AAC M5: 03.26.14 Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on March 26th, 2014

AAC_morning5_header

  1. In a shocking turn of events, news was released late last night that Manhattan’s Steve Masiello, who had agreed in principle to become the South Florida head coach on Tuesday morning, was no longer a candidate for the position after a “discrepancy” was found during his background check. As of this writing, there had been no speculation as to what the deal-breaking issue might have been, but it certainly puts the parties of Manhattan, South Florida and Masiello in rather awkward positions at this time.
  2. Even though his sophomore season has yet to be completed, it appears Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell will forgo his junior and senior seasons and enter this summer’s NBA Draft. Harrell averages 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and is projected to be selected somewhere in the middle of the first round. The eventual loss of Harrell is not a surprise to Louisville fans, but it definitely makes the departure of Chane Behanan that much more difficult to swallow. Behanan would have been back for his senior season, filling a void in the frontcourt. Now Louisville will have to rely on Mangok Mathiang and unproven freshman and sophomores in 2014-15.
  3. One of Louisville’s all-time greats, Darrell Griffith, was selected to join the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2014 class. Griffith, also known as Dr. Dunkenstein, led the Cardinals to their first national championship in 1980. The local Louisville Male product is responsible for a 101-25 record in four years with the Cards before becoming the second pick of the 1980 NBA Draft and playing professionally through 1991. Griffith joins UofL Hall of Famers Denny Crum and Wes Unseld in the shrine.
  4. When the ball is tipped on Friday night, Louisville fans can take solace in one historical statistic heavily in their favor: Rick Pitino is 11-0 in Sweet Sixteen games as a head coach at Louisville, Kentucky and Providence. That figure is impressive on its own, but throw in the margin of victory of 19.7 PPG and it’s simply unheard of. To make it 12 in a row he’ll have to take down rival Kentucky, something he’s had a hard time doing since taking over at Louisville. He’s won only five of 14 matchups with the Wildcats, and just one of six versus John Calipari.
  5. After being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, SMU did not pout and whine. Instead, after Monday night’s impressive win over LSU, the Mustangs are one game away from making it to the NIT semifinals in Madison Square Garden. It was another sellout crowd and another win at Moody Coliseum. The SMU faithful, who have witnessed wins in every home game except one of 18 this season, will get one more look at their team tonight against California. Now with 25 wins, this version of the Mustangs ranks fourth in school history in victories and has collected the most since the 1987-88 team won 28. With quite a bit of star power returning and matriculating as freshman, it’s hard to argue against the notion that the Mustangs will be the favorites to win the AAC next season.
Share this story

Appraising the 75th Anniversary NCAA Tournament Lists From a Big East Perspective

Posted by Will Tucker on January 17th, 2013

We’ve been meaning to devote the proper attention to the lists of top players, teams and moments in NCAA Tournament history released by the NCAA last month to commemorate 75 years of March Madness. Reader Sean Revell sent us a very compelling infographic of his creation (pictured below), which distills the unceremoniously dry, sterile data tables of the NCAA press release into an engaging visual timeline.

The NCAA's lists, in more visual terms, courtesy of Sean Revell

The NCAA’s lists, in more visual terms, courtesy of Sean Revell

The image serves as a good springboard for some analysis of the lists from a Big East perspective. The league’s current members acquitted themselves well in the list of individual performances, accounting for more players (14) in the Top 75 than any other league save the ACC, which placed 16 former stars on the list. But only three Big East teams were deemed worthy of the list of Top 25 tournament teams, placing the league in the middle of the pack below the Pac-12 and ACC, with six teams apiece. Obviously, it’s impossible to please everyone with a list like this, and revisionism and presentism are unavoidable in an era where March Madness is more culturally visible and digitally accessible than ever before. But it’s worth some attempt at measured scrutiny, so here are a few thoughts on which Big East players and teams should have made the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Past Imperfect: Kentucky-Louisville & the Dream Game

Posted by JWeill on March 28th, 2012

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Every two weeks, RTC contributor Joshua Lars Weill (@AgonicaBoss|Email) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the original Dream Game between Louisville and Kentucky.

It was bound to happen someday. Despite Kentucky’s clear antipathy toward playing in-state archrival Louisville, there was going to come a time when it was simply unavoidable. That time finally came, was forced to come actually, on March 26, 1983, in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the Mideast Regional final, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

No knowing observer was unaware of the possibility of a Bluegrass clash when the brackets were unveiled. Just a year prior, a similar tournament setup had been quashed when Kentucky was upset by Middle Tennessee State. This time around, the Wildcats got through, finishing off Bobby Knight’s Indiana squad, while Louisville was the one in trouble. After trailing significantly, the Cardinals edged Arkansas – coached by fairly-soon-to-be Kentucky coach Eddie Sutton — on a last-second tip-in. With both teams locked in to face each other, the pregame hype and buildup began.

Both teams, and their fans, were amped up for the 1983 Midwest Regional Final.

Media outlets immediately began to call the matchup “The Dream Game” or even, more simply, “The Game.” The players did their best to try and avoid providing any potential bulletin board material, but to limited effect. Wildcats backup forward Bret Bearup acknowledged the “thing that must not be said:” “Anybody on either side who says he hasn’t been thinking about this matchup since the tournament started is just saying what he’s supposed to say so he won’t get in trouble. I say what I’m not supposed to. I’ve been dreaming about this game. This is great stuff. ‘Course now I’m in big trouble.”

But while Louisville entered the game ranked No. 2 to Kentucky’s No. 12, at least one major participant felt that it was the mighty Kentucky program that had more to lose.

“The pressure is on Kentucky,” Louisville coach Denny Crum said in advance of the game, before needling the Big Blue Nation a little bit. “Our record is better the last 10 years. They have a chance to carve into our success.”

By tip-off, all the pregame discussions now past, everyone was ready. Tickets were at a premium and 12,489 showed up at the University of Tennessee’s Stokely Athletics Center for the game. Always eager to join a spectacle, Kentucky governor John Y. Brown wore a unique half-red, half-blue blazer to the affair.

Once the game finally got underway, it was Kentucky that broke quickly from the gate. Led by deft outside shooting by Jim Master and Derrick Hord, who each hit three early shots, the Wildcats raced to an early advantage, reaching a 23-10 lead just 10 minutes into the game. Louisville was playing tight, missing 16 of its first 20 shots.Crum’s roster was stacked, though, and the Cardinals’ talent began to show itself at last. Brothers Rodney and Scooter McCray found space underneath the basket and between them scored 12 of Louisville’s next 16 points. When Charles Jones hit a lay-up just before halftime, the UK lead was down to just seven, 37-30.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big East Morning Five: 01.16.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on January 16th, 2012

  1. It is hard to fathom what the world would be like today had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not blessed us with his existence.  The expression “courage of one’s convictions” contains the word courage for a reason. Forgive the informality here but as the esteemed Bill Raftery would say, King had onions. The word adversity may be one of the most overused, especially in sports. However, to say Dr. King stood up in the face of adversity could be the biggest understatement ever. One cannot begin to imagine how strong someone must be to do what Martin Luther King, Jr. did. But it probably boiled down to this for him, and perhaps made it easier. He knew he was right.
  2. Floyd VanHooser was full of van hooey. VanHooser, who is currently in prison serving a term of 16 years to life as a repeat burglary offender, was one of four people to accuse former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine of abusing them sexually as children.  He went to Syracuse police with the allegations in late November 2011.  VanHooser now admits he lied; saying while he and Fine had a consensual sexual relationship as adults, Fine never molested him. VanHooser lost both of his parents by the age of 13 and moved into Fine’s house thereafter. Fine, who was a teacher at VanHooser’s school at the time, took him in and provided for him for a number of years. In two letters written by VanHooser to Fine, he expressed remorse for fabricating the allegations. He said he lied because he wanted revenge against Fine for not paying for an attorney when VanHooser was arrested on the burglary charges. Fine has denied all allegations from the start and there was no comment from him or his attorney on the VanHooser matter.
  3. Allen Iverson would not be happy right now because we are going to talk about practice…man. In this case, Louisville’s practices. With Cardinal faithful seeking answers as to why Louisville has lost four of its last six, the question brought up by The Louisville Courier-Journal is how tough is too tough?  Rick Pitino reacted to a story, which appears only to have run in the hard copy version of the paper, that attributed some of Louisville’s issues to practice intensity and volume wearing down the team. The piece cited a television interview quote from another legendary Louisville coach Denny Crum, who said, “Whether it’s right or wrong, Rick’s got the reputation of overworking his kids.” Pitino refuted the theory, basically saying that everyone in the Big East practices hard. He did, however, also lament the day the NCAA limited practice time to 20 hours per week. But hey, he’s a coach. A coach whose teams are well known for their frenetic, pressing style. A style designed to create a war of attrition and wear down opponents. In order to play such a style Louisville has to be fit enough to execute, so it stands to reason practices would be designed accordingly.
  4. Connecticut’s Ryan Boatright had to sit out Saturday’s win at Notre Dame as there continue to be questions about his eligibility. Boatright, a freshman guard, was suspended for the Huskies’ first six games this year due to the receipt of improper benefits involving an airplane ticket purchased for him while he was playing AAU ball in Chicago. Following the suspension, Boatright has been an impactful contributor for the Huskies, averaging 10.2 points and 3.5 assists in 26.4 minutes per contest. The Notre Dame game likely was anticipated as a highlight for Boatright, who grew up in Aurora, Illinois, which is just a few hours away by car from South Bend. It is not yet known when Boatright will be able to get back on the court in game action, but he is allowed to practice and travel with the team. Connecticut next faces a test against Cincinnati at home on Wednesday.
  5. Another Big East guard was held out of a game over the weekend as Providence’s Vincent Council did not play at #1 Syracuse for what head coach Ed Cooley called an “accountability issue”. After the game Cooley and Providence’s Sports Information Director Arthur Parks, specifically stated there were no academic legal reasons for Council’s suspension. Council (16.4 PPG, 7.1 APG) is the Friars’ leader and only legitimate point guard on a team that lacks overall depth. His projected backup coming into the year, freshman Kiwi Gardner, was ruled academically ineligible for the season due to a high school transcript problem.  Syracuse took advantage of Council’s absence and cruised to a 78-55 win. The suspension remains indefinite as Cooley left open the possibility that it could extend beyond one game. Providence does not play again until Saturday, January 21 when they host Marquette.
Share this story

Two Minutes’ Hate: The RTC Rivalry Series — Kentucky vs Louisville

Posted by jstevrtc on December 31st, 2010

One of the best things about college basketball is the rivalries. Whether rational or not, rivalries usually manifest themselves through the players and fans of the involved schools in the form of true, unmitigated disdain for the other side. Because we love making trouble, and with apologies to Orwell, we give you the Two Minutes’ Hate, a series of posts in which we give fans/bloggers/writers of both sides of a given rivalry a chance to vent about the other side, with minimal but identical prompting from us. We encouraged them to cut loose and hold nothing back, and we’ll be doing this with various rivalries throughout the year as such games arise. If you want to nominate a rivalry or even offer a submission, email us at JStevRTC@gmail.com. And remember, the published opinions are those of the respondents and not necessarily those of RTC, heh heh.

Today’s Rivals: Louisville and Kentucky

Coaches Crum And Hall Might Be Smiling Here, But BOY, Do These Two Teams Hate Each Other.

First, speaking on behalf of the Cardinals, we have Mike from the excellent Louisville site Card Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter here. And you should, if for no other reason than because his bio describes him as the “fourth-ranked Chaucer scholar in the Ohio Valley.”

1. In your opinion, what was the Ville’s greatest win over UK?

The 1983 “Dream Game” without a doubt.

Even after Louisville had established itself as a national power, Kentucky refused to play them. The game finally happened in ’83 when the teams were paired in the same region and met in the Mideast Regional championship on March 26 in Knoxville. Despite a buzzer-beating shot by Jim Master to send the game into overtime, the Cardinals ran off 14 straight points in the extra period and prevailed, 80-68.

The U of L community erupted and quickly the governor, legislators and even the boards of trustees at both universities began to talk about a series between the two. Shortly thereafter, the announcement was made that Louisville and Kentucky would begin playing each other annually.

The game played a huge role in making the rivalry what it is today. If Louisville loses that day, the two might still not be playing annually.

2. What was the most painful loss?

Probably the ’04 game where Louisville led by 15 at half and as many as 18 before the Cats came all the way back and won it on Patrick Sparks‘ free-throws with less than a second left. Sparks walked twice. Neither were called. Louisville won the game.

Still, we went to the Final Four a few months later and UK didn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

September 15th Will Be “Mike Krzyzewski Day”

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2010

The past two years have been very good for Mike Krzyzewski. In addition to taking Duke back to the top of the college basketball world last April, he also led Team USA back to the top of the international basketball world (not that there was any doubt as long as we brought the “A team”) in Beijing. An inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, he has won almost every title (four NCAA championships, 12 ACC championships in both the regular season and conference tournament, and an Olympic gold medal) and received almost every award (three Naismith College Cach of the Year Awards, two Basketball Times National Coach of the Year Awards, a NABC National Coach of the Year Award, and five ACC Coach of the Year Awards) that he could be expected to win.

K: Best in the Business

To add to that, earlier today the city of Chicago announced that it would make this September 15th into “Mike Krzyzewski Day” (over/under on misspelled signs and posters: 130) on the same day that he will be inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and receive the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award. [Ed. Note: We aren't expecting Chicago great and Duke-hater Michael Jordan to be in attendance.] Coach K, a native of Chicago, graduated from Archbishop Weber High School before matriculating to the Army where he played under a fairly decent coach named Bob Knight. A solid but unspectacular guard at Army, he served in the Army for three years and coached at a prep school for two years before joining Knight as an assistant at Indiana where he left just before the 1975-76 season (the last undefeated Division I team) to take over as the head coach at Army. Although he compiled a 73-59 record at Army, he went 9-17 in his last season before getting an offer from Duke to become their head coach (a classic case of failing upwards). His first three years at Duke were not much more successful as after a merely mediocre rookie campaign he went a combined 21-34 over his second and third seasons. At that point many critics suspected Krzyzewski’s days in Durham were numbered, but little did they know that the freshman class that season (Johnny DawkinsMark AlarieDavid Henderson, and Jay Bilas) would wind up being one of the greatest classes in the school’s history. After that group made it to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament in their sophomore and junior campaigns they took off as seniors in what is widely considered one of the finest seasons in college basketball history. That group entered the championship game with a 37-2 record against a Denny Crum-led Louisville team before falling by three points to freshman sensation “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison and the Cardinals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

30 Days of Madness: The Dream Game

Posted by rtmsf on March 27th, 2010

We’ve been anxiously awaiting the next thirty days for the last eleven months.  You have too.  In fact, if this isn’t your favorite time of year by a healthy margin then you should probably click away from this site for a while.   Because we plan on waterboarding you with March Madness coverage.  Seriously, you’re going to feel like Dick Cheney himself is holding a Spalding-logoed towel over your face.  Your intake will be so voluminous that you’ll be drooling Gus Johnson and bracket residue in your sleep.  Or Seth Davis, if that’s more your style.  The point is that we’re all locked in and ready to go.  Are you?  To help us all get into the mood, we like to click around a fancy little website called YouTube for a daily dose of notable events, happenings, finishes, ups and downs relating to the next month.  We’re going to try to make this video compilation a little smarter, a little edgier, a little historical-er.  Or whatever.  Sure, you’ll see some old favorites that never lose their luster, but you’ll also see some that maybe you’ve forgotten or never knew to begin with.  That’s the hope, at least.  We’ll be matching the videos by the appropriate week, so all of this week we re-visited some of the timeless moments from the regionals of the NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy.

NCAA Regionals

Dateline: 1983 NCAA Regional Finals – Kentucky vs. Louisville

Context: With Kentucky playing West Virginia in the East Region Final today between regional rivals that don’t seem to care much for each other, we thought it would make for a nice segue to one of our favorite historical games in the same round involving UK.  In 1983, the NCAA brackets fell in such a way that intrastate rivals Kentucky and Louisville met in the regional finals with a trip to the Final Four on the line.  Many of our younger readers are probably thinking… ok, so what?  Great question.  The “what” is that the two teams had not played in 24 seasons due to Kentucky’s refusal to play the Cards despite Denny Crum’s best attempts to broker a game between the schools separated by 70 miles of I-64.  Imagine if Duke and North Carolina hadn’t played for a quarter century because UNC didn’t think Duke was worth its time.  Needless to say, the hype for this game, both nationally and locally was through the roof, as you can see in this preview piece hosted by Brent Musburger.

As for the game itself, it was a spirited affair, and worth every bit of the pre-game hype.  The two teams battled through 39+ minutes of back and forth basketball until the following sequence ended regulation.

The overtime period wasn’t quite so thrilling, but some Louisville fans still say it was the most meaningful five minutes in the history of the Cardinal program, even more so than their two national titles in 1980 and 1986.

Share this story