar resumes. Wooden has as many titles as Coach K, Jim Calhoun, Roy Williams, and Tom Izzo (or Bill Self) combined.

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Morning Five: 06.01.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 1st, 2011

  1. Some of you younger folks may not know this, but in the first several years of its existence, ESPN actually was an acronym that stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.  The guys in Bristol ultimately decided that the four letter “word” was such a strong brand in and of itself that they dumped the rest of it, and it appears that the Big Ten Network is thinking along the same lines two decades later.  Beginning this week, the network will go by BTN in an effort to re-brand their products, which includes associated logos for each Big Ten school (Michigan pictured here) and allows the company to expand into new ventures and opportunities that may not be television-related.
  2. It’s not every day that a Mighty Mouse joins a coaching staff, but former Arizona all-america point guard Damon Stoudamire has signed on to become an assistant on Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis.  Stoudamire enjoyed a thirteen-year NBA career that included the 1995 Rookie of the Year award, but has spent the last three years in low-level positions at Rice University and the Memphis Grizzlies.  His hiring at Memphis is interesting from a player development perspective, as Stoudamire brings a wealth of experience as a 5’10 guard who had an uncanny ability to get shots off in a number of settings.  For a guy like Tiger sophomore point guard Joe Jackson, who committed a total of six more turnovers than assists last season, Stoudamire could be a tremendous positive influence.
  3. Can we send our correspondent to the pickup sessions at Memorial Coliseum this summer in Lexington?  We already knew that John Calipari was going to have a boatload of talent on his roster in the fall, but it now appears that most of his key players will be on campus over the summer too given the news that forward Terrence Jones will not try out for the Under-19 Team USA later this month.  The three big-time recruits that Calipari has coming in — Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, and Michael Gilchrist — have also made similar decisions to stick around campus this summer.  Assuming that several of Cal’s former Cats such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter and Eric Bledsoe pass through Lexington for even a brief interlude to hoop, there might be more young talent during the hot months playing basketball in Lexington than anywhere else in America.
  4. Somehow we missed this over the long weekend, but Pat Forde late last week published a piece that takes a look at the top ten overachieving and underachieving programs in college basketball since 1985.  This is a great article, in theory, and one that we here at RTC talk about doing in depth frequently; but, even though Forde justifies his selections with a paragraph explaining each, something seems a little off when Duke is listed as the second-biggest overachiever (does a top six program truly overachieve?) and Northwestern as the top underachiever (with no expectations, how can it underachieve?).  It’s admittedly a strange list — maybe we would have preferred it if the title had been outstanding vs. disappointing programs?
  5. What’s this, a serious piece of opinion and commentary from Deadspin?  The venerable old blog’s Tommy Craggs uses the prism of the Jim Tressel scandal to nail the media to the wall for falling victim to the same dog-and-pony circus act of faux-outrage we see every time that something like this is unveiled.  His key statement: “What I can’t tolerate is the passel of excellent journalists who understand all the cockeyed incentives of big-time college sports, who know precisely where the big con lies, and who nonetheless write story after story after story after story in which they mistake the symptoms for the contagion.”  It’s an interesting point, but one with which we’re not sure we ultimately agree.  Depending on your perspective, either these investigations and subsequent stories are part of a long-term process to expose the hypocrisy he refers to layer by layer; or, they’re simply isolated instances that don’t amount to anything in the aggregate.  We tend toward the former, and until the NCAA recognizes and solves its own internal battle of enforcement versus self-interest, we’ll have to settle for the good, if piecemeal, work that these journos are doing to expose the seedy side.
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Morning Five: 01.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2011

  1. Syracuse and Villanova are making a habit of this, as the two schools will team up for another blockbuster game on Saturday in the Carrier Dome where more than 34,000 fans will be expected in attendance.  Last year’s game between the two drew 34,616 total fans and SU has put in more seating this year in an effort to break the record for an on-campus game again.  As for the actual game itself, Syracuse’s star forward Kris Joseph practiced on Thursday and is showing signs that he will be ready to play on Saturday.
  2. Speaking of Jay Wright’s team, former everywhere coach Larry Brown made a visit to Villanova’s practice on Thursday to get his “basketball fix” and enjoyed the experience.  The 70-year old former NCAA (Kansas) and NBA (Detroit) champion said that he hopes to coach again, and with his track record he’ll probably get some looks.  We’d like to see him take up residence at some mid-major somewhere in much the same way that Bobby Cremins (Charleston) and Steve Fisher (San Diego State) have done.
  3. USA Basketball selected its coaching staff for next summer’s World University Games (21 years old and under), and the group has a distinctly Indiana feel.  Not necessarily Hoosiers, though, more like Boiler Up…  The Head coach will be Purdue’s Matt Painter, while his assistants will be former Boilermaker and current Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin with Butler’s Brad Stevens thrown in for good measure.  For what it’s worth, the 2009 team coached by Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan finished in third place with a starting lineup of Nic Wise, Trevor Booker, Corey Fisher, James Anderson and Craig Brackins.
  4. Wednesday night a horrid out-of-bounds call by the officials gave Purdue the basketball back against Penn State, ultimately leading to a game-winning jumper by JaJuan Johnson with three seconds left.  As a proximate cause of that incident, the NCAA’s Officials Coordinator on Thursday said that he would consider allowing officials to go to the replay within the last minute on iffy situations such as those.  Generally, we’re anti-replay in non-game-ending cases but possession is incredibly important for obvious reasons exhibited in that game.  It literally changed the outcome of that game.  We think it’s certainly worth a look as an experimental rule next season.
  5. Xavier will honor former Musketeer All-American and NBA star Brian Grant on Saturday at halftime of its game against Temple by retiring his number 33.  Grant was an absolute beast at XU, leading the Muskies in rebounding all four seasons he was there (yes, lottery picks actually stuck around that long back then) before becoming an integral piece on some excellent teams in the NBA at Portland and Miami.  He recently revealed that he has early-onset Parkinson’s Disease (the same disease that Michael J. Fox has) and has used his fame and wealth to bring attention to the illness through his Brian Grant Foundation.  Good work, Xavier.
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Team USA Select Team Chosen: Get to Know Them

Posted by rtmsf on August 4th, 2010

This news almost slipped past us, but that’s why we wear those specially-made stick-em gloves everywhere we go.  You know the ones.  Anyway, with the US men’s national team preparing for the 2010 World Championships later this month in Turkey, players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Durant need someone to scrimmage against.  That’s where the collegians come in.  On Monday, USA Basketball selected ten of the best rising juniors and seniors from the collegiate ranks to provide competition for the NBA stars in a series of practice games to be played next week.  The final list is below:

2010 USA Basketball Select Team – New York
NAME POS HT WT YEAR COLLEGE / HOMETOWN
JaJuan Johnson F 6-10 216 2011 Purdue / Indianapolis, Ind.
Jon Leuer C 6-10 230 2011 Wisconsin / Orono, Minn.
Shelvin Mack G 6-3 215 2012 Butler / Lexington, Kent.
Kyle Singler F 6-8 230 2011 Duke / Medford, Ore.
Chris Singleton F 6-9 227 2012 Florida State / Canton, Ga.
Nolan Smith G 6-2 185 2011 Duke / Upper Marlboro, Mary.
Howard Thompkins F 6-10 247 2012 Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.
Mike Tisdale C 7-1 235 2011 Illinois / Riverton, Ill.
Kemba Walker G 6-1 172 2012 Connecticut / Bronx, N.Y.
Chris Wright F 6-8 226 2012 Dayton / Trotwood, OH
Head Coach: Jay Wright, Villanova

The original group of twenty candidates was whittled in half with the above selections, and the remainder gives a fair representation of some of the strength of college basketball next season.  Two Dookies (Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith) and three Big Ten players (Jon Leuer, JaJuan Johnson and Mike Tisdale) lead the way, but the list also shows just how much these two classes have been raided by the NBA Draft.  In fact, three of the players on the national team roster — Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon — would have been seniors in the Class of 2011 had they remained in school.

Admit It: You Wouldn't Be Able To Pick Leuer Out of a Lineup

Still, there are several players on the Select Team who may be poised to break out in a big way next season.  Johnson, Mack, Walker, Singler, Smith and Wright are known commodities, but few people outside of the Big Ten know who Jon Leuer plays for, much less that he dropped 15/6 in a very productive season at Wisconsin last year.  Or that Georgia’s Trey Thompkins (with his 18/8 averages) is the only all-SEC first teamer who will return in that league next season.  What about the Illini’s Mike Tisdale, a true seven-footer who dropped 12/6 last year while leading  the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 59%?  Or FSU’s Chris Singleton, who effectively uses his long, wiry frame to shut down just about everyone he guards in the ACC?

We’d love to get our hands on some of the footage of next week’s scrimmages, but regardless of that, the names above are without question several of the upperclassmen that you should either re-acquaint yourselves with or get to know.  You’ll be hearing from them a lot more this coming year.

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