Posted by Brian Goodman on October 20th, 2014
- Iowa State lost a lot of production with the departures of DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim from last season’s Sweet Sixteen squad, but the team is hoping that a big loss of a different variety helps the Cyclones topple Kansas atop the Big 12 this year — the disappearance of 30 pounds from senior Georges Niang‘s frame. Weight fluctuations are always a big discussion point around this time of year, but with many players on this year’s squad stepping into new roles, Iowa State expects to lean heavily on its experienced match-up nightmare. At the very least, Niang’s weight loss (from 240 pounds to 210) should help his agility to average more than the 4.5 rebounds per game he tallied a year ago.
- The career turnaround Rick Barnes engineered for himself was one of last season’s biggest stories, not just in the Big 12 but nationally. Now, firmly off the hot seat and with blue-chip big man Myles Turner also in tow, Barnes returns to an atmosphere where his team will shoulder expectations beyond simply making the Big Dance. The Longhorns have a deep, talented roster that will have as good a chance of knocking Kansas off its perch as any challenger has during the Jayhawks’ reign, so it will be interesting to see how Texas builds on last season’s surprise run to the Round of 32.
- Speaking of Kansas, Bill Self hasn’t forgotten how porous his team was on the defensive end last year, and he’s adjusting his practices to be more rigorous defensively. The Jayhawks could definitely use a shot in the arm on that end of the floor, after finishing 31st in the country in defensive efficiency on the heels of an eight-year stretch of no worse than 11th in that category.
- At last week’s Big 12 Media Day festivities, Curtis Shaw, who oversees the league’s officiating, opened up about the lightning rod that is the block/charge call. Shaw admitted in an interview that poor calls in block/charge scenarios happen more often than good ones, which was reflective of most fans’ perception last winter. It’s unrealistic to expect officials to get every call right, but the hope is that increased accuracy this season will deter defensive players from trying to draw charge calls by sliding into the path of an airborne offensive player.
- It wasn’t all that long ago that only the nation’s biggest programs participated in Midnight Madness. Now everyone is in on the act, and as a result, we’ve seen some well-intentioned yet regrettable moments from coaches as their grand entrances have become cheesier and more contrived. Last week, Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith became the latest victim of the Midnight Madness spotlight, as he fell from a motorcycle (don’t worry, it was moving at a low speed) while leading the Red Raiders onto the United Supermarkets Arena floor. The last few times Texas Tech has made the college hoops news cycle, it hasn’t exactly been flattering (we all remember the Jeff Orr debacle), so here’s hoping that Smith can get the Red Raiders pointed in the right direction after a tough first year at the helm.
Posted by Dan Lyons on October 16th, 2013
- Welcome back to Rush the Court’s Big East Microsite, fans old and new. Basketball season is nearly upon us, which means we are officially in “long, somewhat arbitrary list” season, and there’s no longer list to obsess over for the next few days than CBS Sports‘ top 100 college hoops players in 2013-14. Six Big East players from six different programs made the group. As one would expect, Creighton’s Doug McDermott headlined the sextet, coming in at the #3 spot, only behind anointed Jayhawk Andrew Wiggins and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Matt Norlander calls McDermott “the premier scorer in college basketball.” Xavier guard Semaj Christon comes in at #19, Providence guard Bryce Cotton at #66, Georgetown’s Markel Starks at #75, St. John’s forward Jakarr Sampson at #85, and Marquette’s forward/free throw assassin Devante Gardner rounds out the league’s top players at #96. A few commenters argued that the Big East is underrepresented on the list, citing Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin and Butler’s Kellen Dunham as possible snubs, but ultimately, these lists in early October mean very little.
- NBC Sports‘ CollegeBasketballTalk is working through its team-by-team season preview, and yesterday was all about Marquette. Rob Dauster calls the Golden Eagles the favorite to win the Big East this year, citing a frontcourt which he expects to be “one of the best in the country.” The big question marks for Buzz Williams’ team lie in the backcourt, where he will have to rely on fairly untested junior Derrick Wilson (13.1 MPG, 1.1 PPG in 2012-13), and streaky senior Todd Mayo in the starting lineup. However, Marquette’s greatest strength, Dauster argues, is Williams’ ability to manage his teams to fit their individual strengths and talents on a year to year basis, and there’s no reason to disagree with that.
- The “best names” lists are not the only places where you can find St. John’s guard Sir’Dominic Pointer. CBS Sports‘ Jon Rothstein included the junior in his recent “Ten Glue Guys to Watch” post along with Creighton’s Grant Gibbs and Georgetown’s Nate Lubick. In discussing Pointer, Rothstein talks about coach Steve Lavin’s nickname for his guard (who, honestly, does not need a nickname): “Costco,” which refers to his ability to give the Red Storm “a little of everything” on the stat sheet. Rothstein also praises Gibbs’ maturity as a sixth-year senior and his clutch passing ability, as well as Lubick’s ability to facilitate from the high post — a key attribute for a Georgetown forward in coach John Thompson III’s Princeton offense.
- Normally, Big East teams don’t want to hear from John Cahill any earlier than they have to, but his presence at practice was welcomed by Creighton earlier this week. As the newly named supervisor of officials in the Big East, Cahill traveled to Omaha to discuss the conference, new NCAA mandates, and how the Bluejays can expect the rules of the game to be enforced in their new league. According to Cahill, this season will see far more fouls called for hand-checking contact on the perimeter in an effort to increase overall scoring. However, he does not expect the Big East to lose it’s hard-earned identity as a physical, defense-oriented conference: “The thing that I found in my officiating career is that in the Big East, every possession is defended and challenged.”
- Providence fans are pretty bullish on head coach Ed Cooley, and rightfully so. Since stepping on campus a couple of years ago, Cooley has taken the Friars’ recruiting to another level, as GoLocalProv‘s Kevin Farrahar rightfully points out. Where the Friars landed just four RSCI top-100 players from 1998-2010, Cooley has brought eight to campus since taking the job in 2011. The class of 2014 is shaping up especially nicely for Providence, as it already includes seven-footer Paschal Chukwu from Cooley’s old stomping grounds of Fairfield, Connecticut, as well as highly-rated forward Jalen Lindsay and Delaware product Ben Bentil. This increased recruiting prowess, as well as a more manageable schedule in the “new Big East,” may help rejuvenate the Providence program as it looks to make its first NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Posted by jstevrtc on March 5th, 2010
- Eddie Sutton made his first public comments about the charges and the future of his son Sean Sutton in an interview with Tulsa World yesterday. Sean Sutton was arrested back on February 11th and charged with attempting to possess controlled substances, and soon after admitted an addiction to pain killers. The elder Sutton expressed confidence in his son, saying “He’ll be all right because he’s a strong person who just made a mistake.”
- Santa Clara sophomore Troy Alexander is impressive. His stats this season: 1.1 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 0.7 APG in 30 games. Ah, but his most meaningful stat is found in the “Lives Saved” column. He’s been raising awareness about the malaria epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and has been raising money via Facebook and Twitter to buy mosquito-repellent nets for children’s beds. The nets are draped over the beds so the kids don’t get bitten and contract the disease while they sleep. The cost of one net? Ten lousy bucks. A life saved. If you don’t think malaria is a big deal, there are some studies out there that say malaria has actually killed one out of every two people who has ever lived. Alexander initially wanted to raise $1,000, but has already tripled that. He does this through the Nothing But Nets campaign, an organization jump-started by everyone’s favorite punching bag these days — Rick Reilly. We won’t post Troy’s Facebook page, but we will link his page at NothingButNets.net. Bravo, brother.
- According to the 49 responding journalists in AnnArbor.com’s final player of the year poll, Evan Turner is widening his lead over John Wall. Interestingly, Turner was the only player named on every ballot. Three voters didn’t have Wall ranked first, second, OR third, and 32 of them didn’t name Wesley Johnson anywhere. Wow.
- The host schools — that is to say, the teams that automatically advance to the “championship rounds,” win or lose — have been announced for next season’s O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City. Duke, Kansas State, Gonzaga, and Marquette will be the sites for the regional round games from November 14-17, and then will move on to the Sprint Center on November 22-23 to play each other in matchups to be determined later.
- Are referees working too much? It’s been a big topic for some time, and especially this year. Conference bigwigs and coaches may think refs are overworked, but the referees seem to disagree. ACC referees’ supervisor John Clougherty, though, feels the critics might have a point, saying of his refs, “They are independent contractors. I can’t tell them how many times to work.” Interesting piece by Ray Glier of the New York Times.