ACC Afternoon Five: 03.07.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 7th, 2012

Technical difficulties kept us from getting this up this morning. So here goes… an Afternoon Five.

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: Deividas Dulkys got a pretty special family night surprise when his family from Lithuania surprised him the day before the game by showing up at his girlfriend’s apartment. Dulkys had quite the showing at the game including aunts from Chicago and his host family from Nevada, but no one told him that his parents and sisters were going to make the trip across the globe to see him play at Florida State for the first time. Stepping back a little, the Seminoles are also looking at their best chance to win the ACC Championship in program history.
  2. Wilmington Star News: Speaking of special senior nights, Ty Walker‘s was supposed to be one of redemption. After three years of falling short of expectations and an indefinite suspension that kept him out for the first semester, his senior night was supposed to represent the new leaf he turned over this year. On the basketball court he was more active than ever, blocking shots with reckless abandon and fitting in surprisingly well for his first few games back. “I know people aren’t always going to be satisfied [...] but at least I gave them something,” Walker noted. His mom even surprised him by flying across the country for his senior night last week. This article from Brett Friedlander gets at Walker’s side of the story.
  3. Culpepper Star-Exponent: On the heels of the New York Times look at one of college basketball’s vaguest advantages, Whitelaw Reid finds a specific case. Now without seeing more data, I’m a little skeptical. The variable is what brand of basketball teams use. The home teams choose the ball. Virginia uses Nike basketballs; Sammy Zeglinski likes Wilson. The evidence (besides Zeglinski saying it has a “spongy feel”) is that two of the senior’s best games came against Maryland, a team that uses Wilson balls. As Reid points out, the NCAA Tournament also uses Wilson balls, so we should get at least one more data point to evaluate Zeglinski’s claim.
  4. Raleigh New & Observer: It’s a speculation time of year: March Madness, the NFL Draft and that sports purgatory before the NBA Playoffs and baseball season’s starts. It’s also about time to start talking about who is leaving college for the NBA. As Caulton Tudor points out, 13 of 15 All-ACC selections were underclassmen. I don’t really agree with Tudor’s rankings. Maybe I’m naive, but I think Terrell Stoglin will stick it out at least one more year in College Park. He’s far from a sure bet, and needs to show a wider range of skills to attract first round eyes. The same would apply for Glen Rice, Jr., but his indefinite suspension will definitely be a factor. I think the sure-fire departures are Harrison Barnes, John Henson and CJ Leslie. Who knows with Austin Rivers? If he gets a lottery promise, I expect him to leave (which seems likely considering the dearth of good guards this year). Still, this is something that will become very important in a few weeks.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Congratulations Brian Gregory, Mark Turgeon, Jim Larranaga and Mark Gottfried. You finished your rookie year in the ACC. For many coaches, the second year is the toughest, but Turgeon and Gregory were trying to build up programs left in disarray after Gary Williams and Paul Hewitt’s respective departures. Larranaga has plenty of talent, but he only should lose DeQuan Jones and Malcolm Grant from an already talented team; Gottfried’s team will return plenty of firepower and boasts the top recruiting class in the conference. Factor in an extra year of experience against the league titans, and we should expect more success from the conference as a whole next year.
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ACC Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 2nd, 2012

  1. Washington Post: This isn’t related to Mark Gianatto’s article, but last night was not a good night for commonwealth basketball. The Virginia Cavaliers started the evening, opening up a solid lead in the second half over Florida State. A win over the Seminoles behind a man’s man performance out of Mike Scott would have worked wonders for a weak NCAA tournament resume and answer Tyler Zeller’s performance against Maryland in the ACC Player of the Year race. Long story short, Virginia blew the lead by allowing a 16-2 Florida State run to close the game before losing on a three from Ian Miller with 0.8 seconds left. Fast forward to Clemson, where by some anti-miracle neither team managed to score in the last 2:45. Watching their teams lose important games while announcers plugged the Duke – North Carolina game hurts. This screenshot of Seth Greenberg from @DarrylSlater  really sums things up.

    Seth Greenberg's Face Speaks for Virginia and Virginia Tech Fans Alike.

    Moving back to the article, Gianatto looks at the silver lining from Victor Davila’s enigmatic injury: more playing time for Cadarian Raines. Raines spent most of the last couple of years sidelined with foot injuries, but he’s stepped up big for Greenberg in Davila’s absence.

  2. Oxford Public Ledger: In the March Madness spirit, here’s a Selection Sunday-style All-ACC team. Tyler Zeller, Mike Scott and John Henson own the three “automatic bids” thanks to terrific conference play. That leaves Michael Snaer, Austin Rivers and  Kendall Marshall duking it out with CJ Leslie, Terrell Stoglin, Kenny Kadji and Harrison Barnes for the other first team spots (in case you can’t tell, I favor two of the first three). That still leaves five spots on the second and third teams available, which will be earned by “bubble” players like Erick Green, Travis McKie, CJ Harris and Seth Curry to fill out the teams (for the record, I like two of those guys to make the second team).
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: He may not be an All-ACC candidate, but Justin Watts doesn’t have any regrets about his time spent in Chapel Hill. Watts sounds like a laid-back guy who is happy to make his team better without any time under the spotlight. Veteran players like Watts are crucial to a team. Bill Simmons in an article earlier this year called Watts’ role “the chemist: “He’s the last guy every starter greets during the introductions, and he’s the guy who waits at midcourt before the opening tap for one last round of “good luck” hugs and hand slaps.”
  4. SCACCHoops.com: If you’ve ever been curious how “Game Sim” works, John Pence wrote a mini-biography of one of the most underrated tools available (especially during the offseason: I can’t count the hours I spent matching up different teams of recent greatness and trying to make sense of the resultant box score). In addition to being a fun time-waster, Game Sim has picked an impressive 80% of ACC games this season; additionally, as more and more data is compiled, it’s getting more and more accurate against the spread. So next time you have a few minutes and want to find out how this year’s Duke team would fare against the Blue Devils’ national championship team from 2010, just hit up Game Sim.
  5. Baltimore Sun: More bad financial news out of College Park. The commission appointed to address Maryland‘s athletic department’s budgetary issues called for the university to cut six more sports (men’s tennis, men’s track and field, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s water polo and women’s acrobatics and tumbling). Kevin Anderson has some tough decisions to make. If the football team looked stronger, one might be able to make the argument that revenues should increase and temporary budget cuts would be enough. But reality sometimes hurts. Maybe in a few years things will be different.

EXTRA: Gene Wojciechowski points out that the ACC may actually be in the driver’s seat in conference realignment. Specifically, the Big Ten will not want the ACC to surround Penn State (which would happen if the conference added Rutgers and Connecticut). I’m not sure if I buy the ACC having that much influence (Jim Delaney, Mike Slive and Larry Scott seem to be running the show), but Wojciechowski definitely makes a strong case.

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ACC Bracketology: Virginia’s Resume

Posted by mpatton on March 1st, 2012

Over the next week we will be taking a look at the ACC teams whose names should be called on Selection Sunday. The series started with Duke (seed prediction: #1-#2), North Carolina (seed prediction: #1-#2) and Florida State (seed prediction: #5-#8).

Virginia came within a possession of knocking off Duke at Cameron, Florida State in Tallahassee, and most recently, North Carolina in Charlottesville. But the fact is that the Cavaliers came up short each time. Now Tony Bennett‘s team has a resume featuring one very good win (Michigan at home in November) and a few more decent wins (against Drexel, NC State and Miami). That’s not a lot to work with. The Cavaliers also own one horrible loss against TCU early in the year and an unfortunate loss at home against Virginia Tech.

Mike Scott and Virginia Need To Close Out Conference Play with Two Wins.

The good news for Virginia is that its RPI profile looks slightly better, as it owns a 7-5 record against the top 100 (5-1 against #51-#100, 2-4 against the top-50). Additionally, the committee knows the Cavaliers played the ACC contenders close.

The issue for Virginia won’t be getting to the NCAA Tournament: The issue will be getting off the #8/#9 seed line. This is a team that has an elite defense. The offense has dry spells, but Bennett’s team can hang with almost anyone in the country. Still, I’m sure he’d rather avoid a top seed in the round of 32. If Virginia beats Florida State at home, I think that moves the Cavaliers to a seven. If it loses, probably a nine. The biggest issue is that nothing happens in a vacuum, especially around conference tournament time. Between now and Selection Sunday, Virginia needs to beat Duke, North Carolina or Florida State at least once to solidify a good seed.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.01.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 1st, 2012

Be warned: there will be a lot of ACC Player of the Year talk.

  1. Sports Illustrated: But before we get to ACC Player of the Year banter, it’s time to talk Kendall Marshall. Marshall is really hard to pin down. He’s the lynchpin in North Carolina’s offense, maximizing the efficiency of Roy Williams’ very talented machine, but he rarely scores himself. Luke Winn took a look at four crucial (but very different) point guards to analyze their turnovers. If you have ever watched a North Carolina game, it won’t surprise you 80% of Marshall’s turnovers come on “bad passes.” More surprising is that Marshall hasn’t traveled all season. Like always, Winn’s articles are worth a read.
  2. ESPN: Robbi Pickeral picked her ACC Player of the Year and Coach of the Year yesterday (a larger panel of experts picked without explanations too). Tyler Zeller is in a two-man race with Mike Scott, but Coach of the Year still has plenty of contenders. Pickeral chose Zeller and Leonard Hamilton; the experts overwhelmingly chose Zeller and picked Mike Krzyzewski by a 7-3 margin over Hamilton (Tony Bennett and Jim Larranga also received votes). I’m not sure why Pickeral makes multiple allusions to the fact that North Carolina is really talented and will split votes. It’s true that John Henson and Zeller will probably steal votes from one another, but saying that’s the only reason Scott would win is a huge disservice to the season Scott put together.
  3. SCACCHoops.com: In a related note,this article looks at Mike Scott’s case for Player of the Year. Zeller’s numbers appear better at a glance, but the Tar Heels have played 400 more possessions than Scott. This is the problem with comparing points or rebounds a game at face value. Scott’s 17 points and eight rebounds a game carry more weight in an offense that uses fewer possessions than Zeller’s 16 and nine. For effect, Will Ojanen falsely inflates Scott’s stats by adjusting for North Carolina’s tempo and deflates Zeller’s to Virginia’s tempo: Scott would “theoretically” average 21 points and ten rebounds a game; Zeller would average 12 and seven. In reality stats don’t scale like that, but you should also understand that Scott’s 17 points and Zeller’s 16 points are different too. The most understated part of this article is how much better Zeller is on defense.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Norm Wood profiles Scott, looking at the influence of his father. Growing up the son of a 20-year veteran taught Scott discipline, but also how to adapt to new environments. There’s no doubt both qualities were instrumental in making Scott the success he is, having gone through multiple coaches and a season-ending injury on the way to his hallmark season.
  5. Poynter and Awful Announcing: You might have heard about the media “controversy” where Shane Ryan (of Tobacco Road Blues and formerly Seth Curry Saves Duke fame) was denied a credential to the Duke – North Carolina game this weekend, even though he requested it through Grantland. Poynter does a phenomenal job following up on the details (how many credentials were issued, Richard Deitsch’s follow-up reporting and Duke’s response). Awful Announcing covers more background on Ryan including tying the current events back to what originally got Ryan noticed (his terrific rant, which in my opinion remains the best of his work even if he apologized for it later).

EXTRA: Suffice to say Virginia‘s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, joined the club of Cavalier fans not happy about the officiating in the loss to North Carolina. My favorite part is the philosophical rant on flopping and excellence.

EXTRA EXTRA: Boston College won the game for the #11 seed in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech 56-52 thanks to a hot start and the fortitude to just hold on as the Yellow Jackets made their run late in the second half. You can relive the game through the eyes of Eagle fans with all of its ups and downs.

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Night Line: Virginia Falling Fast, Failing to Score

Posted by EJacoby on February 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Remember when Virginia played Duke to a one-possession game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in mid-January, then followed that up with a 32-point road win at Georgia Tech and was ranked No. 15 in the succeeding AP Poll? That Cavaliers team looks completely different from the one that scored just 48 points in a 12-point loss on Tuesday night at Clemson to fall to 6-5 in the ACC. What once looked like a surging team with top four NCAA seed potential has turned into a squad in a bit of a free fall. UVA has not only lost starting center Assane Sene to injury, but also three of its last four games and four of their last eight overall to drop to sixth place in the ACC. Virginia needs to turn things around if they want to make the Big Dance with a chance to win in the postseason. They’ll have that opportunity with both North Carolina and Florida State coming into John Paul Jones Arena in the next two weeks.

Virginia Has Had Trouble Making Shots Recently (AP Photo/J. Bounds)

Back on January 16, the then-No. 15 Cavaliers were not only on a nice winning streak but also had developed a strong identity as a slow-paced, defensive team that was difficult to execute against. Their average game includes 60.5 possessions, one of the 20 slowest tempos in the nation. Led by fifth-year senior Mike Scott, who has developed into one of the best all-around forwards in the country, Virginia had the goods to beat opponents in a grind-it-out style that came down to whose offense could be most efficient in the half court. At 15-2, the results showed that they were making it work. However, the downside to that style of play given the tempo is always the potential to allow teams to hang in a game. And when you’re not executing well enough on your own end of the court, then the style can turn ugly in a hurry. That is exactly what has happened to Virginia.

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ACC Morning Five: 02.10.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 10th, 2012

  1. ESPN and Sports Illustrated: I missed two of the better recaps of Duke‘s comeback from last night from Eamonn Brennan and Andy Staples. The two articles are very similar in structure and tone. I still can’t really believe the final result. While people got a little carried away with the “North Carolina is dominating Duke” theme in the second half, it was still very clear the Tar Heels owned that game after the first 18 minutes. It’s also worth noting that Duke shot less free throws (which is to be expected based on the team’s reliance on threes) and missed the same number–just not as many in crunch time. Finally, if you’re interested in a more biased take, Shane Ryan posted a behemoth on Grantland that was a solid (very pro-Duke) read.
  2. Greensboro News & Record: Jeff Mills watched Duke and North Carolina from home, alternating from the ESPN and Raycom broadcasts. Formerly, the ESPN broadcast was blacked out (which was brutal because some cable providers didn’t have Raycom’s broadcast in high definition), but the new television contract gets rid of ESPN blackouts until the ACC Tournament. The dual broadcasts was interesting. Dan Bonner and Tim Brando provided a distinct contrast to Dickie V, Jay Bilas, and Dan Shulman. One distinction Mills noted was the audio. ESPN’s equipment blocked most of the white crowd noise, while Raycom highlighted the intense atmosphere. The other big difference was the producing. ESPN focuses on coaches; Raycom on the crowd and players.
  3. Raleigh News & Observer: Would you believe me that NC State boasts more McDonald’s All-Americans that Duke and North Carolina combined? At least for now (several recruits are still undecided and considering Duke and/or North Carolina) Mark Gottfried owns the lead in high-profile recruits with Tyler Lewis, Rodney Purvis and TJ Warren all making the cut. That’s going to put some major pressure on Gottfried to contend for the ACC title.
  4. Washington Post: Duke may have exposed a way to beat North Carolina. You need to hit lots of threes. Virginia‘s defense shouldn’t be an issue against the Tar Heels (or anyone else for that matter), but the Cavaliers’ offense is often sluggish and inconsistent. But Tony Bennett’s squad has a history of success beyond the arc, as it led the conference in three point percentage last year. While Virginia’s tempo will keep it from putting up 36 threes, look for close to its season-high 25 against North Carolina’s stingy interior defense.
  5. Shakin’ the Southland: Free throws are still killing Clemson. It seems like a broken record at this point. Year after year the Tigers struggle from the line. The more interesting part of Clemson’s loss to Maryland is how the Tigers crawled back in the game with a 1-3-1 trap. This is the second game in a row Brad Brownell has changed up the defense with success (albeit success without winning). It will be interesting to see if he continues messing with his defensive scheme going forward.
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ACC Morning Five: 02.09.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 9th, 2012

  1. Florida Today: Well, you can tell this article was written early yesterday (an evening article would probably look the exact opposite of this). Overlooked largely because of Duke’s epic comeback against North Carolina was the Seminoles’ equally epic defeat to Boston College. The same Florida State that knocked off Duke on the road and North Carolina by more than 30 couldn’t handle the lowly Eagles. But the thesis from this article remains: Florida State has a very favorable schedule to take at least a share of the ACC title. It was even better before Leonard Hamilton’s team went and coughed up a free road win in Chestnut Hill. Now the questions are about the Seminoles going forward. Are they the team that lost to Boston College and Clemson, or are they the team that beat Duke and North Carolina? Was this game a product of losing focus, or was it a brutal regression to the mean?
  2. Hampton Roads Pilot: Mike Scott continued his under-the-radar quest for ACC Player of the Year with a record-tying 9-9 shooting performance over Wake Forest. Scott finished with 19 points in a rout of the Demon Deacons, and boy was it a rout. Virginia led 40-19 at the half (after shooting a ludicrous 70.8% from the field). That lead only got bigger, moving to 56-23 early in the second half before they coasted.
  3. Sports Business Daily: Well, the verdict is in. ACC schools will reportedly be making one to two million dollars more a year than currently after the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the league. The extra money will push the ACC towards being more competitive with the Pac-12, Big 10 and SEC in that regard. This should at least table the “conference expansion won’t make more money” argument for the time being.
  4. Wall Street Journal: Speaking of money, the Wall Street Journal took a look at the richest schools and conferences based on NBA earnings (for players drafted since 1985). North Carolina and Duke top the list, as the only schools whose alumni NBA salaries surpassed the $800 million dollar mark. Surprisingly, Arizona was third on the list. Even more surprisingly Georgia Tech is seventh. I would have guessed Duke and North Carolina on top, but I never would have suspected Georgia Tech cracked the top 10 (ahead of Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA).
  5. ESPN and Yahoo Sports: Speaking of the Tobacco Road rivals, Austin Rivers hit a pretty big shot last night. The ESPN story is an interview with Doc Rivers, who got to attend the game. It’s worth a watch just to see the pure excitement on the elder Rivers’ face as he jumps up and down hugging his daughter after the shot falls. For a more conventional recap, I suggest Pat Forde’s write-up from the Dean Dome. I’m not sure any story can do the last two and a half minutes justice, but his piece attempts to do so.

Video of the Week:

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Morning Five: 12.20.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 20th, 2011

  1. If you want to get upset with a coach and a school for abusing its control over a player, check out Todd O’Brien‘s first-person account of his attempt to try to play for UAB as part of a graduate school transfer, but being thwarted by Phil Martelli and St. Joseph’s. O’Brien chronicles his attempts to gain his release from the school and the denials by what appears to be an increasingly petty Martelli. Obviously, we are only getting one side of the story here, but St. Joseph’s appears to have been offered a chance at offering an appropriate rebuttal and issued what amounts to a non-denial denial. This story won’t get as much attention as all the reports about players behaving badly or being offered extra benefits and it is a very rare occurrence (this is the first time it has happened in NCAA history), but it should not get swept under the rug.
  2. The latest Hoop Thoughts column by Seth Davis touches on a variety of topics including Khem Birch and other prominent freshmen who have left school after one semester or less. One of the interesting points that Davis makes is a reference to a piece by Luke Winn this summer that showed that players who switched high schools were more likely to decommit. Obviously, leaving a school after you have already enrolled there is a big step from switching commitments as a high school player, but it does suggest a certain lack of loyalty and stability. As our previous point noted, this issue can get more complicated if a school is unwilling to accept a young adult’s change of heart. If you caught Seth’s Twitter rant last night, you can be sure his Hoops Thoughts column may have looked very different if it were released today.
  3. One of the aforementioned freshmen who left school early (and attended multiple high schools) is Jabari Brown, the five-star recruit who left Oregon after less than a semester. Brown left Eugene under unclear circumstances and was soon followed be fellow freshman Bruce Barron. Reports yesterday indicate that Brown is headed to Missouri and cited his mother as saying that her son had a “good fit” with the system and Frank Haith. If Brown enrolls at Missouri, he could become eligible as early as next December and would be a big addition to a team that will lose quite a bit to graduation.
  4. Speaking of Oregon, the school was a victim of a cyber attack in the wake of its 67-54 loss to Virginia. The school’s website had a fake quote sheet for Oregon’s Dana Altman in which he was critical of the team’s pregame spaghetti and said he “wasn’t that impressed” with Virginia’s Mike Scott. The page has been scrubbed from the Internet although if you play around with Google Cache you can easily find it (ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan got a screen cap of it before it was taken down). We are sure that the people at Oregon were not amused by the stunt, but the fake quotes were fairly benign (other than the Mike Scott one) so while we don’t condone hacking this was pretty humorous (unless it happens to us).
  5. We usually try not to question the medical/personnel decisions of coaches and teams here, but the decision by Thad Matta to play Jared Sullinger today against Lamar is a strange one. As the interview session continued, Matta appeared to back off his assessment that Sullinger would play today and moved towards something more akin to probably play. Ohio State would be wise to remember that it was just this past Saturday when Sullinger, who was already battling back spasm, had to get x-rays on what appeared to be broken foot that turned out to be negative. If Matta has any doubt in his mind about Sullinger’s health, he should rest him for both Sullinger’s future and for that of this Buckeye team. The Buckeyes could probably play without Sullinger and any starter not named Aaron Craft and easily beat Lamar in Columbus.
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ACC Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 8th, 2011

  1. Triangle Business Journal: The numbers are somewhat questionable, but the ACC has the highest differential between the percentage of basketball players that graduate and the percentage of normal students that graduate, with a whopping difference of 41%. I say the numbers are questionable because they don’t account for athletes transferring, athletes entering the NBA Draft, or member schools having extremely high graduation rates to start. Basically, you don’t want to rip the conference too much, but the discrepancy is too large to ignore. If athletes are being “compensated” with a scholarship, shouldn’t more of them be graduating? I’d like to see the numbers after adjusting for players who transfer in good standing and those who leave for the pros.
  2. Baltimore Sun: At times this season, Mark Turgeon has looked pretty bad on the sideline. He’s tried to keep his cool, but sometimes it’s not worth it. Turgeon told Jeff Barker that it’s not his win-loss record that gets under his skin; it’s whether his team plays the game the right way by “doing the little things.” I didn’t get a chance to watch the end of the game versus Mt. St. Mary’s last night, but my guess is Turgeon looked pretty anguished as he watched a double digit lead nearly evaporate.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Hold your horses! I may have buried Brian Gregory and the Yellow Jackets too soon. After a commanding win at Georgia, I’m ready to give them a second chance. Led by Glen Rice, Jr., Georgia Tech had its offense firing on all cylinders and some solid defense to boot. This win was big for Gregory, as it’s the type of early win that buys some confidence and support from fans.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Tony Bennett wasn’t thrilled with his team’s defense against George Mason. I’m not thrilled with this writer’s choice of good dribble penetrators (actually I don’t mind, but Kendall Marshall should not be worried about because of his dribble penetration). Luckily, the Cavaliers’ offense came ready to play, knocking down over 60% of their shots. The other good news is that Sammy Zeglinski seems to be getting back into the thick of things, scoring a game-high 18 points. Virginia needs his shooting if it wants to get past the first round of the Big Dance.
  5. Fayetteville Star News: Tyler Zeller is on the brink of becoming the 64th player in North Carolina history to score 1,000 points in his career. Right now, Zeller stands at 999 points. A thousand points in a collegiate career is a great accomplishment. Roy Williams tried to help Zeller get to four digits before pulling the starters against Evansville but, “we kept him in there, called his play, and Kendall turns the stupid ball over.” He’ll get another shot against Long Beach State this weekend.
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Around The Blogosphere: May 27, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on May 27th, 2011

If you are interested in participating, send your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com as we will be updating these posts throughout the day.

General News

  • Ryan Harrow Chooses Kentucky, Eligible to Play in 2012: “With his commitment to Kentucky, Harrow gives the Wildcats their de facto point guard for the 2012 class, and it is now doubtful that Calipari will choose to pursue any other high school options at that position.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • DeAndre Liggins Part of ESPN Investigative Report about Indiana Elite & IU: Liggins may be at the center of an investigation that could leave Indiana in quite a bit of trouble. (A Sea of Blue)
  • ESPN on Indiana Elite, Hanner Perea and A-Hope: The same investigation could jeopardize Perea’s eligibility. (Inside the Hall)
  • The Hoyas Are Going to China and You’re Invited!!!: Preliminary details of Georgetown’s trip to China this summer. (Casual Hoya)
  • An interesting quote from DeAndre Liggins: The former Wildcats suggests that John Calipari was more willing to let the star recruits have an opportunity to shine than others on the team. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

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Time For The Hall of Fame To Reevaluate Itself

Posted by nvr1983 on April 12th, 2011

A little over a week ago, the Naismith Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2011 during the NCAA Final Four festivities in Houston. Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman, and Arvydas Sabonis were among the individuals selected to join the list of luminaries in Springfield, Massachusetts in August. We would have a difficult time arguing against any of the individuals selected this year or previous years, but when we looked at the list of those currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame we were shocked to see which players the HOF voting committee (done anonymously) left out. Cases can certainly be made for at least a dozen individuals who have not already been inducted to the Hall, with many of them being some of the African-American pioneers of the game who played in less well-recognized venues and leagues, but the two who stand out for us — Ralph Sampson and Christian Laettner – do not fall into that group by any measure.

 

Sampson soared over the competition in college

Both players already meet the Naismith Hall of Fame’s requirement of being retired for five years, so they are eligible for selection. There will be some who will argue that neither player had a great NBA career, and we will not even try to argue that because there is little debate that both had disappointing pro careers although both had their moments. But that misses the point of the Hall of Fame. It is not solely a forum to recognize achievement at the professional level. As its own site states, since 1959 it has “honored and celebrated the game’s greatest moments and brightest stars.” There is nothing on its website stating that it is specifically for professional basketball either at the NBA level or overseas. Another argument you will hear is that both Sampson and Laettner were exceptional college basketball players who already have been honored at the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri in the past two years. Once again, that misses the point, as there are multiple coaches in both Halls of Fame, including Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun, and Lute Olson, none of whom ever coached at the professional level. The fact that neither player has been selected yet is simply a travesty and raises questions about the utility of the Naismith Hall of Fame when two of the greatest college basketball players of all-time (probably both in the top ten on most lists) are not included.

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2010-11 RTC Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 27th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.  To see the entire group of 2010-11 Class Schedules, click here.

After dissecting a trio of Big 12 teams in prior weeks, more and more elite programs are releasing their 2010-11 schedules to the masses. Let’s continue with Kentucky, a squad that reloaded following the departure of an astounding five first round draft picks.

With so much turnover, Calipari has another tough coaching job on his hands

Team Outlook: A fan base as rabid and fanatical as Kentucky’s surely awaited this week’s announcement with tremendous anticipation. Big Blue Nation has expectations for their Wildcats that perennially surpass any other program in the nation. Their point guard and this April’s #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, John Wall, will be replaced by Brandon Knight, whose high school accolades and ranking matches those of his predecessors under John Calipari. If deemed eligible by the NCAA, Enes Kanter will fill the post presence left by the ultra-productive DeMarcus Cousins. Similarly to Kanter, Terrence Jones spurned Washington and headed to Kentucky, a 6’9 wing very capable of matching the offensive production provided by Eric Bledsoe a season ago. The key word for Kentucky and Calipari since he took the helm: replenish. And if Knight, Kanter and Jones are history next April, three more top-ten recruits will fill the void. It’s a tall task for Knight and Kanter to match the contributions of Wall and Cousins, two of the top three players in the sport last season. Still, with such talent abounding, a wide open SEC, and the true dribble-drive offense back into high gear, to expect a giant step back from Big Blue and underestimating the coaching prowess of Calipari would be a grave mistake.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 7.5. A program with the visibility and significance of Kentucky should challenge themselves at every chance. Forced out of necessity more than choice to load up in November and December at Memphis, Calipari has utilized that same strategy in Lexington. The potential is there to face fellow powerhouses at least in terms of college basketball history: North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Notre Dame, Washington and Oklahoma, although these teams remain at varying degrees of competitiveness. Kentucky will surely attract an enormous contingent to Maui where they could face a top-ten team in the semifinals in Washington and a top-two team in the finals, Michigan State. North Carolina is still working its way back up to elite status following last year’s NIT berth, but the young Wildcats’ trip to the Dean Dome won’t be any sort of cakewalk. The same theory applies to Louisville on New Year’s Eve, the next chapter of one of the fiercest rivalries the sport knows. A matchup with possible NCAA squad Notre Dame should also prove competitive. Kentucky gets everyone’s best shot, and it’s no relief for Calipari that up to seven non-conference contests will be either on true road or neutral floors.

Cupcake City: Two notable cupcakes travel to Lexington when Mississippi Valley State and Coppin State make the trip for what should be 40-point blowouts, but other than that Calipari did a solid job limiting the scrubs. East Tennessee State returns their top three scorers from an NCAA Tournament team that was blown out in the first round by, you guessed it, Kentucky. I’m not saying the Wildcats are vulnerable to lose to the Buccaneers, but they will not be a total walkover. Winthrop rode a Big South Cinderella run to an NCAA bid and is on the slate. Boston University with John Holland and Jake O’Brien is halfway decent, while a Maui tune-up in Portland against the rebuilding Pilots will provide a raucous atmosphere. Last season, Kentucky did struggle a bit early in the campaign against Miami (OH), Stanford and Sam Houston State while Calipari determined roles and rotations for a plethora of new players. If the same holds true a year later, Portland and BU could be pesky opponents.

Toughest Early Season Test: It’s far from a guarantee that Kentucky downs Washington in the Maui semifinals. After all, the Huskies return the majority of their backcourt led by Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy with a frontcourt anchored by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and a talented newcomer in Terrence Ross. Plus, they should have plenty of motivation to knock Kentucky down a few pegs following the Kanter and Jones situations that have been rehashed continuously. If the Wildcats can survive Washington, and I have a sneaking suspicion they will, Michigan State awaits in the final if the Spartans can knock off Connecticut or Wichita State (unless they pull a Virginia against Chaminade). The Spartans return their entire Final Four squad with the exception of Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen. Containing Kalin Lucas is baptism by fire for green Brandon Knight, while wing Darius Miller may have the unenviable task of chasing around three-point bomber Durrell Summers. The Spartans will likely be ranked number two in the nation behind Duke at this point. Win or lose, the learning experience will certainly be valuable for the young Wildcats.

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