NAIA Adds Grueling Twist, Familar Names To March Madness

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 25th, 2011

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.


Seemingly every March, pundits put forth the idea that playing on consecutive days in conference tournaments wears teams down for the Big Dance. While Connecticut has laregly debunked the theory, imagine playing nearly every day for the whole thing. Welcome to the reality of the Buffalo Funds NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, which recently concluded in Kansas City.

Operating outside the parameters of the NCAA are nearly 300 small schools from across the country, 32 of which make the championship’s field. After the 32 schools are selected to compete, a frenzy of 31 games in seven days determines the national champion. All told, the tournament’s finalists played five games in six days, with no days off between the semis and the final. Touting itself as “college basketball’s toughest tournament, ” the event was held solely in Kansas City, which meant nonstop opening round action from 9:00 a.m. local time to around midnight.

Though the schools may be obscure, some of the players are anything but. The tournament featured its share of players with familial connections and histories with some of D-I’s top talent:

  • Brian Wanamaker (Texas Wesleyan College) – The twin brother of Brad Wanamaker of Pittsburgh, Brian ran the point this season, averaging 19.1 points per game.
  • Michael Stockton (Westminster College, Utah) – Gonzaga fans are familiar with the Stockton family, with David following in the footsteps of his father and NBA legend John Stockton, but Michael isn’t too bad himself, averaging over 18 points per game to go along with four helpers.
  • Taylor King (Concordia College) – King’s journey began as a 14-year-old UCLA commit before stops at Duke and Villanova left him a journeyman. Returning home to Southern California, King feels comfortable at Concordia, where he led the Eagles in scoring (15 PPG) and rebounding (7 RPG) this season.
  • C.J. Henry (Southern Nazarene, Oklahoma) – The one-time New York Yankees draft pick followed his brother, Xavier, first to Memphis and later to Kansas, but carved out a niche at a smaller school, averaging 13 points per contest.

In Tuesday’s final, televised nationally on CBS College Sports, Pikeville (Ky.) College topped Mountain State (W. Va.) 83-76 in overtime behind 32 points and 17 rebounds from Trevor Setty. Quincy Hankins-Cole, a transfer from Nebraska, also chipped in with 21 and 16.

Pikeville College Won the NAIA Title This Week

Next time they hear about a team losing its legs or looking worn out, a handful of players from a small college in Kentucky can deservedly scoff at their televisions, knowing they conquered a grueling test of stamina to capture a national crown.

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C.J. Henry Leaves Kansas For The NAIA

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2010

The past six years have been nothing if not an interesting journey for C.J. Henry. The former Yankee prospect/Memphis-Kansas recruit announced yesterday that he would be transferring to Southern Nazarene, a NAIA school. A year ago Bill Self was being congratulated for adding C.J and his brother Xavier Henry after they had initially committed to Memphis before John Calipari decided to head to Kentucky. Although the subsequent transition to Lawrence were complicated by what appeared at times to be a soap opera the Jayhawks had an exceptional season before being cut down by Ali Farokhmanesh and the brothers performed at the level that everybody expected them too.  Now after just one year Self is left without either Henry as both have become one-and-dones in an unusual fashion. Xavier did it the traditional way by entering the NBA Draft following a solid, but uneven freshman campaign. On the other hand, C.J. was confined primarily to the end of Self’s bench as he played just 5.6 minutes per game in 13 games and only played double figure minutes in three blowouts. Although C.J. had been a fairly highly rated prospect coming out of high school he had spent 4 years (2005-2008) playing minor league baseball and redshirted the 2008-o9 season so most people did not consider his minimal production particularly concerning especially given reports that he had battled injuries all season long.

C.J. in one of his many uniforms (Credit: NJ.com)

However, in a surprising move, Kansas announced last week that Henry had decided to transfer from the school with some speculating that it was due to the amount of competition at the guard position potentially limiting his ability to get playing time. Still many in the Kansas area ripped him apart for his decision (not surprising given the allegiance of many writers/fans in the area). Given Henry’s limited basketball experience in the past 6 years, his injuries last year, and relatively advanced age (24 with 3 years of eligibility remaining) many programs would undoubtedly have reservations about taking on Henry, but we assumed that his basketball pedigree and athleticism would get at least  several major programs interested in his services. Instead Henry has opted to go the NAIA route and not forgo a year of his eligibility, which is not a small thing for a 24 year-old sophomore who still harbors NBA aspirations (unlikely since he would be 27 if he goes straight through college). For their part, the coaches at Southern Nazarene, who won the NAIA title in 1981 and made it to the NAIA championship game in 1998, say that their conference is chock full of Division 1 talents [Ed. Note: We can't confirm since our knowledge of the Sooner Athletic Conference is limited to this post.] that should give Henry the competition he needs. At the very least he will have someone to text in Taylor King (formerly of Duke/Villanova/USC) who is currently enrolled at Concordia (at least the last time we checked).

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Morning Five: 08.23.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2010

  1. Our correspondent Andrew Murawa put the Mountain West/WAC situation into understandable terms over the weekend, but we wanted to highlight one area of particular concern.  It certainly appears that BYU will now remain a member of the MWC, while the WAC’s Fresno State and Nevada will join up with its new league as soon as possible; but the real wildcard in all of this is Utah State.  If the Mountain West is able to recruit it’s twelfth school USU over to its side, that would leave the WAC with a mere five teams, less than the requisite six needed (for five consecutive years) to retain its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  The current mixture of automatic/at-large bids in the Big Dance exists at 31/37.  If the WAC implodes, another at-large team could be getting a bid as soon as the 2012 Tourney.  Somewhere in southwest Virginia Seth Greenberg just danced a jig.
  2. Jason King at Yahoo! Sports takes a look at one of the most unappreciated aspects of college basketball recruiting, the top assistant coaches who get the job done in the trenches so that the head coach can later take all the credit and glory of those hotshot players.  It should be no surprise to you that the names of assistants at Ohio State, Kentucky, Memphis, Texas, Kansas and Michigan State are all represented on this list.   What is odd is that nobody from Duke or UNC are here — perhaps Coach K and Roy Williams are simply all that is needed to get the job done at those schools.
  3. Chris Allen, the Michigan State guard who did not meet the standards required of him by head coach Tom Izzo, will re-surface at Iowa State in the 2011-12 season.  His decision to transfer to ISU over UTEP and St. John’s is a major boon for Fred Hoiberg’s rebuilding project in Ames.  Allen, a full-time starter on the 2009-10 Spartans, will bring a toughness and solid three-point stroke to the Cyclone program for his senior campaign.  Let’s hope, though, that whatever it was that put him in the doghouse in East Lansing will be left behind among the unused moving boxes.
  4. MaxPreps has released its post-summer top 100 recruits for the Class of 2011, and Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, NJ) remains at the top despite strong summers from several competitors.  Kentucky’s John Calipari has already received verbals from three of the top nine — Gilchrist, Anthony Davis (Chicago, IL), and Marquis Teague (Indianapolis, IN).  Interesting note: if you want to see great HS talent in person next season, the Commonwealth of Virginia, with nine players, is where you should be.
  5. This is a must-read every summer, as Luke Winn gives us his 2010-11 Breakout Five players.  He uses Pomeroy statistics to make educated determinations as to the players most likely to have impact sophomore campaigns, and his findings are worth the time.  The biggest surprise name on the list?  Miami (FL)’s Reggie Johnson.
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07.01.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 1st, 2009

Already halfway through the calendar, which means that we’re almost equally distant from Midnight Madness as we are from last Selection Sunday…

  • Rumors Be Damned.  In case you missed it, the rumor mill has been flaring up considerably this week.  Lance Stephenson to CincinnaticonfirmedXavier Henry and brother CJ to KentuckydeniedCoach K to the Lakers – not a chance.  RTC to Vansterdam – pending.  The rumor that had us vexed was the Henrys leaving KU story.  When your father is going on talk radio shows and spouting off about his kids’ unhappiness and unwillingness to stay in a particular place (Kansas), that’s usually pretty convincing evidence that something is afoot.  Turns out, though, that Carl Henry is just a smidge on the aft side of crazy athlete-dads, and he came off as a real sh*t-stirrer in follow-up radio interviews he gave earlier this week.  If Bill Self can manage to get the Henrys to sacrifice self for team, that’ll be a really impressive accomplishment, it appears.
  • All Games Are Presumed Equal.  Even though some are more equal than others.  Um, ok.  The NCAA revised its Tournament criteria to remove the “last 12″ record analysis (which used to be “last 10″) because the selection committee found it confusing to give more value to games played later in the season over games earlier in the season.  In other words, every game is now supposed to count equally in their analysis.  The conventional wisdom is that this is a good thing, but we’re uncertain.  Think about it: all else being equal, would you want a team that started 15-1 but finished 4-8 getting into the Dance over a team that started 9-7, but finished 10-2?  We think that there needs to be some reward for finishing strong.  Basketball is a tournament sport, and teams are built to be working on all cylinders by the time tournament season rolls around, not in November and December.  Our general feeling is that committee members will still reward strong closers over strong starters, but it just won’t be officially sanctioned.  Let’s hope they do, at least.   
  • Bruins Pony Up.  In what’s becoming a national trend in both football and basketball, schools are holding their long-time season ticket holders hostage by requiring enormous donations to reserve the best seats at their venues.  We recently read about this occurring as Cal upgrades its football stadium, and now UCLA is requiring up to a half-million dollars worth of largesse to get the choicest seats courtside at the new and improved Pauley Pavilion (set to re-open in 2012).  Schools can obviously do whatever they want with the seats in their stadiums, but it seems absurd that a family that has held on to seats for generations but may not have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around won’t be able to keep them.   
  • 2010 Mock Drafts.  Here’s a version from Jeff Goodman, NBADraft.net, DraftExpress, and Draft Depot.  Everybody and their brother has Kentucky PG John Wall as the #1 guy right now. 
  • More Quick Hits.  Cameron Dollar: high hopes for fledgling Seattle U.  SEC Coaches: we don’t suckCraig Brackins: two national articles on the Iowa St. big man in the same week!  Ohio St. AD Gene Smith: will chair the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Tournament CmtesRenardo Sidney: NCAA eligibility meetings postponed to next weekGreivis Vasquez: sweeping the ACC titles next season.  UNC: University of Nike Carolina.  Coach K: of course he doesn’t like the one-and-done rule.  Of course he doesn’t.  Tom Brennan: first Whelliston, now Brennan.  ESPN is shedding all of its best CBB studio people, and that’s sad.
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Meltdown in Lawrence Imminent?

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

12am Update: 610 Sports in Kansas City is reporting that the Henrys are sticking with their commitment to KU.  Bill Self must have brought in the heavy hitters for this one.  Breathe a sigh of relief, KU fans.

8pm Update: Bill Self and Danny Manning are reportedly meeting with the Henry family in OKC tonight to make presumably a last ditch effort to keep them at Kansas.  We should have this all sorted out by tomorrow.

Honestly, we read some buzz about this yesterday, but it sounded so ridiculous we simply continued on down our reader.  Then we read Andy Katz’s report this afternoon and suddenly it appears that what we thought was a cockamamie rumor (see: Coach K to Lakers) has some serious legs.  If the reports are true that Xavier Henry and his brother, CJ, are waffling on their commitments to Kansas for the 2009-10 season, and instead are going to end up in Lexington as part of John Calipari’s GCOAT (greatest class of all-time), then the torches and pitchforks in Kansas may already be en route to the Bluegrass.  According to the Henrys’ father, it appears to be a done deal.  From a similar Gary Parrish report:

“If it wasn’t for his momma saying that ‘I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,’ Xavier would have been at Kentucky,’” Carl Henry said during the radio interview. “He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, ‘I’m going to go to Kansas,’ even though … what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That’s what he wanted to do. I expressed this to [Kansas] coach [Bill] Self. I told him.”  Carl Henry said his wife no longer wants to influence her son’s decision.  “So guess what? Kid might have a change of mind,” Carl Henry said. “That’s what I [told] coach Self.”

henry bros

Notwithstanding what his mother thinks of moving a couple of states away, the only reasonable explanation for this (since the Henrys have been re-assessing their situation for two weeks) is that Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks somewhat unexpectedly opted to stay in the NBA Draft.  Given that Xavier Henry is a shooting guard, he likely didn’t want to go to UK to play behind Meeks for one season, but with Meeks out of the picture, he would now have the opportunity to play for the coach he originally committed to.

If this ends up happening, John Calipari would have an embarrassment of riches in his first season at the helm at UK – quite possibly on paper the greatest incoming class of all-time, eclipsing the 1991 Michigan quintet of Webber, Howard, Rose, Jackson and King.  Of course, this group of young Cats will be measured by their accomplishments in college and not their paper rankings, but Wildcat fans must be multi-orgasmic at the potential of this group – three of the top six and four of the top twenty players in America.

John Wall – PG (#2 overall)
DeMarcus Cousins – C (#3 overall)
Xavier Henry – SG (#6 overall)
Daniel Orton - C (#19 overall)
Eric Bledsoe - PG (#52 overall)
Jon Hood – SF (#66 overall)
CJ Henry – PG (walk-on)
Darnell Dodson – SF (juco)

As for KU fans, they’ll still have plenty of returning talent in Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris brothers, but they could have really used the explosive scoring from the wing that they currently lack.  Their message boards are already apoplectic, but as one guarded commenter noted, ‘you think this is bad… check back tomorrow.’  Oh we will.

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05.26.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

It’s been a while since we updated things (Wall to Kentucky), so let’s get caught up this evening…

  • RIP Wayman. You’ve undoubtedly heard the sad news about 44-year old Wayman Tisdale’s passing on May 15.  Obviously, we never met Tisdale, but everyone agrees that he was a person who touched the lives of many through his athletic and musical career.  ESPN takes a look back here, and CNNSI reflected on his legacy in the state of Oklahoma here.   Jeff Goodman tells a story about Tisdale following through on a promise to a budding jouralist (him).   Tisdale’s public memorial service was last Wednesday.
  • Smoke, then Fire.  We mentioned previously that it’s unfathomable to us that USC wouldn’t take Renardo Sidney, given their astonishing and proven ability to look the other way.  Maybe they knew that Rodney Guillory’s associate, Louis Johnson, was chirping like a parrot to anyone who will listen that he witnessed Tim Floyd handing Guillory a cool grand in return for the delivery of OJ Mayo.  Now Mayo’s talking to the feds about Guillory, and at least one writer thinks the whole darned ship is going up in flames.  The million-dollar question is whether the NCAA investigators have the sack to do it.  (our response: yes, but half-assed).  Update: Noel Johnson, a 2009 signee, left the program today, leaving Dwight Lewis, and um, Lil Romeo?
  • Transfers. Iowa’s Jeff Peterson (11 ppg) will transfer to Arkansas for the 2010-11 season; Indiana’s Nick Williams (9/5) will return to the South to play for Ole Miss (he was the Alabama POY in 2008); and, Clark Kellogg’s kid, Alex, will leave Providence for Ohio University (Bobcats, not Buckeyes) to play his senior season.  In corollary news, Oklahoma’s Juan Pattillo was shown the door by Jeff Capel for undisclosed team violations.
  • NBA Draft News.  Duke’s Gerald Henderson made it official and signed with an agent, forgoing his final year in Durham.  Xavier’s Derrick Brown, a borderline first-rounder, is highly unlikely to return to XU next season.  Meanwhile, word last week was that Florida’s Nick Calathes signed a contract for $1.1M/year (+ a home, car and tax credits) to play in Greece (where he holds dual citizenship), and Clemson’s Terrence Oglesby is leaving school after his sophomore year to pursue a pro career in Europe (he’s also a dual citizen with Norway).  Southern Miss’s Jeremy Wise will not return either.  BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari decided to wise up and will return to the Cougs for his senior season, as will Arkansas leading scorer Michael Washington.  FYI, now that the draft lottery is set (Clips win!), the new mocks are coming out.  Here’s NBADraft.net’s Top 14.
  • Obligatory Kentucky News.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, as three scholarship at Kentucky are given the pink slip to make room for Calipari’s motherlode of talent.  The buzz is already loud for Kentucky as the preseason #1 next year, but we’re a little surprised Jodie Meeks hasn’t made his decision yet (he’s unlikely to move up to the first round).
  • Coaching News.  Illinois top man Bruce Weber got a $500k raise and a three-year extension based on his stellar work in Champaign last season.  Villanova’s Jay Wright talked to and then withdrew from the search for a new Philadelphia 76ers head man.  Wazzu’s new man Ken Bone signed with the school for seven years and $650k per year, according to school records.   Michigan’s John Beilein will chair the NCAA’s Ethics Comittee, featuring Johnny Dawkins, Jeff Capel and the omnipresent Dave Odom…  does anyone else find it odd that Beilein’s charge here is to clarify the rules as written, even though he used legal loopholes to get out of his stated buyout with WVU when he left for greener pastures?   Finally, here’s a rather-suspect list of the top ten coaches in America today – it omits Bill Self and John Calipari, which leads us to believe that the author did not watch the 2008 national championship game.
  • Other Errata.  CJ Henry is officially enrolled at Kansas and will get to play with his brother, super-wing Xavier Henry, next season in Lawrence.
  • Former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith (whom Coach Bruce Pearl kicked off the team in 2008) was arrested for robbery (the holy trinity: money, guns and marijuana) last week, and he’s currently awaiting trial.
  • Luke Winn gives us a glimpse at what Mississippi St. will look like next year (with John Riek and Renardo Sidney in the fold).
  • Please tell us that some irate Kentucky fan with rivers of money will buy these and burn them.
  • What WILL we do with those nefarious message board posters!?!?
  • Campbell University will rejoin the Big South (its former home until 1994), leaving the Atlantic Sun after the 2010-11 academic year.
  • The Big Sky is moving to a Friday/Saturday conference weekend model to save costs beginning next season.
  • This is a sad story, but we’re glad that the authorities found this Olympic champion safe and sound.
  • Well, sucks for them (next, USC?).
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C.J. and Xavier Henry to Kansas

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2009

It looks like the rich are just getting richer. Just a little over a week after Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich announced that they were returning to Kansas next year, Xavier and C.J. Henry have announced that they will be joining a loaded Jayhawk team next season. After initially committing to Memphis before the whole Billy Gillispie/John Calipari circus, several media members (including yours truly) speculated that Kentucky might end up picking up an all-time great recruiting class if they added Calipari’s original commits from Memphis (the Henrys, DeMarcus Cousins, and potentially John Wall) to a class that already included Daniel Orton and Jon Hood.

While Cousins has signed with Kentucky, the loss of the Henrys and the rumors that Wall is looking elsewhere means that the Kentucky class might end up just being very, very good instead of being an all-time great class. Meanwhile Bill Self just earned himself the #1 spot in all the preseason polls. So the pressure is on now Jayhawk fans. It’s national title or bust for this Jayhawk squad.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: McDonald’s All-American Game

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2009

dynamite

Normally the McDonald’s All-American game (rosters here) would only be worth watching for the occasional ridiculous dunk or the lack of defense, but the circus in Lexington and the fall-out in Memphis makes this one pretty interesting. At least 3 potential Memphis commits (DeMarcus Cousins, Xavier Henry, and an uncommitted Lance Stephenson) are playing in this game. With John Calipari‘s decision to ditch Memphis for Lexington all of these guys are in play. Everyone knows that Stephenson will go the the highest bidder still hasn’t announced his decision, but Calipari’s decision puts Cousins and Henry back in play.

Note to Doug Gottlieb (if he’s reading): Nice job trying to bring some knowledge on SportsCenter this morning about how Xavier would stay at Memphis anyways because his older brother C.J. Henry would be joining him, but their father already said that both of them are not going to Memphis.

One more thing before we come back around 8 PM for the game, which will be broadcast on ESPN. John Wall, the #1 overall recruit according to several services, is ineligible since he is a 5th-year senior. I just wanted to get that out of the way before someone starts a rant against him being left off the teams. I haven’t seen much film of these guys outside of YouTube clips where they never commit a turnover, miss a shot, or fail to switch on a screen so if you guys have seen any of them, let us know what you think of them.

8:00 PM: Judging by what Len Elmore and his partner (no idea who he is) the economy has hit ESPN’s clothing budget. Not surprisingly the Memphis commits do not want to talk on camera about the Memphis situation, but Cousins has suddenly listed Kentucky as a potential destination.

8:05 PM: Nice. Derrick Favors lost his starting spot for the game because he forgot to put his jersey on underneath his warm-ups and had to run back to the locker room to find it while they announced the starting lineups.

8:10 PM: Whoa. Len Elmore just said these guys go to school to play basketball. What happened to the academics? The student-athletes?

8:12 PM:John Henson‘s body type is similar to Brandon Rush.” I was actually going to go with a really tall skeleton, but ok. . .

8:14 PM: Lance Stephenson just double-dribbled on a fast break. How is that possible?

Read the rest of this entry »

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ATB: Memo to Arizona Players – Time and Score, Gents

Posted by rtmsf on November 18th, 2008

afterbuzzer1

As usual, we’ll start with some news from today…

  • The nation’s #1 shooting guard, Xavier Henry, announced to the world on Sportscenter during the 24HoCH that he will attend Memphis next season.  His brother, CJ Henry, is already a Tiger.  This is very good news to Calipari, who watched his team clank three after three last night (2-19) in their game against UMass, because Henry’s range easily extends out to 22 feet.  Additionally, it shows that for elite guard prospects, Memphis has become the NBA stopover de rigeur.
  • The 2012-16 Final Fours will be chosen from these ten locations tomorrow: Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, North Texas, Phoenix, San Antonio and St. Louis.  North Texas?  Is that supposed to mean Amarillo?  Texarkana?  Paris?
  • Finally, this guy over at USA Today has nothing on our John Stevens liveblog of the 24HoCH.
  • Oh, and Steve Lavin changed his haircut.

Game of the Night. UNC 77, Kentucky 58.  It wasn’t the GOTN in terms of play on the court, but it was definitely the game with the most attention (as it should be, given the historical importance of the two programs).  What was striking was just how overmatched Kentucky looked against Carolina’s defense.  Every pass was an exercise in precariousness, as UK often simply looked as if they were trying to hang onto the possession rather than actually running a play to score the ball.  UNC forced 17 turnovers in the first half, 28 for the game, and it honestly felt like more than that.  Part of the blame is on Kentucky’s huge gaping achilles heel – the lack of a competent point guard – but UNC clearly had a gameplan to cover those passing lanes and keep the ball away from UK’s only consistent scoring threat, Patrick Patterson.  Patterson ended up with 19/11, but that was mostly in the second half after the game was well in hand.  You may ask why we thought a game that was largely played in a 12-18 point range was ‘well in hand,’ but it was patently obvious to anyone watching that UK simply couldn’t put together enough good offensive possessions to make a serious run against the Tarheels.  Thing is, we didn’t feel that Carolina was all that great offensively.  They shot only 41% from the field, led by Deon Thompson’s 20/9, but their offense wasn’t as fluid as we would have expected from a team returning so many pieces.  Of course, we realize two starters are out injured, one of whom you may have heard of before.  When Carolina gets to full strength again, bad news for the rest of the ACC and the nation – Roy may indeed have his best team since his 2005 national champs.  For some further thoughts, check here for the UNC viewpoint and here for the Kentucky one.

Upset of the Night. UAB 72, Arizona 71. Very mild upset, but beating Arizona at home still qualifies.  An extremely entertaining game, it had one of the more bizarre endings you’ll ever see.  Is Russ Pennell already on the hot seat at Arizona?  A few more unconscionable mental lapses by his players in late-game situations and he will be.  UAB had blown a 14-pt second-half lead when Arizona rebounded a FT miss and put it back in to tie the game with 0:27 left.  That’s when freshman Kyle Fogg inexpicably decided to foul a UAB player!  Keep in mind that the game was TIED.  Clearly he had forgotten that minor fact.  So a timeout ensues and then UAB predictably goes to the line and misses the front end of the 1-and-1.  Arizona misses a contested shot, UAB gets the rebound, and this time, Jamelle Horne (a sophomore) chases down Paul Delaney III and INTENTIONALLY FOULS him at 0.8 seconds as he’s running upcourt.  AGAIN, THE GAME IS STILL TIED.  Delaney hits one free throw and effectively finishes a game that should have been going to overtime.  Are the Arizona players this dumb or is Pennell not telling them to keep the score in mind while they’re playing??? (be sure to check John Stevens’ liveblog comments on this here)  Chase Budinger played solidly, leading Arizona with 27/5, while Jordan Hill came off the bench for 13/22.  UAB’s Robert Vaden had 20, including four of their thirteen threes, in the winning effort.  UAB now moves on to MSG to play Oklahoma next Wednesday night.

NIT Action.

  • Oklahoma 82, Davidson 78. How ridiculous is Steph Curry?  He had an off night (12-29 FGs) and he still dropped 44 on a good Sooners defense designed exclusively to contain him.  Does anyone not enjoy watching this kid play?  Just as soon as he throws up a tired, forced jumper that goes wide left by three feet, he’ll turn right around and drop a 25-footer right in someone’s grill.  This seems to be the Davidson MO – play major conference teams tough on the road in Nov/Dec, then beat them at neutral sites in March.  As for Oklahoma, the Griffin boys combined for 41/27, but really we just have one question – what’s going on with Blake Griffin’s eyes?  He looks more crosseyed than Stuart Scott at a Carolina sorority party, but his game doesn’t seem affected by it.  OU actually had a 21-pt lead with 12:53 remaining, but they were able to hold on largely because of great foul shooting (26-31).  Oklahoma will bring the Griffin dunking show to MSG next week, where they will play UAB.

blake-griffin-screen-shot

  • Purdue 78, Loyola (IL) 46. All you really need to know about this game is that it was 40-14 at halftime.  We’re sure Loyola was content to leave the NIT with its upset over Georgia in tow, but Purdue is a really good team.  E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummell led the way with 14 and 13 pts, respectively, but it was a solid team effort from the Boilers, placing five guys in double figures.  Purdue will play BC on Wednesday night.
  • Boston College 82, St. John’s 70. The Johnnies won’t get two more games at “home” in MSG next week, after losing to BC, who we are officially adopting as one of our surprise teams in the ACC this season.  The addition of Vermont transfer Joe Trapani (19/4/3 blks) has really improved this team, which already had an all-conference performer in Tyrese Rice (28/5/9 assts).

Midnight in the Garden of Memphis and Moraga. Ok, actually 11pm tipoffs locally in both places, but the ESPN 24HoCH kicked off last night with two entertaining games, and not one BCS school was involved!  Check JS’ liveblog of these games, but these were our thoughts.

  • St. Mary’s 99, Fresno St. 85. In a last-minute moment of clarity, we actually threw caution to the wind and drove over to this game last night.  God, how great would it be to go back to college??  Patty Mills was typically awesome, but his show-stopping speed didn’t come through live as much as we thought it would.  He was still money, though, going for 27/5/6 assts with 19 of those points coming in the first 17 minutes of the game.  St. Mary’s played well, but they were never able to completey finish off Fresno – their defense and shot selection looked a little suspect at times.  Diamon Simpson didn’t have his best game, but he still ended up with a dub-dub (10/10) and a couple of nasty blocks in the interior.  St. Mary’s will be heard from this season.  The play of the day week month year decade century millenium epoch occurred halfway through the first half, when Fresno’s Paul George (25/10) took one hard dribble from the right wing and seemingly cocked his arm back into the 1980s before throwing a hellacious dunk over everyone on earth.  Seriously, the entire arena breathlessly gasped for air after that throwdown.  We’ve attended hundreds of games in our life – mostly college, but some pro – and that dunk ranks in the top three we’ve ever seen in person – it was utterly superbulous.

  • Memphis 90, UMass 68. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.  The bricks thrown up in the first ten minutes of this game rivaled anything we’d seen in a while (see shot chart below – bricks are in red font).  Maybe it was the combined 7-43 (16%) three-point shooting that put us in a bad mood, but we got so fed up with this game that it inspired us to make the drive to Moraga instead of watching the second half.  Things heated up in half two, at least for Memphis, who were led by Antonio Anderson’s 15/12/5 assts.  The Tigers began pulling away from UMass on the basis of continued poor shooting by UMass, and eventually Memphis’ athleticism and size put down the Minutemen.  It says something about Memphis in that they were able to win so convincingly despite only shooting 39% for the game, only hitting two threes and getting outrebounded.

memphis-umass-shotchart1

Other Games of Interest.

  • Georgia 61, E. Michigan 60. Dennis Felton saves his job for another day.  The Dawgs were down by as many as 11 pts in the mid-second half before rallying to nip the Eagles
  • Baylor 90, Centenary 55. Baylor hit an absurd 64% in a romp over Centenary.  JS in the liveblog had a lot of good things to say about the Bears.
  • USC 73, New Mexico St. 60. Taj Gibson had 22/10/5 blks to lead the Trojans to a 2-0 star.  Demar DeRozan had a disappointing night with 7/6.
  • Ole Miss 89, South Alabama 71. Ole Miss rallied from the bad news that it had lost its best defender today (Eniel Polynice) by pulling away from South Alabama, led by David Huertas’ 27 pts.
  • San Diego 65, Nevada 51. USD’s Rob Jones led the way with 23/5 on 10-12 shooting, and teammate Gyno Pomare had 12 pts in his first game back.  Nevada freshman Luke Babbitt had 20/12 in his debut.
  • Indiana 60, IUPUI 57. For what it’s worth, Tom Crean has already earned his salary by going 2-0 this year.
  • Gonzaga 80, Idaho 46. We swear we saw a score on the bottom line that said Gonzaga 17, Idaho 1.  Things did not improve.
  • Tennessee 91, UT-Martin 64. We were excited to see Lester Hudson in this one, but UT held him in check (20/4/5 assts on 7-22 shooting).  Backup center Brian Williams dropped 21/12 on the visitors.
  • Syracuse 76, Richmond 71. It took everything Syracuse had to avoid the upset at home, but starting backcourt Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf combined for 49/6/7 assts in the game, which was tight throughout.
  • Texas 76, Tulane 51. Damion James with 16/8 as Texas rolled, holding Tulane to 31% shooting and putting five players into double figures.
  • Arizona St. 59, San Diego St. 52. Tough loss for SDSU, as they led much of this game behind Kyle Spain’s 17 pts.  ASU’s James Harden had 18/5 as he keyed his team to a late 18-8 run to win the game.

On Tap Wednesday (all times EST).

  • Wake Forest (-18) v. UNC-Wilmington – 7pm
  • Villanova (-19) v. Niagara (ESPNU) – 7pm
  • Butler (-15) v. Ball St. – 7pm
  • Michigan St. @ IPFW – 7pm
  • Auburn v. Mercer – 8pm
  • UIC (-5.5) v. N. Iowa (ESPN FC & 360) - 8pm
  • Alabama v. Florida A&M (ESPN FC & 360) – 9pm

 

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Nice Coup for Coach Cal

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2008

Memphis coach John Calipari got some great news recently when former Kansas recruit and New York Yankee minor leaguer CJ Henry decided to return to college at Memphis this upcoming season to play basketball.  From the Sporting News

C.J. Henry said Tuesday he is enrolling in classes at Memphis and will join the Tigers for the 2008-09 season. His contract states the Yankees will pay for his college, so he will be a walk-on for coach John Calipari at Memphis. It will be Henry’s first competitive basketball season in more than three years. He is 6-3 and was a successful high school player with big-time college ambitions before turning pro in baseball.

So why is news about a walk-on important? 

Come on, Coach Cal… Get Excited!! 

Well, because Henry’s brother is superstud class of 2009 recruit Xavier Henry, a 6’6, 210-lb shooting guard with deep range and the ability to aggressively finish at the rim (Rivals ranks him #3 currently).  In other words, the type of 1-and-done player who could orchestrate another deep run by John Calipari in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.  Guess who his final two schools are…

Kansas and Memphis

Somewhere John Calipari is toasting himself with a snifter of brandy in one hand and a cigar in the other. 

Check the kid’s lefty game…

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