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SEC Hoops Roundup 3/1/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Vanderbilt at Tennessee

1. Former Tennessee star Dale Ellis will have his number retired before today’s game.  Will join a group that includes Allan Houston, Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld.

2. Vanderbilt freshman Damian Jones was recruited by several blue-chip schools.  Why Vanderbilt? “I saw more opportunity here for me to improve, to get on the court sooner and get more experience.”

Mississippi State at Missouri

3. Are Missouri guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson feeling the pressure?  Coach Frank Haith: “It’s because they want it so badly, and they’re pressing.”

4. Mississippi State streaking in the wrong direction.  Lost 10 straight, haven’t won a game on the road all year, and have never won a game in February under coach Rick Ray.

Auburn at Alabama

5. Auburn won the first round of the Iron Bowl of basketball.  Alabama coach Anthony Grant: “We weren’t happy with the last time we played them.”

6. At 20.4 points per game, Auburn’s Chris Denson leads the SEC in scoring.  ”I’m definitely overlooked, but I think it’s due to our record.”

Georgia at Arkansas

7. Both these times have won six of their last seven games.  Arkansas coach Mike Anderson: “Georgia’s a good basketball team. They’re playing for the same thing we’re playing for…”

8. What’s coach Mark Fox’s future at Georgia?  A.D. Greg McGarity: “I’m really not going to talk about any of that stuff until the season’s over.”

LSU at Florida

9. The strong get stronger.  Having already clinched the SEC title, Florida expects to get point guard Kasey Hill back today.From a health standpoint, Gators “as good as they can be right now.”

10. LSU freshman Jordan Mickey on Florida: “They hustle. They’re physical. You can see it’s going to be a test out there for us.”

Kentucky at South Carolina

11. Does Kentucky have the necessary sense of urgency? Willie Cauley-Stein: It’s a scary thing if you let it go south.”

12. South Carolina coach Frank Martin: “Our program is starting to get kids playing with the same physicality as our teams played with at Kansas State.”

Ole Miss at Texas A&M
13. Ole Miss one of four teams tied for fourth place in SEC - important because of double-bye in conference tournament.

14. Texas A&M junior Jamal Jones started his career at Ole Miss but was dismissed from the team.  Rebels coach Andy Kennedy: “There’s a process that I don’t feel like is needed to get into, but you get to the point of no return.”

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SEC Hoops Roundup 2/16/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Vanderbilt 57 – Texas A&M 54 (OT). Video Highlights

1. Vanderbilt rallies from 11-point second-half deficit. Key jump ball with 6.6 seconds left in regulation  and the possession arrow favoring Vanderbilt.

2. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy on the unique end zone benches at Memorial Gym -  “the best home-court advantage I’ve ever played against.”

Auburn 92 – Mississippi State 82. Video Highlights

3. Auburn gets 30 points from Chris Denson and 26 from KT Harrell.  ”We have to play like that all the time.”

4. Mississippi State coach Rick Ray: “We had a lot of bad combinations out on the floor. We just couldn’t find a way to score.”

Missouri 75 – Tennessee 70. Video Highlights

5. Missouri shoots 56. 5 percent from the field. Team-high 24 points for Jabari Brown.

6. Vols lose despite 31 points from Jordan McRae.  Tennessee just 4-of-21 from three-point range.

Georgia 61 – Ole Miss 60.

7. Fourth straight victory for Georgia – now 8-4 in SEC play.  Charles Mann’s free throw with 1.5 seconds left the difference in the contest.

8. Marshall Henderson led Ole Miss with 24 points despite not starting the game. Coach Andy Kennedy: “I was just trying to change his mojo.”

South Carolina 67 – Alabama 66.

9. Tip-in with 16.6 seconds left puts South Carolina up for good.  Coach Frank Martin: ”I guess the good Lord was looking down on the Gamecocks tonight.”

10. Trevor Releford keeps Alabama in the game – scores 25 of his 27 points in the second half. 46 points for Releford in the second half of last two games – teammates have scored just 35.

Arkansas 81 – LSU 70. Video Highlights

11. Arkansas finishes game on a 27-10 run.  Game-high 21 points for guard Ky Madden.

12. LSU gets a team-high 20 points and career-best 16 rebounds from Johnny O’Bryant.  

Florida 69 – Kentucky 59.Video Highlights

13. Game of the day in the SEC sees Florida snap six-game losing streak at Rupp Arena and win 17th straight game. Coach Billy Donovan: “I still think we can continue to grow and get better.”

14. Florida outscored Kentucky 31-14 down the stretch.  UK drops to 9-3 in SEC play.

15. “It’s time to talk about Florida as a true title contender, and perhaps the most complete team in the country…”

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SEC Hoops Roundup 2/14/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Missouri 86 – Arkansas 85. Video Highlights

1. Jabari Brown hits game-winning shot with 12 seconds left. Brown and Jordan Clarkson combine for 52 points. Tigers hit on 34-of-38 free throws.

2. Arkansas drops to 2-4 in SEC games decided by 5 points or less. Coach Mike Anderson: “I’ll take the blame for this one here.”

South Carolina 65 – Vanderbilt 59

3. South Carolina snaps three-game losing streak behind 19 points from freshman Sindarius Thornwell.  Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings called him the best player on the floor.

4. With school closed to due to weather, no pep band, dance squad or cheerleaders.  About 1,000 attended the afternoon game. South Carolina has two SEC wins – both on snow days.

Saturday SEC Hoops Schedule

Texas A&M at Vanderbilt

Mississippi State at Auburn

Alabama at South Carolina

Ole Miss at Georgia

Tennessee at Missouri

LSU at Arkansas

Florida at Kentucky

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SEC Headlines 2/6/2014

headlines-thuSEC Recruiting

1. “There’s no way for Auburn to spin this one… Losing Rashaan Evans to Alabama hurts.” Video of Auburn coaches reacting to the news.

2. Defensive tackle prospect Elisa Shaw suffered what’s believed to be a career-ending injury.  He’ll get a medical hardship scholarship from Alabama.

3. First time ever? “Less than one-third of the 2014 Alabama and Auburn football signing classes come from the state of Alabama.”

4. Stewart Mandel on Alabama: “For Saban, it’s certainly easier to entice kids to leave home when flashing four BCS championship rings.”

5. A focus at Auburn this year was on the defensive line.

6. Butch Jones on the Tennessee class: “I want to guard against all of the expectations that are going to come with this recruiting class.”

7. New Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason talks recruiting class and a little Tennessee smack.

8. One view of the LSU class: “The nation’s best prospect and perhaps the best high school player in Louisiana’s storied history will spend his college years in Baton Rouge. ”

9. Strong finish for the class at Georgia.

10. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel on recruiting rankings: “I bet we’ve been averaging being ranked somewhere in the 30s, but in the last seven years we’re eighth in the nation in winning.”

11. Key for Kentucky - winning in-state recruiting battles.

12. Big key to recruiting success at Texas A&M?  Defensive line coach Terry Price.

13. South Carolina recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier, Jr. ”Players know if they come to South Carolina, they can play at the highest level.”

14. ESPN’s Tom Luginbill: “Where I think South Carolina’s really done a nice job is readdressing defensive secondary areas as well as the defensive front seven.” Good enough for the SEC?

15. Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman on the Razorbacks class: “You know I can’t do a cartwheel. But in my mind I was doing them. And a back flip.”

16. View from Ole Miss: “There was no way this year could top the excitement of last year.”

17. Mississippi State went 1-for-2 in flipped commitments Wednesday.

18. Athlon Sports names 10 freshmen likely to make impact in 2014.  Six of the 10 are in the SEC.

19. Just how competitive is the recruiting process?  When Garrett Brumfield committed to LSU, his parents got a call from a Florida assistant coach within seven minutes.  

SEC Football

20. Georgia’s overhaul of its defensive coaching staff looks to be complete.  Mike Ekeler is coming over from Southern Cal to coach inside linebackers.

21. Randy Shannon is now the senior associate head coach at Arkansas.  Search continues for a defensive coordinator.

22. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel expected to be ready for spring practice. Running back Matt Jones had another surgery this week.

Coaches Talk Recruiting Classes

23. Will Muschamp on the Florida class.

24. Kevin Sumlin on the Texas A&M class.

25. Derek Mason on the Vanderbilt class.

26. Gus Malzahn on the Auburn class.

27. Butch Jones on the Tennessee class

SEC Basketball

28. Chris Walker’s long road to Florida.  Abandoned by his biological parents, raised by his grandmother until she died when he was 12.

29. LSU point guard Anthony Hickey’s role has changed with this year’s team.

Extra

30. Welcome to Russia.  Surveillance video in the shower?

31. USA Today mock draft.  Johnny Manziel goes No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans.

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OL Prince Chooses Maryland Over Florida, Carolina (And, Yes, Maryland)

PLAYER UPDATEOne of the nation’s top offensive lineman has picked the Big Ten over the SEC.  Tackle Damian Prince committed moments ago to Maryland — his home state university — over both South Carolina and Florida.

Gamecock and Gator fans have to be disappointed in losing a 5-star O-lineman to Maryland, even if that school is in his own back yard.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 1/30/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Tennessee 86 – Ole Miss 70. Video Highlights

1. Tennessee scores 41 points in first half – matching output of entire game at Florida.  26 points for Vols guard Jordan McRae.

2. Rebels lose despite 26 points from Marshall Henderson. Coach Andy Kennedy: “We knew we catching a dangerous animal tonight.”

South Carolina 80-Texas A&M 52

3. First SEC win of the season for the Gamecocks.  South Carolina gets 19 points each from guards Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell.

4. Four straight losses for Texas A&M which started SEC play 3-0.  Coach Billy Kennedy:  ”Their guards out-physicaled us and made plays at the rim that we didn’t make.”

Vanderbilt 59-Georgia 54

5. Vanderbilt gets  16 points from Rod Odom and Dai-Jon Parker scores 15. Commodores made 15 of 21 free throws in the last two and a half minutes.

6. Bulldogs shoot 4-of-23 from three-point range. Three of those made came in the game’s last minute.  Georgia shoots a season-low 27.3 percent from the field.

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SEC Headlines 1/25/2014

headlines-saturdaySEC Football

1. Report: Former Florida State quarterback Jacob Coker is visiting Alabama this weekend.

2. Vanderbilt confirms the hiring of seven assistant coaches to new coach Derek Mason.  Five former Vanderbilt commitments have flipped to Penn State.

3. Penn State paid Vanderbilt $1.5 million to buy out James Franklin’s contract.

4. Who did Georgia consider besides Jeremy Pruitt for its defensive coordinator position? Mark Richt’s other phone call wasn’t to Kirby Smart - but to Vance Joseph.

5. Georgia makes official the hiring of Kevin Scherrer as a “defensive assistant” coach.

6. Thursday night or Saturday for Auburn and Kansas State in September?  Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs: ”It’s really their decision, because it’s their home game.”

7. ESPN poll shows fans expect Florida to be the most improved team in 2014. Tennessee came in second.

8. Derrick Henry’s breakout performance in the Sugar Bowl means Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon will have competition for carries this fall.

9. After three straight Top 10 seasons, what’s the key for 2014 at South Carolina?  Steve Spurrier: “Just keep doing what we’ve been doing,”

10. Why is Jadeveon Clowney’s agent in a battle with a South Carolina sub shop?

SEC Media

11. ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” will feature a report Sunday about an alleged rape at Missouri in 2010 involving a swimmer and members of the football team.  The swim team member, Sasha Menu Courey, committed suicide in 2011. School says it has no basis to investigate.

Extra

12. Senior Bowl this afternoon in Mobile.  The game has featured an average of 10 first-round NFL picks the last nine years.

13. ESPN’s secret weapon - ESPN3.

14. What exactly are high school “cheerlebrities”?

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Anonymous AJC Post Shows Exactly Why Newspapers Are Dying

gfx - honest opinion

(Note: Just to make sure everyone reads this in the right tone, it was written in a matter-of-fact voice, not an angry one.)

Newspapers are on the way out.  Everyone knows it, including the people who own or work for newspapers.  When your model is based on selling the printed word — which costs a lot of money to actually print — it’s near impossible to shift toward an internet-driven world.

How can newspapers truly become internet-first businesses when the declining amount of money they do make comes from a paper that costs to much to produce?  Give up the paper and they don’t have any way of paying their staff (though most every paper in the country has cut both the number of writers and behind-the-scenes staffers).  Stick with the paper and it’s an anchor around their leg pulling them under.

I know this because my first job was at a small newspaper as a high school student.  I know this because I’ve written freelance columns for newspapers as an adult.  I know this because I’m friends with plenty of newspaper folks.  I know this because I grew up with newspapers and I dread the day when they pass away.

But newspapers aren’t what they used to be.  In their attempt to survive many have dropped their standards, which comes hand-in-hand with dumping salaries and cutting staff.  There are now as many typos in big city newspapers as there are on this site… and that’s not a good thing.  There are three of us at MrSEC.com.  There used to be teams of copy editors to catch those kinds of things at papers.  Alas, copy editing staffs have been whittled down to nothing.

Personally, I expect more from newspapers than I do most internet media.  At MrSEC.com, we try to keep you abreast of the biggest stories in the league and provide you with our opinions on those stories.  We’re not perfect.  But, we are objective.  And we don’t base our model on posting slideshow “stories” that force you to click 10 times to get your information (and inflate our page views and the amount of time you spend on the site).  Longtime readers of this site know we don’t troll, either.  We’ve been called haters and lovers of every school in the SEC at one time or another, which kind of plays down the “you hate Team X” thing.

We also sign our name to what we write.

Which brings us to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Yesterday, we posted a very simple list on the site showing which SEC programs won the most games during 2013 in football and men’s basketball.  The AJC responded with an attack on our site under the alias of The Hater.

What is “The Hater” and why does what was once one of the best papers in the South have such a thing?  Here’s The AJC’s description: “In the city that’s too busy to hate, but where our most-cherished rivalry is considered ‘clean, old-fashioned hate,’ let The Hater find the latest in sports that just needed to be hated on.”

Shouldn’t that be “needs” to be hated on?  Why that’s as poorly written as something I would produce!

So basically The AJC has admitted to hiring a troll — an anonymous troll — whose job is to pick something out each day and whip up the reader’s anger.  Journalism with a capital J, indeed.

Well, The Hater reads a bit like someone in our comment boxes or my email inbox when he/it wrote:

 

“The idiocy of Mr. SEC’s methodology is reflected in the rankings.  Missouri’s No. 1 standing makes sense considering the football team’s success and the Tigers do somewhat care about basketball.  But how is it that Florida fans are third-happiest, South Carolina supporters are miserable and Auburn fans are the the third-most miserable?…

According to Mr. SEC, Auburn fans can’t really enjoy their worst-to-first in SEC football because the basketball team sucks as usual.”

 

The Hater also scoffed at the n0tion that SEC fans care about both football and basketball.  “There are a handful of SEC schools that sort-of care about basketball.”  Pretty trollish for a newspaper, huh?

Well, there are a couple of problems with The Hater’s positioning of our piece and it shows that even the leading newspapers are now right in line with blogs and many fans.  First and foremost — The Hater didn’t actually read the piece.  Not even the first line:

 

“Every January, we at MrSEC.com like to take a look back at the year that was and determine which SEC fanbases tasted victory most often.” 

 

So much for methodology.  It’s a list of wins.  If our calculator didn’t work or if a number was mispunched then that would have been an issue.  Other than that, a list of wins is hardly a “methodology.”

Also, after explaining what we were doing over the space of four paragraphs (because we hoped some folks would look at more than just the headline and accompanying chart), we stated plainly again:

 

“It’s simply a look at which fanbases got to experience the most (and least) wins in the major sports during the 2013 calendar year… Which schools fans went to bed smiling most often?”

 

Gang, that’s kind of easy to follow.

And nowhere in our piece is the word “miserable” ever used.  Nowhere was there even the hint of a suggestion that “Auburn fans can’t enjoy” their 2013 football season.  That’s just the nonsense and misdirection of The AJC’s “The Hater.”

Look, we know that people won’t agree with everything we write.  We give you our opinions and people have different opinions.  But our piece wasn’t an opinion.  It was a tally of which schools’ fans went to bed happy the most times in 2013.  And that was spelled out in language that a third-grader should have been able to follow.

Unfortunately, the third-grader that couldn’t actually follow said language is gainfully employed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to anonymously troll and to feign outrage on a daily basis.  Basically, The Hater is Skip Bayless minus the cojones to sign his name.  (Also minus Bayless’ ability to comprehend what he’s reading, apparently.)

Newspapers shouldn’t fall to that.  Many websites make fun of newspapers.  We don’t because we love the papers.  There’s still more journalism done by America’s newspapers than there is straight journalism done on the internet.  Less content, more actual journalism.  (And no, we’re columnists, not journalists so don’t suggest we’re putting ourselves above papers.)

While we don’t revel in the decline of newspapers, we will, however, shake our heads at those papers who are turning into the simplistic websites — make fun of a school’s fanbase or post a slideshow or misrepresent what someone else wrote in order to drive traffic — that we ourselves don’t enjoy reading.  Apparently the once-proud AJC has gone that route.

Matter of fact, they have been using a helluva lot of slideshow graphics in recent months.

Enjoy the clicks we send back to ya, The Hater.  If that’s what journalism at The AJC has come to, you need those clicks even more than we do.

 

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29 SEC Players Part Of Record 98-Man Class Of Underclassmen Turning Pro

NotausgangYesterday the NFL released the complete list of underclassmen who’ll be turning pro early early this spring.  The grand total reached 98.  That’s a new record number easily eclipsing last year’s record tally of 73 early entrants.

Football has a problem on its hands (in addition to cheating, a chasm between the richest D-I schools and the poorest, and ever-increasing injury totals).  Just as transfers and the NBA’s one-and-done plan are making a mess of basketball, the flight of juniors and redshirt sophomores from college football robs teams of chemistry and programs of stars.

Of the 98 who’ll be jetting early, 29 — or 29.5% — will be departing from the Southeastern Conference.  While that’s no surprise as NFL teams now stock their rosters with more SEC players than athletes from other leagues, it’s still disappointing for fans.  And it must be ulcer-causing for coaches.

Below is the full list of SEC early entrants:

 

Alabama — S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, LB Adrian Hubbard, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, DL Jeoffrey Pagan, S Vinnie Sunseri

Arkansas — None

Auburn — RB Tre Mason, OT Greg Robinson

Florida — DT Dominique Easley, LB Ronald Powell, CB Loucheiz Purifoy, CB Marcus Roberson

Georgia — None

Kentucky — None

LSU — WR Odell Beckham, RB Alfred Blue, DT Ego Ferguson, RB Jeremy Hill, DT Anthony Johnson, WR Jarvis Landry, OG Trai Turner

Miss. State — None

Missouri — DE Kony Ealy, RB Henry Josey

Ole Miss — WR Donte Moncrief

South Carolina — DE Jadeveon Clowney, WR Bruce Ellington, CB Vic Hampton, DL Kelcy Quarles

Tennessee — OT Antonio Richardson

Texas A&M — WR Mike Evans, QB Johnny Manziel

Vanderbilt — WR Chris Boyd (who’d already been dismissed from the Commodore team)

 

Those hardest hit by early defections?  LSU is losing seven players, five from what was a strong offense in 2013.  Last year defensive coordinator John Chavis had to start from scratch.  This year it’ll be offensive coordinator Cam Cameron who’ll have to retool on the fly.  And two years in a row Les Miles’ squad has been hit harder than anyone else around.

Florida will lose four players from its defense.  In a win-or-else season for Will Muschamp the last thing the coach needed was to have to rebuild his offense and his defense.  Maybe Muschamp pulls a rabbit out of his hat, but the odds are stacking up against him.

Alabama lost five players, four from its defense.  South Carolina lost four, including three bonafide stars.

Texas A&M only lost two players but they happened to make up one of the best quarterback/receiver tandems in the nation.  Someone will take the places of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans, but they’ll have a hard time matching the production of that duo.

The SEC will no doubt find new stars.  Every year the league signs the best athletes from the high school ranks.  But when 29 players a year start leaving early, it is going to impact play.  It’s certainly an area to keep an eye on as college football moves into a new playoff era.  It’s just one more way the landscape of college football might start to level out after a long stretch of SEC dominance.

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Report: Carolina To Bump Spurrier’s Pay To $4 Million

shirtless spurrier moneySteve Spurrier is about to get a nice, fat pay raise.  According to Columbia’s The State newspaper, the Ol’ Ball Coach will see his salary jump from $3.3 million to $4 million.  His staff will receive raises as well, once South Carolina’s board of trustees approves the increases in a vote tomorrow.

While coaching salaries are never quite cut and dried — they’re ever-shifting thanks to bonuses — The State reports that Spurrier should go from the 12th highest-paid coach in the country to #9 on the current list.

For Carolina it’s money well spent.  For Spurrier it’s money well-earned.

In November of 2004, the South Carolina administration rolled the dice on a 59-year-old coach who’d flamed out in two seasons in the NFL and spent an entire year out of coaching after that.  Florida could have had him back, but Gator AD Jeremy Foley passed.

With a football program that had been a doormat for the better part of a century, USC’s decision-makers felt they needed to take a chance on hiring an older coach, despite the NFL flubs and Florida’s lack of interest.  That was the best decision in the history of the South Carolina athletic department.  Given the added exposure and revenue created during Spurrier’s tenure, it could be argued that it was also the best decision in the history of the university, period.

It took Spurrier time to build the Gamecock program.  While never suffering through a losing season, the coach’s teams did hover in mediocrity for five long years — 7-5, 8-5, 6-6, 7-6 and 7-6.  A corner was turned in 2010 when the Cocks finished 9-5 and ended the year in the top 25.  Since then, Carolina has been a perennial top 10 team finishing 11-2 in three consecutive years and winning two Capital One Bowls and an Outback Bowl.

When Spurrier — now just weeks from his 69th birthday — finally decides take off his visor and put on a shirt, he will have proven that South Carolina can indeed play with the big boys of the Southeastern Conference and the nation.  He also might convince a few ADs out there not to be scared of hiring a man with a little wear on his tires.  You don’t see many hires of coaches who are 60-plus.  Spurrier’s success will hopefully change that trend.

Kudos to the coach and his aides for elevating South Carolina and then sustaining that success over four seasons.  And kudos to the USC administration for being wise enough to reward them for their efforts.

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