Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Archive for September 26th, 2008

Friday News And Notes

Posted by Zach on September 26, 2008

An edition of Friday’s News and Notes to catch up on this past weeks biggest college basketball headlines:

– Connecticut freshman Nate Miles is supposed to be a key cog for the Huskies ascent to the top of the college hoops rankings this season. The talented wing will be a sparkplug off the bench for Jim Calhoun…if he can stay out of trouble. Miles violated his restraining order 16 minutes after receiving it in Hartford yesterday, posting a $2,500 bond and is scheduled to go to court later this month. Miles came with a reputation out of the many high schools he attended for being a nuisance without much supervision. Calhoun hopes this is just a minor transgression for the budding freshman.

– One of the top coaches in the nation, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, received a three-year extension on his already lengthy contract on Wednesday. The deal extends through the 2015-16 season and he will receive a raise from the $1.3 million he made last season. The Panthers have averaged nearly 27 wins per season under Dixon’s watch even if they’re not exactly a recruiting powerhouse. Dixon should be rewarded. Not many coaches could have rallied his team without stars like Levance Fields and Mike Cook to win the Big East tournament and receive a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

– Sticking with the Big East theme, good news for Syracuse fans came out early this week. Talented guard Eric Devendorf has received another year of athletic eligibility after being granted a hardship waiver due to last season’s devastating knee injury. For this upcoming season, Devendorf will be a junior athletic-wise. He forms a great backcourt with Johnny Flynn and returnee Andy Rautins for the Orange, who are looking to contend in the loaded conference.

– Kyle Whelliston chimes in with another gem. This time the topic is the newly-formed Great West conference that will form before the 2009-10 season. The name doesn’t tell the entire story- NJIT will be a member and New Jersey isn’t exactly considered a Western state. Whelliston points out the hardships these teams often have to go through scheduling games and flying coast-to-coast to get walloped by top-ranked teams looking for cupcakes. He also brings up the question of whether this conference will be rewarded with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, something the committee probably wants to avoid.  Texas Pan-American, NJIT, South Dakota, North Dakota, Houston Baptist and Utah Valley make up the current conference slate.

– This is only Insider, but Andy Katz’s blog catches up with three possible tournament teams this fall: Ohio State, Wake Forest and Nevada. Some gems: Matta thinks B.J. Mullens is more of a Greg Oden than a Kosta Koufos, meaning he’ll be someone planted firmly in the paint this season; the team hasn’t cleared its point guard situation, a big reason why I think they’ll finish behind Wisconsin who boast Trevon Hughes; Wake Forest has installed a Dick Bennett-style defense and their freshmen look great in workouts; Ishmael Smith should be ready for the season for Wake; Nevada coach Mark Fox managed to get North Carolina to come to Reno this season in a 2-for-1 deal.

– Luke Winn has a worthwhile article attempting to predict the breakout players for this season using possessions used and efficiency ratings. The article circles Dar Tucker of DePaul, LaceDarius Dunn of Baylor and Austin Daye of Gonzaga as potential breakout candidates. Tucker is a definite possibility, but will anyone notice on DePaul?  We’ll have our own list of breakout candidates when the season draws nearer.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and thanks for reading. More and more articles will be on the way as we head towards November.

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New Small School Trend Legit?

Posted by Tommy on September 26, 2008

As the hot summer days transition to cool fall evenings, the college football season is heating up and controlling the collegiate sports world. But to the liking of college basketball fans, the basketball season is slowly creeping up. In the little basketball news there has been, an interesting trend has been developing that I think should be brought to the attention of college basketball fans. As my colleague Zach pointed out in his quick recruiting article, big-time recruits like Rashanti Harris have opted to attend smaller schools like Georgia State. In addition to stud freshmen recruits attending smaller schools like Georgia State, Akron and Fresno State, Kyle Whelliston wrote a fascinating article documenting the increased amount of transfers flocking from larger major-conference schools to smaller schools. According to Whelliston, “there will be over 50 “trickle-down transfers” becoming eligible in the 2008-09 season” who will make a huge impact on the quality of their respective teams. The most extreme case is 7-foot junior Jonathon Huffman who decided to follow an assistant coach whom he developed a relationship with from Louisville to Iona. Yes, the Iona who won just 3 games two seasons ago.

This interesting trend is definitely worth keeping an eye on for the next couple of years to see whether mid-major programs keep landing big-time freshmen and transfers or this is just an anomaly. In my opinion, the trend is great for college basketball and I think its continuation for the coming years is a good possibility. Yeah, there are advantages to going to a top-notch program like Louisville: you get to appear on ESPN every Saturday in front of thousands of raving fans as well as millions of college basketball fans, and not to mention members of the media and NBA scouts, but some players can’t perform under that kind of pressure. At a school like Georgia State, a player can avoid the pressure the media provides and focus on basketball and a little less on schoolwork all while putting up huge numbers. Also, as my colleague pointed out, it worked for guys like Courtney Lee and Jason Thompson who got plenty of minutes and in turn, plenty of exposure at their small schools of Western Kentucky and Rider. So if players with that kind of talent like Huffman and the other transfers/big-time recruits, keep succeeding in getting their name in NBA Draft talks, I think this trend will become more popular.

As for the effects on college basketball, it’s great to see the level of play improve for these mid-major and low-major schools. A lot of these players were getting less than five minutes per game for their major schools, and those minutes were probably mostly in non-conference blowouts. Now that these players have transferred, they can display their talent by playing a large part of every game and putting up big numbers. If this trend does in fact continue, we could see more and more mid-major teams making noise during march madness like Stephen Curry and Davidson. For this season, it will be interesting to see how the change of scenery will play out for these transfers and whether we see more major conference bench players decide to come to smaller schools.

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