O26 Weekly Awards: Sycamores, Kyle Collinsworth, Bob McKillop & Fresno State

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on January 6th, 2015

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

Indiana State. The Sycamores entered the week 4-8, having lost seven straight games against Division I programs, including the last two – home defeats to Eastern Illinois and UMKC – against teams ranked well below 200th in KenPom. Sure, three key seniors did graduate in the offseason and Greg Lansing’s program was picked sixth in the Missouri Valley, but the first two months of 2014-15 failed even to live up to those modest expectations. Conference play can do funny things to a basketball team, and it certainly did something to the Sycamores this past week; despite all signs pointing the other way, Indiana State upended two of the MVC’s better squads to begin its league slate.

Indiana State picked up two Missouri Valley huge wins this week. (gosycamores.com)

Indiana State picked up two Missouri Valley huge wins this week. (gosycamores.com)

Lansing’s club opened the week on the road against shorthanded-but-talented Illinois State, a good team (which beat Old Dominion by 19 in November) with a 91 percent chance of winning, according to KenPom. But despite those long odds, and although it had not beaten the Redbirds in Normal since 2011, Indiana State came out hot from the perimeter (43 percent from behind the arc), limited Illinois State top-scorer Daishon Knight to just five points, and overcame a halftime deficit to pull off the road upset. Neither team managed more than 0.90 points per possession – “We’ve always been a program that wins ugly games,” Lansing said afterwards – but the Sycamores produced enough late buckets and a big, last-second block to secure the victory. “That’s a really good start for us beating a good team.” Next up was Evansville on Sunday, a team fresh off a win over 23rd-ranked Northern Iowa on New Year’s Day. Again substantial underdogs and again hitting from the three-point line, the Sycamores kept pace with the Aces all afternoon and ultimately forced overtime tied at 70. Momentum swung towards Indiana State when Evansville big man Egidijus Mockevicius fouled out with 3:20 left in the extra period, and another big defensive play – this time a Devonte Brown steal – put Lansing’s group up for good. Big man Jake Kitchell led the way for Indiana State with 21 points and 11 rebounds.  “A lot of us struggled at the start of the year, including me. Guys are playing better now and the results are showing,” Lansing noted after the game. Indeed. One week ago, his team looked like it’d be hard-pressed to win two conference games all season. Now? The Sycamores sit coolly atop the MVC standings at 2-0. “It’s only a couple of wins, but we’re happy with them.”

Honorable Mentions: New Mexico (2-0: vs. Fresno State, vs. Colorado State); Coastal Carolina (2-0: at High Point, vs. Charleston Southern); St. Francis-Brooklyn (2-0: vs. Columbia, at Sacred Heart); BYU (3-0: vs. Portland, at Santa Clara, at San Francisco); Idaho (2-0: vs. Idaho State, vs. Weber State)

O26 Player of the Week

BYU's Kyle Collinsworth recorded yet another triple-double this week. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth recorded yet another triple-double this week. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

Kyle Collinsworth – BYU. It’s about time we give Collinsworth his due. Not only does the point guard rank among the top-10 in the WCC in nearly every statistical category – points, rebounds, steals, field goal percentage, assist-to-turnover ratio – but he’s well on his way to breaking the NCAA season record for triple-doubles. Collinsworth recorded his third of the season against San Francisco on Saturday night – the record is four – logging 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in BYU’s 99-69 beatdown of the Dons. On Thursday against Santa Clara, the junior put together an eight-point, 15-rebound, six-assist performance in a 25-point win; three days before that, it was 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists in the Cougars’ victory over Portland. Although the latter two efforts weren’t triple-doubles, they did go a long way towards helping his team win. At 6’6’’ and ultra-versatile, there might not be another player in America quite like Collinsworth, and as long as he’s on the floor (which wasn’t the case in last year’s NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon), BYU should win a lot of basketball games.

Honorable Mentions: Shannon Evans – Buffalo (14 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds at Binghamton… 33 points, five assists vs. Cornell); Jack Gibbs – Davidson (21 points at Virginia… 32 points vs. Richmond); Jalen Cannon – St. Francis-Brooklyn (15 points, 12 rebounds, five assists vs. Columbia… 21 points, 13 rebounds at Sacred Heart); Tyler Harvey – Eastern Washington (39 points (7-of-10 3FG) vs. Weber State… 16 points vs. Idaho State)

O26 Coach of the Week

Bob McKillop continues to prove himself as a college basketball mastermind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Bob McKillop continues to prove himself as a college basketball mastermind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Bob McKillop – Davidson. Hang on, let me check… yep – McKillop’s still one of the best. Despite losing three seniors this offseason – including Southern Conference Player of the Year De’Mon Brooks – and despite being picked 12th (out of 14 teams) in the A-10 preseason poll, Davidson has not missed a beat, a fact made abundantly clear on Monday night against Virginia. The Cavaliers’ defense had been utterly dominant entering the game, holding 10 of 11 opponents to under one point per possession and limiting Harvard to just 27 points (0.46 PPP) in their previous outing. Yet, Davidson – running McKillop’s motion offense, seemingly impervious to personnel turnover – carved up Tony Bennett’s pack-line for the better part of the contest, scoring 72 points on 1.14 PPP (Virginia’s worst defensive effort of the season) and maintaining a lead well into the second half. The Wildcats ultimately fell by 11 points, but most fans and observers left more impressed by the losers than anything else. “They kind of schooled us. They really did,” Bennett said of Davidson. The Wildcats returned home on Saturday and kept that offensive momentum rolling in their A-10 debut, handling Richmond (picked fifth in the preseason) by 14 points on 53 percent shooting. Now 10-2, McKillop’s group ranks sixth nationally in offensive efficiency – behind five teams each ranked in the AP Top 10 – and looks potent enough to make a serious run in its new conference. Bennett and the Cavaliers are not alone – McKillop has schooled a lot of us this season.

Honorable Mentions: Greg Kampe – Oakland; Jim Engles – NJIT; Greg Lansing – Indiana State

O26 Upset of the Week

Fresno State took down San Diego State for the first time since 2000. (Sean M. Haffey / UT San Diego)

Fresno State beat San Diego State for the first time since 2000. (Sean M. Haffey/UT San Diego)

Fresno State over San Diego State, 59-57. Sure, San Diego State is still without wing Dwayne Polee II, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Aztecs’ 59-57 defeat at Fresno State on Saturday night was flat-out dreadful. The Mountain West favorites – a top-20 team in the preseason, remember – were held to just 19 points in the first half against a team picked seventh in the conference, the Bulldogs grabbing a 14-point lead at the break and never giving it back despite an up-and-down final 20 minutes. Steve Fisher’s group was unable to find any consistent offensive production (heck, any production, period) underneath the basket, as forwards J.J. O’Brien, Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol combined for three points on 1-of-9 shooting, and the Aztecs turned the ball over a whopping 18 times in 65 possessions. Guard Marvelle Harris led the charge for Fresno State, scoring 25 points to go along with seven rebounds and four steals, including a big bucket and two big free throws late. The outcome – however troubling for San Diego State – was huge for a Bulldogs program used to coming out on the losing end: “Obviously, they’ve been a conference champion here the last couple of years. You’re going to get that kind of fight from those guys,” Terry said after the game, adding, “It’s a huge win against a program that we have a lot of respect for.” The upset marks Fresno State’s first victory over a Top 25 unit since 2002 (SDSU is still ranked 25th in the USA Today/Coaches Poll) and its first over the Aztecs since 2000 – a testament to Fisher’s dominance since taking over in 1999.

Honorable Mentions: Navy over Lafayette, 69-65; Delaware over St. Bonaventure, 82-77; Indiana State over Illinois State, 63-61

O26 Dunk of the Week

Tekele Cotton – Wichita State. Remember last season when Cotton obliterated Illinois State with that awesome posteriz — OH NO LOOK OUT! My goodness, he did it again. Poor Redbirds…

O26 Odd Box Score of the Week

Boston University over Holy Cross, 75-72. When you look at the statistics and consider the fact that BU turned the ball over 18 more times (20) than Holy Cross (two), and that the Crusaders took 38 more shots than the Terriers, it makes the ultimate outcome seem impossible. Of course, BU did shoot 60 percent from the field and earned 14 more trips to the free throw line, but still – you won’t see many box scores quite like this one all season.

O26 Physical Comedy of the Week

St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt falls off scooter. The Bonnies’ seventh-year head man has needed the assistance of a scooter to get around after recently tearing his Achilles. Unfortunately, things went awry during his attempt to shake hands with the UMass coaching staff on Saturday night. We’re not laughing at you, coach, we’re laughing with you… okay fine, we’re laughing at you… But don’t worry, Schmidt got the last laugh – his team knocked off the Minutemen, 69-55, in Amherst.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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