courtesy Fast Company Magazine

Marquette played on the godfather of all colorful courts

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College basketball fans are acting like colorful arena floors are a modern invention, with a lineage traced directly from the painted foliage at Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena to the Life of Pi theme at Florida International. But eye-popping basketball courts were – and doesn’t it seem obvious in retrospect? – a product of the freewheeling 1970s.

Right around the corner from the Bicentennial, an artist named Robert Indiana was commissioned to create a new court design for the Milwaukee Bucks. He created what amounts to a massive pop-art painting for the Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center and Arena, adorning the center of the court with the building’s acronymic nickname: MECCA.

What’s this have to do with college hoops? I hear you asking, once again.

Well, Marquette called the building home as well. From 1977 to 1988, when both teams moved to the Bradley Center, the then-Warriors dribbled, passed and dunked on a floor that resembled the national flag of a small island nation.

Fast Company magazine has the story of the resurrection of the MECCA floor:

At a time when sports were more aesthetically practical, Indiana painted the court bright yellow (“At first, I thought we had to wear sunglasses because it was so bright,” former Bucks coach Don Nelson once commented), and he featured the arena’s name, MECCA, large enough so that TV cameras couldn’t miss it. He signed the court, like a painting, on one of its baselines.

The MECCA floor will be reassembled and displayed as a work of art at U.S. Cellular Arena soon. As you watch the mountains closing in on the Colorado Buffs or try to locate players on UCF’s greyscale floor this season, take a moment to thank, or curse Robert Indiana and MECCA as befits your own aesthetic sense.

2013 forward Roger Moute a Bidias commits to California, rounds out class

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Last weekend, the University of California inked a late commitment for their 2013 class in the form of 6-7 forward Roger Moute a Bidias from Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass).

Moute a Bidias will be no stranger to the Pac-12 or California as his brother, Luc Mbah a Moute, played at UCLA from 2005-08 and is currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

According to Bear Insider, Moute a Bidias had this to say about his visit to Cal and eventual commitment:

“I spent time with the guys and on campus and it felt like the place where I could spend the next four years of my life. I just went with my heart and my family was with me on that, too, so that’s why I made the decision.”

In terms of where he will fit in on the floor, Moute a Bidias believes his game will mesh nicely with Cal’s style of play:

“Cal likes to get up and down the court and I like the way they play. They play a style that matches my style of play well. Getting to play with the guys, I feel like I can bring some unique things to the court.”

Off the floor, Moute a Bidias seems to have a good head on his shoulders as he made a point to talk with academic advisors on his visit:

“Cal has a great academic reputation and I’m looking forward to that aspect, too. I was able to visit campus, talk to advisors and see what it would be like to be a student there. I liked it a lot.”

Here’s a workout Moute a Bidias was put through in December of 2012:

 

Moute a Bidias joins 7-foot center Kameron Rooks, wing Jabari Bird, guard Jordan Mathews, and guard Sam Singer in Cal’s deep 2013 class.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Kennedy Meeks picks North Carolina, one of four 2013 recruits to commit Friday

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The early signing period began on Wednesday and for several top 2013 recruits, their decisions were made Friday night.

Kennedy Meeks (West Charlotte High/Charlotte, NC) decided to stick in-state and committed to North Carolina. The 6-foot-9 Meeks joins point guard Nate Britt (Oak Hill/Washington DC) and power forward Isaiah Hicks (Webb High/Oxford, NC) as part of Roy Williams’ 2013 class.

Meeks has great size and is a big man that should control the glass at Chapel Hill. He’s unlike some of the more recent Tar Heel bigs like Tyler Zeller or John Henson. He isn’t very athletic, but can develop into a good low-post player.  Also a gifted passer for a big man. Meeks picked UNC over Georgetown.

Another center, Beejay Anya (DeMatha Catholic/Gaithersburg, MD) committed to the only team on his list, N.C. State over several other schools. The 6-foot-9 Anya, had recently cut his list down to just the Wolfpack and Indiana. However Tom Crean wanted to focus solely on landing Noah Vonleh.

Anya and power forward Kyle Washington (Brewster Academy/Champlin, MN) give Mark Gottfried a solid frontcourt to work with next year, along with point guard Anthony Barber (Hampton High/Hampton, VA).

Tyler Roberson (Roselle Catholic High/Union, NJ) made Syracuse’s recruiting class even more impressive on Friday. The 6-foot-7 forward joins guards Tyler Ennis (St. Benedict’s/Brampton, Ont., CA) and Ron Patterson (Brewster Academy/Indianapolis, IN), as well as big men B.J. Johnson (Lower Merion High/Ardmore, PA) and Chinoso Obokoh (Bishop Kearney High/Rochester, NY).

Roberson brings another long, athletic, versatile forward, Jim Boeheim continues to plug into his 2-3 zone.

Shooting guard Isaac Hamilton (Saint John Bosco High/Los Angeles, CA) picked UTEP over San Diego State, UCLA, and UNLV, according to ESPN.  Hamilton is a consensus top-25 recruit in the Class of 2013.

Miners get a big-time commit. The 6-foot-5 Hamilton gives UTEP an impact freshman for next season.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Burning Questions: Who is the best team in The Triangle?

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Real, live college basketball games start on Friday, and with all of our glorious preseason content finally finished, this week we will be providing you with water cooler fodder as we roll through a series of Burning Question. You can read them all right here.

Who is the best team in The Triangle?

NC State:

  • (Raphielle Johnson): They have the best point guard of the three and it’s not even that close, as Lorenzo Brown is one of the best in the country. Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie will lead the way inside while Scott Wood is a very good shooter on the wing. Add in those three freshmen and the Wolfpack are poised to grab some attention for themselves.
  • (Eric Angevine): Again, here are three teams that are legit contenders for a league crown as well as a lengthy post-season run. Again I’ll choose the team that I feel has the best leadership at the point. That’s Lorenzo Brown and the N.C. State Wolfpack. He’s surrounded with talent, which means his ability to score is a luxury to be exploited at crucial points in the game, rather than his primary responsibility. He’s got loads of guys to pass it to, and that is what gives his team the edge – he can do it himself, or dish to someone else who can.
  • (Daniel Martin): Rodney Purvis being cleared by the NCAA was a major boost to the 2012-13 team. As a slasher, he will work well with point guard Lorenzo Brown in the backcourt. The Wolfpack added to their front line by nabbing T.J. Warren and it can only help to retain C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell.

Duke:

  • (Rob Dauster): Three things need to happen for Duke to become the best team in the ACC: 1) Quinn Cook needs to be great as a leader and as a creator off the dribble. 2) Rasheed Sulaimon has to develop into a lock-down defender on the perimeter and a guy that can put the ball on the floor and score at the rim. 3) Mason Plumlee needs to be more than just a good big man with loads of potential; he needs to be the best center in the ACC. If all three of those things happen, Duke has enough talent and experience to make a run this year.

North Carolina:

  • (David Harten): Forgive me if I don’t give-in to North Carolina State, the team with the second-year head coach that had the good fortune to surprise everyone last season because no one thought they were a contender in the ACC. I just trust Roy Williams more than them. Dexter Strickland returns from injury and guys like Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo were groomed behind NBA Lottery picks like John Henson and Harrison Barnes. I have more faith in development than I do in one-year wonders. N.C. State has the talent. But not the proven talent. Not yet, at least.

Julius Mays gives fans a scare in Kentucky exhibition win

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John Calipari has been extremely lucky in that his Kentucky team’s haven’t had problems with injuries. The general bumps and bruises come with the season, but rarely has he had to deal with a major break or tear.

He may have gotten one of his biggest scares in the Wildcats’ 74-28 victory over cross-town college Transylvania. Fifth-year senior guard Julius Mays went knee-to-knee with a Pioneer’s player midway through the second half and went down to the court as a result. Staying down for a few minutes while trainers attended to him in front of a deathly-quiet crowd at Rupp Arena. He left the game and didn’t return.

It could’ve been a huge blow because Mays is one of the unsung tools of a Calipari attack, the shooter. Since his Memphis days, Calipari has always kept a dead-eye gunner who can stretch the defense and open the driving lanes for the wings and slashers. He’s had that with Kentucky in Darnell Dodson (albeit poorly), then Doron Lamb the last two years.

Fortunately for Big Blue Nation, Mays was checked out by team trainers postgame and his ACL and MCL both look good. He should be ready to go for the team’s regular season opener on Friday against Maryland at the brand-spankin’-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Great news for Mays, who could’ve been the man at Wright State as a senior, but wanted to win on a major level in his final collegiate season. And even better news for Kentucky and Calipari, who dodges the injury bullet in regards to his shooter.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Position Rankings: The Top 20 Power Forwards

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The Top 10

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: As a freshman, McDermott was one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. As a sophomore, he was the guy you had to see play. As a junior? He’s a first-team all-american, one of the nation’s most efficient players, and the engine that makes the Creighton offense go.

2. Tony Mitchell, North Texas: Mitchell was a top 20 recruit coming out of high school, but due to some academic issues, it took until the middle of his second year as a collegian to suit up. As a sophomore this season, expect Mitchell to put up some enormous numbers for the Mean Green this year.

3. Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser is one of the most interesting players on this list. His skill-set screams ‘collegiate stretch-four’, but his size and length make him more likely to be a three at the next level. With Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch joining the Rebels this season, Moser may have to spend more time at the three this season.

4. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: McAdoo was a top ten recruit in the Class of 2011, but when you’re forced to share a front court with Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, there really aren’t many minutes — or shots — available. That will change this season, and expect McAdoo to thrive in their absence.

5. Andre Roberson, Colorado: Roberson is a guy that NBA scouts love because of his length, his athleticism and his willingness to do things other than score the ball (11.1 boards, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 steals). With Colorado needing him in a more expanded role offensively this season, if Roberson has worked on being a more well-rounded threat at that end, don’t be shocked to see Roberson compete for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

6. CJ Leslie, NC State: Leslie has a chance to become an all-american this season. He’s certainly got the talent, but the question is whether or not he’s got the mentality for it. He’ll be benefited by Lorenzo Brown aiding in a leadership role, but if NC State is going to be a national title contender, Leslie will need to make a push for being higher on this list.

7. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: I think Stokes is going to have a huge season. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 boards for the Vols last year despite enrolling midway through the season when he was supposed to be a high school senior. Imagine what he’ll do with a full preseason?

8. Elias Harris, Gonzaga: Harris has never quite lived up to those lofty expectations he had after his sensational freshman year, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t evolved into an excellent college power forward. Some of his explosiveness is gone, but he’s become a better defender and rebounder and a much more valuable piece for a very good Gonzaga team.

9. Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin may be the single-most difficult player to label a position for in the country. He’s 7-foot-1, which, naturally, would mean he gets slotted as a center. But his game is more suited to being a small forward. So what do you do with a guy built in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki? Slot the sharp-shooter as a power forward.

10. Christian Watford, Indiana: On his own, Watford is probably not a better basketball player than a number of the players behind him on this list, but we decided to slot Watford this high simply because of how perfectly he fits on the Hoosier roster. Watford’s a terrific three-point shooter, which means that Indiana is able to surround Cody Zeller with four guys that cannot be left open from three. Watford is a vital piece to that puzzle.

The Next 10

11. Aaric Murray, West Virginia
12. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
13. Chane Behanan, Louisville
14. Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
15. Brock Motum, Washington State
16. Laurence Bowers, Missouri
17. Keith Clanton, Central Florida
18. Dennis Tinnon, Marshall
19. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
20. Kenny Kadji, Miami

The Best of the Rest: CJ Aiken (St. Joseph’s), O.D. Anosike (Siena), Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Tarik Black (Memphis), Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State), Will Clyburn (Iowa State), Jake Cohen (Davidson), Robert Covington (Tennessee State), Ed Daniels (Murray State), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Ricardo Gathers (Baylor), Murphy Holloway (Ole Miss), Ian Hummer (Princeton), Javon McCrea (Buffalo), Erik Murphy (Florida), Romero Osby (Oklahoma), Marshawn Powell (Arkansas), Juvonte Reddic (VCU), Keith Rendleman (UNC-Wilmington), Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.