Morning Five: Veteran’s Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2011

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  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance who has given their time and energy during their lives to help this nation stay safe, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back — trust us, they’ll appreciate it. This year’s Veteran’s Day has a particularly deep meaning for our purposes, as it also doubles as the official ‘unofficial’ opening night of the college basketball season. Several teams have already gotten under way in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but most everyone else begins this weekend. One hundred thirty-one games dot the schedule this evening, including 19 of the RTC Top 25 teams in America. The headliner game on this holiday is that curious little aircraft carrier game down in San Diego involving the consensus #1 team, North Carolina, and a perplexing but always-dangerous Michigan State squad. But there are several other noteworthy games tonight, including a talented Belmont squad visiting Duke at 9 PM on ESPNU and a rising Oregon team visiting a Vanderbilt program harboring massive expectations in Nashville. For a complete list of view-worthy games, be sure to click on our Nightly Nonsense tab above here, and check back this afternoon for our weekend version of Set Your TiVo, which will outline all the interesting games for the next three days.  As of tonight, we can say it without qualifying language — college hoops is back, baby…
  2. And what about that game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson? The temperature will be in the mid-60s and winds are expected to be in the 10-15 MPH range this evening in San Diego, but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting about the players is that every one of them has played outdoor pickup ball at one time or another. Sure, it’s not the same as playing in the controlled environment of a gym, but who hasn’t experienced the unique situation of having to slightly adjust your jumper to account for the breeze? Many of these players probably developed their games on the playgrounds across America. The players will probably be more jittery because President Obama will be there rather than dealing with the sun and wind.
  3. The NBA could be on the verge of a return with a 72-game season, or none at all, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the 2011-12 college basketball season as written for NBA fans, Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus is your man. It’s an intriguing look at the collegiate game in that the perspective changes when one’s only use for NCAA hoops is as a finishing school before the big time. While we’re on the subject of the pros, the current deal offered by the owners to the players has not yet addressed the ‘ancillary’ issue of a minimum draft age. We wonder that if the players cave here on the revenue split whether that will embolden them to ask for and receive concessions with respect to the draft age (among other things). From the perspective that a two-year minimum is better for the game of college basketball, it might actually be better in the long run if the players refuse the owners’ latest offer.
  4. Miami’s DeQuan Jones has been suspended by the university for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his alleged involvement with improprieties relating to his recruitment by Frank Haith, as uncovered by Yahoo! Sports during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Shapiro stated in interviews that Haith arranged for $10,000 to be paid to Jones’ family to secure his commitment in 2008. Given that the Hurricanes could potentially lose a number of wins if Jim Larranaga now played Jones and it was later determined that he was an ineligible player, this is a smart move. Still, it doesn’t help with the Hurricanes’ current glaring lack of depth, as UM will now have only seven scholarship players available heading into tonight’s opening game against Tennessee Tech.
  5. Finally, it’s time for the SI Crystal Ball, where Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner make their preseason picks on the 2011-12 Final Four, NPOY, surprise team, flops, and so on. Would you believe that the only category of consensus among the trio came when picking their Best Mid-Major team? We’ll give you three guesses to see if you can get it right… As always, it’s a good read, but even the best in the business (as these guys are) are lucky to bat just above the Mendoza line with their predictions — in last year’s Crystal Ball, for example, the three picked a grand total of zero Final Four teams (including darkhorses). College basketball prognostication is more art than science, we’ll readily admit, but we’re totally on board with Davis and Glockner’s darkhorse team this season (hint: it starts with an “X”).
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Morning Five: 01.26.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2011

  1. This idea has been batted around for some time now, but it looks like it’s going to come to fruition.  North Carolina and Michigan State are finalizing a deal to play each other next Veteran’s Day (November 11) on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor.  At first, we wondered why an eastern team and a midwestern team would travel so far to play when they have perfectly good aircraft carriers in their half of the country (Norfolk, Virginia, for example).  And then we realized that the game will occur in November, and well, the game will be outside.  San Diego’s rather predictable weather makes for a safer bet, and a deal should be announced soon for what will make for a rather interesting gimmick game.  Let’s just hope that they properly adjust for the wind coming in off the water.
  2. In advance of tonight’s blockbuster game in Provo, Luke Winn breaks down Jimmer Fredette’s four worst performances of the season for some clues that San Diego State may use to try to contain him.  It was interesting to hear South Florida’s Stan Heath discussing how his team defended both UConn’s Kemba Walker and Fredette, ultimately concluding that Fredette was the tougher cover because “his shooting range is a little more extended [and] while Kemba is quicker and more explosive, Fredette’s changes-of-speed, plus his hops and step-back moves, make him better. And when he elevates to shoot, he really gets up in the air.”  Great stuff.
  3. This commentary by the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls discusses the gargantuan difference in team chemistry between last year’s Texas team and this year’s edition.  It’s clear that even the locals around Austin are sensing a little something special about the group that Rick Barnes has at his disposal this time around.  For our money, we’d agree; nobody in the country has more upside than this team.  And if Jordan Hamilton can get his Glen Rice on in March, don’t be shocked to see UT playing in Houston in April.
  4. Conference realignment ain’t over.  The Mountain West Conference is meeting in Las Vegas this week and is prepared to offer current WAC school Utah State membership to replace the losses of Salt Lake City-area schools Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent + WCC).  Last year USU turned down the MWC when it appeared that BYU was planning on leaving the conference for the WAC, causing the league to enact an end-around and effectively blow up the WAC by poaching several of its schools.
  5. With Ohio State’s win over Purdue last night and SDSU on the chopping block tonight at BYU, the talk of unbeaten regular seasons is ramping up.  We’re still a long way from serious consideration of that achievement by one of the final two unbeatens, but Mike DeCourcy harkened back to the 27-0 2003-04 St. Joseph’s team in discussing how the pressure builds with each passing game.  It certainly makes things more interesting for us journo-bloggers out there, eh?
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