Where 2009-10 Happens: Reason #7 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by zhayes9 on October 31st, 2009

seasonpreview

Shamelessly cribbing from the very clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present to you the Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we gear up toward the start of the season in about two weeks.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.

#7- Where The Unexpected Happens

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #7 – Mountain West

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2009

seasonpreview

Andrew Murawa of The Great Leap Backward is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference. 

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. BYU 12-4
  2. UNLV 11-5
  3. San Diego State 10-6
  4. Utah 10-6
  5. New Mexico 9-7
  6. TCU 7-9
  7. Wyoming 6-10
  8. Colorado State 5-11
  9. Air Force 2-14

All-Conference Team:

  • Jimmer Fredette (G), Jr, BYU (16.2ppg, 4.0 apg)
  • Carlon Brown (G), Jr, Utah (9.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.3 apg)
  • Afam Muojeke (F), Soph, Wyoming (13.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg)
  • Jonathan Tavernari (F), Sr, BYU (15.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
  • Zvonko Buljan (C), Sr, TCU (12.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg)

6th Man: Billy White, Sr, San Diego State (8.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Impact Newcomer: Derrick Jasper, Jr, UNLV

mtn west logoWhat You Need to Know.  The Mountain West Conference is consistently one of the top high mid-major conferences in the country. In just over a decade in existence, the MWC has only failed to finish among the top 10 conferences in terms of RPI just once (2005-06), and only once in the conference’s history has it failed to advance more than one team to the NCAA tournament (2000-01). Six of its nine member schools feature campuses above 4,000 feet in elevation, and that, coupled with some small, raucous arenas, make MWC arenas a tough place for visiting teams to play.

New look league: Only five of last year’s top 20 scorers in the conference, and only one of last year’s top ten in minutes played, return. Last year, the Mountain West Conference was dominated by veterans, but despite their absence, coaches around the league have plenty of incoming talent to get excited about. For every Luke Nevill, Lee Cummard, Wink Adams, Kyle Spain or Brandon Ewing that has moved on, a Derrick Jasper, Malcolm Thomas, Kawhi Leonard, Shawn Glover or JayDee Luster has arrived.  As a result, every team in this league has questions that will need to be answered between now and March. Who can BYU get to step in and take up the slack that the graduation of Lee Cummard leaves? Can gigantic sophomore David Foster fill the hole in the paint for Utah left by Luke Nevill? Can UNLV get enough production from its frontcourt to help their strong backcourt?  Can Steve Fisher’s San Diego State squad not underachieve for once? Is New Mexico’s Phillip McDonald ready to become a star in this league?

Stability remains: While there has been a lot of turnover in terms of players in the MWC, the guys patrolling the sidelines will look remarkably similar. In an era of seemingly rampant coaching turnover, the MWC boasts nine returning coaches, three of whom (UNLV’s Lon Kruger, San Diego State’s Fisher and New Mexico’s Steve Alford) have more than 350 career wins.  BYU fans should feel particularly pleased to see their head coach, Dave Rose, return. Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just after the end of last season, but has been fortunate enough to have received a clean bill of health following treatment and surgery in the offseason.

Non-conference boost: One area where the conference has gone downhill recently has been in the strength of its collective non-conference schedule. In the early 2000s, the MWC was consistently in the top 10 conferences in terms of non-conference schedule strength, but have slid to the point where their non-conference schedule strength the past three years has been out of the top 20. It would appear, however, that the conference has made a concerted effort to improve those numbers this year. In addition to the inaugural MWC/MVC Challenge (which will give MWC teams a chance to compete against a mid-major conference of similar historical strength), you’ll find tough games against both major conferences and respected mid-major programs littering the schedules. From tough roadies against national powers like Arizona, LSU and UCLA to sneaky matchups against other mid-majors like Utah State, St. Mary’s and Oral Roberts, the MWC has gone a long way towards beefing up their early-season schedules.

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Tweeting the Preview: #258 – #235

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2009

tweetingpreviewOk, we’ve officially lost our minds, but they say the first step toward healing is recognizing the problem.  As of 8am EDT last Monday, there were 347 hours until tipoff of UNC vs. FIU and Ohio State vs. Alcorn State on Opening Night, Nov. 9.  Beginning that morning, we started releasing our rankings of every Division I team from worst to first as tweets on the social networking platform known as Twitter (you may have heard of it).  We’ll release one team preview every single hour from now until Opening Night, and in case you’re not following us over there, we’ll put the updated list here each night for your review.  The key to tweeting, of course, is conciseness, so we’ll try our best to relay some relevant information about each and every team in the requisite 140 characters or less, and hopefully some of you will be paying attention along the way.  Here are Friday’s entries, #258 to #235.  Ok, getting a little better…

tweeting preview 258-235

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John Wall Eligibility Issues Resolved

Posted by jstevrtc on October 31st, 2009

Kentucky fans are breathing easier tonight.

According to Lexington television station WLEX-18, the NCAA has cleared Kentucky’s insanely talented point guard (and pretty good dancer) John Wall to play, provided that a couple of conditions are met — namely, the repayment of travel expenses and the sitting of Wall for two games.  The games are UK’s exhibition this Monday night against Campbellsville and the November 13th regular season opener against Morehead State.  This all stems from Wall having played AAU basketball under coach Brian Clifton, who, even though he was not acting as one, was a certified agent at the time.  The expenses, totalling $787.58, are evidently related to costs in making unofficial visits to various schools.

We sort of figured that even if anything came from this at all that it wouldn’t be much, and that’s pretty much what has happened.  No word on whether or not the eligibility of any other player from that AAU squad has been adjusted.  In the report from Lex18.com, to his credit, Wall’s first offering of gratitude went to his mother, for whom Wall claims the wait for a final ruling has been particularly difficult; head coach John Calipari added, “John Wall is a great kid who always tries to do the right thing and his mother is a great lady.  I’m just happy this is behind us.”

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Do Bank Statements Exculpate Sidney Family?

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

Andy Katz is reporting this afternoon that the Renardo Sidney saga could — emphasis, ours — be reaching its natural conclusion.  After meetings held at the Sidney family attorney’s office in Montgomery, Alabama, this morning, Donald Jackson stated that the Sidneys revealed bank statements to the NCAA and Mississippi State representatives, which was one of the key pieces of evidence that investigators had requested.  From the report by Katz:

renardo sidney

The meeting with MSU compliance director Bracky Brett, MSU-hired attorney Michael Glazier and Alex Hammond from the Eligibility Center lasted for four hours Friday morning in Sidney attorney Donald Jackson’s Montgomery, Ala., office.  “We showed them bank deposits and bank statements for the two years the family was living in Los Angeles,” Jackson told ESPN.com.

Obviously, we have no idea whether these bank statements completely answer the questions that the NCAA has regarding Sidney’s eligibility — namely, whether the Sidneys could prove that their rentals of million-dollar properties in the Los Angeles area over three years was justifiable on the income of a Reebok representative (Renardo, Sr.) and a personal assistant (his wife).  But it certainly is a strong step in the right direction for the Sidneys.  One would have to make an assumption that the Sidneys wouldn’t show the NCAA these bank records unless there was cause to believe that they had the (legal) income stream to support it.  Alternatively, if the bank statements do not show what the Sidneys hope (or purport) to show, then we’re not sure that Sidney will have another serious argument to become eligible this season.  This may be their last stand. 

Mississippi State’s first regular season game is two weeks from today on Nov. 13 against Rider, so time is running short.  The NCAA said that it will take a look at the evidence presented to them early next week and will make a ruling soon thereafter. 

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest and Mountains) are located here.

It’s time for the ninth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of hot, dry, desert-y states known as the Southwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Southwest Region (NM, AZ, NV, HI, southern CA)

sw_impact_players_v.2

  • Rihards Kuksiks – F, Jr – Arizona State. Advice to Pac-10 coaches writing up their scouting reports for when they go up against Arizona State this season: when Rihards Kuksiks enters the building, get a man on him. Don’t bother waiting until the game actually starts. You don’t want him getting comfortable, because he’s the kind of shooter who can change a game just that quickly. The guy can touch the ball a few times and the next thing you know you’re down nine before the first TV timeout. Or you get a little comfortable with your late-game lead and after Kuksiks gets a couple of touches the lead is gone and you’re wondering how time can tick so slowly. You want numbers? Fine. Kuksiks is third in terms of returning individual leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%) in the country among players who hit at least two threes a game and finished 8th in that category last year. A recent article on FoxSports.com by Jeff Goodman reveals some other incredible stats: in games decided by 2 points or less, Kuksiks shot 47% from behind the 3-point line; against ranked opponents he shot 46% from beyond the arc, and in the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s second round last year, he put up his career high in points with 20, with 18 of those coming from long range. In other words, the man steps up during big games. If the numbers don’t interest you, then consider the fact that many of these threes are not from a hair behind the line. They are often from distance. And they are often clutch (ask Arizona about a couple of late ones he nailed in that February game last year). Most importantly, watch the form. It should be an instructional video. He gets good height on his jumper but doesn’t overdo it, and you can see how he gets his legs into the shot. He releases the ball out in front just a little bit, but then the follow-through is a perfect example of that “reach into the cookie jar” that basketball coaches start teaching kids from the moment they can lift a basketball. By the way, he’s 6’6 and more than happy to mix it up in the paint, if needed. My favorite bit about Kuksiks comes from an interview he did for a site called EuropeanProspects.com in which he was asked what kind of player he was. The first words out of his mouth? “I am a sharpshooter.”  This is confidence, not cockiness, from the big man from Riga, Latvia. But I think it’s just fine if there actually is a little cockiness there. Long-range shooters are like neurosurgeons. They’re often asked to do the most difficult things in their field…and if I get to the point where I need to depend on one, I want them a little bit cocky.

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Where 2009-10 Happens: Reason #8 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by zhayes9 on October 30th, 2009

seasonpreview

Shamelessly cribbing from the very clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present to you the Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we gear up toward the start of the season in about two weeks.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.

#8- Where Order of Double Onions Happens

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Tweeting the Preview: #282 – #259

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

tweetingpreviewOk, we’ve officially lost our minds, but they say the first step toward healing is recognizing the problem.  As of 8am EDT last Monday, there were 347 hours until tipoff of UNC vs. FIU and Ohio State vs. Alcorn State on Opening Night, Nov. 9.  Beginning that morning, we started releasing our rankings of every Division I team from worst to first as tweets on the social networking platform known as Twitter (you may have heard of it).  We’ll release one team preview every single hour from now until Opening Night, and in case you’re not following us over there, we’ll put the updated list here each night for your review.  The key to tweeting, of course, is conciseness, so we’ll try our best to relay some relevant information about each and every team in the requisite 140 characters or less, and hopefully some of you will be paying attention along the way.  Here are Thursday’s entries, #282 to #259.  Now you’re seeing some quality…

tweeting preview 282-259

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #8 – Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

seasonpreview

RTC is seeking a 2009-10 correspondent for Conference USA.  If you’re interested, please email us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Tulsa (13-3)
  2. UTEP (12-4)
  3. Memphis (12-4)
  4. Houston (11-5)
  5. Marshall (9-7)
  6. Southern Miss (8-8)
  7. Tulane (8-8)
  8. UAB (6-10)
  9. Rice (6-10)
  10. Central Florida (6-10)
  11. East Carolina (3-13)
  12. SMU (1-15)

All-Conference Team:

  • Aubrey Coleman (G), Houston
  • Arnett Moultrie (F/C), UTEP
  • Jerome Jordan (C), Tulsa
  • Ben Uzoh (G), Tulsa
  • Randy Culpepper (G), UTEP

Impact Newcomer. Will Coleman (F), Memphis

6th Man Kelvin Lewis (G), Houston (not a true “6th man” but could easily be on the first team)
cusa logo
 

What You Need To Know.  Everyone knows about Memphis’ off-season.  First and foremost, it’s important to know who’s breathing down Memphis‘ neck if they should falter like many are predicting.  Tulsa is a popular preseason pick because of the excellent senior duo of Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan, the latter being the popular pick for preseason CUSA Player Of The Year.  Ignore UTEP at your own peril, with a formidable inside-outside duo of their own in the 6’11 sophomore Arnett Moultrie and junior guard Randy Culpepper.  Houston boasts the best true guard combo with seniors Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis, both averaging around 19 PPG.  Even Marshall and Central Florida look to be improved this season.  Now, keep in mind, this is all IF Memphis actually loses a conference game (we still can’t get over their 61 straight CUSA wins) and trips up.  He might just be 31 years old, but new head coach Josh Pastner will surprise everyone with how easily he takes to his new job.  People might forget that Duke transfer Elliot Williams is eligible for the Tigers now, and he will provide immediate help along with the rim-kissing (literally…there are photos of this) 6’9 260-pound junior-college transfer Will Coleman.  This will be a fun conference to watch this season because the issue isn’t so much that Memphis is free-falling back to the rest of the conference — it’s the fact that the rest of the conference is actually catching up to Memphis.

Predicted Champion. Tulsa (NCAA Seed:  #7). The Golden Hurricane is our choice to supplant Memphis and take the title in Conference USA this season, as Doug Wojcik’s team has been waiting for this opportunity.  If John Calipari, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and so on were currently residing in Memphis, we wouldn’t be considering this, but Memphis’ loss is Tulsa’s gain because they have an exceptionally talented and experienced team returning this year.  Point guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan enter the 2009-10 season as two of the best players at their position in the conference, and it’s easy to understand why: Uzoh did a little bit of everything last season, to the tune of 14.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG in over 35 minutes per game, while Jordan continued to progress toward play-for-pay with 13.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.6 BPG on 58.6% shooting from the field.  Justin Hurtt, Glenn Andrews and Steven Idlet also return as key contributors from a team that was 25-11 overall and 12-4 in CUSA, including three losses by a combined four points (especially tough was a buzzer-beating 1-point loss vs. Memphis).  Even if Memphis had remained intact, Tulsa would have still viewed the 2009-10 season as a likely NCAA one, it’s just that now they’re going in as the favorite.

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Preseason Polls Released Today

Posted by rtmsf on October 29th, 2009

seasonpreview

One of the favorite days of the year for us at RTC is when the preseason polls are announced.  Maybe it takes us back to our days growing up and anticipating the start of the season, but somehow, it just seems to make everything official.  Granted, media has changed a LOT since those days, and we spend more time nitpicking and disagreeing with these polls than we used to, but it’s still a cool harbinger that the season is just around the corner, so enjoy. 

Our QnD analysis follows the polls.

09 preseason polls v.2

QnD Analysis.

  • It’s clear the media thinks a little more highly of John Calipari’s Kentucky team and a little less than Roy Williams’ UNC team than the coaches do.  UK got 82.5% as many votes as Kansas in the coaches’ poll, while garnering 85.1% in the AP; meanwhile, UNC earned 84.8% in the coaches’ vs. 81.9% in the AP.  This is probably a good example that shows how coaches think versus how the media thinks.  It’s our view that coaches do not respect John Calipari as much as they probably should, so he gets dinged a little despite having A-list talent while Roy Williams gets a bump despite losing four starters.  On the other side, the media sees the players that Calipari has at his disposal this year and they get all googly-eyed thinking about it, so they tend to rate Kentucky higher than UNC, somewhat ignoring the history that Roy Williams has in getting teams to come together.  It’s a very subtle point, but we think a clear one.   
  • The team with the biggest disparity between polls, Minnesota, also illustrates this point beautifully.   Coaches rank Tubby Smith’s team #18 (19.5%) in the nation based on Smith’s reputation for overachieving; the media, however, doesn’t see as much talent on the court as some of the other teams around Minnesota, so while recognizing Tubby’s ability to get the most from his players, they rate the Gophers lower at #25 (10.6%). 
  • Louisville is also a strange case here.  The coaches rate the Cardinals quite a bit lower than the media does (#23, 15.9% vs. #19, 20.6%), and you wonder if they sense that all the bad news has taken a toll on the UL program and will manifest itself as a weaker team this year. 
  • Nice to see Butler getting nearly top-ten love as the best mid, but they’re going to have to earn that ranking very early in their schedule, with games at Northwestern, at Evansville, vs. Ohio St. and Xavier at home, plus neutral site games in the loaded 76 Classic in Anaheim and against Georgetown in MSG. 
  • In the ORV, Maryland will probably hover around the 20-30 zone all season, but what is going on with the coaches giving 22 votes to USC?!?!?  At first, we thought it was an abbreviation for “South Carolina” until we saw the other SC down at the bottom with a ridiculous one vote.  They do realize that Tim Floyd and OJ Mayo are no longer there, right?
  • No major qualms with the rest of it, although UCLA right now is a reach for the top 30 (too many unknowns) and Vanderbilt is going to be better than several teams in the top 25 this year. 
  • Conference Breakdown (Coaches, AP):  ACC (4, 4), A10 (1, 1), Big East (6, 5), Big 12 (3, 3), Big 10 (5, 6), Horizon (1, 1), Pac-10 (2, 2), SEC (3, 3).
  • Final thought – the RTC Preseason Top 25 will release on Opening Night (Monday, Nov. 9), so keep an eye out for that. 

What say you, readers?

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Buzz: More Comings and Goings

Posted by rtmsf on October 29th, 2009

Tennessee Loses Another Player.  This time it wasn’t under horrifically scary conditions, but senior guard Josh Tabb, who was already on indefinite suspension by Bruce Pearl, left the program to spend time with his ill mother.  He only played 17 MPG last season, but he was fairly effective providing backcourt depth to Bobby Maze and Scotty Hopson, averaging 3/2/2 and shooting a high percentage from the floor (51%/42%).  It’s looking more and more like UT will be playing five 6’7 guys at certain points of the season.  UT: the Golden State Warriors of college basketball. 

Stanford As Well.  Sophomore guard Jeremy Green, an all-Pac-10 freshman last season, was suspended indefinitely by Coach Johnny Dawkins for violation of unspecified team rules. In relatively limited action last year, Green averaged 6/2 and shot 46% from three-point range, but he was expected to become a major contributor this season as the young Cardinal begins rebuilding.  This comes on the heels of more bad news last week, when 6’8 freshman forward Andy Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury.  Assuming we don’t see Green back in uniform this season, it could be shaping up as a long year in Palo Alto for Dawkins in his second year there. 

Nimrod Will Play.  Billy Donovan received good news from the NCAA this week, as the governing body cleared point guard and soon-to-be-opposing-fan-favorite Nimrod Tishman to play this season at Florida.  The 6’5 Israeli freshman was a late pickup for the Gators after Nick Calathes bolted for the pros, but according to Donovan, he may not see much court action this season, as Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Ray Shipman are currently ahead of him on the depth chart. 

Uncertainty About John Wall.  The John Wall Circus continues in Lexington, as Coach John Calipari stated during last night’s post-scrimmage press conference that Wall “has been cleared in every way” even though the UK president, Lee Todd, is on record this week stating that the school and NCAA are investigating his association with Brian Clifton, his AAU coach who was also a certified agent at the time.  Worst case is Wall pays back a little bit of money and misses 10% of UK’s games (Nov. 13 – Morehead State; Nov. 16 – Miami (OH); Nov 19 – Sam Houston State).  Not a huge deal, although we’re pretty excited around here to see the guy play. 

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Where 2009-10 Happens: Reason #9 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by zhayes9 on October 29th, 2009

seasonpreview

Shamelessly cribbing from the very clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present to you the Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we gear up toward the start of the season in about two weeks.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.

#9- Where The Goodson Two-Step Happens

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