VCU advances to Elite Eight in wacky statistical game

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I’m not really a numbers guy, but it’s something I’ve had to learn to love as a means of defending arguments and staying abreast of how to best assess teams during the season.

Close throughout, Florida State and Virginia Commonwealth offered one of the wackiest basic and advanced statistic box scores, as both teams clawed their way though 45 minutes of play leveraging entirely different strengths that their players possess. In the end, it was the Rams prevailing in overtime 72-71, meaning Kyle Whelliston is going to bed dreaming of the potential for the most magical of mid-major match-ups in Houston.

As cool as it sounds – Butler against VCU for the right to play in the national championship game – I’m here to quickly shoot that down, as I can confidently say that neither VCU really has a chance against Kansas on Sunday – nor would the Seminoles.

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So let’s dive into this laundry list of strange but true statistics from this Sweet 16 thriller:

  • At the end of the first half, the Seminoles had attempted 19 more field goals than the Rams. They were still down five.
  • Struggling to find any sort of rhythm on offense, only 27 percent of the Seminoles made baskets were assisted on. To put that in perspective, Utah was last in the country in Assist Percentage this season… at 40 percent.
  • Following each of the 21 offensive rebounds the Seminoles pulled down, they shot 8-18 in second chance opportunities. Those extra points were vital.
  • Posting an impressive 56.6 eFG percentage, the Rams were unable to pull away from FSU because of (conversely) a limited second chance opportunities. The Seminoles grabbed 79 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
  • Just a tick under half of VCU’s shots were from beyond the arc. Bradford Burgess converted on 6 of 7 long balls, and he’s now shooting 73 percent (11-15) in the past three games.
  • Derwin Kitchen led all Seminoles with 23 points, but was 0 of 3 in wise decisions made with the clock approaching zero. Kitchen had the ball in his hands at the end of the first half, second half, and OT, all which resulted in fumbled opportunities with no good looks at the basket. Not quite for the KenPom minions, but still noteworthy.

In short, this was a weird game.

I love what Shaka Smart and his club have done for the past two weeks. Shooting the lights out, sticking it to the talking heads, and continuing the trend that the CAA is not just a mid-major, it’s a formidable athletic conference that’s worthy of being a multi-bid league each and every year. I just think a pumpkin awaits them outside of the Alamo Dome on Sunday.

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.