College Basketball By The Tweets: Ben Howland, Gonzaga, and More Marshall Henderson…

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2013

bythetweets

Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.

Before I go to bed, I always, always, always put my phone on silent. I don’t want to come out of my slumber for any reason, so part of my nightly routine is to flip that switch on my phone before flipping the light off and hitting the hay. Inexplicably, that critical step to setting my phone to silent was missed the other night, and around one in the morning, my phone started buzzing.

And kept buzzing.

Then buzzed some more.

I’ll be sure to never make that mistake again, especially in March, when old Syracuse tape seems to always be rolling as late night programming.

Victor Oladipo Blowing Our Minds

The Internet has run out of real words to describe Victor Oladipo’s hops. This, coming after he shocked the heck out of Ohio State’s Shannon Scott in transition Tuesday night. Oladipo took off from two steps within the free throw line, put his head level with the hoop and covered what looked like 100 square feet in the matter of a second for the clean swat.

Ben Howland Plays Beer Pong

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Five Questions About the Big Ten as We Head Into March

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 1st, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

If you weren’t already convinced that the Big Ten is the most competitive conference in college hoops, the games in February should have showed you enough to change your opinion. The games featured buzzer-beaters, multiple overtimes and quite a few upsets over the past 28 days, but March could take it to another level. The obvious questions for each team in March will revolve around its performance in the postseason tournaments, but there are more intriguing questions on our minds about the next month. Let’s address five specific questions that that we will track about some of the best Big Ten teams in March.

Can Trey Burke take his game to another level in March? (AP Photo/T. Ding)

Can Trey Burke take his game to another level in March? (AP Photo/T. Ding)

  1. Can Trey Burke get back into the conversation for NPOY? Burke is still considered the top guard in the nation and hasn’t fallen out of the conversation for NPOY, but it feels like he has flown under the radar a little bit during February – partly because the Wolverines have had some tough losses on the road to Wisconsin, Michigan State and (yeesh) Penn State, and it also didn’t help his case that Indiana’s Victor Oladipo has repeatedly proven that he may be the best player in the Big Ten. Burke’s scoring average hasn’t dropped but he has taken more shots than he would prefer to keep his team competitive on the road. Burke will have two big opportunities in Ann Arbor soon – against Michigan State and Indiana – to again showcase his game in the national spotlight and prove that he is ready to lead the Wolverines to a Final Four.
  2. Who is Michigan State’s go-to guy in March? We have seen flashes of brilliance from Adreian Payne and Gary Harris over the past two weeks but can Tom Izzo rely on a forward who hasn’t consistently looked for his offense and a freshman guard during the clutch this postseason? If Payne wants to be that guy, he needs to demand the ball during the final minutes but he hasn’t been that assertive this year. Izzo would love to have Keith Appling be that guy because he already has the ball in his hands during the final moments and can create his own shot off the dribble. The junior guard had an off-night against Indiana (six points) and Ohio State (three points) but the Spartans need him to score 15 PPG in order to make it to the third weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Read the rest of this entry »
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Award Tour: Huge Week Carries Otto Porter to the Top of the NPOY List

Posted by DCassilo on March 1st, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

As we hit March, the NPOY race looks like it’s down to four players: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Otto Porter Jr. While it’s almost certain that one of those four will take home the hardware, it’s almost impossible to decide on a clear front-runner. Look around the Internet, and you’ll see each of those players No. 1 somewhere. In a season with no clear-cut best team, a race like this for Player of the Year is fitting. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the next 17 days.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.4 PPG, 11 RPG

Cooley & Martin Will Likely Be Overlooked Again (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

Cooley has had a lot to celebrate this season. (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

One of the few players from a major conference to average a double-double, Cooley has been a quiet force on an overlooked Notre Dame team. He’s not going to make any top 10 highlight reels, but he is going to be the reason the Irish win games. This week: March 2 at Marquette, March 5 vs. St. John’s

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG

The Ohio State junior is what he is — a scorer who can do some rebounding. He does both every single night, regardless of defense. Thomas is a really good college player that is close to being a great one. This week: March 5 at Ohio State

8. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller has shown a knack for disappearing in big games, and Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota was no different. He went just 2-of-9 from the floor before fouling out with nine points. He can’t do that in March. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

7. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG

As Gonzaga appears poised to grab the No. 1 ranking, Olynyk is on a tear. The junior has made at least 70 percent of his shots in his last four games. Regardless of competition, that’s pretty impressive. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG

At a time when his team desperately needed it, McDermott had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday for Creighton. The junior finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds against Bradley. He will need to do that routinely for this team to go anywhere. This week: March 2 vs. Wichita State

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Morning Five: 02.28.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 28th, 2013

morning5

  1. It seems that Maryland athletics has had more than its share of controversy regarding how to recognize some of its legends. We discussed the case of Lefty Driesell last week and this week the media focus is on former Terrapin great Len Bias. In this case, the controversy is not around the University of Maryland’s decision on whether or not to recognize him, but instead his old high school where a state senator (also a graduate of the school) wanted to spend $50,000 to erect a status honoring Bias. Despite Bias’ on-court accomplishments the idea has been withdrawn to a combination of controversy honoring a person who died of a cocaine overdose and spending $50,000 of public funds to do so.
  2. We will likely never be able to read the full notice of allegations the NCAA sent to Miami, but some details are leaking out including the fact that the NCAA is accusing Nevin Shapiro of “only” providing $170,000 in impermissible benefits between 2002 and 2010. While nearly $20,000 per year is certainly a decent amount of money it falls well short of the “millions of dollars” that Shapiro claimed to have given Miami players over the years (of course, this is coming from someone who perpetrated a $930 million Ponzi scheme). Interestingly more than half of that was spent on trying to get two football players to sign with a sports agency that Shapiro was affiliated with so most of the reported violations involved relatively small sums of money on an individual basis.
  3. With Indiana falling at Minnesota on Monday there is a new #1 in Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. As usual Luke has a smörgåsbord of interesting facts and trends, but the two that stuck out the most to us are (1) how much more efficient Victor Oladipo is this year from the perimeter and (2) why Michigan State might be better off getting the ball more to their star freshman guard. However, the most interesting part of the column might actually be the link to TeamRankings’ simulated Bracketology that simulates/predicts the NCAA Tournament seedings based on what it predicts will happen the rest of the season. We are not sure how well this simulator has done in the past, but it might be something worth checking up on over the next weeks if for no other reason to kill some time during the middle of the day.
  4. Over the past few years posters of celebrities and the occasional random person have become fairly common at college basketball games, but we were not aware of the origins of the trend before George Dohrmann’s article on the birth of the “big heads”. We never quite understood the use of celebrities to distract shooters unless they are unusual such as the original big head of Michael Jackson. The use of coaches, players, and even the occasional poster of yourself all seem like they would be much more effective. Of course, this is probably some college kid that is trying to figure out which faces have the biggest effect on free throw shooting.
  5. We have seen a lot of interesting uniform designs in college sports recently most notably in college football, but it looks like adidas, the company that brought you the atrocious alternate uniforms from Louisville, Cincinnati, and others is planning on bring short-sleeve jerseys to the NCAA Tournament. We still don’t know which schools will wear whatever monstrosity adidas can dream up, but to their credit both Michigan and North Carolina State have come out and said they will not wear the short-sleeve jerseys.
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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 25th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson getting so high on this alley-oop against Michigan State on Sunday that he was literally staring at the rim when he got the ball. That would have been enough, but then he chose to hammer home right on a poor Michigan State defender – just for kicks. Definitely one of the more impressive athletic plays I’ve seen this year.

Sam Thompson is not shy about attacking the rim

I LOVED…. the hilariousness that is Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on set. In this week’s gift from above, Raftery comically asks Bilas if he’s “ever been ridden” before. Take a look – it’s just too much.

I LOVED…. everyone realizing that Miami can be very, very average – or in this case, downright bad in a loss to a Wake Forest team that was 4-9 in the ACC going into Saturday. If Miami and Gonzaga somehow play their way into #1-seeds, I don’t think it’s overkill to say that they could be two of the more susceptible #1-seeds ever for a first-round upset. And Miami could even be the likelier of the two because of how much they love the three-ball.

I LOVED…. glancing at the Georgetown schedule and having my jaw slowly drop lower and lower as I looked at their defensive efficiency during this very impressive nine-game winning streak. Check it out – since losing to South Florida on January 19, the Hoyas have allowed 47, 51, 52, 56, 63, 55, 55, 66 and 46 points. That’s pretty stingy, and it bodes well for a Tournament run if they can continue mustering enough offense. Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Top 25: Week 15

Posted by KDoyle on February 25th, 2013

At long last, we have stability atop the RTC25 as Indiana checks in at #1 for the third straight week. The Hoosiers earned a big road win at Michigan State in their only game last week, and are beginning to look like the team that was ranked #1 in the preseason rankings. One player who was thought  in the preseason to be more of a role player rather than a star and legitimate candidate for National Player of the Year is Victor Oladipo. Oladipo has led the way with 19 points and outstanding play this season for Indiana. In looking at the Top 10, there is very little separation between #3 Duke and #10 Louisville in terms of the average ranking (5.33 to 7.44), but then there is a noticeable drop-off between Louisville and #11 Syracuse. It is refreshing to have some parity in the Top 10, especially after last season when at a certain point Kentucky was nearly untouchable.

More good stuff with the Quick n’ Dirty after the jump…

Week 15

Quick n’ Dirty Analysis.

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Award Tour: Trey Burke And Marcus Smart Rise to the Top

Posted by DCassilo on February 22nd, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a real college all-star game? First of all, it would give every team a break it needs, and second, seeing the top players face off would be great. Imagine something like Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Jeff Withey and Kelly Olynyk against Marcus Smart, Deshaun Thomas, Otto Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee and Cody Zeller. Personally, I would love to see Burke and Smart run their teams against each other. I know there is some lame all-star game during Final Four weekend, but a mid-season game is something that the NCAA should consider.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 15 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 SPG

It’s amazing that Smart not only is this great already but also has so much room for improvement. In the double-overtime loss against Kansas on Wednesday, he was the most important player on the floor despite going 2-of-14 from the field. One more offseason of workouts will make him a lethal player. This week: February 23 at West Virginia, February 27 at TCU

9. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk's Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation's Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

Kelly Olynyk’s Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation’s Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

There is likely no better frontcourt tandem in the nation than Olynyk and Elias Harris. The two combine to average 32.5 PPG and 14.4 RPG. There are few teams in the country that will be able to match up with that duo in the NCAA Tournament. This week: February 23 vs. San Diego, February 28 at BYU

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 20.1 PPG, 6 RPG

Thomas is just a straight-up gunner. He takes 16 shots per game and has scored in double-figures in every game this season. It seems nearly impossible to completely take him out of a game defensively. This week: February 24 vs. Michigan State, February 28 at Northwestern

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG

For all his accolades as a scorer, McDermott’s ability to rebound often gets overlooked. The 6’8″ junior has eight double-doubles so far this season and has hauled in as many as 13 rebounds in a game. This week: February 23 at St. Mary’s, February 27 at Bradley

6. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 13.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.0 BPG

At the most important part of the season, Withey is playing his best basketball. He’s had double-doubles in his last three games, which is something he hasn’t done all season. The 14 rebounds against Oklahoma State on Wednesday were a season-high. This week: February 23 vs. TCU, February 25 at Iowa State

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Morning Five: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 22nd, 2013

morning5

  1. We have already talked about the mock brackets in this space quite a bit, but Seth Davis offered one of the better summaries of the more detailed aspects of how the brackets come together (based on geography more than the imaginary S-curve, etc) in his weekly Hoop Thoughts column. Even if you have had more than enough information about a fake bracket, the column also has quite a bit of other interesting information including an update on the potential return of Ryan Kelly for the ACC Tournament and why conference realignment might help push Shaka Smart towards a new job.
  2. We seem to see multiple columns coming out everyday for the past week hyping Victor Oladipo as a potential player of the year candidate and now we actually have some proof of his legitimacy as a candidate with the voters as he has moved up to #2 in Michael Rothstein’s straw poll. We aren’t quite sure what the sampling error is with this poll, but it seems like Trey Burke has a fairly comfortable lead. Still with Indiana in excellent position for the #1 overall seed (if there was a #1 overall seed) and a potential showdown with Burke on the last day of the regular season looming Oladipo is still within striking distance. We don’t particularly care about regular season awards, but given how under-the-radar Oladipo was at the beginning of the season it would be a remarkable turn of events.
  3. While we will be sad to see some traditional rivalries go we are more ambivalent to change in rivalries that conference realignment will bring, but there are a few rivalries that we will particularly miss. One of those is Syracuse-Georgetown (or Georgetown-Syracuse depending on your perspective). With the last game at the Carrier Dome coming this Saturday, Syracuse.com took a look back at the top ten moments of the rivalry. We are guessing based on our demographics that the vast majority of you saw less than half of these moments and because the rivalry isn’t promoted to the degree of another rivalry two teams wearing different shades of blue most people are not as familiar with these moments.
  4. With seven African-Americans occupying the fourteen heading coaching positions in the SEC the conference has  tied the ACC during the 2008-09 season for having the most African-American coaches in one conference at any one time. When you include Frank Martin, a Cuban-American, the conference actually has more “minority” coaches (eight) than Caucasian coaches (six). While we still have a long way to go as a country with race relations and hiring even with something as seemingly trivial as men’s college basketball coaches it is worthwhile praising a conference that has long born the stigma of having a strained racial history.
  5. Our last item is a bittersweet congratulations to Dick Kelley, the assistant athletic director of media relations at Boston College, who along with Beckie Edwards received the US Basketball Writer’s Association Most Courageous Award. Edwards has her own harrowing story (coming out about the sexual abuse she suffered as a young child at the hands of her father), but for the purposes of this column and the fact that we know Kelley and not Edwards we will focus on his story. Kelley, who was the first person to credential our site as a media entity in 2008, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2011, which has confined him to a wheelchair. Although we have not seen him recently due to our relocation we want to send him our best wishes.
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Big Ten M5: 02.21.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 21st, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. By now it seems fair to say that the Big Ten Player of the Year candidacy is a two-horse race. Michigan’s Trey Burke has been the front-runner since the Wolverines broke out of the gates. Victor Oladipo has been more of a dark horse because he was lesser-known at the beginning of the season, and because most of the Indiana NPOY attention had been focused on Cody Zeller. But a couple big games on the national stage — he’s almost singlehandedly won each game against Michigan State — has perhaps propelled Oladipo perhaps into the top spot for the award. The Big Ten Network‘s Brent Yarina and Tom Dienhart debate the matter, with Yarina voting for Oladipo and Dienhart giving the nod to Burke. What do you say?
  2. There were plenty of opportunities for Michigan State to put away Indiana on Tuesday night in East Lansing, and a few of them came at the charity stripe. Keith Appling, who has been one of the most clutch players in the Big Ten this season but has played horribly against Indiana, missed a few over the course of the game, and Gary Harris missed several as well, most importantly the first of three with the chance to tie the game with a couple of ticks left. But Tom Izzo and the Spartans say the missed free throws aren’t what determined the final outcome of the game. Adreian Payne pointed to a Christian Watford and-one, and Denzel Valentine pointed to Victor Oladipo’s crucial late put-back late. Whatever the final determining factor, those missed free throws sure didn’t help.
  3. With its win against Michigan State in East Lansing, Indiana became the prohibitive favorite to win the Big Ten and, perhaps, the national title. Bob Kravitz writes that the Hoosiers are the best team in the best conference in the country, and it’s hard to argue with that after the body of work they’ve put together over the course of the year. They’ve been impressive both on the road and at home — despite at times proving to be vulnerable — and have the most depth and weapons of any other title contender. People who saw them on Tuesday could see that they have the most pieces that you need to win a title, which is why they are where we thought they’d be at the beginning of the year — at the top. But will they be there in April?
  4. Not to put down a senior who has contributed a great deal to the Wisconsin program over the years, but one of the most puzzling things about watching the Badgers is seeing Bo Ryan sticking with Ryan Evans in favor of standout freshman Sam Dekker during crucial stretches. Wisconsin is in a title chase, after all, and Evans just is not having the type of season you’d expect from someone with so much experience under his belt. Ryan has made it clear he intends to stick with his guy, though, and Evans has said he’s remaining positive while working through his struggles. But as the games become more meaningful, can the Badgers afford to go to him in crunch time?
  5. We know John Groce is new to the Big Ten, so didn’t anybody tell him that the conference has a reputation for playing slower basketball? Perhaps not. And, really, Groce is just another in the line of Big Ten coaches who wants his players to push the basketball up and down the floor. Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State are all teams known to be lethal in the full-court game, and that’s the style Groce is trying to bring to Illinois. Mark Tupper writes that this is getting more players to expand their game, which can only mean good things for the Illini in the long run.
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Big Ten M5: 02.20.13 Edition

Posted by jnowak on February 20th, 2013

morning5_bigten

  1. Once again, Indiana‘s Victor Oladipo was front and center for the Hoosiers on Tuesday night, solidifying himself on the national stage among the front-runners for Big Ten and National Player of the Year, as well. He’s widely considered one of the most improved players in all of college basketball, and CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman has the story of Oladipo’s transformation. Ever since he was a teenager, Oladipo has had to prove doubters wrong, working to improve his dribbling and his shooting to round out a game that is large on speed and athleticism. He’s become one of the best all-around players in the Big Ten, and a huge reason the Hoosiers have had such success this year.
  2. There hasn’t been a more up-and-down team in the Big Ten this year than Illinois, which has always been dangerous and lately has been downright lethal. The Illini surprised just about everybody when they started off the season so well, then they fell off once Big Ten play started. They rebounded exceptionally well after that, and Brandon Paul says a lot of that credit goes to the coaches, who “never gave up on [them]” this season. In the past, when things got bad at Illinois, they stayed that way — one bad loss would lead to another and so on. But this suggests a different culture in Champaign and it certainly seems to be for the better.
  3. Just because Wisconsin walk-on seniors Dan Fahey and J.D. Wise don’t find their names in the box score often doesn’t mean that they haven’t contributed to the Badgers’ exceptional run this season. The two rarely make it off the end of the bench, but some of the Badger regulars credit the two of them for helping keep Wisconsin in check during practice and in preparation for the grueling Big Ten schedule. As Wisconsin prepares to take on Northwestern and its Princeton offense tonight, the work of those walk-ons will be put to the test.
  4. If there’s a team you want to go up against with your NCAA Tournament chances on the line, you can’t do much better in this conference than facing Nebraska. That’s the case for Iowa, which still holds a slim hope at making the Big Dance. To do so, they absolutely have to sweep its remaining two meetings against the Cornhuskers. The Hawkeyes are on the outside looking in as far as the NCAA Tournament bubble is concerned right now, but they still have a chance. “You don’t want to pretend like it’s not out there,” Fran McCaffery said. “They turn on the TV and that’s all everybody is talking about.”
  5. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. That seems to be the case for Ohio State, which can’t seem to do much right lately. The Buckeyes are slipping in the Big Ten standings, can’t find much scoring outside of Deshaun Thomas and don’t have much of an identity at this point late in the season. So Zac Jackson says they may just need a spark. Sometimes, though, all it takes is for one good thing to lead to another. There’s never been any doubt about the capability of this Ohio State group — it’s just a matter of them putting all the pieces together. Can just one thing jump-start them?
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Three Questions About Tonight’s Michigan State – Indiana Showdown

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 19th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

The Big Ten has been so competitive this season that we have been spoiled with match-ups between top-20 teams frequently during the weeknights. A quick glance through the schedule for the week and you realize that tonight’s game between Michigan State and Indiana features two teams ranked in the top five of the polls and the winner should have the upper hand for the conference title and a #1 seed in March. The Hoosiers controlled the tempo during their first game in Bloomington as they won 75-70, as the Spartans were handicapped for most of it because Keith Appling couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Indiana’s game against Michigan was well-hyped by the national media because of ESPN Gameday in town for the event, but the second game of the season between two top-five teams from the B1G is no slouch. Folks in the Midwest will need to make sure they get out of work early to prepare for the early tip-off (6:00 PM CST) but as we wait for tonight’s action, the following is a list of key questions about this week’s version of the big game.

Keith Appling needs to stay on the floor if the Spartans hope to beat the Hoosiers tonight.(Paul Abell/US Presswire)

Keith Appling needs to stay on the floor if the Spartans hope to beat the Hoosiers tonight.(Paul Abell/US Presswire)

  1. How will the injuries affect each team? Victor Oladipo didn’t play much against Purdue on Saturday because he sprained his ankle, but the Hoosiers didn’t really need his services against a young Boilermaker squad. Oladipo will need to be nearly 100% for the game in East Lansing because he is the Hoosiers’ best on-ball defender and can help keep Appling from penetrating into the paint. It is tough to keep the point guard out of the paint during the final minutes of games (ask the Jayhawks and the Illini), but Oladipo is probably the only defender in the conference not named Aaron Craft who can make it happen. Oladipo’s quick hands were at work during the first match-up as he stole the ball six times and pulled down seven rebounds. Without their senior at 100%, Indiana’s transition game won’t be as efficient but it is likely that he will still find a way to be effective. On the flip side, Appling needs to stay on the floor and try to avoid the reaches on defense that caused him to pick up some early fouls in Bloomington. Backup point guard Travis Trice’s status is still uncertain for the game but even if he were to play, he may not be as effective because it may take some time for him to get used to the pace after sitting out the past few days. Trice played 30 minutes at the point in Bloomington but was hounded by the half-court pressure as he turned the ball over five times despite dishing out five assists. Freshman guard Denzel Valentine has provided the back-up point guard duties in Trice’s absence but he isn’t very comfortable handling the ball against pressure. Sharpshooter Gary Harris has played through back spasms during the past week but his nagging injury could make a comeback during the game, which could affect his long-range shooting. If the Spartans want to stay in this game without turning the ball over too many times, Appling will need to play at least 35 minutes tonight. Read the rest of this entry »
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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Back at No. 1; A Farewell to Nerlens Noel

Posted by DCassilo on February 15th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

College basketball suffered a devastating loss when news broke that Nerlens Noel had torn his ACL in Tuesday’s game against Florida. Perhaps the best defender in the country, Noel was starting to come into his own offensively. The injury has once again sparked the debate about the one-and-done rule. First of all, know your target with this debate. It’s the NBA, not the NCAA. David Stern came up with the rule, but the biggest effects have been seen in college basketball. The positive for the NCAA has been increased exposure. Everyone wants a chance to see players like Noel before they hit the big show. But on the flip side, it’s tough on coaches who can’t plan their recruiting as easily as they used to. And finally, there’s the health risk for the player. This is another reason why I think there needs to be some sort of union-like body watching out for college athletes’ interest. If we knew a player like Noel would be taken care of financially in the event of an injury, I don’t think people would have as big a problem with the one-and-done rule.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG

The big man for Gonzaga is as consistent as they come, seemingly giving the Bulldogs somewhere between 15 and 20 points every single night. Some say this is the best Gonzaga team ever, and he deserves much of the credit for that. This week: February 16 at San Francisco, February 20 vs. Santa Clara

9. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

The drop for McLemore is mostly because of the terrific weeks by other players on this list. The freshman didn’t do too badly himself, as he poured in 30 points in a win over Kansas State. This week: February 16 vs. Texas, February 20 at Oklahoma State

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

As one of the few Buckeyes that can score, Thomas keeps posting 20-point games because he keeps getting a lot of shots. The junior has taken at least 15 shots in each of his last five games and fewer than 11 just once all season. This week: February 17 at Wisconsin, February 20 vs. Minnesota

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 23 PPG, 7.7 RPG

Losers of three straight and perhaps headed for a seat on the bubble, McDermott’s team is playing him out of the Player of the Year race. While he has played well, he’s missing the memorable performances he needs to overcome everything working against him. This week: February 16 at Evansville, February 19 vs. Southern Illinois Read the rest of this entry »

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