It’s here: The 2014 Backboard Chronicles All-American Teams

First Team

-Marcus Paige, G, Jr., North Carolina – Arguably one of the Top 2 point guards in the nation (more on that below). He’ll be one of the front runners for the Cousy Award and might have to shoulder more of the scoring load with James Michael McAdoo gone. That’ll be interesting considering he clocked 17.5 points per game last season, along with 4.2 assists per.

-Fred VanVleet, G, Jr., Wichita State – Here’s that other member of the Top 2 point guard club I was talking about. I really didn’t want to choose between the two so I went this way. While Paige is more dynamic, VanVleet might be the coolest guy on the floor. Even-keel the whole way. He dished out 5.4 assists per game last season and gets a lot of the Shockers’ production back (sans Cleanthony Early, obviously).

-Georges Niang, F, Jr., Iowa State – I had Niang pegged as a guy that would come out for the 2014 NBA Draft. The college game is better for him not doing it. Niang has the ultimate “old man” game with a variety of moves, both midrange and under the basket. His spot-up game is on point too, hitting 48 threes last season. He’ll be relied on a little more with Melvin Ejim gone.

-Karl-Anthony Towns, C/F, Fr., Kentucky – I normally don’t put freshman in these spots, but Towns has been too hyped since he was an 8th grader to ignore it. I watched him in the UK Scouting Combine/Practice/Brilliant Calipari PR move and was impressed. There aren’t many times when you say that about a player in practice, but you can say that when that practice includes around 8-9 future NBA Draft picks. He’s hitting threes at a decent pace for a non-Durant guy his size, too (127 in three years as a prep).

-Cliff Alexander, C/F, Fr., Kansas – OK SO MAYBE I LIKE THE FRESHMAN THIS YEAR (My 2006, sophomore-in-college self nods in approval) I saw Alexander play a few times in AAU, and every time I did, he was a monster. He tried to rip the rim down every single time he was under the basket. Kansas won’t miss Joel Embiid (that much) with Alexander in, because Alexander isn’t the project Embiid was. His post game is incredibly polished.

Second Team

-Juwan Staten, G, Sr., West Virginia – Here’s a guy who doesn’t get the love he should. Staten was the best player on a bad team last season, averaging 18.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 5.8 apg as the Mountaineers finished 17-16. In 2014-15, he’ll be looked to for everything as the top 3 scorers behind him are gone. But Bob Huggins brings in host of junior college talent in Jaysean Paige, Jonathan Holton, BillyDee Williams and Tarik Phillip. It’ll be interesting to see if the three freshman (including redshirt Elijah Macon) will contribute early.

-Delon Wright, G, Sr., Utah – Another guy who didn’t get the national respect he should’ve. That’ll change this season. Wright averaged 15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 5.3 apg for the Runnin’ Utes last season and helped them shock a number of people under coach Larry Krystkowiak (yea, I had to Google the spelling, at least I tried first), going 21-12. Utah could make the NCAA Tournament this season, and Wright will be a big reason why — if they do, or if they don’t.

-Stanley Johnson, G/F, Fr., Arizona – Sean Miller has a type, and that type is “slender with a ton of bounce.” Johnson slides right into the spot vacated by Aaron Gordon. He’s got a better penetration game from the perimeter and a slightly better jumper. He should enjoy his one season in Tuscon. At which point he’ll break up with Miller and the Wildcats head coach will have to find a new crush.

-Montrezl Harrell, F, Jr., Louisville – Everyone said he was gone to the NBA Draft, including this guy. But he went back to Louisville and has landed on everyone’s All-American list. I’m one of the few that put him on their second team. The reason why has nothing to do with his talent. If he lands on all first-team rosters, it won’t shock anyone. But if he does, it’ll be because he improved his midrange game, which was already vastly improved last season, when he finished with 14 ppg and 8.4 rpg.

-Jahlil Okafor, F, Fr., Duke – I swear, I’m not fishing for clicks. I like Okafor. I think he’s a Top 10 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. But it’s the preseason, and in the preseason, I look at what’s coming in. Duke has a lot of talent, per usual. For that, I think that Okafor won’t need to do a lot to start out. I really think he’ll average somewhere around 11 ppg up until ACC play, where coach Mike Krzyzewski will unleash him on the North Carolinas, Virginias and Louisvilles. But there will be an adaptation to the college game, and that lands him on my second team. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m totally wrong and he goes for 20-12 per and is a bonafide first team All-American by mid-season.

Third Team

-Joseph Young, G, Sr., Oregon – If there’s a player in Division I college basketball who will be asked to do more for his team this season, please show me and I’ll swap him with Young in this spot. After the dismissal of Daymean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin for their alleged involvement in a sexual assault case, combined with the fact that highly-touted recruit JaQuan Lyle didn’t enroll at the school, that doesn’t leave a lot in the metaphorical cupboard for Young. I was against Young’s transfer waiver being granted when he left Houston, but after seeing all that Dana Altman lost, I’m ok with it. Even if it’s just because he has a least one totally competent scorer (18.9 ppg) on his roster.

-Marcus Foster, G, Soph., Kansas State – He was possibly the best freshm— no, he WAS the best freshman no one was talking about last season. The Wichita Falls, Texas native set the Big 12 on fire (in a two-game stretch, he went for 34 against then no.15 Texas and backed it up with 20 against then no.7-ranked Kansas) and came back for more in Manhattan. No one will miss him this season, as he’s got help in the form of senior Thomas Gipson (11.7 ppg), Georgetown transfer Brandon Bolden and junior college transfer Stephen Hurt.

-Andrew Harrison, G, Soph., Kentucky – Once he figured out how to distribute last season, Kentucky was a better team for it. He averaged 10.9 ppg and 4 apg, en route to helping a late-season resurgence in Lexington. Now with a plethora of weapons to hit for threes, midrange jumpers and lobs, he could very well lead the nation in assists. Harrison makes this team go, as he proved it late last season. This year, that shouldn’t change.

-Kelly Oubre, F, Fr., Kansas – Every list has a WTF? pick, Oubre is mine. He’s got the credentials to be an All-American, but can he do it with the likes of Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander in front of him? I think so. He’s got more athleticism than either Ellis or Alexander in the face-up game and if he can stay consistent on defense, this could be his lone season in Lawrence. I see the potential, so I’m giving him a spot. Being left-handed doesn’t hurt.

-Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Jr., Kentucky – He didn’t come to Kentucky with a ton of hype, but has really become the most well-developed player in his two seasons under Calipari. Cauley-Stein has a good shot at being a Top 5 pick if he can raise his midrange and baseline jumper game, but he’ll also have to prove to scouts that he’s over the ankle injury. Yea, I’m reaching for reasons that WCS will have to improve, because there aren’t many.

Player of the Year – Marcus Paige

Freshman of the Year – Cliff Alexander

Defensive Player of the Year – Willie Cauley-Stein 

 


This is why you can’t have nice things, College of Charleston

First off, this isn’t a difficult thing, Joe Hull. When you fire a coach — with cause — you have to have an idea of what direction you’re going before you drop the axe.

Players told the administration that former coach Doug Wojcik had harassed them to the point where they felt he went across the line. In two seasons, the former Tulsa coach went 38-29 and hadn’t really generated any momentum with a program (the same problems he ran into in his final seasons with the Golden Hurricane) that experienced a bit of a rebirth under legendary coach Bobbby Cremins.

So, with all the current public information in hand, Hull, the athletic director, fired him.

That was on August 5. Which is, obviously, a horrible time to be forced to fire a college basketball coach. Freshman are arriving on campus to start summer term with the program. The summer recruiting period is over and for the most part, coaches are starting to turn their focus onto the upcoming season. But now, there’s no coach to be able to focus on the College of Charleston’s season.

Three weeks later, not only is there no new head coach on campus, the top two reported coaches for the job have publicly pulled their names from consideration.

Normally, when one coach does it, you can sometimes pin it to the fact that he was told, privately, that he was no longer being considered. But when three do it? Something’s off. And there’s no information out to prove that it’s something that’s on the administration.

So, for now, here’s how Joe Hull, you should handle the next week. Because that’s the time frame it should take to get your new coach into place.

  • Take a day and try to get Anthony Johnson back in play. It’s a risk, but you assumed a larger risk when you fired your head coach in August. He’s the best candidate for the job as one of the best players in program history and a man who can actually get folks excited about the program again.
  • If that doesn’t work, for the next few days, do everything in your power to be open about the search with the media. It’s the best way to get others to see what you’re dealing with. Transparency is key. Obviously, this has to be done while getting in the next few candidates.
  • Then get the best two remaining candidates and bring them in for an interview. They’re former Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz, who had some great days as head man of the 49ers, and Clemson assistant Earl Grant, who has tremendous ties to the state, with coaching stops at The Citadel, Winthrop and, (of course) Clemson.
  • Make a damn hire.

Hires for programs like the College of Charleston’s shouldn’t normally be big news. Only when there’s an egregious error in the process, as their have been many. Some that may have been avoidable.

We can’t sit here and say we have all the information, but short of something criminal, I’d have to say that there can’t be much holding up the hire of the best candidate (who accepts the position) for the program. Except those within the College of Charleston camp.

Make the hire and get on with the season. It’s not that hard.

Right? Wrong? Think this is nuts? Email at tbbchronicles@gmail.com or find me on Twitter at @David_Harten.

 

 


Passing the torch of the conscience-free shooter

Much like our last post, this one came from a thought about Marshall Henderson. He was (depending on who you cheered for) fun to watch in all his jersey-popping, landshark-throwing glory. But for some, it was really just because he had coach Andy Kennedy’s blessing to shoot from wherever, whenever. It’s a lost gift, really. In these the days of ball-control and efficiency stats, every possession matters, which makes a player who has the ability to chuck it from a different area code a treasure to behold. Like Clear Pepsi or a late 1990s Master P CD.

He wasn’t the only one. Ethan Wragge is done at Creighton, a guy who took 242 shots last season, and 234 were threes.

So I went digging. I started with some of the top players in terms of three-point attempts in NCAA Division I basketball. Then I went further, seeing what their teams look like to see if they could continue their pace of jacking threes like the line was being banned tomorrow.

Here’s who I think could make you sit and watch a game just to watch them hoist threes all night.

Michael Frazier II, Jr., Florida (264 of 343 shots were 3’s in 13-14) - Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Frazier is one of the best — possibly the best — big-name shooter in the country and he had a breakout season as the Gators reached the Final Four last year. The 6-4 guard was 118-for-264 (44.6 percent), averaged 12.4 ppg and hit big shots when they mattered — he shot 48 percent in the NCAA Tournament and SEC Tournament combined. With Kasey Hill and Eli Carter in to assume point guard duties after Scottie Wilbekin exhausted his eligibility, Billy Donovan will have to give him the green light based on the fact that, well, you don’t leave a stallion locked in the barn.

Prediction – Over 130 makes and 290 attempts, keeping him at around his normal 44 percent for the year.

 

Q.J. Peterson, Soph., VMI (244 of 549 shots were 3’s) –  When you’re in the right system, everything will come together. For Peterson, he plays for a Keydets team that, as most know, love to get up-and-down the court. As a freshman, Peterson, a 6-foot guard, had no conscience, shooting 244 threes with 78 makes (31.9 percent). That’s a pretty awful percentage, but it’s what comes with the territory when your coaches make line changes for substitutions and average a Division I-leading 88.3 ppg as a team. Peterson averaged 19 ppg, but he basically got the greatest situation for a shooter short of Marshall Henderson at Ole Miss.

Prediction – 110 makes with over 310 attempts, which will improve Peterson’s percentage to around 35 percent.

 

Johnny Dee, Sr., San Diego (225 of 425 shots were 3’s) –  This season it should be more of the same for Dee, who hit 94-of-225 (41.7 percent) threes last season. Two of the other top three scorers return for the Toreros in Christopher Anderson and Duda Sanadze return, which will keep the offense relatively the same. The 6-footer has been one of the more consistent shooters his whole career, averaging around three three-point makes and 6.5 attempts to this point. The Toreros also have eight freshman or sophomores on the team this year, so he’s going to be asked to maintain leadership on the court.

Prediction – Around 100 makes with 230 attempts, which should keep him around his current averages. Dee can also get to the rim, which is evident with his free throw-percentage hovering around 90 percent for his career and averages of around six trips to the line per game.

 

Damon Lynn Soph., NJIT (282 of 405 shots were 3’s) – Lynn led the Highlanders with 17.2 ppg and hit 37.9 percent from three-point range, which was actually better than the 37.3 clip he hit at overall.  The 5-11 guard was easily NJIT’s hottest scorer (Terrence Smith was second at 12.2 ppg and after that no teammates were in double-figures) and with some improvements from the rest of the roster, Lynn could be have the freedom to score. For Lynn, a unchanged situation puts him in the perfect one.

Prediction – Until NJIT finds a conference, guys like Lynn should get the nod to score at will. I’d expect his ppg to climb, but his three-point percentage to drop. Around 90 makes and 250 attempts.

 Did I miss anyone? Got a better idea? Email me at tbbchronicles@gmail.com or hit me on Twitter @David_Harten.

 


The new villains of college basketball for 2014-15

The differences in Aaron Craft and Marshall Henderson were astounding, really.

When you think about it, the 2013-14 basketball season, in part, was a study of how two men can be seen as “evil” to different people on totally different ends of the spectrum. Craft was, by all accounts, clean-cut, nice and did all the right things. Though he was still hated as if he somehow victimized an entire student section.

Then you had Marshall Henderson, who was 180-degrees in the other direction. The history with drugs. The arrests. The four schools in five collegiate seasons. Not to mention all the trashing-talking, jersey popping and general anger he incited….and that was just against Auburn.

They were the villains of the 2013-14 season (the last two seasons, really). But those two were seniors and have exhausted their eligibility.

So now we search for the next batch of possible prospects who are ready to cause fans to be ejected, security to be beefed up around the visiting bench and boosters’ wives to leave games early.

One caveat: No Duke players. Because, for the love of God, that’s just too easy. And y’all are better than that.

Ryan Boatright, Sr., G, UConnThe Mouth – There aren’t many great players going into 2014-15 that are known for their trash talk, but Boatright is one of them. He’s a smaller, talkative point guard who loves to get the the basket (12.1 ppg. 3.4 apg) and isn’t afraid to let you know that his game is up there with the best. He’s got a mouth to match his talent and I’d bet your life that we see it on a national stage.

Ron Baker, r-Jr., G, Wichita State - The Gun – Ron Baker has a well-rounded game (13.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.4 spg) , but he’s known for his range more than anything. He’ll piss off a fanbase from deep nightly (38 percent from 3-point range last year) and he’ll do it quietly, which added another dimension to how he’ll drive opposing fans crazy.

Aaron Harrison, Soph., G, KentuckyMr. Big Shot – Despite the insane amount of talent that recently descended upon Lexington, there’s no way student sections around the SEC forgot about Harrison’s big shot tour of March 2014. Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin fans sure as hell won’t. Every time the game is in the balance late, you can bet no. 2 will get more flak than his brother or the freshman phenoms  for the Wildcats. And he and his 13.7 ppg will probably get the same attention from opposing defenses.

Kevin Pangos, Sr., G, Gonzaga - The Tradition – Pangos carries on a long, proud legacy for the Zags: Shorter, white point guards who somehow get to the rim with ease. John Stockton, Matt Santangelo, Dan Dickau, Derek Raivio, now Pangos. He’s already the most hated man in the West Coast Conference and, while he’s had some attention on a national stage, it should increase this season as a senior, where he should improve on his 14.4-point, 3.3-rebound, 3.6-assist per game averages. If anything, Pangos is already hated at Wazzu.

Siyani Chambers, Jr., G, Harvard and Wesley Saunders, Sr., G, HarvardThe Nerds -It’s the smart kid syndrome. Despite the Crimson having  one of the better mid-major programs in the past five years under Tommy Amaker, the average fan at a college basketball game is going to prey on the fact that they go to a smart-kid school (which is a compliment, but you get the idea). Chambers (11.1 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Saunders (14.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg) have arguably the most talented mid-major backcourt in the land — rivaling Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter of Georgia State — and they’ll hear all about how they don’t belong all season.

Tyler Haws, Sr., G, BYUThe Jimmer Effect – I know, I know. It’s an easy play. But sometime you have to point out the obvious. He’s a white guard at BYU who gets all of the buckets — 23.2 ppg on 46.3 percent shooting, 40.4 percent from 3. He’s going to be the focal point of the Cougars attack and their opponents’ defensive strategy. And you can bet that he’ll be at the center of every student sections disparaging chants (though a lot of sections are slacking. Seriously, what’s wrong with you people? Get creative.)

Marcus Foster, Soph,, G, Kansas StateThe Most Known Unknown – You’re welcome for the 3 6 Mafia drop. Foster had very few offers coming out of high school and he made the most of his Kansas State one. He averaged 15.5 points last season and with Oklahoma State losing so much and Texas bringing back a ton of good-but-not-marquee players, there needs to be a star in the Big 12 OUTSIDE of Lawrence, Kansas (though he’ll have to fight Georges Niang.) Foster could definitely be it for Bruce Weber’s team. He’s already probably made many enemie in Spokane.

Did I get it right? Did I get it wrong? Did I miss anyone? Let me know on Twitter at @David_Harten or email me at tbbchronicles@gmail.com.


#Twitter Game Strong: The best CBB players to follow

It took (almost) 72 years, but it finally happened. Grant Gibbs exhausted his eligibility at Creighton. With that, Gibbs must give up his unofficial title as “College Basketball’s Best Player Twitter Follow”.

It’s with this thought in mind that we search. We search for the best college basketball players to follow on Twitter. We kept the search strictly to those that play, and kept coaches and administrators out of the quest because, we all know @CoachMiles and @CoachChrisMack have the Coach Twitter game on lockdown.

We judged players on three main criteria:

1.) Tweet volume – It’s a subjective phrase. It could be enough that they warrant a follow, but not so many tweets that they’re just simply responding to every little RT and subtweet they see. It’s not worth it to get 1-2 entertaining tweets to wade through a swamp of “haha ur crazy bruh!!!!” tweets. You’ve got to find a happy medium.

2.) Entertainment value – Duh. If you want to be the best college basketball player in the Twitter game, you’ve got to be able to get and keep an audience. Equal parts funny, interesting and smart. Though it doesn’t necessarily mean funny is a requirement. If it’s a guy who has thought-provoking or informative tweets, that’s definitely a good place to start.

3.) Personal quality – College dudes are gonna be college dudes. Lord knows I was one once. So it’s cool to have weird stuff going on in their feed. But as long as that feed is also fun to read, it’s fine. Keep cursing to a minimum, fandom and diversity to the maximum.

So, with the parameters set, we searched. Here’s what we found to be the top follows on the college basketball hardwood (complete with a ton of — probably unnecessary — hashtags).

Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) – He’s a thought-provoking type who #appreciates the fan base he plays for at (RT) #IowaState. He also doesn’t mind crowd-sourcing things for his future, something that could serve the almost-#surefire pro after college. If that doesn’t work out, maybe he has a career as a #motivationaspeaker . He likes to tweet — over 11,200  to his credit — but most are with a positive vibe, so it’s alright.

Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) – VanVleet might be the most #grateful college #hooper on #Twitter. He came out of high school with little #fanfare and since the success of the 2012-13 #WichitaState squad he’s been one of the best point guards in the nation. He doesn’t take much for granted and lets you know it, but won’t clog up your #feed (less than 5,000 tweets). He’s also cool with passing along the love to others. Also, dude’s a #realist.

Kyle Wiltjer (@kwiltj) – The guy loves to #clown. The former #Kentucky forward and current #Gonzaga transfer loves to roll over his #Instagram game into Twitter, but still uses the good stuff in 140 characters. He also likes to throw in a few #struggletweets. All in a neat package of less than 5,000 tweets.

Dakari Johnson (@SafariDakari44) – The #Kentucky big man loves to #motivate, isn’t afraid to #askaquestion and, damn it, he’s proud to be from #Merica. The probable future #NBADraft pick give you an #insideview into his day and loves a good #movie. He also does it all in less than 7,000 tweets. On a team full of stars, Johnson takes the Twitter prize.

Oh and that Twitter name is awesome.

Sam Dekker (@samdek1) – Dekker, along with being one of the top returning players in the #B1G and a linchpin in the #WisconsinBadgers hopes for a second straight #FinalFour, mixes a blend of bro humor, sports savvy and general opinion . A true pioneer in the #TwitterCBB game with #HotSportTakes, #diverse #sports interests and all that. It’s just a shame he doesn’t tweet more, with only 325 to date.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know on Twitter at @David_Harten or at tbbchronicles@gmail.com.


Who are the most underrated national champs of all-time?

Everyone remembers the champs. From the first NCAA champions in Oregon in 1939 to last year’s UConn team, hoopheads can tell you who won.

Problem is, some are more remembered than others in history. The 1951 Kentucky squad coined the Fabulous Five.  The UCLA teams of the early 1970s were arguably the most dominant of their era. Right after, the 1976 Indiana team still remains the last undefeated champion in Division I college basketball.

In between the ones that are always brought up, there are the champs that don’t come to mind. At least not at first, anyway.

So who are they? TBBC looks into who are the most underrated champions all-time and why.

1989-90 UNLV

Record – 35-5

Coach – Jerry Tarkanian

What everyone remembers – That four of their starting five would eventually be drafted into the NBA. The team that was hounded by the NCAA arguably more than any program in college basketball history — with reason — had horses with the centerpiece of forward Larry Johnson (in his first season of Division I ball out of Odessa College), veteran point guard Greg Anthony, reliable forward Stacey Augmon, do-it-all utility man George Ackles and sharpshooter Anderson Hunt, who was the Big West Player of the Year as a sophomore, prior to Johnson’s arrival on campus.

The Runnin’ Rebels (you can’t leave off the ‘runnin”) demolished Duke in the largest margin of victory in NCAA Championship Game history, 103-73. Prompting the memorable “chair lean” from Tark.

What everyone doesn’t remember – This team played rough, but they also scored in bunches . The Runnin’ Rebels eclipsed 100 points in 15 games and scored 90-plus in another eight. And after dropping a 107-105 decision to LSU on Jan. 27, UNLV finished the season winning 22 of their final 23 games, with a 78-70 loss to UC-Santa Barbara on Feb. 25 the only blemish. They dominated opponents, winning by an average of 15 points per game.

Why are they underrated? – They’re a victim of their own doing. Despite the run UNLV had, everyone remembers the 1990-91 UNLV team that ran over everyone on their way to an undefeated regular season and a loss to the same Duke team in the national semifinals a year later. That dominant run — followed by an epic collapse  — made that squad more memorable than the team that won it all.

1994-95 UCLA

Record - 31-1

Coach – Jim Herrick

What everyone remembers – The return to prominence for one of the more storied college basketball programs in history and brought the program its first NCAA title since the legendary coach John Wooden got his last in 1975.

Oh, and those two words that weren’t in Mizzou’s vocabulary: STOP BALL.

What everyone doesn’t remember – Despite the record, the Bruins had a rough start to conference play….they lost their Pac-10 opener to Oregon 82-72. They were arguably one of the dullest (I mean that with love) champions of the 90s, but one of the best single-game performances came at the hands of Ed O’Bannon with 30 points and 17 rebounds in the national title game, an 89-78 win over Arkansas.

And their schedule wasn’t easy, with seven regular season games against Top 25 teams and five of their six games in the NCAA Tournament as well — which is impressive in the 64-team field.

Why are they underrated? –  Most teams that won it all in the 90s had some sort of future-pro star power. This one simply didn’t. Herrick took a cast of talented players, none of which would have much of a career in the NBA, to the title. Tyus Edney’s staggered four seasons in the league were the most of any Bruin from this team.

1973-74 North Carolina State

Record – 30-1

Coach – Norm Sloan

What everyone remembers – The Wolfpack will always be known as the team that interrupted The Dynasty of the John Wooden-coached UCLA teams of the late ’60s and early ’70s. They upset the Bruins 80-77 in their national semifinal contest and took out Marquette in the national title game. David Thompson was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player along with earning his first of two national player of the year awards.

What everyone doesn’t remember- Before their Final Four win over UCLA, for the most part, N.C. State stayed at no. 2 in the nation behind UCLA. The Bruins made sure that they stayed there with an 84-66 beat down of the Wolfpack early in the season.

In fact, N.C. State was thisclose to not even making the NCAA Tournament, needing overtime to beat no.3 Maryland 103-100 in the finals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The NCAA tournament only took 25 teams that season, and only began to include at-large teams in 1975.

Why are they underrated? – They get lost, like most teams of the 1960s and early 1970s, in the shuffle of the UCLA juggernaut. Thompson was far-and-away the star, but N.C. State also had 7-4 center Tom Burleson’s 18 points and 11.7 boards per game and 5-7 point guard Monte Towe was one of the best floor generals in the game at a time when assists weren’t seen in the same light as they are now.

1997-98 Kentucky

Record - 35-4

Coach – Tubby Smith

What everyone remembers – Ask anybody who knows that team, they first thing you’ll normally hear out of their mouths is “it was Rick Pitino’s team.” Pitino left after reaching his second straight NCAA Final in 1997, taking the Boston Celtics head job, and as a result, Smith inherited a gold mine. Aside from that, the team was the third straight Wildcat squad to make it to the Final Four, cementing itself as the team of the 1990s (Getting thrashed by UNLV gives UK the edge here, Duke fans….)

….And so does this:

What everyone doesn’t remember – Despite the “Tubby just had to roll the balls out in practice” schtick, this was a team full of players that just knew their role. The Wildcats took an early-season loss to the team that beat them in the 1997 NCAA Final, Arizona. The roster also featured four first round picks in Jamaal Magloire, Nazr Muhammed, Scott Padgett and Michael Bradley (though Bradley would transfer to Villanova after  the 1998-99 season.

The team was as balanced as any in its era, with Jeff Sheppard the team’s leading scorer at 13.7 points per game. In fact, only 4.9 points separated Sheppard and the team’s sixth-leading scorer, Heshimu Evans (8.8 ppg). Four players also averaged at least four rebound per game — the most was Mohammed’s 7.2.

Why are they underrated? - They were at the tail end of a dynasty that the original architect didn’t finish. Everyone remembers the 1996 team as one of the most dominant teams of the era, and that hurts when remembering the best teams of the 90s. But when looking at the numbers, the ’97-’98 team holds their own. The Wildcats won all three of their Southeastern Conference tournament games by double-digits, including a 99-74 drubbing of no. 16 Arkansas in the semifinals and an 86-56 pasting of no. 15 South Carolina in the finals. Impressive considering their strength of schedule was 9th in the nation.

1976-77 Marquette

Record – 25-7

What everyone remembers – Al McGuire in his awesome suits were retiring at the end of the Warriors’ (as they were known until 1994) season. Butch Lee hitting spinning lay-up after spinning lay-up. Lee, the Most Outstanding Player of that tournament, headlined that team, which played in one of the more amazing endings to a Final Four game in history against UNC-Charlotte (more on that below).

What everyone doesn’t remember – ….And it’s incredible really. Jerome Whitehead pulls in the three quarter-court pass from Lee with three seconds to go just inside the free throw line, turns, one dribble, and stuffs it home for a 51-49 win over the 49ers and a trip to the title game against North Carolina.

It also wasn’t an easy road for the Warriors, who were in their second Final Four in four years. They played no. 11 Cincinnati in the first round, Kansas State in the second, then no. 9 Wake Forest in the Elite Eight, UNC-Charlotte — no. 17 at the time — in the semifinals, then finished with no. 5 North Carolina in the title game.

Also, a soon-to-be prominent coach named Rick Majerus (R.I.P.) was an assistant on that team.

Why are they underrated? – It’s a team that, like N.C. State, gets lost in the shuffle of the 1970s. They weren’t necessarily spectacular, but they averaged 70 points per game without a three-point line and had two Top 20 NBA Draft picks in Lee and Bo Ellis on the roster. They also didn’t finish all that high in the polls, ranking between no. 6 and no. 15 for most of the year.

It was one of the more impressive stories in college basketball history, with the small, Jesuit school in Milwaukee sending their retiring coach out as the ultimate winner. It’s stuff that sports movies are made out of.

Got a better idea? Did we forget anyone? Hit us on Twitter at @David_Harten or @TBBChronicles or with an email at TBBChronicles@gmail.com.


The best Father/Son package deals in college basketball history

College recruiting is a giant gray area. There are a number of ways to lock up recruits that aren’t wrong and don’t break any rules. Their only crime is being obvious.

One of those ways is a prominent college coach hiring the parent of a prominent prep player to, eventually, earn a signature on a National Letter of Intent.

It (officially) happened on Wednesday with Memphis coach Josh Pastner’s hiring of Keelon Lawson as his third assistant. It’s no surprise the at a successful Memphis-area coach (Lawson was the head man at Hamilton High School and has won a state title for the school) could and would get an assistant job for a program in an area that’s a hoops hotbed.

It just so happens that Lawson has four sons, all of which are staring — or will be staring — major Division I offers in the face. D.J., Detric, Chandler and Jonathan Lawson all have a shot at being near the top of their respective prep classes, D.J. had already committed to Memphis prior to his dad’s hire, and Pastner smartly hired their dad to help get them to campus.

It’s far from a new trend in college basketball. Temple just hired Rick Brunson for their coaching staff. Brunson’s son, Jalen, is one of the top players in the class of 2015.

It’s worked in the past at some places. Other places it didn’t. Here’s a look at some of the best father/son package deals in college basketball.

Danny and Ed Manning – Kansas, 1984

In the spring of 1984, Danny Manning was the hottest name on the high school hardwood. Ed Manning, a 10-year NBA veteran, was his father. Larry Brown, then the coach at Kansas, wanted to sign Manning. So he made the move to hire Ed as an assistant on his staff, which in turn, netted him Danny and four years later, helped the Jayhawks raise a national title.

Danny Manning went on to average 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 60.5 percent from the floor before being selected as the first overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Ed Manning followed Brown to the Spurs, joining his staff as a scout.

This may have been arguably the greatest father/son package in the history of college basketball. Anything that leads to a national title has to be up for that discussion.

Although….

Mario and Ronnie Chalmers – Kansas, 2005

I’ve got to give it to the Jayhawks. When the package it, they go all-in. Ronnie Chalmers was a big-time high school coach in Alaska and his son, Mario, was the best player in the Great White North in 2005. Not to mention, he was ranked as the a Top 2 point guard in the nation by most recruiting services.

Kansas coach Bill Self wanted Mario, as did most of the coaches in Division I. But Self was the one who hired Ronnie Chalmers as his director of basketball operations, which all but sealed Mario heading to Lawrence. Three years later, Chalmers helps Kansas to their first national championship since their last famous father/son package was on campus in the Mannings.

Mario Chalmers stacked up three-year averages of 12.2 points, 3.8 assists and shot 41.8 percent from three-point range and was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft. Ronnie Chalmers resigned from his post at Kansas right after Mario went pro in 2008.

Allan and Wade Houston – Tennessee, 1988

The Houston’s situation was made even more interesting with fact that Wade was an assistant under Louisville coach Denny Crum for 13 seasons. During his son Allan’s senior year at Ballard High School in Louisville, Houston was hired as the head coach at Tennessee.

Allan Houston, who would be named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky and would help the Bruins win the state title in 1988, was rumored to be a strong UofL commitment before his dad got the Vols job. He promptly committed to UT, and flourished in Knoxville from 1989-1993, finishing as the school’s all-time leading scorer, averaging 21.9 points per game. Wade Houston got out of coaching after the 1993-94 season.

Allan would go on to be the 11th pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, while Wade lasted one more season at Tennessee before being fired with a 65-90 career record and just two NIT appearances to his credit.

Dajuan and Milt Wagner – Memphis, 2001

Dajuan Wagner was another possible Louisville target whose father had strong ties to the Cardinals, but then got a coaching job with another school and the son followed. Dajuan was arguably the best scorer in the 2001 class and, like his father Milt, was a standout at Camden High School. Milt went on to star for Louisville as part of the Camden Connection that Crum had forged with recruits in the area and started as a fifth-year senior on the Cardinals’ 1985-86 national championship team.

Those around the fanbase thought Wagner was a lock to follow his old man. But, just like with the Houston episode, Milt Wagner was hired as a coach by another program, John Calipari and Memphis, prior to Dajuan’s graduation from high school.

Wagner signed with Memphis, led them to the NIT title in his lone season with the Tigers, clocked 21.2 points per game and shot 45.3 percent from three before being selected as the 6th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. Milt was most recently a member of Tony Barbee’s staff at Auburn. Barbee was fired after this past season.

Got a better idea? Did we forget anything? Hit us on Twitter at @TBBChronicles or at TBBChronicles@gmail.com.

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,145 other followers