Morning Five: 04.03.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 3rd, 2014

morning5

  1. Fans in the AAC can start working on their cell phone and texting jokes as Houston hired Kelvin Sampson to be its next coach. Sampson was successful at both Oklahoma and Indiana before a variety of issues that have been documented in great detail before derailed him leading to a five-year show-cause penalty in 2008. Sampson has spent the last six years floating between jobs in the NBA and was serving as an assistant for the Houston Rockets so he might not even have to move for his new job although he might be moving into a bigger house with the upgrade in his salary. Much like the Bruce Pearl hire this has to be considered a huge get for the program, but we have to wonder how long he will stay there..
  2. After what has to be considered a successful first season for Steve Alford things are looking pretty good at UCLA. However, accusations by a spurned sports agent that he provided former Bruin Tyler Honeycutt with impermissible benefits could halt that progress. The school had previously investigated the matter and said that the NCAA ruled the case closed, but with the new documentation they will have to investigate the matter further. This is the second such incident involving UCLA in the past two years (Shabazz Muhammad being the more well-known case), but we wouldn’t consider it an issue with the school. Our bigger question is why do these issues typically arise with mid-level players and not the real stars?
  3. With many of the bigger jobs being filled or in the process of being filled the attention on the coaching carousel shifts to the mid-tier schools. One example of this is North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Morton, who is reportedly interviewing at Florida Atlantic and Marshall. Morton has led the Eagles to better records in each of his five seasons culminating in a NCAA Tournament appearance this season. His move might not move the needle nationally, but it could lead him to an even bigger job in the future.
  4. Chane Behanan cannot seem to avoid getting in trouble. The former Louisville forward, who was kicked off the team for marijuana use, has already enrolled at Colorado State, but took a trip back to Louisville this week. At 1 AM on Wednesday morning he was cited, but not arrested for marijuana possession after a police officer smelled marijuana in a car in which Behanan was a passenger. Behanan reportedly admitted to having a marijuana cigarette. Although he was not arrested he will have a court date later this month. Avoiding the whole social discussion regarding the legalization of marijuana one has to question Behanan’s maturity at this point for getting arrested for something after he has already been through so much.
  5. Next season could be a rough one for Missouri after Jabari Brown announced that he would enter the NBA Draft. Brown joins fellow junior Jordan Clarkson in potentially leaving Missouri early although both could withdraw their names from the Draft by April 15 depending on what they hear. Brown was a first-team All-SEC player this season and led the conference in scoring at 19.9 points per game. Like Clarkson, Brown is also projected to be a second-round pick so it would seem to make sense for him to return, but it would not be the first time that we have seen a player leave early for that type of fate.
Share this story

UCLA Week: Evaluating the Recent Past

Posted by AMurawa on August 13th, 2012

There are no two ways around it, so we might as well get right to the punch: The past three seasons at UCLA, even with an NCAA Tournament appearance and win in 2010-11, is in the conversation for the worst stretch of three consecutive seasons in the history of the storied program. Aside from the transition at the end of the Steve Lavin era to the beginning of the Ben Howland era, you have to go back to Wilbur Johns in the World War II era for a string of three such poor seasons in Westwood. All that is bad enough, but if you consider where this program was at the end of the 2007-08 season, coming off three consecutive Final Fours and welcoming in the nation’s #1 recruiting class, such a precipitous fall was highly unlikely.

Kevin Love, UCLA

It Has Been Four Unsatisfying Seasons Since Kevin Love Helped UCLA Last Advance to A Final Four (Mark J. Terril, AP Photo)

So how did Howland and the Bruins go from being on the verge of ushering another great era of UCLA basketball to missing the NCAA Tournament in two out of three seasons? Much of it has to do with underachievement from that 2008 recruiting class. In the 2008-09 season, after future pros like Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute departed early (a certain byproduct of the type of success the Bruins were having), the Bruins rode gutsy performances by veterans like Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya to a solid 26-9 overall record, but failed to win the Pac-10 for the first time in three years and were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in resounding fashion by a Villanova team that outhustled and outfought the Bruins. More ominous for UCLA was the fact that none of the highly-regarded freshman class made much of an impact that season. And despite point guard Jrue Holiday’s struggles as a frosh, he couldn’t get out of Westwood fast enough, declaring for the NBA Draft while averaging just eight points and four assists in his lone season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on May 25th, 2012

  1. Money was a big story in the Pac-12 this week. First and foremost, USA Today unveiled an estimate of the worth of the Pac-12 television deals this week. Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm that has done multimedia rights valuations for other schools and conferences figures that all told, between the conference’s deals with ESPN and Fox and their ready-to-launch Pac-12 Network, each school in the conference should expect upwards of $30 million a year over the life of their 12-year agreement. About $21 million per school is guaranteed by the deal with ESPN and Fox, with the remainder of the total based on the success of the new conference networks. While the Big Ten Network generated $79.2 million worth of profit in 2011, they have to split those profits with Fox, their partner in that venture, while the Pac-12 will own their network outright.
  2. Based on that kind of income, it is easy to see why Larry Scott earned almost $1.9 million in salary and bonuses in his first full year as Pac-12 commissioner. That figure makes Scott the highest paid conference commissioner in the land and means that he earned more than three times the compensation of previous Pac-12 commissioner Tom Hansen in his final full year. Given the wonders that Scott has done with the Pac-12’s finances, image and future prospects, I would guess that most Pac-12 fans see this as money well spent for the conference.
  3. Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has hired a lawyer and intends to sue Sports Illustrated and writer George Dohrmann for $10 million, claiming the article published by the magazine in March was guilty of defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that many of the stories in the article about Nelson were either false or drastically overstated. The lawsuit includes statements from 18 current or former players at UCLA that refute anecdotes in the article. For instance, former Bruin player Tyler Honeycutt states that the memorable tale of Nelson urinating on his clothes and bed was completely false, while recent UCLA graduate Tyler Trapani refutes the story about Nelson stepping on his chest during a practice drill. Bruin transfer and recent New Mexico big man Drew Gordon denies the claim that Nelson gave Gordon a black eye during a fight (and even denies ever having a fight with Nelson), while Alex Schrempf claims that the story that Nelson purposely in injured him by intentionally hacking him from behind is false as well. Seems like this is about the get very, very interesting as Dorhmann and SI attempt to defend themselves against this lawsuit.
  4. Washington State’s coaching staff is back at full strength again, as head coach Ken Bone hired Ray Lopes to take Jeff Hironaka’s spot on the bench. Hironaka was reassigned (read: demoted) to director of player development , and Lopes, who was most recently an assistant at Idaho, will fill his spot. Lopes is no stranger to Pullman, having coached under Kelvin Sampson on the Palouse in 1993-94, before following Sampson to Oklahoma before winding up as a head coach at Fresno State for a three-year stint. However, at both of those stops, Lopes ran afoul of the NCAA, first getting mixed up in the impermissible phone call saga with Sampson at Oklahoma, then continuing the practice in Fresno, eventually winding up with a three-year show-cause penalty for 457 impermissible phone calls while at Fresno State.
  5. Finally, after plenty of speculation that this would come to pass, Colorado redshirt sophomore point guard Shannon Sharpe will be transferring out of the program in order to play closer to his home in southern California. Sharpe’s career at Colorado goes down as a disappointment, after injuring his knee in his first practice with the Buffaloes. All told, he scored 99 points in just a hair over 600 minutes in his career in Boulder. He will have a year of eligibility remaining when he plays again at a lower-tier school (Big West schools like Cal State Fullerton or UC Irvine or perhaps Loyola Marymount or Pepperdine of the WCC would look like good landing spots where he could make an impact), although there is a possibility that he could apply for a waiver on having to sit out a year since both of his parents died of heart failure while he was in high school and he is returning home to take care of the family home.
Share this story

SI Story Highlights UCLA’s Downfall Through Ben Howland’s Shameful Lack of Control

Posted by EJacoby on February 29th, 2012

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

The historic UCLA basketball program is in a shocking lull right now, and Sports Illustrated magazine has an upcoming feature story on why it’s not just because of poor performance on the court. George Dohrmann’s piece has been released on SI.com for an early look, and it is a must-read for all the telling details and anecdotes about the Bruins’ culture from the past five seasons. We’ll give you our reaction to the investigative piece and why coach Ben Howland might not last another season in Westwood.

Here's The Magazine Title Page of the Upcoming Story in Sports Illustrated (SI App)

Mike Moser, UNLV’s star player and the nation’s sixth-leading rebounder; Chace Stanback, the Runnin’ Rebels’ second-leading scorer with the nation’s seventh best three-point shooting percentage; Drew Gordon, New Mexico’s dominant forward and double-double machine; and Matt Carlino, averaging 13.0 points and 4.7 assists for BYU. What do they all have in common? Each of these players was once a highly touted recruit for coach Ben Howland at UCLA before transferring from the program to become star players elsewhere in the West. The departure of these four players is one of the reasons why the Bruins currently sit in sixth place in a weak Pac-12, looking at missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and just four years removed from a run of three consecutive Final Four appearances. The feature story in Sports Illustrated set for publication later this week details why these players left campus, what kinds of unfortunate treatment other former players received, and how UCLA has struggled so badly recently, referencing mainly the ignorance of head coach Howland towards detrimental player actions.

Dohrmann’s piece, which includes interviews with over a dozen former players and team managers, highlights a general culture of recent disarray surrounding the Bruins’ basketball program. Dohrmann’s interviewees offered “a detailed inside account of how seemingly minor problems, if left unaddressed, can quickly sabotage even a storied program led by one of the nation’s most respected coaches.” The piece details how Howland, though incredibly knowledgeable of the game, fostered poor relationships with his players both on and off the court. The coach ran practices with a double standard, often ridiculing lesser players for mistakes they made while letting similar errors slide when made by stronger players. The reason, as some in the article suggested, was that Howland was afraid of upsetting star players to the point that they might transfer or leave for the NBA as soon as possible. Off the court, players would go out of their way to avoid Howland, such as one player opting to take the stairs if he ever saw the coach waiting for an elevator.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.03.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 3rd, 2012

  1. The Pac-12 announced its Player of the Week on Monday, and no surprise, Washington’s Tony Wroten took home the honors for the first and perhaps not last time after averaging 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his first weekend of conference play. What was a surprise, however, was teammate C.J. Wilcox not even being nominated for the award. Wilcox had a fine weekend of his own (19.5 PPG and seven threes), but it was Aaron Bright, Jorge Gutierrez, Jesse Perry, Andre Roberson and E.J. Singler who showed up in the “Also Nominated” mention.
  2. Speaking of Wilcox, he got sent to the bench this weekend after starting the first 11 games of the season for the Huskies. When junior center Aziz N’Diaye went down with a knee injury in the second half of the Huskies’ game against Duke, Wroten came in and earned a starting spot with his play down the stretch, and since then has been the go-to player offensively for UW. But, when N’Diaye was ready to return to the starting five, head coach Lorenzo Romar had to decide who would be the odd man out. The choice was Wilcox, but he took the change in stride, not only finding his shot this weekend, but also turning in two great defensive performances. With his ability to get hot quick and his experience coming off the bench last season, Wilcox is perfectly fine with his new role.
  3. In Salt Lake City, more bad news for the struggling Utes, as Cedric Martin is struggling with plantar fasciitis and may have to miss games in the future due to the injury. Martin, who is second in the team in minutes and is one of just two players to start every game, has been limited in practice and head coach Larry Krystkowiak acknowledges that he may need to get a week or more of rest in order to push through the injury.
  4. Arizona head coach Sean Miller already has a stellar 2012 recruiting class lined up, and now he’s working on lining up players for future years, with 2013 wing Jabari Bird (ranked #11 by ESPNU) near the top of the list. Bird lists Arizona, Washington and California as his top three schools and is intrigued by the possibility of playing in the Wildcats’ system, saying that Miller has told him that he would have the ability to be a ball-handling forward at UA. Bird and classmate Aaron Gordon, another Arizona target, play AAU ball for the Oakland Soldiers, the same team that produced current Wildcat players Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson.
  5. Lastly, UCLA fans spent their fair share of time last offseason lamenting the early departures of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee to the NBA Draft. Checking in with those players, Honeycutt was just assigned by the Sacramento Kings to the NBDL after appearing for four minutes in his one appearance thus far this season, while Lee, who actually signed a guaranteed contract with the Timberwolves despite being drafted in the second round, had to undergo knee surgery and will miss at least the next six weeks.
Share this story

Is Ben Howland’s Job in Jeopardy?

Posted by AMurawa on November 18th, 2011

The UCLA basketball program is 0-2 for the first time since Steve Lavin’s final disastrous year in Westwood. An 0-2 record isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but the Bruins haven’t exactly come by their record in the same way that Belmont did (with losses to college hoops powers Duke and Memphis). The Bruins have lost their opening two games to Loyola Marymount and Middle Tennessee State – and not in particularly compelling fashion either. Along the way, last year’s leading scorer and Sports Illustrated cover boy Reeves Nelson was suspended for behavioral problems, sophomore center Joshua Smith tweeted out an immature response following the LMU loss and senior point guard Jerime Anderson served the last half of his very light punishment for stealing a laptop over the summer with a suspension against LMU before coming back to underwhelm against MTSU. In short, the UCLA basketball program is a hot mess right now, a dumpster fire, a train wreck. Worse yet, it is all of those things for the second time in three years.

All of which begs the question, does head coach Ben Howland have reason to fear for his job? It’s not all that long ago that such a question would have been absurd. Remember, Howland had his Bruins in the Final Four three straight times between 2006 and 2008. Between the 2005-06 season and the 2008-09 season, he posted an astounding 123-26 (82.6%) record, with a 65-16 (80.2%) record in the Pac-10, including conference tournament games. Furthermore, Howland was absolutely killing it on the recruiting trail.

Ben Howland, UCLA

Ben Howland Has Had Some Great Successes At UCLA, But His Program Is Currently Struggling

After a two-man 2007 recruiting class ranked #10 in the nation by ESPNU, largely on the strength of Kevin Love, the #1 recruit in the nation (the class also included current UNLV senior Chace Stanback), Howland had then inked the #1 class in the nation for 2008, highlighted by point guard Jrue Holiday, with guys like Drew Gordon, J’Mison Morgan, Malcolm Lee and Anderson expected to make major impacts during their time in Westwood. The following year Howland added another five players (Tyler Honeycutt, Mike Moser, Brendan Lane, Nelson and Anthony Stover) for the #13 class in the nation. Of those 12 players in those three classes, six played either one season at UCLA or left the program prior to completing a second season. Four of them transferred out to other Division I schools with varying degress of success at their new destinations. The 2008 class goes down in history as a strong contender for the most disappointing recruiting class ever, with only Lee and Anderson making significant extended contributions to the program, and even those two players considered as serious underachievers compared to their incoming reputations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2011 RTC Mock Draft: Final Version

Posted by zhayes9 on June 21st, 2011

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

One final stab at how Thursday night will play out before we finally send off some of our favorite college players to the next level:

1 ) Cleveland Cavaliers- Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke. Any Derrick Williams-to-Cleveland rumor is searching for intrigue that’s simply non-existent. Irving was the pick the night the Cavaliers struck gold at the lottery and remains the pick today. Irving is  a safe bet to develop into a dynamic player at such a vital position on the floor.

\

Kyrie Irving appears to be the near-unanimous choice at #1

2) Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Williams, SF/PF, Arizona. Ideally, Minnesota would be eyeing a 2-guard, but they’ll have to swing a pre-draft deal to fill that need, as no shooting guard is worth taking this high. My money’s on GM David Kahn holding on to the pick and trying to trade Michael Beasley later. Williams has all of the skills to be an eventual All-Star.

3) Utah Jazz- Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky. The Jazz are fairly set up front with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors waiting in the wings, so look for #3 to come down to either Knight or Kemba Walker. Given Knight’s shooting ability, size and character, I see the former Kentucky point as the most likely choice.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers- Enes Kanter, C, Turkey. Rumors are spreading that Cleveland is looking to trade #4 for more picks to fill multiple needs, but passing up on Kanter here could be a grave mistake. The young Turk has a great attitude, impressed at the Chicago combine and could mold into the best post player in the entire draft.

5) Toronto Raptors- Jan Vesely, PF, Czech Republic. Toronto has a major need at power forward and worked out both Vesely and Bismack Biyombo this past weekend. The Raptors have been connected with Vesley since the first draft prognostications began and we see no reason to change our minds now. Vesley is a high-level athlete with commendable versatility for his size.

6) Washington Wizards- Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State. Washington could be a candidate to move up to either #4 or #5 and take Kanter or Vesely. If they hold fort here, look for Leonard to be the selection. The former Aztec is a phenomenal rebounder and athletic freak that can instantly boost a position of dire need for the Wizards.

7) Sacramento Kings- Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut. The Kings wouldn’t mind if Leonard fell to them at #7, but if Washington grabs him, point guard is the next choice with Tyreke Evans more suited as a scoring guard. This pick will come down to Walker, Alec Burks and even Jimmer Fredette. Walker could instill some character to a shaky locker room and can contribute immediately.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Tyler Honeycutt

Posted by rtmsf on June 6th, 2011

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Tyler Honeycutt

School: UCLA

Height/Weight: 6’8, 187 lbs.

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late First Round

Overview: In his two seasons at UCLA, Honeycutt showed a little bit of everything. He led the Pac-10 in blocked shots as a sophomore, he proved a solid man defender, he’s a capable scorer with a good-looking jumper, he improved his three-point range, he can get in the lane and score, and he’s got great vision and passing ability for a player of his size. Still, Honeycutt leaves Westwood as something of a disappointment. His field goal percentage dropped drastically as a sophomore (from nearly 50% down to almost 40%). His assist-to-turnover ratio fell drastically as well, mostly due to his tendency to turn the ball over way too much (he had eight games with five or more turnovers). And he built a reputation among Bruin faithful as a guy who was more interested in impressing the NBA scouts than he was in winning games. A closer look at some of the numbers shows that Honeycutt’s FG% dropped so precipitously due to the fact that he was taking a lot more perimeter jumpers – after shooting just 29 threes as a freshman, he shot 152 as a sophomore, making 36% of those. And, as a result, his true shooting percentage (taking into account his three-point percentages and his free throw shooting) only dipped from 55% to 52%. But his ballhandling, his decision-making, and his aggressiveness did not improve correspondingly as a sophomore. He turns the ball over both as a result of his clumsy handle and his propensity towards making unnecessary passes, both areas of his game that will need to be shored up before he can contribute at the next level. And, the fact that he is a rail-thin 187 pounds means that until he adds strength, he can be easily overpowered by a large percentage of NBA small forwards. Nevertheless, he is a skilled and talented player who can develop into an NBA player with time and hard work.

Honeycutt Showed Good Upside in His Sophomore Season

Will Translate to the NBA: Despite the fact that he was called upon to handle the ball on a regular basis at UCLA, Honeycutt is comfortable playing off of the ball on offense. His jumper is a finished product – although his percentages haven’t yet peaked – and he is equally proficient as a spot-up shooter or running off of screens. This will make him a viable offensive player in the NBA even as he works to hone his ballhandling and decision-making. Throw in the fact that his long arms and defensive timing should allow him to continue being a shot-blocking threat at the next level and Honeycutt could earn minutes early in his NBA career.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Ten Offseason Scribbles

Posted by zhayes9 on June 1st, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

It was easy to get energized about Vanderbilt’s chances next season once the somewhat surprising news was announced that versatile swingman Jeffery Taylor would return for his senior campaign. Taylor joining forces with an experienced and talented guard tandem of John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley, along with efficient big man Festus Ezeli and quite a bit of depth, immediately gave folks in Nashville reason to believe they could contend with the powerhouse roster Kentucky assembled in the SEC. While those are four legitimate reasons for excitement – it’s awfully rare a team without a brand name like Duke, Carolina, Kentucky or UCLA returns their top four scorers (including three possible first round picks) from a top-15 efficient offense in the one-and-done era – I won’t be completely sold on Vanderbilt’s chances to usurp the Wildcats, or even fend off Florida, if their team defense doesn’t improve dramatically. The ‘Dores ranked a meager 88th in the nation in defensive efficiency last season, a mark good for tenth in the SEC, well behind the likes of both Kentucky and Florida. Their inadequacies on defense were a major reason why those of us tantalized by Vandy’s talent last season was so dumbfounded when they couldn’t quite put it all together on a sustained basis and why they ultimately dropped their final two games of the season to Florida and to #12 seed Richmond. The most confusing part: Vandy seemingly has the ancillary parts to be a strong defensive club. Taylor is regarded by NBA scouts as a premier stopper on the perimeter and Ezeli ranked 16th in block percentage in 2010-11.

Taylor needs to coax his teammates into playing stronger defense

The near-unanimous reaction following the NBA Draft declaration deadline was that Texas was the big loser. This isn’t necessarily false, but were we all that surprised Jordan Hamilton and Tristan Thompson bolted for the pros, especially once it was known Thompson would be a lottery selection? Playing with a fellow Canadian in Myck Kabongo may seem enticing until millions of dollars are staring you in the face. Hamilton was never suited for a structured college game, either, and could really take off in the pros as a polished, explosive scorer capable of putting up points in bunches. The most shocking decision was that of Cory Joseph, who opted to leave school primarily on the basis of one workout just prior to the deadline, a decision that very few saw coming from an undersized point guard without mature floor instincts. Joseph likely saw the writing on the wall – that he’d be playing primarily as a two-guard opposite Kabongo and this move would devastate his draft stock even more – and ditched while he had a chance at the first round. Ben Howland must have been even more crushed than Rick Barnes, though. With Derrick Williams and Momo Jones out in Tucson, the opportunity was there to re-establish UCLA’s status as the premier Pac-10 representative after two tumultuous seasons. Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee are far from locks to have their name called in the first round, yet both made the abrupt decision to forgo their remaining eligibility and take their talents to the NBA. With Honeycutt and Lee joining forces with Reeves Nelson, Josh Smith, Lazeric Jones, Jerime Anderson, Tyler Lamb and incoming two-guard Norman Powell in the fray, UCLA had a top-10 roster had the parts stayed together. It’s a shame, really.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference Report Card: Pac-10

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 13th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that received multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap:

After an awful 2009-10 season in which the Pac-10 had to limp into a second NCAA Tournament bid when Washington hit the gas pedal down the stretch, the four tournament bids the conference received this year was a huge improvement. With Arizona advancing to the Elite Eight, the Pac-10 advanced a team beyond the Sweet 16 for the first time in three seasons, and the conference was a much deeper collection of teams than last year. And without a doubt, that came as a result of the enhanced talent level across the conference. Coming into the season, there were just 17 seniors on rosters across the conference, and the youngsters showed vast  improvement this year, notably Derrick Williams (an All-American and national player of the year candidate), Isaiah Thomas, Tyler Honeycutt, and Klay Thompson with several other players making big strides in their games. While the Pac-10 still struggled to gain national respect, it was clear to fans that the level of play is on the rebound from its 2009-2010 nadir.

The Pac-10 was Derrick Williams' personal playground in 2011, and the Wildcats displayed perhaps the most impressive performance of the NCAA Tournament in their dismantling of Duke. (AZ Daily Star/M. Popat)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

2011-12 RTC (Way Too Early) Top 25

Posted by KDoyle on April 5th, 2011

The 2010-11 season just concluded — we are just as sad as you guys are — but rather than get all nostalgic, teary-eyed, and lament the next  seven months without college basketball, let’s look towards the future. That’s right, folks, hot off the presses: the first 2011-12 Top 25. Our assumptions on who is staying/leaving are within the team breakdowns.

  1. North Carolina—The Heels have a whole lot coming back and lose next to nothing. Harrison Barnes looked like the stud he was advertised in the preseason as he developed into Carolina’s top player down the stretch, and Kendall Marshall flourished at the point guard position once he was given the keys to the car. It sure doesn’t hurt that a couple McDonald’s All-Americans will be joining the program next year, either. Look for Roy Williams to be significantly happier next season than he was for much of this season.

    Roy Williams should be in a good mood next season

  2. SyracuseJim Boeheim’s squad returns virtually all the pieces to the puzzle — a puzzle that certainly went unfinished this year — and the Orange look like they may be the top dog in the Big East next season. Scoop Jardine has the ability to be one of the top guards in the BE and Kris Joseph is a very explosive scorer, who should continue to develop in the offseason. The development of Fab Melo is an absolute must in the offseason, though, if this team wants to reach its potential.
  3. Kentucky—With the instability of the NBA next year, the Wildcats may be fortunate enough to hang onto their young stars for at least another season. Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones are all NBA talents and all three of them could enter the NBA Draft, but if even one of them returns, this team will be very dangerous, particularly with the class that John Calipari is bringing in, which might be one of the best assembled in the past ten years. If two of those three return to play with that class, this team immediately becomes the favorite to cut down the nets next April.
  4. Ohio State—Will he stay or will he go? Obviously, we are referring to Jared Sullinger’s decision to remain a Buckeye for another year. While graduation will claim Jon Diebler and David Lighty, there is still ample talent returning to help the Buckeyes take care of some unfinished business. William Buford could be the X-factor that determines just how good the Buckeyes will be.
  5. Louisville—The coaching prowess of Rick Pitino and his most important assistant Ralph Willard was a thing of beauty this year. Not much was expected out of the Cardinals, but the ‘Ville had an exceptional season up until their Tournament collapse to Morehead State. Loftier goals will be set for Louisville next year with Preston Knowles the only player departing. The Cardinals might not have quite as publicized a recruiting class as their in-state rivals, but still have one of the top incoming classes in America. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Morning Five: 04.01.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2011

  1. In one of the more interesting subplots of the offseason, Tennessee has agreed to grant Kevin Ware, one of its recruits from the Bruce Pearl era, a release from his signed National Letter of Intent. Ware reportedly still lists Tennessee is his top choice, but he is no longer sure now that Cuonzo Martin is the coach. The Volunteers had faced some pretty heavy criticism for not granting Ware a release after Pearl was fired although Martin stated that he would do so after meeting face-to-face with the recruits. One other prominent recruit, Chris Jones, has yet to be released from his National Letter of Intent although based on Ware’s experience indicates that it may be coming in the near future.
  2. Call it the “Jimmer effect” if you want, but BYU coach Dave Rose is reportedly attracting offers from other schools including Oklahoma. It appears that Rose will turn down the offer, but it is interesting to see how athletic directors view coaches of successful teams when so much of their success has been tied to one player (at least by the media).
  3. Speaking of the Oklahoma job, the Sooners were also pursuing Illinois head coach Bruce Weber, but it appears that he has also withdrawn his name from consideration. While the Oklahoma job is probably more desirable than the Missouri job even if the Tigers are in better shape at the present time as a basketball program the Sooners would probably be best served to set their sights a little lower unless they are willing to hand out a very generous contract.
  4. Most UCLA fans are probably wondering if any of the players from this year’s team was planning on returning to campus next year given the recent announcements by Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee. It appears that at least one player–Joshua Smithwill be returning at least according to his father. The freshman appears to have the skills to potentially become a NBA player some day, but will need to get into better playing shape if he wants to succeed at the next level.
  5. However, another more prominent Pac-10 player–Isaiah Thomas–looks like he might be headed towards the NBA although he has not signed with an agent yet, but all indications point towards him staying in the NBA Draft. Some local columnists are less than thrilled with Thomas leaving Washington and are urging him to come back for another season citing concerns from NBA scouts that Thomas wasn’t ready to play at the next level yet.
Share this story