AAC M5: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by Mike Lemaire on December 17th, 2013

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  1. Tonight is a big one for the AAC as two of the name-brand programs that will actually still be in the conference next season are playing in New York as part of the Jimmy V Classic. There are few stages at this point in the season that are bigger than the Jimmy V Classic and to represent half of this year’s field is a big deal. Both games are big tests for Memphis and Cincinnati but there is one team with a lot more at stake at Madison Square Garden — Mick Cronin’s Bearcats. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten anybody worth talking about and they were mildly embarrassed in the Crosstown Classic by Xavier over the weekend. We have harped on the Bearcats’ offensive struggles, but perhaps surprisingly, the team’s biggest issue is an apparent lack of toughness. I am still putting the finishing touches on my white paper Advanced Methods of Quantifying Toughness, so it’s easier to just say they weren’t great on either end of the floor against the Musketeers. Still, toughness is ostensibly supposed to be one of the Bearcats’ hallmark competencies and they didn’t do a great job on the glass or defending the three-point line, so it would probably help if they toughened up in those areas.
  2. As a college basketball fan, it would have been awesome to see Florida’s much-hyped freshman Chris Walker suit up for the Gators tonight, but I bet Memphis fans are breathing a sigh of relief. Well okay, so it wasn’t likely that Walker was going to light the world on fire, but Memphis only plays two real big men in Austin Nichols and Shaq Goodwin (and Florida already had a size and athleticism advantage to begin with). The game will obviously be competitive, but it will be especially interesting to see how the personnel decisions on both sides shake out. Memphis will want to play three guards and the Gators will probably want to rotate Casey Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith at small forward — both of whom are too big and athletic for the Tigers’ guards. Josh Pastner is going to have to bring his A-Game to face a coach as good as Billy Donovan, and it will be fun to watch them match wits tonight.
  3. Although it will have no effect on the 2013-14 season, the news of UConn guard Rodney Purvis‘ shoulder surgery still made headlines on a slow news day. Purvis transferred from North Carolina State and is sitting out this year anyway, so it makes sense to fix a torn labrum in his left shoulder now so he can be ready for next season. I know… fascinating stuff. But it gives us an excuse to talk about Purvis, a former McDonald’s All-American who started 23 games as a freshman for the Wolfpack. He transferred without much fanfare but he is an athletic 6’4″, 200-pounder, who scored in double figures in 12 games last season. Granted, most of those games came before conference play and he was a bit more inconsistent as the competition improved, but he will be expected to take on the lion’s share of the load Shabazz Napier leaves behind. I don’t really know how what I just wrote has anything to do with his impending surgery, but that’s fine. Just log those few sentences away for now and call me out when I self-plagiarize for an impact transfer preview for next season.
  4. The conference’s banner program will also be in action tonight as Louisville hosts Missouri State. The Bears aren’t the same mid-major headache they once were, but they are 8-1 on the season and their only loss was on a neutral floor to Virginia, so they will be dangerous. Head coach Rick Pitino is especially worried about their potent three-point shooting ability, and while he is overstating their offensive brilliance a bit, he would be wise to make sure his team defends the three-point line. In the end, there is little chance that Missouri State has enough defensive ability to hang with the Cardinals on the road, even if Louisville is still missing scoring point guard Chris Jones. The bottom line is that the Bears will probably make it interesting in the first half but Louisville has more than enough horses to pull away in the second 20 minutes.
  5. The South Florida Bulls play host to Dunk City tonight as Brett Comer, Chase Fieler and the rest of the Florida Gulf Coast will be in town for an intrastate match-up. Although they are probably the less recognizable team, the Bulls will play as the favorites as the Eagles are struggling to recapture the magic from last season and have lost three of their last four games. Of course they are still the more compelling storyline for ESPN.com and thus Myron Medcalf wrote a worthy profile of life after last season’s NCAA Tournament run that is worth reading. It’s not AAC news necessarily… or like …at all. But we are equal-opportunity providers and when we see a good story with some connection to the league, you better believe we are posting it.
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Morning Five: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 17th, 2013

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  1. It turns out that we might never see this Florida team at full strength. After appearing to turn the corner both on the court and off of it with players returning from injury and enrolling in school, it appears that the Gators will be without South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, who has been suspended since the start of the season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. According to Billy Donovan, Harris has not demonstrated the necessary changes to lead him back to the team and Donovan said, “I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.” Although the Gators could certainly use some interior depth (Harris averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the 2011-12 season at South Carolina) they are probably more focused on getting Chris Walker eligible as he represents a bigger potential impact than what could be expected of Harris.
  2. We formally jumped on the Iowa bandwagon almost a month ago and now Dan Hanner is offering some advanced metrics to explain why you should believe in both Iowa and Iowa State. As Hanner notes, the Hawkeyes’ improvement in efficiency margin during Fran McCaffery’s has been remarkable and both teams are among the best in the nation in Sagarin’s margin-of-victory based predictor. Perhaps the most interesting part of Hanner’s column is about coaches whose teams peak early. Many of the names on the list consist of coaches who are often criticized, which is not too surprising, but one name on the list–Mike Krzyzewski–jumps out. Those who pay attention during the season and are able to analyze without being influenced by the Duke mystique will not be shocked by the result, but it is still interesting to see it put into numbers.
  3. North Carolina State transfer and former top-20 recruit Rodney Purvis will undergo arthroscopic surgery later today for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Purvis, who averaged 8.3 points per game last season, is sitting out this year at Connecticut after his transfer. According to reports, Purvis has been bothered by the injury since he was in high school so the timing of his surgery works out well since he is expected to take four to five months to recover from the surgery. Our only question is why he waited until the end of the semester to have the surgery if he had dealing with the issue that long since this will basically mean he is ready in time for off-season workouts rather than having a chance to be in shape several months earlier.
  4. Normally there is never a good time to get suspended indefinitely (ok, maybe the offseason when your team starts against a tough early schedule), but Utah State might actually catch a bit of break with the timing of its indefinite suspension of Jarred Shaw, its leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. Shaw, who is averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, was suspended for the popular undisclosed violation of team rules. The Aggies have a very manageable schedule until January 15 when they start a difficult two-week stretch so if they can find a way to get Shaw back by then they still could be in position to contend for an at-large bid even with a month-long absence from their best player.
  5. Yesterday, former UNLV forward Savon Goodman was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and must pay $1,370 in restitution after entering into a plea deal on larceny and trespassing charges. Goodman was accused of entering a “friend’s” apartment and stealing a pair of LeBron X sneakers, $500, and 26 video games. Goodman was able to get the charges down from grand larceny, burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary to misdemeanor petty larceny and trespassing. Goodman left the UNLV program in October and given his skill level we would not be surprised to see him pop up somewhere else soon.
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AAC M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on November 26th, 2013

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  1. Rodney Purvis can’t play this year, but he’s still helping the Huskies get off to a hot start. The former highly-touted recruit who transferred to UConn after a year at NC State has been the star member of the scout team, helping one of the nation’s top backcourts prepare for the likes of Dez Wells and Yogi Ferrell. The full year of practice will be crucial for Purvis, who likely will have to step into the sizeable shoes of Shabazz Napier next season. Of course, it may also be playing a pretty big role in Napier’s blazing start, which will have him in consideration for a number of postseason awards if he can maintain it. Based on the early returns, luring Purvis to Storrs looks to be a pretty major win-win for both he and head coach Kevin Ollie.
  2. Sean Kilpatrick was angry when coach Mick Cronin redshirted him due to a crowded backcourt and a mechanical flaw in his jump shot four years ago. Both he and Cronin have to be pretty pleased with how it worked out, though, as Kilpatrick now ranks #13 on the school’s all-time scoring list as a fifth-year senior. If he keeps up his current pace – he’s averaging nearly 20 PPG through five games – he could end up second on the list to some guy named Oscar Robertson. And while Cronin might have had some inkling that the little-recruited guard would help more down the road than right away, he almost certainly couldn’t have understood just how much. Kilpatrick is posting a ridiculously high 155.2 offensive rating through five games, vital for a mediocre offensive squad like the Bearcats. If he can approach that number during a key three-game swing next month – at New Mexico, then neutral court games with Xavier and Pitt – both he and his team will earn some rightful attention.
  3. Kevin Ware‘s eventful year (life?) continued with a plea deal involving a $268 fine, bringing the latest kerfuffle over a speeding ticket and missed court date to a merciful end. This follows Rick Pitino’s rather pointed press conference on the topic last week after he was apparently blindsided by the news. That all followed on the heels of, shall we say, some colorful tweets from Ware’s Twitter account to Anthony Davis, quickly deleted and attributed to hacking. That followed denials from Ware and Pitino of summer “reports” that Ware had been secretly dismissed from the team. All of that, of course, follows the gruesome injury in last season’s NCAA Tournament which catapulted the quiet reserve to national prominence. That followed an indefinite suspension last spring that lasted one game. Even that followed a recruitment which included a commitment to Tennessee, later withdrawn when Bruce Pearl was fired in the face of an NCAA probe, then a commitment to UCF, later withdrawn in the face of an NCAA probe, then a commitment to Louisville, delayed by a semester due to the NCAA probes. Seems like quite a bit of drama for a junior with a career high of 11 points, no? Whew.
  4. When Louisville went way off the board for the fifth member of its signing class last week, no one knew much of anything about Matz Stockman. He wasn’t ranked by any of the major recruiting watchers, nor had his name been tied to the Cardinals publicly before his papers came through the fax machine. Not even Rick Pitino had seen him play. Now that his team has played a few games on American soil, word has started to trickle out. Jerry Meyer of 247Sports says the seven-foot Norwegian will be a three-star recruit, one who has a good scoring touch near the basket but “will likely need a couple years of development before he is ready to compete at a Louisville type level.” A year ago, Louisville’s thin backcourt ended up with a walk-on as its only reserve in the Final Four, so the recruiting class featured three guards. It’s no coincidence that this year’s Cardinal frontcourt, which got exposed by North Carolina on Sunday, has led to Pitino bringing in three recruits 6’9” and taller.
  5. Another night, another couple of blown opportunities for AAC teams to earn a much-needed yet impossible to find quality win. First, Oklahoma State continued its roll through the conference with a 93-67 win at USF. Then Houston gave Stanford a tough test before falling in Brooklyn. And now the AAC nears the end of November with UConn’s two wins over a mediocre Maryland, and a young, inconsistent Indiana, and that’s about it. This is nice for the Huskies, but less great for the other teams that hoped for a few chances for quality wins in conference play to make up for weak non-conference slates. Now those opportunities might not be there, making it tougher to build an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume.
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Morning Five: 06.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 17th, 2013

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  1. We are not sure what to make of Jerome Seagers and his decision to transfer from Rutgers to Auburn then back to Rutgers in less than two months in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal and claims that he left Auburn because he wanted to be closer to his family in Maryland while recovering from his time at Rutgers. Basically the entire thing does not make any sense, which is how we often feel about many of these transfers. As you would expect Seagers will be eligible to play next season for Rutgers since he never played for Auburn although with the way the NCAA enforces rules we would not have been shocked if they made him sit out a year for his indecisiveness.
  2. With Ricky Ledo having sat out last season we had almost forgotten about him, but it appears that NBA scouts have not as the Providence freshman is getting plenty of workouts from NBA teams. Ledo, who was a partial qualifier, worked out with the Providence team last season and according to Providence coach Ed Cooley often played the role of the best player on the opposing team thanks to his skill set, which was certainly well above any of the Providence non-starters. We don’t think that Ledo’s presence last season would have made them a NCAA Tournament team last season, but if he performs well in the NBA you can be sure that more than a few Providence fans will be asking themselves what might have been if he had been able to wear a Friar uniform.
  3. We are never sure what to make of how college players perform at the international level or even in tryouts. Many times they can be an indication of a player making a leap to another level, but there have been many cases where players do not carry over that solid play to their college teams. The same can be said of poor performances. Still the decision by the USA U-19 National Team to cut Rodney Purvis and Shaq Goodwin from the team that they made last summer is an interesting one. As Mike DeCourcy notes both omissions were surprising given the way that Purvis performed in workouts and the lack of interior depth the team had that should have assured Goodwin a spot on the roster. While the team lacks a big college star outside of Marcus Smart it does contain an intriguing mix of players who would seem poised to become stars on their teams next season.
  4. The recruitment of Michael Chandler will be interesting because it was just two years ago that he was a top-50 recruit and a top-five center in the class of 2011. Of course, that was before he was declared academically ineligible and had to go to junior college ending up at Northwest Florida State where he averaged 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Even though some players particularly centers take a while to develop those are pretty uninspiring numbers from a player at that level trying to play Division I basketball. Still it appears Chandler has plenty of suitors including Purdue. Given Chandler’s output at the junior college level we would be surprised if he ended up being much more than a marginal contributor at the high-major level.
  5. On the other end of the spectrum we have Kadeem Allen, a first-team JUCO All-American, who has drawn interest from Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. Last week, Arizona formally extended Allen a scholarship offer. We don’t pretend to follow the JUCO scene that closely (our comments on Chandler were reflective of his low production not his actual game), but the people we follow who know the JUCO scene seem to believe that he is a high-major player and his first-team status suggests that is at least a reasonable possibility. Allen will spend another year at the JUCO level before heading to Division I, but he could be an interesting addition to whatever team he winds up playing for.
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Closing Out the ACC Microsite

Posted by mpatton on April 29th, 2013

Well, it was an up-and-down year in the ACC filled with injuries, March disappointments and one season for the history books. We here at the RTC ACC Microsite loved chronicling every minute of it. We’ll still be providing periodic coverage throughout the summer, looking towards the NBA Draft and next year, but this marks the official end of the 2012-13 season for us. If you start getting nostalgic, here are some good places to start (in chronological order).

  • Preseason ACC Awards: Still riding the highs of my Michael Snaer mancrush after his transcendent performance in the 2012 ACC Tournament, he took the preseason ACC POY nod. We clearly meant Olivier Hanlan, not Rodney Purvis when we picked the consummate scoring frosh, we just didn’t know it yet. At least we finished one for three by picking Jim Larranaga to win COY.
This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Martin Report feels like forever ago, but the academic jokes from North Carolina‘s rivals won’t stop for a long time. And those questions the report danced around are still out there.
  • Akil Mitchell is the best returning frontcourt man in the ACC, and Kellen was all over it last December. Especially without the likes of Mason Plumlee, Devin Booker and Alex Len, it’s fine to pencil him onto your 2013-14 preseason All-ACC teams right now.
  • Speaking of being ahead of the curve, it took us until three days into 2013 to take note of Hanlan and his freshman teammate Joe Rahon. After one of the best rookie performances in ACC Tournament history, it’s safe to say it won’t take that long next year. Also, with Scott Wood and Seth Curry graduating, it’s hard to see much competition for best shooter in the ACC.

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Big East M5: 04.03.13 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on April 3rd, 2013

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  1. In a swift and cataclysmic turn of events, Mike Rice went from temperamental curmudgeon to persona non grata over the course of yesterday afternoon, after ESPN released compromising video of the Rutgers practices that had earned Rice a suspension earlier this season. The video confirmed initial local reports that Rice had hurled basketballs at players in his first two seasons. More disturbingly, it also depicted Rice routinely putting his hands on athletes and hurling abusive, bigoted slurs in a way that appeared to create a thoroughly humiliating environment for Rutgers players. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti came to his coach’s defense after the video’s release, performing rhetorical somersaults in media interviews and remaining noncommittal on any future disciplinary actions against Rice. But based on the public outcry condemning Rice yesterday, casting his lot with Rice might have sealed Permetti’s fate as well rather than eased criticism of the third-year coach.
  2. In terms of potential incoming Big East transfers, UConn may be on the short list of destinations for NC State freshman combo guard Rodney Purvis. With Shabazz Napier and possibly Ryan Boatright out of the picture in 2014-15, Purvis could provide an explosive replacement by the time he’s eligible, and for that reason Dom Amore at the Hartford Courant says he “could be an ideal fit.” Amore also cautions that UConn’s staff, still smarting from NCAA sanctions, would closely scrutinize the academic issues that rendered Purvis ineligible at NC State for a time.
  3. Eric Crawford of WDRB (Louisville, KY) argues Russ Smith deserved to place better than the third team in the AP’s All-America recognitions. He says the notion of electing All-Americans before the NCAA Tournament begins is incongruous with a “sport that weights everything by its 68-team final exam.” Crawford points out that Smith averaged 26 points per game as he led his team to the Final Four, while first-teamers Otto Porter and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk were bounced in the first weekend. The Louisville guard is also on pace to score the most points in an NCAA Tournament since Glen Rice notched 184 in 1989, and already tied the event’s single-game steals record (eight) on the other end of the floor. More than anything, Smith’s example offers an indictment of opinion polls that don’t reward postseason performance.
  4. UConn’s athletic department confirmed in a press release yesterday that the Huskies would kick off the 2013-14 season against Maryland in the Barclays Center on November 8. Kevin Ollie emphasized that his team’s three New York City natives were particularly excited, as are UConn fans and alumni both in the city and within Metro North’s service footprint. Between opening in Barclays and participating in the Y2K Sports Classic in Madison Square Garden two weeks later, UConn will enjoy tremendous exposure in the Big Apple, which should help offset the demise of the Big East Tournament in the short term. The ability to sell these kinds of marquee non-conference homecoming games will be a huge asset on the recruiting trail as well. Ollie also let slip a comment about “expecting” his top six scorers to return, which perhaps indicates Ollie believes First-Team All-Big East guard Shabazz Napier will forgo the NBA draft.
  5. Departing Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby has narrowed his transfer prospects down to Missouri and Illinois, and will reportedly settle on a home for his final two years of eligibility this month. The 6’2″ Kentucky native, who averaged 12.6 PPG and shot 40% from beyond the arc, had chosen Kevin Willard’s program over an offer from Indiana. But Seton Hall’s struggles seemed to play a role in Cosby’s decision to transfer, as he cites a desire to play for “Top 25 NCAA Tourney caliber teams” like the Tigers and Illini. And that’s the real red flag for Willard, as out of state kids like Cosby and Aquille Carr have been integral to his rebuilding efforts.
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ACC M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 2nd, 2013

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  1. Raleigh News & Observer: Mark Gottfried’s roster at NC State took two more hits Monday, as CJ Leslie (unsurprisingly) announced he was headed for the NBA Draft and Rodney Purvis (more surprisingly) announced he is transferring. While there were some rumblings about Purvis, his loss is a big blow to NC State’s next season. Instead of bringing back two of the more accomplished sophomores in the ACC, NC State will bring back TJ Warren (and Tyler Lewis, who should improve markedly with more college conditioning). That means that all five starters from this year’s team are now gone, but there should be some addition by subtraction here (although there’s probably a lot more subtraction).
  2. Yahoo! Sports: As you almost certainly know, Duke took a beating from Louisville in Indianapolis Sunday night. The game was neck-and-neck until Duke appeared to run out of gas midway through the second half. Who knows how much was Duke’s lack of lateral quickness on the perimeter, how much was just injuries piling up, and how much was just the better team taking control. Watching from home it appeared to be some combination of all three. Duke just couldn’t get stops, as Peyton Siva and Russ Smith came to life. It’s a shame this wasn’t a Final Four game, though. Duke’s resume deserved that much, and the game would’ve likely stayed competitive for longer with more rest for the Blue Devils. But Louisville was the sharpest buzzsaw Duke has seen since the beatdown it took at Coral Gables back in February.
  3. Chapelboro: For two coaches in the rivalry on Tobacco Road, you don’t see many direct comparisons of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. That’s largely because they’re two very different coaches with completely different styles both on and off the court. Both fan bases to some extent complain about their quirks (i.e., why won’t Coach K develop his bench more? Why won’t he play zone against athletically superior teams? Why won’t Williams change his system to fit his roster? Why won’t Williams start PJ Hairston?), but direct comparisons largely come out looking dumb. Coach K has the better overall resume, hands down; but Roy Williams has the more successful decade. This article comes across as someone who felt personally offended by the praise heaped on Krzyzewski. It’s true he hasn’t continued the unseemly Final Four pace of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but he’s also had two seasons hurt dramatically by injury (this season and 2010-11). Both years, Duke looked like the prohibitive favorite before long-term injuries hit. Likewise, North Carolina lost 2009-10 to the NBA Draft and 2011-12 to untimely injuries (I still contend the Tar Heels were the only team with a chance against Kentucky). They’re both great coaches. They both deserve praise.
  4. Hampton Roads Daily Press: David Teel ruminated a bit on Syracuse possibly winning the ACC in its first season next year. Right now — before the NBA Draft declarations, which could hurt the Orange a lot — I’d put Syracuse right behind Duke. The teams in the ACC with the most to gain or lose from early entries are the Orange and North Carolina. If both teams keep nearly all of their talent, they’ll be in very good places. If not, they both could struggle. But if nothing else, this article should remind you that the future ACC has two Final Four teams still standing.
  5. Washington Post: Maryland is the last ACC team remaining in the NIT. The Terrapins take on Iowa in the semifinals in a match-up of two “snubbed” power conference teams. Ironically that means Maryland’s season is coming full circle and back to New York City, which is where it began on November 9 against Kentucky. Mark Turgeon is looking at a different team now: They’ve got different expectations but are playing with the same fire the country saw back then.

EXTRA: The side story from Duke’s Elite Eight game was gruesome but also one of the rawest emotional moments you could ever see on live TV. After Kevin Ware broke his leg, the shock through the stadium spread like wildfire. CBS’ cameras caught Tyler Thornton catching a glimpse of Ware’s leg, causing the Duke guard to look physically pained. The reaction from the Louisville bench was even more visceral with several players ending up on the floor and others reportedly vomiting. I personally thought CBS did a masterful — and lucky — job with the injury. They captured some of the most poignant moments from the NCAA Tournament while also maintaining a respectful distance.

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Rushed Reactions: Miami 81, NC State 71

Posted by mpatton on March 16th, 2013

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Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Miami’s win over NC State in the ACC semifinals on Saturday afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown have a team to watch this month.

Mark Gottfried and Lorenzo Brown have a team to watch this month.

  1. NC State is Dangerous: Don’t count NC State out after this loss. The Wolfpack were tired and beat up. They ran into a buzzsaw Miami backcourt and couldn’t overcome a slow start and bad free throw shooting. But they didn’t give up down the stretch. Richard Howell was playing with a deep bruise on his thigh, visibly hurting, but he hit the floor trying for loose balls just like always. One thing you know about NC State is that it will put points on the board (and a lot of them). Especially with Rodney Purvis acting as a defensive spark plug (coming into the season, who would’ve thought that?), there’s a lot to like about NC State’s chances in the Big Dance.
  2. Larkin and Scott Show: Durand Scott and Shane Larkin put on a clinic for Miami. They accounted for 68% of Miami’s points and also dished out a combined eight assists. When NC State tried to make a game of it, Larkin iced the game with free throws. One area Larkin has really improved this season is his decision-making. He still gets up in the air without knowing what he’ll do, and definitely makes high risk plays from time to time. But Larkin’s strength is his ability to play near the edge. Where last season his high risk plays ended in turnovers, his maturity is really showing this year by dropping his turnover percentage five points despite increased possessions.
  3. Miami’s Weapons: Here’s the scary thing with Miami. Larkin and Scott ruled the day, but Miami’s true strength is inside. Kenny Kadji had an off day–despite being a real mismatch for NC State — and Julian Gamble was relatively quiet despite being effective. It’s high time people realized Reggie Johnson isn’t going to be as efficient as in the past, but he still can be a very effective offensive player. Gamble is the most improved player in the ACC, maybe even the country. He’s incredibly light on his feet for his size and plays within himself.

Star of the Game: Durand Scott played like a man possessed. He played the best game of his career, bringing back memories of his dominant performance against Duke his freshman year (the 21-point performance in the ACC Tournament that caused many to rank Miami highly the next two years). After hitting a big three in the second to half — quieting the NC State run — Scott held his follow-through for a good five or six seconds.

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T.J. Warren is the Right Answer to the Wrong Question

Posted by KCarpenter on February 22nd, 2013

Poor defensive rebounding is a well-known weakness of the North Carolina State Wolfpack. As gifted as this team is offensively, shoddy interior defense and an inability to snag defensive rebounds have been a thorn in the side of Mark Gottfried all season. So in an attempt to supercharge his lineup’s skills on the boards, Gottfried went big and started 6’8″ T.J. Warren at small forward and benched fellow freshman Rodney Purvis. The move paid off big time in a game that saw near-total board dominance against the overmatched Florida State Seminoles. At least, that’s the narrative that we were treated to here.

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Warren’s Inclusion in the Starting Lineup Paid Off; Or Did It? (credit: newobserver.com)

Starting Warren over Purvis is a move that makes a lot of sense, but there are a few things about this story that don’t add up. First, was it the lineup change that led to such a great game? I doubt it. Florida State is the worst rebounding team in the conference — everyone kills them on the boards. They are ranked 242nd in the nation on the offensive glass. They are even worse on the defensive boards. Out of 347 Division I schools, there are only 27 that are worse on the defensive boards than the Seminoles.  If the test for successful rebounding was being able to handle FSU, the bar was set incredibly low.

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Top Recruit Julius Randle Praises Wolfpack

Posted by mpatton on February 1st, 2013

Julius Randle is currently being pursued by NC State. He’s a 6’9″ power forward ranked second by Rivals, fourth by ESPN.com and fifth by Scout. With Richard Howell departing after this season (and CJ Leslie potentially joining him), Randle would be a huge get for head coach Mark Gottfried. Randle took his official visit to Raleigh to watch NC State knock off rival North Carolina for ESPN Gameday last weekend, and by his account it was a huge success.

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Julius Randle loved his trip to Raleigh. (photo credit: Kye R. Lee / Dallas Morning News)

Right off the bat, Randle went and saw a nearly life-sized wall mural a Wolfpack fan had painted for him. He got a chance to hang with students Friday night and then absorbed the PNC Arena atmosphere for the big game. He used the word “loud” (or “loudest”) five times describing the fans. But then comes the part Wolfpack fans will love:

I think the biggest thing I learned over the weekend was that if I came there they wouldn’t have to change anything about their system for me. It just fits me. Other coaches talk about what they’ll change for me, but with State they don’t have to do that. That’s big. All in all, I’d have to say that this was my best visit so far. I had a ball at Kentucky, and yeah they had Drake and everything, but this visit just had a lot more going on.

When you go toe-to-toe with John Calipari in recruiting and come out with an advantage, you’ve done something right. NC State’s visit reduced Randle’s Kentucky visit to “yeah they had Drake and everything.” It definitely helped that there was a real game to attend and a rivalry one at that, but that’s still impressive. Now you definitely have to take blogs like these with a grain of salt: What high school kid wouldn’t love an official visit with the VIP treatment? That said, it sounds like Randle really bought into Gottfried’s system and the environment in Raleigh.

We won’t know anything for sure until Randle makes a final decision, but his blog certainly gives some first-hand insight into how Gottfried has succeeded so quickly on the recruiting trail.

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On NC State and Gambling: Why the Wolfpack Defense Has to Improve, Or Else

Posted by mpatton on January 10th, 2013

Matt Patton (@rise_and_fire) is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after NC State’s win over Georgia Tech last night in Raleigh.

NC State is probably the second best team in the ACC. The Wolfpack are experienced and talented. But they’re also a mixed bag thanks to their less than stellar defensive efficiency. The Wolfpack is a team of runs on both ends of the floor. These aren’t the normal runs of basketball cliche, they’re the runs of a degenerate gambler. On defense the gambler is often Rodney Purvis leaking out before NC State secures the rebound. Nearly two-thirds of the time, it’s a good gamble because the Wolfpack corrals the rebound. Otherwise NC State’s defense struggles to get reset, and the opponent gets a second chance with the odds in its favor. On offense the gambler is generally Lorenzo Brown or CJ Leslie looking for the home run play but instead turning the ball over.

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Rodney Purvis is already an emotional leader for NC State. (Photo: Ethan Hyman / Raleigh News & Observer)

Those runs outlasted Boston College and Georgia Tech in the final minutes. Experience, talent and conditioning helped too. Those runs almost brought the Wolfpack back from what looked like a blowout against Michigan. Those runs never made an appearance in Oklahoma State’s rout of the Wolfpack. The runs come at a defensive cost, but NC State’s offense is elite because of its defensive gambles. It is unstoppable in transition for four reasons: the Purvis leak, Brown is a terror leading the break, Leslie runs the floor as anyone without the last name “Zeller,” and the icing on the cake is Wood trailing after that. Long story short, everyone but Richard Howell (one of the best defensive rebounders in the ACC) is a great option. Lots of options with a capable floor general leads to transition success better or comparable to any team in the country.

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NC State’s Beatdown: How The Wolfpack Got Cowboyed

Posted by KCarpenter on November 19th, 2012

On paper, the match-up between North Carolina State and Oklahoma State seemed to favor the Wolfpack. NC State has a one of the best rebounders in the country in Richard Howell while C.J. Leslie can, at times, be relentless on the glass. Meanwhile, the Cowboys were one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation last year. The math seemed simple: Even given an off-shooting night, NC State would win the battle of the boards. Even moving beyond the frontcourt, NC State’s cast of skilled veterans and talented rookies was supposed to make this team the easy favorite in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Yet when the final buzzer sounded, the Wolfpack was a 20-point loser to the Cowboys. What went wrong?

Mark Gottfried Has to Deal With Expectations Now…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie failed to make an impact on the game because they were hampered by foul trouble. The two talented players couldn’t stay on the court because of the relentless interior attack of Oklahoma State. Both players fouled out, with Howell tallying 16 minutes and Leslie managing 17. With those two gone, the Wolfpack lost their advantage in rebounding and ultimately ended up with only 27 rebounds to the Cowboys’ 42. By nullifying NC State’s clearest plus, Travis Ford’s team opened the door for an upset.

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