Morning Five: 03.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Tuesday was undoubtedly the loss of BYU’s Brandon Davies, a sophomore forward who was banging his way to 11/6 nightly, picking up scraps left over from Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery, the two leading scorers.  Davies allegedly broke the school’s honor code, and he was suspended for the rest of the season.  The Cougars are tracking toward a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they’ll need to prove that they can play just as well without Davies in the lineup as they have with him to satisfy the NCAA Selection Committee.  Forward Noah Hartsock is expected to move into Davies’ vacated center position, but Hartsock’s power forward spot will need to be filled by a less experienced player such as Kyle Collinsworth or Charles Abouo.  Very tough break for Dave Rose and the BYU program in its best season in a generation.
  2. In other news involving personnel losses (or non-losses), UNC backup guard Reggie Bullock will miss the remainder of the season with a torn lateral meniscus that he suffered during the weekend’s Maryland game.  This is not a huge loss for the Heels, as Bullock was only contributing 6/3 in about fifteen minutes per game this season, but he was third on the team in three-pointers made (29) and this will make Roy Williams’ team a little more suspect against zone defenses the rest of the year.  In much better news, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen had his right wrist x-rayed after banging it in Monday night’s game against Texas, and although it was sore and swollen, there is no broken bone.  He is expected to play this coming weekend in Senior Day festivities at Bramlage Coliseum against Iowa State.
  3. Luke Winn gives us his top eight potential bid stealers for the next two weeks — teams who could make strong runs through their conference tournaments to knock someone like Virginia Tech or Michigan off the ‘last four in’ line.  Winn’s list is a good one, but we’d perhaps add a few more names to the discussion: Washington State (Pac-10), Alabama (SEC), San Francisco (WCC) and any number of teams from Conference USA.
  4. Remember former Binghamton guard DJ Rivera, the former America East star whom coaches refused to vote for POY in 2009 even though he was clearly the best player in that league?  Oh, he also was partially responsible for the implosion of the Binghamton program when he was arrested in the fall of 2009 for swiping a debit card and subsequently using it to purchase snacks, cigars and a large-screen television before getting caught.  His arrest along with Tiki Mayben’s commensurate arrest for selling crack cocaine resulted in several players getting kicked off the team and a national scandal that the school is still recovering from.  Why is this relevant now?  On Monday, Rivera pleaded guilty to the crime — fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property — and he will face nine months’ probation, which, if he keeps his nose clean, will allow him to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and pursue a basketball career overseas.  This plea marks the final chapter in the scandal — BU has gone 20-40 since the program was destroyed that summer.
  5. Maybe these guys should talk to our friends at HSAC so as to learn how to properly perform an interesting study.  Virginia Tech, fresh off three straight years on the wrong side of the bubble, commissioned statisticians at the College of Science to determine what the biases are that go into making bubble selections into the NCAA Tournament.  Their conclusion: a team’s RPI, its strength of schedule, and its historical pedigree factor prominently into successful bids.  In other words, everything you already knew.  Across campus, no doubt, Hokie researchers have recently proven that water is indeed wet and sunshine comprises the majority of daylight.  Here’s a memo to Seth Greenberg: how about instead of hanging your hat on a few big-time wins every season, you beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, especially at home.
Share this story

Backdoor Cuts: Vol. II

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2009

backdoorcuts(2)

Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between correspondents Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore that will appear every Wednesday in Rush the Court. This week they review the horror film Binghamton: 2009.

DAVE ZEITLIN: So I have this friend who’s about as optimistic a sports fan as they come. How do I know this? Because he watches nearly every single Kansas City Royals game, and is convinced each summer they have a good team. (They’ve had only one winning season since 1994.) It’s no different when he talks about the college basketball team at his alma mater. He’ll text me as soon as the schedule comes out, claiming the mid-major he roots for will surprise some big-name squads. He’ll predict big things from players I’ve never heard of. He’ll take moral victories out of 20-point losses. If you ask me, rooting for an underdog with that kind of attitude is admirable. But the last time I talked to him about his favorite college basketball team, he took a different tone. It was jarring but predictable. “They should just cancel the season,” he said with a sigh. His favorite team is Binghamton, and this is the point of the story where you should feel bad for my friend, who after these all years may finally need to look for the It’s-time-to-give-up switch.

binghamton hoops 1

By now, everyone knows the almost unfathomable plight of Binghamton basketball. From Division I newcomer to Division I upstart to Division I laughingstock, the Bearcats managed to follow the program’s first NCAA tournament berth last season with the kind of disaster that terrifies even John Cusack and the little girl on his back. After just about every impact player was dismissed from the program (RTC gives a nice recap here) for juicy stuff like stealing condoms, getting in bar fights, selling crack, the head coach responsible for bringing these guys in was put on paid leave for essentially giving high school players his business card a day after the NCAA contact period ended — which almost seems akin to Al Capone getting arrested for a speeding ticket. (Also, paid leave? Can I get paid to destroy a basketball program and then do nothing all day? Is there a listing for that on Monster?)

While the Binghamton implosion has faded somewhat from public view, there are still many things to discuss here. There’s the issue of the right and wrong ways to build a program (guess which way Binghamton did it) and there’s the issue of how Binghamton was even able to field a team this season (though these guys did pretty well with just a handful of players) just to name a couple. But first I’ll let Steve, a fan of a rival America East school, take his digs. Just try to remember my poor friend.

STEVE MOORE: Back in college at Boston University, I covered the men’s hoops team for the school paper during one of Binghamton’s first seasons in Division I. They struggled a little then, but they seemed to have everything in order, and were far ahead of their don’t-call-us-SUNY-school brethren — Albany and Stony Brook — who joined the America East at the same time. They had a beautiful on-campus facility being built, some solid recruits in the pipeline, and a seemingly bright future. They locked up the rights to host the conference tourney for a few years, and everything seemed on track.

But the stories in the last few seasons had gotten a little different, at least from what I read from afar. Friends I knew who covered the team recently told stories about the arrogance and insanely huge ego of head coach Kevin Broadus, and anyone who looked at their roster knew it had more than a few shaky names on it. There’s nothing wrong with scooping up transfers from other schools, but to do so with total disgregard for personal history is irresponsible. And it ended up setting this program back by five or 10 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Binghamton Basketball Program Imploding

Posted by nvr1983 on September 25th, 2009

After the news broke about the arrest of Binghamton guard Emanuel Mayben, we assumed that the program might make a few changes in its recruiting. We had no idea that they would decide to blow up the entire program by releasing 5 more players from the team today including the “should have been” conference POY D.J. Rivera. The university has not released information on why these players (Rivera, Malik Alvin, Corey Chandler, Paul Crosby, and David Fine) were released and we probably won’t be getting an answer in the near future at least from those remaining at Binghamton as Associate Director of Athletics for Communications John Hartrick stated that coach Kevin Broadus, other members of the staff, and players would not be available for further comment on the situation.

In a statement to the Binghamton’s Press & Sun-Bulletin, Hartrick stated that the 5 players were released because “they are not toeing the line. Their attitude and behavior … is not what we expect from our student-athletes.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sure seems like a program run amok and Hartrick had 2 choices: fire the players or fire the coach. And unlike professional sports where it is much more expensive (and hence unfeasible) to get rid of the players, in college it is more difficult to get rid of the coach. I’m not saying that these 7 players (the 5 today, Mayben, and Miladin Kovacevic) are completely blame-free (particularly Mayben, Kovacevic, and Alvin who all have charges against them), but when half of your players get thrown off the team it usually isn’t a problem just with those players. Instead, it speaks to a larger issue with the program. However, Binghamton just inked a Broadus to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season, which likely would have cost at least $500,000 to buy out given the fact that Broadus was making $205,000 annually on his previous contract as a brand-new head coach. Because of what likely would have been a large buyout, it was easier just to get rid of the “bad apples”.

The question now is two-fold:

  1. What’s next for the Binghamton basketball program? Hint: It’s not a return trip to the NCAA tournament. More likely with just 10 scholarship players (only 1 guard, no point guards, and nobody under 6’5″ according to Pete Thamel–and they don’t have a Magic Johnson-style PG at Binghamton) this team will struggle to stay above .500 even in the very mediocre America East. However, for those of you who think this may be a death knell for the Bearcat basketball program, remember how quickly Baylor recovered from a much worse situation in a much more competitive league.
  2. What happens to the 5 players who were released today? I’m not sure about how the NCAA will handle a situation like this, but all of the players should have some eligibility left so let’s handle each player going in descending order of ability:
  • D.J. Rivera: The man who should have been the America East POY last year if the league’s coaches hadn’t decided to make a statement against how Broadus was running the program, which looks quite prescient now even if it was an idiotic way to make that statement. Rivera, who was our Mid-Major Impact Player for the Northeast, averaged 20 PPG and 6.5 RPG last year as junior making him one of the top mid-major players in the country. As much as programs would normally try to avoid players from situation like this, programs are probably already trying to contact Rivera for his services. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up at a BCS conference school.
  • Malik Alvin: 11.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, and an attempt to practice safe sex that will be attached to his name forever. While Alvin won’t draw the BCS schools like Rivera will, some mid-major will snatch him up quickly and direct him to the nearest student health service center to help him stock up as soon as he arrives on campus.
  • Corey Chandler: A transfer from Rutgers, Chandler was an all-state player in New Jersey and put up decent numbers at Rutgers, but never really developed into the star that Rutgers fans expected before he was dismissed from the team in August (notice a pattern here). The guess here is that with those kind of numbers in the Big East and two more years of eligibility left someone will take him. Does anybody know who Binghamton West is?
  • Paul Crosby: A former all-state player in Michigan, Crosby was academically ineligible at Toledo, but was expected to contribute this year for the Bearcats. Honestly, I’m not sure what his next move is as programs will be intrigued by his size (6’8″, 235 lbs), but character issues (first grades and now behavior) and his mediocre overall rating will limit his options.
  • David Fine: Averaging 0.9 PPG as a junior in limited time will likely mean that Fine will have to try to walk-on somewhere or call it a career because I can’t see a program offering him a scholarship for 1 year with his/Binghamton’s baggage.

We doubt that we will hear anything from Binghamton’s athletic department any time soon, but it will be interesting to hear what these 5 released players will say about the situation so keep your eyes open for crazy Twitter feeds or Facebook status updates from these 5 players.

Share this story

RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to 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?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

Share this story

NCAA Preview: Binghamton Bearcats

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Binghamton (#15, East, Greensboro pod)
vs. Duke (#2)
Thurs. 3/19 @ 9:20pm
Vegas Line: Binghamton +21.5

General Profile
Location: Vestal, New York
Conference: America East/ Automatic
Coach: Kevin Broadus, 37-24
08-09 Record: 23-8, 13-3
Last 12 Games: 11-1, won last 11
Best Win: 91-83, Vermont,January 8, 2009
Worst Loss: 63-60, @ Bucknell, December 20, 2008
Off. Efficiency Rating: 100.9; 178
Def. Efficiency Rating: 100.8; 159

Nuts n Bolts
Star Player(s): D.J. Rivera, 20.1ppg, 6.6rpg, 1.8spg, 46.8% FG
Unsung Hero: Reggie Fuller, 0.0ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.7bpg, 56.9% FG
Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None
Key Injuries: None
Depth: 26.3%, 280
Achilles Heel: Ineffective bench and only one good forward
Will Make a Deep Run if…: D.J. Rivera scored 30ppg
Will Make an Early Exit if…: they only play like the bullies of the America East they are

NCAA History
Last Year Invited: First appearance
Streak
: N/A
Best NCAA Finish
: N/A
Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): N/A

Other
Six Degrees to Detroit: Kevin Broadus was recruiting coordinator of 2007 Georgetown Final Four team.
Distance to First Round Site:
School’s Claim to Fame: PTI’s Tony Kornheiser is a proud alum
School Wishes It Could Forget: Malik Alvin was arrested early in the season for stealing condoms early in the season
Prediction: First round loss. The America East is a competitive small conference but nothing that can compete with the big time schools they will play in the first round.
Major RTC stories: N/A

Preview written by Corey Johns of UMBC Sports Blog.

Share this story

It’s Christmas in March

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2009

Dave Zeitlin is an RTC contributor.

I’ve often said that the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament is like Christmas for me. So what better time to make a Christmas, err, a March Madness wish list? Here, in no particular order, is what I want as the best three weeks in sports begin:

xmas-tree-ornament-bball

  • To hug a stranger at a bar while cheering for a player I’ve never heard of at a school I don’t know anything about.
  • Anyone who roots against a big underdog for the sake of his bracket to be forced to watch exclusively LPGA tournaments through the rest of March.
  • Another George Mason to make the Final Four. I’m looking at you, Siena.
  • A 16 seed to finally win a game, and not just for the free Arby’s burger. (This promotion, though, is sort of funny, especially this quote: “Each year at this time, people crave that Cinderella story – the team that takes everyone by surprise. Our new Roastburgers offer an unexpected change from standard greasy burgers.”)
  • A brawl between Gary Williams’ sweat and John Calipari’s gel in Round 2 (speaking of greasy things)
  • A cat-fight between Fran McCaffery’s wife and Rick Pitino in Round 2 (sorry, I must have that mascot brawl on my mind).
  • A game that goes seven overtimes. Six is nothing.
  • A buzzer-beater that will make Bryce Drew say, “Now that was impressive.”
  • A moment so memorable, I’ll always remember where I was when I saw it. (Unless I’m with Jim Calhoun. Wait, why would that happen?)
  • Someone just as fun as Stephen Curry to become the new Mr. March.
  • Greg Paulus to become the new Miss March.
  • Fran Dunphy to win a game. He deserves it.
  • Bob Huggins to lose a game. He deserves it.
  • Jonny Flynn to keep doing his Energizer impression
  • To win my pool, though I’ll settle for keeping my bracket alive past the first day.
  • To watch my alma mater, Penn, try to win a game. What’s that? The Quakers aren’t in the tournament for the second straight year? And they had one of the worst seasons in recent history? Excuse me while I jump from the Palestra rafters.
  • Jay Bilas to stop hating on the little guy. How many mediocre schools from BCS conferences to do we need to see before we realize it’s the upsets that make this tourney tick?
  • Binghamton’s D.J. Rivera to get his revenge for the ultimate snub by torching the team everyone loves to hate. Speaking of which …
  • To find a new villain other than Duke. How about … let’s see … um …. Oh, hell, I’m sticking with Duke.
  • The announcers doing the Cornell game to abstain from saying things like “I thought Ivy League kids were smart” after a bad turnover. SAT jokes are a no-no, too.
  • Players to stop thanking God after wins. I’m OK if Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado repeats this gem though: “I’ve got to use my quickness to outquick the opposing opponent.”
  • Bob Knight to offer a formal apology for once saying, “All of us learn how to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” Hey Coach, those words you’re stringing together for your new website with fellow jerk knowledgeable hoops personality Billy Packer. I’m not entirely sure but I think it’s called writing.
  • Gus Johnson to yell even louder.
  • Any commentator who says the expression “body of work” more than twice in one sentence to stop getting lessons in awful announcing from Suzyn Waldman.
  • Gonzaga not to ruin my bracket for the millionth straight year. Please? If I win my pool, I’ll split the money with you, Heytvelt. You can use that cash for your supply of – and moving on!
  • The dude who said, “I’m the weather man” to come back into my life.
  • To hear my stepdad explain the same last-second play he created years ago while lamenting, “No one ever does this.” (It’s March. Everyone’s a coach.)
  • A team with a great story to rally behind. Cleveland State and North Dakota State seem like good choices, but I’m open to suggestions.
  • To tune out anything that has to do with the economy, the wars, the demise of newspapers, octomoms and Dane Cook … and get sucked into a world of college hoops for three straight weeks, remembering so many great shots, players and moments that I have enough material to write another column gushing about March Madness 20 years from now.
  • And, of course, to cry during One Shining Moment. I mean, what?

So that’s my wish list. May Santa, I mean Greg Gumbel, come down the chimney and bring it to me.

Share this story

QnD East Region Analysis

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2009

EAST REGION PREVIEW (by Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Favorite
Pittsburgh
, 1, 28-4 – DZ: We at RTC love the upset. But let’s be honest: Pitt has a relative cakewalk. SM: No argument here. I’m a man of few words (not really).

Should They Falter
Villanova
, 3, 26-7 – DZ: Upperclassmen guards own this tournament. And in that department, Scottie Reynolds is as good as they come. SM: I agree here, as well. Dave and I wouldn’t work well on ESPN First Take – too much agreement. DZ: Could this be because we agreed on mostly everything before we started writing? Maybe.

Grossly Overseeded
DZ: Xavier, 4, 25-7 – The Musketeers have lost five of their last 10 against only average competition. SM: Texas, 7, 22-11 – It’s hard to call a seven seed grossly overseeded, but count me among the non-believers when it comes to the Longhorns. A.J. Abrams can shoot the lights out, but he can also disappear in big moments. Texas feels more like a 9-to-11 seed to me.

Grossly Underseeded

DZ: UCLA, 6, 25-8 – A No. 9 Pomeroy rating should have outweighed a bad loss to USC in the conference tourney. SM: Minnesota, 10, 22-10 – It’s hard to ask for more than a 10 seed when you’re 9-9 in conference, but it’s easy to forget Minnesota’s win over Louisville back in the fall. And Tubby Smith in March is a pretty good bet. The Golden Gophers are the fourth team Tubby has taken to the Dance.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper

DZ: Portland State, 13, 23-9 — Realistically, No. 12 Wisconsin probably has the better chance to get to the second weekend, but we like the little guy here. Portland State has an impressive win over Gonzaga on its resume, too. SM: Binghamton, 15, 23-8 – OK, so it probably won’t happen, but I’ve gotta show the America East some love. My alma mater (Boston University) hasn’t gone dancing since 2002, so I have to support my low-major conference brethren.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower)
Florida State, 5, 25-9 – DZ: Coming off an impressive run in the ACC tournament – but a tough loss, too – the Seminoles will be hungry to make a deep run. Let’s just hope they leave the tomahawk chop at home. SM: I agree the Seminoles can make noise in the second weekend. Whether those wins will be vacated in 10 years or so? That’s a different story.

Carmelo Anthony Award
DZ: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh (15.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, .599 FGP) – Everyone knows how strong Blair is. And everyone who doesn’t should watch this. SM: Toney Douglas, Florida State (21.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 38% 3-point pct.) – Senior guards are critical to March success, as Douglas proved during the ACC tournament last week.

Stephen Curry Award

DZ: D.J. Rivera, Binghamton (20.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.8 spg, .468 FGP) – The Philadelphia product and St. Joe’s transfer is legit – though he’s not quite as cherubic as last year’s Mr. March, Steph Curry. SM: Jeremiah Dominguez, Portland State (12.9 ppg, 3.2 apg, .437 3-pt. pct) – The Vikings could give Xavier some trouble, and yet another senior point guard will be key. Dominguez dropped 22 on Montana State in the Big Sky final just to get into the dance.

Home Cooking
(3) Villanova,
16 miles from Wachovia Center; (2) Duke, 56 miles from Greensboro Coliseum – DZ: Villanova plays plenty of games at the Wachovia Center, so this will feel like a home game for them. And, of course, Duke in Carolina is always a tough matchup. SM: It’s likely that most Philly-area residents who bought tickets months ago for this site are Villanova fans, anyway, which gives the Wildcats a huge advantage.

Can’t Miss First Round Game
UCLA vs. VCU, Thursday – DZ: Darren Collison and Eric Maynor will battle for acronym bragging rights in this intriguing contest between a perennial giant and a strong mid-major. SM: Far and away this is the game I’m most looking forward to. The large Nova-heavy crowd will gravitate toward the underdog anyway, and Maynor should bring them to their feet.

Don’t Miss This One Either

Duke vs. Binghamton
, Thursday – DZ: We love how this game pits the squeaky clean program from the ACC against the thugs and retreads from the America East. SM: As an alum of the real BU, I hate that the Bearcats try to use that moniker. But I’ll be rooting for them anyway.

Lock of the Year:

SM: Villanova cruises to the Elite 8, and is never really challenged along the way. With two games in their quasi-home gym, and a Sweet 16 date with perennial disappointment Duke, this bracket fits the Wildcats better than Jay Wright’s three-piece suit. I understand that hating on Duke is easier than getting away with a travel at Cameron Indoor, but Villanova has an experienced leader in Scottie Reynolds, and a nearly extinct collegiate species in Dante Cunningham: A big man who can consistently drill 16-footers. Want another East Region lock? Wright will edge out Bruce Pearl as the bracket’s best-dressed coach. But it’ll be close. DZ: Are you talking about Pearl’s orange blazer or his bare chest, because either way his outfits would make even Lloyd Christmas blush. I agree with a deep run for ’Nova but I’m a bit wary of its second-round matchup. Also, based on what I just wrote, I clearly don’t know what the word lock means.

Juiciest Potential Matchup – purists
Duke vs. UCLA, Sweet 16. SM: Two traditional powers with some of the most talented recruits in the nation and a bevy of devoted (and often annoying) fans. It would also bring two coaches face to face with their recent reputations for premature exits. Coach K vs. Jamie Dixon – they wouldn’t both be able to fail (there’s no ties in the Big Dance, right Mr. McNabb?). DZ: I think John Wooden deserves to see another deep tournament run before he turns 100. And I think Duke needs to be fined every time they slap the floor on defense.

Juiciest Potential Matchup – media
SM: Pittsburgh vs. Villanova, Regional Final – It’s a long way off, but this one would send the suits at ESPN into a downright tizzy. Not only would it reaffirm the Worldwide Leader’s obsession with the Big East this year (they happen to ignore the atrocities that are St. John’s, South Florida, Depaul and Rutgers), but it would provide a handful of incredible individual matchups: Blair vs. Cunningham, Fields vs. Reynolds, Wright vs. Dixon. Plus, it would further infuriate the Penn State fans to see two Pennsylvania teams fighting for a Final Four spot while they get bounced from the NIT. And as anyone who knows me can tell you, anything that makes Penn State fans cry and complain is fine with me. DZ: Pittsburgh vs. UCLA, Regional final – If UCLA makes it to the regional final against Pitt that would make for an intriguing matchup, as well. Could Howland, Pitt’s former coach, stop his old team, and good friend Jamie Dixon, from making its first final four? UCLA did beat Pitt in the 2007 tourney, but this is a much stronger Pitt team and a far worse UCLA team.

We Got Screwed
UCLA, 6, 25-8. SM: I’m no geography major, but I don’t think Philadelphia is around the corner from Pauley Pavilion. Not only do the Bruins have to fly across the country to face a trendy upset pick in Virginia Commonwealth, but they would likely face Villanova in the second round. That game would take place nearly 3,000 miles from UCLA’s campus, and about 18 miles from Villanova. UCLA may be the only team who would have rather been placed in Boise. Congratulations to the Bruins on three straight Final Fours – now that’ll be $15 for each checked bag. DZ: Agreed. UCLA has made three straight final fours, has a kickass trombone section and once made Adam Morrison cry. The committee clearly didn’t take any of this into account.

Strongest Pod
PhiladelphiaVillanova, American, UCLA, VCU. SM: I don’t want to focus entirely on the lower half of the region – and especially this pod – but there’s no denying the talent at the Wachovia Center. A perennial Final Four contender in UCLA, a possible Final Four team in Villanova, a trendy upset pick in VCU, and … well … American University. Three out of four ain’t bad. The other pods in the East Region include too many first-round walkovers to be taken seriously. And who wants to go to Boise in March, anyway? DZ: Definitely. And American comes into the tourney on a 10-game win streak. Don’t sleep on the Patriot League!

Wild Card, Bitches
Like Charlie, we’re going rogue in our Green Man suits (not really). Here are some other things to watch for over the next three weeks. …

  • Easiest Sweet 16 to (Literally) Write Into Your Bracket: ETSU, FSU, UCLA, Duke (there’s Duke screwing up the all-acronym thing again).
  • Second-Round Rivalry Game That Will Never Happen: East Tennessee State vs. Tennessee. They’re huge rivals, like Duke-North Carolina. Right?
  • Thank Goodness for NCAA Bracketing Rules: Fortunately, the committee won’t pair conference foes against each other in the first round. If they did, we could have had another 5 seed – Illinois – facing No. 12 Wisconsin. What’s the only way to make a Big Ten slugfest less entertaining? Play it in Boise, Idaho.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Curry Award for CBS Parental Crowd Shots: Ralph Sampson III, Minnesota. Yes, they’re related. We don’t get to see the wonder and beauty that is Mrs. Curry this year. So we’ll have to deal with endless shots of this draft day trivia answer.
  • Year of the Sophomore: With plenty of star sophomores roaming this year’s Dance, we could see a potentially good matchup in the second round pitting Pitt’s Blair against Oklahoma State’s James Anderson.
  • Rookie hazing: Of the 43 rookie head coaches this season, five made the tournament and one is in the East Region – Travis Ford of Oklahoma State.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: East Tennessee State head coach Murray Bartow once coached at UAB, while American head coach Jeff Jones once roamed the sidelines at Virginia.
  • Minnesota’s Miracle Man: Not since Gordon Bombay has a sports figure in Minnesota produced more miracles than the Golden Gophers’ Blake Hoffarber. Can he make a third miracle shot this month? Stay tuned.
  • All-Name Team: Nikola Dragovic, UCLA; Uche Echefu, Florida State; Larry Sanders, VCU; Moussa Camara, Binghamton; Teeng Akol, Oklahoma State.

So-Called Experts Prediction
Who cares? We’re just happy Dickie V didn’t cry. Or did he?

Vegas Odds to Win Region

2009-east-odds1


Share this story

27 Down, 38 To Go…

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2009

There are twelve automatic bids today, so we’ll be updating these as the day moves forward…

#16 – Binghamton (23-8, 16-3 Am East).  Binghamton took care of business today against upstart UMBC to win their eleventh in a row and earn the school’s first ever NCAA bid.  Reggie Fuller had 19/10 and alleged non-POY DJ Rivera added 16/5 in the RTC home win.  We had more coverage on today’s BGTD.

Projected Seed: #16

Something to Remember: Binghamton is um, size-challenged.  Their tallest starter is the 6’6 Fuller.  And have you heard that Tony Kornheiser has an affinity for this school for some reason?  Yeah, we hadn’t either.

tony-kornheiser-2

#17 – Memphis (31-3, 19-0 CUSA). 25 straight wins in a row.  61 CUSA wins in row.  Memphis just keeps on truckin’, with another stellar defensive performance in holding Tulsa to 26% from the field and 2-14 from three.  This was also the 135th win for the Tiger senior class, who is focused on getting to #141, according to Coach Calipari.  Robert Dozier had 18/14 and Tyreke Evans had 18/5/6 in the same-old, same-old for Memphis.

Projected Seed: #2

STR:  We’re going to be a little contrarian here, but we’re not buying that Memphis is a national title contender this year.  Are they better than anticipated?  Absolutely.  Are they on the same level as UConn, Pitt, Louisville, UNC, etc.?  No freakin’ way.  Their defense is outstanding, statistically the very best in the land.  And CUSA is a better league than people tend to think it is.  But the fact of the matter here is that Memphis is playing with house money right now.  They were beaten by Georgetown, Xavier and Syracuse in the pre-conference slate.  Tennessee took them down to the last possession.  They rolled up Gonzaga in their building, but the Zags wilted in the face of their athletic defenders.  Memphis is a very good team – but they’re not going back to the F4.  Remember that you heard it here first.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Boom Goes the Dynamite: 03.14.09

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2009

dynamiteWelcome back to the weekend edition of Boom Goes the Dynamite. First off I’d like to commend rtmsf for his strong work on yesterday’s BGtD. You guys really have no idea how exhausting it is doing a full day’s worth of this is and he managed to do it with only a short break although it almost caused me to give up working on the site after being forced to endure the American-Holy Cross game yesterday. As he outlined in his After the Buzzer post last night/this morning, there are 12 conference championship games today. For the sake of maintaining our sanity and having enough energy in the tank for our huge March Madness preview, we’ll be taking multiple shifts but we promise to coordinate it so you won’t miss anything during our handoffs.

6:00 AM: Yes. That’s actually the time I’m starting this thanks to a “short nap” that ended up going from 9 PM to 5 AM. Obviously my posts will be infrequent in the early morning hours, but I’ll be passing along some news and links to you before the games start at 11 AM. The New York Times has been stepping it up with their college sports blog “The Quad” recently and has an interesting post on Louisville‘s Terrence Williams and his pre-game ritual of the giving himself a pep talk during the national anthem. Before anybody thinks this might be a Chris Jackson Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf situation, it should be noted that Williams actually stands during the anthem and is supposedly talking about family members that he has lost and asking that everyone on the court avoids injuries. Of course, we can’t verify this, but if we have any lip-readers in our vast legion of RTC readers, we would love hear your take on this particularly if you have seen this is in person.

7:00 AM: Before I head out for a few minutes to take care of some errands like stocking up on groceries for the coming storm where I probably won’t leave my apartment for 3 weeks. I thought I would pass along one of my favorite things we are doing at RTC right now. We enlisted the help of our correspondents and got them to send us their favorite March memories. We narrowed down the submissions to the 16 best entries and are counting down to #1, which will be revealed on Wednesday (the day before the tournament starts). I’d encourage you to check out the entries we have so far and keep on coming back throughout the day to see what they selected as their favorite March memories and then chime in with your memories on those moments.

8:45 AM: Ok. False alarm on that grocery run. Apparently Costco doesn’t open until 9:30 so after this post I’ll be on a short break. So today’s RTC East breakfast is brought to you by Flour Bakery and consists of their Bobby Flay-slaying “Sticky Buns” and a twice-baked brioche. Here’s a quick run-down of the games (title game in red–there’s a lot of red) that I will be focusing on today:

Early Games

  • UMBC vs. Binghamton at 11 AM on ESPN2 for the America East title
  • Memphis vs. #3 Tulsa at 11:35 AM on CBS for the Conference USA title

Afternoon Games

  • Mississippi State vs. #16 LSU at 1 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • #6 Michigan State vs. Ohio State at 1:30 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals
  • #1 UNC vs. #22 FSU at 1:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • Tennessee vs. Auburn at 3 PM on ESPN2 and Raycom in the SEC semifinals
  • Maryland vs. #8 Duke at 3:30 PM on ESPN and Raycom in the ACC semifinals
  • #25 Illinois vs. #24 Purdue at 4 PM on CBS in the Big 10 semifinals

Evening Games

  • #23 Arizona State vs. USC at 6 PM on CBS for the Pac-10 title
  • Baylor vs. #15 Missouri at 6 PM on ESPN for the Big 12 title
  • Temple vs. Duquesne at 6 PM on ESPN2 for the Atlantic 10 title

Late Night Games

  • San Diego State vs. Utah at 7 PM on Versus for the Moutain West title
  • Morgan State vs. Norfolk State at 7 PM on ESPNU for the MEAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Buffalo vs. Akron at 8 PM on ESPN2 for the MAC title
  • #5 Louisville vs. #20 Syracuse at 9 PM on ESPN for the Big East title
  • Jackson State vs. Alabama State at 9 PM on ESPNU for the SWAC title (Periodic score updates for this one)
  • Utah State vs. Nevada at 10 PM on ESPN2 for the WAC title
  • Cal State-Northridge vs. Pacific at 11:59 PM on ESPN2 for the Big West title (This one is questionable)

10:55 AM: Ok. I’m back from my extended Costco run and have enough food to last me through the week. A quick summary on the early games. In the America East, Binghamton is a 5-6 point favorite (depending on your gambling establishment of choice). Honestly, I’m surprised that they aren’t bigger favorites since they come in at 22-8 while UMBC comes in 15-16 and the game is at Binghamton. It could be interesting though as they split the season series in the regular season with Binghamton winning the last game of the regular season at home against UMBC 71-51. I’m guessing the America East commissioner is rooting for UMBC to avoid the embarrassment of the CBS announcers having to explain why the conference’s regular season leading scorer (D.J Rivera) was left off the all-conference team. In Conference USA, Memphis is a 14-point favorite against Tulsa. Memphis might be playing for a #1 seed even with their ridiculously easy schedule. We’re hoping this game is more like the first time they met (a 55-54 Memphis win) rather the last time they met (a 63-37 Memphis win). I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be more like the latter, but we’ll be following it anyways to get a last look at Memphis before CBS’s new Billy Packer rips the NCAA selection committee for putting them over a Big East team.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

03.10.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

Another day full of teams punching their tickets for the dance, and another morning after with tons of analysis, opinions, and great links…enjoy!

Share this story