Big East M5: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on March 6th, 2013

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  1. Syracuse’s senior game tonight against DePaul features two members of the Orange making their definite final appearances at the Carrier Dome as players: Brandon Triche and James Southerland. However, few would bet that these are the only two scholarship players who will move on after this season. The best bet is that Michael Carter-Williams will join them despite his recent bouts of poor play. Some Syracuse fans argue that he could use more seasoning in college, and they’re not wrong, but many forget that despite being a true sophomore, MCW is already 21 years old now and will be 22 before next season. MCW would be the eighth Syracuse player in six seasons to leave school early, with four of those players — Donte Greene, Jonny Flynn, Wes Johnson, and Dion Waiters — picked in the first round of the NBA Draft.  Waiters, who played with Carter-Williams last season, weighed in: “Michael’s a 6’6″ point guard. You can’t teach height. If he comes here, he’ll get nothing but better.” In his Syracuse.com piece on the subject, Bud Poliquin also mentions C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas as possible early departures, but those seem like stretches from this observer.
  2. In the classy moves by coaches department, Rick Pitino announced that junior Gorgui Dieng will be allowed to participate in Senior Day festivities in anticipation that the center will make the jump to the NBA after this season. “He has given us more than we have asked for. It is in his best interest to come out, and I think he is ready… He has been great for us. I have enjoyed coaching him so much. It is going to be a very difficult Senior Night. I have had some difficult ones, but this may be the most difficult.” There is definitely an argument to be made for keeping senior days for those who finish out their four years of eligibility, but I have no issue with exceptions being made for people like Dieng who were both great players and, by all accounts, students in addition to players during their time in college.
  3. This is the point of the season where teams look to ramp it up and start playing their best ball as they head into postseason play. Pitt’s Talib Zanna had been in an extended slump, averaging just 5.5 points per game for an extended period after averaging 13+ PPG for the first two months of the year. Recently, however, it seems like Zanna has started to find his rhythm again, and that doesn’t bode well for teams at the Garden next week. In Pitt’s last home game against Villanova, Zanna went off for 14 points and 19 rebounds in an overtime victory. Pitt closes the season at DePaul on Saturday before preparing for their final Big East Tournament.
  4. Cincinnati basketball hasn’t been the most beautiful version of the game this season, and things have only been worse in that regard with the constant injury issues that have befallen Cashmere Wright. He popped his shoulder out of the joint for the sixth time in Monday’s loss to Louisville, according to Mick Cronin. In the last few games, it seemed like Wright had been getting closer to 100 percent, which he clearly hasn’t been since a mid-January injury against DePaul. If Wright can’t find his shot and the lion’s share of the Bearcats’ scoring falls on Sean Kilpatrick’s shoulders in the postseason, Cincinnati will continue to struggle to score in the season’s most important games.
  5. Scott Martin’s career has been plagued by injuries, so if the Notre Dame forward can’t maintain a long career overseas, he has a fallback plan in coaching. Mike Brey believes that Martin is well-suited for the sideline: “I think he’s going to be a hell of a coach.” In a Chicago Tribune article, Martin discusses how he’s begun to watch the game through an analytical lens and former Irish teammate Ben Hansbrough admitted that he and Martin discussed coaching after their careers had wrapped. Martin’s constant injuries may have derailed a promising career, but it is good to hear that he has a strong plan for after basketball…well, after playing basketball, anyway.
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2008-09 Conference Primers: #1 – Big East

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2008

Rob Dauster of Ballin is a Habit is the RTC correspondent for the Big East Conference. 

Predicted Order of Finish (from the coach’s pre-season poll, released at Big East media day):

  1. Connecticut (9)
  2. Louisville (3)
  3. Pitt (3)
  4. Notre Dame (1)
  5. Villanova
  6. Marquette
  7. Georgetown
  8. Syracuse
  9. West Virginia
  10. Providence
  11. Cincinnati
  12. Rutgers
  13. Seton Hall
  14. St john’s
  15. DePaul
  16. South Florida

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WYN2K. You hear that? You know what that is? That’s the sound of RTC stealing my thunder.  I’m not much of a statistician myself, but just by looking at that pre-season poll I can tell you this – the Big East is loaded.  If you live outside of Big East country, then you are probably sick of hearing about how good the conference is, year in and year out. But facts are facts. Four teams are legitimate Final Four threats. Another six teams are, depending on who you ask, expected to be a part of the 65 team field. Three more teams have an outside shot at punching a ticket to the dance if they can catch a few breaks (transfers getting cleared, freshman getting eligible, etc.).  So in this day and age of college basketball, where “early entry,” “parity,” and “mid-major” have become household terms, how did one conference manage to stockpile so many good teams? Well, as you can see, the Big East is HUGE. There are sixteen teams spanning from Rhode Island to Wisconsin to Florida and everywhere in between. When you have that many teams in one conference, there are bound to be years where there are a lot of good teams, especially when so many of the schools have a rich basketball tradition.  This just happens to be one of those years where the Big East got lucky. Last season, 32 players were named to an All-Big East team (1st, 2nd, honorable mention, all-rookie), and only two of those players (WVU’s Joe Alexander and Syracuse’s Donte Greene) declared for the draft with eligibility remaining. Would Pittsburgh be as good as expected if Sam Young left? What about UConn without Hasheem Thabeet? Those two, and a number of other players, probably would be on NBA rosters right now if they left, but for whatever reason (a loaded draft class last year, smarts enough to know they weren’t ready, boosters offered them more than what they would get paid on a rookie’s salary) they decided to head back to campus.

So without further ado, here is your conference breakdown:

Cellar Dwellars.  DePaul, St. John’s, South Florida, Rutgers

  • There are some talented players on these teams. Sophomore Dar Tucker of DePaul is a poster waiting to happen. South Florida’s Dominique Jones scored 17.1 ppg as a freshman. St. John’s has senior Anthony Mason Jr. and sophomore Justin Burrell to carry the load. But with the depth of the Big East this year combined with the loss of some talented seniors, none of these three teams really look like they have a shot at doing much. Rutgers might have the best shot of the group to make some noise, as Fred Hill has landed back-to-back talented freshman classes. Don’t be surprised if you hear the names Gregory Echenique and Mike Rosario (RU’s first Mickey D’s all-american) quite often during the season.

We Should Have Bribed The NCAA.  Cincinnati (NIT), Seton Hall (NIT)

  • Both the Pirates and the Bearcats are awaiting the NCAA’s word on whether or not they will have some key players in their rotation. After struggling with the remnants of the Cincy program in the wake of Bob Huggins, Mick Cronin finally has the program heading in the right direction. He brings back Deonta Vaughn, who is one of the most explosive scorers in the country, and gets former Texas forward Mike Williams back from an Achilles injury. Adding two talented freshman in Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright only helped matters. But Wright tore up his knee in the first week of practice, meaning that Vaughn is, once again, their only real backcourt threat and that they must rely heavily on their front line, which could be bolstered by the addition of 7’2” center John Riek. The Sudanese refugee, who was considered one of the best prospects in the country two years ago but has battled knee problems, is dealing with eligibility issues but could be in uniform by December. 
  • Seton Hall’s situation is a little different. The Pirates lose leading scorer Brian Laing (18.6 ppg) but return a solid nucleus of Eugene Harvey, Jeremy Hazell and John Garcia. Bobby Gonzalez had also hoped to add transfers Herb Pope (New Mexico St.) and Keon Lawrence (Missouri) without having to wait the mandatory one year for a transfer by having each kid apply for the NCAA’s hardship waiver. Pope’s been denied, Lawrence’s application will wait until after the first semester, and freshman Melvyn Oliver is still waiting to be cleared academically, meaning the Pirates currently have only eight scholarship players.

Pretenders or Contenders?  Providence (NIT), West Virginia (NCAA #7)

  • I know what you’re thinking. Providence? Really, Rob? They haven’t been good since the days of Ryan Gomes and Donnie MacGrath (and even then, good might have been pushing it). But the Friars have the horses to sneak up on some people this year. They were as balanced as any team in the Big East last year, with six guys (five returners) that averaged at least 8.7 ppg.  PG Sharaud Curry, arguably their best player, is back from a stress fracture in his foot and they have added Keno Davis, last year’s national COY at Drake, as the head coach. Davis should have some success in his first year with the Friars if they follow the same spread floor style that was so successful at Drake. One key reason for that is big man Geoff McDermott, who is adept at playing on the perimeter and is a stat stuffer (10 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg, 1 spg, and 1.5 bpg). Remember, this Providence team, who battled the injury bug all year, swept UConn and beat Temple and Arkansas last seaso. The talent’s there, but consistency and healthy players will be the key to their season.
  • The Mountaineers are a different story. They really came on towards the end of the season, thanks in (very) large part to the emergence of Joe Alexander, who was probably the best player in the conference (maybe the country) for the last month-plus of the season and is now a forward with the Bucks. Left are a bunch of very good role players that fit into Huggy Bear’s system and play hard. Guys like Joe Mazzula, Alex Ruoff and Da’Sean Butler. There are two major questions for the Mountaineers – who is going to play in the post and who is going to fill to void of “go-to guy” with Alexander gone. Freshman Devin Ebanks may be able to fill Alexander’s shoes with time, but the rest of the Mountaineers front line will be small (especially for the Big East) and inexperienced.

Worst of the Rest.  Syracuse (NCAA #7), Georgetown (NCAA #7), Marquette (NCAA #6), Villanova (NCAA #5)

  • I’ll be completely honest with you. I’m a UConn fan. I hate Syracuse. Despise them. I even hate the color orange. I didn’t even rank them in my top 25. Call it being biased, call it homerism, call it what you like. But I’ve had an epiphany – this team is really talented. Jonny Flynn is one of the best point guards in the country. Eric Devendorf is a very talented combo guard. Andy Rautins can flat out stroke the three. Paul Harris is a linebacker playing basketball. Arinze Onuake is a beast on the block. And this year, they actually have a deep bench filled with role players and hustle guys. They’re not quite in the top four, but Boeheim has himself his most talented team since Melo.
  • Georgetown lost a lot of very important players to graduation (Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Patrick Ewing Jr) and transfers (Jeremiah Rivers, Vernon Macklin). They are left with just four guys who were in their rotation last year – guards Chris Wright, Jessie Sapp, Austin Freeman and forward DaJuan Summers. They do add a great recruiting class, headlined by big men Greg Monroe and Henry Sims, but it will still be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Hoyas. Part of the reason is that John Thompson III may have to change up his style of play from the Princeton Offense. Hibbert, Wallace, and Ewing were perfectly suited to a slowed down game, where as Sapp and Wright are quick guards that can make plays in the open floor.
  • Marquette has a new coach, but they will be the same team. By now, you must know about their three great guards – Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews – who, when combined with Maurice Acker and David Cubillan, make up one of the deepest, most explosive backcourts in the country. But, much like Villanova and West Virginia, Marquette needs someone to step up inside. It’s great when you have a bunch of guards that can score and make plays, but will Dominic James 40” vert help him against the likes of Luke Harangody or DeJuan Blair? Dwight Burke is going to have to make some big strides as a senior, or else the Golden Eagles will have to rely on a freshman and two JuCo transfers inside.
  • Remember that Villanova team from a few years back? The one with Kyle Lowry, Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Mike Nardi? Well this ‘Nova team is going to be similar to that squad. Led by scoring machine Scottie Reynolds, ‘Nova has one of the best backcourts in the conference. But the key to their success this year will be the front court. Dante Cunningham, an athletic, 6’9 PF, has proven himself as a capable frontcourt player in the Big East, but the rest of the Wildcats frontline will need to step up if Jay Wright’s club wants to crack the top four.

Crème de la Crème.  Notre Dame (NCAA #5), Pittsburgh (NCAA #3), Louisville (NCAA #2), UConn (NCAA #1)

  • Notre Dame returns basically the entire team that finished tied for second in the Big East, including reigning Big East player of the year Luke Harangody. While I can’t help but comment on his resemblance to a pot-bellied pig, you can’t argue with his production last year (23 ppg and 11 rpg in conference). While he is built like one of Charlie Weis’ lineman, he is actually incredibly nimble and has great feet and balance, which is one of the reasons he is able to scorer against bigger, more athletic defenders. Surrounding him will be shooters Ryan Ayers and Kyle McAlarney (who was a 1st team all-conference performer), as well as Tory Jackson, who is one of the more underrated PGs in the league. Notre Dame is going to be a fun team to watch if you like games with a lot of scoring and a lot of threes.
  • Pitt is going to be a typical Pitt team, with a lot of big, strong, tough kids that are going to play rugged, in your face defense. Sam Young, who developed a deadly jumper out to around the three point line, and DeJuan Blair, a 6’7 270-lb mammoth inside, provide one of the toughest frontcourts to match up with in the country. The biggest questions for Pitt surround their backcourt. When will Levance Fields return from foot surgery, and will he be healthy? Can anyone on this team replace the three point shooting of Ronald Ramon and Keith Benjamin?
  • Louisville, along with Pitt, is probably going to be the toughest defensive team in the conference. It starts with their backcourt, where they have five guys (Edgar Sosa, Andre McGee, Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles, Reginald Delk) that will really get after you on the perimeter. Earl Clark and Terrence Williams (who is coming off a torn meniscus and should be out another month or so) are both athletic, versatile players. T-Wills is more of a perimeter player and is the Cardinals best creator offensively, averaging more than 4.5 apg last year. Clark is more of a combo forward that will get his points off of fast breaks and cutting to the basket. Louisville loses their entire front line from last year, but they bring in a solid recruiting class, the star of which is Samardo Samuels, probably the best post recruit in America this year.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is UConn. The Huskies probably won’t be at full strength until December, as AJ Price is coming off of a torn ACL and freshman Ater Majok and junior Stanley Robinson (who was last seen on a poster) are both going to be made eligible (hopefully) after the first semester ends. Regardless, UConn is loaded with talent. 7’3” junior and shot blocking machine Hasheem Thabeet returns, as does Jeff Adrien, the Huskies leading scorer and rebounder. Price will be joined in the backcourt by talented but troubled junior Jerome Dyson and Mickey D’s all-american Kemba Walker. UConn’s biggest question mark right now – can they win a big game? They were 8-8 on the road or on a neutral court last year, and are 0-3 in the Big East and NCAA tournaments the last two years.

RPI Boosters.  The Big East RPI is going to be high enough, but here are some of the must-see non-conference match-ups (ignoring the possible match-ups in pre-season tournaments):

  • Wisconsin @ Marquette  (12.06.08)
  • Villanova vs. Texas and Davidson vs. West Virginia in NYC at Jimmy V  (12.09.08)
  • Cincinnati vs. Xavier  (12.13.08)
  • Memphis @ Georgetown  (12.13.08)
  • Marquette @ Tennessee  (12.16.08)
  • Gonzaga vs. UConn in Seattle  (12.20.08)
  • Syracuse @ Memphis  (12.20.08)
  • Kentucky @ Louisville  (01.04.09)
  • Georgetown @ Duke  (01.17.09)
  • Notre Dame @ UCLA  (02.07.09)

65 Team Era.  The Big East earned its chops as a basketball conference in the 80s, and that tradition persists to this very day despite the expansion of the league to it’s current sixteen-team iteration.  Last year the league earned eight bids to the NCAAs, and it’s difficult to envision a future scenario where the conference would ever get less than six bids again.  This obviously will skew their future numbers on a whole scale, but their stats to date are nothing to sneeze at (206-126, .620, 11 F4s, 4 titles).  With the power at the top of this year’s league, we could potentially see another 1985 F4 on the horizon (3/4 of the F4 were Big East teams – Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s). 

Final Thought.  The Big East is wide open this year. Every night is going to be a dog fight. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that any team from this league that makes it to the postseason is going to be battle-tested.

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2008 One-and-Dones – Was It Worth It?

Posted by rtmsf on July 1st, 2008

Happy Fiscal New Year, everyone! 

Along with the turn of the fiscal calendar, July 1 also represents the turn of the academic calendar.  This is particularly appropriate for hoopheads, as the NBA’s season has ended and the draft madness that dominated bandwidth for the last two months after the Mario Miracle has died down to a whimper (well, there’s always 2009, right?).  All there really is to look forward to until October is the Ego Known as Kobe Bryant’s attempt to restore American hegemony in the international (read: Olympics) hoops realm.  That comes in August. 

So now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the 2007-08 season and once again review how the NBA’s one-and-done rule worked out for the schools that enabled it.  You might recall that we took a look at this last year and concluded: Ohio St., UNC, Texas… good.  Georgia Tech, Washington… not so good.  We also mentioned that several schools – Stanford, Tennessee, Arizona and Kansas included – were hanging onto players who could have been one-and-dones, but weren’t.  With the exception of the often comatose Arizona team, the other three as a result had fantastic squads last year. 

To start it off, let’s refresh ourselves with who the Rivals Top 20 recruits were coming into 2007-08.  As you can see below, we added a few columns that outline the player’s freshman numbers (pts/rebs/assts or blocks) and his team’s record as well as whether he went into the draft or is returning next season. 

So was it worth it?  Our takes:

Kansas St.  - Well Worth It.    K-State rode the best.freshman.ever Michael Beasley and sorta-but-not-really one-and-done Bill Walker (he was a medical redshirt in 06-07) as far as it could, which included a third-place finish in the competitive Big 12, a second-round NCAA tournament appearance and the first home win in twenty-four years over its rival and eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks.  In other words, K-State’s best season in a generation.  The important aspect of Beasley and Walker’s one-and-dones for KSU head coach Frank Martin is to capitalize on future recruiting from the good will and national notoriety mustered by these players while on campus.  If he does not do so, and it’s soon back to the bottom of the Big 12 barrel for K-State, then the potential positive impacts of these stars passing through Manhattan, KS, were missed. 

Memphis – Well Worth It.  This too is a no-brainer.  #1 overall pick Derrick Rose converted a competitive yet incomplete team that would consistently flame out prior to the Final Four against other elite teams into a team that probably should have won the national title.  Rose led Memphis to a 38-2 record and had the Tigers in the argument for the most dominant season in the post-Wooden era before its epic free-throw meltdown in the championship game.  Even only as a runner-up, a Memphis fan would be hard pressed to find much else wrong with the 07-08 season, and as such, the one-year stopover by Derrick Rose was well worth it. 

Memphis Would Take A Rose Every Year (AP photo/Seth Wenig)

UCLA – Worth It.  This was a tough one, because UCLA came into the 07-08 season already having been to the last two Final Fours.  Anything short of that measure was going to be a disappointment (although Bruin fans might argue anything less than a national title is a disappointment).  We’ll argue, however, that Kevin Love brought a toughness and star-quality to Westwood that had been lacking on Ben Howland’s previous teams.  Not to mention that UCLA last season at 35-4 was simply a better team than the ones led by backcourt players (Afflalo and Farmar).  More than anything, Love’s presence solidifed UCLA again as a marquee destination for top-notch recruits, as Howland has penned five of the Rivals Top 50 in the Class of 2008. 

Arizona – Worth It.  It’s quite possible that Jerryd Bayless last season saved Arizona from breaking its NCAA Tournament streak of 24 consecutive appearances.  Arizona certainly didn’t have a great year amidst all the Lute Olson divorce and feud with Kevin O’Neill turmoils, but with a final record of 19-15, you have to figure that Bayless’ fantastic freshman year was worth a few wins that put the Cats back into the field of 65.  But that’s about all it was worth.  It certainly didn’t make Arizona into a contender of any kind, and it’s doubtful whether there will be any residual effects from Bayless’ time in Tucson.   

Indiana – Worth It.  Eric Gordon‘s arrival in Bloomington was worth it if for no other reason than it gave Hoosier fans something to be excited about for approximately three months (Nov-Jan).  Now that the wheels have come completely tumbling off of the Indiana program, we have to wonder just how long their fans will covet and remember the halcyon days when IU was 16-1 and ranked #7 in the AP Poll.  Of course, E-Giddy was partially responsible for Indiana’s subsequent collapse (18.2 ppg on 37.2% FG/25.3% 3FG shooting in the last 13 games (8-5)), but we put most of that on the ultimate dismissal of Kelvin Sanctions whereupon the entire team simply quit playing.  So in our view, this one-and-done represents the last great season that Indiana will have for a while.  Too bad it couldn’t have worked out better for everyone involved. 

Gordon Left More than a Bloody Tooth in His Wake (photo credit:  Bloomington Herald-Times)

USC – Not Worth It.    For a while during the season, it appeared as if the OJ Mayo one-and-done situation might just work out for Tim Floyd and the Trojan Nation.  Similar to K-State, USC hadn’t seen this much hoops attention in years – with Mayo as the headliner, USC played numerous national television games, beat UCLA at Pauley, and ended up tied for third in the rugged Pac-10.  Of course, the wheels came off when USC failed to show up to its hyped battle against K-State in the first round of the NCAAs and the propriety of Mayo’s eligibility was called into question by ESPN soon thereafter.  Throw in Davon Jefferson (a one-and-done from the Class of 2006 who went to prep school for a year before enrolling at USC) and his foolish decision to enter this year’s draft (undrafted) and we’re not sure just how successful USC can claim 2007-08 was.  After all, the 2006-07 edition of the Trojans, led by Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt, also finished third in the Pac-10 but had a better overall record (23-11) and played into the second weekend of March Madness (giving Carolina all it wanted in the process).  Finally, with another uber-recruit, Demar DeRozan, coming to USC next year, Floyd needs to be hyper-vigilant about those nefarious agents and runners in light of the Mayo debacle because more eyes will be watching.   

NC State – Not Worth It.  Hey, remember all the preseason talk about how NC State was the third best team in the ACC, and a definite NCAA Tournament team?  Yeah, we don’t either.  Actually, we do, and few of the pundits will own up to the fact that it was a terrible prediction.  For the record, NC State ended up 15-16, but the Wolfpack were 4-12 in the ACC (worse than the previous year’s 5-11 campaign that inspired such foolishness) and lost their last nine games.  So what did JJ Hickson’s presence in Raleigh bring to the team?  Other than team chemistry problems, of course?  It doesn’t appear that he brought much else than an ability to get himself drafted.  NC State will likely be significantly better without him next season. 

What Chemistry Problems? 

LSU – Not Worth It.  While we’re in the business of ripping bad teams with one-and-done players, we shouldn’t overlook the LSU Tigers.  LSU seems to have one of these guys about every other year anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter much in terms of long-term effects, but a 13-18 record with a loss at Tulane calls into question the value of Anthony Randolph’s tenure on campus in Baton Rouge.  Certainly the mail-it-in coaching style of Mr. Misty Champagne didn’t help things out much, but even with John Wooden coaching that team, we’re not sure how much Randolph could have lifted the Bayou Bengals.

Others.  These teams all had one-and-dones of questionable efficacy.  Put another way, these teams probably wouldn’t have been much better nor worse had these players gone elsewhere.  Exhibit A is Texas A&M‘s DeAndre Jordan.  TAMU was a tourney team anyway, led by Joseph Jones and Josh Carter, and it’s doubtful that Jordan’s four double-figure points games and two double-figure rebounds games in the Big 12 had much of an effect on A&M’s successful season.  Not Worth It.  Syracuse fans may disagree with us here, but despite Donte Greene‘s exceptional first-year numbers, we find it hard to believe that the Orange would have been any less average than they already were last year (21-14, 9-10 Big East).  After all, Jim Boeheim could take five schoolgirls and make them competitive - he just wouldn’t win the title with them (unless Carmela Anthony was on the team).  The question is whether Syracuse fans are pleased with a third-round NIT appearance, and we all know the answer to that – a resounding no.  For a school with multiple F4s and a recent championship banner, missing the NCAAs completely is a failing season, no matter the reasonable expectation.  Not Worth It.  Finally, we look at Ohio St., who took Kosta Koufos to replace last year’s one-and-donest, Greg Oden.  The answer here once again comes down to the question of expectation vs. reality of the situation.  Without Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook, it wasn’t realistic for Thad Matta to make another run at the F4; but the bar has been raised so high at Ohio St. under Matta that a 24-13 season leading to an NIT championship must necessarily be viewed as less-than-stellar.  Winning the Capital One Bowl doesn’t match the Rose Bowl, does it, Buckeye fans?  We’ll call this one a Push.   

Final Thoughts.  With so many freshmen leaving this year from the top 20 Rivals list, we’d guess only Florida with Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons returning may be a team to really watch closely next year.  Otherwise, keep an eye on UCLA, Wake Forest and UConn, each of which has multiple top twenty players coming onto campus next year. 

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2008 NBA Draft Live Blog

Posted by nvr1983 on June 26th, 2008

Well this is sort of unplanned, but rtmsf asked me to do this and I’ve got nothing else to do tonight so I figured I would throw up a live blog of the events.

7:30 PM: Everybody’s favorite commissioner/megalomanic David Stern walks to the stage. Pretty weak response from the crowd. Minimal booing and almost no response to a mention of the WNBA. I think Isiah and Dolan have broken the New York fans.

7:38 PM: Stern announces the Bulls’ selection of Derrick Rose. Kind of anti-climatic, but surprising how quickly the consensus swung from Michael Beasley to Rose in such a short time without anything really big coming out (other than Beasley being shorter than advertised, but the decision was already made at that point).

7:40 PM: ESPN shows some highlights of Rose winning the state championship game 31-29 in OT. Yes, 31-29. I guess the lack of offense in the Big 10 goes all the way down to the high school level.

7:42 PM: Stern comes to the podium with the Miami Heat’s pick. . .Michael Beasley. For all the talk about going with O.J. Mayo I always thought this was a no brainer. I mean they could have dropped down to the #5 pick, but I don’t buy the whole Rudy Gay + #5 for #2 trade. There’s no way Memphis would have done that. Does Pat Riley think Chris Wallace is an idiot? Oh wait. . .

7:45 PM: The interviews have been pretty tame so far. Beasley could have at least pulled the dead rat “joke” on Stephen A. Smith. The Stephen A. Smith guys better have something good planned for the draft because this is pretty weak so far.

7:48 PM: Minnesota is up. Time for Kevin McHale to shine. And the pick is. . . O.J. Mayo! Why do I have flashbacks to KG and Stephon Marbury. Stu Scott fills us in on O.J.’s full name. Thanks for that since we haven’t seen it in every single article written about him (except on RTC). At least O.J.’s time in Hollywood got him prepared for the bright lights of Minnesota. Wait, Minnesota?

7:50 PM: If you’re reading this after the draft and wondering why the writing sucks, blame it on the stupid 5 minutes between picks. There’s no way Bill Simmons live blogs this stuff. It’s impossible. He has to take 3-4 hours after the draft to put something together.

7:53 PM: Wow. Six picks for Seattle. Stu Scott with the quick math (6/60 = 1/10th). I’m not sure why they didn’t do some kind of big package to try and get some help for Kevin Durant.

7:54 PM: Stern with the pick. . .Russell Westbrook! Our first surprise of the night. I had heard Westbrook might be top 5, but never really believed it. The guy’s athletic, but I just don’t see how he’s considered the 4th best prospect in this draft. If you’re just going on athleticism, I’d take Eric Gordon over Westbrook. As for his “great” defense, I don’t remember it against Memphis and Rose. Plus I don’t buy Westbrook as a NBA point guard.

7:58 PM: Commercial break. Weak start to the draft so far. At least we have the comedy of the booing of the Knicks draft pick to look forward to in 2 picks.

8:00 PM: Bilas is pushing for Memphis to take Kevin Love. Stern with the announcement. And it’s Kevin Love. Nice call by Bilas even if Love basically gave it away on PTI earlier this week. I’m pretty sure the first time that anybody has ever had the Color Me Badd facial hair in Memphis.

8:03 PM: Pretty routine breakdown of Love. Good court sense/knowledge of the game, passes well, good range, and can’t run the court. Can we have someone disagree with a pick? I just want to see the player’s reaction (not to mention what their mom will do).

8:05 PM: Waiting for the Love family interview to finish so I can see the Knicks screw up their pick. This is the highlight of the night. . .

8:07 PM: Stern walking to the podium with the Knicks pick. . .(dramatic pause). . .Danilo Gallinari. BOOOOOOOOOOOO! Sorry. Just had to join in the fun. I don’t really buy Gallinari, but hey the YouTube video looks decent and that worked out well for guys like Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry worked out great, right? (Yes, I know that was before YouTube).

8:08 PM: Fran Fraschilla offers the most important piece of news of the night (for those of us who read Deadspin or The Big Lead). “Gallo” is apparently the Italian word for “rooster”. If you’ve read the posts on either site yesterday, you’ll know what that’s important.

8:12 PM:  The Clippers select Eric Gordon. I feel bad for the guy. He goes from the most dysfunctional program in the country to the worst franchise in pro sports. Love the guy’s game, but he’s just too inconsistent at times. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

8:15 PM: Our first horrible suit of the night. Gordon with the combination of white coat and navy blue pants. Not quite Karl Malone level, but you would figure his high school agent could have gotten him something nice.

8:18 PM: Joe Alexander to Milwaukee. At least it won’t be much of a culture shock going from Morgantown to Milwaukee although Joe won’t be seeing as many burning couches.

8:23 PM: MJ and Larry Brown are on the clock. It seems like Brook Lopez is the choice here. The Bobcats certainly have enough college talent on that team being veterans of the lottery process (tip of the hat to the legend Elgin Baylor).

8:24 PM: Jay Bilas and Mark Jackson agree with me.

8:25 PM: But apparently MJ and Larry do not. The Bobcats take D.J. Augustin. Looks like Raymond Felton is going to have some competition. This seems like a good pick for a trade.

8:27 PM: I still don’t get it. Of course, MJ was also the mastermind behind the Kwame Brown selection so maybe I shouldn’t.

8:28 PM: So it looks like Brook Lopez here to New Jersey. They can’t take Jerryd Bayless since they already have Devin Harris. This will be an interesting pick since they just traded away Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

8:30 PM: Brook Lopez at #10 to New Jersey. Solid pick especially this far down. I’m surprised that he fell down this far. A 7-footer with a mean streak and solid fundamentals. Usually guys like this go too high and typically don’t slip. Not sure what is going on.

8:33 PM: Wow. Looks like our first classic draft moment of 2008. Apparently Jeff Spicoli dressed up as a 7-foot tall guy who went to Stanford. I wish I had been there for Brook’s Stanford interview. What? You mean he didn’t go through the regular admissions process?

8:35 PM: Bayless at #11. I like Bayless at #11, but does Indiana need another guard? Jamaal Tinsley, T.J. Ford, and Bayless. Looks like Tinsley and his gun collection are moving out of Indiana.

8:42 PM: Sacramento takes Jason Thompson. Our first real surprise pick of the draft. I’m actually ashamed to say I have never seen this guy play. Bilas says he’s pretty good so I guess I’ll have to go with that.

8:46 PM: Portland at #13. . .Brandon Rush. Interesting pick. He’ll probably fit in well with this team. He isn’t a star, but they have enough young talent that they don’t need him to be more than a solid role player. He’ll probably back-up Brandon Roy for the next couple of years.

8:50 PM: Golden State is on the clock. This is the part of the draft where teams have a lot of choices. Let’s see what the Warriors do.

8:51 PM: Stern with the pick: Anthony Randolph. 3rd team All-SEC member. Even the LSU blogger doesn’t believe in him. Not sure what else I have to say about this pick.

8:54 PM: Dick Vitale ripping the international. Comparing Gallinari to Darko Milicic. Ouch. Not a surprise since Dickie V loves all things college (as do we, but we don’t rip on the other stuff).

8:56 PM: Phoenix takes Robin Lopez at #15. I’ll admit it. I’m hitting the wall here so I’m probably only going to make it through the first round. I actually like this pick. Robin isn’t an offense force, but is a pretty good defender, which Phoenix is lacking.

9:03 PM: With the 16th pick, Philadelphia selects Maureese Speights. Seems like a talented player. It will be interesting to see how he works with Samuel Dalembert. Wow. Stuart Scott just compared FG% in college to FG% in the NBA as if it’s the same thing. I don’t even know what to say to that.

9:08 PM: Toronto selects Roy Hibbert at #17 for Indiana (part of the Jermaine O’Neal trade). This makes sense. Hibbert will “replace” O’Neal. It’s too bad that Hibbert fell this far. He would have been a top 10 pick last year. He didn’t get injured or play poorly, but because he never exploded like NBA scouts hoped he would he fell far enough down that it probably cost him a few million dollars.

9:12 PM: JaVale McGee at #18 to Washington. Looks like Lebron has another guy to dunk on.

9:15 PM: Pretty interesting trade. Indiana gets Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush for Ike Diogu and Jerryd Bayless to Portland. Bayless and Roy make a really scary potential backcourt dishing the ball off to Greg Oden and company.

9:19 PM: Cleveland is on the clock. This pick is big for Danny Ferry because it might go a long way to keeping Lebron in Cleveland and out of Brooklyn. Darrell Arthur is still sitting in the Green Room. . .

9:21 PM: The Lebrons select J.J. Hickson and Darrell remains seated.

9:26 PM: Charlotte’s on the clock at #20 and take Alexis Ajinca. I’ll turn to Stuart Scott here, “Who is this guy?”

9:28 PM: Wow. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time the economy ever was mentioned in the NBA Draft. Fran informs us that the fall in the dollar’s value will affect Ajinca’s decision whether to stay in Europe. (Side note: Josh McRoberts is part of the Portland-Indiana deal. He’s not worth his own post.)

9:33 PM: The Nets go with Ryan Anderson at #21. Darrell is still sitting. . .

9:38 PM: Looks like Orlando goes with another guard by taking Courtney Lee. I loved Jeff Van Gundy’s analysis. Basically, Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis are the only two guys he likes on the team–a team that’s coached by his brother. More importantly, what does this do to everybody’s favorite Zima drinker, J.J. Redick?

9:42 PM: Utah takes Kosta Koufos. It will be interesting to see how Koufos fits in with Utah’s bigs (Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, and Paul Millsap). He’s a skilled big guy who was really hyped coming in, but was too inconsistent to stay in the top 10. Playing for Jerry Sloan will either toughen him up or turn him into AK-47 (and cry during the playoffs).

9:49 PM: Seattle takes Serge Ibaka. Fraschilla says he’s good and he’ll be here in 3-4 years. Yeah. . .

9:50 PM: Doris Burke interviewing Darrell Arthur. Pretty tame interview. No tears. Not much to say.

9:55 PM: Houston takes Nicolas Batum. Fraschilla compares him to Rudy Gay, which I guess is good. Fran also says he needs to work on his ball-handling and he’s only 20 years old. Since when do people learn how to dribble after they turn 20?

9:58 PM: Ric Bucher announces that Darrell Arthur has a kidney problem, which he says explains why Arthur hasn’t been selected. Sounds like a HIPAA violation somewhere along the line.

10:00 PM: George Hill from IUPUI? Well apparently he plays great defense and has 3% body fat (thanks for that Stuart).

10:08 PM: New Orleans Portland ends the madness and takes Darrell Arthur. Nice moment as the New York fans clap. Nice pickup here. He should be able to come in and spell the big guys for a few minutes here and there immediately.

10:15 PM: Memphis selects Donte Greene. Seems like he’ll be playing behind Rudy Gay for a while. Well at least they got something for giving away Pau Gasol.

10:22 PM: Detroit selects D.J. White. Nice pickup at this position. Productive player who should be a solid guy off the bench for stretches.

10:31 PM: Mercifully, Boston with the last pick of the first round. J.R. Giddens. Wow. What a long ride it’s been for that guy. The former big-time recruit at Kansas who transferred to New Mexico.

Well it’s been a long first round. We’ll be back tomorrow with a more in-depth (and hopefully shorter) analysis.

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05.30.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 30th, 2008

Taking a break from NBA Predraft Camp news…

  • Notre Dame got another major transfer pickup to go along with Ben Hansbrough (from Mississippi St.) – Scott Martin – a freshman forward who averaged 8/4 for the Boilers will be heading north on US 31 to ND.  Suddenly the Golden Domers are looking really good for the 2009-10 season.
  • UConn coach Jim Calhoun is reportedly facing skin cancer on his neck for the second time, and will undergo six weeks of radiation therapy this summer to remove it. 
  • Syracuse’s Donte Greene has decided that he’s a 1-and-done player, as he recently signed with an agent and will not be eligible to return to the Orange next season.
  • Joey Dorsey made the claim in Orlando this week that he has the inside track on who the Bulls will select as the #1 overall draft pick, and he says Michael Beasley.  Jeff Goodman writes about the maddening mind that is Dorsey.
  • Clemson’s head man Oliver Purnell got an extension to 2014 and a raise to $1M per annum.  Still significantly below Tommy Bowden ($1.8M), but hey, who’s counting. 
  • Luke Winn has a nice piece on Chris Lofton’s tumultuous senior campaign, as he is now finally starting to get his legs back after beating testicular cancer. 
  • In his first public interview since the Rodney Guillory scandal hit, OJ Mayo was more upset that the news hit on Mother’s Day than the fact it made him look like a cheat and a liar. 
  • In some sad news, Louisville center Clarence Holloway was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, which has effectively ended his basketball career.  We wish him all the best fighting this disease. 
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04.09.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 9th, 2008

More declarations of independence from the shackles of college today…

  • West Virginia’s superhero Joe Alexander will test his draft status but will not sign with an agent
  • Syracuse forward Donte Greene (18/7) will also make himself available for the draft
  • Texas A&M’s DeAndre Jordan, who averaged all of 8/6 this year – but hey, you can’t teach size goes the saying, and he’s a legit 7’0 – will also test the waters to see where he stands
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ATB: Northwest Passage

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2007

ATB v.4

12.05.07

Game of the Day. #7 Washington St. 51, #18 Gonzaga 47. How fun would it be to watch a game at the Kennel? It wasn’t too much fun for the Gonzaga fans tonight as they watched their Zags lose for only the second time in that building and in the process, score their lowest total of points in almost eleven years. Although the stats would lead someone to believe that this was an ugly game, we didn’t really see it that way. There were enough bricks on both sides (esp. Gonzaga) to build a smokestack, sure, but the game was intense, defensive-minded and filled with show-stopping plays. For the second time in a week (Baylor), Wazzu went into a veritable lion’s den and slugged its way to a close win. This team is experienced, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the ball – its only real weakness is a style of play that allows teams to stay in the game with them (i.e., Gonzaga shot 26% but was still in the game until the last ten seconds). It didn’t hurt that Kyle Weaver (12/6) seemed to make every big play for the Cougars each time the Zags crept withing striking distance. His airball rebound-turn-putback sequence was sick. On the Gonzaga side, Matt Bouldin (0-9 FG), Jeremy Pargo (3-11) and Austin Daye (1-12) should be ashamed of themselves for their performances at home tonight. We were really high on the Zags early, even going so far as to pick them for the F4, but their inconsistent performances are making us a little wary – still, we’ll wait to pass ultimate judgment until we see how they play once Josh Heytvelt returns.

Other Good Games. Syracuse 70, Virginia 68. Regrettably, we didn’t get to see anything but the last four minutes of this game. This is a very good win for Syracuse, especially in light of its loss at home to UMass last week. From what we can tell, UVa’s Sean Singletary was ill, and it showed in his shooting numbers (10/9/5 assts on 3-14 FG and 2-8 FT) and cramping at the end of the game. Virginia isn’t a one-man team by any stretch (Adrian Joseph had 19/13), but they’re typically not going to beat quality opponents unless SS has a solid game. Tonight was no exception. The Cuse’s Donte Greene (20/10) and Paul Harris (10/14) each had dub-dubs in the road win.

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SEC/Big East Invitational. What a joke this thing is. Hey, here’s an idea, let’s copy the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, except instead of, like, matching up teams based on relative abilities, we’ll just throw a bunch of cannon-fodder SEC teams out there against some good-to-great Big East teams and see how it washes out. Who came up with this plan – the Big East RPI Improvement Committee? Ok, we give them one mulligan. Georgetown v. Alabama was supposed to be a game between two top 25 teams, but then Ronald Steele went and got hurt again. Still, Bama put up a solid fight tonight in Birmingham (#5 Georgetown 70, Alabama 60), which is more than we can say for their mortal enemies over on the Plains. Thuggins and his band of merry men stormed Auburn like Sherman coming back through the South – the Tigers were down 28-6 before they knew what hit them. West Virginia 88, Auburn 59. Now let’s all put our hands together and furiously clap with excitement over tomorrow night’s slate of South Carolina v. Providence and LSU v. Villanova. Anyone got the Big East to go 4-0 in this event? We do.

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Upset of the Day. Charlotte 75, Davidson 68. We love Davidson, but after their recent losses at Eastern Michigan and now at Charlotte, they’re going to need to win the SoCon to make the NCAA Tourney (we’re assuming they will not beat UCLA this weekend). Stephen Curry ripped off 31, but he’s just not getting any offensive help from his frontcourt (7-22 shooting). Charlotte’s Leemire Goldwire sensed a shootout with Curry and ultimately one-upped him with 34 of his own points. Charlotte, with two solid wins in a row, is a team to keep an eye on going forward.

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #4 Kansas 85, E. Washington 47. Too bad Rodney Stuckey is already in the NBA.
  • #8 Texas 88, North Texas 72. The DJ blew up with 29/10, representing our #1 vote well.
  • #17 Pittsburgh 73, Duquesne 68. Pitt really struggled to win this crosstown rivalry game.
  • #18 Clemson 82, East Carolina 67. We’re not voting for you Tigers until you win ACC games.
  • #21 Xavier 79, Creighton 66. Drew Lavender with 28/10 as Creighton takes its first loss.

Other Notable Scores.

  • Florida 91, Florida A&M 52. UF now 4-1 against other Florida teams.
  • Drake 79, Iowa St. 44. Wow, how do you win at Oregon St. then get drilled by Drake?
  • George Mason 57, Hampton 54. Mid-major nirvana in Fairfax.
  • Purdue 70, Ball St. 57. How’s that Ronny Thompson thing working out for Ball St.?
  • W. Kentucky 69, Nebraska 62 (OT). WKU couldn’t afford to drop this BCS win at home.
  • Oklahoma 81, Tulsa 55. OU had a thirty-pt lead at the half.
  • Vanderbilt 83, Wake Forest 80. Vandy remains unbeaten behind Shan Foster’s 26 and Andrew Ogilvy’s 23.
  • Georgia Tech 72, Georgia St. 67. From what little we saw, Ga Tech sleptwalk through this one.

On Tap Today(all times EST). Yeah, a few tv games, but um, good luck with that.

  • Providence (-3.5) v. South Carolina (ESPN2) 7pm – set your alarm for more of the thrilling Big East/SEC Showdown!
  • Connecticut (-17) v. Northeastern (ESPN FC) 7:30pm. ugh.
  • Ill-Chicago (-5.5) v. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (ESPN FC) 8pm - if you’re going to show mid-majors, pick GOOD teams!
  • Villanova (-9.5) v. LSU (ESPN) 9pm – we cannot get over the garbage the SEC trotted out for this event.
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ATB: Black Friday for Louisville

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2007

ATB v.4

11.23.07

Game of the Day. BYU 78, #6 Louisville 76. Due to familial obligations, we didn’t get to see this game tonight, so chime in if you did, but the result here didn’t shock us. On Wed. night we caught a good portion of the Cards’ game with UNLV, and even though they ended up winning by 20, it was an ugly performance. BYU is significantly better than UNLV, and the tournament site of Las Vegas, while culturally a million miles away from Provo, is still familiar Mtn West country for the Cougars. So what happened? Well, BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari (29/7 with 5 threes) and center Trent Plaisted (21/12) essentially took over the game for the Cougs in the second half, accounting for all but six of BYU’s points. Louisville got twin dub-dubs from Derrick Caracter (24/11) and Terrence Williams, but the missing men tonight for the Cards were guards Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa (3 pts combined in 39 mins). UL just isn’t going to be the same team without some kind of inside presence besides Caracter. They need Palacios to come back healthy (at a minimum) if they expect to compete for a F4 berth this year. BYU, on the other hand, appears to be completely back from the nadir (9-21) it reached in 2005 – all credit to coach Bob Rose for their reconstruction to a legitimate MWC contender and national presence again. Oh, and this loss also ruined our most anticipated early-season matchup between Louisville and UNC – thanks for that, Brigham Youngsters.

Other Games We Saw. Texas A&M 70, Ohio St. 47. The most impressive win of the night was in the PNIT finals. TAMU put a defensive clinic on in the second half of this game to blow open a close halftime score (31-25) to a thirty-point evisceration with ten minutes remaining – the Aggies held OSU to only one FG in the first 11.5 mins of the second half! We haven’t seen a defensive shutdown against a quality opponent like that since Georgetown was willing itself into the F4 last year. If this is any indication of how A&M is going to play defense the rest of this year, then everyone (including us) has severly underrated Mark Turgeon’s team. Kosta Koufos, who on Wed. night looked fantastic against Syracuse, was held in check (10/5 on 4-16 FGs) and the whole Buckeye team shot a miserable 24% for the game. A&M was led by Derrick Roland (15 pts) off the bench, but the player who really caught our eye tonight was freshman center DeAndre Jordan (11/8). That beefy front line of Jordan, Josh Carter and Joseph Jones is going to present a lot of problems for people this year. Syracuse 91, Washington 85. In what was a pretty exciting game at times, the Syracuse freshmen showed up tonight to lead the Orange past Washington. Donte Greene had 25/10/4 assts/3 blks in an all-around showcase of skills, and Jonny Flynn got off the schneid with 16 pts in 21 minutes of play. For Washington, Quincy Pondexter had an array of nasty moves to get his 20/13, but poor D in the form of incessant fouling led to the Cuse taking 52 foul shots (v. UW’s 19 attempts). Washington had four players foul out of the game, but their rebounding advantage (+25) kept them in the game – UW nearly had as many offensive rebounds (24) as Syracuse had total rebounds (27). Guess this is how it’s going to go for Syracuse this season – when the freshmen play well, they win; when not, they don’t. As for Washington, we still can’t figure them out. We just have this sneaky feeling that they should always be a little better than they are.

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Other Ranked Teams.

  • #2 UCLA 81, Yale 47. Bruins shoot 55% in easy win.
  • #3 UNC 99, Old Dominion 82. Roy’s technicolor tie distracted us, but we found it interesting that ODU missed two layups at the end that would have covered the spread (in Vegas). Lawson’s speed was sick this game.
  • #7 Tennessee 74, West Virginia 72. Didn’t get to see this one, and sorry we missed it. It appears that Huggins’ guys took it right at UT’s softies, though.
  • #8 Washington St. 66, Montana 55. Taylor Rochestie led Wazzu with 17.
  • #9 Indiana 70, Illinois St. 57. E-Giddy with 31 in a nice win for the Hoosiers. DJ White only 4, though?
  • #13 Texas 102, New Mexico St. 87. Abrams and Augustin combine for 56.
  • Texas Tech 73, #15 Gonzaga 63. Didn’t see that one coming…
  • #17 Butler 84, Virginia Tech 78. If Butler wants respect, it needs to do better than barely beating an ACC bottom-feeder.
  • #18 S.Illinois 63, Mississippi St. 49. Paging SEC:TGTBTD, didn’t you guys predict 26-4 for MSU? You’ve got two left.
  • #19 Kansas St. 73, UCF 71. Ho-hum, Beastley with another 30/13.
  • #20 Pittsburgh 92, Buffalo 45. Pitt continues to roll early.
  • #25 Villanova 84, George Mason 76. Great game – GMU will be dealt with in the CAA this year, but the Nova guards were too much today.

Other Scores of Note.

  • Rider 82, Penn St. 73. Ugly loss for the Big 10 (Jason Thompson 21/10/3 blks).
  • NC State 63, South Carolina 61. NC State is not a good team, people.
  • Bradley 67, Iowa 56. Great MVC win v. a B10 team.
  • Florida St. 65, Florida 51. This was in Gainesville – looks like Billy D’s team got a wakeup call with their worst loss in 3 yrs.
  • Virginia 100, Penn 85. Another nice road win for UVa.
  • Vanderbilt 77, Utah St. 56. Vandy might be the second best team in the SEC
  • USC 57, Miami (OH) 53. USC looks bad again – Gibson with a mere 6 pts (Mayo w/ 21).

On Tap Today (all times EST). Mostly pigskin on the tube, but as always, there are a few jewels in the lineup.

  • Air Force (-1) v. Montana 4:30pm – solid mid-major matchup.
  • Tennessee (-5.5) v. Texas. this is a game worth watching – should be very uptempo.
  • California (-6) v. San Diego St. 6pm - necessary win for SDSU if it’s thinking at-large (eh, M2M?)
  • Wisconsin (-9) v. Georgia 6:30pm – odd non-tourney game between B10/SEC – could get ugly for Dennis Felton.
  • Pacific v. St. Louis (-6.5) 8pm – another solid mid-major contest.
  • Louisville (-9.5) v. Old Dominion 7:30pm. Based on what we saw tonight, ODU will beat Louisville unless the Cards play better than their previous two LV games.
  • Indiana (-2.5) v. Xavier 8:30pm. IU’s first real test of the year.
  • Vanderbilt (-4.5) v. Bradley 8:30pm. can Vandy keep it going so easily?
  • Oregon (-18.5) v. San Francisco (ESPN FC) 10pm – Oregon gets a chance to take out its St. Mary’s loss on another WCC team.
  • Nevada v. UNLV (-3) (ESPN FC) 10pm – intrastate rivalry!
  • UNC (-8) v. BYU 10:30pm – not the preferred matchup, but still a very good one.
  • Texas Tech v. Butler (-5) 12:30am. Butler could use this one in Alaska.
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ATB: Can Raftery Wear Hawaiian Shirts Every Game?

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2007

ATB v.4

11.21.07

Game of the Day. #10 Duke 77 #12 Marquette 73. There were several games we were looking forward to watching today, but truthfully this was the only game that stepped up to the plate and delivered an interesting result as Duke won its fourth Maui Invitational. We continue to be impressed by what Duke is accomplishing without any semblance of an inside presence. Literally, none. Everything they get is off the drive or off the jumper. Luckily for them, the Devils have the right mix of slashers and shooters to make that work. The long-term problem that Duke will ultimately face is what happens when they have to stare down a team with talented bigs as well as guards. In the Maui, Illinois had nice bigs but weak guard play. Marquette was the polar opposite – fantastic guards, but nothing inside. Duke can ride this strategy to a really nice season (as usual), but we don’t really see them making noise deep into March because of that fundamental weakness. Are we wrong about this? As for tonight’s game, it was fun to watch a close one but we never really believed Marquette would/could clutch this game away from Duke. Too many poor decisions with the ball, missed layups and fouls (some of which, of course, were dubious). Kyle Singler (25/7) led Duke with another great game, and Demarcus Nelson (16/7) had a nice game as well, but our takeaway tonight comes from the Marquette side. Why is it every time we watch MU we end up feeling like Jerel McNeal (11/2 on 4-7 shooting) and Wes Matthews (12/4 on 4-7 shooting) are better than the much-publicized Dominic James (12/6 on 4-16 shooting)? Just a thought. Final take – Duke and Marquette are good teams, but both have such a major fundamental flaw in the lack of any respectable inside game that their long-term prospects seem no better than the Sweet 16 this year.

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Other Games We Saw. Ohio St. 79, #22 Syracuse 65. This game wasn’t as close as the score indicated. We have to hand it again to Thad Matta – he gets his personnel to play hard and under control. Which is more than we can say for Jim Boeheim’s team tonight. While both teams are using several freshmen, it was OSU that looked far more poised. OSU’s Kosta Koufos (24/9) seemed unstoppable at times, showing three-point range on his jumper and a variety of bank shots and short Js in the paint. We may have severely underestimated this guy – if Duke had him, they would probably be F4-bound this year. Jamar Butler also hit several threes at opportune moments to keep Syracuse from ever getting a serious run mounted in the second half. The sole bright spot for the Cuse was from jumping jack rookie Donte Greene (21/10), but his classmate Jonny Flynn was simply horrid, putting up an 0-6 zero-pt night. What has happened to Flynn since his initial 28-pt explosion against Siena? After starting the year 10-13, he’s gone 4-19 since. #6 Louisville 68, UNLV 48. We had high hopes for this game as well, but it turned out to be a very ugly contest. Still, breaking a team’s 19-game winning streak at home is no joke, and the Cards (using only 8 scholarship players) should be commended for the convincing win. UNLV (eFG% = 30%) couldn’t find the basket with both hands tonight, and Louisville spent much of the game in the same Vegas Strip-induced fog. Earl Clark stepped up for the Cards with a dub-dub (16/13) and Terrence Williams did his usual thing (9/5/6 assts), and that was pretty much all they needed. We’re hopeful that the UL games coming up this weekend in Vegas will be a little more exciting. #16 Texas A&M 77, Washington 63. This was another game we had circled that didn’t really come through. UW looked lethargic and uninterested while Texas A&M methodically went about its business in winning the game. What is it about Pac-10 teams playing away from home so far this year – with the exception of UCLA, they all look terrible. Jon Brockman (21/15) was solid for Washington in the loss, but the props should go to the Texas A&M guards Dominique Kirk and Donald Sloan who combined for 33/6/6 assts while harassing the UW guards into a poor shooting night. Mark Turgeon is a great coach, so it should be no surprise that TAMU’s program remains strong after Billy Gillispie’s departure. Ohio St. and Texas A&M will meet in the PNIT finals.

Upset of the Night. Western Michigan 83, #21 Davidson 76. When is an upset not really an upset – how about this game? Davidson is ranked, but was favored by a mere 4 pts with good reason. W. Michigan is one of the leading contenders for the MAC title this year. In this game, WMU basically just shot the lights out, with an eFG% of 73% (v. 52% for Davidson). They hit 63% from two-point range and 55% (12-22) from three, as all five starters had double figures. For Davidson, Stephen Curry did his best to keep the Wildcats in the game as he had 25 pts (incl. 5 threes), but his only help came from backcourt mate Jason Richards (23/3/8 assts). While this loss may cause pollster consternation because WMU is a no-name opponent, we’re not ready to buy into that just yet. WMU is a good team and they were playing at home, but we still believe that Davidson can compete with (and beat) one or two of the remaining three biggies on its schedule (NC State or Duke, but not UCLA).

Other Ranked Teams.

  • #4 Kansas 87, N. Arizona 46. Darrell Arthur led the way with 17/6 in the blowout.
  • #5 Georgetown 57, Ball St. 48. Very surprised JT3 didn’t pour it on in this game.
  • #17 Butler 79, Michigan 65. Started to watch, but got sleepy…
  • #24 Clemson 74, Presbyterian 57. Clemson off to its usual unbeaten Nov/Dec.

Other Scores of Note.

  • Arizona St. 87, LSU 84. It’s so hard to sit back and watch good talent wasted (ahem, LSU).
  • Illinois 65, Oklahoma St. 49. The Illini are going to be their typical difficult selves this year.
  • Chaminade 74, Princeton 70. You go, Silverswords!
  • #24 Clemson 74, Presbyterian 57. Clemson off to its usual unbeaten Nov/Dec.

On Tap Today (all times EST). The Thanksgiving holiday isn’t a hoops day, so there are only ten games on tap, but wow, we get Beastley and Mayo late-night as we’re coming out of our food coma…

  • South Carolina (-2.5) v. Penn St. (ESPN2) 12pm – two hapless teams searching for a respectable win in the Old Spice Classic.
  • Mississippi St. (-10.5) v. UC Irvine (ESPNU) 2pm - MSU cannot afford to lose this game in UCI’s back yard (Anaheim).
  • NC State (-13.5) v. Rider (ESPN2) 2pm – NC State gets a chance to recover from the UNO loss.
  • S. Illinois (-16) v. Chattanooga (ESPNU) 4pm – our first television look at SIU this year.
  • Villanova (-6.5) v. Central Florida (ESPN2) 7pm – the game is in Orlando; will anyone be there?
  • Kansas St. (-2) v. George Mason (ESPN2) 9pm – not only is it our first look at Beastley, it’s also a great matchup!
  • Miami (OH) (-3) v. South Alabama (ESPNU) 9:30pm – won’t be watching this one much.
  • Gonzaga (-6) v. W. Kentucky (ESPNU) 11:30pm - a tremendous matchup in the Great Alaska.
  • USC (-13) v. San Diego (ESPN2) 11:30pm – conveniently timed post-Beastley and with our second turkey sandwich.

Happy Thanksgiving Day everyone!

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