Tennessee Blows Golden Opportunity For Resume Enhancers in Loss to UTEP

Posted by David Changas on November 29th, 2013

For Tennessee, the causes for concern following Thursday night’s loss to UTEP are numerous. The Vols showed no ability to run any semblance of an offense against Tim Floyd’s triangle-and-two and box-in-one defense, hitting only 34.9 percent of their shots, including 3-for-21 from three-point range. They allowed the Miners to shoot 58.0 percent on the other end, and played a wholly uninspired game against a Miners team that previously had given no indication it would be able to compete with the team many expect to finish behind Kentucky and Florida in the SEC race. And while Tennessee has a long way to go at this point to even be mentioned in the same breath as the NCAA Tournament, it’s still November, and what may be the most troubling aspect of losing in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis is that it created missed opportunities for two more games against teams certain to be part of the Big Dance.

Cuonzo Martin Missed a Good Opportunity This Weekend (AP/Adam Brimer)

Cuonzo Martin Missed a Good Opportunity This Weekend (AP/Adam Brimer)

With the loss, the Vols fall into the tournament’s losers’ bracket, and Friday will seek to exact revenge against a Xavier team that dealt them a 67-63 loss in the season opener. While Tennessee appeared to be the more talented team in that game, it got virtually no offensive production from forwards Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon (11 combined points), and shot a paltry 7-of-19 from the free throw line. The Vols also let Matt Stainbrook, who led the Musketeers with 15 points and nine rebounds, control the game. Xavier is expected to finish in bottom half of the revamped Big East, and it is coming off a performance in which it blew a 15-point second half lead and lost 77-74 to Iowa in overtime Thursday. The Musketeers could turn out to be a quality opponent Tennessee will now have on its resume twice, but a win against UTEP would have given the Vols games against the Hawkeyes and either Kansas or Villanova, each of which appears to be sure-fire NCAA Tournament teams. Now, after playing the Musketeers, Tennessee will draw either USC or Wake Forest, neither of which is expected to compete for a bid to the Big Dance.

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Feast Week Mission Briefing: USC in the Battle 4 Atlantis

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 28th, 2013

With Feast Week tipping off over the weekend, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Pac-12 teams involved in neutral site events this week. 

What They’ve Done So FarUSC opened its season with one if its toughest non-conference games, a road trip to Logan to face Utah State. Things didn’t go in head coach Andy Enfield‘s debut as the Aggies blitzed the Trojans from the start and got the 78-65 win. Since then, however, USC has won four in a row, including a 14-point victory against regional rival Cal State Fullerton. Junior guard Byron Wesley has shined the brightest in Enfield’s up-tempo offense, averaging 19.8 PPG and grabbing a cool 8.8 RPG.

Enfield And Wesley Are Off To A 4-1 Start In 2013-14 (Los Angeles Times)
Enfield And Wesley Are Off To A 4-1 Start In 2013-14 (Los Angeles Times)

First Round PreviewUSC meets 4-0 Villanova in the first round Thursday morning. The Wildcats have not had an opportunity to get a signature win, but they did dispatch a good Towson squad, 78-44. Five days later, however, they struggled to pull away from a mediocre Delaware team and barely held on for a four-point win. They are led by junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston, who is averaging over 20 PPG. For the Cats to escape the tournament opener, defending the endless list of USC bigs will be key. If they are able to limit their looks inside, Nova should definitely win this one.

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Which Side Of The 1966 Texas Western-Kentucky Rematch Will The Media Focus On?

Posted by nvr1983 on October 24th, 2013

In the past few years, there has been a movement to use games to commemorate significant historic events. One example of this occurred last season when Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis arranged a game between Mississippi State and Loyola (IL) to honor the 1963 NCAA regional semifinal where the Bulldogs traveled beyond state lines in violation of a court order that forbade them from playing a team with African-Americans. While many such games remain in the memory of sports fans, few actually become landmark events that even a casual sports fan can identify. The 1966 National Championship game between Texas Western (now the University of Texas at El-Paso) and Kentucky is one such classic game. So when current UTEP coach Tim Floyd announced yesterday that the two schools hope to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original Brown vs. Board of Education game with a rematch, we were intrigued. The details are still in question, but it is believed that the game will take place in Maryland (the original game was played at Cole Field House in College Park) on Martin Luther King Day, in 2016.

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

Will The Focus Be On Texas Western Or The Rupp Narrative? (Credit: El Paso Times)

For anyone unfamiliar with the story of this game (and didn’t see the 2006 movie chronicling the event, Glory Road), Texas Western, a relative upstart led by fiery young coach Don Haskins, started five African-American players in its lineup. Its opponent in the national championship game, Kentucky, was led by legendary four-time national champion head coach Adolph Rupp, who started five Caucasian players. Texas Western won the game, 72-65, and in so doing set in motion a slow but steady revolution involving race relations in the sport. Some 31 years later, the integration of the game had come so far that Kentucky hired an African-American, Tubby Smith, as its new head coach, and never thought twice about it. Smith, who won his own national title at Kentucky in 1998, is now in the same Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame as Rupp.

The reasons for why this game ultimately took on such significance are complex and numerous, but as anybody who has sat through a high school American history class is aware, the mid-1960s were the height of the activism and tensions of the civil rights era throughout much of the country. This was particularly so in relation to the integration of schools, for which athletics often served as public theater. Over time (and fairly or unfairly), two giants in college athletics — Kentucky’s Rupp and Alabama football head coach Bear Bryant — came to symbolize a tacit but legitimate resistance to athletic integration. Some of the criticism lobbed at both highly successful southern coaches was certainly earned, but to a large degree, it now serves as an easy literary crutch for journalists to discuss the era.

Still, should this event occur in three years, the 50th anniversary rematch between these two schools should serve as an interesting history lesson for those not familiar with the story behind it. We just hope that the lesson that they will take from what would no doubt be a nationally-televised blockbuster game will be a  positive one of inclusiveness and integration, one derived from the spirit of the Texas Western squad and the pioneers who paved the way for them rather than another negative historical narrative built around the misgivings of Rupp.

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SEC M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell on October 24th, 2013

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  1. The hype is so great around Kentucky that it seems newsworthy when someone doesn’t pick the Wildcats to win the SEC. Five voters in the preseason SEC media poll picked Florida to win the league, and one of them was former Wildcats assistant coach Joe Dean Jr. Dean likes Florida’s veteran edge, and anticipates two great games between the teams this season. Kentucky cruised to the SEC regular season crown in 2011-12 with a six-game lead, and Florida won last season with a two-game margin that was never really in doubt. Having both programs at the level they are expected to be at this season should make for a tighter race. This isn’t to say Tennessee, LSU or another school won’t be in contention too. Dean also had an interesting take on the potential risk of John Calipari adding Kentucky high school stars Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis to the class: “When I was there, there was a train of thought with Kentucky high school players that if you were going to bring them to Kentucky, they had to be capable of starting at Kentucky at some point in their career. If they were not, then the fan base in Maysville, Paducah, Danville, Pikeville would be upset because they think those kids are the greatest thing in the world.”
  2. Several national college basketball voices have highlighted the drastic difference in penalties handed out to Frank Haith and Bruce Pearl for what appears to be similar misconduct (lying to NCAA investigators). No one will likely ever know what happened in those respective meetings with the NCAA, and it’s possible Haith’s behavior wasn’t as comparatively bad as Pearl’s. Still, there’s no denying that Haith’s five-game suspension looks golden compared to Pearl’s multi-year show-cause penalty and subsequent absence from the sport. But Haith might not be totally free and clear of this scandal once he returns to the Tigers’ bench. His record at Missouri is excellent but he has yet to win an NCAA tournament game, and the lingering stigma of a #15 seed (Norfolk State) over a #2 seed is hard to escape. Haith is by no means on the hot seat, but if his teams continue to disappoint in postseason play, the Miami scandal could resurface as ammunition for boosters and fans that want him gone.
  3. Jarnell Stokes is taking to heart the feedback he received from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee after last season. “It wasn’t anything like you’re too short to play in the NBA or you just don’t have skills,” Stokes said. “They were basically saying you have to be able to run the floor better and find different ways to score, be able to show you can shoot the ball and improve my overall skills.” DraftExpress has Stokes as a late first round pick in its current 2014 mock draft. Like all coaches who have pro prospects on their teams, Cuonzo Martin faces the difficult situation of allowing his players to showcase the skills and development NBA scouts want to see while keeping with the overall team scheme. This is a fine line coaches must deal with since the statement “I can help get you to the next level” is undoubtedly a common refrain on recruiting visits.
  4. Julian Terrell will return to Vanderbilt to serve as the director of video operations on Kevin Stallings’ staff. Terrell played at Vanderbilt from 2002-06 and was a member of the Commodores’ 2004 Sweet Sixteen team. Since then he’s made numerous stops playing abroad. Kentucky video coordinator Tim Asher said that five SEC schools still don’t have positions dedicated to video operations, instead relegating these duties to graduate assistants. Given its importance to scouting, it seems almost irresponsible to not have a full-time staff member doing this type of work nowadays. One would think teams would want every possible advantage, and video wouldn’t seem to be the philosophical jump advanced metrics is for some coaches. However, this could also represent a budget issue for some schools.
  5. Kentucky and UTEP are set to play at Maryland in 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1966 NCAA championship game between the two schools (UTEP was Texas Western at the time). The 1966 game, also the focus of the 2006 movie Glory Road, was historically significant because Texas Western started five African-American players versus the Wildcats, representing the first all-black team to play in a championship game. If it all works out, the game may even take place on Martin Luther King Day three seasons from now. Kudos to both schools for putting this game together; it’s a well-deserved homage to a college basketball game that transcended the sport. Pat Riley (a Kentucky forward in 1966) is the most famous person to have played in that game, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets involved.
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Morning Five: 07.23.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 23rd, 2013

morning5

  1. We are not quite sure what to make of the Division 4 idea that Dennis Dodd discussed in his column yesterday or how it would affect college basketball, but we are sure that it will be a significant one if it goes through. As much as we love college basketball, we know that college football (or more specifically the money from it) drives college athletics. As Dodd notes college athletics has become segregated into the haves and have-nots. If the haves are able to officially separate themselves they can function in their own sphere and make decisions as a group that they could not make under the NCAA (like paying athletes). We are not sure when this day is coming, but it is probably coming sooner than many people expect.
  2. Yesterday the legal system let P.J. Hairston off the hook for his June arrest, but he may have a much harsher judge waiting at North Carolina and the NCAA (seriously, try to read that with a straight face). After what has been an interesting month to put it mildly Hairston had the misdemeanor marijuana charges against him dropped. The real issue for Hairston becomes how Roy Williams and eventually the NCAA deal with his apparent interaction with Haydn “Fats” Thomas in. Hairston might be able to get by the NCAA given the glacial pace they move, but we have to imagine that Williams would not risk UNC’s season and also 20+ wins on his resume given the chance that Hairston could be declared ineligible at some point.
  3. Over the past few years we have had several coaches become the subject of national ridicule for their decision not to allow a player to transfer to certain schools. It appears that Tim Floyd is about to be the next such coach. Floyd, who developed a reputation for signing players early and managing to get out of the scholarship offers, is denying Isaac Hamilton a release from his National Letter of Intent. Hamilton, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Los Angeles, originally committed to UTEP, but now is looking for a release to play at either USC or UCLA and is reportedly basing his decision on his desire to be closer to his ailing grandmother. Floyd and UTEP are claiming that their reason for denying Hamilton’s release is that one or both of the schools tampered with him and convinced him to back out of his commitment to UTEP. We know all of you are thinking that a few of the details may have changed, but this sounds like a familiar story. At this point the NCAA needs to do something to prevent situations like this from happening. On one hand you have people who have not graduated from high school signing National Letters of Intent without any guidance under the coercion of big universities without fully understanding what they are getting into. On the other side you have coaches and universities who have plenty of tricks (and lawyers) available to get out of any contract they want without much difficulty. The situation is not fair to these teenagers and only serves to punish them for coming from a position of inferior bargaining power.
  4. Big Blue Nation has been accused of being many of things, but never of being disloyal. That could be put to the test with former Wildcat Jeff Sheppard speaking out against Kentucky’s current emperor John Calipari. Sheppard, who won two NCAA titles as a player at Kentucky (1996 and 1998), was speaking the annual UK convention in Franklin, Ohio and spoke out against the one-and-done culture at Kentucky and spoke more fondly of Rick Pitino (his former coach) than Calipari (gasp). Sheppard latter clarified his comments (see the linked article for details) where he clarified his stance. The entire thing is probably overblown, but if there is one thing we can confidently accuse Big Blue Nation of, it is of overreacting.
  5. We always felt that ESPN underutilized Fran Fraschilla in its telecasts, but there are few individuals as informed about the international basketball scene as he is and nobody who is as well-equipped to translate what it means to college basketball. With two major junior international competitions complete, Andy Glockner spoke with Fraschilla about the performance of the US National Teams at these events and how the international pipeline could transform college basketball. It seems clear that the NCAA needs to figure out how to handle these international players coming over here because they are going to be a bigger and bigger influence over time. With the semi-professional status of many of these players who compete on club teams there will inevitably be issues with eligibility. The NCAA will need to address this issue before it becomes too late and it misses out on a generation of players due to something that could have easily been foreseen.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on March 8th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Following Wednesday’s awful loss to the hands of Washington State, UCLA fans are once again calling for head coach Ben Howland‘s job. The fact that UCLA had won four games in a row, including a road win at rival USC and a home sweep of the Arizona schools, not to mention getting back into the top 25 for the first time since November, apparently doesn’t matter to a fan-base that openly dislikes its coach and athletic director. In late December it was revealed that UCLA was leaning toward replacing Howland, but those talks appeared to cool when the Bruins rolled off 10 straight wins. Now that we have reached the time of year where the coaching carousel begins to spin, the question is, how deep does Howland have to take UCLA in the NCAA Tournament to keep his job? Anything further than the Sweet Sixteen would seem to be enough, but with Bruins fans, you never know.
  2. After the reports that USC athletic director Pat Haden met with former Trojans coach and current UTEP head man Tim Floyd earlier in the week, the search continues to heat up. It was revealed yesterday that Haden was now targeting two coaches back east; Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. Jeff Goodman says the Orange’s coach-in-waiting would be a perfect fit for SC, being a California kid that can recruit the Southern California hotbed well. As Goodman notes, the Trojan program has the possibility of being a sleeping giant if the right man is in place. Both Dixon or Hopkins would be ideal fits and have the tools to quickly turn things around in Los Angeles.
  3. The Territorial Cup has long been one of the more intense rivalries in the conference, but it’s not exactly recognized as one on a national level. Arizona State assistant Eric Musselman thinks differently, saying “The passion of both universities makes it really unique. There are only so many rivalries like this one across the United States.” Musselman is in his first season on the bench under Herb Sendek, with his latest coaching stops including stints with the Venezuela national team, Los Angeles D-Fenders, and Reno Bighorns. He picked a good year to get acquainted with the rivalry, as tensions will be high on Saturday with ASU needing a win to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt. As of Thursday night, the Devils are currently in the “Next Four Out” category, according to ESPN Bracketologoist Joe Lunardi.
  4. CougCenter broke down the anatomy of an upset on Thursday, following of course Washington State‘s 12-point victory over UCLA. The key for the Cougars was not settling for shots on the perimeter, and instead working the ball inside to the tune of attempting 45 two-pointers. They made 56% of those twos, and when they did miss, they picked up 62% of the available offensive rebounds. These are numbers that tournament-bound teams put up – good tournament-bound teams – not teams that are on the wrong side of the CBI bubble. But congrats to the Cougs, and who knows, maybe they can continue this type of production and make some noise next week in Vegas.
  5. We close with some important news straight out of Walnut Creek, where the Pac-12 announced yesterday that there would be no additional penalties handed down for Wednesday’s skirmish between California and Stanford. The incident occurr with just over five minutes remaining in the blowout game, and after sorting everything out, six technical fouls were assessed and two players and three assistant coaches were ejected. With Wednesday’s meeting being the final regular season game for both teams, some were worried the altercation would cost the teams later in the Pac-12 Tournament. That turns out not to be the case, and as Adam Butler points out, there is a scenario when we could see these two teams meet again in six days. Now that would be madness.
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Seven Sweet Scoops: Roy Williams Watches Andrew Wiggins, Leron Black Decommits From Baylor…

Posted by CLykins on January 4th, 2013

7sweetscoops

Seven Sweet Scoops  is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will discuss the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which  prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists, and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column  “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at  Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account  @CLykinsBlog  for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.

 Note:  ESPN Recruiting  used for all player rankings.

1. Roy Williams Sees Andrew Wiggins For Third Time

If you’re a fan of North Carolina, you have to be extremely impressed with the amount of attention head coach Roy Williams is showing the No. 1 player in the class of 2013, Andrew Wiggins, as of late. On Thursday, Williams was in Huntington, West Virginia, to watch Wiggins for the third time this season. The recruiting efforts have essentially paid off for the Tar Heels for now, as Wiggins is expected to take a trip to Chapel Hill at the conclusion of his senior season at Huntington Prep (West Virginia). Including North Carolina, who has signed three top-100 prospects from the class of 2013 in Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, and Nate Britt, the 6’8” small forward is also considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Syracuse. He has also already taken his first official visit to Florida State and has plans to also visit Kansas and Kentucky at season’s end.

North Carolina will receive an official visit in the spring from Andrew Wiggins

North Carolina will receive an official visit in the spring from Andrew Wiggins

2. Junior Leron Black Backs Out of Baylor Commitment

For a number of underclassmen, the recruiting process can prove to be exciting for those that feel desired by a number of specific programs, thus leading to a quick and abrupt decision without carefully examining each and every option. Such was the case for Leron Black, the No. 11 overall ranked prospect in the class of 2014, who gave a verbal pledge to Baylor back in September after taking an unofficial visit to the school. On Wednesday, Black announced his intention to re-open his recruitment, citing that he made a rushed decision. John Martin of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal was the first to break the news. Shortly after backing out of his Baylor commitment, the 6’7” small forward out of White Station High School (Tennessee) had already heard from Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Missouri, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Baylor will still remain in the mix; however, the odds will not be in their favor to re-establish a commitment. This time around, Black will be much more patient and disciplined prior to making his final decision, as he will be one of the most highly sought-after juniors in the class due to his great athleticism and ability to finish around the rim. Read the rest of this entry »

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ATB: Crosstown Rivalry Plays Out With Minimal Fuss, The Pitino Family Tilt, and Texas\’ Misfortune…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 20th, 2012

ATB

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

Tonight’s Lede. Normalcy Reigns In One Of College Hoops’ Best Rivalries. The organic hate developed as a historical byproduct of uninterrupted competition is what makes rivalry games hum. Those sentiments spilled out of bounds in last season’s rendition of the Crosstown Shootout, when Xavier and Cincinnati’s annual meeting erupted into a full-out brawl that led to multiple suspensions, a relocation of the series from campus gyms to a neutral site arena and a name change to diffuse violent tensions (Crosstown Classic). The repackaged form of the Crosstown whatever ensued Wednesday night, only without most of the protagonists from last year’s melee, and with each program in a completely different place than it was a year ago. This time around, Cincinnati – owners of the nation’s 6th-rated defense on a per-possession scale, a relentless backcourt trio and an undefeated record – had the upper hand; Xavier is still incorporating a host of young pieces and learning on the fly after losing five starters. The end result was pretty much what you might expect: Xavier mustered enough emotion and pride to hang around for most of the night, but was eventually outlasted by Mick Cronin’s team. The outcome was less important than the event itself. There were no punches thrown, no pre-game radio waves trashtalk, no nonsense in the postgame news conference. It was organically competitive basketball, with all the natural emotions of a rivalry contained to enhance, but not dominate, the actual game being played. The Crosstown Shootout is no more; the refurbished edition isn’t all that much different (the variations are cosmetic, much less inherently structural). And that’s good news.

Your Watercooler Moment. Father-Son Coaching Matchup Highlights Louisville-FIU.

The elder Pitino was all smiles after dispatching son Richard\'s FIU team (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The understudy didn’t have the manpower or the experience to spring the upset on his old man – not when Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals are playing some of the best basketball in the country, not when Peyton Siva connects on a career-high five three-pointers and sophomore Wayne Blackshear notches 18 points (also a career-high). This was an unfair fight from the start, both tactically and personnel-wise; the younger Pitino never really stood a chance. Louisville was expected to cruise to a win, and that’s exactly what happened. For Richard Pitino, this game wasn’t about making a statement by beating one of the nation’s best teams. It was about the younger Pitino getting his first real shot in the national spotlight, and despite the lopsided scoreline, there was nothing embarrassing about his first jab at the man that showed him the coaching ropes. Not all young coaches are instantaneously successful. The Brad Stevens’ and Shaka Smarts of the world are not how most coaches break into the profession. Richard Pitino has the bloodlines to be successful, and that’s as auspicious a natural advantage as any young coach could ask for. Who knows how long or how fruitful the younger Pitino’s career will be. As it stands, his development is an interesting storyline to keep tabs on. The longer he coaches and the more he learns, I suspect Richard Pitino to develop many of the same mannerisms and principles – the feet stomping, the sideline death stares, the trademark defense-first philosophy – as the future Hall of Famer who raised him.

Tonight\’s Quick Hits…

  • Signs Of Progress For Texas. The main story of Texas’ season thus far is the continued absence of point guard Myck Kabongo, which reached a climactic end Wednesday night with the Yahoo! Sports report that revealed sophomore point guard has been suspended for the season after lying to NCAA investigators. Another angle is the Longhorns’ youth, which is evident in large quantities all over the floor, albeit extremely talented. The undertold narrative of the Longhorns’ slow start is their remarkably stout defense, which ranks fourth in the country on a per-possession scale and first overall in effective field goal percentage. The Longhorns lived up to their statistical bona fides on the defensive end by stifling the one-dimensional UNC Tar Heels into 21-of-67 shooting, including 3-of-19 from beyond the arc. Throw in 15 points from sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes and 18 from freshman Cameron Ridley, and what you get is a dominating 18-point dismantling of Roy Williams’ team. Read the rest of this entry »
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ATB: Boeheim Reaches 900, UConn Pays Tribute To Sandy Hook, and Two Impact Transfers Enter The Fold…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 18th, 2012

ATB

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

Tonight’s Lede. It All Comes Together For Jim Boeheim. College basketball is littered with great coaches, leaders who elevate their respective programs with a handful occupying various leagues across the country. Transcending “great” and becoming “legendary” requires a sustained period of excellence. You can count these select few on one hand. Jim Boeheim belonged in this rarefied air even before Monday night’s remarkable achievement when he became just the third Division I men’s basketball head coach in history to reach 900 wins, and the first to do so in an uninterrupted tenure at one institution. Boeheim attended Syracuse as a college student and varsity basketball player, took up an assistant job there for seven years, then rose to the head coaching position, a title he has maintained with aplomb, visionary thinking and progressive leadership, for more than 30 years. Monday night’s culminating win, a 72-68 triumph over would-be spoiler Detroit, ties a bow around the longstanding brilliance of Boeheim’s work within and around the program. I don’t know when Boeheim will retire, but if the 68-year-old decides to call it quits as early as after this season, his career will have been one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. A well-deserved tip of the cap is very much in order.

Your Watercooler Moment. Two Big Transfer Debuts.

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The Tigers Need Brown To Help Offset the Loss of Dixon (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Similar storylines tethered UNLV and Missouri’s season projections in varying degrees to the ability of transfers to step in and contribute right away. For Missouri, most of the talk surrounded UConn big man Alex Oriakhi and Auburn swingman Earnest Ross. Oregon transfer Jabari Brown was less of a central storyline not because of a lack of talent or physical tools, but for the timetable of his eligibility. Brown’s services became more urgent, though, once guard Michael Dixon was suspended and eventually left school over a sexual assault accusation. UNLV’s situation follows the same rough outline, in that an elbow injury to forward Mike Moser – previously conceived as just one piece of arguably the nation’s deepest frontcourt – turned Pitt transfer Khem Birch’s arrival into a critical, much less ancillary, entry into UNLV’s frontcourt rotation. Both players made their highly anticipated debuts on Monday night, and the results went pretty much as you’d expect. Birch and Brown showed some rust in their first taste of major college hoops in 12 months. Brown had 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting (including 1-of-7 from three), but it’s hard to infer anything beyond an encouraging first run, simply for the fact that the Tigers doubled South Carolina State on the scoreboard in a 102-51 rout. The Rebels, meanwhile, were taken to the brink at UTEP, and were one Konner Tucker three-point jumper away from taking a bad loss. In 14 minutes, Birch submitted just four points and three rebounds. How well these players fit into their new teams is a time-tested analysis that can’t be decided on one night’s action. We’ll get a better read on the newcomers over the next couple of months. After one game, the general consensus is lukewarm if slightly encouraging. Concluding anything more would be uninformed guesswork.

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • UConn Pays Homage to Newtown Tragedy. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings had massive rippling effects not just on national news shows but in the sports world. Major sports teams around the country, from professional leagues to college, paid tribute to the victims in various ways. UConn followed suit by holding a moment of silence before its game against Maryland-Eastern Shore tonight, donning green patches with the letters “SH” and several players, including star point guard Ryan Boatwright, inscribing the initials on their faces in a visually poignant tribute that fit the severity of the events. Kudos to the UConn athletic department for coming through with a strong emotional statement to distinguish the tragedy’s geographically-proximate institution by not only setting aside a moment for respect and remembrance, but also implementing a visual token to emphasize the importance of the tribute alongside the basketball game being played. Read the rest of this entry »
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Who’s Got Next? Top Centers to ACC, Isaac Hamilton Picks UTEP, Syracuse Adds Tyler Roberson…

Posted by CLykins on November 20th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings

Kennedy Meeks Chooses UNC Over Georgetown

Two schools consistently stood out above the rest for West Charlotte High (North Carolina) center Kennedy Meeks. Appropriately, both schools have had a long and successful history in landing and producing top big men. With his recruitment winding down, Georgetown and North Carolina were in a neck-and-neck battle that left most national recruiting pundits undecided. On Friday, Meeks made it official as he will remain in his home state and play for the Tar Heels and head coach Roy Williams.

Charlotte native Kennedy Meeks picked UNC over Georgetown

“I talk to Roy Williams almost every other day. He understands the recruiting process and gives me good advice about college and about being a great player,” Meeks said of his decision. “Coach Williams said he liked my tenacity, my desire to play the game, my rebounding and outless passing.” Ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect and No. 2 center in the class of 2013, the 6’9″, 275-lb. big man is expected to contribute right away during his freshman season. Due to his size, Meeks is a true center that impacts the game significantly down low. With an extremely wide frame, he has a soft touch around the rim and is able to rebound at an extremely high rate by carving out space. One of his better traits is his passing. Whether it’s his superior outlet passing skills or if it’s out of the low-post, he exhibits excellent vision for a big man. There is no question regarding his talent and skill, but his conditioning has been a constant issue in the past. With North Carolina’s up-tempo style of play, it is extremely necessary for him to arrive at Chapel Hill in the best playing shape of his young life. Read the rest of this entry »

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 5th, 2012

Ryan Peters is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can find him on Twitter @pioneer_pride and read his musings online at Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride.

Top Storylines

  • A Conference in Considerable Flux – Before MemphisHoustonUCF, and SMU defect to the Big East – which officially makes a geographic mockery of the Big East’s name – C-USA will have one final season together as a full-fledged “upper-level” Division I conference. With only six NCAA Tournament teams and zero NCAA tournament victories in the past three seasons, however, can C-USA muster together a respectable showing for the 2012-13 campaign that doesn’t rival most mid-major conferences? Memphis is the only virtual lock to go dancing, yet several other programs (see MarshallUTEP, and Tulane) are on the rise and could conceivably end up on the right side of the tournament bubble come March. Still, it may be overly optimistic to think C-USA will break the two-team NCAA bid barrier that has eluded the conference since 2005.
  • A Run Towards Perfection – In his fourth season as Memphis’ head coach, Josh Pastner has an opportunity to do something his predecessor, John Calipari, did with apparent ease for three straight seasons prior – have his Tigers run the table in C-USA. With the conference slightly weaker heading into this season (according to Ken Pomeroy), Memphis has a real opportunity to put up a perfect 16-0 regular season mark against their conference foes. It will still prove to be difficult, especially when facing UCF and Marshall twice as part of their unbalanced schedule, yet Memphis returns four starters and is sitting on a potential NBA lottery pick in Adonis Thomas if the 6’7” small forward can stay healthy for much of the season.

Josh Pastner leads a talented home-grown roster in Memphis’ final season in C-USA.

  • Welcoming Back a Legend – Anytime you can hire a head coach with a resume such as the 71-year old Larry Brown, I guess you have to do it, given SMU’s desperation to hire a big name. After all, you’re talking about a guy with an NCAA championship and an NBA championship on his resume. The problem is – aside from his age and inability to coach through the initial contract at his last three destinations – Brown has been away from the college game for nearly 25 years, when he won the 1988 NCAA championship coaching Danny Manning (who, interestingly, is a new C-USA coach himself) and the Kansas Jayhawks. How much can the Mustangs reasonably expect from Brown under these conditions? The cupboard is bare with the graduation of leading scorer and most efficient player, Robert Nyakundi, and the removal of four players including starting point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, so you have to wonder if Brown will have the patience to stick around long enough to fully rebuild a SMU program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993. One benefit from Brown’s hiring is that he has assembled an impressive coaching staff, which includes the Mustangs possible head-coach-in-waiting in Tim Jankovich.
  • New Coaching Blood – Including Brown, there are four C-USA programs that hired new coaches this offseason, which makes up a whopping one third of the entire league. The most notable new hires are Brown and the aforementioned Danny Manning, who left his assistant post at Kansas in an attempt to push Tulsa out of complacency. Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss) and Jerod Haase (UAB) complete the list of coaches. It will be an uphill battle in season one; research has shown head coaches typically struggle in their first season at their newest destination. Perhaps these men can buck the trend and adapt quickly, although the more likely scenario has some of the league taking advantage and pushing ahead of these rebuilding programs for the time being. Well, maybe except for Rice (more on that later)…

Reader’s Take I


Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Memphis (14-2)
  2. Marshall (12-4)
  3. UTEP (11-5)
  4. UCF (10-6)
  5. UAB (9-7)
  6. Southern Mississippi (8-8)
  7. Tulane (7-9)
  8. East Carolina (7-9)
  9. Houston (6-10)
  10. Tulsa (5-11)
  11. SMU (5-11)
  12. Rice (2-14)
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Analyzing the Big 12 Early Season Tournaments: Oklahoma & West Virginia Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 12th, 2012

Today is the official opening to the 2012-13 college basketball season as schools will be able to start officially practicing Friday night. Before then, though, we’re going to take a look at the various pre-conference tournaments that have become synonymous with the first month of college basketball. Nearly every Big 12 school is competing in one of those tournaments this season and we’ll take time each day this week to preview each bracket, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to New York City. Monday, we took a look at Texas and Kansas. On Tuesday, Kansas State and the NIT Preseason Tip-Off were previewed.  On Wednesday, we analyzed how Iowa State and Oklahoma State will stack up in their preseason tournaments.  Today, Oklahoma and West Virginia take the stage as we break down the Old Spice Classic. 

Old Spice Classic 

Date: November 22, 23 and 25

Location: The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida

Teams: Clemson, Davidson, Gonzaga, Marist, Oklahoma, UTEP, Vanderbilt and West Virginia

There’s a good field this year.

This may be my favorite preseason tournament this year. Sure, this isn’t the Champions Classic or the Battle 4 Atlantis but I love it because of all the symmetry among some of these schools. Thanks to conference realignment, Oklahoma and West Virginia find themselves in the same field but ESPN cleverly placed them on opposite sides of the bracket, so there’d be a small chance for a Big 12 game in November (I’d love to see that come to life). Also, the Mountaineers have a unrelated non-conference game with Gonzaga to kick off the college hoops marathon in November, which then will be a rematch of a second-round game in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, which then could also be a possible Old Spice championship game matchup. SYMMETRY!

Last year was an awful one for Clemson, considering they went from a Tournament team in 2010-11 to 16-15 overall. And they have to play Gonzaga? It’s not happening, Tigers. As for Gonzaga, they’re getting more pub this season than any other. They’ve had the pieces to make deep runs in the Tournament some years but haven’t been to the Elite Eight since the 1999 team that gave eventual champion UConn a scare.

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