Does the Xavier Loss Reveal the Arc of Memphis’ Season?

Posted by Will Tucker on February 27th, 2013

Will Tucker is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after last night’s game between Memphis and Xavier in Cincinnati.

Xavier outlasted Memphis, 64-62, in a game that exposed systemic weaknesses in Josh Pastner’s team fewer than three weeks from Selection Sunday. The Tigers entered the Cintas Center tied for the nation’s longest winning streak and boasting top-20 rankings in both the national polls and RPI. Their visit to Cincinnati represented the first of three consecutive road trips against potential RPI top-100 opponents, opportunities to combat the perennial whispers of “paper tiger” that pepper discussion of their Conference USA record. It also represented an audience with Xavier AD Mike Bobinski, chair of the NCAA Tournament selection committee and strong proponent of the “eye test,” as Mike DeCourcy tells us.

(Credit FOX Sports Ohio)

Xavier exposed Memphis’ vulnerability on the defensive glass (Credit FOX Sports Ohio)

They faced a Xavier team hung over from a crushing VCU comeback that all but eliminated its hopes of an at-large bid, and a student section reduced by the diaspora of spring break. Moreover with starting point guard Dee Davis injured, the Musketeers would field one primary ball-handler against the Tigers’ athletic press. It was against that backdrop that Memphis showed up and did all it could to reinforce the criticisms of its detractors. The Musketeers set the tone early with ferocious intensity under the basket and on 50/50 balls. They made Memphis look like the team with nothing to play for in the first half as they ran out to a 30-21 lead. The languid effort struck a chord with Josh Pastner: “Our energy level stunk that first half, and I believe in energy… We were minus-five in 50/50 balls at halftime –– first time in a long time that’s happened.” The Musketeers outrebounded Pastner’s team by 11 in the first half, and an six-rebound advantage on the offensive boards helped establish a 12-0 disparity in second-chance points. Memphis went to the locker room with zero points off five Xavier turnovers and only two fast break points.

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ACC M5: 01.21.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 21st, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Syracuse Post-Gazette: This is the second part of a cool series. Basically the Syracuse Post-Gazette is previewing ACC road sites through the eyes of Wake Forest freshman Tyler Cavanaugh, who was a Syracuse high school star. His two words to describe Clemson: “orange” and “old.” That probably doesn’t do Littlejohn Coliseum enough justice for getting loud (which it is even when it’s below capacity), but Cavanaugh also mentions lesser-known tidbits like the visitors’ locker room is on the third floor. It’s funny, though, that despite his Syracuse upbringing he didn’t fire any shots at the town.
  2. Washington Post: Maryland is lucky it didn’t lose to North Carolina by 30 points over the weekend. The Terrapins played abysmally in the first half, turning the ball over a remarkable 14 times. The game came on the heels of a season-saving home win against NC State, but unfortunately, that win may say as much about NC State and the ACC as it does Maryland. Mark Turgeon’s team looks like a tough defensive group that gives a strong effort (they did fight back to only lose by 10 at the buzzer), but will really struggle to find much offensive rhythm away from home. That simply won’t cut it on Selection Sunday.
  3. Charlottesville Daily Progress: Speaking of teams with wildly varying performances, Virginia crushed Florida State at home this weekend. The win makes sense in terms of the Cavaliers’ ACC play at home, but does little to separate them from the middle of the pack in the ACC. Right now Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and even NC State look like teams you don’t want to face on their respective home courts, but look totally different on the road. The key for a team to join Miami and Duke at the top of the standings will be that it needs to establish some consistency on the road.
  4. Burlington Times News: Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo showed up in a big way against Maryland. Bullock finally looked like he realized he was the best player on the Tar Heels, nearly matching his career high in the first half. McAdoo picked up the pace in the second half, keeping Maryland at arm’s length while UNC held onto its lead. This was also North Carolina’s first win when its offense didn’t step up to the plate (outside of a dominant first couple of minutes). Unlike most Roy Williams teams, this one has to learn how to win ugly and on the defensive end instead of just running opponents to death.
  5. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski has got plans for the Yellow Jackets. Ken Suguira laid out Bobinski’s plan in nine simple points. The most interesting ones were his stress on selling tickets and his history of increasing gifts. The first may seem obvious at first, but if you have watched a Georgia Tech basketball game the last couple of years (and even when Paul Hewitt fielded competitive teams), there’s a lot of room for improvement there. The two should run hand-in-hand, and Bobinski’s history in finance and development should serve him well. Not to use a horrible pun, but if he can bring the buzz back to Georgia Tech athletics, there’s an incredibly fertile basketball recruiting background in his backyard for the program to become very good very quickly.
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ACC M5: 01.17.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 17th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Blogger So Dear: This is the best blog post I’ve read all season. Seriously, I have no idea why it’s not getting more pub. John Mundy knocks it out of the park. He’s got great sources (two former ACC assistant coaches along with a few academic types), he’s concise and thoughtful, and most importantly his article doesn’t shove anything down your throat. I thought about putting this piece as all five blurbs, but that’s cheating. Onto the subject matter: changing culture in college basketball. How long does it take? Is it important? Read this, and expect more on this article later.
  2. Georgia Tech Athletic Department: After a quiet search, Georgia Tech settled on Xavier’s Mike Bobinski as its new athletic director. Bobinski’s background is in money. He ran Xavier’s fundraising arm for two years (in addition to starting his working life as an accountant), which is the experience Georgia Tech is obviously looking to capitalize on. Bobinski is a Notre Dame graduate, who should be a safe hire — especially financially. The big question is whether he can reignite the spark in the Georgia Tech fan base going forward.
  3. Tallahassee Democrat: Leonard Hamilton joined the ranks of ACC coaches putting their teams through long, painful film sessions (Roy Williams forced his team to watch film immediately after its loss to Miami, and Mark Turgeon made his team grade all 46 of its offensive possessions against Clemson). Like the other two cases, Hamilton’s frustration was deserved. The Seminoles refused to rebound and North Carolina closed the game on an 8-0 run to put it out of reach. It’s danger time in Tallahassee: They need good wins and fast.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: The injury bug is hitting Tony Bennett‘s team really hard yet again with Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins out thanks to foot injuries. The silver lining is that freshman Mike Tobey (who’s shown flashes of brilliance) gets minutes, but Bennett is an injury away from having to spell his frontcourt starters with guards. Luckily Bennett’s defensive system places far more pressure on guards than interior players, as it’s designed to collapse similarly to a zone.
  5. Boston Herald: Joe Rahon has been one of the more surprising success stories of the year. The Boston College freshman came in a relative unknown, but he’s been very productive this season. Because of Dennis Clifford’s injury struggles, the Eagles have been forced to play small much of the year. Steve Donahue often rolls out a four-guard lineup, which causes match-up problems on both ends so long as Ryan Anderson keeps the opponent honest.

EXTRA: KJ McDaniels probably deserved his own highlight reel after Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest.

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RTC Summer Updates: Atlantic 10 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 3rd, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Atlantic 10 correspondent, Joe Dzuback. You can read more of his in-depth writing and analysis at Villanova By The Numbers.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Bobinski to Chair NCAA Selection Committee: While the conference again sent seven teams, half of its membership, to the postseason — three to the NCAA, one to the NIT and three to the CBI, the Final Four runs by Butler (Horizon League) and Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial Athletic Association) overshadowed a showing, Xavier’s loss to Marquette excepted, that exceeded 2010’s NCAA results. The NCAA announced that Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski will succeed Connecticut’s Jeff Hathaway as Chairman of the 2012 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Bobinski just completed his third year of a five-year term on the Selection Committee. While the Atlantic 10 has been the most successful non-BCS conference in placing teams in the tournament field (with 20 NCAA bids allotted to six teams since 2004), its representatives have tended to draw the short straw when it comes to seeding, and Bobinski will likely lobby hard for that cause.
  • The Coaching Carousel:  The conference had two coaching vacancies during the early phase of the coaching carousel. If the 2010 offseason saw coaching turnovers due to firings, the 2011 offseason saw suitors come to call on the Atlantic 10 coaching fraternity. Tennessee, having fired Bruce Pearl on March 21, made its first call to Xavier to talk with Chris Mack. Mack reportedly turned aside an offer of $2 million per year to coach the Volunteers in favor of staying in Cincinnati with the Musketeers. Richmond’s Chris Mooney signed a 10-year contract extension, his second extension in two years, ending Georgia Tech’s courtship. Mooney’s decision triggered a spate of articles (see “Old coaching assumptions are fading” by Dana O’Neil for example) about non-BCS coaches who pass on BCS offers to stay with their programs. The Yellow Jackets turned their attention to Dayton’s Brian Gregory, who succumbed to the lure of the BCS and packed his bags for Atlanta on March 28. Dayton conducted a six-day search and hired Archie Miller, brother of former Xavier head man Sean Miller, away from Arizona to succeed Gregory. In late April, George Washington’s Athletic Director, Patrick Nero, fired 10-year veteran Karl Hobbs. Nero, who succeeded retiring AD Jack Kvancz on June 30, was hired on April 20, and wasted no time in turning over the men’s basketball staff. Nero reached into his old stomping grounds, the American East Conference, and hired the league’s premier head basketball coach, Mike Lonergan of Vermont, on May 6 to replace Hobbs. The resignation of Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis on May 24 (DeChellis took over the Navy program) triggered a few tense days among the Duquesne faithful as coach Ron Everhart landed an interview for the Happy Valley position. The Dukes exhaled on June 1 when Everhart withdrew his name from consideration in favor of staying with the Pittsburgh school next season.
  • Media Coverage: The Atlantic 10 and ESPN renewed their deal to have eight games (selected by ESPN) televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 in each of the next two seasons. The ESPN networks are committed to broadcasting the Women’s Championship and up to 32 appearances in each of the next two seasons.

Tu Holloway Makes the XU Offense Go

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Morning Five: 07.14.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 14th, 2011

  1. How about a smidge of conference realignment in your summertime news feed?  The WAC is expected to add Texas-Arlington as its tenth school later this week, compensating for its recent loss of Boise State and its pending loss of Nevada.  Well, maybe compensating is a bit of an overstatement given the power of those two programs, especially the Broncos on the gridiron, but UTA has one thing that the schools located in Boise and Reno do not — an insanely deep and talented local recruiting pool.  The football and basketball talent in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area dwarfs the entire states of Idaho and Nevada in a given year, so the WAC is clearly hoping that Arlington is a sleeping giant for the next decade.  [ed. note: didn't mean to imply that UTA has a football program currently, because they don't; but that's clearly something the WAC and UTA are considering with this invitation]
  2. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will have a new chairman, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski.  He will not take over for current chairman, UConn AD Jeff Hathaway, until next summer, whereupon he’ll take control of the committee for the 2012-13 season.  As we’re all aware, the chairman’s biggest role is to step in front of the television cameras minutes after the release of the NCAA Tournament field and defend his committee’s selections.  Some have performed well in this role, while others, including last year’s chairman, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, failed miserably in clearly explaining the differences between teams chosen versus those who were left out.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned the LeBron James Skills Academy when referring to Darius Johnson-Odom’s team defeating the camp namesake’s team twice over the course of the week.  DJO wasn’t the only collegian to have made waves last week, though, as  Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier,  Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and many others were evaluated by NBADraft.net during the event.  Also of interest was some of the discussion involving high school superstars in the next two years of classes, particularly Jabari Parker, a rising junior who many believe is a future #1 overall pick in the mold of Carmelo Anthony.
  4. News that Michigan recruit Austin Hatch — the high schooler in the Class of 2013 who lost his father and stepmother in a plane crash on June 24 — is recovering from said accident is music to our ears.  According to a blog post by his extended family, Hatch is “healing with the loving care of medical experts!  Austin even has his blue “Kobe” shoes on (size 15) and looks ready to work.”  We’ll certainly forgive the Kobe footwear so long as he makes a full recovery, and that would without question be one of the best stories of this entire offseason.  Queue up the most inspiring player award for next year’s ESPYs.  Speaking of which…
  5. This is getting ridiculous.  One day after we noted that everybody’s favorite Mormon, Jimmer Fredette, had a horse named after him, the consensus 2010-11 NPOY walked out with an ESPY for the Best Male College Athlete of the year.  Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Miami (OH)’s Andy Miele (hockey), and Cornell’s Rob Pannell (lacrosse) were the other nominees.  Of course, we’re just teasing… we loved The Jimmer as much as anyone else throughout his prolific career.  The only other college basketball-related winner was in the Upset category, where the VCU Rams took home the ESPY for their unforgettable five-game run to the Final Four last season.
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