ACC M5: 02.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 22nd, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. RDU Blog: The Raleigh-Durham International Airport is in the process of “modernizing” Terminal 1. What is the first new restaurant listed? ACC American Cafe. The ACC is partnering with HMS Host to bring you “a range of farm-to-market dishes along with entrees inspired by the home cities of ACC teams.” So take that Big Ten! You may have a network, but the ACC has an overpriced restaurant in an airport! Really though, it’s hard to frame this story. What exactly is the ACC going for? Alternate revenue streams, visibility, a spark of creativity? There are some questions without an answer.
  2. Raleigh News & Observer: Despite his college success, Sean May never really fit into the NBA, but now he and fellow Tar Heel teammate Jawad Williams are getting the cure for their professional basketball itch in France. The two are making good money (the best in their league) and get to be centerpieces — like in college — rather than afterthoughts in the NBA. They seem to be enjoying each other’s company and the team regardless of replacing chartered flights with cramped bus rides. I’m really not doing the article enough credit.
  3. Syracuse Post-Gazette: Syracuse may not be in the ACC just yet, but Tyler Cavanaugh did some serious trolling on the Orange’s indirect behalf after his trip to Boston College. Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed. Describing the student section, he said, “I’d say maybe 20 [students]. It was kinda dead. There was really no energy in the arena. As far as the atmosphere, this was the worst place we’d seen.” Call it the bitterness of a close game lost or some childhood biases resurfacing, but Cavanaugh gets feisty for his post card.
  4. BC Interruption: Speaking of Boston College, the Eagles actually are starting to look like they’re in decent shape for the future, after Steve Donahue found a diamond in the rough in Olivier Hanlan (to go with fellow DITR Dennis Clifford). Hanlan is one of the most exciting players to watch in the conference. There still aren’t enough pieces surrounding him, but he seems to improve with each game instead of running into the wall. If the training staff in Chestnut Hill can find a way to manage Clifford’s injury, Boston College could find itself middle of the pack.
  5. Richmond Daily Progress: I’m not sure why Jerry Ratliffe thinks CJ Leslie will be in the conversation for first-team All-ACC so far, much less conference Player of the Year. Leslie has been his normal, mercurial self all season. He’s balanced his excellence with a decent dose of mediocrity (or disappearance) like many worried he would. Erick Green, Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin are virtual locks for the first team with Kenny Kadji and Michael Snaer (on clutchness alone) nipping at their heels. There’s still plenty of basketball to be played though, so don’t count anyone out just yet.
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ACC Greats Honored By NCAA

Posted by mpatton on December 12th, 2012

In honor of the 75th anniversary of March Madness, the NCAA released a list of the top 75 players, top 35 moments and top 25 teams from college basketball yore. Like most lists, there was some historical bias. Twenty players made the list from the 1980s, a full eight guys more than the next closest decade. The 2000s were also underrepresented with only seven players making the cut (including Shelvin Mack?) — which was less than any other complete decade besides the 1940s. There were some snubs and some who probably shouldn’t have made the cut, but the list is a good place to start.

Duke and North Carolina shine as NCAA honors past greats.

Duke and North Carolina shine as NCAA honors past greats.

The ACC representatives include six players from Duke, six from North Carolina (coincidence?), one from NC State, one from Virginia, one from Georgia Tech and one from Maryland. Future ACC members Syracuse (one), Notre Dame (one) and Louisville (two) also would expand the ACC haul. Duke’s selections, headlined by three members of the back-to-back national championship teams in 1991-92, spanned a decade (1984-94) except for Shane Battier. North Carolina’s representatives saw a much broader span, kicking off with Lennie Rosenbluth in 1957 and finishing up with Sean May and Tyler Hansbrough in 2005 and 2009, respectively. NC State’s David Thompson – arguably the best player in ACC history — headlined the honorees from other schools. Speaking of Thompson, his Wolfpack championship team of 1974 and Duke’s repeat championship teams were the only two teams outside of Chapel Hill to make the team list (whose only championship team to miss the cut was 2004-05). Since the list is honoring March Madness, it’s hard to get too upset about leaving off teams like Duke’s runner-up in 1998-99 or UNLV’s runner-up 1990-91 squad, but the list feels a little weak since it’s mostly populated by teams that won the national title as the undisputed best team.

We’ll have more on snubs and a ranking of the conference selections after the list has time to marinate a little bit.

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RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by KDoyle on November 7th, 2011

Today is the day! Not only does this evening mark the opening night of college hoops, but it is also represents the unveiling of our preseason edition of the weekly Top 25. From now until the conclusion of the regular season, you can count on our editing team here at RTC to provide you with their rankings of the Top 25 every Monday afternoon. In the interest of full disclosure, we’ll be sure to show our editors’ ballots so if you’re wondering how on earth your team could possibly be ranked so low, you’ll know who the culprit is that didn’t give your guys the respect. In conjunction with the rankings, we’ll also provide our quick ‘n dirty analysis that notes any trends and interesting items each week to give the poll a little more context. To see how we did last year, check out our 2010-11 preseason poll - some good (Butler, Kentucky); some not so much (Michigan State, Villanova).

QnD after the jump…

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A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final Four

Posted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011

Until the season kicks off, we’re going to be taking weekly trips to the ACC and NCAA Vaults to look at classic ACC games of yore.

Rashad McCants

Rashad McCants' college career is sometimes overshadowed by his failed stint in the NBA.

In honor of the upcoming Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina, here’s a look back at the 2005 Final Four game between the Spartans and Tar Heels. Watching the game was also a great reminder of just how good Roy Williams‘ 2004-05 squad was (especially with regards to depth). The 2005 national championship team probably had a talent advantage over the current team at every position:

  • Point Guard: Raymond Felton over Kendall Marshall
  • Shooting Guard: Rashad McCants over Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock
  • Forward: Jackie Manuel, David Noel, Jawad Williams and Marvin Williams over Harrison Barnes, John Henson and James McAdoo (this is the most up-in-the-air position, but I’d give the 2005 team a slight advantage for going four players deep)
  • Center: Sean May over Tyler Zeller

See highlights and analysis after the jump.

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ACC Morning Five: 10.06.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 6th, 2011

  1. The Pitt News: Pittsburgh‘s student newspaper gives Panther fans a snark-filled rundown of what they can expect from ACC member schools. Highlights include: “The most recent U.S. News & World Report ranked Duke’s undergraduate program No. 10 in the nation, which is also the lowest Dick Vitale has ever ranked the basketball program,” or “Wake Forest admits students who correctly complete the analogy “Demon Deacon basketball is to _______ as DePaul basketball is to the Big East.” Really all of the descriptions are gold, though NC State’s The Hangover reference left me wondering whether Greg Trietley knows that Zach Galifianakis actually attended NC State
  2. CBSSports.com: Jeff Goodman managed to catch up with North Carolina alumnus Sean May in Europe and ask him about Gary Parrish’s recent post claiming this might be Roy Williams‘ best team at UNC. It suffices to say, May was not convinced: “It’s not even close [...] Overall, talent-wise, I think we were better.” While his initial assessment is a slight overstatement, May does provide pretty solid evidence for his squad, though I’ll still stick with the 2008-09 team for most dominant (if not most talented).
  3. ESPNHS: Senior Mitch McGary is the second rated prospect for 2012 according to ESPNU, and he’s cut his list to five including three ACC schools. The obvious leaders appear to be Michigan, Duke and North Carolina, which are the only schools McGary officially visited. McGary wrote a blog post for ESPN talking about his top schools in addition to reviewing Jay-Z and Kanye’s album “Watch the Throne” and J. Cole’s new album “Cole World: the Sideline Story.” For what it’s worth, recruiting guru Dave Telep thinks McGary is probably leaning towards Michigan, but I wouldn’t count Roy Williams or Mike Krzyzewski out just yet.
  4. The Diamondback – Terrapin Trail: Maryland‘s student newspaper sat down with new basketball coach Mark Turgeon and talked everything recruiting. Turgeon also noted the transition to working at Maryland has been easier than when he first started at Texas A&M. The observant Maryland reporter also spotted Curtis Malone, the president of DC Assault, talking up one of Turgeon’s assistants. One thing that got under Maryland fans’ collective skins–especially late in his career–was Gary Williams‘ lack of interest in dealing with AAU coaches.
  5. The Daily Orange: Syracuse‘s student newspaper dredged up a little bad blood the school has with Virginia politics in a very good piece about the Orange’s first invite to join the ACC back in 2003. Eventually the invitation was rescinded, as Virginia threatened to leave the ACC if Virginia Tech wasn’t one of the new teams. While I certainly don’t advocate reneging on one’s word, it’s tough to argue with Virginia Tech’s selection (they’ve been consistently competitive in football and basketball). Regardless, it’s an interesting piece that may have the seeds of a new conference rivalry.
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09.14.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2009

In the last week or so, we’ve noticed that the days are distinctly shorter than they were, which means only one thing…  darkness.

  • What, no Matt Doherty?  Carolina celebrated its 100 years of basketball with a blowout extravaganza two Fridays ago featuring such UNC luminaries as Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Phil Ford, Larry Brown, Antawn Jamison, George Karl, Julius Peppers and a bunch of other dignitaries, both past and present.  The tribute video they presented at the beginning of the evening should be mandatory viewing for every recruit that steps into Chapel Hill (sidenote: 2010 #1 Harrison Barnes and several others were there), but the featured event was the scrimmage, nicknamed the “Professional Alumni Game,” where the White team (starters: Raymond Felton, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse) defeated the Blue team (Vince Carter, Jawad Williams, Dante Calabria, Sean May and Ed Cota) 113-92.  It sounds great and all, but it was the trotting out of that old Carolina/Dean Smith warhorse, the Four Corners offense, that just about made this writer puke.  Let’s sully one of the greatest collections of collegiate talent ever put together in a single place at a single time by reminiscing and celebrating one of the biggest abominations the game has ever witnessed.  For you youngsters, the 4C was largely responsible for the implementation of the 45-second shot clock in the mid-80s, and is widely ridiculed as one of the worst inventions of the modern game.  Bad, bad idea, Heels.  As another sidenote to this Carolina joyfest, did anyone else feel that MJ’s acceptance speech at the HOF induction last weekend was completely petty and mean-spirited?  From our cheap seats, it appears that more than one Jordan Myth was defused this weekend (h/t TBL).
  • Memphis Appeals.  Last week Memphis sent its timely notice of appeal to the NCAA based on the Derrick Rose Scandal, arguing that the Tigers’ 38 wins and NCAA Tournament runner-up appearance from 2007-08 should not be removed from the history books.  Among the findings that led to the penalties, the only one that Memphis is appealing is the violation involving Derrick Rose’s SAT score.  This is presumably because it is also the most difficult one to prove (cf. with Memphis getting cold-busted for providing illicit airfare and hotels to Reggie Rose).  The school, now represented by “NCAA defender to the stars” Mike Glazier, has thirty days to present its arguments to the NCAA Infractions Committee, and their argument is going to undoubtedly hinge on the seeming inconsistency of Derrick Rose being cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to his freshman season only to be later deemed ineligible after the fact.  Sadly for Memphis, in this case and in the real world, what is an apparent inconsistency is incongruent with the fact that the justice system (and the NCAA) doesn’t work like that.  The bottom line is this: so long as the Clearinghouse made a good faith effort to determine the basis for Rose’s initial eligibility (and we presume it did), the revelation of later evidence indicting Rose’s SAT provenance has no bearing on the initial assessment.  The NCAA had no basis to believe that Rose had cheated on his SATs until the allegations surfaced after his freshman year.  The real-world analogy would be if the police did a cursory investigation of someone related to a crime and found no evidence to initially support their involvement, only to receive credible information a year later that the person investigated might have indeed committed the crime.  Rose was no more “cleared” than any of us are - there is no ”get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can present in perpetuity; if additional information comes to light, it is entirely reasonable for conditions to change in response.  Furthermore, the fact that Rose then ignored three letters from ETS (who administers the SAT) questioning his score, and two other letters from the NCAA requesting an interview, does not help his case.  Unless he plans on showing up to the NCAA hearing on Memphis’ behalf with evidence to the contrary (LOLable), we’re afraid that Memphis is going to be forced to eat those 38 wins and the $600K they stand to lose here.  Maybe Josh Pastner could simply request that Rose write him a check?
  • Back To Renardo Sidney.  The NCAA stated last Friday that Mississippi St.’s Renardo Sidney is not certified to play this season because his family did not turn over the financial documentation that they requested as part of the investigation into how the Sidneys afforded to live in high-end homes in the LA area.  Or as they put it, Sidney is “not certified due to non response.”  The NCAA went on to say that if or when the Sidneys send the information requested (and not a stack of random papers they found in someone’s locker), then his certification will be re-evaluated.  What does all this mean?  Basically, the NCAA doesn’t want to get caught with its pants down again, as in the cases of OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose where they certified players as initially eligible only to watch as those same players danced on the NCAA Clearinghouse’s grave en route to the NBA.  Sidney’s attorney is threatening lawsuit, and we suspect that his argument “that the Sidney family has to establish the existence of non-violations” probably has some merit, but none of this may matter given we’re only two months from the first games and the justice system moves slower than molasses.  It’s unlikely that MSU will risk playing Sidney while the wheels of justice are turning simply because they don’t want a Rose giveback of all the Ws they’re anticipating this season.
  • Vegas Watch: Big Ten.  VW got his third installment of the major conference previews up today, and once again we were invited along for the peep show.  What’s interesting about the Big Ten ratings is that we all pretty much agreed that Purdue is the best team in the conference in 09-10, but (at least for our money) Michigan St. is the team more likely to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.  Another good exercise, and the league is looking at being way up – up to seven solid NCAA bids this season.  For the ACC and Big 12 ratings and discussion, see these posts.
  • Quick HitsSlam Magazine: finished its Top 25.  Arizona St.: more than just Harden and PendergraphParrish: why Butler is no Boise.   Goodman: 25 players you should know for 09-10, and his all-americans (John Wall for POY = bold).  Incredible Shrinking Center: Memphis’ Pierre Henderson-NilesJim Griffin: RIPJohn Pelphrey at Arkansas: agreedSeton Hall: extends Bobby Gonzalez to 2015Florida St.: haven’t we heard this song before?  Travis Ford: wow, how do you get a 10-year extension after one year on the job?  Larry Eustachy: Gillispie has a diseaseFreshmen: here’s the top 20 for 09-10Memphis: down to 8 scholarship playersBlue Ribbon: go ahead and order it.
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Team of the 2000s: #1 – North Carolina

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

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Ed. Note: check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

And so we reach the pinnacle.  Ladies and gentlemen, prep yourselves, as this will come as a complete shocker… but your #1 program of the last decade is the North Carolina Tar Heels.  We know that you were probably thinking it was Gonzaga or Pittsburgh, but alas, the fine programs from Washington and Pennsylvania will have to wait another decade for the RTC Good Hoopskeeping seal of approval.

Be sure to check back Monday as we’ll do some clean-up on the series, including a look at some of the programs who just missed the top ten.

#1 – North Carolina

team2000sunc2

Overview.  Maybe we should just call it the Decade of Roy Williams.  After all, most of Carolina’s success in the 2000s is directly attributable to Ol’ Roy.  If you consider his 111 more wins at Kansas, three more trips to the NCAA’s second weekend and two additional F4s in the decade, you’re looking at a coaching juggernaut.  But Roy isn’t North Carolina and UNC isn’t Roy – it only feels that way.  This is about UNC, and despite a one-season blip in 2001-02 that time has forgotten, mostly accounting for their relatively poor overall winning percentage, the Heels have the goods in almost every other way.  Were they as consistent as Duke or Michigan State?  Nope.  Were they as much of a conference titan as KU or their hated rival in Durham?  Nope again.  But their numbers stack up very well in all categories across the board, and they’ve utterly dominated the second half of the 2000s in much the same way that Duke/Kentucky lorded over their respective halves of the 90s.  From 2005-09, the Heels have won two national championships with completely different casts, went to another F4, lost in OT in an Elite Eight and lost in the second round against the biggest Cinderella of the last quarter-century.  Not.  Too.  Shab.  The Heels didn’t have as much success during the first half of the decade, but they still managed to tack on another F4 as an absurd #8 seed in 2000, as well as two other second round appearances and an NIT appearance.  All the while continuing to produce a slew of  all-americans and NBA draft picks.  What separates Carolina in our eyes is the second championship that Roy hung next to the others in 2009.  Florida’s 06/07 back-to-back was extremely impressive, because everyone knows just how difficult it is to repeat in college basketball.  But in our view, it’s even more impressive to endure massive defections of NBA talent the likes of which UNC had from 2005-07 and still be able to climb the mountaintop a mere four years later.  A reasonable argument could be made that UNC was the best team in the country in four of the last five seasons (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), and it wouldn’t necessarily render you a nutjob to contemplate it.  So North Carolina is our choice for the top program of the 2000s, and with the second championship currently shimmering in the Chapel Hill sunlight, we’re not convinced that any other school should be higher.

unc title 2005

Pinnacle.  The 2005 national championship.  Just three short years removed from the worst Carolina season in modernity (more on this later), UNC was once again the king of the college basketball world.  What seemed a million and one miles away under Matt Doherty’s tenure felt like a natural outcome under the coolest of cats, Roy Williams.  One of the very proudest fanbases in America could once again claim basketball supremacy, and after what they had been through, it must have felt like raining gold coins from heaven.   Carolina’s fourth national championship team was led by Sean May, Rashad McCants and Ray Felton, but it was a long, lean freshman by the name of Marvin Williams who saved the Heels from a trademarked (at the time) Roy collapse when he rebounded a wild reverse layup from the sometimes-erratic McCants and punched it back in for a 72-70 lead.  A Felton steal later and several desperation three attempts by the Illini, and the monkey was most definitely off of Roy’s back.  His back is so light right now that he turned around and did it again in 2009 and looks primed to have several more shots at it before he retires a Carolina hero.

Tailspin.   Without question, the 2001-02 UNC team represents the worst season for a traditional powerhouse school in two decades.  But just as Duke was Team of the 1990s despite the Pete Gaudet Incident; UNC made up for its one bad year with plenty of success the rest of the decade.  In ACC circles, UNC’s record of 8-20 is still brought up as a euphemism for terrible.  And that team was terrible – eight of their twenty losses were of the 20+ point variety as teams who had long been pushed around by UNC wasted no time in returning the favor, if only for a year.  It began with three straight opening losses to the likes of Hampton, Davidson and Indiana, continued with a series of whippings by Kentucky, Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke and Ohio (at home), but the most embarrassing part of the entire season had to be the Heels’ last game of the year in the ACC Tournament.  Deciding that UNC simply couldn’t stack up talent-wise with the defending national champion Blue Devils (who had defeated them by a total of 54 pts in their regular season meetings), Matt Doherty decided to slow the game down to a veritable crawl, holding the ball until under-ten on the shot clock before running a play.  The typically entertaining and high-scoring Duke-Carolina showdown was bastardized into a 28-22 at the half Big Ten game.  Doherty got one more year to turn the ship around, but a near-mutiny at the end of the 2002-03 season led to the Roy Williams era.

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Outlook for 2010s:  Grade: A+.   Roy Williams is 59 years old and is showing no signs of slowing down.  Unlike other coaches his age, he seems to embrace recruiting and it pays off year after year with NBA caliber talent coming through his program.  By our count, Williams has recruited an absurd THIRTY McDonald’s All-Americans in his twenty-one years of coaching (average: 1.4 per year) at Kansas and UNC, and there are no signs of this receding (14 at Carolina already, including four incoming freshman for 2009-10).  Duke is the only other program with thirty or more.  Furthermore, there’s absolutely no chance of Williams taking any other job, NBA or college – he’ll be at UNC until retirement.  We fully expect UNC to continue to make F4s and compete for championships throughout the next decade, and the Heels may be right here on top of this list again ten years from now.

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07.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 29th, 2009

Things were VERY quiet over the weekend, but as always, RTC brings you the hostess with the mostess…

  • Summer Hypocrisy Trail.  We spend a lot of time around here criticizing the NCAA, its administrators, coaches and enablers for their acute sense of self-serving righteousness mixed with hypocrisy as it relates to their various policies of doing business.  A couple of stories caught our eye to this effect over the past few days.  The first was Pete Thamel’s NYT piece exposing how summer camp organizers are charging exorbitant fees to coaches for the privilege of watching its players in the stands (along with a fancy-schmancy binder of player names and hometowns, whoop-de-damn-do).  Prices range from $175-$350, depending on the locale, but coaches are uniformly annoyed with such a major additional expense to their recruiting budgets.  Vandy’s Kevin Stallings has taken the lead on criticizing the practice (he refused to pay the fee at a Memphis camp, turning around and driving back home), but predictably, those coaches who get their bread buttered by virtue of cozy relationships with the camp organizers (K, Howland, Matta, etc.) will not speak out publicly about this trend.  And as Dana O’Neil showed in her article about a coach’s banquet in Las Vegas put on by camp organizers, there’s often very little accountability with respect to where all these fee dollars are flowing.  Organizers make claims about funding AAU trips, tournaments and “feeding their families,” but as we’ve seen with allegations involving Renardo Sidney and others, the paper trail on where money ends up is often ambiguous and fraught with obfuscation.  Of course, none of this should surprise you or us – the system is so completely dirty at the AAU level that we truly wonder if the NCAA will ever succeed in rooting it out.  The genie is already out of the bottle, and for every World Wide Wes out there, a hundred others are gunning to take his place.  Mike DeCourcy, for what it’s worth, thinks that the coaches should just STFU, and he’s probably right.  Still it doesn’t change the fact that, without regulation of these camps, nobody except the organizers really know what these dollars are being used for.  
  • Summer of Lawsuits.  An odd lawsuit has arisen over a clause in a head coach’s former contract that unequivocally states that he may not continue to recruit players he was recruiting at his old school if he leaves for a new school.  Matt Brady, the second-year head coach at James Madison and formerly at Marist, was sued by Marist for violating what many people suggest is an unenforceable clause that they’ve never seen employed elsewhere.  Creative contract negotiations or willful ignorance of the law?  Regardless, four players whom Brady was recruiting at Marist – Julius Wells, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov and Trevon Flores – ended up at JMU instead last season, although only Wells had signed a national letter of intent (which Marist released him from).  Of course, the key issue that the NY state court will consider is whether there is an obligation on the part of the coach over third parties (the recruits); we can’t imagine that the long arm of any contract would suggest such a thing, but we’re not lawyers, we just play them on tv. 
  • UNC Title Tilt.  If you’re of the opinion that the 2005 NCAA Champion UNC squad would mop the floor with the 2009 NCAA Champion NCAA squad, as we are, then you’ll have an opportunity to see players from those two teams settle the debate at the UNC Pro Alumni Game on September 4 at the Dean Dome.  Nine players from the ’05 team - Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Byron Sanders, Reyshawn Terry, Jackie Manuel, Quentin Thomas, Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams – are scheduled to appear, along with six players from last year’s champs – Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor and Michael Copeland.  The scrimmage will allow for ad hoc division of rosters, and we’d expect to see several possessions where the starting lineups for each team are on the floor facing off against each other.  For the record, if the two teams actually were to play at full strength, the frontline of May and M. Williams would dominate the Hansbrough/D. Thompson side, especially with the superior playmaker Felton (over Lawson) distributing the ball.  The 2005 Heels weren’t as dominant in the NCAAs as the 2009 version, in part due to a lack of experience, but the talent on that team was far better. 
  • Quick Hits2012 Olympic team: projecting a rosterBen Howland: on noticeBob Knight: teacher, leader, comedianKatz: stock watch for 2010 prospectsLebron Tape: what was it worthFlorida St.: fine, you pay our legal fees thenBig Monday: Big 12 ScheduleCanadian Elite Hoops: doing great, until thisFather/Son Recruiting: play for dad or UCLAIsiah: checking in on him at FIU.
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“I Could Give a Sh!t About North Carolina”

Posted by nvr1983 on March 31st, 2008

I know the topic has been written about ad nauseum before, but I haven’t seen anything substantial written in the major news sources about it after the Elite 8 so I’m going to pretend that I’m breaking this story. . .

As most of you know after the 2003 season, Matt Doherty of 8-20 in 2001-2002 fame “resigned” from his position as head coach at UNC. Because Doherty resigned before the Final 4, much of the talk in the week leading up to the Final 4 that year (along with a freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony) was about who would take over the prized position as coach of the Tar Heels. After Dean Smith retired, he was succeeded for a brief period by Bill Guthridge, but that was only viewed as a temporary fix as, well let’s just say that Guthridge had a lot of “experience” by the time he became a head coach. UNC hired Doherty who was fresh off a great run at Notre Dame where he won a Big East Coach of the Year award. After a strong start, Doherty’s team fell apart the next year before entering the 2002-2003 season with a talented group of freshman that you may remember (Sean May, Rashad McCants, and Raymond Felton). They got off to a hot start that year winning the Preseason NIT with wins over then #2 Kansas (and Roy Williams) and a very talented Stanford squad. However, they fell apart when Sean May was injured soon after. Doherty’s resignation sparked widespread rumors with potential coaches ranging from the absurd (Dean Smith returning) to the more realistic choices (Williams and Larry Brown). Even Dick Vitale chimed in with his thoughts on the candidates.

All of this led up to the championship game, where after a week of questions about their coach leaving, Kansas fell to Syracuse 81-78 when Hakim Warrick came out of nowhere to swat away Michael Lee’s attempt to tie the game. In the post-game aftermath, Roy Williams was interviewed by Bonnie Bernstein. What followed was one of the great moments in sports TV history. Watch and enjoy:

It turns out that in some ways this “interview” became more famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) than the game itself. Some media members were quick to defend Bernstein. As for Williams, who late on April 7th denied even thinking about the UNC job for a second, he ended up leaving Kansas and his recruits and signed with UNC on April 14th. We won’t get into all the details of the process because it ended up being really convoluted, but Joe Posnanski covered it fairly well in his interview with Roy Williams soon after Williams decided to go to UNC.

The domino effect of this saga is pretty interesting in its own right:
- UNC hires Roy Williams from Kansas.
- Kansas hires Bill Self from Illinois.
- Illinois hires Bruce Weber from Southern Illinois.
- In 2005, UNC (Williams) defeats Illinois (Weber) in the national championship game.
- On Saturday night, Kansas (Self) gets a shot at revenge against Williams.

I can’t wait to see what the Kansas fans have in store for Old Roy on Saturday night. . .

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Where are they now? (Championship Edition)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2008

We found an interesting piece in ESPN.com’s Daily Dime last week. They decided to list players from recent championship teams that are still in the NBA. They happened to miss a few players who we added. We might have missed a player here and there. If we did, leave a comment with an update on their status since it’s hard to keep track of all these leagues around the world.

You may notice that the number of NBA superstars from championship teams has decreased in recent years with the exception of Carmelo Anthony. We feel it is pretty clear that this is becasue a lot of guys who are NBA stars decided to skip college or not stay around long enough to win a title. We’re pretty sure Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Dwight Howard (he would be a senior now!) would have affected the NCAA tournament a little.

The list:
2006-07 Florida: Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, & Chris Richard.
-All of the UF guys seem like they could end up being solid pros. Even Richard who is spending time in the NBDL could end up being a decent bench guy. Horford has exceeded expectations and is challenging the much more hyped Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year honors. The real question is whether any of them other than Horford will become stars in the league. Noah and Brewer have a chance, but we aren’t sold on them yet. We think Noah will end up being a solid contributor if he can keep his mouth shut.

2005 North Carolina: Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, & Marvin Williams
- All of the Tar Heels have turned into respectable NBA players, which isn’t surprising to anybody who say this team play. May hasn’t played this year due to injuries, but was putting up respectable numbers when he was healthy. Felton and Williams are definitely the studs of this group although McCants does show flashes of brilliance up in Minnesota not that anybody sees the Timberwolves play.

2004 Connecticut: Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone, & Charlie Villanueva
- While this group has turned out 3 solid NBA players (Okafor, Gordon, and Villanueva), we get the suspicion that none of these guys will turn into the superstars they were expected to be. It seems hard to believe that a lot of people thought Orlando made a mistake drafting Dwight Howard ahead of Okafor in 2004. However, this is a solid group of pros that will probably end up being the equal of the last 2 championship teams (UNC and UF).

2003 Syracuse: Carmelo Anthony & Hakim Warrick
- While Melo has lived up to the hype and is a perennial All-Star, it appears that Warrick is going to stay in the 10 PPG and 5 RPG range, which is probably worth a $8 mill/yr contract or a max contract if Warrick can wait for an offer from Isiah. Having seen this team play at the East Regional in Albany that year, this is one of our favorite championship teams particularly because they were the last team that was a big surprise winning the tournament. We knew that Gerry McNamara’s game wouldn’t work at the NBA level, but we always liked him and often thought that he was closer to Jameer Nelson in college than a lot of analysts were willing to admit.

2002 Maryland: Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, & Chris Wilcox
- The players from this team, which won the ugliest Final 4 in recent memory, have done just about what we expected as pros. Dixon has been a solid player who is often underappreciated by his team and has floated around the league but contributed everywhere he has gone. Steve Blake has provided solid if unspectacular point guard play and won a starting job in Portland for a time over the uber-hyped Sebastian Telfair. Wilcox has been somewhat of a disappointment. He puts up solid numbers, but has never turned into the star that his athletic ability suggests he could be. Of course, he was the same way in college so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

2001 Duke: Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, & Mike Dunleavy
- It amazing that on this team with several college superstars (including Jason Williams), that Boozer turned out to be the stud of the group. While Casey Sanders’s lack of development forced him to play the center position more than he probably should have, he was a guy who was routinely abused by Brendan Haywood. Somehow, Boozer grew a pair of huevos; so much so that he stabbed a blind man in the back. Just imagine what Boozer could have become if he had stayed in Cleveland to play with Lebron James. Battier, Duhon, and Dunleavy are all solid NBA players even if they haven’t lived up to their draft status (Dunleavy) or hype (Duhon-”What a man!”). To be fair, Battier was selected after Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry, so maybe he wasn’t taken too early. The most disappointing thing about this group is that we never got to see what Jason Williams could have become. Although he struggled adjusting as a rookie with the Bulls, he showed flashes of brilliances including a triple-double against a still-in-his-prime Jason Kidd.

2000 Michigan State: Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, & Jason Richardson
- Jason Richardson has put up solid numbers even if we have a hard time considering him a star. He’s a phenomenal athlete who has never really made the transition to the superstar (except in fantasy basketball) that many projected for him. Morris Peterson had a solid run as a consistent double-figure guy in Toronto before going to New Orleans this year. As for Bell, we never expected much out of him, but he has had a nice little career and actually averaged 13.5 PPG last year. That championship team’s heart and soul was Mateen Cleaves who had a couple of nice seasons where he was one of the top cheerleaders in the league particularly when he was on the Kings. However, he never stuck and according to Wikipedia he is now playing for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBDL.

1999 Connecticut: Richard Hamilton & Jake Voskuhl
- This team, which we ranked as the best team of the past 10 years, knocked off an unbelievably loaded Duke team that might have been in the top 10 of all-time had they won that night in St. Petersburg. While Hamilton has been an excellent NBA player and one of the few guys in the league who can hit a mid-range jumper, the rest of this team has been a disappointment. We had no idea that Voskuhl was still in the league and barely noticed him when we knew he was in the league. The team’s other star Khalid El-Amin played for a short time in the NBA before finding his way to the CBA and Ukranian Basketball League before end up with Türk Telekom B.K. of the Turkish basketball league. We weren’t able to find much information about Ricky Moore, the star of the title game. We’re assuming that he had a rather undistinguished career after that night in St. Pete.

1998 Kentucky: Nazr Mohammed & Jamaal Magloire
- The Wildcats, who weren’t expected to win the title this year, were fueled by a big comeback against a very young Duke team in the South Regional finals. Looking back at this team’s roster, we couldn’t see anybody else on this team making a big impact in the NBA. Magloire had a run from 2002-2006 where he averaged around 10/10 and made an All-Star team (more the result of the lack of centers than his exceptional play) while Mohammed has had a slightly less distinguished career. His most notable achievement was helping the San Antonio Spurs win the 2005 NBA Championship (with an assist from Isiah Thomas).

1997 Arizona: Mike Bibby & Jason Terry
- Both Bibby and Terry have had excellent careers as was expected for them coming out of college. The more intereresting story is that of the team’s star Miles Simon. Simon was never considered a top NBA prospect, but we at least expected that he would stick around the league because he could make plays. Instead he spent a year in Orlando then traveled across the globe, before ending up in the CBA where as his Wikipedia page states he became “the most decorated player in CBA history”. Not exactly what we expect out of the MOP.

1996 Kentucky: Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson & Nazr Mohammed
- This was likely the last of the all-time great teams. This team was incredibly deep with 6 guys who had significant NBA careers (including Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, and Walter McCarty). This team just crushed the teams they played utilizing Pitino’s press with their superior talent and athleticism. None of the players ever became a superstar, but all of their studs had solid NBA careers including a handful of All-Star appearances and awards. We’ll leave Rick Pitino’s stint in Boston for another post.

1995 UCLA: N/A
- This team didn’t really have as many superstars as other championship teams did, but they played very well together finishing an impressive 32-1. They had 2 first-round picks (Ed O’Bannon and George Zidek) who had short-lived NBA careers. The team’s other stars were Tyus Edney, Toby Bailey, and Charles O’Bannon, but none of them ever did anything notable in the NBA.

1994 Arkansas: N/A
- Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” team used a late Scotty Thurman rainbow 3 to knock off Grant Hill’s Duke team, which basically consisted of Hill and a bunch of nobodies. Corliss “Big Nasty” Williamson had a nice career first in Sacramento then in Detroit even winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2002. Thurman ended up leaving school early, going undrafted, and playing in the CBA.

1993 UNC: N/A
- This team didn’t really have any guys we considered potential NBA All-Stars back in 1993. Of course, we were 10 at the time and were already learning to hate the Tar Heels. We’ll let you look at the starting lineup and make up your mind: Eric Montross, Brian Reese, George Lynch, Donald Williams, and Derrick Phelps. Not exactly a murderer’s row of talent there. To be fair, Montross, who hails from the same high school as Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. (Lawrence North in Indianapolis), was selected 9th overall by the Celtics and had a decent rookie season before falling off the map. George Lynch was also considered a solid prospect coming out as 12th overall to the Lakers. He only had a mediocre pro career never averaging over 8.6 PPG and his main NBA achievements on Wikipedia are wearing 3 numbers (#24, #30 and #9) while with the Lakers and being traded to the Grizzlies to clear up cap space (and buffet space) for some guy named Shaq. Phelps played briefly in the NBA. And when we say briefly we mean 3 games and 1 shot, which he missed. Donald Williams, who is best remembered for being the MOP and having a huge game against the Fab 5 in the title game, spent his professional career floating around every league on the planet except for the NBA. The more interesting thing is that the Tar Heels actually had more talent the next year when they added Jerry Stackhouse and a young Rasheed Wallace (who in a sign of things to come got tossed from the McDonald’s All-American game) to this nucleus. However, the 1994 team never really came together and lost to Bill Curley and the Boston College Eagles, which was famously captured on this SI cover.

1991-92 Duke: Grant Hill
- Along with the 1996 UK team, Christian Laettner’s Blue Devils were the last of the teams that we consider truly great. To consider how big/great this team was, you have to remember that before this team, Mike Krzyzewski’s boys were the lovable losers who couldn’t win the big one despite multiple Final 4 trips. After this team, Duke became Duke. This team was really built around their 3 superstars: Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill. Everyone knows their college accomplishments: Laettner (#12 on ESPN’s list; maybe the top college player since 1990); Hurley (NCAA all-time assist leader); and Hill (also led Duke to the title game with a YMCA team around him in 1994). Laettner actually had a decent pro career, which most people would realize if he hadn’t been so great in college or if he wasn’t the most hated college player of all-time (multiply Joakim Noah by 100 and you get Laettner). His career highlights include an All-Star appearance as well as being an original Dream Teamer (ok, I can’t type that with a straight face). Hurley was selected 7th overall by Sacramento, but had his career derailed early with a car accident (signs of things to come for another great Duke point guard). However, we don’t think he would have ever become a great NBA PG as evident by how Jason Kidd destroyed him in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Hill actually had the best NBA career of the bunch and was considered one of the top 5-10 players in the league before multiple foot/ankle injuries eventually turned him into a shell of the player that he once was. Antonio Lang was taken 29th overall by Phoenix, but never did much in the pros. Brian Davis played a season in the NBA before floating around the basketball planet and settling on running a Duke-based group that tried to buy the Memphis Grizzlies with Laettner (the deal fell through). Thomas Hill (best known for being the guy crying after Laettner’s 1992 East Regional shot) was drafted 39th overall by Indiana, but never played in the NBA as he played in the Australian National Basketball League for a few years.

That’s all I have on these guys/teams. If you have any more information or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

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