Joshua Smith still struggling with extra pounds? Stunner

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Some things never change. The Dolphins keep looking for Dan Marino’s replacement, politicians say dumb things and Joshua Smith can’t lose weight.

With a trip to China looming, UCLA coach Ben Howland told Mike DeCourcy that the 6-10 junior hasn’t gotten in shape. Again.

“I’m disappointed where he’s at, that he’s not further along with his conditioning,” Howland told SN. “That’s just being honest, being truthful.”

This marks the third consecutive season in which Smith – always seen as a talented player – has failed to turn himself into a potentially dominant force down low. But this offseason must sting a bit more than the previous two years given Smith told reporters at the end of June that he’d lost at least 15 pounds since season’s end.

Maybe that just means he was heavier than anyone thought in March.

Or maybe it’s Howland, flush with the most talent he’s had in Westwood since 2008, trying to motivate his big man into continuing to work on his body before the season. That seems more likely given the Bruins won’t have star freshman Shabazz Muhammad for the trip (the NCAA is still investigating his eligibility).

My advice? Have Smith try some exotic cuisine. A stomach bug is a guaranteed weight loss method.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.