Welcome Team Narcissism: Class of 2009

Posted by rtmsf on June 26th, 2009

Well, the 2009 NBA Draft has come and gone, and hundreds of players are waking up to the soul-crushing wreckage that inevitably follows.  For thirty players last night, hummingbirds are carrying $100 bills around the hotel room, there’s a case of empty Cristal at the foot of the bed, and the debilitating headache you’re sporting today is a badge of honor – Welcome to the Show.  For another thirty players, there’s a melancholy tease of ‘what could have been’ as you realize your dream is only marginally within reach – no guarantees from here on… you’re just a day-to-day wage-slave like the rest of us.  For the remainder who were waiting on that siren’s call from D. Stern last night, replace the Cristal with Boone’s and the tease with ‘what went wrong… I thought I was pretty good,’  and you have what we like to call Team Narcissism.

narcissismTeam Narcissism is filled with players who thought they were something they weren’t: draftable.  Or if they were draftable, they thought they were first-rounders when they were really second-rounders.  These are players who left college early based on the tenuous premise that they were ready for the NBA, and that the NBA would welcome them into its arms…  but… it didn’t quite work out that way.  Now they’re left with the option of scratching and clawing their way onto a team for a minimum salary, or heading overseas to try to catch on somewhere else.  Some of these players had absolutely no business declaring early, while others were victims of unfortunate timing and stock slippage.  Still, Scotty Thurman says hello.

Team Narcissism

  • Dar Tucker, Depaul (undrafted) – the 6’5 Blue Demon thought because he could score 18 ppg on a terrible FG% (39%) that this made him a draft pick?
  • Shawn Taggart, Memphis (undrafted) – Taggart should be a gearing up for a senior season as a featured player in Josh Pastner’s new offense.  He never had a chance at getting drafted this year.
  • Brandon Costner, NC State (undrafted) – never had a chance, so why not stay in school for one more season and get your degree (see: Taggart)? (correction: stay in school and improve your game?)
  • Paul Harris, Syracuse (undrafted) – the first of two Syracuse clowns who were egregiously fooling themselves into believing they had a shot to get selected last night.
  • Eric Devendorf, Syracuse (undrafted) –  it’s true, he probably had nowhere else to go, but given what we know about Devo, he also probably saw himself as a lottery pick.
  • Daniel Hackett, USC (undrafted) – can’t blame the kid for jumping off a sinking ship, but he probably could have returned and dominated on that team next year (plus get his degree).
  • Patty Mills, St. Mary’s (#55) - this was a free-fall last night.  Mills was a borderline first-rounder but his stock fell significantly in the last month, and he probably should have listened to the right people and returned to SMC for an injury-free junior all-american campaign.
  • Jodie Meeks, Kentucky (#41) - no surprise here, as Meeks was expected to go in the second round.  Still think it was a poor decision, though.
  • Chase Budinger, Arizona (#44) - another free-fall player, as Budinger was a lottery pick not all that long ago.  Don’t really blame him much for leaving early, though, as his fall was swift and recent.
  • DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh (#37) – good decision for an undersized Big Baby clone to leave early?  Probably depends on whether he makes the team or not, right?  Definitely a gamble.
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Breaking Down the 2009 Early Entries…

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2009

The 2009 NBA Draft Early Entry list is now official, and there are 75 collegiate players with eligibility remaining who think they have a shot at the League this year.  Keep in mind that there are only 60 picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, and the above number doesn’t even include graduating seniors as well as foreign players.  Mathematically speaking, it would serve a number of these players with stars in their eyes well to return to school for at least one more season.  Let’s evaluate each of them.

Players With Agents
First, the players who have already signed with agents, effectively ending their collegiate careers.  For the most part, this group is first-round material, but Brandon Costner, Eric Devendorf, Daniel Hackett and Dar Tucker must know something about their draft status that nobody else does. 

2009-ees-agents

Likely to Stay in Draft 
Next, we have a much smaller group of players who are very likely to stay in the draft, but they have yet to sign with an agent, and there’s been no official word yet.  All five of these players are probably first rounders, but with Nick Calathes, Jrue Holiday and Patty Mills, there remains a possibility of a return to school next season. 

2009-ees-likely

On the Fence
These thirteen players will decide the complexion of college basketball in 2009-10, much as Lawson, Ellington and Green did this season.  For example, if Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson return to Kentucky, that’s a top five team.  If Jeff Teague returns to Wake Forest, same thing.  Derrick Brown at Xavier, Austin Daye at Gonzaga, Luke Harangody at Notre Dame, Gani Lawal at Georgia Tech, Tyler Smith at Tennessee, Jarvis Varnado at Miss. St., Greivis Vasquez at Maryland.  Each of these players is all-american caliber.  This group of players could break a lot of hearts in the next six weeks.

2009-ees-fence-v2

You Gotta be Joking
This group of players has a fair mixture of guys who just want to get evaluated (even though Parrish points out most won’t actually get evaluated) for next season’s draft and players who have no idea what their true value is in terms of NBA scouts.  There are also several who have nowhere else to go, having worn out their welcomes elsewhere.  This list always makes RTC feel a little sad, yet as we now know, the NCAA has enacted a new rule making it so there will be even more ill-informed choices such as these in the future.  Thanks, guys.  Way to look out…

2009-ees-joking

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ATB: Hansbrough and Green Go Unbeaten at Cameron

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2009

Statement Game #1. UNC 101, Duke 87. The UNC seniors mentioned above joined a pair of former Deacs (Tim Duncan and Rusty LaRue) to become the only players to ever win all four of their games at CIS during their careers.  This year’s version of UNC’s win reminded us a little of last year’s, where UNC had an early lead only to watch Duke get hot and take the lead deep into the second half before UNC went on another late run to seal the game away.  Of course, the key similarity is that both years UNC has had the better team, and anyone who is buying into Duke as a legitimate title threat simply hasn’t been paying attention.  UNC carved up the Duke defense to the tune of 55% shooting, particularly during a devastatingly effective stretch where Ty Lawson got to the rim at will (wouldn’t you if Greg Paulus was defending you?) and the Carolina offensive juggernaut blew the doors off the place.  All five UNC starters hit for double figures, and although we certainly wouldn’t give the Carolina defense against Duke any major props, they were good enough in the second half to shut down the threes that the Devils were hitting in the first stanza (6 of their 8 were in the first half).  We believe that Duke still has 2-3 more losses ahead of it on its schedule, but the Heels seem to be finding their swagger again – they may only lose one more game the rest of the regular season.  Oh well, at least the Dookies won the Wiki battle (h/t Hugging Harold Reynolds)…

traveling-wiki

Statement Game #2Connecticut 61, Syracuse 47.  UConn pulled away in the second half of this game, once again in large part due to Hasheem Thabeet’s defensive presence in the middle.  The big man had 8/16/7 blks on the stat sheet, but he influenced numerous other Syracuse possessions by forcing players to alter shots or simply think better of entering the lane.  We’ve never been high on Thabeet, but even we have to admit that the past month or so he’s been spectacular, and UConn looks like the best team in the country when he’s doing his thing inside (similar to 2000 Cincinnati with Kenyon Martin in the post).  Is Syracuse in trouble, now at 6-6 in the Big East?  Home games against Georgetown and Villanova the next week are key to ensuring that Syracuse doesn’t get itself into trouble with the NCAA Tourney Cmte. – they need a minimum of one, but preferably both of those.

Upset of the Night #1. NC State 82, Wake Forest 76.  Is it an upset anymore if Wake loses to a bottom-dwelling ACC opponent nowadays?  Apparently Dino Gaudio’s team is looking to become this year’s Clemson by becoming the last undefeated team who then falls into the NIT.  Impossible you say?  Consider that Wake is now 5-4 in the ACC with road games still at Duke, Maryland and Virginia… if this snowball turns into an avalanche, the Deacs could end up 7-9 or so going into the ACC Tourney and squarely on the bubble.  Just riddle us one question – how does an offensive talent like Jeff Teague play 36 minutes and only get three FGAs (he made two)?  Things are not right with this team.  Brandon Costner had 23/9 for NC State.

Upset of the Night #2Dayton 71, Xavier 58. In an entertaining game in the A10 tonight that Dayton led from start to finish, the Flyers ended a six-game losing streak against the Musketeers behind a balanced effort featuring Chris Wright’s 19/6.  Xavier had trouble shooting the ball from deep (3-14) and from the line (9-17), which resulted in a game where they could never quite get over the hump.  This was a huge win for Dayton in terms of the A10 standings, as now both teams are 8-2, only behind St. Joseph’s at 7-1 in the league.

  • Oklahoma 78, Baylor 63.  Baylor hung around for a while, but it was the same old story as OU won its 30th in a row against Baylor behind Blake Griffin’s 21 dub-dub of the year (18/10).  At 3-7 in the Big 12, the Bears are essentially finished at this point.
  • Kansas St. 85, Texas Tech 73.  K-State continues to surge, winning its sixth in a row behind a huge first half where the Cats ran out to a 49-25 lead.
  • Utah 67, San Diego St. 55. The Utes took a one-game lead on surprising SDSU in the Mtn West race with a home win where Shaun Green came off the bench for 21/10.
  • Purdue 61, Penn St. 47.  Purdue held conference scoring leader Talor Battle to zero points on 0-7 shooting in a convincing (and needed) win by the Boilermakers, now tied with Illinois and OSU for second place in the league at 7-4.
  • Drexel 62, Northeastern 58.  Drexel used a key second-half run to drop the CAA leaders to three losses, pushing Northeastern into a tie with VCU
  • Vermont 75, Boston U. 47.  UVM took control of the top of the Am East standings with a key home win behind Marqus Blakely’s 12/13/4 assts.
  • Memphis 63, Tulsa 37.  The Memphis defense is hitting on all cylinders right now, holding Tulsa to 36% shooting and forcing 24 turnovers in this shellacking.
  • LSU 97, Mississippi St. 94 (2OT).  Probably the game of the night, as Tasmin Mitchell blew up for 41/11/5 assts including a late three-point play that gave the Tigers their 20th overall win and to go 8-1 in the SEC.  Is LSU the best team in this sorry league?  They’re certainly playing like it.
  • Wisconsin 69, Iowa 52.  Wisconsin won its third straight to get to 6-6 in the Big Ten and put that nasty six-game losing streak well behind them.
  • Tennessee 79, Georgia 48.  UGa is right there with Indiana, Depaul and Oregon as the worst BCS conference teams in America.  There are now four SEC East teams at 6-3 in the league.
  • Northern Iowa 81, S. Illinois 55.  UNI shot 54% in a pasting of the Salukis to go to 12-2 in the Valley.
  • Creighton 79, Bradley 65.  Creighton kept the pressure on UNI by winning a wild game involving a cheerleader getting knocked out cold by P’Allen Stinnett, who contributed 15/3 tonight.

On Tap Thursday (all times EST).

  • Louisville @ Notre Dame (ESPN) – 7pm. Let there be no question about this game for Notre Dame – it’s a must-win.  Seven in a row cannot become eight.
  • Temple @ St. Joseph’s (ESPN360) – 7pm. A key A10 game between Big 5 rivals that could potentially result in a three-way tie at the top of the league.
  • Robert Morris v. Sacred Heart (ESPN360) – 8pm.   Your NEC game of the year!  Can SH pressure 11-1 Robt. Morris?
  • UCLA @ Arizona State (ESPN) – 9pm. The Bruins have been rolling lately, but will be put to the test in the desert against the team that last beat them.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (ESPN360) – 9pm.  The Illini are in a battle for the #2 seed in the Big Ten, so they can’t afford to drop this one.  Of course, in their last two road games, they’ve scored a total of 86 pts.
  • USC @ Arizona (FSN) – 10:30pm.  These two teams are probably the most confounding in America this season.
  • Oregon St. @ Washington (FSN) – 11pm. OSU has been a lot more competitive than anybody expected this year, so UW should be vigilant here.
  • Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (ESPN2) – 11pm. This was supposed to be an RTC Live event but SMC is apparently too world-renowned to give media access to “blog sites” such as RTC.  Wonder if that will still be true when Patty Mills is playing for pay and the Contra Costa Times won’t even show up? Patty Mills isn’t playing – go to bed.
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The West Side is the Best Side…

Posted by rtmsf on June 9th, 2007

2Pac

2Pac was right after all

Quite a bit was made last season of a renaissance in the quality of basketball in the Pac-10 conference, as it ended the season as a top three conference in both the RPI and Sagarin ratings in addition to earning a record six NCAA bids for the conference and enjoying the prestige as the only conference with multiple teams in the Elite Eight (Oregon and UCLA). There has always been a surplus of talent on the west coast, especially in the Seattle and SoCal areas, but it was largely characterized by players opting to play for an eastern school just as often as staying home to play for State U. This has been changing over the last five years, however, as new coaches such as Lorenzo Romar at Washington, Tim Floyd at USC, Tony Bennett at Wazzu and Ben Howland at UCLA have endeavored and succeeded in keeping as many of those talents as possible close to home. This is no more evident than in some of the recruiting wars over the last couple of years that resulted in top ten players such as Spencer Hawes (Washington), twins Brook & Robin Lopez (Stanford), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Brandon Jennings (Arizona) signing to play in the Pac-10 (notable exception: Lake Oswego’s (OR) Kyle Singler to Duke).

Steve Lavin

Lavin’s former conference is on the rise

Still, we were a little surprised when Rivals released its top ten players at each position for the 2007-08 season, and the Pac-10 claimed by far the most players, with thirteen of the top fifty. This is especially remarkable given that the league is losing all-conference performers Arron Afflalo (UCLA), Aaron Brooks (Oregon), Marcus Williams (Arizona) and Nick Young (USC) to the NBA next season, while it welcomes likely top fifty players Kevin Love and OJ Mayo (USC) to the league. With talent like this staying on the west coast, we should expect another great season from the Pac-10 conference next year. Somewhere Steve Lavin’s hair gel is celebrating.

The ACC and Big East have seven players each on the list; the SEC has six, and the the Big 12 has five of the top fifty players. The Mountain West and Conference USA both have three of the top fifty, outperforming the Big 10 (again), who only has two. The Colonial (Eric Maynor – VCU), Horizon (AJ Graves – Butler), Missouri Valley (Randal Falker – S. Illinois) and Southern (Stephen Curry – Davidson) conferences each have one top fifty player returning. Below is the list including multiple-player conferences:

Rivals 2007-08 Top 50 Players

You probably noticed that we shaded the teams with three top fifty players returning next season – Stanford, UCLA, UNC, Kansas. It’s certainly no coincidence that three of those will begin next year in the top five of the polls, and the fourth, Stanford, will probably be knocking on the door of the top ten.

Thoughts -

  • Where is all the Big Ten talent? Having less players on this list than CUSA and the Mountain West is cause for alarm, and helps to explain why only one Big Ten team played into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament last season. Where are the usual stables of talent at Michigan State and Illinois? Aside from the yeoman’s work that Matta is putting into recruting at OSU, the rest of the Big Ten has signed only two top thirty prospects during the last three recruiting cycles – Joe Krabbenhoft of Wisconsin in 2005, and Eric Gordon of Indiana in 2007. An influx of coaching talent has entered the league (Tubby Smith at Minnesota and Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but without the players to accompany those moves, the Big Ten is going nowhere fast.
  • Nitpicks. We probably would have found a place for the following players: Derrick Low (Washington St.), Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Jerel McNeal (Marquette), and Patrick Beverley (Arkansas). Expect each of these players to be all-conference performers in their respective leagues next season. We also have a sneaky feeling that guys like DaJuan Summers (Georgetown), Deon Thompson (UNC), Derrick Caracter (Louisville) and JaJuan Smith (Tennessee) will make a solid case to be on this list next season.
  • Surprises. NC State’s future looks bright with two young big men, Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, returning for Sidney Lowe’s team. Alabama should be much improved next year as well, assuming Ronald Steele gets healthy (he was on many preseason all-american teams last year but struggled with tendinitis and ankle injuries that largely derailed Bama’s season). Apologies to the Mountain West, but who are Stuart Creason and Luke Nevill? Their inclusion on this list shows that the depth of talent at the center position in the college game is ridiculously thin.
  • Instant Impact Players in 2007-08. This list next season will be populated by the likes of OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (Kansas St.), Derrick Rose (Memphis) and Anthony Randolph (LSU).
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