Nebraska’s Loss to Rhode Island Exhibits Some Danger Signs

Posted by Brendan Brody on November 24th, 2014

It’s not as though Nebraska was going to waltz through the season undefeated or anything. The Cornhuskers cracked the preseason Top 25 because of the finishing run they went on last season and because they brought back pretty much every significant player in the rotation other than Ray Gallegos. That said, Saturday’s overtime loss to an unranked Rhode Island team exhibited several potential trouble spots for the Cornhuskers if they don’t immediately fix some things. We outline three of those problem areas below.

Walter Pitchford is off to a slow start this season for Nebraska. (AP)

Walter Pitchford is off to a slow start this season for Nebraska. (AP)

  • Walter Pitchford is Struggling: The former Florida forward emerged as a quality deep shooting big man last season, hitting 41.0 percent on nearly 50 makes from three. He’s off to a 1-of-11 start from behind the arc this season. One of the most difficult things to do if you’re a good shooter whose shots are not falling is to find other ways to contribute. It’s clear that he’s struggling in other facets of his game, but Pitchford could work through his slump by becoming a better presence on the boards and staying out of foul trouble. Right now the offense is pretty much limited to the Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields show, but last year’s team really took off when the secondary options improved. Rhode Island outrebounded Nebraska by 16, and Pitchford’s lack of activity inside is a big part of the reason why. Read the rest of this entry »
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Can Nebraska Handle the Hype?

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 27th, 2014

Nebraska essentially came out of nowhere last season, going from a 9-9 start to closing out the season on a 10-4 finish and making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Terran Petteway became a household name in the Big Ten and head coach Tim Miles put himself on the map as one of the brightest young coaches in the land. The team brings back most of its roster from last season and has started this year ranked #21 in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll. Will the Cornhuskers drop back to mediocrity with these expectations or will they continue to take leap forward? Here are some arguments for and against each scenario.

Terran Petteway will once again lead a Nebraska team that won't sneak up on anybody this season. (AP)

Terran Petteway will once again lead a Nebraska team that won’t sneak up on anybody this season. (AP)

Why They Will Be Even Better

Nebraska’s non-conference schedule is more forgiving in some ways than it was last year, but it will give the Cornhuskers several chances to pick up quality wins against teams that could very well be in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers have rematches against Cincinnati and Creighton at home, and both of those teams look to be down a bit meaning that the home team should have the advantage. Nebraska also plays two true road games against Rhode Island and Florida State. Rhode Island has a really good guard in EC Matthews and Florida State will test them inside with a trio of 7-footers. If they make it through their first nine games with a record of 8-1 or 9-0, they will get tested again in Honolulu’s Diamond Head Classic, where they could play Wichita State in the second round and potentially Colorado in the championship game. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Blueprints: How Each Big Ten Team Can Advance Past Its First Opponent

Posted by Brendan Brody on March 19th, 2014

The Big Ten is largely known as one of the best, if not the best, basketball conferences in all of the land. This hasn’t necessarily equated to great success in the postseason, however. In fact, it’s been 14 long years since one of the league members has cut down the nets on the first Monday night in April (Michigan State – 2000). The first key to winning it all, obviously, is to win your first game. As we head into the league’s six openers over the next two days, here is what each Big Ten team needs to accomplish in order to get into the next round.

Aaron Craft must create turnovers for Ohio State to beat Dayton. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

Aaron Craft must create turnovers for Ohio State to beat Dayton. (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

  • Ohio State must create turnovers to beat Dayton: This holds true for almost every game that the Buckeyes play, but it’s especially important here because Dayton plays a slower pace and they turn the ball over 18.1% of the time. Aaron Craft, Shannon Scott, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and the rest of the rangy, athletic Buckeyes need to realize that their best offense here is their defense. If they get some live-ball turnovers that will allow them to get out and run, they’ll have Dayton right where they want them.
  • Michigan State must stop the triple threat to beat Delaware: Delaware has three legitimate offensive weapons in Jarvis Threatt, Devon Saddler, and Davon Usher. All three average at least 18.0 PPG for a team that plays at the 10th fastest tempo in the country. Michigan State has their own big three, however, in Adreian Payne, Gary Harris, and Keith Appling. If the Spartans’ trio can outscore the group of Blue Hens, with Branden Dawson locking down the 6’6″ Usher in the process, Sparty should move on. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Thoughts as Nebraska Notched a Big Road Win at Indiana Last Night

Posted by Walker Carey on March 6th, 2014

Walker Carey is an RTC Correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Nebraska and Indiana in Bloomington.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Indiana, Nebraska was widely seen as a bubble NCAA Tournament team. The Cornhuskers were among the “First Four Out” in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest update, so Tim Miles’ squad knew it had basically zero margin for error in either of its two games this week (at Indiana on Wednesday and home versus Wisconsin on Sunday). Earning a win at Assembly Hall figured to be a tall task for the Cornhuskers, as Indiana had already scored home victories over Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State this season. Luckily for Nebraska, its chances at an earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament are still alive and well after the Cornhuskers led all the way en route to a very important 10-point road victory. The following are three thoughts from Wednesday night’s action.

Nebraska Got a Huge Win at Indiana Wednesday Night

Nebraska Got a Huge Win at Indiana Wednesday Night

  1. Nebraska Received Valuable Contributions From a Variety of Players. On an evening where Nebraska standout guard Terran Petteway battled foul trouble and only finished 3-of-10 from the field, the Cornhuskers received impact performances from several other players. Forward Walter Pitchford scored the team’s first nine points of the night and finished the game with 17 total points to go with the nine rebounds he collected. Swingman Shavon Shields experienced plenty of success attacking the rim against the Indiana defense and also finished the game with 17 points. Shields was also part of the defensive effort that held Indiana’s marquee players — Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey – to combined 9-of-28 shooting from the field. The Cornhuskers also received key performances from reserve guards Benny Parker and Ray Gallegos, who sparked the Cornhuskers on both ends of the court with intense and spirited play. Good teams are able to adjust on the fly and still earn victories when their top player is not at his best, and that is exactly what Nebraska did on Wednesday night. Read the rest of this entry »
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B1G Award Spotlight: Terran Petteway

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 30th, 2014

With the season now turning toward the home stretch, it’s time to start contemplating and discussing which players are most worthy and likely to see their names on the Big Ten all-league teams. As an example, Nebraska’s Terran Petteway has seemingly come out of nowhere to lead the Cornhuskers in scoring in his first season on the active roster, one of a number of first-year players who have helped Tim Miles’ rebuilding efforts. While Tai Webster, Walter Pitchford, Leslee Smith and the now-exiled Deverell Biggs have all contributed in various ways, none have had the impact of Petteway. He’s already become one of the best go-to scorers in the league, checking in at third on the league leaders list at 18.2 PPG. The question to be answered here is where does he deserve to be placed in terms of all-league consideration?

Terran Petteway has been Nebraska's best player, but is that enough to make him first-team all B1G? (AP)

Terran Petteway has been Nebraska’s best player, but is that enough to make him first-team all B1G? (AP)

The usual theory that coincides with how these all-league teams are picked is “to the victor goes the spoils.” Fair or not, given the concentration of talent among 12 teams, a player normally needs to be on team that finishes in the top third of the standings to make the first team. In the last three seasons, only two first-team selections have come from teams that didn’t finish in the top four of that season’s standings (Robbie Hummel and John Shurna in 2011-12). Sitting at 10th right now at 2-5 in Big Ten play, this likely takes Petteway out of first-team consideration unless Nebraska goes on an epic hot streak over its last 11 games. That does not mean, however, that he’s precluded from placement on either the second- or third-team all-conference squads.

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On The Mend: Big Ten Medical Roundup

Posted by Max Jakubowski on November 1st, 2013

With the season rapidly approaching, the dreaded injury bug is something that coaches lose sleep over. Not only can an injury hurt a team’s chances of winning, but it also throws off rotations and can possibly lead to chemistry issues.

  • Big Ten teams have been fortunate enough to not have any serious injuries so far. Michigan State’s Gary Harris gave the country a scare when he hurt his ankle back in early September, and he was already recovering from a shoulder injury that nagged him for all of last season. He now looks to be fully recovered from the ankle injury as he poured in 15 points in an exhibition matchup on Tuesday. Harris is the only player on the Spartans’ roster who can create his own shot, so losing him for any time period would be a blow to Michigan State’s Big Ten conference title hopes.
  • The Spartans’ in-state rival Michigan also has one of its key players dealing with an injury. Back pains and big men never go well together, and in Mitch McGary’s situation, that is exactly the case. John Beilein recently gave an update on McGary’s health, and there is not definite timetable for McGary’s return to the court. The Wolverines have very little frontcourt depth behind him so this could spell trouble if he’s not 100 percent to start the year. Still, Beilein has to be careful to not rush his sophomore star back, as a nagging back problem all year would really hurt Michigan’s chances to get back to the Final Four. Michigan’s first real test is at Iowa State November 17 and then a major showdown with Duke a few weeks later. He should be ready to go for those contests, but Michigan has to be cautious with him (and his back).
Bringing back two key cogs like McGary and Robinson III gives Michigan enough firepower for a run at a Big Ten championship in 2013-14

Bringing back two key cogs like McGary and Robinson III gives Michigan enough firepower for a run at a Big Ten championship in 2013-14

  • Wisconsin starting forward Frank Kaminsky recently was cleared to return to practice after injuring his left foot earlier in the month. The Badgers can ill afford to lose him for an extended period of time, as they are one of the weakest teams in the league when it comes to frontcourt depth. Bo Ryan figures to trot out a three-guard lineup this season with Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and freshman Nigel Hayes seeing time. Kaminsky did a solid job backing up Jared Berggren last year, but this year he inherits the bulk of the minutes. Ryan will lean on “Frank the Tank” to try to slow down some of the Big Ten’s elite big men when the Badgers are on defense.

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What In The World Is Going On At Providence?

Posted by jstevrtc on July 21st, 2010

Did Keno Davis run over a nun, or something?  Is there a Boston College fan somewhere snickering  sinisterly while poking pins into a Providence College doll?

This past Saturday, Kadeem Batts, a redshirt freshman at Providence, was arrested outside a club on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and failure to leave premises.  He’s still on the team, but it’s not the most confidence-inspiring start, and it’s just another in an improbable string of unfortunate events that have befallen the PC men’s basketball program in recent months.

Back in April, forward Johnnie Lacy and guard James Still, both freshmen, were charged with felony assault in the beating of a PC student.  They’re not just off the team, they’re gone, expelled from the college.  About a month later, sophomore Jamine Peterson — only the team’s leading scorer (19.6 PPG) and rebounder (10.2 RPG) — was dismissed from the squad for violating team rules (not otherwise specified) while hosting a recruit for a weekend.

And then there’s this Joseph Young situation.  In case you’re not familiar, Young is the son of former Houston Cougar and Phi Slamma Jamma member Michael Young, who’s currently the Director of Basketball Operations and Performance Enhancement at the University of Houston.  Last month, Joseph signed a letter of intent to play for Providence as a freshman in the 2010-2011 season.  He changed his mind soon after, citing his concern for an aunt to whom he’s particularly close who is awaiting a heart transplant, and an increased desire to therefore attend school close to home.  He asked Providence for a release from his LOI — and was denied.

At this point, if we were Coach Davis we'd be looking upward for random falling anvils. (AP/H.R. Abrams)

Providence didn’t do this just to be mean, though.  Check it out:  Mr. Young was quickly hired to his current position at Houston (he was also an assistant coach for a year and strength/conditioning coach for five years) after James Dickey was brought on to replace the retired Tom Penders, and Young happens to have a basketball-playing son with some skills.  You can’t blame Providence for at least raising an eyebrow in regard to the timing, here — the elder Young is hired to a new position at the hometown school right at the time the younger Young is about to embark on his college basketball career? With all that Providence has had to deal with recently, you can’t blame them for wanting to hold onto a player for whom they have high hopes, especially if they have reason to think they’re not being given the whole story about that player’s desires to leave.  Providence has stated that they expect Joseph Young to honor his commitment, a lesson it’s never too late to teach (or learn).

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DePaul, In A Tough PR Spot, Releases Pitchford

Posted by nvr1983 on July 12th, 2010

Zagsblog overlord Adam Zagoria reported earlier tonight that 2010 recruit Walter Pitchford will be granted his release from DePaul at some point in the next two days, allowing Pitchford to sign with another school.

Pitchford, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had signed a letter of intent with DePaul early in the recruiting period and was to start his college career this fall, but later asked for a release, telling Zagsblog that he asked for it because of the coaching change that saw Jerry Wainwright fired and former Clemson boss Oliver Purnell brought in to run things on the Chicago campus. He also claimed to be “concerned” with the level of crime in Chicago. DePaul initially denied Pitchford’s request, and his appeal to the NCAA was also rejected. In an ESPN.com article published earlier on Sunday, Purnell defended his new employers, saying that DePaul was retaining Pitchford because they wanted to run the basketball program “with integrity.” Purnell also voiced suspicion that there may have even been some tampering, by other schools, and reiterated that they weren’t holding onto Pitchford just to be cruel, that there was a principle involved, here, and that he wanted the entire process to play out. Then, just hours later, came the news that Pitchford was to be released.

Purnell and DePaul were put in a tough spot, and giving Pitchford his release will be better for both sides. (Photo: coachpurnell.com)

To be sure, since the moment that Pitchford asked for his release, DePaul has been in a tough spot. If they had immediately released Pitchford, they would have lost a recruit that they wanted, and in the process painted themselves as a program that can be walked on, a basketball team from which recruits are better off escaping. They would have looked like a place that has made no progress in coming back from their recent disarray, not a program doing all that it can to repair itself. If they had held onto Pitchford no matter what, there’s no way they could have come out of that positively, from a PR standpoint. If they’d have held Pitchford to his letter of intent, DePaul would have been painted as a recruit-unfriendly program that holds kids hostage. Even if the reputation would have been unfairly gained, it’s not exactly an image a new coach wants to cultivate, especially in a city as rich with young basketball talent as Chicago. And, of course, you never know what kind of effort you’d get from a player who doesn’t want to be in your program.

Now we wait to see where Pitchford lands, which will be interesting, considering his reasons for wanting out of his LOI at DePaul. We can’t really buy that there was a sudden realization in Pitchford’s camp that there might be crime in Chicago, and while we know that Jerry Wainwright was a nice guy, there’s no denying that Purnell’s resume — especially recently — is more impressive, and DePaul will be the better for his being there. Pitchford’s choice of school will have to jibe with his reasons for wanting out of DePaul. If they don’t, despite Pitchford getting his release, there will be more questions here than answers.

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Morning Five: 07.12.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 12th, 2010

We’re back from the weekend with a great set of links from the past three days that caught our eye.

  1. Luke Winn with another great piece for SI. This time it is on Abdul Gaddy, who came out of high school last year rated just behind John Wall, but struggled in his first year at Washington. Gaddy was stuck behind Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton at Washington last season (both back this year too) and behind Kyrie Irving this summer on the U18 team, but both of his coaches Lorenzo Romar (at Washington) and Jeff Capel (on the US team) think he will develop into a solid player. We will be watching the development of Gaddy, who was just 17 years old for most of last season, with interest to see if he ever develops into the star many predicted him to be.
  2. We have to hand it to Bruce Pearl for picking up UNC-Wilmington transfer John Fields, who left the Seahawks after averaging 10.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game in his one season there. Fields has one more year of eligibility left and should add depth to a solid Volunteer team. He left the Seahawk program after a tumultuous season in which the head coach who had recruited him (Benny Moss) was fired at mid-season and replaced by Buzz Peterson. Because Fields will enroll in Tennessee’s graduate sports management program that was not available at his previous school, he will not have to sit out one season before playing for the Volunteers. We bet there’s another ACC team wouldn’t have minded picking up a little extra depth on the inside next season. We have a short clip from a local Tennessee news station interviewing Fields below.
  3. It looks like Jon Scheyer might be moving from one championship team (Duke) to the Las Vegas favorites to win another championship (Miami Heat–we aren’t ready to hand them the title yet). Scheyer possesses several qualities as a player that the Heat need (reliable shooter who doesn’t make many mistakes and above all else will be cheap), but he won’t help in one area in which the Heat desperately need a boost — defense. We’re wondering if Coach K might lobby his USA National Team players (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) on behalf of his recently departed star guard.
  4. Speaking of the Miami Heat, Frank Haith believes that the arrival of LeBron and Bosh will be a tremendous tool for the Hurricanes’ recruiting. We aren’t buying it for a second unless the three decide to pay back the NCAA all the money they have made in professional basketball and chase a NCAA title with Haith as their coach. The arrival of LeBron in Cleveland did absolutely nothing for college basketball in that area. LeBron may have helped his former high school coach Keith Dambrot, now at Akron, land a few recruits in the MAC, but just his presence in the city (and we don’t think he will do a single thing to help Miami recruit college players) will do absolutely nothing in the ACC against the likes of Coach K or Roy Williams actually coaching the players.
  5. When we first heard about the strange situation brewing out in Chicago where new DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell is refusing to release recruit Walter Pitchford from his signed national letter of intent we had flashbacks to the Randy Shannon/Robert Marve fiasco down in Miami in 2008 that got ugly very quickly. However, one-time RTC interview subject Adam Zagoria scooped everybody with the news that DePaul had released Pitchford from his signed commitment.
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Morning Five: 06.04.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 4th, 2010

Without question, the condition of John Wooden is the most important concern in the world of college basketball right now, and certainly beyond it, and we will be updating the site as needed on that issue.  Because that is obviously a subject that demands much greater reflection, today’s Morning Five links five other stories relevant to our sport.

  1. This has been a very busy week for college hoops news despite the calendar showing June.  We know that it won’t be today as we had all originally heard, but at some point in the near future USC will learn its NCAA-meted fate as a result of the Reggie Bush/OJ Mayo/Tim Floyd eras.  Should the Trojan faithful be worried?  Mike DeCourcy believes that the hoops program will come out relatively unscathed, but Floyd and the footballers?  Not so sure.
  2. Is the Big 12 seemingly disintegrating right before our very eyes?  It would certainly appear to be the case after yesterday’s report that the Pac-10 is looking to raid the southern half of the conference and a stalwart such as Missouri failing to calm the whispers about its imminent move to the Big Ten.
  3. Great story today by ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil about Bill Courtney, the new head honcho at Cornell, and his boundless optimism.  He definitely seems like the kind of guy for whom it would not just be fun to play, but maybe play hoops with, as O’Neil references in the article.  It’s tough taking over a program that just had one of its best seasons and just lost its key players, but it sounds like Courtney will enjoy and smile right through any weighty expectations.
  4. We know about DePaul not releasing Walter Pitchford from his LOI, and here we go again.  Joseph Young, son of former Houston star and Phi Slamma Jamma member Michael Young (who also happens to be Director of Basketball Operations at UH), had signed on to attend Providence, but wants out so he can be nearer to home and a sick aunt with whom he’s very close.  Providence is saying no dice, and the Youngs aren’t happy.
  5. This was posted a couple of days ago, but if you haven’t read Seth Davis’ article about Steve Lavin immersing himself in his new position as the caretaker at St. John’s, here’s another chance.  Evidently the guy’s been so busy with vital aspects of the job like, er, recruiting, fundraising, and finding some assistants, that the he hasn’t even found a permanent residence in NYC yet.
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