After the Buzzer: Coaches vs. Cancer, Indeed…

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. Year the Fifth. Welcome back for another year of late-night — or overnight, depending on where you are — coverage of the nightly events in college basketball. When we started this feature at the beginning of the 2007-08 season, this was pretty much the only place you could find comprehensive national coverage of the sport posted as soon as possible after the games had ended. Now, everybody does it. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but we don’t mind — in fact, it only makes us better. We assume you’re familiar with what this post is about, but each weeknight when there are games of national significance going on, we’ll be here with the After the Buzzer wrapup. On weekends, we’ll put together an overview on Sunday nights that will cover the previous couple of days of games. The intent here, mind you, isn’t to bore anybody with game recaps. We hate those probably more than you do. Rather, we try to mine the universe of nightly games to ferret out the most interesting information in terms of what people are (and will be) talking about the next morning. As with anything we do here, feel free to contact us with ideas for improvement or, really, anything else. We’re always listening.

Grabbing the Cats Wasn't Going to Help Tonight (LHL/C. Bertram)

Your Watercooler Moment. Kentucky Lays Waste to Morehouse College. Even though it was opening night for six schools Monday in the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the game people will be talking about Tuesday morning didn’t even count on anyone’s record. And it’s a good thing, because the NCAA may have had to award John Calipari’s team two or three victories while remanding a completely overmatched Morehouse College down to Division III, or IV, or V, or whatever basketball purgatory teams that lose by 85 points end up. You read that correctly — the final score in last night’s exhibition game between UK and the D-II school better known for notable alumni such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee was 125-40. We won’t cover all the ridiculous stats in this space (The Dagger has you covered for that), but at one point late in the first half the Wildcats finished off a 29-0 run to put their lead at 63-6. It only grew from there, eventually peaking at an 89-point lead that caused the nation’s #1 recruit in the class of 2012, Shabazz Muhammad, to profess his awe. Does it mean anything to lambaste a D-II team by so many points? Probably not. But in just viewing some of the highlights from tonight’s victory, it is abundantly clear that the stable of long, lean athletes that Calipari has at his disposal this season is unmatched in college basketball. At a glance, the Wildcats looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder out there.

Three Dollops of Hoopsurdity.

  • A Hopeful Family. Everyone is no doubt now familiar with the interesting name of one of St. John’s new star recruits, God’s Gift Achiuwa. But the names of his brothers and sisters helps to give a little perspective. We learned during tonight’s broadcast that the transfer has five brothers and sisters with equally hopeful names: sisters Peace and Grace; brothers Promise, Precious and God’s Will.
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RTC Live: William & Mary @ St. John’s

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2011

RTC Live is pleased to be back covering games from coast to coast for its fourth season. Tonight John Templon (@nybuckets) from Big Apple Buckets will be in Queens to check in on Year Two of the Steve Lavin era; join the conversation from NYC below, after the jump.

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Set Your TiVo: Opening Night

Posted by bmulvihill on November 7th, 2011

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter.  See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The 2011-12 college basketball season tips off with the regional rounds of the 2KSports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  We will not see a full slate of games until Friday but if you are starved for college hoops like we are, there are two games tonight that should whet your appetite.

William & Mary @ St. John’s – 7 pm EST on ESPNU (**) (RTC Live coverage begins at 6:45 pm)

Lavin's Ridiculously Young Team Tips Off the Season Tonight

  • With the exception of a few holdovers, St. John’s brings an entirely new squad into the 2011-12 season.  The Red Storm will rely heavily on freshman like Maurice Harkless, Dom Pointer, and D’Angelo Harrison.  Although young, SJU should be able to shoot on a William & Mary squad that allowed opponents to shoot an eFG of 50.1% last season.  It will take Steve Lavin’s team some time to jell over the coarse of the season, especially with three highly touted recruits being ruled ineligible for the fall semester.  However, this game may be a case where overall talent outduels experience.
  • William & Mary essentially brings back its entire 2010-11 team that went 10-22 overall.  Tony Shaver’s squad returns its two leading scorers, Quinn McDowell (15.5 PPG) and Brandon Britt (10.9 PPG).  Although a relatively solid shooting team last year (52.1% eFG), the Tribe struggles with scoring beyond those two players.  If W&M can get scoring from another player and continue to shoot the ball well, they may be able to keep it close on the road against an incredibly inexperienced St. John’s team.  However, if either of those two players gets into foul trouble or is cold from the floor, it will make for a challenging night for the Tribe.
  • This game probably will not be a defensive clinic.  William & Mary ranked 254th in the nation last year in adjusted defensive efficiency and a young team like St. John’s will probably take time to develop on that end.  If either team can create any turnovers at all, they will have a clear advantage. Unfortunately, only three teams in the country were worse than the Tribe last year at causing turnovers.  However, with many of the St. John’s players seeing their first action at the Division I level, turnovers should be expected.  Look for William & Mary to take advantage of SJU’s freshmen mistakes to keep this one close.  It will then come down to McDowell and Britt’s ability to convert points off turnovers.

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Morning Five: 11.07.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 7th, 2011

  1. It’s finally here. It has been a little more than 7 months since Connecticut defeated Butler to give Jim Calhoun his third national championship. In the interim, we have been forced to talk about the NBA Draft, a ridiculous amount of conference realignment, an even more ridiculous amount of NCAA violations, and some recent exhibition games (we will get to the latter three in a bit). Tonight, the actual games start with three games on the docket: William & Mary at St. John’s (the first game of the season and also the first RTC Live of the year), Eastern Kentucky at Mississippi State, and Valparaiso at Arizona. We are hoping with the season starting we can get back to focusing on the sport we all love. Just remember your team is still undefeated right now.
  2. Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatright continues to be in limbo with the NCAA during its ongoing investigation into his eligibility regarding a plane ticket purchased for him by Reggie Rose, his AAU coach who happens to be Derrick Rose‘s brother. According to a NCAA source, Boatright could miss between three and six games depending on the value of the ticket. [Ed. Note: How do they figure this out? Use the highest possible price like it was purchased day of or do they see what you could get on Priceline?] For his part, Reggie Rose is declining comment “out of the respect to the Boatright family” while a source close to him calls the entire thing a “witch hunt”. While the Huskies will miss Boatright in November because of their lack of depth at point guard given the relatively short length of the potential punishment we doubt that this will affect UConn in the long run unless the NCAA drags its feet in announcing the punishment because Boatright will have to sit out during that period too.
  3. We have known it was coming for weeks, but on Sunday the SEC made it official–Missouri will join the SEC for the 2012-13 season. We have already discussed in depth the impact this and other moves will have on the landscape of college sports so we will spare you all the details and moralizing. For the SEC fans who may not be familiar with Missouri and its sports teams, Alabama Live has provided a nice primer on the school and its athletic department. Our personal favorite part is the ranking schools by number of major NCAA infractions.
  4. Bob Huggins would probably like to forget West Virginia‘s last second 77-74 loss to Division II Northern Kentucky on Saturday night when Eshaunte Jones hit a three with one second left. As we have said before these games aren’t particularly helpful although some people will make a big deal out of Northern Kentucky winning its first exhibition game against a Division I opponent in 19 tries. The reality is that the Norse shot lights out going 13 of 25 from beyond the arc and shooting 54% from the field overall while the Mountaineers came out flat falling behind 42-29 at half after trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half. After the game Truck Bryant, who led the Mountaineers with 24 points, said, “I didn’t see this coming. I mean losing to a D-II school, not to take anything away from them, that’s embarrassing.” We are assuming that Huggins and Bryant will use this as motivation for the regular season opener against Oral Roberts on Friday night.
  5. Chuck Klosterman put out a list of his 50 favorite college basketball players of all-time and it created a brief controversy on Twitter on Friday afternoon as people harangued him for his selections. As we mentioned at the time the list should not be taken as a top 50 list despite its title. Klosterman lays out his criteria at the top, which is fine since it is his list, but makes some questionable interpretations of those criteria when ranking players. Overall, we sort of like his list with its mixture of players that everybody remembers as being great along with a few that only serious basketball fans would know unless they had some special connection (fans of that school, etc) and have already admitted that it is much better than what we could probably do off the top of our head for indie rock bands, Klosterman’s area of expertise.
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RTC Conference Primers: #11 – CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2011

Michael Litos of CAAHoops.com is the RTC correspondent for the CAA. You can find him on Twitter @caahoops.

Reader’s Take I

The conference has seen Eric Maynor, then Charles Jenkins, win back-to-back player of the year awards. This year, it’s a wide-open race.

 

Top Storylines

  • Encore Performance? Last season was undoubtedly the best in conference history. In addition to VCU‘s incredible Final Four run, George Mason and Old Dominion gave the CAA three NCAA Tournament teams for the first time ever. The obvious question becomes: How in the world do you follow that? The CAA is better top-to-bottom this year, which is great for competitiveness but lousy for at-large bids.
  • Disabled List, Midseason “Call Ups” A Factor: The CAA is going to look very different in January, as some of the conference’s best players will miss parts of the nonconference season for varying reasons. Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore, a first team All-CAA selection, is expected back in December from a foot injury. Ditto Drexel’s leading scorer Chris Fouch (knee). William & Mary’s Quinn McDowell, another first teamer, is battling knee problems as well. Old Dominion’s Richard Ross and James Madison’s Devon Moore return from academic suspensions after the first semester, and Blaine Taylor also gets Clemson transfer Donte Hill eligible.
  • Be Very Quiet. I’m Hunting Dragons: Speaking of Drexel, it will be interesting to watch how the Dragons react to being a conference favorite. Drexel has won at least ten conference games in eight of its ten CAA seasons, but has never entered a season with such lofty expectations. That changes this year, as Drexel is the only CAA team to return its scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks leader.  What’s more, Bruiser Flint’s lack of success in March is glaring: Despite those successful regular seasons, Drexel has played in the CAA tournament semifinals just once since 2003.
  • One Tribe, Y’all: Despite finishing 4-14  last year, CAA eyes are trained on William & Mary and its cadre of young guards. One year removed from an NIT season, Tony Shaver’s team lost eight CAA contests by five or fewer points, and seven of those were by four or fewer. Shaver played six freshmen or sophomores regularly, and that experience will pay tremendous dividends. Plus, senior Quinn McDowell is a player of the year candidate. If the Tribe can get a beastly performance on the boards from sophomore Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary may shoot up the standings.

What Does Shaka Smart Have In Mind For An Encore After VCU's Run For The Ages?

Predicted Order of Finish (predicted conference records in parentheses)

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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Tom Brennan, Part I

Posted by rtmsf on June 29th, 2011

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

You know him from his gregarious, affable demeanor as a studio host on ESPN as well as an on-air radio analyst for Sirius and Westwood One, but there’s a lot more to former Vermont head coach and media personality Tom Brennan than a friendly quip and a quick smile.  The personable transplanted Vermonter who has a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream named after him coached the game for thirty-five years, taking him from Georgia to Fairleigh Dickinson, Villanova, Seton Hall and William & Mary as an assistant, before elevating to the top position at Yale, then the Universitas Viridis Montis (UVM).  In talking to Brennan, you get a sense that he’s not only a guy you’d want to play ball for, but the kind of person you’d also ask to be the best man in your wedding.  He’s got so many stories, anecdotes and ironic twists from a lifetime of achievement that we decided to break up the interview into two parts.  In today’s Part I, we’ll track Brennan from his early days as a player in the segregated South to his crowning achievement as a three-time champion of the America East Conference at Vermont.  Tomorrow we’ll move into the broadcasting career he never thought he’d have, and talk about how likely it is that one of the neatest guys we’ve come across in this sport ever gets back onto the sidelines.

Ed. Note: Brennan uses some colorful language during this interview, so if you’re sensitive to such things, you may want to skip past this one.

Tom Brennan is as Entertaining as They Come

Rush the Court: Let’s talk a little bit about your career arc.  You’re an east coast guy who grew up in New Jersey.  How did you end up down  in the South in Athens, Georgia, in the early 70s playing ball — what was that like?

Tom Brennan: Segregation.  I can answer you in one word.  Segregation.  Seriously.  I loved going to Georgia, I loved every minute of it.  We had a coach [Ken Rosemond] from North Carolina who was on the ’57 championship team, and he was an assistant — he and Dean Smith were Frank McGuire’s two assistants.  Dean Smith got the Carolina job, and my guy got the Georgia job, and he really felt much like McGuire, that he wanted to get players from the North.  He felt the competition was better and that basketball was more important up this way.  But really, I’m not naive, there’s no way if it was ten years later that I think I would have been recruited to Georgia.  I think I was a Division I player, I mean I played in the SEC, and I would have gone somewhere and I could have gone a lot of other places besides Georgia, but honestly as I look back on it now, had integration been in play, I probably would have gone somewhere in the East.  I loved when I visited there.  He saw me in some all-star game, and I happened to have a good game, and so I just went down to visit and I really liked it.  He was going to get it going, and they had the same building [Stegeman Coliseum], honest to God, in 1967 that they have now.  They still play in it; they’ve upgraded it.  But back then it was like off the hook, it was like from Mars.  We had a lot of northern guys, and I just loved going to school there, made a lot of great friends.  Matter of fact, I just got off the phone with somebody I’m going to go spend some time in Maine with, who was our manager during my time there.  You know, I was the oldest of seven kids and I kinda wanted to get away.  I thought it would be like an adventure, and it kinda turned out to be that way.  I just think, and I don’t say it as a wise guy, I just think if it had been 1977 [rather than 1967], it would have been a lot different.

RTC:  It’s a beautiful campus — the Georgia campus — and I’ve been to the arena you’re talking about.  I’m just wondering, Vandy was one of the first schools in the SEC to integrate in the late 60swere there any other schools at that point that were integrated or was it pretty much still all white?

TB:  It was pretty much all white.  Perry Wallace [the first black SEC basketball player] was it for Vandy, and he was a stud.  He was a really good player, and I mean, you had to be a special guy to do it.  I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.  And then when I got there, the first African-American came to Georgia.  His name was Ronnie Hogue, and it’s a cute story because when I was a senior, he was a sophomore, and I was starting the first couple of games.  And he replaced me and got 43!  [laughter] [Don't tell Coach B, but Hogue actually scored 46 points!]  And so I became a contributor!  And you know what too is interesting, at that time, my brother who is now a PhD psychologist, was in Vietnam, and we had integrated at Georgia and we had the first African-American player, and I wasn’t even in tune to anything.  I’m thinking now as I look back on Vietnam, I should have written my brother a letter every day.  Every single day.  I just didn’t even think about it.  It was kind of the same way with Hogue.  He was just a good guy, a really good guy, and being from New Jersey, I’m thinking, what is taking so long [with respect to integration]?  How is this even an issue?  When are these people gonna figure out that we all are created equal and if a guy’s good enough to play, it shouldn’t matter what he looks like or what his background is.  I never really took it seriously.  And then I read a book about all the athletes that were the first to integrate, and Ronnie had some interesting comments in there, and there were things that I didn’t think about, but I wasn’t black.  I’m thinking, sh–, I never even thought about that, I never even thought to say to him, are you doing ok?  I was just trying to beat the guy out!  And he was a good kid, it wasn’t like he was a pain in the ass at all.  It wasn’t real prejudice, but he was just a player, and I was a player, and we tried to treat him as well as we could.  It was such a historic thing but I didn’t know it.  I didn’t have any kind of frame of reference about that at all.  It was neat being a part of that.  I’m proud of being a part of the first integrated team at the University of Georgia.  I’m not sure if they had a football guy yet — I think maybe they did.  I’m not 100% sure about that, but I know Ronnie was the first black basketball player. [Georgia had five black football players enroll in the fall of 1971.]  You know, we were boys and we hung out.  The thing is that there was a big black community in Athens, and it wasn’t socially mixed so much, but there was a lot of places he could go and there was a lot of people he could see, and he was really obviously a hero to all those people and I certainly understand that.

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O26 Primers: CAA, MAAC, SoCon and WCC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 4th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

As we near the weekend, more of the higher profile Other 26 conferences are beginning their postseason tournaments. In the east, the CAA, MAAC, and Southern Conference all get going with matinee affairs between Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington in the CAA and UNC-Greensboro and Davidson in the SoCon. Out west, the West Coast Conference kicks off their first round in what looks to be a very competitive tournament with St. Mary’s recent struggles and the resurgence of Gonzaga.

Colonial Athletic Association

The Favorite: Behind Cam Long and Ryan Pearson, George Mason has dominated the CAA and is the clear favorite to win the league. Old Dominion will be a tough challenger for the Patriots though.

Dark Horse: There have been many instances throughout the year that Virginia Commonwealth looks to be just as good as George Mason, but ending the year losing four straight games in the CAA will not instill confidence in many people. The Rams’ ability and talent is clearly there, and if they can string some wins together they can win the CAA championship.

Who’s Hot: George Mason winning 14 straight CAA games makes them easily the hottest CAA team.

Player to Watch: One of the most decorated players in Hofstra basketball history, Charles Jenkins is the best player to don a CAA uniform this year. The senior from Queens, NY is averaging 23.2 points per game.

First-Round Upset: William & Mary over James Madison. After having a very successful 2009-10 season, the Tribe has largely struggled this year, but is entering the CAA tournament having win two of three games. They have also split the season series with JMU this season winning the last game 73-67 and losing the first one 84-79.

How’d They Fare? Old Dominion, as a #11 seed, defeated Notre Dame 51-50 and then fell to Baylor in the second round.

Interesting Fact: The last time the CAA sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament was in 2007 when Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion went; it appears as if the CAA will be a multi-bid conference this year.

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Morning Five: 03.01.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2011

  1. See that number up there… the one that looks like two-thirds of an eight?  Yeah, that means it’s the third month of the year, the one we commonly know as March.  Starting tonight, the road to the 2011 national championship begins.  As slim as that shot might be, roughly 325 teams have a chance to win it all beginning this evening.  The Big South and Horizon League Tournaments start with their opening round games tonight, and if the teams playing in those win, and win again, and keep winning, they’ll be standing atop the world of college basketball five weeks from this morning.  That’s the beauty of this sport — you’re not voted into a chance at the title through incomprehensible algorithms, relative popularity and a heap of politicking.  You just have to keep winning — the championship is won on the court.
  2. It seems incredibly elementary to us, but we’ve actually had people argue about this with us, so it bears repeating.  There’s a strong correlation between winning on the road during the regular season and success in March among elite teams.  Mike DeCourcy points out that of the last twenty Final Four teams, nineteen had a winning road record and many of those had a superb (80%+) one.  Contrastingly, elite teams that had terrible road records during the same five-year period struggled to get to the Sweet Sixteen — one of fifteen such teams.  Are you reading this, Kentucky (3-7), Illinois (3-6) or Missouri (2-6) fans?
  3. The NPOY race has been an especially exciting one this season, and even today, the first day of March, there’s no consensus on which of a number of players most deserves the award.  Do you go Jimmer, Kemba, Nolan or Jared?  Certainly all have had outstanding seasons, and you really can’t go wrong with the choice of any of the quartet, but CBT takes the next step and handicaps the field.  Hint: sportswriters often like the best hook, and the best story in college basketball this year involves a certain LDS guard from Provo.
  4. It’s somewhat hard to believe when you consider all the outstanding players who have passed through Lawrence, Kansas, over the years, but with six more wins this season (a fair presumption), KU’s Tyrel Reed will tie Sherron Collins (2006-10) as the winningest Jayhawk player of all-time.  Collins won 130 games in his four-year career, even though he only played in a single Final Four (2008); Reed has a great chance to play in his second final weekend and without question if Kansas makes it that far this March, he will own the record.
  5. Another year has nearly passed by and The Forgotten Five schools who have never made the NCAA Tournament in its entire history dating back to 1939 remain no closer to getting a bid to the Big Dance than they ever have.  Northwestern, Army, St. Francis (NY), William & Mary and The Citadel will all have opportunities in the next two weeks to play their way into the NCAA Tournament, but none are anywhere near an at-large bid, and the likelihood of any of these five making a substantial conference tournament run is rather minimal.
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The Week That Was: Jan. 4-Jan. 10

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2011

David Ely is an RTC Contributor

It wasn’t the best of weeks for TWTW. Notre Dame and Kentucky failed to live up to TWTW’s lofty praise heaped upon them. Notre Dame’s defense allowed Marquette to shoot 53.1% from the field and 70.6% from three in a 22-point loss, and the Wildcats lost their SEC opener after TWTW proclaimed them a sure-thing to come close to running the table in conference.

What will TWTW say this week that in seven-days will seem ridiculous? Let’s find out…

What We Learned

Walker Is Still Your Leader In the POY Race. (P. Raycraft/Hartford Courant)

Connecticut probably wasn’t quite in panic mode yet, but no team scored a bigger win than the Huskies with their road win at Texas on Saturday. After a 12-0 start to the regular season, the Huskies stumbled to a 1-2 start in the Big East. UConn barely beat USF at home on Dec. 32, and that game was sandwiched between road losses at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Considering how young the Huskies are (they play six freshmen) and their dependence on Kemba Walker, the slump definitely cast doubts on the Huskies’ bona fides as a national contender. UConn seems to have its mojo back now, as other players proved they can step up in big games. The Huskies received a tremendous effort from Alex Oriakhi (11 points, 21 rebounds), while Roscoe Smith and Shabazz Napier contributed 13 and 15 points, respectively. UConn even survived one of the most mind-boggling shots in recent history: Smith’s full-court heave with more than 10 seconds left in regulation. If you can win in spite of a play like that, you have to think you’re destined for big things this season.

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Around The Blogosphere: December 22, 2010

Posted by nvr1983 on December 22nd, 2010

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #2 Ohio State 96, UNC-Asheville 49: “Shaking off a shooting slump that saw him fail to reach double figures in four straight games and shoot just 32% over the last six, David Lighty broke out of his offensive funk with a 29 point performance to key Ohio State’s 96-49 blowout victory over UNC-Asheville tonight in the Schott.” (Eleven Warriors)
  • USC 65, #17 Tennessee 64: “”It started exactly the way you expected it would against Kevin O’Neill, and ended exactly the way it did just four days ago for Bruce Pearl. Down one with three seconds and change left on a side out-of-bounds, the Vols had to settle for a long three that didn’t fall. As a result, Tennessee lost their third straight game – their second by one point – and the beatdown of #3 Pittsburgh just ten days ago now feels more like myth than fact.” (Rocky Top Talk)

Other Games of Interest

  • UNC 85, William & Mary 60: “It turns out William & Mary has even less luck in the Dean Dome then they do in Carmichael. Down three starters from last year’s NIT team, the Tribe were stymied by their own poor shooting, missing all twelve three point attempts in the first half. Meanwhile, UNC took care of the ball, had some good shooting of their own, and won handily despite keeping John Henson on the bench for all but four minutes after he re-injured his thumb. (X-rays should not be required, and he was sat more as a precaution than anything else.)” (Carolina March)
  • Cincinnati 64, Miami 48: “Last night, the Bearcats went on the road and did something that they hadn’t done in 17 years, play, and defeat, Miami.” (Bearcats Blog)

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RTC Instant Analysis: Evening Games

Posted by nvr1983 on December 4th, 2010

As part of our on-going attempt to bring you the best college basketball coverage on-line, we are introducing a new feature where we give your our thoughts after each set of games over the weekend. We’ll be back later tonight for the late game analysis.

  1. Illinois is back: Illinois might have missed the NCAA Tournament last year, but this year they should be a Sweet 16 team and have an outside shot of making the Final Four. Much like Florida, who actually made the NCAA Tournament last year, the Fighting Illini did not that much in terms of new players (freshman Jereme Richmond is the one major addition with 9.0 PPG and 4.4 RPG), but unlike the Gators they have made significant strides this year. A convincing win at Gonzaga along with solid wins against Maryland and UNC should help ensure that Bruce Weber gets back to the NCAA Tournament agian barring a major me)ltdown in the Big Ten.
  2. Demetri steals the show: Kyrie Irving may be dominating the headlines in the early season and he might be the best point guard in the country already, but Demetri McCamey isn’t far behind. The Illinois senior has been nothing short of sensational this season as he has averaged 15.3 PPG (on 52.3% FG and 51.6% 3-point shooting) and 7.8 APG (2nd in the nation) thus far. He has also shown the leadership ability that Bruce Weber expects coming up big in big games so far against Texas, Maryland, UNC, and Gonzaga. The Fighting Illini may not win the loaded Big Ten this year, but because of McCamey they will have a chance in every game they play this year.
  3. Is Syracuse a top 10 team?: Syracuse may have escaped yet again, but I can’t believe that anyone would be buying this team after what we have seen this season. They will probably still be a top 10 team next week, but they have been underwhelming so far as they have yet to play a legitimate NCAA Tournament team yet, but have struggled with a 3-point win at home against William & Mary, a 3-point win against Michigan, a 4-point win against Georgia Tech (lost to Kennesaw State by 16), and a 6-point win at home against NC State (lost to Wisconsin by 39). Simply put, Jim Boeheim cannot be looking forward to their game against Michigan State on Tuesday. If the Orange don’t improve significantly before that time, I would expect the Spartans to rebound from their loss against Duke and expose the Orange.
  4. Steve Donahue is getting it done at BC: Boston College might not threaten Duke this year, but things are looking good in Chestnut Hill where new coach Steve Donahue has the Eagles playing solidly. Outside of an early loss to Yale (perhaps he thought he was still at Cornell), the Eagles only loss has been against Wisconsin. The Eagles also piled up wins against Texas A&M, California, and Indiana before beating an undefeated UMass team today. The Eagles don’t have a “star”, but the combination of Reggie Jackson, Joe Trapani, and Corey Raji provide them with a solid nucleus and they have a good group of role players who can contribute on any given night (like Josh Southern tonight with 16 points on 7/7 FG and 7 rebounds). Look for the Eagles to compete for a NCAA Tournament spot in the weak ACC this year.
  5. Who is in charge of scheduling?: Who is in charge of planning these big in-season match-ups? I understand that it is hard to do too much because every school has a lot of committments and there are a ton of sports, but why would you schedule Duke-Butler, a rematch of the national title game against the SEC title game? I’m not going to blame the people who “run” college basketball for scheduling against Oregon-Oregon State because nobody expected that to be for a BCS title game bid, but the SEC title game has essentially been a game that is a direct bid for the BCS title game. Even if it was scheduled on this date was scheduled well ahead of time ESPN should have been able to adjust the time to give the game the attention it deserves.
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The Other 26: Week Two

Posted by jstevrtc on November 27th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

We are getting into the thick of the things as teams are now well into their non-conference slate. While many small-conference schools take their lumps at the hands of larger-conference opponents as often happens at this time of year, other are emerging as legitimate contenders within the world of the “Other 26.” At this point in most seasons the Maui Invitational controls much of the discussion within college basketball circles, and this year has been no different. The tournament encompasses some of the nation’s best teams, and for about a week the focal point of college basketball is the Lahaina Civic Center. Suited more for an AAU championship game than a premiere college basketball venue, the Civic Center witnessed one of the most dominating performances in the history of the Invitational. Averaging 30 points, missing only two of 28 free throws, and guiding the young Huskies to the title is the mark of a champion, and Kemba Walker did all of those. Walker’s first heroics of the Invitational came against Wichita State, who so nearly thwarted Connecticut’s chances at winning the Invitational on the first day. In the process, however, the Shockers garnered my full admiration in how they competed with some of the top teams in America. In the end, Kemba Walker and Connecticut prevailed, but Wichita State was heard and will continue to make noise throughout the year.

What team impressed the most?

Following a tough season-opening loss to Georgetown by three points, Old Dominion has run off four straight victories. Their wins were hardly against cupcake opponents either as two came against Clemson and Xavier (it should be known that both the Tigers and Musketeers have both fallen only to Old Dominion). It is a grave task for any opponent to combat the Monarchs’ attack as no one ODU player is far and away the most significant contributor. Frank Hassell is the team’s leader from a statistical perspective as he averages nearly a double-double and is an extremely efficient offensive player, shooting better than 60% from the field. Blaine Taylor, ODU’s coach, is the mastermind behind this balanced attack. Check out these numbers: six players are averaging between 5.5 and 8.8 shots a game, and seven players average between 4.2 and 12.6 points a game. While not a flashy team by any means, Old Dominion plays a true team game — a truce recipe for success come March.

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