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
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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06.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 23rd, 2009

Yes, friends and neighbors, it’s nigh time for another edition of Fast Breaks, about the only thing worth doing this time of year…  We’re going to spruce this one up with a little more commentary than the norm, and we’ll be back tomorrow with some other backlogged news.

  • USC basketball is in the news seemingly every day.  You know about Kevin O’Neill already – but did you know that one of the Trojans’ top recruits, Noel Johnson, a 6’6 forward from Georgia, is now headed to Clemson?  Or ditto for Derrick Williams, who was granted a release from his LOI?  Or that former hoopster Stais Boseman (1993-97) was arrested for taking part in a carjacking in LA last week (charges were dropped, however)?  Jumping back to the O’Neill hire, neither Jeff Goodman nor Gregg Doyel believe this is a good hire, for a number of reasons.  Couldn’t agree more – O’Neill and his sub-.500 collegiate coaching record will rebuild USC into permanent middle-pack status in the Pac-10.  Maybe that’s all they want.
  • Come Thursday night, there may be a record number of viewers tuning in from the Bluegrass State for the 2009 NBA Draft.  The reason?  Wildcat guard Jodie Meeks made himself eligible for the draft, but with projections from the mid-40s to 50s at present, there’s a distinct possibility that Meeks will not be selected on draft night.  Utilizing the Randolph Morris Loophole, Meeks could then choose to return to Lexington because he hasn’t signed with an agent.  This is definitely a subplot to keep an eye on later this week, as it could seriously impact next season’s outcomes.
  • If you want a good look at some of next season’s breakout stars to watch, keep an eye on the players selected for the World University Games (James Anderson, Talor Battle, Trevor Booker, Craig Brackins, Da’Sean Butler, Corey Fisher, Lazar Hayward, Robbie Hummel, Quincy Pondexter, Deon Thompson, Evan Turner, Jarvis Varnado)  and the Under-19 (DeAngelo Casto, Clay Thompson, Seth Curry, Ashton Gibbs, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Darius Miller, Arnett Moultrie, John Shurna, Tyshawn Taylor, Howard Thompkins, Terrico White) USA teams.  Both teams will compete internationally during the first two weeks of July.  Seth Davis wrote that OSU’s Evan Turner and Purdue’s Robbie Hummel impressed him the most, while Luke Winn focused on Butler’s Gordon Hayward.  And who says there’s no talent in the Midwest?
  • Sad news that BYU head coach Dave Rose has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  As far as cancers go, this is one of the worst types someone can get.  RTC wishes him and his family the best during this trying time.
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09.14.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2008

Still trying to get caught up on newsworthy items from the last few weeks…

  • Coach K, fresh off his gold medal coaching victory with Team USA, says that from now on, he’s going to enjoy wins at Duke more.
  • Kansas’ best returning player, Sherron Collins, apparently showed up for KU’s Labor Day trip to Canada fat and out of shape.  Bill Self was not pleased, benching the point guard for the trip.  The good news for Self and KU is that their highly-regarded twin recruits, Marcus and Markieff Morris, were declared eligible to play this season.
  • Smart, fellas.  KU national champions  Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur got some greenery and some females up in their rooms at the NBA Rookie Transition Program (where the dangers of such issues as greenery and females are ostensibly discussed), leading to a $20k fine for each of them.
  • Oklahoma freshman Willie Warren has already made an impression with his mouth, apparently.
  • New Mexico State’s itinerant forward, Herb Pope, will transfer to Seton Hall.  He is asking for a medical waiver (the “Tyler Smith Rule”) so that he can play this season.  Mizzou’s Keon Lawrence is also transferring to Seton Hall. 
  • Well, that’s disappointing.  UNC-Asheville’s 7’7 behemoth Kenny George will likely miss the season after another foot surgery.
  • Jeff Goodman checks in on Pat Knight as he begins his first full season as the head man at Texas Tech.
  • Gary Parrish has a nice insight piece on how mid-major programs strategize recruiting against the big boys on the summer circuit. 
  • Not quite the SEC deal, but get ready to see more WAC basketball on ESPN beginning next year
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PAN shAM Team Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on July 31st, 2007

As we mentioned yesterday, Team USA’s Pan Am squad got off the plane in Rio and promptly found itself down 0-2 with losses to Uruguay and Panama, which effectively ended any chance for a medal at the tournament. Let’s say that again – Uruguay… and… Panama. If you thought losing to Serbia was bad… Uruguay? This small nation of 3.3M people stuck somewhere in South America between Brazil and Argentina is best known in hoops circles for putting only one player in its history, Ernesto Batista (Atlanta Hawks), into the NBA. As for losing to Panama, what else can be said? They’re known for a corrupt former dictator and an important canal – not exactly backdoor cuts and alley-oops.


This is All We Care to Know About Uruguay

At least Team USA rallied to win their next three games vs. Argentina, the US Virgin Islands and Panama (revenge is ours, Noriega!) to take 5th place at the tournament. (FYI – Brazil was the champion.) The more things change, the more they stay the same… Sigh… Doug Gottlieb writes today that “we stink” when it comes to international basketball, and he’s absolutely, positively, most definitely and completely right on that count:

We are Team USA, and we can not win the gold in any competition. The Pan Am team has not won gold since 1983. The Under-19 team has not won gold since 1991. The men’s national team has not won the world championship since 1994. The last Olympics gold came in 2000. We are the standard bearers for hoops across the globe, but in comparing our own image of how good we are to our overall performance, we stink.

He blames our international woes on the different styles of play and officiating, and no doubt that explains some of it. But from the non-player side of things, we still believe that our AAU-bred emphasis on 1-on-1 play over basic fundamentals such as passing, shooting and help defense is a more significant factor. When we were winning every international competition 20+ years ago, we were still more athletic than everyone else – that part hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the world has gotten significantly better (obviously), but more importantly, the US players have not. More athletic – definitely. More talented at one-and-one play – assuredly. More talented at team basketball – not even close. As Gottlieb suggests and we agree, this problem isn’t going away.

Doug Gottlieb

Gottlieb is a Doppelganger for an Intl. Hoopster

With that tirade over, we wanted to take a moment to look at the stats from the players on this Pan Am team to get some idea of whether any might have breakout seasons in college next year.

Pan Am Stats 3

According to the numbers and coach Jay Wright:

  • DJ White (Indiana) was the class of this team, nearly averaging a dub-dub, shooting 59% and leading the team in steals in only 24 minutes per game. If Eric Gordon is worth half of his hype next year, IU could really turn some heads in the Big Ten and nationally.
  • Wright slurped Roy Hibbert (Georgetown) for his mobility, but we were a little surprised he only managed eight blocks in five games.
  • And what the hell happened to Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)? We could be looking at a second coming of the Human Cannon (aka Dion Glover) here – 21% (8-37 FG; 4-19 3FG) shooting and a boatload of turnovers to boot. Memo to Reynolds – you had a nice freshman year, but just b/c the coach of your school coaches the team does not mean you have the green light on every possession.
  • Speaking of shooting, Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.) and Shan Foster (Vanderbilt) both shot poorly in the tournament, which is unsurprising considering neither is a pure shooter.
  • A pair of Pac-10 players, Derrick Low (Washington St.) and Maarty Leunen (Oregon) seemed to act as solid versatile “glue guys” that are so important for any team, according to Wright.
  • Joey Dorsey (Memphis) made a name for himself when he called out a Uruguayan center named Gregorio Odento and was summarily dunked on (or maybe we’re getting that confused with something else).
  • Guards Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Eric Maynor (VCU) both got hurt early, so we never really got to see what they could do.

DJ White

DJ White Ponders His Senior Year

All in all, it sounds like another uninspiring performance from Team USA. We’re definitely going to be keeping a closer eye on DJ White this upcoming season, though.

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Monday Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on July 30th, 2007

A few different thoughts today, but none enough for its own post:

  • Circling back to the Donaghy saga, TrueHoop uncovered an academic paper on the NBA by a Stanford undergrad  named Jonathan Gibbs that echoes the findings of the Wharton study on college basketball by Prof. Justin Wolfers that we mentioned last week.  In summary, Gibbs found that there are a number of statistical outlier NBA games each season where heavy favorites beat the spread less often than they should, which, when controlled for confounding factors, is suggestive of pointshaving.  This certainly comports with our prior stance that it happens more often than we all think.  It seems that the only way to truly combat this problem is for the NBA and college conferences to use rigorous statistical analyses such as these to isolate anamolous game performances with respect to the spread (something that neither is likely doing at present), and then systemically review the games isolated for any funny business on the part of the players and/or officials.  Freakonomics at work, baby!
  • As the Wake Forest Nation continues to mourn the tragic loss of Skip Prosser, preparations are being made to say goodbye:
    • A public viewing will be held on Monday, July 30 from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church in Clemmons, N.C.
    • The funeral mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31 at Holy Family Catholic Church.  The mass will be simultaneously televised in Wait Chapel. Members of the Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem communities are invited to view the mass live in Wait Chapel.
    • The Wake Forest assistant coaching staff will serve as pallbearers. The current and incoming members of the Demon Deacon basketball team will serve as honorary pallbearers.
    • Burial is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 4 in Cincinnati.    
  • Finally, we’d also like to point out that the US Pan Am Team lost its first two games at the competition in Rio de Janeiro and was out of medal contention pretty much as soon as they stepped off the plane.  We’ll have a more detailed report later with respect to who played well and who didn’t, but for now, suffice it to say that fifth place with our best collegians is simply unacceptable and indicative of a much larger problem with USA hoops, as we discussed here.   
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07.03.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2007

Quite a bit of stuff we’ve missed over the past week or so… 

  • Iowa transfer and Tennessee native Tyler Smith will be eligible to play at UT next season, as his appeal was approved by the NCAA.  UT just moved into our Top 5 for 2007-08.   
  • Florida guard Brandon Powell‘s arrest for possession of a little ganja results in a transfer – expect to see him at Oklahoma St. or WVU next year.
  • Cliff Ellis resurfaces at Coastal Carolina – we guess there are worse places than Conway, South Carolina
  • Apparently the NCAA will revisit its recently-enacted text messaging ban after 34 schools asked for a review.   
  • Indiana will tear down Assembly Hall (the House that Knight built) and Auburn will tear down Beard-Eaves Coliseum (the House that…  um…  Barkley?  The Rifleman?  built?) in favor of new barns. 
  • New Mexico St. coach Reggie Theus alighted for the Sacto Queens and the golden opportunity to coach Spencer Hawes, opening the door for Louisville assistant coach Marvin Menzies to take over in Las Cruces.  Former UK & Celtic favorite and longtime crooner Walter McCarty will take the open position on Pitino’s staff.   
  • John Hollinger at (Insider, but if you look around you can find it copied/pasted elsewhere) has a tremendous article on evaluating college players before the draft. 
  • It’s never too early.  Chad Ford’s Top 10 for the 2008 Draft.  While we’re at it, here’s the projected mocks on (2008 and 2009).     
  • Seth Davis has an interesting piece on the Under-19 USA team.  Looking at Sunday night’s box score – Stephen Curry continues to impress. 
  • UK has signed just about everyone lately, as Billy Gillispie has the Wildcat fans giddy over his recruiting prowess during his first three months on the job.  Oh, and he hasn’t found a place to live yet (has he looked?). 
  • Duke Dorks feigning comedy.  Jon Scheyer acting walking around campus with a camera nearby. 
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