Draft Deadline Winners and Losers: Big East Edition

Posted by mlemaire on May 3rd, 2013

The deadline to declare early entry for the NBA Draft has passed and as is apt to be the case with a league as good as the Big East, there were a number of teams in the conference that were waiting down to the wire to see who they would lose to the professional ranks and who they would get to keep on campus for one more season. 45 players officially announced they were declaring for the NBA Draft and six of those players came from the Big East. Here is some brief on analysis on which teams are feeling good about who they got back, and which teams were left wishing for just one more year. And yes, we do realize some of these teams won’t be in the Big East next season, but we are nostalgic and are looking into the past for as long as we can.

Winners:

Louisville

Russ Smith's Return Makes The Cardinals A Trendy Repeat Candidate (AP Photo).

Smith’s Return Makes The Cardinals A Candidate To Repeat (AP Photo)

Gorgui Dieng knew his stock wasn’t going to get any higher and so he headed off to the NBA, but Louisville expected that. What they likely didn’t expect was that All-Big East guard Russ Smith would announce his return to school, especially after his father was quoted as saying his son was as good as gone. Smith immediately becomes an early favorite for Big East Player of the Year honors and his play-making and shot-creating ability will be even more important to the Cardinals’ success now that Peyton Siva has graduated. The Cardinals defense will undoubtedly take a step back without Dieng, but Montrezl Harrell is ready to be a starter and don’t sleep on Stephan Van Treese, who showed signs in the NCAA Tournament of becoming more than just a serviceable backup.

Providence

There is no doubt that Ricardo Ledo could help the Friars next season and you could easily make the argument Ledo would be the most talented player on the team from the first day of practice but it is still good news that Ledo declared for the NBA Draft and is leaving the program without having played a single minute. It’s nothing against Ledo, who was only forced on to a college campus because the NBA barred their gates and has clearly had the NBA on his mind since he graduated high school, but in order to rebuild Providence for the long haul, coach Ed Cooley needs to build a foundation and one-and-done players like Ledo don’t help. The Friars have a chance to plant their flag near the top of the new Big East, and if Ledo came back, he would absolutely make the Friars better, but there is no guarantee  there would be enough shots to go around with chucker Bryce Cotton as his backcourt mate. There is also no chance that Ledo would be back for his junior season, which means a year of development for Ledo would be a wasted opportunity to get valuable experience for another guard. Ledo has always had his eye on the NBA and good for him, he shouldn’t have been dropped onto a college campus in the first place, now the program and fans can let him go and focus on the improvement of his classmates who will be back – Joshua Fortune or Kris Dunn.

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2012-13 Rush the Court All-America Teams

Posted by KDoyle on April 3rd, 2013

If this was baseball, a batting average of .333 would represent Hall of Fame type numbers. Back in November when our group of RTC pollsters and hoop experts selected their preseason All-America teams, just five names lived up to expectations that we originally had placed on them: Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas, Michigan’s Trey Burke, and Kansas’ Jeff Withey. In fact, the only player who was named to the preseason All-America First Team and finished there was McDermott. If there is one thing to take away from this exercise, it’s that projecting player performance is far from an exact science.

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

McDermott Was Our Only Preseason First Teamer Who Stayed There

The 10 players we selected as preseason All-Americans who failed to live up to our hype were: Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum — let’s remember McCollum missed more than half the season due to injury — UNLV’s Mike Moser, Missouri’s Phil Pressey, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin, North Carolina’s James Michael McAadoo, North Texas’ Tony Mitchell, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, and Florida State’s Michael Snaer. It would be foolish to think that most of these players did not have exceptional seasons — look no further than Canaan, who averaged 21.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG for the Racers this year. He had a very good senior season, but it’s not his fault that a guy like Victor Oladipo came out of nowhere to prove he was one of the best players in the country. Of course, there were a few disappointments, and we can look right at Mitchell as the most obvious example. Whether fair or not, expectations were probably too high for Mitchell, who many project to be a future NBA player. Mitchell averaged 13.0 PPG and 8.5 RPG, but his team slogged to a rough 12-20 season.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the players who met or exceeded our expectations this season. After tallying up the votes from our nine experts, here are the 2012-13 RTC All-America Teams.

Note on methodology: voters took postseason performance into consideration. Players earned three points for a First Team vote, two points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote. Burke, Porter, and Oladipo were consensus First Team All-America selections.

First Team All-America

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

No Doubt Burke Won Over Many With His March Performances (AnnArbor.com)

  • Trey Burke, SO, Michigan (consensus) (18.8 PPG, 6.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 3.1 A/TO). After spearheading arguably the nation’s most potent offense during the regular season, Burke was named a First Team All-American by the AP. His virtuoso performance in the South Region semifinal against Kansas where he singlehandedly brought Michigan back in the final minutes of regulation supplanted himself as not just a surefire First Teamer here at RTC, but perhaps the National Player of the Year as well. More than just his knack for hitting the big shot, Burke’s most impressive attribute may be as a distributor; boasting a 3.1 A/TO ratio is downright impressive given the responsibility John Beilein has bestowed upon him in running the offense.
  • Otto Porter Jr., SO, Georgetown (consensus) (16.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 48.0% FG, 42.2% 3FG). Many often lamented Georgetown’s stagnant Princeton-style offense as the reason for its lack of production, but imagine where the Hoyas may have been this season without Porter. The sophomore emerged as one of the nation’s best players after consecutive games in Brooklyn where he led Georgetown past then #11 UCLA and nearly upset top-ranked Indiana the following night. Porter was expected to be a key cog for Georgetown this season after averaging just south of 10.0 PPG as a freshman, but his outburst was a surprise to many this year. His stark improvement with his three-point shot — a 22.6% to 42.2% increase — has made Porter a much more complete player, and bodes well for his future at the next level.
  • Victor Oladipo, JR, Indiana (consensus) (13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 59.9% FG, 44.1% 3FG). A role player in his first two seasons at Indiana, Oladipo emerged as Indiana’s best and most valuable player as a junior, surpassing more celebrated teammate Cody Zeller in that regard. While his offensive game improved in nearly every department — how often is it that a guard shoots 60% from the field? — it was Oladipo’s defense which made him an invaluable part of Tom Crean’s team. There may not be a better on-ball wing defender in the country as Oladipo created havoc — to borrow a term from Shaka Smart — on the perimeter. In looking at just his statistics, one would think Oladipo is a 6’10 power forward given his high shooting percentage and rebounding totals; that’s what makes him such a unique and dominant player.
  • Doug McDermott, JR, Creighton (26) (23.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 54.8% FG, 49.0% 3FG, 87.5% FT). Perhaps the most prolific and talented offensive player in college basketball, it came as no surprise to find McDermott’s name on the First Team All-America list. His shooting percentages in all three departments are off the charts, and were a big reason Creighton was tops in the nation in team 3FG% and third in 2FG%; McDermott went off for 20+ points in 26 of his 36 games this season. While his defensive and athletic abilities are both question marks, there’s no denying that McDermott is a natural scorer who is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Assuming he returns for his senior season, McDermott will most likely eclipse the 3,000-point mark as a collegian which has only been done seven times in history.
  • Kelly Olynyk, JR, Gonzaga (24) (17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 62.9% FG). Playing behind Robert Sacre and Steven Gray for his first two seasons at Gonzaga, Olynyk averaged just 12.3 MPG as a freshman and 13.5 MPG as a sophomore. For his redshirt junior season, however, he owned the frontcourt. A legit seven-footer, Olynyk runs the floor like an athletic forward and scores in a variety of ways. His 62.9% FG was especially impressive considering he spent a fair amount of time outside of the paint in Gonzaga’s offense. He was the biggest reason that Gonzaga ascended to its first-ever #1 ranking in the polls and commensurate #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Second Team All-America

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Award Tour: The Ballot Is In and the Best Player, Freshman and Coach are…

Posted by DCassilo on March 12th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Believe it or not, when this all started guys like Mike Moser, Jamaal Franklin and Isaiah Canaan were in the top 10. But soon the top players in the country started to come into focus. Only four players (Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott and Deshaun Thomas) stayed in the rankings all season, while only one freshman (Marcus Smart) could say the same. And finally, below, we have those few players that separated themselves from the pack. The best part of it all is that as fun as this regular season was, it will likely only provide a small percentage of what we remember about college basketball this year. But before we get to the best part, here’s who is taking home the hardware.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
Regular season stats: 16.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG

Otto Porter Led the Hoyas to a Special Win (TheDaily.com)

Otto Porter Jr. has a lot to be excited about. (TheDaily.com)

In times of adversity, greatness rises, and that’s the primary reason Porter is the choice for the top spot. On January 8, the Hoyas’ second leading scorer, Greg Whittington, played his final game. It was a crossroads for Georgetown, who looked like they might be headed down the Big East standings very quickly. Instead, though, the team went 14-2 and grabbed the Big East title. Over those 16 games, Porter was unstoppable. He averaged 19.9 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while shooting at least 50 percent from the field in 10 of 16 games despite facing plenty of double-teams. And the Hoyas got the most out of their best player too. He played at least 39 minutes in each of his last five games.

What Porter was able to accomplish with such a thin supporting cast was remarkable. There was no Cody Zeller down low like there was for Victor Oladipo, and the Hoyas finished first in the Big East, not fifth like Trey Burke did in the Big Ten. He was the best player on Georgetown, and everybody knew it, yet they couldn’t stop him. Now he’s the best player in the country.

First Team All-Americans

  • Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
  • Trey Burke – Michigan
  • Victor Oladipo – Indiana
  • Mason Plumlee – Duke
  • Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga

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Award Tour: Burke vs. Porter, McLemore vs. Smart and Larranaga vs. JTIII

Posted by DCassilo on March 8th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

With just one regular season game to go, nothing is decided. It’s another example of how unpredictable this season has been. For Player of the Year, it’s down to Trey Burke and Otto Porter Jr. Both players have carried their teams and made everyone around them better. Then there’s Freshman of the Year, which is down to Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart. They are a couple of players who have been impacts guys from the opening game. And Coach of the Year? It’s Jim Larranaga’s to lose, but lately, it looks like he’s trying to lose it.

The final update of this will run on Tuesday of next week, so make sure to look out for it.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3 SPG

I’ve written about Smart so many times this season that I need to give myself a moment to step back and admire how well-rounded he is as a player. His 3.0 SPG are third best in the country. He’s a guy I’ll always want on my team.  This week: March 9 vs. Kansas State

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG

A rematch of this 2012 Final Four matchup highlights the best of the remaining Big Ten non-conference games.

Thomas and Withey are in the top-10.

Oddly enough, the Buckeyes have played their best basketball when Thomas has played his worst. Still, he’s scored at least 14 points in each game of this four-game winning streak. In most other conferences, he would be the Player of the Year. This week: March 10 vs. Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 7 RPG

You would be hard-pressed to find many players that are more efficient than Olynyk. The junior shot 68.8 percent from the field while attempting over 10 shots per game. It will be fun when the rest of the country figures out who he is this March. This week: Regular season over.

7. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.5 PPG, 8. RPG

It will go down as a disappointing year because of the expectations, but Zeller still improved his scoring and rebounding averages in his sophomore season. The most surprising thing, though, is that there is a Hoosier ahead of him on this list. This week: March 10 at Michigan

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 23.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG

McDermott closed the regular season out in style with 41 points against Wichita State. Although he will probably get a few first-place votes, what ultimately held him back was the struggles of his teammates. This week: Regular season over.

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Award Tour: Huge Week Carries Otto Porter to the Top of the NPOY List

Posted by DCassilo on March 1st, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

As we hit March, the NPOY race looks like it’s down to four players: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Otto Porter Jr. While it’s almost certain that one of those four will take home the hardware, it’s almost impossible to decide on a clear front-runner. Look around the Internet, and you’ll see each of those players No. 1 somewhere. In a season with no clear-cut best team, a race like this for Player of the Year is fitting. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the next 17 days.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.4 PPG, 11 RPG

Cooley & Martin Will Likely Be Overlooked Again (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

Cooley has had a lot to celebrate this season. (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

One of the few players from a major conference to average a double-double, Cooley has been a quiet force on an overlooked Notre Dame team. He’s not going to make any top 10 highlight reels, but he is going to be the reason the Irish win games. This week: March 2 at Marquette, March 5 vs. St. John’s

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG

The Ohio State junior is what he is — a scorer who can do some rebounding. He does both every single night, regardless of defense. Thomas is a really good college player that is close to being a great one. This week: March 5 at Ohio State

8. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller has shown a knack for disappearing in big games, and Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota was no different. He went just 2-of-9 from the floor before fouling out with nine points. He can’t do that in March. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

7. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG

As Gonzaga appears poised to grab the No. 1 ranking, Olynyk is on a tear. The junior has made at least 70 percent of his shots in his last four games. Regardless of competition, that’s pretty impressive. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG

At a time when his team desperately needed it, McDermott had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday for Creighton. The junior finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds against Bradley. He will need to do that routinely for this team to go anywhere. This week: March 2 vs. Wichita State

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Award Tour: Trey Burke And Marcus Smart Rise to the Top

Posted by DCassilo on February 22nd, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a real college all-star game? First of all, it would give every team a break it needs, and second, seeing the top players face off would be great. Imagine something like Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Jeff Withey and Kelly Olynyk against Marcus Smart, Deshaun Thomas, Otto Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee and Cody Zeller. Personally, I would love to see Burke and Smart run their teams against each other. I know there is some lame all-star game during Final Four weekend, but a mid-season game is something that the NCAA should consider.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 15 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 SPG

It’s amazing that Smart not only is this great already but also has so much room for improvement. In the double-overtime loss against Kansas on Wednesday, he was the most important player on the floor despite going 2-of-14 from the field. One more offseason of workouts will make him a lethal player. This week: February 23 at West Virginia, February 27 at TCU

9. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk's Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation's Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

Kelly Olynyk’s Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation’s Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

There is likely no better frontcourt tandem in the nation than Olynyk and Elias Harris. The two combine to average 32.5 PPG and 14.4 RPG. There are few teams in the country that will be able to match up with that duo in the NCAA Tournament. This week: February 23 vs. San Diego, February 28 at BYU

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 20.1 PPG, 6 RPG

Thomas is just a straight-up gunner. He takes 16 shots per game and has scored in double-figures in every game this season. It seems nearly impossible to completely take him out of a game defensively. This week: February 24 vs. Michigan State, February 28 at Northwestern

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG

For all his accolades as a scorer, McDermott’s ability to rebound often gets overlooked. The 6’8″ junior has eight double-doubles so far this season and has hauled in as many as 13 rebounds in a game. This week: February 23 at St. Mary’s, February 27 at Bradley

6. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 13.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.0 BPG

At the most important part of the season, Withey is playing his best basketball. He’s had double-doubles in his last three games, which is something he hasn’t done all season. The 14 rebounds against Oklahoma State on Wednesday were a season-high. This week: February 23 vs. TCU, February 25 at Iowa State

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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Back at No. 1; A Farewell to Nerlens Noel

Posted by DCassilo on February 15th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

College basketball suffered a devastating loss when news broke that Nerlens Noel had torn his ACL in Tuesday’s game against Florida. Perhaps the best defender in the country, Noel was starting to come into his own offensively. The injury has once again sparked the debate about the one-and-done rule. First of all, know your target with this debate. It’s the NBA, not the NCAA. David Stern came up with the rule, but the biggest effects have been seen in college basketball. The positive for the NCAA has been increased exposure. Everyone wants a chance to see players like Noel before they hit the big show. But on the flip side, it’s tough on coaches who can’t plan their recruiting as easily as they used to. And finally, there’s the health risk for the player. This is another reason why I think there needs to be some sort of union-like body watching out for college athletes’ interest. If we knew a player like Noel would be taken care of financially in the event of an injury, I don’t think people would have as big a problem with the one-and-done rule.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG

The big man for Gonzaga is as consistent as they come, seemingly giving the Bulldogs somewhere between 15 and 20 points every single night. Some say this is the best Gonzaga team ever, and he deserves much of the credit for that. This week: February 16 at San Francisco, February 20 vs. Santa Clara

9. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

The drop for McLemore is mostly because of the terrific weeks by other players on this list. The freshman didn’t do too badly himself, as he poured in 30 points in a win over Kansas State. This week: February 16 vs. Texas, February 20 at Oklahoma State

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

As one of the few Buckeyes that can score, Thomas keeps posting 20-point games because he keeps getting a lot of shots. The junior has taken at least 15 shots in each of his last five games and fewer than 11 just once all season. This week: February 17 at Wisconsin, February 20 vs. Minnesota

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 23 PPG, 7.7 RPG

Losers of three straight and perhaps headed for a seat on the bubble, McDermott’s team is playing him out of the Player of the Year race. While he has played well, he’s missing the memorable performances he needs to overcome everything working against him. This week: February 16 at Evansville, February 19 vs. Southern Illinois Read the rest of this entry »

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Big East Monday Primer: Post-Super Bowl Edition

Posted by mlemaire on February 4th, 2013

The season is entering the home stretch and the games are getting more important by the day. To reflect that, we are putting together a Monday Primer which will basically recap important things from the weekend and then look ahead at important games during the week. Hope you enjoy!

What Happened This Weekend

1. Villanova undid all of the hard work they did in back-to-back wins over Louisville and Syracuse by losing at home to lowly Providence. The Friars had only nine players available and the Wildcats still couldn’t capitalize, shooting 27 percent from the field and making just 2-of-15 three-pointers. They had a chance down the stretch when they tied the game up with less than a minute to play but Bryce Cotton hit a big three to seal the win for the Friars. The Wildcats are young, so inconsistency isn’t unexpected, but it seems pretty clear this is not an NCAA Tournament team.

After last week went great, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

After last week, this week it was back to a lot of this for Jay Wright (Photo credit: H. Rumph Jr/AP Photo).

2. Pittsburgh scored the big upset of the weekend and added a good win to its resume by pulling away from No. 6 Syracuse in the second half. This really doesn’t even count as much of an upset considering Pitt has no business being unranked given their efficiency on both ends of the floor, but it is still an important win for the Panthers. Pitt is basically 10-deep, talented, and coach Jamie Dixon has the team rolling as they are winners of five of their last six. If they take care of business tonight against Seton Hall, they should be in great position for the home stretch.

3. It was the same old story this weekend for DePaul, which nearly staged a tough second-half comeback against Notre Dame only to lose by eight points in overtime. The Blue Demons have lost six straight and have just one conference win. Its still just his third season but given the lack of overall improvement in the league standings, the seat under coach Oliver Purnell might be getting a little warm. His team may need to show some signs of life if the program is going to give him another year to right the ship.

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