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Updating the NBA Entry List and Honoring a Maryland Legend

by - Published May 9, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a roundup of news from across the nation.

Here’s a quick recap of all the major NBA decisions from the past week. The NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to remain eligible required players to decide by May 8 if they wanted to remain in the NBA Draft or return to school.

Remaining in the draft:

  • Boston College’s Reggie Jackson
  • Butler’s Shelvin Mack
  • Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert
  • Kentucky’s Brandon Knight
  • Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins
  • Louisville’s Terrence Jennings
  • Maryland’s Jordan Williams
  • Michigan’s Darius Morris
  • Stanford’s Jeremy Green
  • Tennessee’s Tobias Harris
  • Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson
  • Texas’ Cory Joseph
  • Texas’ Tristan Thompson

Returning to school:

  • Kentucky’s Terrence Jones
  • Miami’s Reggie Johnson
  • Missouri’s Laurence Bowers
  • Missouri’s Kim English
  • Northwestern’s John Shurna
  • Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs
  • West Virginia’s Kevin Jones
  • Xavier’s Tu Holloway
  1. The biggest news of the past few days is Gary Williams’ retirement at Maryland. The Terrapins’ coach unexpectedly decided to call it a career at age 66 after working at his alma mater since 1989. Maryland moved quickly to court Arizona’s Sean Miller, who passed on the the offer by signing an extension with the Wildcats, according to John Marshall of the Associated Press. That makes Notre Dame’s Mike Brey one of the top choices right now, according to the Washington Post.
  2. In other Washington, D.C., area coaching news, George Washington picked Mike Lonergan to be the Colonials’ next coach, according to the Associated Press. Lonergan comes back to D.C. after working at Vermont for five seasons, compiling a 126-68 record. Lonergan coached Catholic University to a Division III title in 2001 and worked with Gary Williams as an assistant at Maryland for a few years.
  3. Gonzaga needs to find a new starting point guard after Demetri Goodson announced that he’s leaving the team to play football, according to the Associated Press. Goodson averaged 5.2 points and 2.6 assists per game for the Bulldogs this past season.
  4. Michigan State Tom Izzo returned the favor for Spartan fans last week. To help boost student morale during final exams week, Izzo joined other Spartan coaches in serving food at the university’s dining hall, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com’s ìCollege Basketball Nation.î That’s a nice way to thank the Izzone fans who help give Michigan State one of the toughest home court advantages in the nation.
  5. Speaking of Izzo, the Spartans’ coach might be getting some much-needed backcourt help in Valparaiso transfer Brandon Wood, according to the Associated Press.. The Horizon League’s No. 3 scorer is transferring to Michigan State after completing his undergraduate degree. Because of NCAA rules for graduate transfers, Wood might be eligible to play immediately for a team losing Kalin Lucas to graduation.
  6. Jeff Capel has returned to a familiar sideline. The former Oklahoma coach, who was fired after this past season, accepted an offer to become an assistant coach on coach Mike Krzyzewski’s staff at Duke, according to the Associated Press. Capel played four years in Durham and put up more than 1,600 points.
  7. The Pac-10 can’t complain about an East Coast bias for much longer. The conference soon to be known as the Pac-12 signed an agreement with ESPN and Fox Sports worth $250 million per season, tops in men’s basketball, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.
  8. Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt has recruited his first big name as the Cowboys’ new coach. Larry Nance Jr., son of longtime NBA player Larry Nance, will arrive in Laramie this fall after averaging about a double double as a senior in Ohio this past season.
  9. Looking ahead to 2012, Louisville might not have the services of Rodney Purvis, a top-rated shooting guard in the class of rising high school seniors who reopened his recruitment, according to Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com’s ìCollege Basketball Nation.î Louisville had received a verbal commitment from Purvis, partially thanks to the hard work of assistant Tom Fuller, who left Pitino’s staff recently to work for Frank Haith at Missouri.
  10. Former Cyclone John Lamb, a walk-on who left Iowa State mid-season, was arrested last week and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and a violation of Drug Tax Stamp Act, according to the Associated Press.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

This section is aptly titled for a Washington, D.C., area writer looking to write a column honoring the importance of recently retired Maryland coach Gary Williams.

In his 22 years at Maryland, Williams helped craft the Terrapins into a perennial ACC contender. His continued success eased the path to the construction of the Comcast Center, which is one of the largest arenas in the conference and has one of the best home court advantages. The 20,000-plus fans who fill the Comcast Center haven’t always approved of the quality of the home team, but they consistently fill the arena with rowdy fans, giving Maryland one of the best home court advantages in the country.

After the turmoil of the late 1980s, it’s amazing that Williams was able to get this program back to the top of the ACC so quickly. Trouble started in 1986 with the death of Terrapin hero Len Bias, who seemed destined to become a national hero as a possible heir apparent to Larry Bird in Boston. However, his cocaine-induced death and the subsequent brouhaha in College Park derailed the program, leading to the ouster of coach Lefty Driesell.

Without Driesell, the team fell into mediocrity — and NCAA violations — during the tenure of Bob Wade. With the program on probation and lackluster performance on the court, Williams returned to his alma mater with a tough task at hand.

It took Williams five seasons, but once he got the Terrapins into the NCAA Tournament, they remained fixtures of March Madness until 2005. That includes a Final Four run in 2001 that ended mercilessly with the team’s fourth loss of the season to eventual national champion Duke. But Williams and Maryland vanquished those demons the next season when the Terrapins won the 2002 title.

The championship title was a turning point for Williams’ tenure at Maryland. Until then, the critics liked to talk about Williams as one of the greatest coaches to have never won a title — a fraternity no coach enjoys being part of. With that monkey off his back, Williams then had to deal with detractors who bemoaned that Williams failed to use the program’s success to attract the top recruits to College Park.

Recruiting is a touchy subject for Maryland fans. On the plus side, no one has even sniffed an NCAA violation during Williams’ years. But on the other hand, Williams drew the ire of many fans because he couldn’t keep a lot of the talented kids in Prince George’s County, Md., and Baltimore in-state. Highly touted recruits like Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay, Nolan Smith and seemingly half of Georgetown’s starting lineup each season are all locals. That would be acceptable if Williams had a slew of talented recruits on a conveyor belt to College Park from across the country.

But after three NIT appearances in four seasons, the natives became restless. Williams had the misfortune of dealing with a few disastrous recruits, including the much-maligned post-championship class of Chris McCray, John Gilchrist, Travis Garrison and Nik Caner-Medley. That core failed to meet lofty expectations, and the fans nearly revolted at the perceived inability of Williams to coach a great class. But the players just didn’t work out. It happens.

Williams got Maryland back on track with Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes. He helped Vasquez mature from a sloppy point guard and nearly out of control hothead to a dominant ACC player who was a threat to post a triple double nearly any night. The Terrapins returned to the NCAA Tournament three out of four seasons but never advanced further than the second round.

Heading into this off-seaosn, Maryland was at a cross-roads as another disappointing recruiting class — Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker and Dino Gregory — finished their collegiate careers. Jordan Williams, one of the top recruits in recent years to come to Maryland, figured to be the linchpin of next season’s team, but he is heading to the NBA instead.

At age 66, Williams was staring at a complete rebuilding project in an era that makes it increasingly difficult to run a clean and successful program. Williams refused to sacrifice one for the other. That makes now a great time for Williams to step down. To rebuild the Terrapins, Williams would need at least a couple of years to get the right guys around solid building blocks like Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin. Williams might be pushing 70 before the Terrapins have another legitimate shot at a deep run.

When I’m pushing 70, I hope have the energy to work more than 60 hours a week recruiting, strategizing and representing a major college program. After such a remarkable, program-defining coaching career, Williams has earned this respite.

Larranaga Jumps Into Shark-Infested Waters

by - Published April 25, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a roundup of news from across the nation.

  1. Miami finally got its man in hiring George Mason coach Jim Larranaga to become the Hurricanes’ next coach, according to the Associated Press. In Larranaga, the Hurricanes get a coach with a Final Four pedigree, and that’s coming out of the Colonial Athletic Conference. The Colonials’ coach has family roots in Florida, and the opportunity was particularly alluring, even though George Mason is a perennial NCAA Tournament contender in the CAA.
  2. IUPUI hired its new coach from within in the program, elevating associate coach Todd Howard to the top spot, according to the Associated Press. Former head coach Ron Hunter left the program to coach Georgia State.
  3. It’s a little hard to figure what Hollis Thompson is thinking, but the sophomore Hoya announced he will enter the NBA Draft without an agent, according to the Associated Press. Thompson averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this past season — not exactly attention-grabbing stats.
  4. As much as Texas faithful don’t want to hear it, the decisions of Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and Jordan Hamilton make a little more sense. All three players will go through the NBA Draft process, according to ESPN’s Dana O’Neil. However, only Hamilton has immediate plans to sign with an agent, though Thompson figures to be a possible lottery pick.
  5. Former Wake Forest sophomore guard Ari Stewart is heading to the West Coast to play for USC and coach Kevin O’Neill, according to Pedro Moura for ESPN Los Angeles.com.
  6. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, you just won the 2011 national championship. Where are you going next? The weed man? Not a great idea. Police arrested the sophomore swingman April 21 and charged him with marijuana possession, according to the Associated Press.
  7. Redemption remains a possibility for Coombs-McDaniel, much like it is for BYU’s Brandon Davies, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. Davies had possibly the most noteworthy sex of any college athlete this year when the news broke in early March that the Cougars would suspend their best big man for violating the university’s honor code, which prohibits premarital sex. However, Davies is confident that he’ll complete the necessary penance to return to campus as a BYU student-athlete, then return to the court as a solid post player for the Cougars.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

The Miami coaching gig is a death trap.

It’s not that the Hurricanes will never succeed, and it’s not that a talented coach can’t attract some talented players to Coral Gables. The problem is that it will be almost always impossible to get fans in the stands, which is one of the primary concerns of athletic departments.

And without a naturally enthusiastic fan base, Miami’s coach must produce fantastic seasons on a regular basis. For new coach Jim Larranaga, that’s a tall order.

The Hurricanes have some talent heading into next season, especially if Reggie Johnson returns to school instead of remaining in the NBA Draft. He would join Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott in south Florida. Unfortunately for Larranaga and the ‘Canes, most people in south Florida are more interested in other teams and activities. The city’s mercurial fan base has the Miami Heat as their primary object of affection on the hardwood. Among the Coral Gables community and student body, ‘Canes football will always be the No. 1 sport on campus.

That leaves Larranaga’s crew fighting for the No. 3 spot in town with other sports teams, including the Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers and Miami Dolphins — NFL lockout permitting. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the allure of the beach and notorious night life. Unless Miami can knock off North Carolina and Duke on an annual basis, getting fans to show up at the BankUnited Center will be a very tough task.

The Hurricanes’ 7,200-seat arena would need about 50 percent of all Miami undergrads present and accounted for just to fill three-quarters of the seats. Larranaga would need to attract some serious talent to generate enough buzz to fill the rest of the arena. And that wasn’t his M.O. at George Mason, nor will ACC rivals like Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, Gary Williams and Leonard Hamilton make it easy for him to get the best kids to play at Miami. Within the state of Florida, the Gators have the best shot at recruiting local kids, with Florida State’s Hamilton not far behind.

Despite that shark-infested climate, Miami remains an ACC team with ACC expectations. That means the Hurricanes need to sell out the big games, finish in the top third every now and then, and make a run to at least the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament when talented recruiting classes come through town. Ask Paul Hewitt and Al Skinner how that goes.

Good luck to Larranaga. This won’t be a vacation.

Health Comes Before Hoops

by - Published April 18, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a roundup of news from across the nation.

When forward Emmanuel Negedu transferred to New Mexico, he figured he had a fresh start ahead after heart problems at Tennessee. While with the Volunteers, he entered a sudden cardiac arrest in 2009. He had the all-clear to play, barring any more bad news. But more bad news struck in December 2010 when he a bad reading on a defibrillator, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. And that means Negedu’s playing career is through, though he’ll remain on scholarship to complete his degree as a Lobo.

Washington State fans are holding their breath that Klay Thompson won’t follow junior DeAngelo Casto to the NBA after the Cougar forward announced that he’ll enter the draft and hire an agent, according to the Associated Press. Casto was Wazzu’s top big man last season, with 12 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

In addition to losing Josh Selby and the Morris brothers to the NBA and Tyrel Reed, Brady Morningstar and Mario Little to graduation, Kansas will be without guard Royce Woolridge, who announced he is transferring, according to the Associated Press. Woolridge said he wants more playing time, which he apparently isn’t convinced he’d get in Lawrence despite the roster turnover.

In other transfer news, Loyola Chicago is getting some Big Ten talent in Iowa guard Cully Payne, who will have three years of remaining eligibility, according to ESPN Chicago’s Scott Powers. And sparingly used forward J.J. Richardson is leaving Pittsburgh in search of a better fit, according to the Associated Press.

On the flip side, the Jayhawks could be on the receiving end of a transfer if La Salle’s Aaric Murray picks Kansas over West Virginia. According to Jon Rothstein, the sophomore big man is leaving the Explorers for one of those destinations after averaging 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this past season.

Miami’s coaching search continues, writes the Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman, as new athletic director Shawn Eichorst talked to Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter about the position. Eichorst has connections to the state after coming to Miami from Wisconsin, where he was an associate athletic director at the school.

Whoever ends up in south Florida as the Hurricanes’ coach might not bring highly regarded recruit Bishop Daniels to Coral Gables. According to Barry Jackson’s “Sports Buzz” blog at Miami Herald.com, Daniels wants a release from his letter of intent so that he can choose Tennessee or Rutgers. Given that the Scarlet Knights are the only team of the three with a returning coaching staff, that could bode well for Mike Rice’s squad.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

You’ve got to feel for New Mexico’s Emmanuel Negedu.

The Lobos sophomore overcame the scare of a cardiac arrest at Tennessee and found a fresh start in Albuquerque. New Mexico is one of the top programs of the Mountain West Conference, especially with BYU bolting for the West Coast Conference.

But it just wasn’t in the cards for Negedu to make an impact on the court. A bad reading on a defibrillator means team doctors won’t clear him to play ever again. It’s just too risky.

Although Negedu must manage his condition carefully, his life is still full of opportunity. The Lobos intend to keep Negedu on scholarship, which will give him the opportunity to earn his degree as a Lobo. And if Negedu has interest in contributing to team activities, the squad should be able to find an off-court role for him.

For players gifted enough to earn a Division I scholarship, the concept of imminent mortality might not be an everyday realization. But Negedu now has a perspective that gives him the opportunity to keep his teammates grounded in the face of adversity and focused on greater goals.

And that’s a perspective that could allow Negedu to make an on-court impact vicariously through the rest of the Lobos.

Globetrotters’ Basketball Soul Outshines Rash of Rough News

by - Published April 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a round up of the nation’s top stories.

1. Although Phil Jackson seems pretty convinced that there won’t be a next season for the NBA next season, several college players are gambling that they’ll still be making NBA money within a few months. Here are a few of the players who announced during the past few days that they’ll be entering the NBA Draft.

2. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz breaks down the NCAA Legislative Committee’s proposal to move up the deadline for declaring for the draft. If the Board of Directors approves the measure, players will need to decide by April 10 whether they intend to declare for the draft — and they can’t turn back. It essentially ends the test-the-waters approach, which isn’t good for the kids, Katz writes.

3. One player who won’t be testing the waters this season is Baylor’s Perry Jones, ESPN.com’s Andy Katz writes. Somewhat surprisingly, Jones will return to the Bears, who had a disappointing season but will return a start-studded team, anchored by Jones.

4. Despite the uproar about the early entry deadline, that’s small change compared to the fiasco in San Diego. The Associated Press reported this week that the FBI is investigating former members of the Toreros program for running a sports betting business, and 10 people have been charged in the case, including the team’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Johnson. In addition to Johnson, former player Brandon Dowdy is accused of fixing games.

5. Jorts-mania could be coming to a town near you. Kentucky’s Josh Harrellson will be launching a Jorts Tour — after his now-famous nickname — to sign autographs and hawk his clothing line, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

6. As Nebraska prepares to move to the Big 10 next season, the Huskers have reworked coach Doc Sadler’s deal to pay him an extra $100,000 per year, making his salary $900,000 per year through 2015-16, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

7. One of Nebraska’s former Big 12 rivals, Iowa State, is dealing with some drama after police arrested freshman center Jordan Railey for punching a man late Wednesday night along a hot spot for Ames restaurants and bars, according to the Associated Press. Coach Fred Hoiberg has suspended Railey while gathering more information about the incident.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Man, what a rough week for news in the world of college basketball.

Several players landed in trouble with the law (Nebraska, Florida). An NBA-minded freshman skipped his team’s season-closing banquet to work out in Vegas (Kansas). And speaking of Sin City, the gambling bug apparently migrated south to San Diego, where the very integrity of the game is in question after the FBI unearthed a supposed sports business ring that included former Torero players who are accused of fixing games.

And just to pile on, the NCAA looks pretty selfish and uninterested in the welfare of student-athletes after moving forward with a proposal to give players until about a week after the championship game to decide whether they want to return to school or enter the NBA Draft. Needing only an affirmative vote by the NCAA’s Board of Directors to become official, the proposal applies tortured logic that benefits schools and coaches but not players. And the players already are limited because the NCAA won’t let them profit from their name or likeness in commercial products, such as video games. However, the NCAA is happy to take its cut from those sales.

That’s enough to get you pretty down about the game.

Thankfully, I watched the Harlem Globetrotters play tonight on ESPN. And that evaporated my creeping cynicism. The figure-eight weaves, between-the-legs passes and crowd-pleasing interludes don’t look like traditional basketball. All those fancy moves make for great entertainment, and everyone in the arena is having fun — even the tough-luck Generals.

Basketball is supposed to be fun. Yes, the game can be a means to a career — and a small fortune — for the most talented players. But for the 99 percent of players who don’t come within sniffing distance of an NBA pay check, the game needs to be fun. If it’s not, why play? The Globetrotters take fun to an extreme, but they embody the soul of the game.

Despite the spate of bad news, the game goes on. By November, optimism will be the mood du jour as nearly 350 Division I teams embark on the journey toward a 2012 championship. And with any luck, most of them will have plenty of fun along the way.

Back in Action, With Championship-Level Appreciation

by - Published April 11, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

Editor’s Note: We’ve trimmed down the Full Court Sprints because Hoopville’s new design has made some elements redundant. In particular, our new design highlights some of Hoopville’s great coverage in the middle column. In addition, we’ve got recent tweets from Phil Kasiecki and Michael Protos in the right column. There’s no games on tap anytime soon — sadly — so the upcoming games and recent results are irrelevant until November. We do have plenty of news to round up and some quick commentary on recent trends and news.

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a round up of the nation’s top stories.

If it’s April, three of the top stories in basketball relate to which coaches are changing jobs, which players are going pro, and which players are transferring. Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman has a list for the latter category. In case you’ve missed some of the player movement of the past few weeks, Goodman lists all the players who have announced that they will play elsewhere.

At ESPN.com, you can track all the coaching movement in Division I in a chart that lists schools, former coach and new coach. As of today, 13 teams are still in the hunt for a new coach.

And if you want to find out whether your team’s best underclassmen will be playing in the NBA or NCAA next season, check out CBS Sports.com’s set of charts.

The most recent team to fill its open coaching position is UNLV, according to the Associated Press. BYU associate coach Dave Rice is moving on from the Mormons’ home base of Utah to Sin City. Rice’s now former boss, BYU coach Dave Rose, said Rice is an excellent teacher and has a history of success, which he’ll be taking to the desert and a Rebels team that has emerged as a perennial Mountain West contender.

St. John’s coach Steve Lavin will begin treatment for prostate cancer after announcing that he was diagnosed with the disease in fall 2010, according to SI.com’s “Fan Nation” blog.

BYU is extending coach Dave Rose’s contract, a rare reward for excellence at the university, according to Fan Nation. Just don’t ask about the financial details.

We already have some drama heading into next season’s North Carolina State vs. Maryland rivalry in the ACC. Granted, in recent years, there’s not much of a rivalry to speak of between those teams. However, Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow, former boss of Maryland coach Gary Williams, accused Williams of trying to sabotage her search for a new coach. She eventually hired former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried to replace Sidney Lowe, drawing the ire of State fans who wanted Shaka Smart or another hot name. There’s plenty of bad blood between Yow and Williams, according to the “Lost Lettermen” blog.

UCLA finally knows where the Bruins will be playing home games next season while Pauley Pavilion gets a facelift. Eamonn Brennan, of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog, reports that the Los Angeles Sports Arena will host 14 Bruins home games, with the team playing four others at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Fresh off his third national championship, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun said he will take some to decide whether he wants to retire, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. But don’t think that means he’s taking any time off from the recruiting trail.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

I watched every second of Connecticut’s championship game victory against Butler. And that might officially make me a basketball geek — as if there were any doubt about that.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Huskies’ 53-41 win wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever watched. But there’s been far too much talk about how terrible the game was, and some commentators have even hinted that the NCAA Tournament has a flawed format in which the best team doesn’t win the title.

To that, I say: horse manure.

The NCAA Tournament has one of the most difficult post-season formats of any sport at any level because a champion must win six — at least — games in a row against opponents that play a variety of styles. A championship run is a testament of a coach’s ability to strategize a game plan and adjust it during the heat of the action. It’s a testament of great players performing at a consistently high level for three weeks.

Even the most talented teams in the country will likely face at least one opponent that plays a style that makes the favorite somewhat uncomfortable. For underdogs, the ability to get a team outside its comfort zone, force mistakes and capitalize on opportunities forms the recipe for an upset. VCU took that recipe and repeated it from the First Four to the Final Four.

The Rams got past USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas with a pressure defense that preyed on inconsistent backcourt play. On offense, VCU rode hot three-point shooting to cover up for a size disadvantage in the post. If the Rams met the Jayhawks in an NBA-style seven-game series, there’s no way I could see VCU winning the series. I’d pick VCU to win one, maybe two games in seven against Kansas. But the more talented team — as NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley frequently pointed out during their stint as NCAA Tournament analysts — would likely advance, barring injuries or a major internal meltdown.

And that’s what makes the NCAA Tournament wonderful. To be champion, you must come to play every game for three weeks. Anything short of your best effort could send you home. And even your effort might not be enough if you’re running the wrong game plan.

So don’t tell me Butler’s 18 percent shooting in the championship ruined the tournament or somehow devalues Connecticut’s achievement. In the game I watched, I saw an outstanding defensive effort in which the Huskies limited the Bulldogs to a tiny number of clean looks at the hoop. However, Butler also failed to make in-game adjustments. The team took 51.6 percent of its shots from three-point range, making only 9-of-33 attempts. After Chase Stigall hit a three to open the second half and give Butler a six-point lead, the team didn’t make another shot from the field for seven minutes and only one shot in 13 minutes. During that stretch, the Bulldogs missed 11 three-pointers.

Brad Stevens realized his teams was overmatched in the post, but the Bulldogs just weren’t getting it done from the perimeter. The team’s stubborn insistence on jacking up bombs — and bricks — led to the dismal shooting percentage and put Connecticut on track to the championship.

More simply put, the Huskies executed their game plan more efficiently and effectively than Butler could, and the Bulldogs couldn’t adjust to do anything about that. In a championship game performance, that’s all you can ask from the winning team, regardless of the score.

Bracket Breakdown: Critical Questions for the Elite Eight

by - Published March 26, 2011 in Columns

Let’s dive right into today’s Elite Eight match ups between Florida and Butler, followed by Connecticut and Arizona.

(8) Butler 74 (2) Florida 71 OT

In each of the past two NCAA Tournaments that Florida played Butler, the Gators reached the national title game, winning it in 2007 and losing to Michigan State in 2000. These two teams are different from their recent counterparts, and the winner will be one step away from the championship game. … Continue Reading

Pac-10 Player Rankings 2.0

by - Published December 19, 2010 in Columns

In recent weeks, the Pac-10 has fallen on some tough times. The conference’s 10 teams have dropped 18 games this month, including an 0-2 record against Montana.

One cause for the recent struggles has been poor guard play. Of the six power conferences, the Pac-10’s guards already had the lowest average Total Impact Quotient of 6.2. In the past three weeks, that rating has fallen to 5.8. The Pac-10’s best guard, Trent Lockett, wouldn’t rank in the Big East’s top six.

So with conference play quickly approaching, look for the teams with the steadiest guards to have an advantage. That means Washington State could be poised to surprise some people, with Marcus Capers and Klay Thompson leading the way. The two Cougars are right behind Lockett in TIQ rankings among Pac-10 guards. … Continue Reading

Breaking the Studious Silence

by - Published December 17, 2010 in Full Court Sprints

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

  1. Get ready for DeeNardo! Mississippi State will soon have Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney on the court at the same time, which should make the Bulldogs a force in the weak SEC West, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com.
  2. After Montana upset UCLA in early December, Montana coach Wayne Tinkle (hee hee…) wanted to make sure the Grizzlies kept the good times rolling with a home win against Oregon State, writes ESPN.com’s Diamond Leung. Tinkle turned to YouTube to urge Grizzly students to show up for what became the team’s second win against a Pac-10 school this season.
  3. Kansas’ depth has taken a hit with the indefinite suspension of guard Mario Little after he was charged with battery, criminal damage and trespassing as a result of a fight with his girlfriend, according to CBSSports.com. Little contributes more than a little, with 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game
  4. ESPN’s Jay Bilas gives props to several teams and players, especially Butler’s Ronald Nored, who is the scrappy leader of the Bulldogs.
  5. Arizona coach Sean Miller was fired up after his team’s disappointing blowout loss to BYU, and Arizona Daily Star reporter Bruce Pascoe posted Miller’s comments from a press conference on Pascoe’s blog. One nugget: “We shot six airballs against BYU. You can go a season and not shoot six airballs.”
  6. Oklahoma bids adieu to freshman T.J. Taylor, who didn’t log a single minute for the Sooners, according to the Associated Press. Taylor suffered a concussion during the preseason and intended to sit out this season as a medical redshirt.
  7. Mississippi State isn’t the only team adding post-semester firepower. According the Associated Press, Tennessee will now have the services of sophomore forward Jeronne Maymon, who sat out the second semester of 2009-10 and the first semester of this season after transferring from Marquette in 2009.
  8. Kudos to ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan for finding this Silent Night phenomenon at Taylor University. Yes, a gym full of silent people — until the home team’s 10th point.
  9. More greatness from YouTube, courtesy of Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg, who finds the wonders of Colorado State’s Blues Brothers wanna-be.
  10. ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that the SEC and Big East are expanding their interconference clash to include all 12 SEC teams. In addition, the games will move from quasi-neutral courts to the hostile confines of teams’ home arenas.
Most of the players throughout Division I were immersed in finals this past week, so we had a relatively light week of action. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have plenty of important games and surprising results. Here’s a sampling, in case you missed it.

  • Louisville 77, UNLV 69
  • Santa Barbara 68, UNLV 62
  • Tennessee 83, Pittsburgh 76
  • Oakland 89, Tennessee 82
  • Michigan State 77, Oakland 76
  • Drexel 52, Louisville 46
  • Coastal Carolina 78, LSU 69 OT
  • UNC Wilmington 81, Wake Forest 69
  • Fordham 84, St. John’s 81
  • Texas A&M 63, Washington 62
  • BYU 87, Arizona 65
  • Villanova 84, La Salle 81
  • Kent State 56, South Florida 51
  • Boston College 79, Maryland 75
  • Wisconsin 69, Marquette 64
  • Richmond 72, VCU 60
  • Florida State 75, Clemson 69
  • Virginia Tech 79, Penn State 69

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

Ray Floriani picks the five lessons you needed to learn from the Jimmy V Classic, with an emphasis on the color — and team — Orange.

Phil Kasiecki chats with La Salle’s John Giannini, who wants you to know that the Explorers aren’t a surprisingly good team, they’re an expectedly good team.

Michael Protos serves up a buffet of articles on rankings, including Big 12 and SEC rankings and analysis of Vanderbilt’s wonder reserve. He also delivers a quick recap of the Big South season thus far.

The holiday season gives us a handful of wonderful gifts this week, with exciting match ups of elite teams, like Kansas State vs. Florida and Texas vs. North Carolina. Here are some more great games to look forward to this week.

12/18:

  • South Carolina at Ohio State
  • Kansas State vs. Florida
  • Gonzaga vs. Baylor
  • Texas vs. North Carolina
  • Central Florida vs. Miami
  • Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State
  • Western Kentucky at Murray State

12/21:

  • UNLV at Kansas State
  • BYU at Weber State
  • IPFW at Purdue
  • VCU at UAB
  • Morehead State at Austin Peay

12/22:

  • Missouri at Illinois
  • Texas at Michigan State
  • Harvard at Connecticut
  • Drexel at Syracuse
  • Xavier at Gonzaga
  • Washington State vs. Mississippi State

12/23:

  • Georgetown at Memphis
  • UTEP at BYU

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

It’s finals season for college students from Maine to San Diego State, which makes it an appropriate time to remind ourselves that our favorite players are also student-athletes.

It’s no easy task to balance the rigors of a season that starts with practices in mid-October and, for the best teams, runs through the first weekend of April. That’s just about the entire academic year. So schools must do their best to provide these students with the resources and time necessary to hone their academic skills and perform at the highest level in the classroom in addition to on the court.

And if they don’t, there will be consequences.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Report is not a perfect tool for measuring academic standards at athletic programs, but it’s a good start. As the first semester ends, now is a good time to take a peak at the APRs of the 26 teams in the AP or coaches top 25 polls — the coaches like Florida while the writers prefer Texas A&M.

Of those 26 teams, nearly half have APRs north of the average for all Division I sports: 967. Kansas, Michigan State and Texas lead the way with a perfect 1,000. Congratulations to Bill Self, Tom Izzo and Rick Barnes for keeping academics at the forefront of perennially successful programs.

Ten other teams fall below the Division I average but still have acceptable rankings, north of 925. Below that, the NCAA will be watching closely. So four teams — Kansas State, San Diego State, Purdue and Syracuse — had better start making academics a bigger priority. Syracuse already has faced a scholarship reduction because of its inability to meet NCAA academic standards.

It’s no easy task to keep students focused on academics when they routinely face physically exhausting games and practices. But it’s critically important to do so, especially because the vast majority of Division I players won’t be taking those skills beyond college.

Pac-10 Player Ratings

by - Published November 29, 2010 in Columns

The Pac-10 took a lot of heat last season for its underwhelming play for much of the season. But in the NCAA Tournament, No. 11-seed Washington turned on the jets and sprinted past Marquette and New Mexico before losing a tight game to West Virginia in the Sweet 16.

This season, the Huskies appear poised to make another run in the NCAA Tournament, albeit as a better seed. Washington has three players ranked among the best at their position in the Pac-10, and two of them aren’t even primary contributors. Justin Holiday is the biggest factor, ranking No. 5 among Pac-10 forwards with a 15.3 Total Impact Quotient. He logs 26.4 minutes per game for Washington.

Meanwhile, a couple of newcomers provide excellent relief off the bench. Freshman guard C.J. Wilcox is playing exceptionally well, with a 19.3 TIQ. If he were to maintain that level, he’d have the highest TIQ of any guard of the past two seasons, even ahead of Connecticut’s Kemba Walker. The secret to Wilcox’s success is efficiency. The young gun is averaging nearly nine points in only 13 minutes per game. Plus he’s good in every phase of the game, with 11 three-pointers, 14 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and two steals in only five games.

If Wilcox continues to play so well, coach Lorenzo Romar will have to give him more playing time. It’s unlikely Wilcox could maintain such an insane TIQ, but even a slight dip would likely deliver excellent results for the Huskies, who also get plenty of help from sophomore Aziz N’Diaye. The big man ranks as the top Pac-10 center with a 22.6 TIQ.

N’Diaye’s rating is the product of his proficiency on the boards. He has collected 35 rebounds, including 15 at the offensive end. That’s a big deal because the Huskies have been on fire to start this season, so extending the possession is hugely beneficial. At the other end, N’Diaye leads the team with 11 blocks despite playing only 17.6 minutes per game.

Here are the top players by position in the Pac-10, followed by the team-by-team breakdown. If you’d like an explanation for how we calculate the Total Impact Quotient, check out our thorough introduction to the rating system.

All numbers are through Sunday, Nov. 28.
TIQ position averages:
Centers: 11.3
Forwards: 10.4
Guards: 6.2
TIQ = Total Impact Quotient
PD% = Position differential in % difference from average

Top 3 centers Team TIQ PD% Minutes
Aziz N’Diaye Washington 22.6 100.0 88
Joshua Smith UCLA 15.1 33.6 80
Joe Burton Oregon State 14.9 31.9 138
Top 5 forwards
Derrick Wiliams Arizona 21.9 110.6 147
Joevan Catron Oregon 20.3 95.2 176
Reeves Nelson UCLA 17.9 72.1 152
Omari Johnson Oregon State 16.0 53.8 155
Justin Holiday Washington 15.3 47.1 132
Top 5 guards
C.J. Wilcox Washington 19.3 211.3 65
Trent Lockett Arizona State 16.7 169.4 175
Marcus Capers Washington State 16.3 162.9 124
Jorge Gutierrez California 14.2 129.0 152
Brendan Lane UCLA 13.1 111.3 121

Player Rankings

Position Team/Player TIQ Minutes PD% Position rank
ARIZONA 2010-11
F Solomon Hill 12.0 153 15.4 12
F Derrick Wiliams 21.9 147 110.6 1
G Lamont Jones -1.7 138 -127.4 47
G Kyle Fogg 4.6 127 -25.8 29
F Jamelle Horne 7.0 122 -32.7 29
F Kevin Parrom 12.0 99 15.4 13
G Jordin Mayes 3.1 95 -50.0 34
C Kyryl Natyazhko 12.2 89 8.0 5
F Jesse Perry 10.8 81 3.8 17
G Brendon Lavender 6.4 74 3.2 23
C Alex Jacobson 3.4 32 -69.9 6
ARIZONA STATE 2010-11
G Trent Lockett 16.7 175 169.4 2
G Jamelle McMillan 12.1 159 95.2 6
G Ty Abbott 2.2 134 -64.5 41
F Kyle Cain 11.0 127 5.8 16
G Rihards Kuksiks 0.6 120 -90.3 45
G Keala King 11.5 82 85.5 8
G Chanse Creekmur 3.9 61 -37.1 32
F Carrick Felix 6.0 55 -42.3 31
C Rusian Pateev -3.4 48 -130.1 7
CALIFORNIA 2010-11
G Jorge Gutierrez 14.2 152 129.0 4
F Harper Kamp 9.9 143 -4.8 20
G Allen Crabbe 9.3 142 50.0 14
G Gary Franklin -4.7 134 -175.8 49
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison 14.1 124 24.8 4
G Brandon Smith 5.8 99 -6.5 26
F Richard Solomon 12.1 94 16.3 11
G Emerson Murray 0.8 44 -87.1 43
OREGON 2010-11
F Joevan Catron 20.3 176 95.2 2
F E.J. Singler 12.9 171 24.0 8
G Garrett Sim 6.1 161 -1.6 25
G Malcolm Armstead 1.1 159 -82.3 42
G Jay-R Strowbridge 4.0 137 -35.5 31
G Teondre Williams 8.4 129 35.5 16
G Jonathan Loyd 6.8 103 9.7 21
F Tyrone Nared 6.4 90 -38.5 30
F Jeremy Jacob 5.8 52 -44.2 32
OREGON STATE 2010-11
F Omari Johnson 16.0 155 53.8 4
G Jared Cunningham 9.5 155 53.2 12
G Calvin Haynes 10.6 150 71.0 9
C Joe Burton 14.9 138 31.9 3
G Lathen Wallace 2.4 126 -61.3 38
G Ahmad Starks 0.7 110 -88.7 44
F Kevin McShane 12.3 58 18.3 10
F Devon Collier 9.7 49 -6.7 21
F Angus Brandt 5.5 44 -47.1 34
STANFORD 2010-11
G Jeremy Green -0.5 170 -108.1 46
F Dwight Powell 10.0 164 -3.8 19
F Josh Owens 8.3 142 -20.2 24
G Jarrett Mann 2.9 132 -53.2 35
F Jack Trotter 11.7 116 12.5 14
F Andrew Zimmerman 8.5 113 -18.3 23
G Anthony Brown 7.1 103 14.5 19
G Aaron Bright 5.1 95 -17.7 27
G Gabriel Harris 6.3 64 1.6 24
F Stefan Nastic 10.3 55 -1.0 18
F Josh Huestis 5.6 48 -46.2 33
UCLA 2010-11
F Tyler Honeycutt 7.4 171 -28.8 27
F Reeves Nelson 17.9 152 72.1 3
G Lazeric Jones 3.5 148 -43.5 33
G Brendan Lane 13.1 121 111.3 5
G Tyler Lamb -1.9 102 -130.6 48
G Malcolm Lee 7.6 94 22.6 18
C Joshua Smith 15.1 80 33.6 2
G Jerime Anderson 9.2 77 48.4 15
F Anthony Stover 7.6 45 -26.9 26
USC 2010-11
G Maurice Jones 2.4 276 -61.3 39
F Nikola Vucevic 13.6 256 30.8 7
F Alex Stephenson 7.9 218 -24.0 25
G Bryce Jones 7.0 212 12.9 20
G Marcus Simmons 7.8 168 25.8 17
G Donte Smith 2.4 164 -61.3 40
F Garrett Jackson 9.0 85 -13.5 22
WASHINGTON 2010-11
G Isaiah Thomas 9.5 135 53.2 13
F Justin Holiday 15.3 132 47.1 5
G Abdul Gaddy 9.7 126 56.5 11
F Matthew Bryan-Amaning 14.5 105 39.4 6
G Venoy Overton 10.6 100 71.0 10
F Darnell Gant 3.6 98 -65.4 35
C Aziz N’Diaye 22.6 88 100.0 1
G Scott Suggs 6.6 72 6.5 22
G C.J. Wilcox 19.3 65 211.3 1
G Terrence Ross 4.9 64 -21.0 28
WASHINGTON STATE 2010-11
G Klay Thompson 12.0 141 93.5 7
G Faisal Aden 2.7 128 -56.5 36
G Marcus Capers 16.3 124 162.9 3
G Abe Lodwick 4.5 84 -27.4 30
F Brock Motum 12.6 76 21.2 9
G Dre Winston Jr. 2.7 73 -56.5 37
F DeAngelo Casto 11.1 72 6.7 15
F Patrick Simon 7.1 57 -31.7 28
F Charlie Enquist 2.1 30 -79.8 36

Player Rankings for 2009-10

Position Team/Player TIQ Minutes PD% Position rank
ARIZONA 2009-10
G Nic Wise 7.3 1,021 17.7 122
G Kyle Fogg 5.9 893 -4.8 202
F Jamelle Horne 7.2 876 -22.6 239
F Derrick Wiliams 15.0 875 61.3 16
F Solomon Hill 7.5 785 -19.4 226
G Lamont Jones 1.5 563 -75.8 354
G Brendon Lavender 1.6 466 -74.2 352
F Kevin Parrom 9.0 356 -3.2 179
C Kyryl Natyazhko 4.2 338 -63.2 58
C Alex Jacobson 5.9 122 -48.2 55
ARIZONA STATE 2009-10
G Derek Glasser 7.8 1,086 25.8 101
G Rihards Kuksiks 6.2 982 0.0 183
G Ty Abbott 5.9 917 -4.8 203
C Eric Boateng 12.1 894 6.1 24
G Jamelle McMillan 7.3 799 17.7 123
G Trent Lockett 7.3 648 17.7 124
G Jerren Shipp 6.4 458 3.2 168
F Taylor Rohde 6.1 266 -34.4 271
G Demetrius Walker 1.9 241 -69.4 347
C Rusian Pateev 11.1 166 -2.6 31
CALIFORNIA 2009-10
G Jerome Randle 5.0 1,224 -19.4 247
G Patrick Christopher 6.1 1,209 -1.6 189
F Jamal Boykin 11.0 995 18.3 96
F Theo Robertson 8.6 983 -7.5 190
G Jorge Gutierrez 8.6 641 38.7 60
F Omondi Amoke 11.0 551 18.3 97
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison 9.1 435 -20.2 40
C Max Zhang 14.5 286 27.2 10
G Nikola Knezevic 1.4 247 -77.4 355
G D.J. Seeley 4.3 205 -30.6 273
G Brandon Smith 3.7 174 -40.3 297
OREGON 2009-10
G Malcolm Armstead 6.4 1,014 3.2 174
G Tajuan Porter 2.1 844 -66.1 344
F E.J. Singler 9.2 784 -1.1 176
F Jeremy Jacob 8.9 648 -4.3 184
C Michael Dunigan 15.3 567 34.2 8
G LeKendric Longmire 8.2 524 32.3 83
G Teondre Williams 6.1 496 -1.6 192
G Garrett Sim 5.3 493 -14.5 236
F Jamil Wilson 8.4 440 -9.7 198
G Matthew Humphrey 6.7 308 8.1 157
F Drew Wiley 3.8 143 -59.1 307
F Josh Crittle 7.1 139 -23.7 244
OREGON STATE 2009-10
G Calvin Haynes 6.8 990 9.7 153
F Seth Tarver 12.9 975 38.7 47
C Roeland Schaftenaar 11.6 816 1.8 26
G Josh Tarver 7.2 660 16.1 134
G Jared Cunningham 8.8 611 41.9 58
C Joe Burton 13.1 512 14.9 15
F Omari Johnson 7.6 495 -18.3 223
G Lathen Wallace 5.9 432 -4.8 208
F Daniel Deane 10.4 380 11.8 125
F Angus Brandt 4.9 238 -47.3 290
F Kevin McShane 7.5 187 -19.4 231
STANFORD 2009-10
F Landry Fields 15.3 1,161 64.5 13
G Jeremy Green 3.6 1,081 -41.9 305
G Drew Shiller 6.3 902 1.6 182
G Jarrett Mann 8.5 866 37.1 75
F Jack Trotter 7.3 811 -21.5 237
F Andrew Zimmerman 5.0 456 -46.2 287
G Da’Veed Dildy 3.5 323 -43.5 307
G Emmanuel Igbinosa 5.4 231 -12.9 233
F Elliott Bullock 3.5 212 -62.4 310
F Matei Daian 4.8 205 -48.4 293
G Gabriel Harris 1.3 137 -79.0 357
UCLA 2009-10
G Michael Roll 5.6 1,144 -9.7 224
G Malcolm Lee 6.9 1,112 11.3 147
F Nikola Dragovic 4.7 967 -49.5 294
F Tyler Honeycutt 13.3 719 43.0 40
G Jerime Anderson 6.9 708 11.3 148
F Reeves Nelson 13.9 655 49.5 32
F James Keefe 7.7 319 -17.2 220
F Brendan Lane 6.9 270 -25.8 249
G Mustafa Abdul-Hamid 2.3 215 -62.9 340
F J’Mison Morgan 3.9 166 -58.1 305
F Drew Gordon 11.2 147 20.4 91
USC 2009-10
G Dwight Lewis 2.7 1,067 -56.5 329
F Nikola Vucevic 12.3 968 32.3 59
F Marcus Johnson 3.1 888 -66.7 314
G Mike Gerrity 7.2 800 16.1 135
F Alex Stephenson 4.4 723 -52.7 299
G Marcus Simmons 4.2 506 -32.3 280
G Donte Smith 3.8 471 -38.7 295
F Leonard Washington 7.4 420 -20.4 233
F Evan Smith -0.9 120 -109.7 324
WASHINGTON 2009-10
F Quincy Pondexter 14.1 1,162 51.6 27
G Isaiah Thomas 7.7 1,089 24.2 110
G Venoy Overton 9.5 832 53.2 35
F Matthew Bryan-Amaning 11.0 821 18.3 100
F Justin Holiday 9.4 755 1.1 167
G Abdul Gaddy 2.5 655 -59.7 333
G Elston Turner 5.2 549 -16.1 242
G Scott Suggs 4.0 484 -35.5 288
F Darnell Gant 7.6 408 -18.3 225
F Tyreese Breshers 9.9 335 6.5 148
F Clarence Trent 8.1 119 -12.9 213
WASHINGTON STATE 2009-10
G Klay Thompson 5.0 1,096 -19.4 254
G Reggie Moore 8.9 1,007 43.5 52
F DeAngelo Casto 10.1 884 8.6 138
G Marcus Capers 8.9 826 43.5 53
G Nikola Koprivica 11.4 781 83.9 15
G Xavier Thames 3.4 546 -45.2 315
G Abe Lodwick 8.4 328 35.5 76
G Michael Harthun 0.4 247 -93.5 363
F James Watson 9.4 205 1.1 168
F Charlie Enquist 10.8 165 16.1 113
F Brock Motum 5.6 128 -39.8 278

Giving Thanks to Hoops!

by - Published November 19, 2010 in Full Court Sprints

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

  1. Gonzaga avoids disaster with super soph Elias Harris narrowly dodging a torn Achilles tendon, ESPN.com reports.
  2. It won’t be pretty, but Oregon State’s turquoise uniforms are part of the team’s participation in the Nike N7 Game against Texas Southern Nov. 21, according to NikeBlog.com. The game is part of the Native American Heritage Month, and Nike uses the N7 fund to support American Indian kids who want to pursue sports.
  3. Rough week for Tulsa’s Glenn Andrews — reinjures a knee and gets dismissed from the team, according to InsideTulsaSports.com
  4. Chuck will be part of TNT’s March Madness coverage team, according to the Associated Press. Think he’ll have an opinion about which teams didn’t deserve a bid?
  5. Former Kansas Jayhawk employees made $3 million to $5 million through a ticket scam that now has five people facing serious charges for conspiring to steal the tickets, according to a CBSSports.com news report.
  6. A.J. Moye, who helped guide the Hoosiers to the national championship game in 2002, is in a hospital in Germany for intensive examinations after Moye and a teammate collided in practice, ESPN.com reports.
  7. SI.com’s Luke Winn crunches numbers regarding freshmen and comes up with some interesting results. Bottom line: Don’t overhype your young guns.
Here is a roundup of some of the biggest and most surprising results of the past week.

Nov. 17

Mississippi 77, Murray State 61BYU 78, Utah State 72
Colorado College 60, Air Force 57 OT

Nov. 16

Kansas State 73, Virginia Tech 57

Ohio State 93, Florida 75

San Diego State 79, Gonzaga 76

VCU 90, Wake Forest 69

Nov. 15

Kennesaw St. 80, Georgia Tech 63

Oklahoma 71, NC Central 63 OT

Nov. 14

South Dakota St. 79, Iowa 69

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

Phil Kasiecki reports that the young Bulldogs at Yale nearly pulled off a huge upset against Providence.

Michael Protos writes that the ACC needs some big wins — and soon — to keep pace with conferences such as the Big Ten. Though as Phil Kasiecki points out, Maryland’s close call against the College of Charleston shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

And we have a few season previews for you:

ACC

Colonial Athletic Association

Missouri Valley Conference

Here are some of the best games coming up in the near future.

  • Friday: Wisconsin at UNLV
  • Sunday: LSU at Memphis
  • Monday:
    Gonzaga vs. Kansas State
  • Wednesday: VCU vs. Tennessee
  • Wednesday: UCLA vs. Villanova
  • Thursday: Temple vs. Cal
  • Thursday: Georgia vs. Notre Dame

Best possible match up in a holiday tournament:

Duke vs. Kansas State in CBE Classic final.

Yeah, he said it. Portland guard Jared Stohl boldly predicts a win against Kentucky tonight.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

During the past week or so, I’ve heard several analysts bemoan college basketball’s lack of a massive blowout to start the season.

People take days off from work to attend opening day for Major League Baseball. The NFL has moved the first game of the season to an entirely different day to create a grand spectacle. There’s no reason college basketball can’t have a captivating celebration that generates a week’s worth of anticipation.

In one sense, Midnight Madness actually hurts the hype of college basketball. The expensive and expansive celebrations that coincide with the first official practice occur several weeks before any teams tip off. Fans attend in person or watch on TV, get geeked up for their team…and wait another month for any meaningful results.

In past years, pre-season tournaments attempted to inject early season enthusiasm with exciting match ups. But they occurred on neutral courts, away from packed gymnasiums.

ESPN probably has the right idea with its 24 hours of coverage on campuses from the Northeast to Hawaii. But that should occur on the first day of the season, and no games should occur before that day. In addition, the first official day should be a Thursday or Saturday — not Friday when most people other than myself have better things to do than watch basketball all day.

I’m pretty sure that an infusion of sponsorships to drive competition among the TV networks would be all it takes to inspire a massive blowout befitting the return of college hoops.

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton

You can also find them all right here.

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New Hampton has a lot of size and personnel options

October 1, 2014 by

newhampton

New Hampton has a lot of size and versatility, giving them a lot of personnel options. That should add up to contention in NEPSAC Class AAA once again this season.

Suffield Academy looks to grow into Class A in NEPSAC

September 29, 2014 by

suffieldacademy

Signs of growth are present at Suffield Academy, and along the way the basketball team moves up into NEPSAC Class A this season as they try to keep the program growing.

Wilbraham and Monson has a new leader with a similar level of talent

September 29, 2014 by

wilbrahamandmonson

A busy Sunday started with a trip to Wilbraham and Monson Academy, where there is a new head coach who has been at the school and some good talent to work with.

Williston Northampton begins a new chapter on the hardwood

September 26, 2014 by

willistonnorthampton

A new era is dawning at the Williston Northampton School on the hardwood. It includes a new head coach who is changing some things up right away.

Kent School has some pieces to compete in NEPSAC Class A

September 25, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The Kent School might not have the talent or depth of its neighboring prep school, but they have a team worth watching that could compete in Class A this season.