Award Tour: Trey Burke Is The Best Player In The Country

Posted by DCassilo on February 8th, 2013

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

After weeks and weeks of coming close, Trey Burke has finally broken through and grabbed the #1 spot. It’s a long time coming, as Burke embodies everything you want in a player. He’s a scorer that can take over the game. He’s an unselfish player that likes to get his teammates involved. He’s a leader, who steps up in big moments and keeps his team focused. Look no further than his block of Aaron Craft’s potential game-tying shot on Tuesday as to why there’s nobody like him in the country. Michigan is in good hands come March.


10. Victor Oladipo – Indiana (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.3 SPG

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day, if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

I’ll reluctantly include Oladipo, partly because there’s no one better and partly because you almost have to at this point. I don’t blame him, but the hype surrounding him has really surprised me. I just don’t see why people say he’s better than some one like Otto Porter Jr., who puts up equal if not better stats, when Oladipo has Zeller down low and Porter Jr. lost his second-best player to suspension. This week: February 10 at Ohio State, February 13 vs. Nebraska

9. Nate Wolters – South Dakota State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 22.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.5 APG

I don’t care what conference he’s in and how good his team is, Wolters is without question one of the 10 best players in the country. In case you missed it, he scored 53 points against IPFW on Thursday night. And as his numbers above show, he’s well-rounded too. This week: February 9 at Oakland, February 14 vs. IUPUI

8. Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG

Porter Jr. played just once this week and had 11 points and seven rebounds in a win over St. John’s. He’s shot at least 50 percent from the field in five of his last six games. This week: February 9 at Rutgers, February 11 vs. Marquette

7. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG

It was a rough week for Kansas, but McLemore was only partially to blame. He had 23 points, his second-most in Big 12 play, in the loss to Oklahoma State, so he can be absolved for the game. Against TCU, though, his 0-for-6 3-point shooting was part of a dreadful night for the Jayhawks. This week: February 9 vs. Oklahoma, February 11 vs. Kansas State Read the rest of this entry »

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Award Tour: Fabulous Week For Freshmen; Jim Larranaga Is New No. 1 Coach

Posted by DCassilo on February 1st, 2013


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

What a couple of days it was for our freshmen across college basketball. On Tuesday, there was Nerlens Noel, who provided one of college basketball’s best performances of the year by blocking 12 shots in Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss. Meanwhile, his teammate Archie Goodwin posted 24 points, six rebounds and four assists. A day later it was Baylor’s Isaiah Austin stealing the show with 19 points and 20 rebounds. Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart had 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Anyone who believes talent is down this year for the freshman class just hasn’t been paying attention.


10. Anthony Bennett – UNLV (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 18.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG

After starting the season on fire, Bennett has not been nearly as dominant in the Mountain West Conference. He clings to a spot this week after averaging 15 points and seven rebounds over his last two games. This week: February 2 at Boise State, February 6 at Fresno State

9. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG

Zeller has drawn a lot of criticism this season, mainly because of expectations that were too high in the first place. When the dust settles, he’s still the top scorer and rebounder on the third-best team in the country. This week: February 2 vs. Michigan, February 7 at Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 18 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk is Making Waves For More Reasons Than His Haircut This Season

Kelly Olynyk is Making Waves For More Reasons Than His Haircut This Season.

With the below-average competition in the West Coast Conference, Olynyk isn’t posting monster numbers lately because he really doesn’t have to. He’s coming off a week in which he averaged 14 points and seven rebounds, while the Bulldogs cruised to two victories. This week: February 2 at San Diego, February 7 vs. Pepperdine

7. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG

Early foul trouble against West Virginia on Monday had McLemore destined for his worst game in ages. But he still found a way to finish with a solid 13 points and four rebounds. It must be nice to have a freshman that you can pencil in for at least those numbers every night. This week: February 2 vs. Oklahoma State, February 6 at TCU

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Award Tour: Ben McLemore Rises As Conference Play Begins and a Russ Smith Sighting…

Posted by DCassilo on January 11th, 2013


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

While the non-conference schedule gives us some fun match-ups, conference play is the time of year where we really see what players and teams are made of. Look no further than Ben McLemore. The Kansas freshman was on our radar before Wednesday, but his performance against Iowa State elevated him to another level nationally. So don’t be surprised when you see so many new names on this week’s rankings. It’s just that time of year.


10. Russ Smith – Louisville (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 19.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.6 SPG

Always a dangerous scorer, Smith makes his debut this week due to the versatility he’s been showing lately. Against Seton Hall on Wednesday, the junior grabbed seven boards and had six dimes. His ability to be useful even when he isn’t shooting well is what will make him a contender. This week: January 12 vs. South Florida, January 14 at UConn

9. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG

The Buffaloes were no match for Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Ben McLemore is in the middle of it all for Kansas. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

McLemore had perhaps the best performance in college basketball this season with his 33 points and 6-of-6 three-point shooting against Iowa State on Wednesday. That included a banked trey as time expired to save Kansas’ home court win streak. The freshman is now on everyone’s radar. This week: January 12 at Texas Tech, January 14 vs. Baylor

8. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 15.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG

Here’s a player getting absolutely no love for Player of the Year, and I’m not quite sure why. Cooley is averaging a double-double and has carried Notre Dame to a 14-1 start. He may not be a pretty player to watch, but he’s still really good. This week: January 12 vs. UConn, January 15 at St. John’s

7. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 16.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG

Zeller has been one of only four players to stay in the top-10 all season. While he was expected to be a little higher right now, he has been consistently solid for Indiana, and that is why he is still here.  This week: January 12 vs. Minnesota, January 15 vs. Wisconsin

6. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 20.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG

Here’s another player that isn’t get as much love as he should. Yes, Ohio State probably isn’t as good as we expected, but Thomas has been a scoring machine since the season began, and he can rebound too. This week: January 13 vs. Michigan

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Award Tour: Ben McLemore Rises and College Basketball New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by DCassilo on December 28th, 2012


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

With the lack of college games lately, I’ve been catching up on some NBA action. To tie in with my article, I focused mostly on players who have won the Wooden Award over the last decade. To no one’s surprise, Anthony Davis is already starting to be a force in the NBA, but that’s not the case for most. There are stars (Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin), starters (Jameer Nelson, Evan Turner and Andrew Bogut), role players (J.J. Redick, Tyler Hansbrough and Jimmer Fredette), and T.J. Ford, who was forced out of the league due to injury. Overall, being the top player in college means little more than likely getting drafted. There’s still a lot of work to do.


10. Anthony Bennett – UNLV (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 19.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG

While Mike Moser and Anthony Marshall were supposed to lead UNLV, that responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of Bennett. He’s been more than up to the task and is our first freshman on this list since the preseason. This week: December 29 at North Carolina, January 3 vs. Chicago State

9. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 24.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.1 APG

Lehigh\'s C.J. McCollum Is an Elite Guard

Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum will need to keep lighting it up.

With his injury, McCollum will go 21 days between games. He’ll need to shake off the rust quickly to move back up the list. This week: December 29 vs. Bryant

8. Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 12.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 10.3 APG, 3.4 SPG

While Carter-Williams does a lot while he’s on the court, it will be hard to get much higher than No. 8 until he improves his shooting. Over his last two games, he is 4-for-23, 1-for-9 from three-point land and 16-for-25 from the line. This week: December 29 vs. Alcorn State, December 31 vs. Central Connecticut State, January 2 vs. Rutgers

7. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 20 PPG, 6.8 RPG

Two of Thomas’ worst games this season have come in titanic tilts against Duke and Kansas. He’ll need to play better in big games, as the Buckeyes will have plenty of them come conference play. This week: December 28 vs. Chicago State, January 2 vs. Nebraska

6. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 14.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 5.0 BPG

While Thomas struggled in the game against Kansas, Withey put together his second straight double-double. It’s a promising sight, as Withey has never been a dominant rebounder despite his size and athleticism. This week: December 29 vs. American

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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee, Anthony Bennett and Coach K Are Our Frontrunners

Posted by DCassilo on December 21st, 2012


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

The holidays are always a good time to take a breath and reassess the entire country in college basketball. What is out there is a lot of uncertainty, especially in terms of title contenders. Is there really much that separates No. 1 Duke from No. 9 Kansas or even No. 24 Oklahoma State? But in terms of our races, it’s pretty clear that the field is chasing Mason Plumlee for Player of the Year, Anthony Bennett for Freshman of the Year and Mike Krzyzewski for Coach of the Year. All three have been nothing short of stellar from the opening tip. While parity is fun, there’s nothing better than watching the field try to hunt down the favorite.

And now, a look at those fields.


10. Brandon Paul – Illinois (Last Week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 18.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.5 APG

Paul showed his versatility for a guard by grabbing a season-high nine rebounds against Eastern Kentucky last Sunday. The craziest thing about the Illinois senior is that while he would be a frontrunner for the top player in any other conference, it’ll be a fight to even make the All-Big Ten team. This week: December 22 vs. Missouri

9. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 24.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.1 APG

Not much to write as McCollum missed his only game this week with an ankle inury. He’s day-to-day, so he shouldn’t miss much time. This week: None

8. Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 12.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 10.7 APG, 3.4 SPG

Michael Carter-Williams Has Been a Revelation This Season

Michael Carter-Williams Has Been a Revelation This Season

It was a typical two games this week for Carter-Williams. The assists were there but so were the missed shots and turnovers. The fact that Jim Boeheim is tolerating the latter two is a good indication of how special this kid is. This week: December 22 vs. Temple

7. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 14.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 5.4 BPG

Despite all the defensive accolades he receives, Withey’s offense cannot be overlooked. Make no mistake, he is a focal point of what the Jayhawks want to do, as he’s attempted at least eight shots in all but two games this season. The senior had 17 points and 13 rebounds against Richmond on Tuesday. This week: December 22 at Ohio State

6. Cody Zeller – (Last week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 15.7 PPG, 8.3 PPG

The loss against Butler is the type of game Zeller is supposed to take over and will his team to victory. Instead, he made just four shots from he floor and grabbed five rebounds. It’s safe to say that he has not taken a leap forward in his sophomore season. This week: December 21 vs. Florida Atlantic

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Award Tour: Anthony Bennett is the New No. 1 Freshman, the Five Worst D-I Teams, and an Ode to the Big East Conference…

Posted by DCassilo on December 14th, 2012


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

Farewell, Big East. As a Villanova grad who grew up in New Jersey, you were always close to my heart. I’ll miss the prime time Saturday night final. I’ll miss the coaching legends. I’ll miss the physical play that would be called for a foul in any other league. I’ll miss the afternoon games of the Big East Tournament. I’ll miss being sponsored by Aeropostale. I’ll miss record crowds at the Carrier Dome. I’ll miss seeing Carnesecca and his sweater sitting behind the St. John’s bench. I’ll miss Mick Cronin being displeased with his team. I’ll miss West Virginia fans throwing stuff. I’ll miss looking at the newspaper and saying, “Wow, DePaul won.” I’ll miss Madison Square Garden. I’ll miss the weird dimensions of the RAC. I’ll miss Seton Hall thinking its good. I’ll miss Providence’s mascot. I’ll miss UConn breaking the rules. I’ll miss Pitt’s illegal screens and 30-year old point guards. I’ll miss Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami. I’ll miss Pitino’s press conferences. I’ll miss people saying Villanova is Guard U when it rarely sends a guard to the NBA. I’ll miss Georgetown running the Princeton offense. I’ll miss the overachievers at Notre Dame and Marquette. I’ll miss that time South Florida was good. I’ll even miss the double bye, Burr and Higgins. Now let’s end this league in style.


10. Brandon Paul – Illinois (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 19 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.5 APG

Illinois is going to need a big effort out of Brandon Paul at Indiana. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

Brandon Paul tore apart Gonzaga. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

With 35 points at Gonzaga last Saturday, Paul officially declared his candidacy in the Player of the Year race. The major improvement in his game this year comes down to his shooting. He never cracked 40 percent from the field in his first three years but is up to 46.8 percent this season.This week: December 16 vs. Eastern Kentucky

9. Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 12.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 10.4 APG, 3.8 SPG

There’s no doubt that Carter-Williams does more to fill up the stat sheet than any player in the country, but it’s his passing that has been second to none. He leads the nation in APG and has 37 dimes in his last three games. A high turnover rate (3.8 per game) and poor three-point shooting (22.2 percent) hold him back from challenging for the top spot. This week: December 15 vs. Canisius, December 17 vs. Temple

8. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 5.6 BPG

After blocking five shots against Colorado last Saturday, Withey has swatted the ball at least that many times in six of his team’s eight games. His defensive dominance coupled with the rise of freshman Ben McLemore has the Jayhawks thinking of a return to the title game. This week: December 15 vs. Belmont, December 18 vs. Richmond

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Award Tour: The Struggles of Ranking Cody Zeller

Posted by DCassilo on December 7th, 2012

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

What do we do about Cody Zeller? That’s what we’re asking after his second game this season with fewer than 10 points. The preseason pick for Player of the Year has simply not been the monster in the middle that was expected, but he hasn’t been a disappointment either. We’ll start with the bad. He’s scored 20 or more points just twice in eight games and is averaging a pedestrian 15 PPG and 7.6 RPG this season. You’ll find about 100 players with numbers like that. Now the good. He’s shooting 63.2 percent from the field and his numbers are almost identical to his stellar freshman season. To be honest though, Zeller is likely staying as high as he is on this list based on expectation. But now we’re giving him one final chance. If he doesn’t break out by the end of December, he’ll be off the top 10 list.


10. Elias Harris – Gonzaga (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Harris has Gonzaga thinking national title. (AP)

As a senior, Harris is finally coming into his own in all areas of the game. That has especially been true for his offense. After a slow start, he’s scored at least 16 points in five of his last six games. As Gonzaga continues to win, his candidacy will pick up steam. This week: December 8 vs. Illinois

9. Isaiah Canaan – Murray State (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 21.4 PGG, 3.7 RPG, 3.9 APG

With one game this past week against an NAIA opponent, Canaan essentially had an off week. His slight fall down the rankings has more to do with the other players on the list than with himself. Canaan’s biggest challenge for the rest of the season will be playing well enough to overshadow his weak competition. This week: December 8 at Evansville

8. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 24.4 PPG, 5.0 RP, 3.2 APG

We’ve said all season that if a player from a conference like the Patriot League is going to win this, he needs to be beyond spectacular. McCollum has been close to that, but performances like the 13 points he put up against Fordham in his last game won’t cut it. Chances are we’ll see another 30-point game from him soon enough, though. This week: December 8 vs. St. Francis (Pa.)

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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Outduels Deshaun Thomas for Top NPOY Spot, COY Top Five Debuts…

Posted by DCassilo on November 30th, 2012

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

Up until Wednesday, nobody deserved to be atop the player of the year list. There had been some strong performances by great players, but no one had grabbed the reins of this year’s race. But when Duke and Ohio State took the court on Wednesday, it became obvious that the two best players in the country were on the floor: Deshaun Thomas and Mason Plumlee. A deep three-pointer from Thomas would be followed by a monster dunk from Plumlee. It was fun theater to watch in what might go down as the most memorable non-conference game of the season. In the end, Plumlee took those reins with 21 points and 17 rebounds, while Thomas was limited to 16 points by early foul trouble. And now, we have our front-runner. Even a bad week won’t necessarily knock him off the top spot. Plumlee made his move. It’s time for the rest of the country to respond.


10. Sean Kilpatrick – Cincinnati (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 21 PPG, 6.7 RPG

Perhaps the nation’s most underrated player on the nation’s most underrated team, Kilpatrick came up big in the rather anonymous Global Sports Classic. Against Iowa State and Oregon, Kilpatrick averaged 24 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He can beat you in a number of ways, as he has already hit eight three-pointers and 16 free throws in separate games. This week: Dec. 1 vs. Alabama, Dec. 6 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock

9. Le’Bryan Nash – Oklahoma State (Last Week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 19.2 PGG, 6.4 RPG

Nash or Smart? The battle rages for who is the better Cowboy. (AP)

Deciding who is better between Nash and Marcus Smart can be a difficult task, but the sophomore has proven to be a tad more consistent this season. In all five games he’s played, Nash has tallied at least 16 points and five rebounds. This week: Dec. 1 at Virginia Tech, Dec. 5 vs. South Florida

8. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 6.2 BPG

Notching a triple-double will surely get our attention at Rush the Court, and that’s exactly what Withey did against San Jose State. The senior had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks in the victory. A defensive stalwart, it was the second time this season he had at least 10 blocks in a game. This week: Nov. 30 vs. Oregon State

7. Isaiah Canaan – Murray State (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG

As noted last week, Canaan was bound to have some monster scoring games once he could get his three-point shot to fall, and that’s what happened this past week. With the help of 55 percent shooting from deep, Canaan scored 30 points against Old Dominion and 32 points against Lipscomb. Expect much more of this to come. This week: Dec. 4 vs. Bethel

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 21 PPG, 7.3 RPG

McDermott finally got his scoring going with 80 points in his last three games. Still, he needs to shoot more, as he has attempted 11 shots or less in four of seven games despite being Creighton’s only real scoring threat. If he does so, he could really start putting up some big numbers. This week: Dec. 1 vs. Saint Joseph’s, Dec 6 at Nebraska

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Morning Five: 10.23.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 23rd, 2012

  1. The SEC media on Monday released its preseason selections for the upcoming season and with the exception of some carpetbagging school called “Missouri” on this year’s list, it looks an awful lot like last year’s list. Kentucky came in as the choice for first place in the 2012-13 version of the SEC race with 17 first-place ballots, with Florida (five), Missouri (one) and Tennessee (one) following up the Wildcats. It appears that not much is expected from South Carolina (#11) or Mississippi State (#12) this season, which gives Frank Martin and Rick Ray an opportunity to immediately exceed expectations if they can put together some conference wins. Missouri’s Phil Pressey was chosen as the preseason SEC POY, another interesting choice given that he was a third-team selection in the Big 12 last year — clearly many pundits are predicting big things for the dynamic waterbug guard this season. Pressey was joined on the first team by Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Arkansas’ BJ Young, Florida’s Kenny Boynton, and Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes.
  2. While on the subject of making preseason lists of elite players, CBSSports‘ Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman released their combined ballot for their top 50 Wooden Award candidates (which by rule cannot include transfers or freshmen). Forty-two players showed up on both of their lists, but the devil is always in the details, and where the pair differ is far more interesting and open for debate. Which writer left Ohio’s DJ Cooper off his list? Or Allen Crabbe? Or Elias Harris? The one thing missing here is the why/why not — we wish that the pair had taken the time to explain their differences, even if was only with a sentence or two at the end.
  3. NCAA president Mark Emmert gave a talk at Wright State University on Monday, and The Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy was there to report on the proceedings. In response to a question about the highly controversial NBA one-and-done rule, Emmert stuck to his previous position on the matter by stating that he “dislikes it enormously” and finds it “anathema to the collegiate model of academics.” When pressed for additional information afterward, Emmert appears to have once again punted to the NBA, stating only that he’s had “conversations” with the league and its players’ union about changing the rule. While we certainly recognize that Emmert has no authority over the NBA whatsoever, we’d like to see him take a more forceful stance on the issue that would satisfy fans and coaches alike. If the NBA refuses to cooperate in pursuit of its own self-interest, then Emmert should begin saber-rattling likewise — he has more leverage here than he’d like to admit if he’d only recognize it.
  4. With all the bad news coming out of the UCLA program recently — the ongoing sagas involving the eligibility of star recruits Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson and recent injuries to David Wear and Tyler Lamb — it was somewhat shocking to read this sunnier-than-SoCal headline from the LA Times on Monday:  UCLA basketball seems to be entering a bright new era. Mmmkay. Granted, the piece by Bill Dwyre focuses more on the long-term prospects of the Bruins program with a renovated Pauley Pavilion and a gleaming new statue of the Wizard of Westwood outside, but other than a brief mention of the NCAA’s investigation into the two freshmen, it more or less glosses over the fact that the program from the outside appears to be tottering. Maybe when Dwyre is walking around the tree-lined campus it’s easier to get lost in the Wooden mystique, but several things — not of all which are completely under Ben Howland’s control — need to come together for this program to get back on its blue-blooded track this season. It remains to be seen whether the planets and stars will indeed align.
  5. Finally, Luke Winn gets historical with us in his latest column where he enters the wayback machine and finds a slim but sturdy Shaquille O’Neal facing off in an “epic” battle between LSU and the running and gunning Loyola Marymount Paul Westheads some 22 years ago. The theme of his piece is that last season’s scoring across all of college basketball was the lowest it has ever been in the shot clock era (including when it a 45-second clock was in effect in the late ’80s and early ’90s). What was defined as uptempo two decades ago would look like a different game today — even then, nobody ran the ball like LMU, but teams regularly hit 80 possessions per game, whereas nowadays most teams never see the north side of 70 per game. There are a number of reasons for this trend, of course, but we’ll save that for the book that we’ll write someday — for now, just get over there and check out the data and a superb highlight clip of a young Shaq destroying everything in his path on the way to a 148-141 victory (you read that correctly).
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Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List and Analysis

Posted by mpatton on October 4th, 2011

Want to know why North Carolina is number one in nearly all preseason polls? Look no further than the Wooden Award Preseason Watch List, which notes the top fifty returning players in the country, four of whom will be wearing Carolina blue this season. Another surprise is that no other ACC teams are represented. First we’ll look at the four selections:

  • Harrison Barnes was a lock: face it, even Duke fans know Barnes and Jared Sullinger are the two favorites as far as national player of the year awards are concerned. As soon as he opted to return, the Tar Heels vaulted into the top national spot. Don’t expect another lackluster start out of Barnes this season.
Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes Headlined Four North Carolina Players on the Wooden Presesason Top 50 List.

  • John Henson is a more interesting pick. Henson’s defensive prowess is well-documented. He alters nearly every drive or post-up within his extensive wingspan. Here’s the caveat: Henson is as raw as they come offensively. If it’s not an alley-oop from Kendall Marshall or a put-back dunk, he struggles (though it should be noted, his free throw shooting improved dramatically the second half of last season). Until we see how much Henson has developed, it will be tough to evaluate his chances as a player of the year candidate.
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