Author Archives: Skywalker

1-on-1: UNC vs. Duke

—> Just like a game of pickup on the courts down at the park, we at EVERY MONTH MARCH will be playing a little 1-on-1 throughout the college basketball season.  Two of our writers will be squaring off in typical street-ball fashion on the ‘Debate Hardwood’ to discuss some of the most Hot-Button topics, schools and players throughout the NCAA. <—

So, over the next few weeks, we are going to begin some back-and-forth about recruiting battles that happen every day between rivals.

Where would you go if you were a top recruit? Why? Why not?

We see teams and coaches battle on the court, but the battle doesn’t end once the game is over. Coaches are at consistent odds with each other, competing for the best players to enlist into their program.

One recruit’s decision can significantly alter multiple programs at one time, and this can be lost on the casual college hoops fan. Let’s start with the biggest rivalry in college basketball: Duke/North Carolina.

DUKE

Pitching Duke on its own could be done by a half-witted fourth-grader while on the short bus on the way to school.

Not. That. Difficult.

However, when it comes to pitching Duke over their archrival North Carolina, the task becomes a bit more murky. Duke and UNC battle over the top recruits every single year, so this exercise is a pertinent one.

Take Austin Rivers, for instance.

He is, by all accounts, a top two or top three recruit in the 2011 recruiting class. His decision came down to UNC and Duke, and he chose Duke. That is an absolute game changer for both programs.

So, let’s take this from Rivers’, or at least a Rivers’-esque type of recruit’s perspective.

The old pitch against Duke would have probably have been: Sure, Duke is a great program. But how many guys has Coach K gotten picked in the top five or ten picks of the NBA Draft in the past five years? How many has he even gotten picked in the lottery? Now, the response to that is just two words: Kyrie Irving.

Irving did more for Duke than just playing in 11 games and bolting for the draft...

Irving did more for Coach K’s program just by being picked first overall in the draft than he really contributed on the court. Irving showed that Krzyzewski will take a guy into his program that will likely leave after a season, and that he will allow a guy like that to shine enough to be in the position to become a high draft pick.

That’s big for a guy like Rivers, or any other top recruit, these days.

What else is there really to say at this point about Duke?

Do you want to play in one of the most historic stadiums in college basketball history for some of the most passionate fans in the country?

Cameron Indoor Stadium—check.

Do you want to play for one of the three greatest head coaches in college basketball history? A guy who could have 90% of NBA jobs with the snap of his fingers if he wanted? A guy who has coached a gold medal team in the Olympics? Continue reading

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A Second Chance: Coaches Getting Another Shot on the Bench

Most college coaches are given one real shot at making an impact and leaving a legacy. It’s a win or go home type career path, with tons of fame and fortune if you’re the former but endless disgust and resentment if you find yourself in the latter category.

Hopping Herb, could find himself on this list soon enough...

Sure, there’s plenty of bench bouncers and job jumpers, who seem to find their way from school to school, mid-major to mid-major or from Raleigh, NC to Arizona State (Hello, Herb Sendek and Lon Kruger). But, many college basketball coaches open and close their head coaching careers with one bad screw up.

The lucky are afforded another opportunity, or two, or five. But, how do they fare?
This year the likes of: Billy Gillispie, Mark Gottfried, and others were all given a second chance at life in the NCAA ranks. They’ve each enjoyed some success in their career but the questions still linger.

Will Gillispie prosper as he did in College Station or will he flounder like he did at Kentucky? Is Mark Gottfried the right man for N.C State, in the post Sidney Lowe era, or will his days of mediocrity in Tuscaloosa stick with him?

The queries will keep piling up amongst fans and foes alike. The unnerving “what if” scenarios will continue to fuel the fire if immediate gratification isn’t found in the form of wins and losses. And legacies will endure further criticism and scrutiny, as analysts and experts view the actions of each journeyman with a microscopic lens.

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NBA’s European Migration: A Benefit for NCAA?

By: Tim Speros (Special Contributor to EMM)

Remember Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman in The Replacements? No? Ok, the movie wasn’t an Oscar winner but I enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t want to be Keanu in that situation? You’re dating the head cheerleader for a pro sports team and have your own boat.  Boss!

Gene Hackman is a BOSS!

How does this relate to the NBA?  If a new CBA is not put in place before Halloween, (the usual time of the NBA season tip off) millions of fans will be disappointed when they have to stream footage of Bestikas (on eurohoops.net/ we now have game.html) or to see Deron Williams cut in and out (on their screen, not on the court).

Let’s say this lockout does not end, couldn’t the NBA owners just find replacement players?  I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there who would play in the NBA for say $300,000.00 a year. The minimum NBA salary last year was about $472,000.

This could be ideal for the NCAA, their current players, and former stars.  This could help college basketball become more competitive and more exciting.  Recent NBA drafts have consisted of mostly college freshman, sophomores, and international players. Before that, (before the draft rule changed a few years ago) kids were going from high school to the NBA and the NCAA was losing talent.

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NCAA Compliance made easy

On the list of major Universities across the country facing recruiting violations, scandal or even simple compliance issues, you’ll find the names of: Ohio State, USC, Indiana and in earlier times Georgia, Arizona State and even Boston College.

But, one name that you won’t find on that list – LSU.

Lousiana State has somehow remained in the clear when it comes to NCAA violations. How you may ask? Well, I think we may have finally found the answer…

Meet Super Compliance Guy, a master of the NCAA Rulebook and Jay Bilas Favorite.

Maybe Jim Tressel, Pete Carroll and Kelvin Sampson should take notice –

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NBA Draft: Winners and Losers

Thursday night’s NBA Draft proved to be fairly dull on most counts, with predictability taking precedent for the most part. But, the greatest intrigue of the night had to have come by way of the trade.

Sacramento picking for Charlotte, who swapped picks with Milwaukee, and Boston exchanging with New Jersey or Dallas conceding all draft picks in exchange for a proven player in Rudy Fernandez.

There were plenty of twists and turns and while players were being nabbed off the board under the radar every five minutes, analysts were rushing to try and break down trades and fit the specific pieces in the correct cities.

So, while your mind may still be tingling with confusion and popping with frustration over your team’s selection (Knicks fans I feel for you), here is a breakdown of the biggest winners and losers from Thursday night.

WINNERS:

1. The Wiz Kids– A young and talented Wizards team was looking for some good players to implement right off the bat in 2011-12. Taking the very talented and NBA-ready Vesely at #6 was a god send for the D.C. boys. The wing position was arguably Washington’s biggest problem in 2010 and they were in dire need of a long, slasher who could compliment rookie scoring machine Jordan Crawford and take some pressure off of 2010 number 1 pick, John Wall. Vesely is a great talent for the Wiz — plus his girlfriend is an absolute smokeshow — and a terrific value at 6th overall.

Not only is Vesely a top-10 talent but his girlfriend is also a smokeshow

The Wizards got a great player in Vesely here, not to mention an absolute steal in Chris Singleton at #18.  The lengthy defender can play both the 3 and 4 (in some sets) and should have an immediate impact on defense. Combine his length on the wing with Wall’s ability to guard the perimeter and you could be looking at the start of a great defensive team for years to come.

Don’t knock the selection of Shelvin Mack in the 2nd Round either, he’s a shifty point guard, who could provide some rest for Wall at times or be a good compliment to him, playing off ball in some sets.

Overall, great draft for the Wiz and this could be the start of a long run of quality basketball in the D.C. area.

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Draft Debates: Chris Singleton vs. Jordan Hamilton

With the likes of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant dominating the NBA from the wing, teams are continually looking to counter those stars with great wing players of their own.

Now, neither Chris Singleton nor Jordan Hamilton project to be anywhere near the caliber of James or Durant, but both are athletically gifted and likely to be good NBA players and that’s exactly what this draft class is all about – Potential!

So, who would you rather the defensive guru, Singlteon, or offensive aficionado, Hamilton?

Let’s take a look… shall we:

Chris Singleton, Florida State

(Giblin)

He's got the defensive game but will the lengthy wing ever develop an offensive arsenal?

What He Brings: Defense. Defense. Defense. In a NBA world with wings like the ones mentioned above, having a perimeter defender like Singleton can turn a team’s postseason fortune by shutting down these stars and throwing them off their game. But with Singleton’s size and athleticism, he can guard not only wing-oriented guards and forwards but also opposing team’s power forwards. That type of versatility cannot be overlooked. In a draft that is considered relatively weak, why not draft the one-sure thing: the best on-ball perimeter defender who can make an immediate impact?

So the guy has the athleticism and size to defend at the next level, but what about his offense? Well…it’s improved. It was pretty much non-existent his first couple years in Tallahassee, but he improved his PPG each of his three season at FSU and went from a 30% 3-PT shooter to 37%. That’s a big improvement but he still tends to be a little streaky. Developing a more consistent jumper would do wonders for his game. Nevertheless, he showed signs of improvement which has to be encouraging. But with Singleton’s size and leaping ability, he should be attacking the basket more and trying to pick-up more “garbage” points around the basket.

Some have questioned Singleton’s mentality and “fire” (I’m looking at you Chad Ford). I don’t buy it. You don’t jeopardize your basketball career by rushing your recovery from a broken foot to participate in the NCAA tournament without a little toughness and “fire.”

Possible Landing Spots: Washington Wizards (6th and 18th picks), Sacramento Kings (7th), Charlotte Bobcats (9th and 19th), Milwaukee Bucks (10th),Golden State Warriors (11th), Utah Jazz (12th), Houston Rockets (14th and 23rd), New York Knicks (17th)

Ideal fit: I honestly think Singleton is the safest pick in the draft. There are many gifted offensive players that end up playing in Europe or for perennial lottery teams. Defenders like Singleton are in such high demand and almost always find themselves playing in May and June. It’s not a coincidence.

That said, I think a blue-collar team like the Jazz would be a good fit. AK-47 likely is not going to becoming back to Utah, so replacing his versatility and defense with Singleton seems like a perfect fit. While Jerry Sloan might be gone, Kevin O’Conner will still love the versatility that Singleton can bring and would be a good complement to their already strong front court.

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Draft Debates: Reggie Jackson vs. Charles Jenkins

This draft is plenty heavy on point guards and there’s plenty of fringe first-rounders to be analyzed. But, with guys like Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker almost assured of a top-10 selection, there is tons of talent left floating between the mid-lottery and into the second round.

Two of these such “tweener” guards are Reggie Jackson of Boston College and the lesser known, Charles Jenkins from Hofstra. Both point guards are seen as athletic freaks in the eyes of NBA scouts and there is even lottery whispers sprouting up on both guys, mainly due to their potential.

Now, not much is known about the Hofstra product, Jenkins, but he’s got a lot of upside and is firmly on the first round bubble due to a stellar career, averaging close to 20 points and 4.5 assists per game. Meanwhile, Jackson was performing on a much more prominent stage nightly, playing against some of the country’s best teams. The Eagles guard broke out during his junior season, averaging 18 points and 5 assists per, while showing off his drool-worthy athleticism and newly honed ball skills.

The two prospects present much of the same for NBA teams, with a combination of athleticism and instant offense in the back court. In fact the two prospects are so closely rated that ESPN NBA Analyst, Chad Ford, has them rated as the 24th (Jackson) and 26th (Jenkins) prospects respectively on his big board.

Let’s see how the players break down comparatively:

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Twithitters: NBA Draft Movers

With the NBA Draft on the horizon and our first Mock Draft in the books, we decided to take a closer look at some of the players likely to move up/down draft boards in the coming weeks. So, here is a list of the draftees we are looking to make a big move, whether for the good or bad, heading into draft night in NYC:

Top 3 Draft Movers:

Giblin

Enes Kanter: GMs typically love to draft on potential which is why Kanter is considered a lottery pick. But a top 3 pick? I doubt it actually happens. There are so many other players that have shown flashes of potential this past year where as Kanter was declared ineligible by the NCAA and couldn’t show much. I’m guessing he drops regardless of how his individual workouts go.

Iman Shumpert: The guys been able to show his athletic ability and scouts are beginning to drool. I’ve already said that I’m not that impressed with his lack of overall skill, but I think NBA scouts are going to hope he can develop that overtime and will overlook it for now. Don’t be surprised if he ends up drafted in the teens.

Shumpert might fly up into the middle of the first round.

Jon Leuer: This is purely a hunch. I think Leuer could sneak into the top of the 2nd round. He’s got great size, a solid skill set, and a good motor. I think a GM is going to fall in love with him envisioning a Channing Frye/David Lee type player. If he shoots the ball well in these upcoming workouts, don’t be surprised if he starts rising on some draft boards.

                            

Mayo

 Jordan Hamilton: Hamilton is a top scorer in this draft. He has ideal size and athleticism for an NBA wing. Why is this guy not a surefire lottery pick? For my money, Hamilton is going to be up where he should be by the time the draft rolls around.

Yes, we are talking about you, Kawhi...Sorry to be the bearer of bad news

Kawhi Leonard: Leonard has a lot of upside but he may be out of place being up around the top 5 or 6 picks. He also had a somewhat disappointing combine, which is a bigger deal than you’d think since a lot of what scouts like about him is his athleticism. He could fall a bit.

 JuJuan Johnson: If JaVale McGee and Ed Davis can be drafted in the lottery, why on earth is JuJuan Johnson a fringe first round pick? Johnson has all the measureables, he just lacks bulk. He’s a great shot blocker, can run the floor, and he can score–though his post game is still developing. If he doesn’t rise, some team is going to get a steal in the late first or early second.

___________

Luke

Marshon Brooks:I’ve written about Brook’s sleeper potential before but the 6-foot-5 swingman from Providence is starting to actually rise up team’s draft boards. He’s been receiving high grades from scouts as of late and even drawing comparisons to Paul George throughout workouts. So, as the most potent scorer in the draft and with some off the charts measurements (including a 7’1″ wingspan) Brooks could be heading for lottery after all.

Marshon could be raising the roof on draft night if he sneaks his way into the lottery

Markieff Morris: The Morris twins have been hot on many radars since they declared back in April. But, while Marcus has been finding his way into the top-10 even in some mocks, Markieff has seen his stock falling as of late. With some questions about his position entering the league and a mediocre-at-best offensive skillset we could see at least one of the two twins headed for a steep fall on draft night.

Nikola Vucevic: After some terrific workouts in Chicago, Vucevic left the windy city looking more and more like a high level center in the NBA. Some teams have been falling hard for the 7-footer from Montenegro and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he even snuck his way into the lottery come draft night.

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Source: BU’s Chambers likely to become Penn St. coach

After nearly a two week search for their next head coach, Penn State seems to have found their man.

Jeff Goodman from CBS Sports reported early Thursday night that Penn St was in heavy pursuit of Boston University head man Patrick Chambers. The acclaimed college basketball writer also noted that no formal offer has yet been received by Chambers.

Could this be an omen of things to come in Happy Valley?

This hire could be a huge move for Chambers as he would jump from the America East conference to the Big Ten with a program that is looking towards a bright future.

Although it may be a good chance for Chambers the move seems like more of a push by the Nittany Lions. Chambers has only been a head coach for two years and he doesn’t have much more than last year’s success in the America East and tournament appearance to work off.

The positives that most people may overlook are that Chambers is a homegrown Pennsylvanian with a track record for success in the state. He played point-guard at Philladelphia University in the early 90’s and after spending three years as an assistant there took a job on Jay Wright’s staff at Villanova.

Chambers was one of the head recruiters during his tenure at Villanova and helped Wright make his way to the NCAA tournament, including the 2009 Final Four, in each of the six seasons he served as an assistant.

Moving up the ranks pretty quickly, Chambers is 42-28 in his 2 season at BU with a conference title  and NCAA berth (both 2011) under his belt already.

If, or more likely when, Chambers becomes the head man in Happy Valley look out for him to set out a full court press on talent in the local region. He’s got some great skills at convincing good players to take a chance and could invade on both Wright and Pitt’s Jamie Dixon’s recruiting territory.

This could be a very good hire for Penn State AD Tim Curley and the Nittany Lion staff, especially if Chambers is able to re-establish his recruiting prowess down the east coast.

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Penn State: The Coaching Search Rolls On

Just when basketball in Happy Valley seemed to be back on the rise, for the first time in decades, it appears that they may be headed back to square one.

The Nittany Lions were on a serious high after getting to the NCAA tournament for the first time in over 10 years and seemed ready to build for the future, only to be left high and dry by the very man that seemed to be resurrecting the program.

After eight topsy-turvy seasons in Happy Valley, Ed DeChellis jumped ship (literally) over the weekend, deciding to take the vacant job at Navy.

Are those tears of joy, Ed?

Dechellis may have thought it was the best move for his career, although I’m hard pressed to believe that, but he clearly didn’t think about the impact it would have on a Penn State program that he coached (in some capacity) for more than 20 season.

The Nittany Lions now must jumpstart a coaching search unexpectedly and extremely late in the offseason, when everyone else has already had their shot at the big names.

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