AAC M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on December 4th, 2013

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  1. The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look back at the history of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena – formerly known as the Shoemaker Center — which became one of the most fearsome venues in college basketball under Bob Huggins during the 1990s and 2000s. Last night, the Bearcats played their 400th game in the facility, which had been christened with a 66-64 win over #20 Minnesota in 1989. A Steve Sanders corner three was the difference in Huggins’ first home game at the building’s opener. Since then, the Bearcats have won 82 percent of the games played in what has become known only as “The Shoe.” The author said that the on-campus facility, combined with the arrival of Huggins and better recruiting, helped turn Cincinnati basketball back into a national power.
  2. Shabazz Napier gave credit to athletic trainer James Doran for keeping him upright and healthy to bury the game-winning shot at the buzzer versus Florida Monday night. Napier went to the floor hard after making a three with 33 seconds left, thinking he had reinjured the ankle he hurt last year. Luckily for the Huskies, that wasn’t the case, and thanks to some extra ankle tape wrap applied before the game, Napier was able to finish the contest and make one of the most memorable shots of the early season. Connecticut players also credited the Gampel Pavilion crowd for the victory — the win marked the 42nd consecutive non-conference victory in the building.
  3. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino confirmed yesterday that the Cardinals will face Indiana in next year’s Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden. The Hoosiers and Cardinals are only separated by about 100 miles but the two teams haven’t met on the court since 2003. Both sides have shown interest in committing to a series featuring two of the game’s most storied programs. It was also mentioned recently that Louisville may open the year with a game against Richard Pitino’s team, Minnesota, in Puerto Rico. Add those two games to a date in the ACC/Big Ten challenge and it looks like the Cardinals will face three Big Ten conference opponents next season, all before December 7.
  4. Cincinnati is off to a 7-0 start this season, but that has impressed hardly anyone to this point. The Bearcats received just eight votes in this week’s AP poll and zero in the coaches’ poll. Maybe the voters have a collective memory of last season, and remember when Cincinnati was ranked for most of the season up until early February when a run of five losses in six games almost cost the team an NCAA Tournament berth. A wait-and-see approach should be taken when discussing Mick Cronin’s team. After dispatching South Carolina Upstate last night, the Bearcats will have a chance to prove themselves Saturday with a road game at The Pit against New Mexico, one of the toughest road venues in college basketball.
  5. Fans of AAC teams knew they could count on the top three or four teams to be strong in this year’s league, but most held out hope that another two or three teams would step up to make the middle of the conference stronger than anticipated. Through six games, it’s evident UCF is not going to be one of those mid-tier teams. The Knights fell to 3-3 last night after a bad loss to 2-6 Florida Atlantic. Central Florida will need to get scoring from more than just Isaiah Sykes and Calvin Newell, who combined for 41 points last night. With only five games remaining until conference play, the Knights need to pull it together or they’ll be fighting with Rutgers for ninth place in the 10-team league.
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Morning Five: 06.06.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 6th, 2013

morning5

  1. College basketball’s worst kept secret became official late Wednesday night, as Missouri’s Michael Dixon, apparently the Teflon Don of sexual assault allegations in Columbia, announced via Twitter that he was transferring to Memphis. As we discussed in yesterday’s piece addressing the rumors of his transfer, Dixon brings a very interesting combination of talent and experience to a Tigers team desperately in need of some heady play to supplement the occasional wildness of returnees Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford. The question of whether Dixon will ever suit up with those two rising seniors, though, will be for the NCAA to decide, as he plans to request a waiver after already sitting out last season at Missouri. His argument will hinge on the Dez Wells exception, a unique and slightly different scenario where Wells was expelled from Xavier over a sexual assault allegation that even local prosecutors found completely unsubstantiated. Of course, Wells was ultimately allowed to play last season at Maryland, where he blossomed into one of the ACC’s most dangerous wings, and whether Dixon will receive the same treatment from the sport’s governing body may involve determinations on guilt or innocence that it is simply unprepared or unwilling to make. If he is allowed to suit up as a Tiger of the Memphis variety next season, though, Josh Pastner’s team suddenly becomes a lot more interesting on the national stage. 
  2. Speaking of that stage, one of the biggest and best national events in the early weeks of the season is the Jimmy V Classic. Next season’s pair of match-ups have now been finalized, and Memphis in fact will be one of those teams featured. The Tigers will take on a top 10 outfit in Florida in the nightcap, while fellow AAC member Cincinnati will battle new ACC institution Pittsburgh in the undercard. Did you get all that? It’s AAC vs. ACC, and AAC vs. SEC. If Dixon is cleared to play next season, the backcourt battles between he and Crawford versus Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin will be fun to watch.
  3. Remember Julie Roe Lach, the former VP of NCAA enforcement who was fired in February related to a series of missteps that occurred under her watch, but most notably the ethical misconduct stemming from the Nevin Shapiro case at Miami (FL)? She resurfaced on Wednesday with an op-ed piece published at Yahoo! Sports giving her take on how the NCAA should operate its enforcement initiatives. It reads lawyerly, but if you can get past the tone and dryness of it, she makes several good points. From her perspective, the NCAA needed to accomplish three primary things with respect to its enforcement process: 1) make penalties against schools harsh enough to deter the risk/reward mindset; 2) shorten the length of its investigations; 3) in revenue sports, instill a valid fear in personnel of getting caught. As she writes in the article, the organization was moving steadfastly in that direction when the Shapiro case and subsequent media firestorm it entailed derailed the focus of the organization. Unfortunately for her, the piece has something of an air of desperation about it — even though Lach’s points are well-sourced and make sense, she won’t be taken seriously by either the media or the NCAA at this point. It’s worth a read, but what the organization now needs is the next general — a Lach without a reputation — who will carry the flag forward without the taint of scandal enveloping his every word.
  4. One of the NCAA initiatives of the past several years that we’ve gotten fully behind is the Academic Progress Rate (APR). Notwithstanding the fact that schools can game the numbers with bogus classes and coursework to increase their APR scores — baby steps — it still provides some degree of academic accountability where there was little before. And it has some teeth, as Connecticut found out the very hard way last season. So kudos to 2013 national champion Louisville, which was one of only 35 men’s basketball teams to score in the top tier of schools (scoring 978 or above) in the most recent APR cycle (covering academic years 2009-12). The entire top 10 percent list that the NCAA highlights as part of its “Public Recognition Awards” is located here. The biggest surprise on the list this year? It has to be Memphis, although Alabama men’s basketball and football clearly show that the army of tutors and student-athlete assistants in Tuscaloosa are very good at their jobs.
  5. We didn’t mention Indiana in the previous blurb, but we easily could have, as Tom Crean has taken a program that was scoring in the 800s to one that is at the very top of Division I men’s basketball on the APR nowadays (Will the Hoosiers print up commemorative t-shirts? Too easy.). But one IU player is not only receiving academic accolades, he’s also still getting lauded for his work on the court last year. The Tulsa Sports Charities organization has named Hoosiers wing Victor Oladipo as its 2013 recipient of the Eddie Sutton Tustenegee Award, an honor “presented annually to a college basketball player who best exhibits the traits of tenacity and unselfishness that Sutton advocated during a coaching career that landed him in the College Basketball Hall of Fame.” In a year when the race was fairly wide open among a group of about five players, we like to see the love spread around a bit. Good for Oladipo, probably the best player on both ends of the floor last season.
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ATB: Northwestern Shocks Baylor, NC State Fends Off UConn, and Why the Jimmy V Classic is About So Much More Than Basketball…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 5th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Tonight’s Lede. Jimmy V Classic A Warm Reminder of College Basketball’s Altruistic Impact. Of all the non-conference events peppering college basketball’s November/December calendar, there are few that go above and beyond to create something more than a touristy change-of-pace from the harsh fall climate. The Jimmy V Classic puts every specialized bracket, exempted field and tropical hosting site to shame. It has grown into one of my favorite moments of the season. Not only does it remind us that sports – trivial as they often seem – can help uplift those in dire need of assistance and services. It commemorates the life of one of college basketball’s legendary personalities, Jim Valvano. I make it a point to at least glaze over segments of Valvano’s famous 1993 ESPYs Speech every year, and I wholeheartedly recommend you join me in perusing his inspirational words. Four name-brand programs, including one pegged by many to make a run at the Final Four and another playing its first season without the generational coach who built a program from scratch, took the court Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The action on the court was the main focus, but Valvano’s impact was not lost, nor will it ever be.

Your Watercooler Moment. You’re Not Dreaming: Baylor Lost To Northwestern… At Home.

The Wildcats got a huge road win to snap a two-game slide (Photo credit: Getty Images).

There was nothing about Northwestern’s trip to Baylor Tuesday night that sparked even the faintest sliver of hope in a Wildcats’ upset. The Bears were coming off a season-defining win at Kentucky, the first opponent to go into Rupp Arena and down the Wildcats since John Calipari took over in Lexington four years ago. Meanwhile, Northwestern was smarting after a dumbfounding home loss to UIC, which came on the heels of a total demolition at the hands of Maryland. These teams were heading in opposite directions. And that’s without getting into the roster minutiae, but it boils down to this: Baylor is bigger, faster, stronger and more talented than Northwestern could ever hope to be in its current construction. The Wildcats reversed their current misfortune by capturing what might go down as the biggest non-conference win of coach Bill Carmody’s tenure. The fatalistic cries of another NIT-destined campaign had amplified in recent weeks, but beating Baylor on the road could be just what the doctor ordered. Northwestern watched its first big non-conference test (Maryland) fall away without mounting but the slightest challenge to Alex Len and company. Baylor was the next, and remotely unfathomable, hurdle. Now the Wildcats get Butler and Stanford in Evanston before entering Big Ten competition. With almost any other team, the first impulse wouldn’t necessarily involve NCAA Tournament contingencies. With Northwestern, where fans live through a prism of tourney ignominy, it’s the only thing that matters.

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Rushed Reactions: NC State 69, Connecticut 65

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 4th, 2012

rushedreactions

Brian Otskey is an RTC correspondent. He filed these thoughts from NC State’s victory over Connecticut in game two of the Jimmy V Classic. Follow him on Twitter @botskey.

  1. NC State made the winning plays. Give Connecticut a lot of credit for its tenacity and scrappy style of play but NC State made the plays you need to make down the stretch in order to win big games. Whether it was huge offensive rebounds or Scott Wood’s pick-and-roll, the Wolfpack did what they had to do in order to come out on top. That’s a sign of a good basketball team and this is a win that should boost NC State’s confidence after a shaky start to the season.
  2. Connecticut just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win. The Huskies made a bunch of threes early in the first half but that proved to be fool’s gold, as hot three-point shooting out of the gate usually does. Connecticut wound up shooting only 40.3% for the game while NC State finished seven percentage points higher. Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier took the most shots for the Huskies as usual but they were not efficient (14-34 combined). This overreliance on two players is going to win Connecticut some games this season but also cost them, especially against top notch competition like NC State. The Huskies can be good but they need to share the ball more.
  3. NC State’s rebounding helped it win this game. When you look at the rebounding numbers you see NC State was only +4 overall on the glass. However, a lot of the rebounds pulled down by the Wolfpack were on the offensive end and/or at key points in the game. Richard Howell in particular did a great job working for position on the offensive glass and earned his team a bunch of extra possessions. Connecticut had not been a good rebounding team coming into the game and, while it held its own, NC State took advantage of that at critical points in the game.

CJ Leslie’s Late Dunk Helped NC State Finish Off the Game (E. Hyman/RNO)

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Rushed Reactions: #11 Georgetown 64, Texas 41

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 4th, 2012

rushedreactions

Brian Otskey is an RTC correspondent. He filed these thoughts from Georgetown’s victory over Texas in game one of the Jimmy V Classic.

Three Takeaways:

  1. Texas is brutal offensively.  Most of this can be attributed to the Longhorns missing Myck Kabongo (eligibility) and Jaylen Bond (injury) but man, are they bad. Texas had just 33 points with less than four minutes remaining in the second half and finished the game with a total of only 41. Rick Barnes’ club shot 29.2% for the game and made just two three-pointers all night. Georgetown was a bad match-up for Texas because of its basketball IQ and strong defense but that’s no excuse. This was a pathetic effort by Texas offensively. In addition to the poor ball movement and poor shooting, Texas displayed incredible ineptitude with the ball. Twenty-two turnovers gave Georgetown plenty of extra shots, many more than it needed to win the game. This team needs Kabongo and Bond back in the worst way or else it’s going to be a long Big 12 season in Austin.
  2. Georgetown is steady seemingly every game. I saw the Hoyas take Indiana to the wire a few weeks ago in Brooklyn and while this game was as boring as that one was good, Georgetown’s style of play remains incredibly consistent. Not many teams in America can go out night after night and excel in a system that requires so much knowledge and discipline. It’s a tribute to John Thompson III’s coaching acumen and the willingness of his players to embrace the team concept. It’s not the most exciting style but no matter the opponent, Georgetown plays the same way every time out. You don’t see that too often in college basketball today.
  3. The Longhorn defense did not impress me. Texas is going to have to win games with incredible defense because of its inability to score points. Holding teams under 65 or even 60 points is not easy but that’s what Texas must do to win games this season. This team entered tonight’s game ranked third nationally in defensive efficiency but did a poor job containing Georgetown’s deliberate offensive attack. Georgetown shot 41% for the game but the Hoyas built a 13-point halftime lead (it didn’t feel that close) thanks to 48.3% shooting in the first half. Texas can’t win games without playing good defense for a full40 minutes, it’s that simple.

Barnes Faces Perhaps His Toughest Season in Austin (photot credit: F. Franklin)

Star of the Game: Otto Porter, Georgetown. Porter is a stat-sheet stuffer and did it again tonight. He was all over the floor on both ends, posting 14 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. Georgetown’s best player didn’t have a great shooting night but he still managed to lead all scorers. Only a sophomore, Porter is one of the most versatile players in the country. John Thompson III knows exactly how to utilize him and Porter plays within himself — that’s a dangerous combination for Georgetown’s future opponents.

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ACC M5: 11.29.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on November 29th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: Though the ACC/Big Ten challenge ended in a 6-6 stalemate, the Miami Hurricanes got the emotional highlight by upsetting the ranked Michigan State Spartans, causing a good ol’ fashioned court rush in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes have been on the verge of a big-time breakthrough in college basketball for years now and a nice win in November over a name-brand team at home is just the start that this team needed. After shaky losses to St. Leo’s in an exhibition and then to Florida Gulf Coast, it seemed like Miami was headed for another year as a firmly ensconced member of the ACC’s basketball middle class. This win is a warning shot to the rest of the ACC: Miami is ready.
  2. ESPN: As expected, the ACC has voted to add Louisville as a new member to replace departing Maryland. Louisville, when added, will have the highest budgeted athletic department in the ACC and a recent history of success across a wide range of sports. After this vote, it looks like the ACC is willing to stand pat, nominally content with 14 teams and the on-paper upgrade of swapping Maryland for UofL. Louisville’s mascot, notably, is a cardinal that has teeth that are frightening and increasingly nightmarish the more you think about it.
  3. CBS Sports: Of course, the apparent loser in the addition of Louisville is Connecticut, which has been eagerly anticipating a coveted invitation to the conference. Although the Huskies’ membership was apparently supported by Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Virginia, the importance of football and the harsh realities of the realignment landscape won out. Matt Norlander postulates that Louisville was targeted for right now because it is a school that had plenty of suitors in some of the other major conferences while Connecticut likely has little appeal to the same folks aside from the ACC. Connecticut’s geographic location as well as limited football relevance isn’t likely to draw the interest of the SEC or Big 12, while the Big Ten appears to have bigger fish to fry. The sad truth is that it seems highly likely that the ACC voted to add Louisville and not Connecticut because the conference feels confident that they are the only horse in the race to poach UConn.
  4. Post and Courier: Milton Jennings did not play for Clemson in the Tigers’ Wednesday night tilt against Purdue. The mercurial senior was arrested early Wednesday morning for possession of marijuana and was subsequently suspended by head coach Brad Brownell.  This is not Jennings’ first time in the doghouse, having been suspended on at least two other occasions for clashing with the coach and academic issues, respectively. Jennings has been the leading scorer for this Clemson team and was expected to be the focal point of the Tigers’ offense.
  5. Pack Pride: When North Carolina State takes the court against Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic next week, the team will be wearing some sharp new uniforms intended to honor the event’s namesake and the legendary Wolfpack coach. It’s a nice tribute to Jim Valvano and the uniforms are certainly distinctive and special.

    NC State will honor its former coach. (Photo Credit: Pack Pride)

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Morning Five: 05.03.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 3rd, 2012

  1. Round and round and round we go… coming on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that Butler will join the Atlantic 10 beginning in the 2013-14 season, the Mountain West leaked on Wednesday that Utah State and San Jose State are set to join its ranks on Friday of this week. While bolstering the MW in light of its pending losses of TCU, San Diego State and Boise State, this move may effectively finish off the WAC, a high-mid major conference with just shy of 50 years of history behind it. The league may be left with only two football-playing members (New Mexico State and Idaho) and it appears that the remaining schools are likewise off to greener pastures. Such is the natural consequence of every school acting in its own self-interest.
  2. While on the subject of conference realignment, everyone has had a little time to digest the Butler move to the Atlantic 10 by now, and Luke Winn writes that much of the media got it wrong in suggesting that the “Butler Way” will need to change in order for the Bulldogs to find success in their new conference. His argument makes total sense — while the Atlantic 10 as a whole is a clearly better league than the Horizon, it’s really only better at the top. Now, instead of having to rely on non-conference play to build its overall NCAA resume, the Bulldogs will have enough games against the likes of Xavier, Dayton, Richmond, St. Louis, et al, by which to impress the selection committee. As Winn notes, efficiency metrics suggest that Butler would have finished in one of the top two positions of the A-10 standings in five of the last six years, and while those metrics don’t actually play the games, there’s not a compelling piece of evidence we’ve yet seen that would suggest Brad Stevens or Butler will have trouble in their new league.
  3. The 2012 Jimmy V Classic matchups were announced on Wednesday and the event will have a decidedly nostalgic feel next season in Madison Square Garden. The school where Jim Valvano became famous, NC State, will headline with its strong squad heading to New York to face Connecticut, while Texas and Georgetown will play in the other game. It’s only been 31 days since we last saw a college basketball game tip off, but simply reading about these matchups has already caused a marked increase in our heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. The 2012-13 version of ESPN Gameday will have a decidedly lower pitch next season, as the hyena-like laughter of Hubert Davis will no longer be a regular part of the show. Davis has agreed to take Jerod Haase’s open assistant coaching spot at his alma mater, North Carolina, after Haase decided to accept the head job at UAB last month. Roy Williams noted in previous comments about the position that a number of his former players were interested in the spot on his bench, and although Davis never played for the Kansas/UNC coach, his claim that the new assistant would have Carolina ties was clearly a factual statement. At the ripe age of 41, Davis is getting into the collegiate coaching game a bit late, but he’s certainly well connected and could use his seven years as an ESPN personality to help with recruiting and name recognition.
  5. Stanford’s basketball program may not be among the elite, but we’re becoming increasingly convinced that the university through its deep connections with tech giants such as Google and Facebook is well on its way to taking over the world, one terabyte at a time. In the Moneyball world of sports analytics, a Stanford senior named Muthu Alagappan recently developed an entirely new (and award-winning) way of looking at positions in basketball, based on the actual production of NBA players regardless of size or favored spots on the floor. Using data visualization techniques, he came up with 13 basketball positions with such descriptive names like the “Defensive Ball-Handler,” the “Paint Protector,” and the “One-of-a-Kind.” By grouping players into similar buckets and showing how they interact in a visual way, the concept is that value between similarly situated players will be easier to discern and effective balance between players on a team will be more easily achieved. It’s really interesting stuff — if you want to see the entire presentation, click over here.
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Big 12 Alley-Oops and Airballs: Week Four

Posted by cwilliams on December 8th, 2011

Big 12 Alley-Oops and Airballs is a weekly article examining what’s hot and what’s not in Big 12 basketball. Scholastic obligations got the best of me last week, so there is no week three, but click here for Alley-Oops and Airballs Week One and Week Two. 

The Jedi. (draftexpress.com)

Alley-Oops
  • Return of Baylor’s Jedi: Perry Jones, III, is back, and his impact has been immediately noticeable. Jones is averaging a healthy 19.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG, but more importantly, his return means the completion of a starting five that many have picked to win Big 12 title. The sense of a complete team was apparent in Sunday’s Baylor-Northwestern game, which Baylor easily won 69-41. Scott Drew attributed the victory to his team’s “unselfishness.” If I told you five years ago that we could possibly see both the Heisman and the Naismith winner from Baylor, what would you say?
  • Missouri… Again: Yes, Missouri is yet again on the Alley-Oops list. While this probably irks many of the Jayhawk faithful, it’s hard to argue these Tigers don’t deserve it. After the Tigers shellacked its two opponents in the CBE Classic, they faced Villanova Tuesday at famed Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. The Tigers won again on the national stage, defeating the Wildcats, 81-71, in convincing fashion.
  • Jimmy V’s Speech: Yes, it pertains to the Big 12. Because it pertains to all of college basketball, as it is arguably the greatest sports speech ever given. In a week where we celebrate the life of Jim Valvano, I urge you to check out the Jimmy V Foundation website, or at least watch his wonderful speech here. 
Airballs
  • Oklahoma State’s Scheduling: While the Cowboys are not the favorite to win the Big 12, they have enough talented pieces to stay competitive in conference play. That is, if they make it that far. The Cowboys have a brutal non-conference schedule leading up to conference play, including the likes of Missouri State, Pittsburgh, New Mexico, Alabama, SMU, and Virginia Tech. All those teams, in the span of a month. Yikes.
  • Sea Pond of Crimson and Cream: Attendance at Lloyd Noble Arena has decreased 33.9% since the 2008-09 season, and the athletic department is getting desperate. Not only have they dropped student pricing by $100, but now they are offering students a chance to win an iPad, free Pizza Hut food, and $100 dollars. My suggestion? Build a new stadium in Miami, and sign Jose Reyes. It works for some…
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Night Line: Missouri’s Unselfish Offense Leading the Tigers to Success

Posted by EJacoby on December 7th, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist. You can find him @evanJacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s slate of games. [ed. note: Jacoby was in MSG last night, so this necessarily ran a little later.]

After defeating another quality opponent on Tuesday night, undefeated Missouri improved its already-impressive offensive numbers on the season. In the win over Villanova at the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden, the Tigers assisted on 23 of their 28 field goals, a tremendous rate, and also improved their assist average to 17 per game for the season (#13 nationally). Phil Pressey was the catalyst on both ends, recording 12 assists and three steals in just 24 minutes of action. Backup point guard Michael Dixon relieved him to the tune of seven assists and two steals in 25 minutes. While Pressey and Dixon don’t get the national publicity of some of the other big-name lead guards across the country, they are extremely valuable pieces to the nation’s leading offensive attack.

Phil Pressey Led the Tigers' Efficient Offense to a Win in MSG (US Presswire)

Missouri now ranks first in the nation in offensive efficiency (124.8) and points per possession (1.25), fueled by the unselfish play of their primary ballhandlers. Not only does Mizzou rack up assists at an impressive rate, but it also turnsthe ball over as infrequently as nearly any team in the country. They turn it over just under 10 times per game, good for the sixth fewest miscues in the nation. Add up these two factors, and it’s no surprise that the Tigers lead all of Division I with a 1.79 assist-to-turnover ratio. While it’s hard to envision this team keeping up its scorching shooting for the rest of the year, what won’t change is this team’s style of play. Tremendous ball movement and valuing possessions will put the Tigers in a position to score points against anyone.

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ATB: Jimmy V, Jae Crowder, Mizzou & Washington’s Late Game Management Issues…

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2011

Tonight’s Lede. We Will Not Give Up. On this same night every year, we feel compelled to join Dick Vitale and the rest in our support of the V Foundation in its fight against cancer. And every year, we find that we as a society have come a little bit closer to defeating the scourge that takes so many of our friends’ and families’ loved ones away from them too soon. As a bitter contemporary reminder, one of our colleagues lost her father to the disease yesterday. Another friend’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia last year. Yet another friend recently underwent surgery to remove a precancerous polyp. Medical research is painstakingly slow and expensive and there’s unlikely to be a one-hit wonder out there that can ‘cure’ cancer, but treatments are improving. The V Foundation has given over $100 million dollars to fund 92 cancer research grants nationwide in its nearly 20-year history, and the benefits that have resulted from those dollars are certainly immeasurable. No matter who you might feel about Vitale, or Jim Valvano, or even ESPN, this is a noble and just cause. The page to donate is located here — and remember, the V Foundation passes along 100% of its donations directly to research initiatives.

Your Watercooler Moment. Crowder Not Crowded On the Right Wing. The second half of the Jimmy V Classic was more entertaining than the first tonight, even though it appeared that only a few hundred fans were in attendance for Marquette vs. Washington. A back-and-forth game that rarely saw either team take a lead of more than three points came down to execution in the clutch. After Washington’s Terrence Ross (a future star who had 19/9/3 assts) knocked in a tough heave off glass from the lane to give his team a one-point advantage with 19 seconds left, Marquette immediately went into its offensive set, confused two UW defenders who ended up falling on each other, and found Jae Crowder standing all alone in the corner for three. His bucket from the right wing gave Marquette the win, and showed just how important coaching is in late-game situations. Marquette is now 8-0 and playing like one of the better offensive teams in America. We just love watching Buzz Williams’ guys perform in close games.

Jae Crowder Silences the Small But Boisterous Washington Contingent in MSG (AP/F. Franklin)

Dunkdafied. Washington’s Terrence Ross and Marquette’s Vander Blue one-upped each other with huge dunks in the second half of tonight’s Jimmy V Classic nightcap.

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RTC Live: Jimmy V Classic

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2011


It’s Jimmy V Week, and we’re back at Madison Square Garden again to celebrate all the positive contributions that the V Foundation has made against the scourge of cancer in the last two decades. Join us for our live coverage this evening of what should be two solid games — Missouri vs. Villanova, and Marquette vs. Washington, after the jump.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.06.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 6th, 2011

  1. With finals taking precedence over basketball at most schools across the country, we hit the doldrums of the college basketball schedule this week. Up next for Pac-12 schools is a big one, though, with Washington set to battle Marquette in Madison Square Garden tonight as the headliner of the Jimmy V Classic. The Huskies had hoped to get senior guard Scott Suggs back from his foot injury in time for this game, but he remains doubtful to play tonight though he could still possibly be back for Duke on Saturday. With the Huskies coming off a late collapse against Nevada on Friday night and Marquette riding high from their win over in-state rival Wisconsin, this game could set up nicely for Lorenzo Romar’s club.
  2. Aside from Washington’s big week, the other huge matchup in the conference this week is Arizona’s trip to Gainesville to face Florida on Wednesday. The Gators have been without forward Erik Murphy for the last three games with a knee injury, but he is expected to return for this game and he’ll present problems for the Arizona bigs, pulling them away from the basket and opening up the lane for the quick Gator guards to penetrate.
  3. Following California’s loss to San Diego State on Sunday, the Golden Bears dropped out of both the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, leaving the conference without a single representative in either poll. Stanford, Cal and Arizona earned votes in the ESPN poll, while Oregon State also got a couple of votes in the AP poll. Meanwhile the Pac-12 announced its Player of the Week award on Monday, and Arizona’s Solomon Hill took home the hardware over other nominees like Keala King, Ahmad Starks, Anthony Brown and Charlie Enquist. Really. Did anybody on the planet have that quintet as future Player of the Week nominees even just a month ago?
  4. With UCLA in the midst of some serious struggles, Ben Howland admits he has made some mistakes and will change some things up going forward. To begin with, he now says that, in retrospect, he probably should have left Reeves Nelson at home after the mercurial forward missed the team plane to Maui a couple weeks back. Further, after sticking with his man-to-man defense to this point, Howland interrupted a reporter who was asking a question about how UCLA allowed Texas to shoot 70+% in the second half during the post-game press conference on Saturday, and volunteered the fact that he probably should have recognized earlier that this team needed to play more zone. He added that he’d be spending practice time working on alternatives to the man-to-man defense that currently isn’t working.
  5. Lastly, it seems like it wouldn’t be a Pac-12 Morning Five without some negative personnel situation to talk about. Earlier today Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak announced the indefinite suspension of point guard Jiggy Watkins, and Connor Pelton filled you in on the details of that. Reading the thoughts of some Utah fans indicates that they’ve had enough of Watkins’ antics and are ready to move on. Aside from showing up to school in the fall more than 30 pounds overweight, falling asleep in classes and missing practices, Watkins has been almost the entirety of the Ute offense. Utah averages 60 points a game, and Watkins accounts for 17.7 of those. Meanwhile, Watkins rightfully uses over 39% of Ute possessions (the highest usage rate in the country), takes over 38% of the team’s shots when he is on the court (sixth in the nation) and still manages to hand out assists on more than 52% of all his teammates buckets when he is on the court (good for second in the nation). While Watkins has plenty of holes in his game, the drop from him down to Kareem Storey or Anthony Odunsi will be significant, making a bad Utah team even worse in the short term.
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