The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

Well, last night sure was interesting. Shabazz Muhammad announced his intentions to attend UCLA, and most of Big Blue Nation cursed him out on Twitter. An hour later, Nerlens Noel verbally committed to Kentucky, and shaved “UK” into his head, and Big Blue Nation welcomed him with open arms. According to many college basketball media members and recruiting experts, there has not been a signing day with this much excitement in quite some time.

– Eamonn Brennan explains what both of these commitments mean to the respective programs

– Jeff Eisenberg isn’t sure if Muhammad with restore UCLA to glory or if it will be a quick fix, but it sure will bring some lost enthusiasm back to Pauley Pavilion 

– Shabazz Muhammad is a superstar, no doubt about it. But can even he save Ben Howland?

– This is John Calipari’s fourth recruiting class at Kentucky, and every year they’ve been ranked No.1 by the recruiting experts. This team could be even more scary good in 2012-2013

Andy Katz details the potential impacts provided  by the upperclassmen who are returning to school

Doug Gottlieb hands out his grades to all the ACC teams for the 2011-2012 season (insiders only)

– Following the firing of head coach Isaiah Thomas, several members of the Florida International basketball team requested releases from the scholarship. Apparently the school denied them

– SMU is in fact in talks with Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus about the school’s head coaching vacancy

– LSU is looking for a coach to replace Trent Johnson, who recently bolted for TCU last week. North Texas coach Johnny Jones is in talks with the Tigers about the opening. It seems as though Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon might also be a candidate for the job

– Yesterday it seemed as though former-Oregon coach Ernie Kent would become the new head coach at Colorado State. But apparently Colorado State administrators vetoed the decision. instead it will be Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy who becomes the Rams new head coach

– Now this is a question I did not expect to see so early in the off-season: What is next for Butler basketball?

– The 2012-2013 season will begin with no less than 35 new head coaches running the sidelines

Ryan Fagan ranks the top-10 forwards of the expanded bracket era

– You too can own one of the sideline chairs sat in by the Ohio Bobcats during their memorable Sweet-16 run in this past season’s NCAA tournament

– Arizona got a point guard for the future in Duquesne-transfer T.J. McConnell, but they just found out they won’t have a point guard of the present. Why? Because troubled-freshman Josiah Turner has decided to transfer

– Arizona also lost another player, as Ukrainian center Kyryl Natyazhko has decided to leave the program in order to pursue a career overseas. He becomes the sixth program defection in three years

– Former-McDonald’s All-American LeBryan Nash struggled in his first season at Oklahoma State. But the athletic forward knows what he needs to do in order to improve

– After a bizarre week in which he was reportedly both staying and going, Bryce Cotton has decided to stay at Providence instead of transferring

– North Carolina State has one of the best incoming recruiting classes in the country, and should be ranked pretty high in the preseason top-25. But DeShawn Painter and JaQawn Raymond have both announced their decisions to transfer from the school

– Cameron Ridley, a five-star center who verbally announced his intention to sign with Texas, finally put pen to paper

– Sources are indicating that Villanova swing-man Maurice Cheek is leaning towards entering the NBA draft

Florida forward Walter Pitchford has decided to transfer. The silver lining is that his departure will open up a scholarship which the program can use to sign highly touted recruit Anthony Bennett

Baylor placed themselves on three years probation for the improper phone calls and texts made by their men’s and women’s basketball programs. They will not face any punishment from the NCAA

– One of Bernie Fine’s accusers has been sentenced to three years in jail for sexual crimes

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Leave a comment

Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
Leave a comment

After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.