NCAA Basketball Tournament - Cincinnati v Florida State

Cincinnati looking for increased production from guards Ge’Lawn Guyn and Jeremiah Davis III

1 Comment

Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats looked to be dead in the water on that fateful day at the Cintas Center in early December, but they proved many wrong by winning 26 games and reaching the Sweet 16.

And even with Yancy Gates and Dion Dixon gone there’s optimism amongst the Bearcat faithful as three starters and ten letterwinners return for the 2012-13 season.

But if the Bearcats are to not only return to the Sweet 16 (and possibly go further) but also become a leader in the Big East, they’ll need to develop depth that hasn’t been there during the Cronin era.

“For us to be a dominant program, our numbers are key for us the way our program is set up right now. We have 12 on scholarship and all 12 have to be able to play effectively,” said Cronin to Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“We won six of our last eight all against great teams, but when you assess the Ohio State loss we expended too much energy to get back in the game and our lack of depth hurt us.”

Returning starters Cashmere Wright, JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick are known commodities for the Bearcats heading into the 2012-13 season.

Kilpatrick and Wright are Cincinnati’s two leading returnees in regards to minutes per game, with Kilpatrick averaging a team-high 34.5 mpg and Wright not too far behind at 31.2 mpg, and Parker averaged 26.7 mpg.

But to Cronin’s point about the team’s depth, two of the players who will need to increase their production this season are guards Ge’Lawn Guyn (2.3 ppg) and Jeremiah Davis III (2.5 ppg).

“It comes to a point where I can’t play 35 to 40 minutes a game. So one of them or both of them have to play if we’re going to try to get to where we want to go,” said Wright of Guyn and Davis III before the team’s first practice on Friday.

“There’s no way I’m going to be able to play those minutes and we make it to the Final Four and then still have all the gas in the tank. We’re going to need them and they are going to be a big help.”

With Dixon and Gates out of the picture more may be required of Wright from a scoring standpoint, and the emergence of a Guyn or Davis III at the point would allow the senior more opportunities to work off the ball.

Of the two players Davis III was more involved offensively, finishing the season with a possession percentage of 20.4% to Guyn’s 15.6% according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers (subscription required).

But both finished the season averaging around one assist for every turnover (Guyn just about that mark, Davis just below), and that’s something they’ll need to change this season.

The Bearcats have the talent to be a factor in the Big East when considering not only their returnees but also front court newcomers David Nyarsuk, Titus Rubles and Shaquille Thomas (Thomas redshirted last season).

But how much of a factor Cincinnati turns out to be will depend on what they can get from two guards who weren’t asked to to be major contributors last year.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

Leave a comment

Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Leave a comment

Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
Purdue Athletics
Leave a comment

John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.