Morning Five: 07.18.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 18th, 2014

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  1. We have heard of package deals before (we even wrote about it in the early days of the site), but the decision by Memphis to hire Keelon Lawson as an assistant is unique even by those standards. Now Lawson is not just some random guy off the street as he played college basketball and led a Tennessee high school team to a state title so you could make the case that he was a legitimate hire albeit a rather unusual one as his credentials are not particularly noteworthy. The thing about him that is noteworthy is that he is the father of four elite recruits. The oldest of those recruits is K. J., a top-50 recruit in the class of 2015, who has already committed to play at Memphis. The others are reportedly even better with Dedric (class of 2016) being a top-10 player and two much younger ones–Chandler (class of 2019) and Jonathan (a sixth-grader)–being considered even better. The fact that the official Memphis release linked above does not mention any of them (even K. J., who already committed) is amusing to say the least. It will be quite a bit of time before Chandler much less Jonathan is making official college visits to it will be interesting to see how this relationship between Keelon and Josh Pastner evolves.
  2. The announcement that John Adams, the NCAA supervisor of officials, will be retiring after the 2015 Final Four might not strike some as particularly noteworthy, but it is to us. Outside of issues regarding when players can enter the NBA Draft and those regarding amateurism we things have been more hotly debated than recent rule changes. Adams is not directly responsible for creating these new rules, but his job is to make sure that they are uniformly enforced throughout college basketball and works with conferences, who are then in touch with their officials, to try to improve on certain areas where enforcement is less than ideal. Adams has caught a lot of heat over the years for the way that certain rules are enforced, but overall we think he has done a good job and whomever is selected to follow him has big shoes to fill.
  3. Yesterday, attorneys in Rhode Island announced that they will not be pressing charges in the sexual assault case at Providence that led to the dismissal of Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock after a grand jury determined their was insufficient evidence to move forward in the case. The case stemmed from a report of sexual assault in November 2013 in which a female student accused the two players of sexually assaulting her. Austin as you might remember transferred to Oregon where he was involved in another sexual assault case that led to his dismissal there. He is now enrolled at a community college in Kansas. Bullock stayed at Providence and is expected to play for the team this season.
  4. On Wednesday, Maryland announced its 2014 Hall of Fame class, which was headlined by Len Bias. While all the others that were honored are very accomplished (ok, we have never heard of anybody else on that list), Bias stands out for several reasons. The most obvious of which is the way that he died. Some people like John Feinstein feel that the way that Bias died should mean that he is excluded from the Hall of Fame. While this leaves a somber note on Bias’ legacy, that alone should not keep him out. Obviously people will have their own views on morality and drug use, but excluding Bias keeps out a significant part of the history of Maryland basketball, which seems myopic. How the school decides to handle Bias’ legacy is another issue, but one that the school should address and not try to sweep under the rug.
  5. One of the nice things about the offseason is that it allows people to work on stuff that they otherwise wouldn’t have time to get to. For some people that means non-basketball things. For Ken Pomeroy, it means even more in-depth situation analysis. His latest task is dissecting the decision on whether a team should foul when tied late in a game. This installment is just an initial look at the data with Pomeroy promising to get more complex in his analysis in the next installment. This probably won’t catch on as much as the “foul up 3″ debate, but it is still an interesting one.
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Morning Five: 03.19.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 19th, 2014

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  1. Bruce Pearl still has a few months left on his show-cause penalty, but that isn’t stopping Auburn from hiring him to a six-year deal worth $14.7 million. Since it appears that the NCAA won’t raise any objection with the hiring (the lead investigator on the case works for Auburn now) it seems like a great move by Auburn. We would be tempted to question Pearl’s decision to take the Auburn job, but when you have been blacklisted by the NCAA for three years and technically still are you have to take what is available. Our only question is that now that the door has been opened by Auburn, how long will Pearl stay there before moving on to a better job. The school appear to be weary enough of that they included a clause where he will have to pay $5 million if he leaves within two years meaning that he will actually lose money on the deal if he does so.
  2. We would not have considered Boston College’s decision to fire Steve Donahue that surprising if not for Pete Thamel’s recent report that they were retaining Donahue. Assuming that Thamel’s sources were good it is a pretty abrupt change of course for the program. Having said that it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Donahue was gone as he was 54-76 in four seasons with his first season being by far his most successful. Boston College is one of the more interesting job openings because many people consider a spot with great potential because of its proximity to several great AAU and high school programs, but nobody has been able to tap into that potential.
  3. Donahue was not the only big name who was shown the door yesterday as Washington State fired Ken Bone yesterday. Bone went 80-86 in five seasons and had a difficult task of following up Tony Bennett, who went 69-33 in his three seasons there while leading the Cougars to two NCAA Tournament appearances including a Sweet Sixteen (and is also doing an ok job in Charlottesville). Pullman might not seem like a great destination to the outside observer, but it is still in the Pac-12 and has quite a bit of talent in the region to draw from. If they are able to lure one of the names mentioned in the link above they could be competitive in the Pac-12 in the not too distant future.
  4. We had almost forgotten about the strange circumstances under which Providence suspended Rodney Bullock and Brandon Austin. The pair of prized freshmen were suspended on November 6 for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes” and nobody paid much attention to it after that except when Austin transferred to Oregon. Now it appears that a woman is claiming that the pair sexually assaulted her on November 3–three days before they were suspended. We aren’t going to say that the two events are related, but the optics don’t look good. Outside of the obvious legal implications we have to wonder what this will mean for Austin, Bullock, and Providence administrators.
  5. The transfer market is starting to heat up as two big names–UNLV’s Bryce Dejean-Jones and Temple’s Anthony Lee–entered it in the past few days.  Dejean-Jones was UNLV’s leading scorer this year, but had some off-court issues that likely led to his decision to transfer for his senior year. He is on pace to graduate this summer so he will likely be able to play next season with the graduate student transfer waiver. Lee averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game and has also decided to transfer for his senior year. Lee has already graduated and is expected to use a graduate student transfer waiver.
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Big East M5: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by George Hershey on January 6th, 2014

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  1. It was a rough weekend for Providence. The Friars took a beating at Villanova on Sunday night after getting news on Saturday that highly-touted freshman Brandon Austin would be transferring from the school. Austin had yet to play a single minute in a Providence uniform because he was suspended before the season (along with fellow freshman Rodney Bullock) for breaking school rules. His departure hurts the Friars’ future prospects considerably, as he was poised to take on a major role next year with the personnel losses of seniors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts. This is on top of the injury to Kris Dunn, which will keep him out for the rest of the season. It is unfortunate that a year that looked so promising has turned into an 0-2 start in conference play with a postseaon berth looking increasingly unlikely.
  2. Last year’s Wisconsin Mr. Basketball, Luke Fischer, a player who decided to attend Indiana over Creighton and Marquette, decided to transfer last week. He took a few days to decide and ultimately picked Marquette over Creighton and Milwaukee as his next destination. Fischer played high school an hour away from Milwaukee and will have the chance to contribute with the Golden Eagles immediately. He will have to sit out until the end of the fall semester, but he will have two -and-a-half seasons upon his return. Anonymous Eagle breaks down the transfer details as well as the scholarship situation for Marquette, which looks like one of the someone will not be making it onto campus next year unless a current player transfers. Paint Touches breaks down the impact and importance of the transfer, as Fischer is expected to fill a big void in the frontcourt with Chris Otule, Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson graduating.
  3. Seton Hall started Big East play with an overtime win over Providence, but senior leader Eugene Teague looks like he will be out a while dealing with effects from a concussion he suffered a week ago against Lafayette. Teague was still feeling post-concussion symptoms last Thursday, with head coach Kevin Willard saying that he “is going to be out for awhile, that’s just the way it is. He took a really hard fall, and we’re going to be extra cautious and do what’s best for him. Whether its a week, two weeks, three weeks, we just don’t know and we really have to be careful with him and do what’s in his best interest.” The senior is one of the Pirates’ best players and the lack of his presence in the post hurts Seton Hall considerably. Willard has to decide quickly whether he wants to burn freshman Rashed Anthony‘s redshirt to add a big body inside, because it is going to be difficult to play without a center with a very tough stretch against Villanova, Marquette and Georgetown coming up, all in the next two weeks.
  4. Villanova played masterfully against Providence on Sunday but survived a major scare during the blowout victory. Halfway through the second half and with the win already in the bag, Wildcats’ Ryan Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis ran into each other, leaving the former dazed requiring help to the bench. After being examined by the trainer, he was luckily able to return to action and help the Wildcats finish off the win. Jay Wright assured everyone that “Arch” is just fine. He shot the ball well and hopes to get out of a slump so far this season. After shooting 32 percent from beyond the arc last year, he has slipped to a chilly 25 percent this season. If he can get things going with his jumper, it will be hard for teams to stop the Wildcats as they have a versatile offense that can create points in a number of ways.
  5. Creighton‘s Sports Information Director, Rob Anderson, tweeted out some very interesting stats this weekend as Omaha froze over. Greg McDermott’s program has started 12-2 or 13-1 for the third straight year, and for the fifth time since 2002-03. The only other teams to do that are Syracuse, Missouri, Illinois, Gonzaga and Louisville. To have accomplished strong starts to the season so many times speaks to the consistently high level the team has performed the past decade, joining a number of schools with great basketball history and tradition. Anderson also pointed out how well the Bluejays’ offense performed against San Diego State back in November. Creighton is the only team to score more than 65 points against them this season other than top-ranked Arizona (69), and the Bluejays averaged 1.123 points per possession in that contest. Creighton has climbed the RPI ratings as well, and now sit at 22nd in America. At 2-0 in league play and looking like a team running on all cylinders, the rest of the Big East should be on notice that this team is not going to be intimidated by anything.
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Big East M5: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 24th, 2013

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  1. Providence fans no long have to wait to find out the status of freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, but unfortunately, the news is none too kind to the Friars. Providence has announced that the two will remain suspended for the rest of the 2013-14 season on Monday, ending the hopes that the two young players would help bolster this Friars squad as the Big East season comes into view.  The Friars, who already lost Kris Dunn to injury for the season, now have a major depth issue at guard, forcing Bryce Cotton to play over 37 minutes per game and leaving the Friars without a true starting point guard.
  2. St. John’s came out on fire against an overpowered Youngstown squad this weekend, highlighted by the efforts of D’Angelo Harrison, who captured the Johnnies record for three-point shots made on Saturday, knocking down his 152nd triple of his career just 26 seconds into the game to break the record previously held by Willie Shaw, en route to a 29 point outburst in a 96-87 win.  While Harrison is often branded as a gunner, this season his scoring, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage are all up, and his three-point percentage is just a shade under what he shot as a freshman, while he’s playing fewer minutes and taking fewer shots per game.  Harrison has also shown the ability to lock up some strong opposing guards on defense, and has definitely been a key to St. John’s recent stretch of strong play.
  3. With his Boston Celtics traveling to Indianapolis to face the red hot Pacers, former Butler coach Brad Stevens had a chance to reconnect with many of the people who he worked with and coached.  While Stevens is obviously focused on his first NBA season, he told The Indianapolis Star that he has watched almost all of Butler’s games and still reaches out to some of the players on this years squad to give encouragement.  While I’m sure most Bulldogs fans would take Stevens back in a minute, he remains humble, and assures everyone that the program will go on without him under Brandon Miller: “I told you guys this in July… They are going to be a lot better without me. There is nothing better than watching that.”
  4. Josh Smith had a strong start in Georgetown’s game against Kansas on Saturday, scoring the Hoyas’ first two buckets.  Unfortunately for Georgetown, Smith’s quick start encompassed almost all of the center’s production, as he struggled to stay on the court against the Jayhawks, and fouled out after just 19 minutes.  On the other side, Kansas’ Joel Embiid put together a very strong effort, finishing with 17 points on four shots and eight total rebounds is 21 minutes, in just his 11th collegiate game.  Brian Goodman frames the game, which turned into a decisive victory for Kansas, within these two performances.  Where Kansas is a very young team that is capable of dominance on any given day, Georgetown is still finding itself, and Smith’s struggles limit what the Hoyas can do on both ends of the court.
  5. Fox Sports 1 is all in on Big East basketball, and while there aren’t many live options for the college fan on Christmas day, the network will be playing classic Big East match-ups throughout the day.  Starting at noon, Big East fans can check out some great past games like 1985’s Final Four match-up between St. John’s and Georgetown, or that year’s national championship game, an all-Big East affair between a powerhouse Hoya squad and an upstart Villanova club. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who has somehow missed those highlights pretty much every year the two teams meet, but I can assure you, it’s a good one.
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Morning Five: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 24th, 2013

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  1. If you are one of those people who is vehemently opposed to the idea of tanking, Zach Lowe of Grantland may have a solution for you. According to Lowe, the NBA is exploring the possibility of what is essentially a lottery wheel. With this proposed system, teams would know where they would be drafting up to 30 years in advance of a specific NBA Draft. The numbers and the algorithms behind the wheel are beyond the scope of a Morning Five so we would refer you over to Lowe’s column for a discussion on it along with the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. This certainly is not a perfect solution, but could serve as an interesting point to base further discussions about how to structure the NBA Draft going forward.
  2. In this week’s Hoops Thoughts, SI‘s Seth Davis turns the tables and instead of looking at the freshmen as nearly every writer and fan has done this year he has decided to look at the top seniors. Reviewing his Senior Watch List it is apparent how many high-level seniors there are this season. We wouldn’t take this as an indication of a resurgence of upperclassmen, but instead as one of a short-term phenomenon as this year’s junior class is not particularly impressive. Still as Seth points out it is worth taking some time to appreciate this group of seniors.
  3. If any college basketball coach could use a little holiday boost this year, it might be Ed Cooley. Having already lost Kris Dunn for the season to a shoulder injury, Cooley announced yesterday that incoming freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock had been suspended for the remainder of the season. While unpleasant the news should come as a surprise to Friar fans as the pair had been suspended since November 6 for an unspecified violation of the school’s code of conduct. The school is not releasing any more information, but according to the local newspaper there are no state or local police complaints about either since they arrived on campus back in August. It is unclear if Austin and/or Bullock will stay or transfer, but they both will be allowed to practice with the team for the remainder of the season.
  4. It has certainly been an interesting past few days in South Bend. On Saturday the men’s basketball team blew a seemingly safe lead against Ohio State. On Sunday, Jerian Grant announced that he was leaving the team this season due to an undisclosed academic matter. Finally, yesterday news leaked out that Cameron Biedscheid, who was said to be redshirting, was transferring or maybe not. Biedscheid, one of the most highly touted recruits that Mike Brey has ever signed,  had an unremarkable freshman season averaging 6.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1 assist per game before deciding to take a redshirt year this year with the announcement coming just before the start of the season. Early yesterday it was reported that he had asked for a release from the school, but it is unclear when the school would process such a request since it is officially closed until January 2. As Tom Noie notes, there is a chance that Brey could talk Biedscheid out of it by then, but it seems unlikely.
  5. Finally with Christmas right around the corner, The Dagger has you covered with an assortment of college basketball teams butchering your favorite Christmas carols. While we can appreciate the effort and find quite a bit of humor in their attempts, we are pretty sure these will not be mentioned in the same breath as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Anyways, we hope you enjoy their renditions and have a happy holiday.
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Big East M5: 12.19.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 19th, 2013

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  1. In joining the Big East, Creighton hoped that the better competition and brand-name league would help raise the program’s status, and vault successful Bluejays outfits to more advantageous seeding come March. While the Big East is undoubtedly an upgrade in many regards from Creighton’s old home, the Missouri Valley, the league hasn’t quite panned out as many had hoped thus far. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi only has four teams from the Big East currently in his field, including Marquette, the league’s preseason favorite, in a play-in game. While no Big East team is truly out of the running yet this year, fans would have probably hoped for more from the top of the conference, but today Villanova is really the only squad really making a name for itself on a national scale. 
  2. While Creighton has dropped a few games it would like to have back, the team seems to be building depth behind star Doug McDermottEthan Wragge and Will Artino have swapped positions in the starting five, with Wragge entering the lineup as the Bluejays’ second leading scorer at 12.5 points per game and Artino more effective as a reserve, totaling 27 points in his last three games (after 40 through his first seven). Avery Dingman and Devin Brooks have also stepped up as of late, each filling the scorebook in a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Coach Greg McDermott was effervescent in his praise of the two players, who have made great strides in recent weeks: “Avery Dingman has had three of the best days as a Bluejay as he’s ever had. His last two days of practice and today’s game, he’s shown more confidence and urgency to his play… Devin is getting better every single day. There’s no question from the start of practice until today, he’s our most improved player… I’m really proud of him, and that’s a credit to him.”
  3. Rysheed Jordan was the crown jewel in Steve Lavin’s freshman class at St. John’s, but until the last few games, he had yet to find himself in the college game. Sunday’s match-up with New York rival Syracuse and one of the nation’s top freshman point guards, Tyler Ennis, brought out the best in Jordan, who scored a season-high 13 points. Jordan followed this game up with another strong performance — 10 points and four assists — against San Francisco on Wednesday night. St. John’s is among the most talented teams in the Big East, and if Jordan can break out to go along with established players like JaKarr Sampson, D’Angelo Harrison, and Phil Greene IV, the Johnnies will be quite dangerous in time for postseason play.
  4. Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin has put together an incredibly diverse, eclectic staff with men of all ages and backgrounds, including 77-year old college basketball legend Gene Keady as a special advisor. Keady, who helped launch Lavin’s coaching career by putting him on his staff at Purdue, brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to the group, and players and coaches agree that his basketball acumen has paid off. Forward JaKarr Sampson describes the impact that Keady has on everyone in the program: “Whenever he talks, everybody listens, even Coach Lav. With Coach Lav, I feel like he’s still learning from him. It’d be foolish not to listen to what he’s got to say.”
  5. Providence has been playing this season under a cloud of injuries and suspensions, and it is still uncertain when freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock will be allowed to suit up for the Friars. Without the highly touted Austin, the scoring burden for the Friars has fallen to veteran Bryce Cotton, whose importance to his team grows with every game that his team spends without the freshmen. According to head coach Ed Cooley, he is taking this leadership responsibility in stride: “What everybody has to know is our team has really taken on the heartbeat of Bryce. I have seen him grow unbelievably in the last two, three weeks. Vocally, his spirit, his energy. We knew he’d play well today based on how he prepared. I’m really proud of the man he is becoming. He has grown so much.”
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Big East M5: 12.04.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 4th, 2013

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  1. What was supposed to be a promising season for a young, talented Providence team has gone off the rails a bit as suspensions and injuries have reared their ugly heads. Ed Cooley lost Kris Dunn to injury for Sunday night’s showdown with national power Kentucky, while freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock remain suspended indefinitely. All three players, especially Dunn and Austin, were expected to be major contributors for a Friars squad looking for an NCAA berth, but for now Cooley has to dance with the players that brought him: “I’m going to coach the team that’s on the bus.”
  2. So Feast Week was fun, right? Well next year’s slate of exotic star-studded tournaments should also be a good one. Georgetown and Butler have signed on to play in next year’s Battle 4 Atlantis, where they will have a chance to face North Carolina, UCLA, Florida, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and UAB.  This is the second straight year where there will be some potential for all-Big East tournament match-ups, after Creighton and Marquette nearly faced off in the finals of this year’s Wooden Legacy. Conference realignment is the gift that keeps on giving, it appears. While UNC, Florida, UCLA and the like are tough potential opponents, one Casual Hoya commenter looked on the bright side of this slate:gtown NE atlantis
  3. God’sgift Achiuwa hasn’t made a huge impact for St. John’s on the court this season — the forward is averaging 1.4 points in 7.7 minutes per game for the Red Storm — but he’s doing great things off the court in his community. ‘Gift’ is among 201 nominees for the 2014 Allstate NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams. A St. John’s release further details all of the great things that Achiuwa and the rest of the Red Storm are involved in around New York City:”In 2012-13 Achiuwa and members of the men’s basketball team participated in more than 131 hours of community service, volunteering their time at the St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen, the San Francisco Food Bank, the annual Red Storm Dribble For The Cure benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Men’s Shelter and in the Community Mayor program. The 2013 Dribble For The Cure raised $70,000 for pediatric cancer research in the New York area bringing its three-year total to $120,000.”

    While basketball is why we’re all here at Rush the Court, it’s always great to hear about the human stories and incredible acts of charity that so many of these players are involved with.

  4. Butler wasn’t picked by many to finish very high in the Big East this season, but the Bulldogs have done a great job managing a tough schedule thus far. Indy Star took a look at how each of the Big East teams have fared so far this season, and how the Bulldogs stack up, relatively speaking. At 5-2 with the ‘2’ being a two-point overtime loss to LSU and a near take-down of a star-laden Oklahoma State team, Butler has impressed: “Butler accomplished something in Orlando, even if it won’t show up in their season record: They proved they can play with anyone in the country. Simply put, they looked like an NCAA Tournament team, and that’s something few expected to hear about this Bulldog team.”
  5. Villanova is the talk of the conference right now coming off an impressive Battle 4 Atlantis win over a possible national championship contender in Kansas and another ranked team in Iowa. The Wildcats have a deep group of talented perimeter players, headlined by Kansas-game hero Ryan Arcidiacono and swingman James Bell, who is having a breakout season, but Jay Wright believes it is Rice transfer Dylan Ennis who has made all the difference for his club: “He shocked me. He played with great composure. He didn’t force shots. He was really impressive.” Ennis averaged 12 points, three rebounds, and two assists at Atlantis — his first three games of the season — and was especially effective from long range, knocking down eight of his 12 three point attempts.  Nova’s schedule now becomes very Philly-centric, with games against Penn, Saint Joseph’s, and La Salle over the next few weeks, but the biggest match-up for Ennis comes on December 28 when he travels to the Carrier Dome for a showdown with his little brother Tyler, who has been excellent so far this season as the starting point guard for the Orange.
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Big East M5: 11.25.13 Edition

Posted by George Hershey on November 25th, 2013

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  1. Seton Hall has had a crazy last couple days. On Tuesday news came out that sophomore guard Tom Mayaan will most likely have to return to his home country of Israel to serve his three year military requirement. Mayaan thought he was going to receive an athletic exception after playing well for the Israeli U-20 team this summer, but his uncle returned to the US to relay the bad news. It is thought to be a misunderstanding between Mayaan and the Israel Defense Forces, but if Mayaan does have to leave it could mean the end of his collegiate basketball career. Seton Hall would lose a key role player who has provided solid play so far, dishing out 3.5 assists per game in 17 minutes. More bad news is that during the Pirates epic collapse to Oklahoma on Friday, Czech forward Patrik Auda re-injured his right foot and will be evaluated today.Kevin Willard said “The swelling went down. I don’t want to be too optimistic because when I do, something bad happens.” It will come down to if he bent the screw they put in last year. If he didn’t he could return in a month, but if he did then he will miss the year. The Pirates pulled out a win on Saturday night, but his defense and rebounding were missed.
  2. Another St. John’s player has been suspended. After having D’Angelo Harrison suspended for the end of last year and Chris Obekpa suspended this preseason, Steve Lavin has ruled freshman Rysheed Jordan out indefinitely. Jordan missed Friday’s contest against Monmouth and it doesn’t seem he will play in tomorrow’s game against Longwood. Fortunately he has not missed a big game yet, but the final big non-conference game the Johnnies have is against Syracuse on December 15. As a freshman, Jordan can use all the game experience he can get, and when (if) he comes back he may well find himself farther down the bench. The preseason Big East Freshman of the Year was hyped as an instant contributor and he has played well in his action so far, averaging four points and two assists. Hopefully Jordan pulls it together and is reinstated before his freshman year is lost.
  3. An interesting figure over the weekend was that Creighton drew over 18,000 fans for their win over Tulsa. For a private school to draw that many fans for a game against a team like Tulsa is amazing. Fans of teams outside Omaha probably do not realize how big Creighton basketball is in Omaha. A Twitter user compared the Creighton fans to Nebraska football fans, the ultimate compliment. Several Big East teams do very well in attendance each year. Creighton ranks sixth in all of Division 1 and Marquette is fifteenth. The Golden Eagles had over 13,000 in attendance for their unimpressive performance over New Hampshire. All the Big East teams are in the top 75 which speaks to the great fan bases and hoop-enthused communities, one of the things that makes Big East basketball great.
  4. The weekend saw some great individual performances from Big East players. Stud Doug McDermott poured in 33 points on Saturday night. The most interesting, and amazing, note of the week is, as Rob Anderson pointed out on Twitter, “Today was Doug McDermott’s 60th career game with 20 or more points. He’s had 19 or less in just 54 contests.” The fact that he has had more games with over 20 points than not in his entire career is phenomenal. His scoring is even more important with Grant Gibbs recent scoring slump. It may be due in part to his hurt finger, but Gibbs production will have to be made up. Gibbs continues to distribute the ball well, but if Creighton is to be a serious contender, they will need his scoring. Chris Obekpa, St. John’s defensive force, followed up his seven block performance on Tuesday with nine on Friday. To be able to do that is amazing, and Obekpa is only 6’9″, much shorter than most premier shot blockers in recent history.
  5. Providence coach Ed Cooley and his squad headed down to St. Thomas for the Paradise Jam with his two suspended freshmen–Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock– who have yet to play in a game, but have been practicing with the team the past few weeks. Austin was expected to contribute at a high level right away, like Rysheed Jordan, but if he is unable to get some run before conference play begins, it is doubtful he will have a role on the team this year. His addition would be an added boost to an already impressive Providence team, who will play in the final of the Paradise Jam tonight against Maryland, if he can work his way into the rotation soon. Kris Dunn has showed that one can come back from a brief spell off the court. Since he returned from a minor shoulder injury, he has propelled the Friars to a win over Vanderbilt and has been magnificent creating opportunities for his teammates, averaging over six assists per contest.  This Friars team looks special and will have a shot to really test themselves against Kentucky in Brooklyn next Sunday.
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Morning Five: 11.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 7th, 2013

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  1. We are used to successful players transferring, but the timing of Dewayne Russell‘s announcement that he was transferring from Northern Arizona just before the start of the season seems very strange to us. Last season, as a freshman, Russell averaged 14.4 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.5 steals per game so we would expect that he will be transferring to a power conference school. Russell’s departure is obviously a big blow to Northern Arizona with its season starting on Saturday, but given the timing we have a feeling that there is more to this story than just Russell having a change of heart.
  2. The start of the season is on Friday, but we are going to go ahead and assume that Providence coach Ed Cooley just wishes this week would end. After potentially losing Kris Dunn to another shoulder injury early in the week, Cooley suspended freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock indefinitely for “not upholding their responsibilities as student-athletes.” The loss of Austin will be particularly significant as he was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school last year and had the potential to help ease the load on Bryce Cotton while Dunn recovers. We have not heard a good explanation of why the two have been suspended, but for Providence’s sake we hope it isn’t for very long as they have a fairly challenging schedule early in the season.
  3. Most of the eyes of casual fans watching college basketball this season will be fixed on Andrew Wiggins, but many of the more hardcore fans will be directing their attention to Lexington and the impressive collection of talent that Kentucky has put together yet again. Most people will point to John Calipari as the architect, but as Tim Keown notes Orlando Antigua should certainly be recognized for his contribution. Antigua’s influence and his fascinating story stretch well beyond whatever the Wildcats manage to do this season. With the way that Antigua’s teams have performed and how successfully he has recruited we would not be surprised to see Antigua putting together his own college team in the near-future.
  4. After almost seven months of silence, Mike Rice finally decided to give an interview to Jonathan Mahler of The New York Times as part of a piece that serves to explain some of the reason for why Rice is the way he is, what he has learned from his public shaming, and what he still need to learn. We will give Rice credit for being willing to discuss his troubled past with a reporter particularly one who wouldn’t produce a PR fluff piece for him that many individuals who are publicly shamed want. Our guess is that Rice will eventually get back into coaching, but his best bet is as an assistant coach with his best-case scenario probably being a NBA assistant unless some small school is willing to take a chance on him (and he is willing to go to a non-power conference school).
  5. In August, the NCAA found a case–that of former Marine Steven Rhodes–in which their ruling was so ridiculous that the public sentiment against them was so strong that they actually reversed an awful ruling. The case of Nathan Harries might not generate the same level of controversy that Rhodes’ did, but it might come close. Harris, who spent two years after high school working on a Mormon mission, received a scholarship from Colgate, but will have to sit out this season after he admitted to the NCAA that he played in three church league games. The ridiculousness of the ruling will most likely lead to enough criticism that the NCAA will take a longer look at the ruling (instead of just rubber-stamping the denial) and we suspect that Harries should be eligible in the very near-future.
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