Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2012

  1. It wouldn’t be the Morning Five without a John Calipari mention, as the sport’s biggest newsmaker spins the media like a top with his almost-daily appearances, interviews, and social media missives. Yesterday on his website the Kentucky head coach wrote that his new scheduling strategy — pushing for more neutral site appearances against marquee opponents — will result in a one-year hiatus in the Kentucky-North Carolina series, but the home-and-home battle between two of the best programs in the country will return in 2013-14. The purpose of this move according to Calipari is to alternate years where the Wildcats will have to travel to Chapel Hill and Louisville, meaning that UK will play at least one tough non-conference road game each year. The Wildcats have also picked up a home/neutral series with Baylor starting next season that will allow them to play in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14, the site of that year’s Final Four. Perhaps most interestingly, though, is that Calipari says that he’s in negotiations with Duke to begin an annual rotating neutral site game that he says would be on the same weekend each year and become “THE GAME” to watch. We certainly can’t argue with that.
  2.  What we can argue with was a curious comment that Calipari made in his post explaining why he’s so gung ho on scheduling future neutral site games in football stadiums: “I’m convinced we would have won the title two seasons ago if we would have played in a dome during the regular season. Our guys weren’t prepared for it.” At first blush, this sounds reasonable on its face. But closer examination suggests that the head coach is tailoring the facts of his argument to justify what he wants. First of all, the Wildcats lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight in Syracuse in 2010, which means of course that they had to win a Sweet Sixteen game in the Carrier Dome two days prior — on the same floor, in the same dome, only against a different team (Cornell). Did John Wall and company forget what they’d learned about playing in a dome environment just 48 hours before the loss to WVU? Next, the 2012 team that just won the national championship in the Superdome didn’t play in a dome environment at all in this year’s regular season or in the SEC Tournament. Still, without that ‘necessary’ experience, the Wildcats successively rolled through Indiana, Baylor, Louisville and Kansas to win it all. All in domes. If Calipari wants to play the lack of experience card to forgive the failure of the 2010 Wildcats, he probably should be looking at the ridiculously soft schedule that his Wildcats ran through on its way to a 35-3 record that year. When both teams matched up in the Elite Eight, the Mountaineers were by far the best team UK had faced all season. Kentucky’s lack of experience in playing good teams was the problem; it wasn’t that they hadn’t played in a dome. [Ed. Note: It is unclear which team Calipari was referring to, but the 2010 team was a far superior team if he was talking about winning a national championship.]
  3. From a coach spewing nonsense to players doing likewise… Deadspin published a really interesting piece on Thursday examining in great detail documents from the cottage industry of companies who are tasked with monitoring college athletes’ social networking accounts. The article describes how it works: First, the schools get access to each player’s account through a special tracking mechanism that scans their pages regularly. Then, “once the computers gather all that data, the firms’ software searches it for trigger words and reports back to coaches and athletic department functionaries. This happens in near real-time.” It wouldn’t be Deadspin-worthy unless the examples were equal parts hilarious and horrifying, so we’d just suggest you set aside a few minutes of your time and get over there to poke around. Of particular interest is one company’s documentation and definition of many of the most common trigger words and phrases that could get players in trouble. Let’s just end this by saying that if you’re over 30 years old, you’re probably going to learn a few new slang words or acronyms to test on your buddies during the long weekend.
  4. More conference realignment! And it doesn’t involve yet another rumor about Florida State, Clemson or Miami. No, UT-Arlington, a Southland school who is (we’re not kidding) joining the WAC on July 1, will spend one year in that league before movin’ on up to the Sun Belt, effective next summer. You read that correctly — in a span of 366 days (from June 30, 2012 to July 1, 2013), UT-Arlington will be a member of three different conferences. At the mid-major level, it’s just short of impossible to keep up with who is heading where, but we think that the Sun Belt will also pick up Georgia State and Texas State to replace the losses of FIU, Denver, and North Texas to the WAC and Conference USA. Whether the WAC survives all of this re-shuffling remains to be seen.
  5. A couple of head coaching positions at the mid-major level were filled on Thursday, with Rider and Binghamton inextricably connected through the transition. Binghamton hired Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey to take over for Mark Macon, a former star player at Temple who was unable to dig out of the morass left by his predecessor, Kevin Broadus. Rider acted quickly to fill the vacuum, promoting assistant coach Kevin Baggett to the helm for purposes of continuity. Rider has averaged 18.5 wins per season in the six years that Baggett was an assistant for Dempsey, so it makes sense that the administration wants to keep the momentum moving forward.
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The Other 26: Bracketbuster Preview and Analysis

Posted by IRenko on January 31st, 2012

I. Renko is an RTC columnist. You can normally find him kicking off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on twitter @IRenkoHoops.

In this special mid-week edition of The Other 26, we take a look at all of the premier (read: televised) Bracketbuster matchups that were announced on Monday and offer a guide to the uninitiated on what to watch for. The annual mid-major hoops feast typically offers a host of compelling contests, and this year is no different. In roughly descending order of interest/excitement:

Main Event — St. Mary’s at Murray State (2/18, 6 PM, ESPN or ESPN2) — I was hoping we would get a double main event with St. Mary’s at Creighton and Wichita State at Murray State. Perhaps the Bracketbuster selection committee didn’t rate Wichita State that highly or was intent on giving the undefeated Racers a ranked opponent against whom they could prove their quality. So they sent top 20, 21-2 St. Mary’s to Murray, Kentucky, to set up the undisputed headliner of this year’s Bracketbuster event. Murray State will have a clear advantage from playing at home, but apart from that, this looks like a very close matchup. Offensively, both teams rely heavily on the two lines — the three-point line and the free throw line. Defensively, both teams are pretty good at not giving up many attempts from either of those lines, with the notable exception of Murray State’s tendency to foul too much. Both teams are also somewhat turnover prone, but only the Racers play the kind of defense that is likely to exploit such a weakness. Finally, the Gaels may look to get easy points off of the offensive glass, as defensive rebounding is a liability for Murray State. Which, if any, of these games within the game will determine the outcome? Only one way to find out:  tune in at 6 PM on February 18.

Can St. Mary's End Murray State's Undefeated Season?

Battle of the Supporting Casts — Long Beach State at Creighton (2/18, 10 PM, ESPN2) – Most eyeballs will be trained to watch Casper Ware and Doug McDermott, two of mid-major hoops’ most recognizable players. But I hope that fans will also tune in to get a glimpse of the extent to which these conference-leading teams depends on their supporting casts. LBSU has three other players who average in double figures — Larry Anderson (who also stuffs the stat sheet with 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, while shooting 44% from three-point range), T.J. Robinson (who adds 10.2 rebounds a game), and James Ennis. Creighton, meanwhile, has discovered that they can be just as potent, maybe even moreso, when McDermott scores less than 20 a game. Antoine Young’s dribble penetration, Greg Echinique’s inside banging, and the marksmanship of Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat make the Bluejays a much more multi-dimensional team than they’re often portrayed to be. It’s worth noting, too, that each of these teams will be trying to bolster their at-large bona fides in the event that they don’t win their conference tournaments — an especially distinct possibility for Creighton, who will have to get through three games in the always tough MVC to cinch an auto bid.

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Checking In On… the Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2011

Zach Birdsong is the RTC Correspondent for the Southland Conference. You can also find his musings online at houstonianonline.com or on twitter @zachbird_nerd.

Readers Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Pat Knight Era Begins at Lamar: The Pat Knight era at Lamar University began in earnest last Friday as the Cardinals took on Arkansas State in their home opener. Knight and the Cardinals picked up the win, 65-62, as Brandon Davis led all scorers in the game with 17 points for the game. Devon Lamb also contributed 13 points and picked up 15 rebounds. After that, the team traveled and lost to #8 Louisville, 68-48. Knight and his team endured its first loss of the season. Despite the score, Lamar was able to hang with Louisville for awhile before Rick Pitino’s team took control of the game. Two days later the team fell in their second consecutive game at Ohio in overtime, 85-78, but followed that up with an 18-point pasting of Charlotte on Saturday night.

Pat Knight Takes Over at Lamar

  • Sam Houston A Growing Team:  Last season, the Bearkats won the Southland Conference West Division. However, they lost numerous players including Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell.  This season, Sam Houston has just three returning players, including one starter (Antuan Bootle), so SHSU is still looking to find its identity. In the season opener, the team beat Howard Payne, 76-42, and shot the ball at 40% from the field and 12.5% from three-point range. In the second game of the season, the team traveled to South Bend, dropping a 74-41 game to Notre Dame. SHSU had trouble shooting, with a clip of just 34% from the field, faring even worse from the perimeter. Overall, the young team is shooting 37.2% from the field and 16.1% from beyond the arc. They have also turned the ball over 33 times in two games as they struggle to find consistency.
  • Southland Schools Battle Power Conference Squads: Four schools in the Southland Conference battled teams from the Big 12 and Big East. Last Friday, Texas A&M-CC lost to Oklahoma State; then, on Sunday, November 13, Lamar traveled to Louisville and lost, followed by a game on  Wednesday, November 16, where Sam Houston State traveled to Notre Dame while UTSA lost a heartbreaker to Oklahoma State. Despite not having their leading scorer, Melvin Johnson III, who was serving his second game of suspension for violating team rules, UTSA built a lead before a miracle sequence from Cezar Guerrero eventually sunk the Roadrunners.

Power Rankings

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Preseason Bracketology: 10.28.11 Edition

Posted by zhayes9 on October 28th, 2011

Zach Hayes is RTC’s official bracketologist.  He will periodically put together his latest bracket projections throughout the season.  Tell him where you agree or disagree @zhayes9 on Twitter.

  • Last Four In: Drexel, Illinois, Kansas State, Notre Dame.
  • First Four Out: Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Oregon, Minnesota.
  • Next Four Out: Northwestern, BYU, Princeton, Oklahoma State.

Click to Enlarge Bracket

Notes

  • This was the most clear-cut foursome for the top line that I can recall during any previous preseason bracket and all four deserve to be anointed Final Four teams here in October.
  • Maybe a bit of a surprise in both instances, but I’m taking Texas A&M and California to win their respective leagues. Maybe their talent level is not up to par with the likes of Kansas and UCLA, but I like their stability, coaching and players like Khris Middleton and Allen Crabbe are primed to explode.
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Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 26th, 2011

  1. The big news of the day came in the world of conference realignment as Oral Roberts announced that it would be leaving the Summit League and moving to the Southland Conference next year. The move is big for the Southland Conference because the addition brings it back to 10 teams after three schools (Texas State, UT-Arlington, and UT-San Antonio) announced that they would be moving to the WAC next year. The Golden Eagles should be one of the better basketball teams in the Southland as the move will be a major step down in terms of the quality of basketball played in the conference even before those three teams left the conference.
  2. Oh, you were expecting the “other” conference realignment news to lead off today? I guess we will get to that too. Yesterday, an anonymous source reported that the Big 12 was set to offer West Virginia an opportunity to join the conference when Missouri completes their move to the SEC, a move that has not become official yet, but seems to be a near certainty. Before the past few months we would have looked down on this move by West Virginia from a basketball perspective because the Big East was a much better basketball conference, but the way things are going we are not even sure if the Big East will exist in a recognizable form in five years.
  3. One team that appears to be staying in the Big East for now is defending national champion Connecticut. As we mentioned yesterday, the Huskies appeared to have trouble headed their way with a potential (ridiculous) ruling by the NCAA related to APR scores that turned out to be a miscommunication by the NCAA. While the Huskies avoided the NCAA’s wrath for now they need to step it up because their graduation rate of 25% is appalling especially when compared to the increased graduation rate nationwide where 82% of all student-athletes and 68% of men’s basketball players graduate. The full data set is available here and is pretty interesting if you have the time to browse through it.
  4. DaJuan Coleman decided to stay close to home for college as he committed to Syracuse yesterday in a press conference at his high school. Coleman opted to play for the Orange over Kentucky and Ohio State. Although Coleman listed those three schools as his finalists it was pretty clear to most observers that he was staying home as he went to Big Blue Madness then Syracuse this weekend at which point he called the press conference and never even went on an official visit to Columbus. In a move that is symbolic for the current state of college sports Syracuse celebrated his commitment by announcing it on two of their official Twitter accounts, which is a secondary violation (the tweets were deleted before any screencaps were taken).
  5. ESPN’s Diamond Leung had a nice feature story on College of Charleston freshman Adjehi Baru and the path he took to become a Division I basketball player from the Ivory Coast. Last year, Baru shocked many observers when he chose Charleston over several other higher-profile programs including North Carolina, but from Leung’s piece it seems like Baru felt a connection with the program and Bobby Cremins. We are sure that Baru’s story will be told many times over the next few years and he should be featured prominently on this year’s telecasts as he could play a significant role for a team that will be adjusting to life after Andrew Goudelock although the team does return a solid supporting cast.
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RTC Conference Primers: #28 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 6th, 2011

Zach Birdsong of The Houstonian is the RTC correspondent for Southland Conference. You can find him on Twitter at @zachbird_nerd

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • McNeese State Returns Championship Squad: Last season, the McNeese State Cowboys finished conference play with an 11-5 record. That was enough to claim the regular season league title, but the team was knocked out of the conference tournament by UT-San Antonio. McNeese returns eight players from last year’s team, though, including team MVP and All-Southland Conference forward Patrick Richard. With an experienced team, the Cowboys are hoping to break through to win the conference tournament and get to the Big Dance for the first time in ten years.
  • A Knight In Sight: Pat Knight, son of legendary head coach Bobby Knight, was signed as Lamar‘s new head coach. After being fired from Texas Tech back in March, the Cardinals signed him to take over the program in April. With a new setting and bringing his Big 12 experience to the Southland, it will be interesting to see if Knight can improve on last season’s disappointing 7-9 finish.
  • Bearkats Move On Without ClavellSam Houston State will be without star forward and Southland Conference Player of the Year Gilberto Clavell, as he graduated in May. Clavell averaged 19.5 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game last season. Head coach Jason Hooten will be bringing in a younger team as he looks to limit any slippage as a result of Clavell’s departure.

Pat Knight Is Ready To Lean In For His First Season At The Helm Of Lamar's Program.

Predicted Order of Finish

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Morning Five: 01.03.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 3rd, 2011

Welcome to yet another year of our world famous Morning Five. We hope all of you had a happy and safe New Year’s and we hope that the new year is filled with plenty of good basketball.

  1. Most of the nation was focused on the Northeast over the past week for their annual heavy snowfall, which led to the postponement of several college basketball games, but it appears that the rest of the country was not spared as the awful weather was also a factor in the Midwest. A blizzard in the Midwest led Nebraska and North Dakota to postpone their game that was supposed to be played last night until tonight. It is worth noting that while the men postponed their game due to inclement weather the women played on. [Ed. Note: We are assuming the difference was due to issues related to travel.]
  2. DeAndre Daniels is one of the few remaining highly rated players in this year’s class (ranked 9th overall by Rivals and 35th by Scout) who has not committed to a school yet, but that decision may be coming very soon. According to sources, Daniels is expected to announce today or tomorrow where he intends on enrolling this semester although he will not join a team until this coming fall. Daniels is reportedly deciding between Kentucky, Texas, Kansas, and Oregon.
  3. The people in Lawrence seem to be making a big deal out of Bill Self disciplining Marcus Morris after his ejection against Cal by having him be the 10th man off the bench against UT-Arlington, but we don’t see what the big deal is. Yes, it is nice that Self is imposing some form of discipline for what Morris did, but does anybody actually think that Self would do something like this for a game that was actually in doubt? We applaud Self for taking a stand here, but we wouldn’t make too much of it until he decides to hold out a player in a game that is more meaningful (not that he had the opportunity based on when the actions happened). Could you see Self doing this for the Kansas State game?
  4. Some of you may remember that last year Roy Williams had a heckler thrown out of a game at UNC. Well the referee at the Memphis-Tennessee State game may have topped that yesterday when he had security take a female Memphis booster out of the game in the last minute of play after she taunted a Tennessee State player right after he knocked down a Memphis player late in the game. We aren’t sure where all of you stand on fan behavior at games, but throwing out the wife of a prominent booster probably isn’t the best way for referee Mark Whitehead to get called back to officiate games at Memphis any time soon.
  5. Finally, you have probably read quite a few 2011 prediction columns in the past few days, but we haven’t seen many with as much insight as Jay Bilas had in his column discussing six overlooked teams. We have to agree with him on each of the six and find it amazing that so many people are overlooking them at this point in the season, even though everybody will be banging their heads against a table as they fill out their brackets in March when they forget about what these teams have done recently.
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Around The Blogosphere: December 30, 2010

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2010


If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #3 Kansas 82, UT-Arlington 57: “Sometimes the best thing you can do after a week off filled with a little extra turkey and egg nog is go out and take on a team that you can beat on talent alone.  That’s what the Jayhawks did on Wednesday night and that’s about all they probably could have handled through the first 25 minutes. In a game that saw an all new starting lineup, a choppy rotation and sluggish defense, the Jayhawks managed to hit a bit of a stride through stretches of the final 15 minutes allowing Kansas to pull away and get a victory over a Maverick basketball team that quite frankly isn’t very good.” (Rock Chalk Talk with a recap and Bill Self after the game)
  • #16 Notre Dame 69, #8 Georgetown 55: The Irish picked up their biggest victory of the year behind a great shooting night from Tim Abromaitis and solid team defense. Austin Freeman put up 21 points for the Hoyas, but it wasn’t enough. (Casual Hoya or Rakes of Mallow)
  • #22 Vanderbilt 77, Marquette 76: In one of the more entertaining games of the season Marquette came up just short and there were plenty of questions about the officiating after a late no-call. (Anonymous Eagle and Cracked Sidewalks)

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 19th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

A Look Back

  • Puzzling Player: Stephen F. Austin senior Eddie Williams was selected as a preseason first-team Southland Conference pick, but the 6’2 guard is having a down year thus far. Williams is averaging only seven points and three rebounds after putting up 13 points and six boards a year ago. His shooting percentage is down nearly 16 points from last year – 51.5% last year compared to 35.9% this season.
  • Roadrunner from Australia: Texas-San Antonio freshman Jeromie Hill, from Cairns, Australia, is making an early case for Newcomer of the Year. Hill has scored in double figures in all but one game and is averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. His best game came against Evansville, when he tallied 27 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Two players who were going to be counted on by their teams have stepped up their beyond expectations this year. Texas State senior guard Tony Bishop has scored in double figures in all eight games this year after hitting double figures only 10 times last year. The 6’6 forward is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds, compared to seven points and five boards last year. Demond Watt, a 6’8 forward for the Islanders, could challenge for player of the year honors if he keeps up his current pace. Watt is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds and is the only Texas A&M-CC player scoring in double figures.
  • Player of the Week – UTSA junior forward Stephen Franklin earned the award after going for 18 points and nine rebounds in a five-point loss to the University of Houston. Players named as honorable mention for the award include David Ndoumba (SELA), Patrick Richard (McNeese), Gilberto Clavell (SHSU) and Jereal Scott (SFA).

Power Rankings

  1. Stephen F. Austin (6-2) – The Lumberjacks’ only two losses have come at the hands of Big 12 members Texas A&M and Texas Tech. SFA could be 10-2 heading into Southland Conference play with the biggest challenge coming December 20 at UTEP.
  2. UTSA (6-2) – The Roadrunners have played a pretty good non-conference schedule and could be sitting at 8-0, but fell on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside. They open SLC play at home against Sam Houston State.
  3. Sam Houston State (5-3) – The Bearkats fell from the top spot of the power rankings, but their losses have come at the hands of the University of Texas, the University of Houston and Cleveland State. Gilberto Clavell leads the team with 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds.
  4. Northwestern State (7-3) – The Demons have won six of their last seven games with the three losses coming against LSU, Memphis and Indiana. Will Pratt (17.5 PPG) and Devon Baker (15.7 PPG) lead NW State in scoring.
  5. McNeese State (6-4) – The Cowboys have three players in double figures and will have a big best right before conference play starts when they face No. 25 Texas A&M in College Station.
  6. Nicholls State (5-4) – As senior forward Anatoly Bose goes, so go the Colonels, but at times, even Bose can’t do enough. Bose is averaging 25 points a game and has topped 30 points twice. Fred Hunter provides help with 15 points a game.
  7. Southeastern Louisiana (5-3) – The Lions face two SEC teams before conference play begins. SELA hits the road to play Vanderbilt and Mississippi before opening up at home versus SFA. Senior Trent Hutchins paces the squad with 16.6 points per contest.
  8. UT-Arlington (5-3) – After four wins in a row, the Mavericks have fallen twice to North Texas and Samford, respectively. Freshman Darius Richardson was a heralded recruit coming out of Fort Bend Bush High School, and he is living up to the status, averaging 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his first go-round.
  9. Lamar (5-4) – The Cardinals played Texas tough before going down 76-55, then had Rice down by ten at halftime before losing, 75-73. Is Lamar close to tunring the corner? Senior guard Kendrick Harris paces the team in scoring at 12.8 points a clip.
  10. Texas A&M-CC (3-6) – The tough schedule continues for the Islanders as they face Houston, Memphis and Texas Tech before conference begins. They have defeated only one Division-I opponent in Bethune Cookman.
  11. Central Arkansas (3-7) – The Bears have beaten only one Division I foe in Chicago State and have #13 Missouri and Oklahoma on tap. Their leading scorer, Chris Henson, averages a paltry ten points per game.
  12. Texas State (2-6) – A preseason full of hope has turned ugly thus far. The Bobcats have lost five straight, including a 14-point defeat at home to Texas Southern. Senior Cameron Johnson is a preseason all-SLC pick, but is having a hard time staying on the court. The 6’7 forward is only playing 19 minutes a game and has fouled out of two contests and picked up four fouls in two more games.

A Look Ahead

The Southland Conference slate begins in three weeks on January 8 with a full allotment of games. In the meantime, SLC schools will play the likes of Missouri, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Ole Miss, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

A Look Back

  • Off to Greener Pastures: The University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State were offered and accepted membership on Nov. 11, 2010 into the Western Athletic Conference beginning in 2012.
  • Suprise addition: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi received news before the season that guard Garland Judkins would be eligible to play this season. The 6’4 junior left Arizona in January, but was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA after his father’s death. Judkins is averaging 6.4 points per game.
  • Top This Schedule: Southland Conference men’s basketball teams have played a murderous schedule thus far. Opponents to date include: Houston, LSU (twice), Washington, Oregon State, Texas A&M (twice), Oklahoma State (twice), Memphis, UNLV, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas (twice), Miami and Indiana.
  • Players of the Week: Anatoly Bose, Nicholls State – The senior from Sydney, Australia, averaged 29 points in four games to grab Week 1 honors. His performances included a 28-point performance against LSU and a 37-point outburst against Oklahoma State (twice). Bose nailed five 3-pointers against OSU, which is one short of his career best.
  • Sam Houston State senior Gilberto Clavell earned Week 2 honors by posting a season-high 29 points to lead the Bearkats past Colorado State 92-81.

Power Rankings

  1. Sam Houston State (4-1) – Last year’s SLC representative in the NCAA Tournament hasn’t done much to hurt its reputation, but doesn’t exactly look like world beaters either. SHSU came back from a big halftime deficit to blast Colorado State, but looked terrible in a 34-point loss to Texas. Until the Bearkats fall off the wagon and lose a couple of games, it’s likely they will stay atop the power rankings. Gilberto Clavell is still a monster down low, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds.
  2. Stephen F. Austin (4-2) – The Lumberjacks are right on SHSU’s heels, especially after giving Texas A&M all it could handle this week in a 62-53 loss. Both Jereal Scott and Jordan Glynn lead SFA in scoring at 13.8 PPG, while Denzel Barnes is doing a nice job running the team. The Jacks will need senior guard Eddie Williams to step up his play as he is averaging 6.5 points this year compared to 13.3 last year.
  3. Nicholls State (3-2) – The Colonels have played a tough schedule thus far and have done well against the big boys. Anatoly Bose, arguably the league’s best player, is averaging 27.4 points and hit for 28 in a 62-53 win over LSU. NSU’s two losses have come at the hands of Oklahoma State and Houston.
  4. Southeastern Louisiana (4-1) – The Lions lost post Patrick Sullivan to the NBA D-League, but senior guard Trent Hutchin has helped ease that loss by averaging 20.7 ppg. SELA’s non-conference schedule thus far leaves a little to be desired, but they have won the games they were supposed to win.
  5. Northwestern State (5-3) – Just like most of the other top teams in the conference, the Demons have lost to the top teams in the country and taken wins from schools in lower classifications. Both Will Pratt (19.1) and Devon Baker (15.9) have pushed their scoring averages up from a year ago. Freshman guard Gary Stewart has been a nice surprise as NW State’s third-leading scorer.
  6. UTSA (4-2) – The Roadrunners have two veterans and one newcomer who look like they’ll carry the load this year. Senior Devin Gibson (16 PPG), sophomore Melvin Johnson III (14.7) and true freshman Jeromie Hill (14.2) have paced UTSA so far. The Roadrunners have traveled far and wide to collect their two losses – on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside.
  7. UT-Arlington (5-2) – Despite a nice non-conference record, the Mavericks have played a poor schedule. They have four wins over NAIA schools and have losses to Oregon State and North Texas. LaMarcus Reed II has pushed his scoring average up almost nine points from a year ago to 17 PPG. The Mavericks are a young team with only one senior and four juniors on the roster.
  8. Lamar (4-3) – It may take some time for the Cardinals to mesh as they have 11 new players on the roster, including seven JuCo transfers. Lamar has played four of its seven games on the road and played #19 Texas tough before bowing by 21 points. Senior Kendrick Harris leads the team with 12.4 points per game.
  9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-5) – The Islanders have played one of the toughest schedules in the conference to date, including three teams from the Big 12. Senior forward Demond Watt has been a monster on the glass with four double-figure games to go with 16.7 points a game. TAMU-CC will have to get more production from 6’9 senior forward Justin Reynolds (8.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG) if they want to make a push when conference play begins.
  10. McNeese State (3-3) – The Cowboys’ top two scorers (Diego Kapelan and Patrick Richard) from a year ago return and they will have to keep producing for any hope of a winning season. MSU came back from a 43-25 halftime deficit to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette on December 1, and Cowboy fans hope that comeback will be a sign of things to come.
  11. Texas State (2-3) – Prognosticators picked Texas State to be one of the surprise teams in the SLC this year, but an influx of transfers haven’t jelled yet. The Bobcats have played only one game on the road, and lost by one point at home to NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake. While senior Tony Bishop has been a nice surprise by improving his scoring by seven points a game and rebounding by six per game, preseason all-SLC pick Cameron Johnson is down in scoring and rebounding.
  12. Central Arkansas (2-4) – Two wins over NAIA schools and two fairly close losses to SMU and Oklahoma State won’t get the Bears out of the power rankings cellar. Imad Qahwash has become the go-to guy (13.7 PPG) despite only averaging six points last year, but the biggest surprise has been Chris Henson’s 12.5 points so far versus 1.5 last season.

A Look Ahead

  • The next two weeks will be more of the same for SLC teams as they will face Marquette, Wichita State, Mississippi State, Texas, LSU, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
  • Conference play begins in just more than a month on January 8, and in the meantime, several Southland Conference schools will try to get freshmen and JuCo transfers on the same page as the veterans on their teams.
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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by rtmsf on February 27th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Current Standings as of Feb. 26, 2010

EAST

  1. Stephen F. Austin 19-7 (9-4)
  2. SE Louisiana 15-11 (7-6)
  3. Northwestern State 10-16 (5-8)
  4. Nicholls State 9-17 (5-8)
  5. McNeese State 9-18 (4-9)
  6. Central Arkansas 8-19 (2-11)

WEST

  1. Sam Houston State 20-6 (12-1)
  2. Texas-Arlington 16-10 (8-5)
  3. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 14-13 (8-5)
  4. UT-San Antonio 17-9 (7-6)
  5. Texas State 12-15 (6-7)
  6. Lamar 14-15 (5-8)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

UTSA guard Devin Gibson was named Southland Conference Player of the Week. The junior from Cy-Falls in Houston averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals as he hit 64.3 percent from the field.

ALMOST TOURNEY TIME

With its victory over McNeese State on Feb. 24, the Sam Houston State Bearkats clinched the top spot in the 2010 State Farm Southland Conference Basketball Tournament in Katy, Texas. SHSU (20-6, 12-1) also earned at least a share of the regular season championship, the school’s third since 2003.

Stephen F. Austin (19-9, 9-4) also punched its ticket to the conference tournament. The Lumberjacks won the regular season championship last year.

If the SLC tournament started today, the seeding would be:

  1. Sam Houston State (12-1)
  2. Stephen F. Austin (9-4)
  3. UT-Arlington (8-5)
  4. A&M-Corpus Christi (8-5)
  5. UTSA (7-6)
  6. Southeastern Louisiana (7-6)
  7. Texas State (6-7)
  8. Northwestern State, Nicholls State or Lamar (5-8)

TEAM UPDATES

EAST

  • SFA – Still battling with a couple of teams to earn the second-place seed for the Southland Tournament. The Lumberjacks have three games remaining – A&M-CC, Central Arkansas and UTSA. The prediction here is that SFA goes 2-1 down the stretch and retains the No. 2 spot for the tourney.
  • SELA – Took a big step toward trying to overtake SFA in the SLC East as they defeated the Lumberjacks on Feb. 20. The Lions have a very manageable schedule with Central Arkansas, McNeese State and Northwestern State left. Look for the Lions to go 3-0 in their last three games to jump past a couple of teams for the fourth seed in the tourney.
  • NORTHWESTERN STATE – Picked up a big win over Lamar on Feb. 20, but the Demons have a tough road ahead of them. NW State faces Texas State, Sam Houston State and SELA, so the prediction here is 1-2 with the Demons on the outside looking in come tournament time.
  • NICHOLLS STATE – Picked up two very important victories last week (Texas State, UCA) which thrust the Colonels into the mix. NSU has two road games this week (McNeese, UTA) then closes with Lamar at home. The prediction is a 2-1 finish and a berth in the tournament.
  • MCNEESE STATE – Has a very slim chance of getting into the tournament, but helped itself with a big win over A&M-CC on Feb. 20. The remaining schedule has Nicholls State, SELA and UCA. The Cowboys will likely go 1-2 which will not be enough to slip into the conference tournament.
  • UCA – Just trying to play out the last three games since its still in an NCAA-mandated transition period and is not eligible for this year’s postseason. But the Bears can play a seeding spoiler with SELA, SFA and McNeese still on tap.

WEST

  • SHSU – With its 20th victory of the year, Sam Houston joins some select company in terms of national statistical categories. SHSU stands as only 1 of 38 teams in the NCAA to have produced 20 wins in four of the last five years. The Bearkats close out the regular season UTA, Northwestern State and Texas State.
  • UTA – The Mavericks are trying to move past SFA into the second seed for the SLC Tournament. UTA has won three straight and gets SHSU, Nicholls and A&M-CC. They could finish 1-2 which would drop them into the fourth or five spot.
  • A&M-CC – Broke a three-game losing streak which dropped them into third in the West. The Islanders have SFA, Lamar and UTA in their last three games. The prediction here is a 1-2 finish and a No. 6 seed for the tournament.
  • UTSA – Put together a four-game winning streak which brought the Roadrunners out of the cellar. UTSA is the only team to defeat SHSU and has Lamar, Texas and Stephen F. Austin for its last three games. It looks like a 2-1 finish, and that would be good enough for a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the tournament.
  • TEXAS STATE – The tide could swing either way for the Bobcats as they have tough three-game stretch to end the season. TSU is on the road against Northwestern State and UTSA, then host Sam Houston. A 1-2 mark could be enough for a berth in the postseason, but 0-3 could spell doom.
  • LAMAR – A four-game losing streak puts the Cardinals in a must-win situation down the stretch, but Lamar must beat two teams ahead of them (UTSA, A&M-CC) and one tied with them (Nicholls State). If the Cardinals don’t finish 2-1 or better then their dreams of a postseason berth are likely down the drain.
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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Current Standings as of Feb. 19, 2010

EAST

  1. Stephen F. Austin 18-6 (8-3)
  2. SE Louisiana 14-10 (6-5)
  3. Northwestern State 9-15 (4-7)
  4. McNeese State 8-17 (3-8)
  5. Nicholls State 7-17 (3-8)
  6. Central Arkansas 8-17 (2-9)

WEST

  1. Sam Houston State 19-5 (11-0)
  2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 13-12 (7-4)
  3. Texas-Arlington 14-10 (6-5)
  4. Texas State 12-13 (6-5)
  5. UT-San Antonio 15-9 (5-6)
  6. Lamar 14-13 (5-6)

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

For the third time this season, Sam Houston State University junior Gilberto Clavell has been named Southland Conference Player of the Week. Clavell averaged 20.5 points per game as the Bearkats moved to 11-0 in conference play. Clavell posted his second 30-point performance of the year as SHSU defeated A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 13.

TEAM UPDATES

EAST

  • SFA – After a two-win week, the Lumberjacks now hold a two-game advantage over second-place Southeastern Louisiana in the SLC East. Those same two teams collide Saturday in Hammond, La., at 3 p.m. SFA then travels to San Marcos to face Texas State on Feb. 24.
  • SELA – Came out with a 1-1 mark last week in SLC play after defeating Nicholls and falling to Texas-Arlington. The Lions are two games behind SFA and two games ahead of third-place Northwestern State in the SLC East. SELA faces the Lumberjacks at home and A&M-CC on the road this week.
  • NORTHWESTERN STATE – Breaking a three-game losing streak, the Demons won twice last week and moved ahead of McNeese State and Nicholls State in the SLC East. NW State bounced both Central Arkansas and McNeese State last week and look to continue its inspired play with games against two teams from the SLC West (Lamar and UTSA).
  • MCNEESE STATE – A four-game losing streak in conference has placed the Cowboys in a tie with Nicholls State at 3-8. Things don’t look too bright for MSU as they face the West’s top two teams in A&M-Corpus Christi (Saturday) and SHSU (Feb. 24).
  • NICHOLLS STATE – The Colonels have two big losing streaks this season, and one of them is in league play. NSU lost eight straight to begin the season and now have a five-game losing streak in SLC play to put them in fifth in the SLC East. Nicholls faces Texas State and Central Arkansas this week.
  • UCA – The Bears picked up an inspiring win over UTSA this past week, then fell to Northwestern State and remained at the bottom of the SLC East standings. UCA has a chance to even its conference record with Nicholls State as the two teams face-off Feb. 24.

WEST

  • SHSU – Disposed of second-place A&M-CC with relative ease 90-74 on Feb. 13 and still have an unblemished conference record. Pesky UTSA is next up for SHSU on Saturday, then the Kats face McNeese in Huntsville.
  • A&M-CC – Fell out of contention for the SLC West title with two losses this last week. The Islanders are 2-4 in their last six conference games. A&M-CC faces two Louisiana schools in McNeese and SELA as they attempt to stay ahead of UTA in the standings.
  • UTA – Jumped a couple of teams in the West standings and have won six of its last seven conference games. The Mavs have two winnable games against Central Arkansas and Lamar as they try to pass the Islanders and jump into second place.
  • TEXAS STATE – The Bobcats are pulling out just enough wins to stay right in the middle of the pack in the strong SLC West. Texas State defeated Lamar by 14 on Feb. 13 to move past the Cardinals. They face Nicholls State and Stephen F. Austin this week.
  • UTSA – Has won three of its last four conference games and moved up a notch in the West with wins over UTA and A&M-Corpus. The Roadrunners battle SHSU and Northwestern State this week – both games are in San Antonio.
  • LAMAR – The Cardinals were riding a wave of wins until fellow West Division members Texas State and SHSU hung them with two losses. Lamar has Northwestern State and Texas-Arlington on its plate this week as it tries to climb out of the cellar.

BOXSCORE BREAKDOWN

  • Stephen F. Austin dominated Northwestern State on the glass in a 69-59 victory on Feb. 10. The Lumberjacks nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as the Demons had total rebounds (28).
  • Northwestern State’s Will Pratt has scored in double figures in 10 straight games, averaging 17.1 points per game over that time period.
  • Despite making only 2 of 12 three-point attempts and shooting 10 less free throws than its opponent, UTA outrebounded Southeastern Louisiana by 13 and came out on top 85-73.
  • Devon Baker scored a season-high 24 points and led Northwestern State to an 82-76 victory over UCA on Feb. 13. Baker has scored in double figures in all but four games and is averaging 13 ppg.
  • SHSU’s Gilberto Clavell scored 30 points against the Islanders as he went 13 of 17 from the field. Clavell is averaging 20.2 points per game over his last five games.
  • McNeese State’s Dontae Cannon is averaging only 3.6 points per game, but on Feb. 13 in a loss to SFA, the freshman from Alexandria scored 10 points in 10 minutes of action.
  • Nicholls State’s Fred Hunter scored a season-high 26 points in a loss to Sam Houston on Feb. 10. Hunter averaged 23.5 points per game this past week.
  • Central Arkansas continues to be a balanced scoring team as four players score in double figures and one sits as 9.3 points per game.
  • Sam Houston sits at 11-0 in SLC action this year with five games to play. Only four teams have ever finished the Southland season undefeated: Abilene Christian 1965; Arkansas State 1966; Louisiana Tech 1971; and Arkansas State 1974.
  • Preston Brown scored a season-high 19 points to lead the Bearkats past Lamar on Feb. 17. This past week, Brown was  named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team 2010 All-District honor squad.
  • UTSA guard Devin Gibson became the 13th player in UTSA history to surpass 1,000 career points. He currently ranks 12th on the Roadrunners’ all-time scoring list.
  • SHSU senior point guard Ashton Mitchell needs only 14 points to hit 1,000 career points for the Bearkats. Mitchell recently surpasses Donald Cole for 21st on SHSU’s all-time list.
  • Marquez Haynes continues to lead the SLC with 23.6 points per game, a figure that ranks third nationally behind Houston’s Aubrey Coleman (25.6) and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody (24.1).
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