Rushed Reaction: #2 Kansas 64, #2 Ohio State 62

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Ohio State Found Fool’s Gold With First Half Threes. In the first half it looked like Ohio State might run away with the game, hitting five threes in the first 13 minutes of action but only hitting one more for the entire rest of the game. Like many teams, but especially one that shoots only 33% from deep, if a few long-range bombs drop early it can throw a team off its game plan by losing sight of its greater strength in attacking the basket. The Buckeyes attempted 12 more threes in the second half (making three) but way too many possessions ended with wayward jumpers, giving KU just enough space to make and complete the comeback.
  2. Kansas Gutted This Out Playing Kansas Basketball. If you’ve watched Kansas at all this year, you know that Bill Self’s team thrives through grinding it out and making plays down the stretch to win games. They’ll drive you crazy with some of the things they do — such as Tyshawn Taylor’s steal leading to a horrid pass behind the cutter that gave OSU new life in the final minute — but if they can get any team into a close game they have a really good chance to win. You can’t help but think about the last time Calipari and Self’s teams met in the national championship game — unlike Louisville, Kansas has enough offensive weapons to compete with Kentucky in that kind of a game. It’ll make for a very interesting Monday night.
  3. Jared Sullinger Needs to Reinvent His Game. His game was picked apart by the Twitterati and will no doubt provide many ledes around the country’s newspapers tomorrow, but the reason Ohio State is no longer playing largely falls on Jared Sullinger’s poor offensive game. The two-time All-American shot 5-19 from the field, ending up with a very tough 13 points but wasting numerous other Buckeye possessions by choosing to shoot jumpers or taking the ball up against Jeff Withey when he clearly did not have the hops to get the ball up over him. For Sullinger to maximize his abilities, he needs to realize that he’s not a dominant big man — he’d do well to watch how former Arkansas star Corliss Williamson reinvented his game so as to become a serviceable NBA player.

Star of the Game. Jeff Withey, Kansas. Withey’s defense on Jared Sullinger in the second half of this game set the tone that Kansas was going to fight and claw its way all the way back. There was one sequence in particular where Sullinger could not get the ball up and over Withey, and although, he only ended up with seven blocks, it certainly seemed as if he had more. He only had four points (on four shots), but he also grabbed eight rebounds and provided the defensive spark in holding OSU to a 5-of-21 shooting in the second half from two-point range. There were no good looks.

Quotable. “My teammates see me… as a rim protector. When I blocked Jared, I was just staying straight up.” — Kansas center Jeff Withey, describing his seven blocks and in particular, his interior dominance over Jared Sullinger.

Sights & Sounds. The NCAA Tournament can be brutal in its finality, and this is especially true when a team loses on the biggest stage in a heartbreaker of a game. Our seat was in front of the Ohio State fan section, and there was a group of girls, aged between 8 and 12 perhaps, who screamed their heads off the entire game. They were chanting, yelling, buzzing, chirping. We love to see the spirit in young folks supporting the game, but when Ohio State let things slip away at the end, their tears and sobs told the entire story of how only one team can advance.

What’s Next? A national title game, that’s what. Kansas may have been the absolute best team in 2010, and could have been the best again last year, but both of those Jayhawk teams were unceremoniously dumped by mid-majors prior to the Final Four. Not this year. Bill Self’s plucky group will return to the SuperDome on Monday to face off with the team that everyone thinks is destined to cut the nets down this year, Kentucky. It’s Calipari vs. Self, redux, and we can’t wait.

Share this story

Rushed Reaction: #1 Kentucky 69, #4 Louisville 61

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  • Anthony Davis Took Away Nearly Everything Inside. It wasn’t just the five blocks or the 14 rebounds, it was the presence of Anthony Davis that made a huge difference in tonight’s game. The word is that Louisville blew a total of 16 dunks, layups or short ones where they were clearly thinking about the shot-blocking phenom, but often times it seemed as if the Cardinals’ best offensive play was to drive the ball, loft a crazy shot over Davis, and leave an offensive rebound opportunity available to the other players. Pitino said afterward that Davis is as “fine a player as there is,” so it’s clear that he commands the greatest respect from every other team he plays.
  • Louisville’s Offense Simply Couldn’t Manufacture Enough Points. We thought coming into this game that Louisville would have to find a way to manufacture 70+ points to win this game, and that turns out to have been spot on. Whether it was going to come from a Russ Smith explosion or some other player we weren’t sure, but we knew it had to come from somewhere. Instead, Louisville shot a mere 35% for the game and only had two players in double figures (Siva with 11; Behanan with 10). The Cards outrebounded UK and even got some help from the Wildcats’ 55% performance from the line, but there were just way too many empty trips especially when Louisville had tied the game 49-all with just over eight minutes left.
  • Kentucky Isn’t Unbeatable, But They’re Damn Near It. Kentucky was destroyed on its defensive glass with Louisville grabbing 19 offensive boards and losing the overall battle by seven. The Wildcats left nine points on the free throw line. They turned the ball over 14 times and at times looked a little sloppy against the pressure. Terrence Jones (six points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (nine points) were largely missing until late in the game. And still, they beat the Cards by eight points and managed to stay in that range for most of the contest. Pitino alluded to this in his presser — both Kansas and Ohio State are capable of beating John Calipari’s team, but they’ll need to bring an A+ performance and hope that the Wildcats are having a “B night.”

Star of the Game. Anthony Davis, Kentucky. We mentioned his unreal defensive presence above, but his smooth 18 points on 7-8 shooting allowed Kentucky to build the early lead and created some distance when they had to pull away again late in the game. Throw in 14 rebounds, five blocks and countless other challenges, and he played like the NPOY that he has become.

Quotable. “Louisville will be rooting for Kentucky, which doesn’t happen very often, to bring home that trophy to the state.” — Rick Pitino, publicly stating that there’s no hard feelings in this intrastate rivalry.

Sights & Sounds. At the start of the game it wasn’t yet clear just how active the other fan groups of Ohio State and Kansas would be during this game, but it didn’t take long to find out. Buckeye fans in particular were almost unilaterally behind the Cardinals, presumably looking for the ‘easier’ opponent in the Championship Game on Monday night (assuming they advance themselves). Kansas fans, perhaps not wanting to jinx themselves, were not quite as vocal about their partisanship, perhaps waiting to see how things went with their game first.

What’s Next? Kentucky, of course has a date with destiny on Monday night in the National Championship game against either Kansas or Ohio State, and it will without question be the toughest team the Wildcats have seen in the NCAA Tournament regardless who advances. In some ways — shooting percentage, notably — UK played well; in others — rebounding and free throws — they didn’t. But UK-KU or UK-OSU will be one heckuva blockbuster game on Monday night.

Share this story

NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.31.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 31st, 2012

Kansas

  • When former Kansas coach Larry Brown watched this year’s Jayhawks practice early in the season, he was not sure if this year’s squad would win 15 games. Considering this notion, Bill Self has really done an exceptional job this season.
  • During his first three seasons at Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor would be hardly allowed to play through his miscues. Now, the senior guard has the freedom and responsibility to correct errors and lead the team on the right path.
  • Even though he only played a limited role last season, many pundits still saw Thomas Robinson as a first round pick. Bill Self believes Robinson made the absolute right choice in coming back to school, as Self said, “Thomas wasn’t prepared to make a living.”
  • Most of the attention usually gets paid to Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson, but it cannot be overlooked that Elijah Johnson has quietly become the Jayhawks’ top weapon in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky 

  • John Calipari was a pretty big flop when he coached in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. There will be rumors this offseason about Calipari returning to the NBA to coach the New York Knicks, but the question will emerge if Calipari deserves that opportunity.
  • John Calipari has made several stops in his coaching career, which has exposed him to a lot of different people. All those people do have something in common though and that is Calipari considers them part of his family.
  • Freshman phenom Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has had to deal with a lot in his life for being only 18 years old. The death of the forward’s father and uncle have helped shape who he is as a person and a player.
  • In Kentucky’s storied basketball history, it had never had an AP Player of the Year. This all changed Friday when freshman standout big man Anthony Davis was named AP Player of the Year.
Share this story

Why Ohio State Needs To Win For The B1G This Weekend

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 30th, 2012

Big Ten hoops received well deserved hype throughout the college basketball season. At one point in early February, there were about eight to nine teams competing for spot in the NCAA Tournament. The conference was oozing with depth and several experts agreed. But none of it means much without postseason success. Last year, the Big East entered the NCAA Tournament with a ton of hype but several teams got beat in the earlier rounds. The eloquent Charles Barkley renamed the conference, “the itty-bitty east” after their performance. But the conference revived itself as Connecticut went onto the win the title. Big Ten sent four teams to the Sweet 16 this year and thanks to Ohio State, there is representation in New Orleans over the weekend. The journey doesn’t end here though – Ohio State needs to succeed over the weekend and hopefully bring home a title. Why is it so important? The following are four reasons why the Big Ten conference needs Ohio State to put up a good show over the weekend in order to maintain its image as one of the basketball powerhouses.

William Buford and The Buckeyes need to put on a good show this weekend.

  1. 12 long years. Tom Izzo’s Flintstones won the national title in the Spring of 2000, that’s 12 seasons ago. America has voted three times for a President since the last time a B1G team won it all. That is not a healthy statistic for the conference. There have been four teams that have been to the title game since then – Indiana (2002), Illinois (2005), Ohio State (2007), and Michigan State (2009). The 2005 Illinois team could have gone down as one of the greatest teams in college basketball history but without a championship, they barely make it to the honorable mention on most of the lists that mention historically great teams. Over the last decade, Big Ten’s biggest rival, the ACC has won the title multiple times – Duke (twice), UNC (twice), and Maryland (once beating Indiana in 2002). The Big Ten markets itself as having the best basketball coaching minds in the country. The conference advertises its depth and statistics back it up. These positive aspects need to translate to a championship and it needs to happen as soon as possible. Otherwise, Big Ten basketball will just be good, not great.
  2. Big Ten Basketball is more competitive nationally than Big Ten Football. Every bowl season, the Big Ten is lined up against the mighty SEC and they get dominated more often than not. The B1G football hasn’t won a BCS title over the last ten years. The SEC has the stranglehold over national championships in football over the past five seasons thanks to LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Auburn. But basketball is different because there has been more parity up at the top. Most football fans, especially from the SEC, laugh at the notion of a national champion from the Big Ten but there is still hope in basketball. During the regular season, teams such as Michigan State and Ohio State compete well against the non-conference opponents. The Big Ten won the Big Ten – ACC challenge two years in a row. There are usually 3-4 teams ranked in the top 20 from the Big Ten throughout the regular season. Some of the best young basketball minds reside in the B1G. The longer the title drought continues, the more a large part of the country may write off the B1G as just a deep conference but without a dominant team. Big Ten basketball can’t afford to be known as the second- or third-best basketball conference permanently as it has become in football. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 30th, 2012

Kansas

  • Bill Self has enhanced his already strong coaching reputation by leading a Kansas team with not as much talent as Kansas teams of the past to the Final Four.
  • Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News believes the career of Tyshawn Taylor mirrors that of a Shakespeare character. DeCourcy notes that Taylor’s career has consisted of conflict, resolution, dramatic twists, and ultimate redemption.
  • Despite the fact that Danny Manning and Barry Hinson have taken head coaching jobs at Tulsa and Southern Illinois respectively, Bill Self assured the public that all of Manning and Hinson’s attention is on Kansas this weekend.
  • Kevin Young compiled a career-best 14 points when Kansas defeated Ohio State on December 10. Young, a transfer from Loyola Marymount, arrived at Kansas via some unusual circumstances.

Louisville

  • Assistant coach Richard Pitino noted that there has been a pretty prominent change in the way his father, Rick Pitino coaches. The younger Pitino believes his father has a much better relationship with his players than he used to.
  • News broke that Rick Pitino will not be a member of this year’s Naismith Memorial National Basketball Hall of Fame class. Considering Pitino’s resume, this is a bit shocking.
  • Rick Pitino has been through a lot in his coaching career and his life, so it would be unfair to define the man solely based on the Karen Sypher extortion scandal.
  • Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith might be the most unlikely roommates of all-time, but the two are great friends and are keys to Louisville’s success.
Share this story

Stanford’s NIT Title: So What?

Posted by AMurawa on March 30th, 2012

On Thursday night, Stanford earned the right to be one of the handful of teams in Division I basketball to end its season with a win, storming to a 24-point win over Minnesota in the NIT Final. While plenty of people will write that off (with some reason) as just showing that the Cardinal are the 69th best team in college hoops, what exactly does the win mean for Johnny Dawkins and his budding program?

Stanford, NIT Champion

Stanford Took Home The NIT Title, But What Does It Mean For Next Year? (Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)

Conventional wisdom says that an NIT win bodes well for the future, providing a springboard to success in the following season. Even a cursory glance at the history in the last decade shows that this is not really the case. Of the last 10 winners of the NIT, just four teams made the NCAA Tournament the following year, with only one team, West Virginia’s 2006-07 squad, actually earning a victory in the ensuing NCAA Tourney. In fact, over those 10 years, the NIT winners actually turned in a record the following year that was, on average, 4.3 games worse than the record in the year of the NIT win.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 30th, 2012

  1.  Without doing the math and coming up with an exact number, it’s easy to say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 330-340 teams in the NCAA’s Division I will end their basketball season with a loss, either in their conference tournament, the NCAA Tournament, or one of the three other postseason tournaments (to get the exact number, you’ve got to figure in the fact that half of the Ivy League school can potentially end the season with a win since they don’t have a conference tourney, plus D-I independents without a tourney as well). Monday night’s winner in New Orleans will obviously have the most to crow about, but the winners of the NIT, CBI and CIT tournaments will all head to the offseason on an upbeat note. And, despite all their struggles this season, Stanford claimed one of those slots on Thursday night, taking it to Minnesota at Madison Square Garden en route to a 24-point win in the NIT Final. Freshman guard Chasson Randle and sophomore backcourt mate Aaron Bright led the way with 15 points apiece, sending assistant coach Dick Davey off to retirement with a win.
  2. Tonight, Washington State will attempt to be another of those small number of teams to go out with a win, as it faces Pittsburgh in the third game of a three-game CBI championship series. While it is a battle for little more than 101st place, it is still important for the players, and even for some fans, as this article from CougCenter so aptly points out. However, for the third time in as many games, it appears WSU will have to go forth without its best player, Brock Motum, who will likely miss his third straight game after spraining an ankle two minutes into the CBI semifinal game last week. While Motum is doubtful, there is slightly more hope on the Pitt end that their best player, senior guard Ashton Gibbs, will return from his ankle sprain to take part in the final.
  3. Last summer, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott led the way to a major score for the conference, earning a $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox for the rights to football, basketball and even Olympic sports throughout the conference. Still, Scott thinks that there is more to be had, calling college football, at least, undervalued. And, given that the big money available to football allows the Pac-12 to create an environment where 180 conference basketball games will be aired on a national basis, not only is there potentially more money to come for athletic departments around the country, there is more exposure available for basketball and other sports.
  4. We talked about this possibility the other day, but apparently Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell has narrowed his list of possible destinations to Virginia and Arizona. Though those schools could not be more different from each other, the point guard has eliminated all other schools from contention. McConnell made a trip to the Charlottesville campus last week and will visit Tucson next week, but the Wildcats should be considered the strong favorite for a couple reasons: First, while Virginia has sophomore Joe Harris firmly entrenched at the point guard spot for the next couple years, Arizona is wide open; and, McDonnell’s family has been friendly with the family of Wildcat head coach Sean Miller for some time. Pencil McDonnell in as a Wildcat, eligible in 2013-14.
  5. Lastly, on the heels of Washington’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, the next big question in Huskyland is the fate of freshman guard Tony Wroten and sophomore wing Terrence Ross. Both are widely projected to be first round NBA draft picks should they choose to enter this year’s draft, but Wroten in particular could very well slip into the second round and non-guaranteed contract territory. In preparation for the big decisions ahead, both players are awaiting feedback from NBA personnel and will face something of a formality in an NCAA-mandated April 10 deadline to announce their intentions, but in fact they will have until the NBA’s official deadline of April 29 to figure out their next step. Unfortunately for both, the NCAA’s guidelines don’t provide the ability for potential prospects to work out for NBA teams prior to making their decisions. It remains to be seen whether such a setup allows for either more or less bad decisions in regards to early entry.
Share this story

NCAA Tournament Game Analysis: National Semifinals

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 30th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

For even more analysis of these fantastic games, check out Zach Hayes’ ultimate breakdowns for each matchup. UK-UL can be found here and OSU-KU here.

#1 Kentucky vs. #4 Louisville – National Semifinal (at New Orleans, LA) – 6:09 PM ET on CBS

The RTC NPOY Is Two Wins From a Championship

Kentucky. Louisville. In the Final Four. Armageddon in the Commonwealth. Yep, it’s well worth the hype. The 44th meeting between these bitter in-state rivals comes to us from the ultimate setting in the national semifinals at the Superdome on Saturday night. Kentucky leads the all-time series, 29-14, and has won six of the past eight meetings dating back to 2004. The Wildcats enter this game with just two losses on the season and the heavy favorite to cut down the nets on Monday night. In order to advance to the championship game, Kentucky must continue to defend at a high level. By no means is Louisville an offensive juggernaut and that’s where the stifling UK defense must take control of the game. With shot blocker extraordinaire Anthony Davis on the back line of its defense, Kentucky and its #1 eFG% defense should be able to limit the Cardinals offensively. Do that and you would think the Wildcats have enough offensive weapons to win the game. But it’s not always that simple. While John Calipari and his team have a huge edge in talent, all the intangibles favor Louisville. When Rick Pitino said they would need to put fences on bridges in Lexington if Kentucky loses to Louisville, he wasn’t kidding. All of the pressure is on Kentucky, a team expected to win a national title. Louisville, a team that went 10-8 in a down Big East, certainly wasn’t expected to make it this far. The Cardinals have absolutely no pressure on them in this game and Pitino would love nothing more than to stick it in the face of Calipari and Kentucky fans. Pitino and his players couldn’t wait to talk about the matchup last week while Cal and his squad kept on saying this is just another game. That’s pure BS. They know the stakes and the weight on the collective shoulders of this young team could perhaps be Louisville’s best chance to win. The Cardinals boast the top defensive efficiency in the land so a grinder-type game should be expected. Three of the last four games in this rivalry have been decided by nine points or less and, despite the talent gap, we’d be surprised if this one isn’t as well given the stakes. The key for Louisville will be to push the pace and score in transition without allowing Kentucky to do the same. UK is lethal in transition but a game with fewer possessions favors the Wildcats. They excelled at a slower pace in the second half of the SEC season and we’re just not sure Louisville will be able to score enough points in a low possession half court game. That means Louisville, and Peyton Siva specifically, can’t turn the ball over. If the Cardinals wait and let Davis and UK set up in half court defense, their task becomes incredibly tough. Scoring in transition takes the Davis defensive threat away and allows the Cardinals to set up their zone press. Pitino is a master at morphing his matchup zone into man-to-man defense in the blink of an eye and changing defenses could throw Kentucky off balance. The best way to beat UK is to take away Davis inside (Gorgui Dieng can do that, provided he stays out of foul trouble) and force them to make jump shots. Kentucky doesn’t take many outside shots but Louisville’s defense could force them into contested mid-range looks that might not fall. One problem area for the Cardinals could be the defensive glass. If UK is taking lots of jumpers (a good thing for Louisville), UL must block out and prevent Davis, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from crashing the offensive glass. Louisville has struggled all year in this department but must come up with a better effort on Saturday night. Siva makes everything go for Louisville and it’ll be interesting to see if Calipari puts Kidd-Gilchrist on him at times as he has done with other point guards this season. The freshman with an unquenchable motor could frustrate Siva and force him into turnovers, fueling UK’s transition attack. While we feel the intangible aspect of this game favors Louisville in a big way and we’d love to pick the Cardinals just for that (and to be different), Kentucky’s superior talent is undeniable. Louisville will make it close but Kentucky simply has too much in the end and should advance to play for all the marbles on Monday night.

The RTC Certified Pick: Kentucky

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Where This Year’s McDonald’s All-America Class Fits In Next Season

Posted by EJacoby on March 30th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

It’s never too early to start talking about next season. Wednesday night showcased the very best high school basketball players in this year’s senior crop as part of the McDonald’s All-America game. There’s not a whole lot of analysis to do from Wednesday’s glorified exhibition game, but we can start to project how these elite talents are going to fit in next season. All 24 All-Americans are headed to a power conference school, so let’s break down how each conference could be impacted by all of these newcomers.

ACC

There are still five players who have yet to decide their destination next year, but as of now there are more McDonald’s All-Americans (MAA’s) headed to North Carolina State than there are committed to North Carolina and Duke combined. The Wolfpack hauls in an impressive trio that includes point guard Tyler Lewis, shooting guard Rodney Purvis, and small forward T.J. Warren. Purvis is probably the biggest name of the class and showcased quite a bit of explosiveness on Wednesday. NC State is loaded with talent already and brings back its top four players next season (assuming C.J. Leslie doesn’t hit the NBA), so Mark Gottfried’s team is going to be scary. Purvis and Warren are big-time wing athletes while Lewis will be a viable backup point guard to Lorenzo Brown. There’s a strong chance that NC State will be the favorite in the ACC next season.

North Carolina Needs Marcus Paige to Contribute Immediately Next Season (SourceMedia Group/L. Martin)

Marcus Paige is headed to North Carolina, which is suddenly in desperate need of talent after its four best players are now off to the NBA. Depending on who you ask, Paige is either the best or second-best rated point guard in this class, and he will have a great opportunity to contribute immediately for the Tar Heels to step in for Kendall Marshall. Rasheed Sulaimon is going to Duke, and he was one of the most impressive players in the MAA game. A solid 6’4” shooting guard, Sulaimon is a hard worker with a terrific outside shot and should fit in perfectly for the Blue Devils. He seems like a classic Mike Krzyzewski recruit.

Big East

Surprisingly, Providence has the top recruiting class in the conference this year, led by a pair of five-star guards. Kris Dunn is ranked as a top-three point guard in this class and played in Wednesday’s game with some impressive passing skills. He’s not a great shooter but he has good size (6’3”) and skills for a lead guard. Ricardo Ledo was not chosen for the MAA game, but he is a top-five shooting guard in this class as well. Ed Cooley did extremely well in the recruiting ranks this year for a young team that is losing nobody next year. The Friars should have the best backcourt in the Big East.

DaJuan Coleman is a big body headed for Syracuse, which also suddenly is in a huge need for a center after Fab Melo’s deaparture. Coleman is a strong big man and ranked as one of the top centers in a loaded class at that position. He will step in alongside Rakeem Christmas as an impressive young duo in the paint. The Orange are off to the ACC, though, in a couple years. Shaq Goodwin, meanwhile, is headed for Memphis, a Conference USA school, but the Tigers will join the Big East starting with the 2013-14 seson. Goodwin is an athletic power forward at 6’8”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 30th, 2012

  1. Looks like Doug Gottlieb might have finally gone off the deep end. The personable but controversial ESPN analyst, known for stirring things up on the air and on Twitter, said he would be interested in replacing Frank Martin as the head coach at Kansas State. The former Oklahoma State point guard admits he would be an odd choice, but he points to Mark Gottfried and Steve Lavin as examples of former analysts who found immediate coaching success. The difference is, those two guys had major success at their former schools before returning to coaching after their ESPN stints–a point Gottlieb briefly acknowledges but doesn’t seem to fully grasp. But hey, this whole no coaching experience thing worked for Fred Hoiberg, so why not Gottlieb?
  2. Bill Self‘s bench is vanishing by the day this spring, as assistant Danny Manning announced yesterday he will become the new head coach at Tulsa. Manning follows Director of Basketball Operations Barry Hinson, who took a job with Southern Illinois earlier in the week. Best known for his magical 1988 NCAA Tournament performance, Manning is making a name for himself in the coaching ranks. In addition to his experience studying under Self, Manning also brings instant recognition to the Tulsa program and should have no trouble recruiting.
  3. We have to laugh at this bit of news: Kansas officials say they will not cancel class on Tuesday in the event of a national championship. “A national title would be worthy of celebration, but we are confident those celebrations can take place without disrupting KU’s academic mission,” chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the Lawrence Journal-World. A noble move by the university, sure, but hardly practical. It’s hard enough to get kids to attend a lecture on a regular Tuesday morning. But the Tuesday after winning it all? Good luck, guys.
  4. Every few months, just to stay sane, we’ve got to check in on the Realignment Apocalypse. And hey, guess what? The worst of it is over, and Kansas is happy to be in a “viable” Big 12. Besides that, nothing else to report on this front. If you ask us, that’s a good thing.
  5. Finally, here’s one view as to why Kansas can win a title this weekend. Not exactly a radical statement, actually. Kentucky may be the heavy favorite, and yes, it handled the Jayhawks on a neutral floor back in November. But if Self finds a way to win a championship, don’t think the nation will be shocked. He has done it before, you know.
Share this story

Big Ten Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on March 30th, 2012

  1. Thursday night was going to be the end of the road no matter what for Minnesota, but the Golden Gophers certainly didn’t want to see their season come to an end this way: Stanford 75, Minnesota 51 in the NIT Championship in New York. Minnesota had 22 turnovers, didn’t have a player score more than 12 points (Rodney Williams), and missed 16 of its last 19 shots of the first half as Stanford began to take control. The future is bright for Tubby Smith and Co. — particularly if Trevor Mbakwe returns next season — and perhaps a brutal loss like this to end the year could serve as a jump-off point for next.
  2. One season comes to end for Minnesota, and a new chapter begins for Illinois. The Fighting Illini finally got around to hiring and introducing a new head coach on Thursday with a press conference to welcome former Ohio coach John Groce. He was brought to Champaign with a five-year contract worth $1.4 million annually after spending the last four seasons in Athens. The expectations are high at Illinois, and Groce knows it. He will be charged with recruiting Chicago heavily, and bringing Illinois back to the Big Ten forefront.
  3. Of the many people skeptical of the Groce hiring and how it all went down over the last few weeks, Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com is not one of them. Greenberg admits that Groce was not the Illini’s first choice but Illinois fans will be pleased to have him once Groce settles in. Greenberg writes: “At 40, Groce is the perfect coach to take over the University of Illinois. He’s young, hungry and aggressive. He recruits point guards and gives them the keys to his offense. His teams play fast, shooting 3s and causing turnovers.”
  4. Back  to Minnesota, which was in the position to win a postseason title on Thursday but may not have a chance at winning the big one — the NCAA Tournament — unless the athletic department makes some major moves. NIT chairman C.M. Newton, who also hired Tubby Smith at Kentucky and watched him win a title there, said Minnesota’s facilities are not on par with Ohio State, Michigan State, or other teams that can compete annually for national championships. ”He’s not had the chance at Minnesota yet,” Newton told the Pioneer Press. “They’re going to have to make some decisions facilitywise in order for him to do that, in my opinion. They’re behind Michigan State and Ohio State and others.”
  5. Alex Dragicevich, who spent the last two seasons at Notre Dame, wasn’t a fit for Northwestern during the recruiting process. Now that he is looking to transfer, could things be different the second time around? The Chicago Tribune‘s Teddy Greenstein reports that there appears to be mutual interest between the two parties, and things could evolve over the next few weeks. He averaged 20.9 minutes and 6.6 points per game last season with the Fighting Irish.
Share this story

ACC Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 30th, 2012

  1. Wilmington Star News: Yet again we’ve got good and bad news out of Chapel Hill. Let’s start with the good: Kendall Marshall won the Bob Cousy Award for the country’s top point guard. It’s tough to argue with the pick, as Marshall’s ACC-record 351 assists helped lead the Tar Heels to the ACC regular season title before the team crumbled in his absence in the Elite Eight. Marshall continues the recent streak of North Carolina point guards to win the award, following the likes of Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: North Carolina’s roster next season will have at least five players missing from this year’s team, as Marshall, John Henson and Harrison Barnes all announced their intentions of entering the NBA Draft (factor in Tyler Zeller and Justin Watts graduating to get to five). Assuming the Tar Heels keep James Michael McAdoo, they’ll still have a solid interior presence and a wealth of perimeter players to go next to Marcus Paige, who will likely run the point with Dexter Strickland. Still, don’t underestimate the magnitude of losing four All-ACC guys (and Caulton Tudor — the writer of this article — should know, as he had all four on his first team).
  3. From The Rumble Seat: First, how old will Miami be next year if everyone comes back? Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson will be 22, while Kenny Kadji will be 24. Wow. I think the author touches on a pretty important point for Georgia Tech‘s conference success next year in wondering about the unbalanced schedule. If the Yellow Jackets get shots at the bottom tier of the conference (which should be better), they’ll be closer to the middle of the pack. However, unless someone really picks up the scoring load, it’s tough to project them outside of the bottom four.
  4. Baltimore Sun: Matt Bracken sat down with Mark Turgeon’s first Maryland recruit Seth Allen. Allen is a combo guard out of Virginia who hopes to contribute right away in Maryland’s backcourt by helping Terrell Stoglin with the scoring and Pe’Shon Howard with running point. The Terrapins could certainly use another consistent scoring threat (though I’d keep my eyes on Nick Faust to gain some confidence), so it will be interesting to watch Allen whose senior year was tough to evaluate because of nagging injuries.
  5. CBSSports.com: The first edition of Jeff Goodman’s transfer list is out with eight ACC names so far: Nate Hicks (sophomore, Georgia Tech), Glen Rice Jr. (junior, Georgia Tech), KT Harrell (sophomore, Virginia), Allan Chaney (freshman, Virginia Tech), JT Thompson (senior, Virginia Tech), Tony Chennault (sophomore, Wake Forest), Carson Desrosiers (sophomore, Wake Forest) and Anthony Fields (freshman, Wake Forest). I’m sure there will be more to come.

EXTRA: Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle does a great job in this article on Jon Scheyer coming back to the United States looking for a chance at the NBA. Scheyer got hurt during summer league after going undrafted following his senior season (the buzz was he would sign with the Miami Heat), so he went to play in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Scheyer received limited playing time, which ultimately led to his return to the US (rumors also surfaced about Scheyer being forced to complete Israel’s mandated military service, but he did not comment on that). I think Scheyer will get invited to the NBA’s summer league.

EXTRA EXTRA: Apparently, Tyler Hansbrough‘s nose is still attracting Duke elbows even in the NBA. Last weekend Mike Dunleavy elbowed Hansbrough in the face, breaking his nose and facial bone.

Share this story