Marching To Vegas: Are Elite Pac-12 Guards Using Officiating Changes to Their Advantage?

Posted by Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) on November 15th, 2013

Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) of Pachoops again will be joining us all year, providing us with his weekly take on our favorite conference, as we begin the March to Las Vegas. 

As soon as Bobby Dibler told us we were going to have “more whistles” this season, I had two thoughts: 1) Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh; 2) Are Spencer Dinwiddie and Jahii Carson going to shoot a gajillion free throws? The rule changes Dibler helped roll out would have more fouls called on the perimeter, hand-checking to be penalized, giving a great advantage to those with the ball in their hands. Sweet moves translated into a whistle. Dinwiddie had already demonstrated a propensity to draw fouls (a 76.7 FT rate which was 19th in the nation last year, while drawing 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes). Carson, meanwhile, is riquickulous and could cause some significant foul trouble in the lane and on the perimeter. Last year his FT rate was 42.4 (405th nationally), while drawing 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes. Yes, my mind wandered here with Dibler on stage. And before we dive too deep into these outstanding Pac-12 guards, let’s take a gander at the state of the whistles, one week into its season.

Statistic

2013

2014

% Difference
FT

20.4

23.3

14.22%

FT Rate

35.9

43.1

20.06%

FT % (shooting)

69.4

68.4

-1.44%

TO %

20

18.1

-9.50%

Steal %

9.9

8.7

-12.12%

These are the D-I averages according to Ken Pomeroy’s website. To synopsize and analyze, we’re seeing a lot more free throws at a wild rate with fewer of them being made. Meanwhile, defenses are forcing fewer turnovers as a result of likely more fouls or timidity. Davante Gardner of Marquette is drawing nearly 17 fouls per 40 minutes. This game happened. Is Herb Sendek right when he declared these rule changes “revolutionary?” Pretty close. There certainly are some elements to these changes that have affected the game. I mean, anything that shifts an average by 20 percent is significant. The free throw rate change between 2012 and 2013 was just -1.37 percent. It stayed about the same. The game is changing, there have been 152 free throws shot in two Oregon Duck basketball games this season. REVOLUTION! (?)

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Seton Hall Games are Exhibit A on New Hand-Checking Rules

Posted by Joe Dzuback on November 14th, 2013

Joe Dzuback is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between Seton Hall and Kent State. On paper the proposed revision to the blocking rule, along with a handful of tweaks to the rules governing legal hand checks and use of the arms by defenders, seemed the best way to reverse the ongoing problem of declining points per game. The Rules Committee reasoned that tolerating more physical contact had given the defender a subtle but impactful bias that contributed to the recent trend of fewer points scored by both teams. By mandating the defender had to be in the defensive position before the ball-handler began his upward motion (as opposed to leaving the ground, as previously enforced), the Rules Committee hoped to give the referees a longer time frame — and therefore a better chance — to make the correct block/charge call. By mandating officials more consistently call hand-check violations, the Rules Committee hoped scorers would have more freedom to create shots and force defenders to work harder to maintain position by moving their feet in front of the ball-handler, rather than using their hands and arms to slow him down.

Seton Hall and coach Kevin Willard, like the rest of college hoops, have had to adjust to the new rules. (Getty)

Seton Hall and coach Kevin Willard, like the rest of college hoops, have had to adjust to the new rules. (Getty)

Depending on the coach, the changes would enhance scoring opportunities and open up the game (e.g., John Calipari — “But we’re all wondering whether they will make the same calls in January, February and March that they make in November and December,” per Jeff Goodman’s October 14 article at ESPN) or throw sand into the overall flow (e.g., Larry Brown — “I think it will be terrible… There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re trying to do the right thing and their intentions are good, but I don’t think this is the solution. This is going to ruin the flow of the game,” per an early November ESPN article by Dana O’Neil) and turn the game into a Parade to the Free Throw Line. More scoring? Sure, but those extra points come at a price – longer games with more interruptions. Read the rest of this entry »

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Let’s Talk Early Returns on Officiating and the New Foul Rules

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 13th, 2013

Ken Pomeroy has an interesting post on his website concerning the early effect of the enforcement of new rules regarding contact by the defender. He acknowledges that the sample size is very small, but he basically compared all the Division I games last weekend with a similar number of games to start last season. Scoring is up by about 4.5 points per team while tempo has only increased by about one possession per team. Therefore almost all of the scoring increase is because of an increase in fouls called, which has resulted in nearly nine more free throw attempts per game. With the number of possessions and field goal attempts remaining steady, the tradeoff has come in fewer turnovers, specifically those caused by steals. Overall, it appears that officials are calling fouls for defensive contact that last year resulted in steals.

Karl Hess and Other Officials are Working with Players on New Rules

Karl Hess and Other Officials are Working with Players on New Rules (Photo: flickr.com)

Many coaches have expressed concerns with the new rules, mostly regarding consistent enforcement. That is a reasonable worry since college basketball has no organized governance structure over officials during the regular season, with assignments made by individual conferences. There is, however, a national element with respect to the NCAA Tournament. Those officiating assignments are made by NCAA director of men’s basketball officiating, John Adams, who sounds like a supporter of the new rules. On Monday’s ESPN College Basketball Podcast, Tom Izzo and Bill Self both expressed concerns with how officials will call fouls. There was even a suggestion that the NCAA might want to make an example of the new officiating style by calling the Champions Classic games closely and putting all the stars on the bench with foul trouble. Last night’s games totaled 46 and 53 fouls, respectively, a high number (the season average thus far is 42) but not completely off kilter. And really only Michigan State’s Adreian Payne spent much of crunch time in foul trouble (Duke’s Jabari Parker fouled out late, but Kansas had already surged ahead at that point). John Calipari had a different take, basically echoing what Jay Bilas has been saying: “If you don’t want fouls to be called on you, then just don’t foul.” Sounds simple enough.

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First Impressions From the Big East Openers

Posted by Todd Keryc on November 12th, 2013

College basketball opened play over the weekend and we got our first glimpse at the 10 Big East teams this season. Now that we’ve seen each team in action, here are some initial takeaways from a few of them.

PROVIDENCE – 100% COTTON

Bryce Cotton (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

Bryce Cotton (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

Bryce Cotton led all Big East players in scoring last year and he will have an opportunity to repeat the feat this season. But if Providence wants to take the next step into the NCAA Tournament, it will need to find some consistent support for him. In the Friars’ Friday night win against Boston College, Cotton was his usual self, deftly finding his way into the paint and finishing over much bigger defenders, but he struggled from the perimeter. Last year he averaged more than eight three-point attempts per game but limited himself to just four against the Eagles. His ratio of 3FGA to FTA will be a telling statistic this season in his personal development. However, the well-dressed Ed Cooley needs to find his star some help. With Kris Dunn sidelined by a shoulder injury and two freshman wings (Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock) suspended, it was again the Cotton show.  If the Friars want to improve upon their .500 finish in conference play last season, they will need those players back to create a depth that was lacking in their season-opening win.

GEORGETOWN – HEART & SEOUL

Georgetown opened its season practically across the world in South Korea against Oregon and it was UCLA transfer Josh Smith who stole the show in a loss. The big man showed off an array of post moves and had his way in the paint against the smaller Ducks. Georgetown was ice cold from deep and still had chances late against a ranked team, albeit one missing a couple of key players. Assuming the Hoyas shoot better in future big games (and realistically, they could not shoot much worse), Josh Smith’s presence will make an enormous difference and put Georgetown in contention for a Big East title.

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Halloween Tricks and Treats For Hoops Fans Everywhere

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2013

As an army of ghosts, goblins, witches and werewolves prepares to descend upon neighborhoods from coast to coast, we thought it might be worthwhile to hand out a few tricks and treats of our own before the autumnal extravaganza begins in earnest this evening. We’ve got a basket full of goodies to give away, but not everybody in our neighborhood is deserving of the full-size candy bars and gummy worms we have in our cache. Some of the trick-or-treaters in College Basketball Nation are frankly more deserving of healthy sweets (yay, fruits!) and some brand-new toothbrushes. Let’s take a look:

jackoball

TRICK: Our first trick goes to Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, who will receive a Costco-sized package of Dove from us this Halloween. With a mouth as profane as his, Henderson could stand to abide any good grandmother’s advice and wash his mouth out with a plentiful helping of soap. His act is one part entertaining and three parts tiresome, so let’s knock on wood to hope that he figures out a way this season to let his highly-impressive (and efficient) game do his talking.

TREAT: It’s still October, so we’re going to hand out treats in the form of a bag of candy corn (it’s striped, after all) to our intrepid game officials. The new rules instituted this offseason by the NCAA to eliminate hand-checking on the perimeter and bumping of cutters is designed to improve player movement and make the game more free-flowing. The NBA went through a similar transformation during the last five years, and the preponderance of open-floor offenses in the league has made the professional game a much better product as a result. Now, the zebras just need to implement it. Like we said, it’s still October.

TRICK: Some trick-or-treaters simply can’t get past others’ success, and they’re smaller for it. There’s no narrative more annoying in college basketball these days than the “[John] Calipari cheats” meme. The Kentucky head coach hasn’t always been an uber-recruiter (he had one legitimate NBA player in eight years at UMass), but he has always been a winner (at least in the college game). Yet many people in and around the sport simply won’t let go of the idea that he is some kind of masterful Dr. Evil on the recruiting trail, offering “one millllll-ion dollars” to the best prep talent the US has to offer. For these people, we’re giving out black licorice vines in the hopes that the candy stains their teeth as much as bitterness has stained their souls.

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Morning Five: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2013

morning5

  1. The last time anyone saw UCLA’s mammoth center Josh Smith, this equally hilarious but also pathetic GIF was the result. To everyone else, the Airball Layup Incident may have been just another amusing moment during a somewhat meaningless Bruins’ home opener against Indiana State, but to College Basketball Nation it was a spot-on encapsulation of Smith’s disappointing career. In two up-and-down years in Westwood, nobody had denied the 6’10″ center’s soft hands and nice touch around the basket — the problem was that, because of his — how should we put this? — excessive weight problem, he simply could not get up and down the floor. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he hovered around 20 MPG despite logging solid offensive ratings and commanding the offensive glass (top 15 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage both seasons). Shortly after the ALI, Smith decided to transfer to Georgetown, and yesterday the NCAA handed down its decision on his eligibility request to play immediately. Shockingly, despite that fact that Smith played in six UCLA games before his transfer and didn’t move closer to home to care for an ailing family member (he’s from Seattle), the governing body decided to give him two full years, effective immediately, to play for the Hoyas. As Gary Parrish writes in comparing the Smith decision with NCAA precedent, “For now, though, I’ll just sit here baffled.”
  2. Speaking of baffling, the narrative coming out of preseason practices and scrimmages is sounding off like a fog horn at this point. The new officiating points of emphasis suggest that hand-checking on the perimeter will be called early and often, and if you believe the buzz around the country, some coaches are downright terrified. ACC microsite writer Brad Jenkins wrote last week that his viewing of the scrimmage during Duke’s Countdown to Craziness was “foul-plagued,” and if this box score from a recent secret scrimmage between Xavier and Ohio U. is any further indication — there were 71 fouls and 91 free throw attempts in that game — they should be. It got so bad that two players were whistled for seven fouls in that contest, while a third was called for six. The process of re-learning how to defend on the perimeter is not something that many players can solve overnight, so although the college basketball product should be more free-flowing and ultimately better in the long run, the first month of this season could have more than a few games where the second units are playing in crunch time.
  3. It’s the classic deal with the devil: At what point does a person’s value to an organization no longer outweigh the trouble that he causes? In the case of Maryland assistant coach Dalonte Hill, the answer has until now remained on the positive side of the ledger. After Hill’s third DUI arrest in the last five years (and second while employed under Mark Turgeon at Maryland), the 34-year old who is reportedly the highest-paid assistant coach in the country, is certainly testing the integrity of that question. Since Hill’s Sunday night car crash and arrest, he is taking a leave of absence from the program, but the underlying issue that is surely on the minds of his employer is that he is one of the very best (and connected) recruiters in the sport. His ties to the Washington-area AAU program called DC Assault has allowed the Terps to get involved with local prep products that simply weren’t available to them under Gary Williams. It will certainly be interesting to see how Maryland brass decides to handle this, but there’s absolutely no way that they’ll completely remove him. He’s not quite below the horizontal line just yet.
  4. Notre Dame is one of the three new teams joining the ACC this season, and the whole conceptual framework behind it still feels a little unreal. But playing the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Maryland to go along with former Big East foes Syracuse and Pittsburgh will certainly feel real enough to Mike Brey in short order. In this article from Matt Fortuna at ESPN.com, Brey discusses the hoop-jumping and maneuvering that his program had to do to get into the basketball league of his wildest dreams, the ACC. Dreams do come true, apparently, as a rumored possible move to the Big 12 a couple of years ago would have been Brey’s “worst nightmare.” With an experienced and talented backcourt returning for the Irish to go along with Brey’s proven ability to get the most from his players, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him challenging those schools near the top of his new league’s pecking order as soon as this winter.
  5. To most fans in today’s college basketball environment, a scheduled game three years away between Kentucky and UTEP would be virtually meaningless. But to fans of the sport who know their history and are aware that in 1966 UTEP was called Texas Western, such a potential game raises more than a few eyebrows. Current UTEP head coach Tim Floyd told a tipoff audience on Wednesday that his school and Kentucky are exploring a rematch of the most historic college basketball game of all-time — the Brown vs. Board of Education of college basketball — Texas Western vs. Kentucky, in 2016. The date would signify the 50th anniversary of the first game where an all-black Texas Western starting lineup knocked off favored and all-white Kentucky in the national championship game in College Park, Maryland. If things go right with this idea, they will hold the game on MLK Day in Cole Field House, the exact site of the start of the cultural revolution in college basketball.
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Jabari Parker’s Skill Set Reminiscent of Versatile Past Duke Stars

Posted by Brad Jenkins on October 21st, 2013

Countdown to Craziness, Duke’s version of Midnight Madness, was held before a packed Cameron Indoor Stadium on Friday night. The evening featured a variety of entertainment, but the feature act was the much anticipated debut of Jabari Parker in a Duke uniform in front of a real crowd. Just two days prior, the ACC media had voted Parker to the 2013-14 preseason All-ACC team along with another new Blue Devil, transfer Rodney Hood. Parker was also the near-unanimous choice as preseason ACC Rookie of the Year. At least for now, the player may match the hype. The scrimmage part of the night consisted of two highly competitive 15-minute periods of play that were called halves but were in reality two mini-games. Some players played for the White team in the first session and switched to Blue for the second. Unlike some other schools, though, Duke chose to make these open scrimmages as game-like as possible. Real NCAA officials worked the games and the result was an intense scrimmage with fouls called at an alarming rate. The official box score reflects combined stats for both sessions and it shows that Parker was the star of the scrimmage with 24 points and 12 rebounds with zero turnovers. The unquestioned highlight of the night was Parker running down an offensive rebound, spinning and going baseline for a reverse slam right over and through Josh Hairston and Marshall Plumlee.

Jabari Parker Wowed Duke Fans at Countdown to Crazyness Friday Night

Jabari Parker Wowed Duke Fans at Countdown to Craziness Friday Night

As much as we like to make player comparisons within top programs, Duke hasn’t had anyone exactly like Parker — especially as a freshman — in a long time. Probably the closest match might be a mixture of the talents of Grant Hill and Luol Deng. Like Hill, Parker handles the ball like a guard and sees the court well, but he doesn’t quite have the two-time national champion’s outstanding athleticism. An area to watch with Parker’s offense will be shot selection; he missed all three of his attempts from deep and two of those were forced step-back jumpers that were not close. It was exactly 10 years ago that Deng arrived at Duke with the size and versatility to play both inside or out, and Parker already shows that same type of wing flexibility. Given Duke’s current roster, look for Parker to primarily be a post defender. He spent almost the entire scrimmage guarding 6’11″ Marshall Plumlee, the only true post man that Duke has this year. When he did guard the wing he moved his feet well and made himself tough to beat. He already appears to have a good grasp of Duke’s help team defense, but that aggressiveness also exposed a possible crucial concern of foul trouble. Parker was whistled for four fouls in the first stanza, and after some adjustments in the second session,  he committed only one more foul on the night. But it is definitely something to keep an eye on.

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Bobby Dibler, Pac-12 Officiating Coordinator, May We Never Hear From You Again

Posted by Adam Butler on October 18th, 2013

Adam Butler of Pachoops.com (@pachoopsab) joins us as a guest columnist for the second straight year. He took in the Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday.

He took to the stage rather unassumingly and consequently didn’t look too many people directly in the eye. I don’t believe it was out of discourtesy so much as what appeared to be an effort to answer the question to the room. And beyond. After all, Bobby Dibler has a lot to answer. He enters his tenure as the Pac-12’s Officiating Coordinator in the wake of one of the more bizarre, if not controversial, stripes situations of recent memory. But as Dibler sees it, that is in the past. He didn’t spend much time on the matter and, as he puts it, “I’m a guy that lives life going forward.” And so forward we will go; with 28 rules changes and a brand new officiating crew. A “cutting edge” alliance as Larry Scott would have us see it – consistent with the mission of a cutting edge conference.

Pac-12 Basketball Officials Had Their Day In the Spotlight on Thursday; May They Never Have Another One (USATSI)

Pac-12 Basketball Officials Had Their Day In the Spotlight on Thursday; May They Never Have Another One (USATSI)

Because when the most glaring sight into your conference isn’t surrounding tournament seeds, but rather the striped gentlemen and trips to Cancun, you have an issue. It was the first question asked. This was likely Bobby Dibler’s most public appearance and should be his last. I don’t want to see him address the media again. You don’t want to see him address the media again. He doesn’t want to address the media again. Those sentiments combined and the feeling is, with the proposed officiating improvements, we can move forward with an agenda where referees are neither seen nor heard; their prescribed place and their preferred place. Yet today Dibler was heard and I appreciated the way he handled it. He repeatedly called this “our game.” He said, “Anyone that intrudes on the integrity of our game… it bothers me.” Last spring’s goings-on bugged Dibler and he’s here to fix it. How?

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Morning Five: 10.16.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2013

morning5

  1. Maybe we should just start calling this post the Wiggins Five, given how often Andrew Wiggins is finding his way into it without having played a single minute of college basketball. But yesterday’s news regarding the precocious Kansas freshman was more than just standard hyperbole and filler, as Bleacher Report‘s Jared Zwerling (yes, this is a first for this site; we’re just as astonished as you are) reported that the shoe giant adidas is already estimating a deal of $140-$180 million over 10 years to sign Wiggins to pitch its brand next spring (and that Nike is set to match it). By way of a comparison, Nike signed LeBron James to a then-ridiculous $93 million deal a decade ago, and that was without the benefit of ubiquitous social media tracking his every dunk, quip and Hummer purchase. Nor did James have a year of nationally-televised college basketball games to help build his overall branding — can you imagine how high the number could get if Wiggins dominates the season and leads Kansas to a national title next April — is a quarter-bill out of the question?
  2. A different class of 2013 prep star may not be looking at a nine-figure endorsement deal like Wiggins in several months, but he’s poised to make more money than the Kansas freshman (and every other freshman) for the duration of the 2013-14 season. Aquille Carr, a top 100 recruit at the point guard position, is reportedly taking David Stern’s “sage” and controversial advice about getting a better education in the NBA Development League than at one of America’s colleges by entering his name into next month’s NBADL Draft. The 5’7″ prospect from Baltimore originally committed to Seton Hall but decided to go pro before ever making it to campus, briefly entertaining the idea of playing in China before settling on his decision to come back home and settle into a year of long bus rides between Frisco, Texas and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While we don’t know Carr’s specific issues with respect to skipping out on a subsidized education at Seton Hall, his dream of getting picked up in next year’s NBA Draft as a waterbug distributor is probably a significant long shot. For the next six months, though, he should take solace in all the pocket change that his pay scale of $13,000 to $25,500 (2013 numbers) will give him over the chumps playing for free in college.
  3. For some strange reason, four of the seven power basketball conferences have decided to have their annual media day on the same day, that is, today. The ACC (Charlotte), AAC (Memphis), Big East (New York) and SEC (Birmingham) will all introduce their coaches, players and teams at overblown events Wednesday, with the SEC taking an extraordinary two days (Wednesday and Thursday) to sell the world on its mediocre basketball product. The Pac-12 will have its annual event in San Francisco on Thursday, while the Big 12 and Big Ten had enough sense to space theirs out into later weeks. As ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil writes, this week’s events in Charlotte, Memphis and NYC should make for some world-class awkwardness as coaches try to size each other up and figure out who is staying and leaving. #awkwardconferencemeetups, anyone?
  4. Officiating is always going to be a point of contention among coaches, fans and media in large part because there are so many different leagues and organizations supporting the 838 Division I referees calling games across America. Inconsistency (along with its cousin, general incompetence) is the most common complaint, as people have trouble understanding how a touch foul in the ACC can be called while a mugging in the Big Ten is ignored. The NCAA has made some strides in trying to normalize the rules and criteria for calling fouls, for example, but it often seems as if the referees spend the non-conference season making calls the new way only to revert back to the old way by conference play. This year is no different. Preseason points of emphasis on hand-checking and the incomprehensible block/charge rule are the talk of coaches around the country, but as ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman writes, there remains a great deal of apprehension over the effect of the changes. One thing we suppose that most people can agree upon, though, is that it surely can’t get much worse?
  5. Let’s end things with some fun today. NBCSportsCollege Basketball Talk released its list of the top 20 dunkers in the game yesterday, and although you can nitpick around the edges of  any ranking like this, you’ll have a whole lot more enjoyment by just sitting back and watching the clips. It really must be the Year of the Freshman, as CBT selects two rookies among its top three (it’s not difficult figuring out who they might be). Our one quibble might be that they left out a transfer student who became infamous for perhaps the greatest missed airballed dunk layup of all-time last season — Georgetown’s Joshua Smith. But no worries — the 6’10″ jumping jack of a center will be tearing down rims at a DC-area arena near you soon.
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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Illinois, Undefeated Teams, A Blown Call Nobody Noticed, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 11th, 2012

Brian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

  1. Illinois fans, here is my mea culpa. I was wrong not to rank your team. On Saturday night, the Fighting Illini ventured up to Spokane and walked out of the Kennel with the best win of any team to date. Yes, better than Duke’s wins over Louisville and Ohio State. Why? There has not been a road win of this magnitude by any team through this early point in the season. The Illini proved they’re for real with a dominant second half against a very strong Gonzaga team. After taking the opening punch and falling behind 8-0 right out of the gate, John Groce’s team didn’t panic and made fantastic adjustments. Gonzaga’s game plan was clearly to feed the ball inside and try to dominate a less than imposing Illinois front line. Illinois’ defense suddenly picked up later in the first half, swarming the Gonzaga big men and forcing the Bulldogs into an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers. Illinois was able to speed the game up a bit and prevent Gonzaga from setting up its half court offense effectively. The Zags attempted 18 threes which is right about their season average but a lot of them were rushed and not something the game plan should have called for against an Illinois team without a significant inside presence. Brandon Paul looked like an All-America candidate with his performance not just on the offensive end but defensively against Pangos and the Gonzaga guards as well. Can Illinois keep this level of play up? I’m not sure but I know one thing: The Illini are way better than I thought. This team’s over-reliance on the three-point shot is concerning and is bound to catch up with them at some point, but Illinois has already proved it will be a factor in the loaded Big Ten.

    Brandon Paul Looked Like An All-American Candidate On Saturday Night In Spokane. (Joe Robbins/Getty)

  2. Another impressive performance played out in a different fashion on Saturday night in Clemson, South Carolina. Trailing Clemson by six points midway through the second half, Arizona absorbed the hit and put the pedal down in impressive fashion with a 26-5 run down the stretch to come out of rowdy Littlejohn Coliseum with a sneaky good road win. It was an impressive showing because this Arizona team had been highly touted but untested coming into the game. The Wildcats passed that test with flying colors as they head into a Saturday showdown with Florida in Tucson. Mark Lyons took control in the final minutes for Arizona but contributions from Nick Johnson (13 points, five steals) and Solomon Hill (10 rebounds despite an awful shooting night) illustrate the talent and depth of Sean Miller’s team. Although he didn’t have a great game, I was thoroughly impressed with the physique of freshman Kaleb Tarczewski. It was the first time I’ve seen him play and his body appears mature beyond his age. He’ll be a load for any opponent in the post. Arizona is clearly the best team in the Pac-12 and has the pieces to make a deep run in March. With the gritty Miller at the helm and a boatload of talent, this team will keep getting better as the year moves along. Make sure you watch the Wildcats take on Florida this Saturday night in what could prove to be the best non-conference game of the season.
  3. Another week, another confounding loss for Baylor. Just when you thought the Bears were turning the corner after winning at Kentucky, they put together an absolute stinker of a loss at home to a mediocre Northwestern team that had just suffered back-to-back home losses to Maryland and Illinois-Chicago. Baylor was dominated on the glass by a Northwestern lineup that isn’t all that physically imposing and allowed the Wildcats to shoot 51% for the game. It is inexcusable for a team with Baylor’s talent to have three losses at this point in the season but you know what I like to say, nobody does less with more than Scott Drew. When you look at the statistics, Baylor appears to be a pretty good team. But the chemistry and focus clearly is lacking, otherwise this team wouldn’t have lost to Charleston and Northwestern on its home court. Baylor is a highly talented team and has actually improved its turnover numbers significantly from previous years. Pierre Jackson is playing like one of the best point guards in America and Drew has seen junior forward Cory Jefferson take a huge step forward. Baylor has two more non-conference challenges before Big 12 play begins, against BYU in Waco and a tough trip to Gonzaga in back to back games at the end of this month. Even if the Bears enter Big 12 play at 8-4, I still believe this team is good enough to eventually earn a Top 25 ranking and fit solidly in the NCAA Tournament. At this point however, Baylor just isn’t there yet. Read the rest of this entry »
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In Revisiting Block/Charge Call, NCAA Encourages Fundamental Defense

Posted by EJacoby on June 15th, 2012

Who knows what’s gotten into the NCAA lately, but it’s actually getting more and more things right as far as rule changes go. Last night at midnight a new rule went into effect allowing coaches unlimited texts and calls to recruits, part of an effort to cut down on the ridiculously thick NCAA rule book that punishes actors for far too many harmless acts. Also new this week are the results of the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP)’s offseason meetings, which came to a consensus about several important changes. The PROP rule adjustment garnering the biggest news is one that prohibits potentially dangerous decal stickers from appearing on courts to improve player safety, but an even more significant change involves redefining the controversial charge/block calls that cause so much consternation. The panel properly identified the growing epidemic of defenders flopping and sliding under shooters in the paint, insisting that “charge/block calls in some cases were not made correctly, sometimes giving the defense an advantage.” The PROP provided new guidelines to help better officiate the situation, which essentially calls for more blocking fouls when defenders initiate paint contact. These new guidelines will encourage defenders to move their feet and make plays on the ball rather than revert to lazy flopping tactics in the paint — a definite win for both players and fans.

Defenders should no longer get rewarded for sliding under offensive players while making a move (Getty Images/M. Heilman)

The new guidelines provided by the PROP are as follows:

  • Before the offensive player (with the ball) becomes airborne, the defender must have two feet on the floor, be facing the opponent and be stationary to draw a charge. Otherwise, it should be a blocking foul.
  • Secondary defenders (help defenders) moving forward or to the side are also in violation and those should be blocking fouls.
  • Contact that is ‘through the chest’ is not de facto proof of a charge. The rule in its entirety must be considered before determining a foul.
  • In some cases, it appears a defender is being rewarded solely for being outside the arc, without considering the other aspects of the rules.

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2011-12 Season Recap: The 12 Most Iconic Moments of the Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 5th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

A season in sports often gets remembered by a handful of different memories that fans can recall when thinking back on that year. Sometimes it’s a scene from the regular season, such as the 2004-05 NBA year that included the ‘Malice at the Palace’ brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Other times it’s the final play in the championship, such as the 2001 baseball World Series walk-off base hit by the Arizona Diamondbacks. So what will it be for the 2011-12 year of college basketball? Here’s a reminder of the top moments from the season, which certainly did not lack drama. Which ones will you remember when thinking back on this season? We give you the 12 most iconic moments from 2011-12, in no particular order:

Anthony Davis Blocks Henson at the Buzzer (December 3) – Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis was perhaps the biggest story of this entire season. Taking home nearly every Player of the Year award, Davis’ domination at this level as a freshman was must-see television every time he stepped on the floor. But his rise to true stardom perhaps began when the Wildcats defeated then-#5 North Carolina early in the season at Rupp Arena on a last-second block by the lengthy forward. Davis rejected UNC star John Henson’s final shot attempt to seal the one-point win for Kentucky.

Austin Rivers Silences Carolina Crowd (February 8) – One of the two best buzzer-beaters of the season was Duke freshman Austin Rivers’ silencing of the Dean Smith Center in early February. Down by two at Chapel Hill on the final possession, the freshman knocked down a long three over Tyler Zeller to beat North Carolina and send the Tar Heel crowd into a state of utter shock.

Robinson Rejects Mizzou in Border War (February 25) – In what was the final matchup between Kansas and Missouri as rivals in the Big 12 Conference (Mizzou is off to the SEC next year), the two teams put on a classic showdown in Allen Fieldhouse. Missouri dominated the game until a late KU charge, and it was the All-America forward Thomas Robinson’s rejection of Phil Pressey with seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime. Kansas won the game in the extra session to cap off a tremendous game between two top-5 teams.

Watford For the Win! (December 10) – One of the great stories of the season was Indiana’s resurgence as a top team. The Hoosiers had a tremendous year that was highlighted by their victory over #1 Kentucky at home to improve to 9-0 in December. Trailing by two on the final possession, it was this shot by Christian Watford that beat the buzzer and provided us with one of the most memorable shots, and calls, of the season.

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