Morning Five: 01.28.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 28th, 2014

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  1. Yesterday, recently dismissed Louisville forward Chane Behanan announced that he would be transferring to Colorado State. Behanan, who was dismissed from Louisville for repeated rules violations, is expected to be eligible to play for the Rams at the end of next season’s fall semester. Outside of all the jokes about marijuana being legal in Colorado (there are rumors swirling that it was the reason for Behanan’s dismissal), Colorado State would appear to be an ideal situation for Behanan given Larry Eustachy’s own public battles with substance abuse (alcohol–you may remember his infamous photos with coeds), which may help him guide Behanan. Given Behanan’s talent and productivity while at Louisville this could be a big addition for Colorado State if he can get his act together.
  2. We have heard plenty of fans complaining about the new rules and how they have led to more fouls (although the talk has started to get quieter), but we have not seen an analysis as thorough as Dan Hanner’s on which coaches have been most affected by the rule changes. As Hanner notes, the trends do not necessarily correlate with the coaches that have traditionally had more aggressive defenses, but there are some prominent coaches who have seen the number of free throws attempted by their opponents increase significantly. Given those increases we are a bit surprised that we have not heard these coaches be more outspoken in their disapproval of the new rules.
  3. The news that Southern Methodist prized freshman recruit Keith Frazier may have had a failing grade changed to a passing one so he could graduate high school generated quite a bit of attention yesterday. So much so that Southern Methodist quickly issued a statement regarding the “misinformation” that had been circulating. Essentially the investigation uncovered that Frazier had at least one failing grade changed to a passing one in a physics class by a teaching assistant who subsequently left the school. According to investigators the SMU staff and the high school coaches had been inquiring about Frazier’s grades repeatedly because he was on the verge of not graduating/qualifying. Given what has been made publicly available it is going to be very hard to prove that the SMU staff had anything to do with changing the grades so they should be off the hook. We doubt that the NCAA has the time/resources available really look into this so unless the Dallas school district is going to really look into this we doubt that much more will come of this.
  4. If you were hoping to see the Final Four in a new location, you are probably out of luck as based on the NCAA’s release of the finalists for the 2017-2020 Final Fours. The eight finalists–Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix/Glendale, San Antonio, and St. Louis–have already hosted 24 Finals Fours and are scheduled to host the next two. Only the Phoenix/Glendale location would be a new site for the Final Four. As we mentioned on Twitter yesterday, we would like to see these played on the coasts a little more often although we understand the appeal of the Midwest (being in the center of the country so theoretically close to everybody). The other limiting factor is the NCAA’s requirement that venues hold at least 60,000 fans and have at least 10,000 hotel rooms in the area. The hotel rooms would not be an issue for most major cities, but the venue size might unless the cities have NFL teams that play indoors.
  5. A month after getting kicked off the Florida basketball team, Damontre Harris is back on the team. Well, sort of. Harris is practicing with the scout team, but will not play for the team or even be on the bench. While Billy Donovan will not let Harris play for the team this season because it ”would completely devalue our core values” it appears that playing for the team next season would not. In any event it is a significant addition for the Gators going forward (assuming Harris can manage to stay on the team) given Harris’ productivity as a sophomore at South Carolina when he averaged 6.8 points (on 55% shooting from the field), 5.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game despite playing just 25.9 minutes per game.
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SEC M5: 01.10.14 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on January 10th, 2014

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  1. No Marshall Henderson for Ole MissNo problem, but just barely. The Rebels held off Auburn, but it was a close game throughout and Ole Miss weathered a stretch in which they only scored two points in seven minutes. Overall, Andy Kennedy must be encouraged the Rebels won a game in which Henderson was out and Jarvis Summers was merely pedestrian offensively (14 points on 6 of 17 from the field). Aaron Jones has emerged as one of the better shot blockers in the SEC, and had five blocks against the Tigers, including a key swat with under a minute left. Chris Denson shouldered the offense for Auburn with KT Harrell in foul trouble, and must have made Henderson jealous by putting up 25 shots.
  2. Vanderbilt will be without its leading scorer the rest of the season after sophomore guard Eric McClellan was dismissed for the spring semester. McClellan has a February court date for a misdemeanor charge of theft under $500. In a statement, the sophomore said his goal is to eventually return to the Vanderbilt program. There may be few other options for McClellan, who already transferred once and now carries extra baggage with him. Obviously any criminal charge is a bad one, but luckily for McClellan this doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker when it comes to playing again. Kevin Stallings clearly has a difficult coaching job ahead of him with only seven scholarship players. One positive is that the Commodores did play hard in their first game without McClellan on Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa.
  3.  CBSSports.com’s list of the “30 games to watch in conference play” includes three from our beloved SEC, the highest ranked of which is the March 8 bout between Kentucky and Florida. This game could certainly be the deciding game in the regular season conference race. It will also have a more-defined story line after the initial February 15th game between the two teams (also on the list). In a big league with an unbalanced schedule it’s a treat these teams play twice this season. The final SEC game is the January 25th match up between Florida and Tennessee. This comes at the end of a difficult streak for the Vols, who play at Kentucky and against Arkansas immediately before traveling to Gainesville. Tennessee by default currently occupies the darkhorse position for the regular season crown after their road win against LSU and Missouri’s embarrassing home loss to Georgia.
  4. This week’s statistical nugget from SI.com‘s Luke Winn deals with Florida, who he has at #10 in his latest power rankings. Winn writes about Florida’s dominant defensive first half Wednesday against South Carolina. “The Gamecocks had one point and seven turnovers in their first 10 possessions, and they didn’t get their turnover percentage under 50 until the 25th possession.” Billy Donovan has this Gators’ team playing solid defense, like he often does. Florida has the 57th best effective field goal defense in the country. Dominant defensive first halves have also been the norm: they’re allowing 25.1 points in the first halves of games, the fifth best mark in the nation. Finally, every regular in the Donovan’s rotation has a defensive rating of 93 or less.
  5. Speaking of Florida regulars, Damontre Harris may yet be one of them in future. As impossible as it may have seemed a few weeks ago, the South Carolina transfer who Donovan essentially said would never play at Florida, may work his way onto next year’s team. “We traded some texts over the Christmas break and he realized that he had made a big mistake,” Donovan said. “He wants to work his way back on the team. It’s going to be similar to Scottie Wilbekin’s situation in that he has to meet some terms and conditions. Can he make it? I don’t know, but if he does it will be a great comeback story.” Harris could be an important addition to next year’s Gator team, if he does what Donovan needs him to. Florida will lose Patric Young and Will Yeguete to graduation and there will be a playing time available in the front court. Harris posted a 10.7% block rate during his sophomore year at South Carolina and a shot-blocking presence like that would be warmly welcomed in any lineup.
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Morning Five: 01.09.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 9th, 2014

morning5

  1. Creighton got some great news on the injury front yesterday when it got back MRIs on Doug McDermott‘s shoulder and Grant Gibbs‘ knee. McDermott is listed as day-to-day with a shoulder sprain and is expected to play on Sunday. Gibbs’ status is a little less clear after he dislocated his kneecap and is expected to miss the next month. While both injuries obviously are tough blows to the Bluejays this is probably the best that their fans could have hoped for after both players were injured in a win on Tuesday night against DePaul when it seemed like both players might miss an extended period of time.
  2. Vanderbilt was not as fortunate albeit for completely different reasons as they will be without Eric McClellan, their leading scorer, for the rest of the season as he will not be in school for the spring semester after violating one of the school’s academic policies. According to the school he is expected to be reinstated this summer so we would expect to see him back in a Commodore uniform next season. McClellan, a sophomore transfer from Tulsa, was averaging 14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. His departure is a crushing blow for a team that was going to have a tough time staying in the top half of the SEC with a full roster and now is down to just seven scholarship players.
  3. We have talked a lot about conference realignment in this space over the past few years, but we cannot think of a time where it has had such a direct influence on wins and losses as it will with the Southland Conference this year. Yesterday the conference announced that it would be making Stephen F. Austin (the best team in the conference) forfeit one game and Oral Roberts forfeit two games because they are scheduled to play more than four non-Division I opponents this season (the NCAA maximum). The worst part about it? They have to forfeit conference games because two of the schools in their conference–Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word–are transitional Division I programs meaning that even though they play in a conference full of Division I teams they still get counted as a Division II team (their previous Division) until next year.
  4. When Florida dismissed Damontre Harris from their team we assumed it would be the last time we would see the Virginia Tech transfer in Gainesville. It turns out that we were wrong, which happens more often than we would like to admit, as Billy Donovan said yesterday that Harris was re-enrolling at Florida and could work his way back onto the team next season. Given the continuous state of flux that most basketball rosters seem to be in taking another chance on Harris, who averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore at South Carolina in the 2011-12 season, certainly seems like a reasonable risk since it appears that he did not have any legal issues.
  5. Three years ago we created a Big Four State Tournament where we created fictional all-star teams from the best college basketball states in the country. Ryan Fagan of Sporting News took a similar approach with states this year, but took a much broader look at each state by considering the individual teams rather than the most prominent players. The results probably won’t be too surprising to those who have actually followed the season, but it should create some debate particularly since some of the traditional powerhouse states are ranked lower than where they might normally be in this type of ranking.
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SEC M5: 12.23.13 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell on December 23rd, 2013

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  1. It was not a good weekend for Texas A&M. First, the Aggies missed their chance to make a non-conference statement, losing to Oklahoma on Saturday night. News also broke that sophomore guard J-Mychal Reese had been dismissed from the team for a “violation of athletic department rules and regulations.” This isn’t entirely surprisingly because Reese was suspended for a handful of games to begin the season. He was only averaging seven points per game, but given the offensive struggles the Aggies have had at times this season, he’ll definitely be missed. Whether he’ll also be missed off the court is something an outsider like myself will never know. An interesting angle to this story is that Reese’s dad, John Reese, is a Texas A&M assistant coach.
  2. Kentucky’s Julius Randle began his college career with three consecutive games with 20 or more points, but he hadn’t reached that mark since before Thanksgiving until he broke out with a career-high 29 points in the Wildcats’ win against Belmont on Saturday. Randle hasn’t been scuffling, but he reminded the country why his physicality around the rim will make him one of the top overall picks in next year’s NBA Draft. He got to the free throw line 19 times, and while he missed six of those shots, that’s an easier pill for head coach John Calipari to swallow than not getting there at all.
  3. LSU had struggled to close out leads in it’s last two games against Texas Tech and Louisiana-Monroe, but the Tigers were able to put away a quality UAB team Saturday by staying aggressive instead of playing to the clock. ”We attacked them when we had a good lead instead of getting tentative, and that was a big key,” junior forward Johnny O’Bryant said. “We learned from those last two games and realized we have to play well from the start to the end.” The other story from this game was Tiger freshmen not named Jordan Mickey. Jarell Martin has had a frustrating, injury-plagued start to the year, but he scored 12 points after combining for five in his last two games. Tim Quarterman also contributed nine assists, and this went along with a solid shooting night from three for Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer (5-of-8). If both of those statistics from key freshmen become trends, the Tigers will be in good shape in SEC play considering their frontcourt skill.
  4. Damontre Harris is officially done at Florida, without ever really getting started. The former South Carolina forward transferred to Florida and sat out last season but ended his Gators’ career without ever seeing the floor. Billy Donovan had been frank about Harris’ situation over the last month, saying that he didn’t have much confidence that the suspended big man would ever play for Florida. Harris was a solid role player in his two seasons at South Carolina but his loss shouldn’t affect the Gators all that much. While he would have added some additional depth, the Gators will add Chris Walker to a frontcourt that already includes Dorian Finney-Smith, Patric Young, and Will Yeguete, and there are only so many minutes to go around.
  5. Dare we say Mississippi State is surging? The Bulldogs won their fourth straight game yesterday by beating South Florida in the Las Vegas Classic. This is easily the Bulldogs’ best win of the year, and while USF isn’t a world-beater, they were on a four-game winning streak of their own that included wins over Alabama and George Mason. Mississippi State will likely enter conference play with 10 wins, which is a far cry from where Rick Ray’s team was a year ago. The Bulldogs showed a balanced offense against South Florida, with five players scoring in double figures. There are certainly signs that their 9-2 record is the product of a weak schedule (e.g., 62 percent free throw percentage, 30 percent three-point percentage), but Bulldogs fans’ should take what they can get and enjoy the early success.
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Morning Five: 12.23.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 23rd, 2013

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  1. The big news over the weekend was the decision by North Carolina not to apply for P.J. Hairston‘s reinstatement. As we have said for several months now it seemed unlikely that Hairston would ever come back to the Tar Heels as his involvement in multiple highly questionable situations that could lead to questions from investigators well after this season ended. Although UNC remains one of the most enigmatic teams in the country they are undeniably talented and on a given night they can beat any team in the country as they have proven with wins over the preseason #1, #2, and #3 teams in the country. Hairston’s departure means they will take a big hit in terms of their potential, but in the long run it will probably help the team as it can move on without Hariston’s potential returning lingering like a cloud above their season. The next question is where Hairston goes from here. Coming into the season he was a potential first round pick. Now after a lost season we have no idea where he will fall on NBA draft boards and he might be best served by finding a professional team to play before the NBA Draft.
  2. Coming in a close second to the P.J. Hairston news was the announcement by Jerian Grant that he had been dismissed from the Notre Dame team “due to an academic matter”. The news comes as a devastating blow to a Notre Dame team coming off a brutal last minute collapse on Saturday against Ohio State. Grant, a redshirt junior, had been averaging 19 points and 6.2 assists per game so his loss is actually a bigger blow to Notre Dame than Hairston’s is to UNC, but UNC is a much bigger player on the national stage than Notre Dame so Hairston’s impact will be felt more on a national level. Based on Grant’s statement we are assuming that his dismissal is probably related to plagiarism. If Grant returns to Notre Dame next season, he would likely only have one more season of eligibility left since he already used a redshirt year.
  3. Duke certainly gets more than its fair share of notoriety, but one of the thing that does not get enough publicity is how ridiculously consistent they have been. As Matt Norlander notes, the Blue Devils are on the verge of being ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll for 120 straight weeks. That puts them 35 weeks short of the record set by John Wooden’s UCLA teams between November 15, 1966 and January 20, 1976. If they manage to stay in the top 10 of the AP poll the rest of this season (frankly, we are not sure they belong in it right now), they have a very solid chance of doing so for all of next season with their ridiculous incoming freshman class. Of course, we probably would have said the same thing about this group of Kentucky freshmen, who were considered to be of even higher quality, and you can see how that has turned out so far. Perhaps, the example of this Kentucky team should underscore just how impressive this current Duke streak is.
  4. After Billy Donovan’s comments earlier in the week it was merely a formality, but Florid officially dismissed Damontre Harris from the team. The loss of the South Carolina transfer will certainly hurt the Gators in terms of frontcourt depth particularly on the defensive end as Harris averaged 2.3 blocks per game as a sophomore at South Carolina. However, with the imminent arrival of Chris Walker the Gators might be able to overcome it. After being hit with a series of injuries and eligibility issues in the early season, the Gators are showing signs of being a legitimate Final Four contender. As for Harris, we are not sure where he goes from here and much of his fate will probably depend on what the issues were that led to Harris’ dismissal from the team. Assuming they are not legal issues, we would not be surprised to see him end up on another BCS-level conference team.
  5. It takes a special kind of talent to be kicked off a team when your father is the assistant coach, but that is what once-heralded recruit J-Mychal Reese appears to have done at Texas A&M. Reese, a top-75 recruit in high school in 2012, had already been suspended for the first four games of this season for a “violation of athletic department rules and regulations” before getting kicked off the team this weekend. His father, John Reese, had been serving an assistant other Billy Kennedy. We use the past tense there because neither J-Mychal nor John traveled to the team’s game against Oklahoma over the weekend. According to reports, Reese’s dismissal was related to drug use. Unlike Harris, the next stop for Reese will probably be a level or two lower than the Big 12 given his reported drug issue. Despite his off-court issues, Reese is a talented player who averaged 7 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range this season in between his suspensions so there will probably be many mid-major programs willing to take a chance on him.
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Morning Five: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 17th, 2013

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  1. It turns out that we might never see this Florida team at full strength. After appearing to turn the corner both on the court and off of it with players returning from injury and enrolling in school, it appears that the Gators will be without South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, who has been suspended since the start of the season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. According to Billy Donovan, Harris has not demonstrated the necessary changes to lead him back to the team and Donovan said, “I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.” Although the Gators could certainly use some interior depth (Harris averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the 2011-12 season at South Carolina) they are probably more focused on getting Chris Walker eligible as he represents a bigger potential impact than what could be expected of Harris.
  2. We formally jumped on the Iowa bandwagon almost a month ago and now Dan Hanner is offering some advanced metrics to explain why you should believe in both Iowa and Iowa State. As Hanner notes, the Hawkeyes’ improvement in efficiency margin during Fran McCaffery’s has been remarkable and both teams are among the best in the nation in Sagarin’s margin-of-victory based predictor. Perhaps the most interesting part of Hanner’s column is about coaches whose teams peak early. Many of the names on the list consist of coaches who are often criticized, which is not too surprising, but one name on the list–Mike Krzyzewski–jumps out. Those who pay attention during the season and are able to analyze without being influenced by the Duke mystique will not be shocked by the result, but it is still interesting to see it put into numbers.
  3. North Carolina State transfer and former top-20 recruit Rodney Purvis will undergo arthroscopic surgery later today for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Purvis, who averaged 8.3 points per game last season, is sitting out this year at Connecticut after his transfer. According to reports, Purvis has been bothered by the injury since he was in high school so the timing of his surgery works out well since he is expected to take four to five months to recover from the surgery. Our only question is why he waited until the end of the semester to have the surgery if he had dealing with the issue that long since this will basically mean he is ready in time for off-season workouts rather than having a chance to be in shape several months earlier.
  4. Normally there is never a good time to get suspended indefinitely (ok, maybe the offseason when your team starts against a tough early schedule), but Utah State might actually catch a bit of break with the timing of its indefinite suspension of Jarred Shaw, its leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. Shaw, who is averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, was suspended for the popular undisclosed violation of team rules. The Aggies have a very manageable schedule until January 15 when they start a difficult two-week stretch so if they can find a way to get Shaw back by then they still could be in position to contend for an at-large bid even with a month-long absence from their best player.
  5. Yesterday, former UNLV forward Savon Goodman was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and must pay $1,370 in restitution after entering into a plea deal on larceny and trespassing charges. Goodman was accused of entering a “friend’s” apartment and stealing a pair of LeBron X sneakers, $500, and 26 video games. Goodman was able to get the charges down from grand larceny, burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary to misdemeanor petty larceny and trespassing. Goodman left the UNLV program in October and given his skill level we would not be surprised to see him pop up somewhere else soon.
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Morning Five: 12.09.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 9th, 2013

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  1. When we hear about Allan Chaney‘s latest setback (a misfiring defibrillator) we hoped that it would be a minor issue, but unfortunately it appears this latest setback led Chaney to announce his retirement. It is an unfortunate end to Chaney’s career given all that he has battled back through (viral myocarditis before being denied medical clearance by Virginia Tech then going to High Point where he was allowed to play) before collapsing on November 24 in a game against Wofford when he defibrillator misfired. We have no idea how much the respective parties — Chaney, his family, and the school — played in him making his final decision, but we wish him the best of luck in his post-basketball life.
  2. We typically do not go for gimmicks, but every year that we fall for Taylor University‘s Silent Night and this year’s edition was no different. For those of you who are not familiar with the tradition, it is held the Friday before fall semester finals week begins. The students at the school remain completely silent until the team scores its tenth point at which point all sorts of craziness happens. To some it may be a little over the top to some, but we will never criticize people showing their enthusiasm for basketball especially when it is done in a constructive way.
  3. With the way that Oregon has been playing so far this season they are going to start to get national recognition. And things could get even better with the new additions to the roster that could make them even more dangerous. In addition to sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter who only have one more game remaining in their nine game suspensions for selling school-supplied shoes, the Ducks may also be adding 4-star power forward Jordan Bell who qualified academically and can start practicing immediately, but might redshirt. Regardless of whether Bell plays this year, the Ducks appear to be one of the top teams in the country and might end up as Arizona’s biggest threat in the Pac-12.
  4. It was a rough week for Stanford and senior guard Aaron Bright. Last week, Bright dislocated his right shoulder during practice and will require season-ending  surgery. That brings the Cardinal body count to three (players out for the year with season-ending injuries). To add insult to injury it appears Bright, who is taking a medical redshirt year to preserve his eligibility, may have to transfer as Stanford’s roster for the 2014-15 season would already be full. Even though we understand it is a numbers game at some level we have a hard time believing that the Stanford staff would not be able to find a way to keep Bright on the team next year.
  5. Heading into an important perception-building home game against Kansas tomorrow night, Billy Donovan appears to finally be turning the corner on getting his roster settled for this season. First, point guard Scottie Wilbekin is due back from the ankle injury he suffered in last week’s loss at Connecticut, offering the Gators some stability at a position that has been nothing short of a headache all season long. Next, according to Gator Country on Sunday, Damontre Harris and the program have officially parted ways. The South Carolina transfer had not suited up at all this season as he tried to fulfill obligations related to his suspension during the offseason, but it appears that he was unable to meet those expectations. The final piece of the puzzle concerns the eligibility of star freshman Chris Walker, who is expected to start practicing with the team as soon as final exams are over next week. With all the players shuffling in and out of the Florida lineup (and roster), we’re sure Donovan will be pleased to see some stability in that regard so he can focus on improving the team he actually has this season.
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SEC M5: 11.26.13 Edition

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on November 26th, 2013

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  1. Jordan McRae was named SEC Player of the Week after scoring a combined 45 points against the Citadel and Tennessee State. He has tightened up his efficiency on offense since the beginning of the year, missing only nine shots in those two games after missing ten in the opener against Xavier alone. His hot offensive week has helped make up for sluggish starts from two players expected to carry part of the scoring load for the Volunteers, Jarnell Stokes (40% FG%) and Robert Hubbs (35% FG%). James Young was named the Freshman of the Week, continuing the stranglehold the Wildcats will likely hold on the award all year long.
  2. Kentucky had its first non-Michigan State scare of the season last night as Cleveland State held a ten-point lead with ten minutes left. The Harrison twins were mainly responsible for the rally that helped Kentucky avoid the upset. This is encouraging for Wildcat fans because Aaron (who has struggled from three) hit a big corner three, and Andrew (who is shooting 37 percent overall) had an important old-fashioned three point play. Consistent perimeter offense from the Harrisons would elevate Kentucky to a truly complete team, and perhaps they can use their big plays last night as a confidence building block.
  3. Scottie Wilbekin made his season debut last night against Jacksonville, and it was immediately apparent how badly Billy Donovan needs his senior point guard. With Kasey Hill injured, Wilbekin had to play 34 minutes in a 26 point win. He had a good start to the season with seven assists against two turnovers. As Donovan gets one important player back, it appears another, Damontre Harriswon’t suit up for Florida this season. “Right now, he’s been gone for 25 days,” Donovan told The Sun. “I don’t have any hope he’s going to come back. We’re still going to try to help him and work with him and try to get him to do the things he needs to do, but there’s no level of accountability on the things that he needs to do on a regular basis.” It’s not often you see a coach be this honest, especially in a negative context. The Gators still have three good forwards in Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Dorian Finney-Smith.
  4. Interim Missouri coach Tim Fuller ended his stint at the helm with a 5-0 record after a win against IUPUI. Frank Haith returns when the Tigers play Northwestern on Thanksgiving. The record looks impressive, but Fuller did it against a weak slate of teams. Still, he had to show composure as the Tigers were tested against Hawaii (one-point halftime deficit), Gardner-Webb (two-point halftime lead), and IUPUI (nine-point lead with under eight minutes to play). This doesn’t say much for Missouri, but it was a good learning experience for a guy with a sterling recruiting reputation that will likely get head coaching looks down the line.
  5. Arkansas dropped its first real test of the year, losing to California 85-77 in the opening game of the Maui Invitational. The Razorbacks were bullied on the glass as the Golden Bears grabbed 18 more rebounds. Mike Anderson got good scoring efforts out of Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell, but his front court combined to make only seven baskets. Luckily for Arkansas, the deep Maui field means they still have a shot at a resume-boosting win against Minnesota, which lost to Syracuse. The Golden Gophers present a challenge to Arkansas because they haven’t turned the ball over much this year, and have a dynamite rebounder in Eliot Eliason (11.2 rebounds per game).
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Morning Five: 11.18.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. Friday’s major commitments turned out to be a case of the rich get richer. The big announcement was the simultaneous commitment of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones to play for Duke next year. As we said on Friday morning just the addition of those two should give Duke the #1 recruiting class in the country this year and quite possibly make them the preseason favorite for the 2015 national title. In perhaps the most controversial move of the day Cliff Alexander selected Kansas, but not before picking up an Illinois hat, putting it down, and then finally putting on a Kansas hat. The move generated a fair amount of criticism with many Illini fans and possibly the coaching staff thinking that they had the inside track on Alexander, an Illinois native. We doubt that the two teams will play next season, but we imagine the reception that Alexander would receive would not be unlike what Eric Gordon received on his only trip to Illinois. In the wake of the other news, Stanley Johnson‘s commitment to Arizona got lost in the shuffle, but the addition of another Mater Dei star (Aaron Gordon is also from there should help the Wildcats reload and help ensure that they will still be a force when Gordon presumably leaves Tucson after this season.
  2. In a reminder that fans should not be too hard on a recruit when he spurns your school, Quentin Snider announced that he was backing out of his commitment to Illinois (Friday was not John Groce’s finest day) and recommitting to Louisville. Snider originally committed to Louisville in August 2011 before backing out of that commitment at the end of July 2013 and chose Illinois in September 2013, but when Jaquan Lyle backed out of his own commitment to Louisville the Cardinals needed a point guard for the class of 2014 and Snider decided to return to his original commitment. Although Snider never officially announced it, Lyle’s committment and backing out of his committment at Louisville likely played a large role in Snider’s vascillation.
  3. The case involving Duke Mondy and Dante Williams that led the two Oakland players to temporarily be arrested on rape charges before being dropped. Without getting into too many details (you can go to TMZ for that, seriously) it appears to be a case of the players getting involved with a woman after their curfew while on a road trip and the woman becoming upset at the end and accusing the players of rape. While the players were able to avoid any serious legal repercussions it appears that they may be facing a rather stiff punishment from the school.
  4. At this point in the season we do not know what to think of Florida with their ever-changing roster. While Billy Donovan did reinstate Dorian Finney-Smith, who responded with 17 points and nine rebounds in his first game back, they are still without Damontre Harris, who remains off the team. With all of the uncertainty around the Gator lineup they remain one of the harder teams to get a handle on early in the season. Having said that if Donovan can get some semblance of a rotation by Christmas time they could be a tough out in March once again.
  5. Last year, Jack Taylor made international headlines with his 138-point performance. This year, he barely gets a mention in the Morning Five with his 109-point outburst yesterday. Taylor’s performance yesterday is third all-time trailing just his effort last year and a 113-point game in 1954. His stat line (and his output) would be a solid five game stretch for most players: 35-of-70 from the field, 24-of-48 3, and 15-of-17 from the  free throw line. Perhaps our favorite part of the game summary is the school mentioning the “big games from others” who scored between 10 and 15 points. For perspective, Taylor scored 53 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
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SEC M5: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2013

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  1. Billy Kennedy is on the hot seat in College Station, according to sources close to the third year coach. Despite going to the NCAA Tournament from 2006 to 2011 under Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon, the Aggies haven’t even gotten a sniff of the Big Dance in Kennedy’s first two seasons at the helm. Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman expects a postseason berth at the end of the year, and it sounds like Kennedy likes his chances. “We’re deeper and more talented,” Kennedy said after his team’s exhibition win. “We’ve just got to find our identity and find a rotation, and guys have to start separating themselves.” Of course Kennedy needs all of his players on the court to be successful, and it appears that the Aggies are struggling in that department.
  2. Kennedy’s cause won’t be helped by Texas A&M guard J-Mychal Reese, who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of athletic department rules. Reese started 25 games last season for the Aggies averaging 6.2 points, 1.9 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game. Reese will continue to practice with the team, and could be reinstated for game action in the “near future.” In A&M’s first exhibition game of the year, the backcourt got a 13-point contribution from Fabyon Harris and 11 points and six rebounds from guard Jamal Jones. The Aggies won by just 10 points over Texas Permian Basin, but perhaps the bigger absence at this point is forward Kourtney Roberson, who is still sidelined with a heart condition. Roberson plans to return to the team in a few weeks, but the Aggies can ill afford to lose any more key players in light of the number one item on today’s morning five.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan is also busy suspending players from his already thin roster. Donovan previously placed point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the pine, and now Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris will join him. While Wilbekin will sit out the first three games of the year, Finney-Smith and Harris will both be out for the first two. “Well, I mean, you know, it is what it is,” Donovan said. “We just try to go with the guys that we know are going to be available, going to be there to play.” The Gators have very few players available at this point. Donovan has just five scholarship players at his disposal because of the aforementioned suspensions and injuries or illnesses hampering Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier, and Eli Carter.
  4. It was no surprise that the Kentucky Wildcats came in as the preseason #1 in the Associated Press rankings. The Cats will play #2 Michigan State Spartans on November 12 as part of the Champions Classic. The #1 vs #2 match-up will be the first time the top two college basketball teams squared off in the regular season since 2008. And for the SEC history buffs, that last match-up of the nation’s best was when Memphis and the SEC’s own Tennessee Volunteers battled. But you probably already know that Kentucky coach John Calipari downplayed the honor by pretending his team isn’t very good. After learning of his team landing the top spot, he said, “we may be very talented, but I can’t imagine us being the best team in the country at this point.” That’s Calipari speak for, “we’re really, really good.”
  5. Speaking of UK, Calipari grabbed a 2014 recruit in 6’5″ guard Devin Booker on Thursday. Booker liked what he saw in Kentucky, and of course, in Calipari. ”The history of Kentucky, coach John Calipari,” Booker said. “I’m a show-me type, and Coach Calipari showed me a lot of things he does with big guards.” Booker is the #31 player in the Scout.com rankings, joining point guard Tyler Ulis and center Karl Towns in what makes up the current Wildcats’ 2014 class. Of course, with the mass exodus scheduled out of Lexington at the end of the year, Calipari and company aren’t done securing a new crop of youngsters for the blue and white. However, in a rare recruiting setback, Calipari appears to have lost out on James Blackmon Jr., who recommitted to Indiana last night.
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Morning Five: 11.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2013

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  1. With a little over a week until the start of the season, Iowa State might have just suffered the biggest injury setback after Melvin Ejim hyperextended and bruised his left knee during Wednesday’s practice. Ejim is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks, which would also include a game against Michigan. Ejim’s injury will place an extra burden on sophomore Georges Niang and will force Fred Hoiberg to try to find a serviceable replacement to support Niang on the inside and keep the Cyclones in contention for the NCAA Tournament when Ejim returns.
  2. Zay Jackson‘s time at Murray State has been nothing if not eventful. Last year, Jackson was arrested after running over two people with his car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. He was subsequently suspended by the team for the season before returning and was expected to start before hearing his ACL in early October. Yesterday, he announced that he would be transferring from the school. We have no idea where Jackson is headed, but we can guess that Steve Prohm will be much less stressed going forward.
  3. We are sure that Florida will be fine by the time that March rolls around, but that probably won’t make Billy Donovan feel any better right now. On Tuesday, he found out that Michael Frazier would be out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Yesterday, the school announced that Scottie WilbekinDamontre Harris, and Dorian Finney-Smith had been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. The Wilbekin and Harris/Finney-Smith suspensions appear to be separate incidents, but this will still be another big blow for a team that is getting weaker by the day. Based on what Andy Hutchins at Alligator Army has found out it appears that Wilbekin will be out for at least six games and Harris/Finney-Smith will be out for at least three games. Even if that includes the team’s exhibition game against Florida Southern, the three would probably also be out for the team’s trip to Wisconsin turning what was once a promising match-up into a mismatch.
  4. It seems like we have updates on transfer waivers everyday. Today’s update has one approval and one denial. The approval comes out of Baylor where Denver transfer Royce O’Neale was granted a waiver that will allow him to play for Baylor this season. O’Neale, a 6’6″ guard who averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season as a sophomore at Denver, transferred to be closer to his ailing grandfather. On the other end of the spectrum, Isaac Hamilton was denied his waiver to play for UCLA this season. Hamilton was attempting to have his National Letter of Intent that he had signed with UTEP voided by the NCAA after Tim Floyd refused to release him. As a result, Hamilton will be allowed to practice with the Bruins, but will not be allowed to play for them until the 2014-15 season.
  5. Yesterday, was also a big day for high school recruits with three top-25 recruits announcing their commitments. Kevon Looney, a 6’9″ power forward, led the group off by committing to UCLA. The Bruins were able to beat out Wisconsin, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, and Tennessee with the Volunteers reportedly coming in second for his services. The announcement was a bit of a surprise as many recruiting analysts had the Bruins below Duke, Florida, and Tennessee for his services, but with how frequently Steve Alford has lost recruits at UCLA we wouldn’t be shocked to see Looney back out either. Looney was followed by Devin Booker, a 6’6″ shooting guard, committed to Kentucky with the Wildcats beating out Michigan State, Michigan, and Missouri. While having a top recruit commit to Kentucky is certainly not surprising it is worth noting that Devin’s father, Melvin, was a first-team All-American at Missouri in 1994 leading them to a 14-0 Big Eight record. Finally, James Blackmon Jr., a 6’2″ shooting guard, committed to Indiana (again). Blackmon’s decision is particularly notable because he originally committed to Indiana before backing out and was said to be considering Kentucky (where his father played) before recommitting to the Hoosiers.
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SEC M5: 12.21.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on December 21st, 2012

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  1. Jabari Parker’s commitment was the lead story in college basketball yesterday, and to the chagrin of almost everyone, the Chicago product chose to attend Duke. He had narrowed down his choices to five schools before his announcement, with Florida serving as the SEC’s only representative. Any program would benefit greatly by adding a talent like Parker, but the Gators will still have one of the nation’s best incoming classes. Billy Donovan will bring in Chris Walker and Kasey Hill, both consensus top 10 recruits, in addition to South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris and Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith. Of all the spurned schools on Parker’s final list, Florida is probably in the best position going forward.
  2. Tennessee has gotten back on track with wins over Wichita State and Presbyterian, but after a miserable start to the season, Volunteer fans are still counting the days until they see Jeronne Maymon back on the floor. Unfortunately, it may be a while. Maymon’s rehabilitation from knee surgery hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Vols had hoped. The ambitious diagnosis had the senior forward returning to action as early as this month, but as Maymon continues to limp around Tennessee’s training facility, the possibility of a medical redshirt has been explored. “He’s open to everything,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “One thing about Jeronne, he’s a coachable guy. He wants to do what’s best for the team. If that means coming back (for a redshirt season), he’ll come back. We’re trying to figure out what’s best for Jeronne Maymon first and foremost, then our team.” Coming back for only a few games surely isn’t the smart move, but in a season filled with high expectations in Knoxville, getting Maymon back on the court is absolutely essential in Tennessee’s efforts to meet those goals.
  3. Texas A&M has had an especially unremarkable season. Outside of a slight upset of Washington State on a neutral court (maybe?), the Aggies have beaten every inferior team and lost in both games against superior competition. This is progress, however, for second-year coach Billy Kennedy, who struggled mightily in his first season, posting a 4-14 record in the Big 12. He’ll hope that the SEC schedule is kinder as he enters a new conference, and he may be in luck. The middle of the SEC is weak, and A&M has the talent to take advantage. Senior Elston Turner has improved on his shooting percentages, and at 16.1 points per game, he’s the type of player who can make a difference as the Aggies take on the SEC’s many mediocre teams.
  4. In the wake of the Michael Dixon situation, off-the-court news hasn’t been especially kind to Missouri this season. That changed on Thursday, however, as the Tigers revealed that the basketball team had achieved their highest collective GPA (over a 3.0) in over a decade. “I’m so proud of our guys and their efforts in the classroom,” coach Frank Haith said. “We demand a lot from them throughout the year and they delivered in a big way, which deserves recognition.” Tigers’ leading scorer Laurence Bowers is one of the stars in the classroom as well. The senior forward has already finished his undergraduate degree, and is a semester away from a master’s in Health Education and Promotion.
  5. “Going Big”, the ESPN Films documentary about former Kentucky great, Sam Bowie, premiered on ESPNU last night. Every basketball fan knows the basics of Bowie’s tale, but director Tom Friend utilizes an unfamiliar perspective to tell his story: the perspective of Sam Bowie. It’s impossible to ignore the Michael Jordan factor with this subject, but any true connection between Jordan’s success and Bowie’s struggles with injury are the product of a fabricated narrative (a compelling one, to be fair). For the former Kentucky center, getting over the Jordan comparisons was tough, but the support of the Lexington community made it possible. “I always knew when the [NBA] season was over that I was immediately going to go back to Kentucky, because that was a safe haven for me to get away from the Michael Jordans, from the critics,” Bowie said. “And that’s a beautiful thing, because when you’re getting beat up like I was getting beat up, you run for cover. And my cover was getting back to Lexington.”
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