Tony Bland, Steve Fisher

Sacramento connections pay dividends for San Diego State as D’Erryl Williams II commits

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Taking in “Madness on the Mesa” was apparently enough to convince another Sacramento native to commit to San Diego State.

2013 guard D’Erryl Williams II, who is a high school and AAU teammate of SDSU commit Dakarai Allen, made his pledge to Steve Fisher’s program (subscription required) on Saturday after his official visit to the Mountain West school.

Williams averaged 14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists at Sheldon High School last season, helping lead the team to the CIF Division I state final (where they lost to Mater Dei).

Like Allen, who is seen by many as one of the best defenders in the 2013 class, Williams II can be a nuisance on that end of the floor (3.0 steals per game).

“He had a perception of how things would be here,” said D’Erryl Williams Sr., his father. “The reality was better than the perception. It doesn’t get any better than that. He said, ‘Dad, I don’t need to visit anywhere else.’”

In addition to commitments from Allen and Williams II, the Aztec program has two players from Sacramento on their current roster in senior shooting guard Chase Tapley and junior point guard Xavier Thames.

Adding Allen and now Williams II to the program are good moves for San Diego State, which is looking to make its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

But the hope of Aztec fans is that they aren’t done in the Sacramento market, as 2013 shooting guard Darin Johnson has yet to make a decision with SDSU in the running.

While some naysayers have pointed to their pending move to the Big West as the beginning of a slide for the program, San Diego State’s work on the recruiting trail and it’s run of success on the court suggest anything but.

SDSU enters the 2012-13 season having won 20 or more games in seven consecutive seasons, and with the roster assembled an eighth could be on the way.

Tapley, Thames and reigning Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin lead the way along with senior guard James Rahon in what is a very good back court.

The question for San Diego State in regards to making national waves: how much of an impact can their newcomers in the front court have?

Freshman Winston Shepard can play any position from the point to the four and is a very good defender.

Transfers James Johnson (Virginia; eligible in December), J.J. O’Brien (Utah) and Dwayne Polee II (St. John’s) will join Shepard and senior DeShawn Stephens in the front court.

It would be unfair to rate this group alongside the 2010-11 Aztecs (34-3 and a Sweet 16 appearance) before a game has been played, but San Diego State is more than capable of winning another Mountain West title.

And with their work on the recruiting trail it wouldn’t be wise to expect them to slip off into oblivion in the future.

“This is a Top 25 program,” Williams Sr. said to Mark Zeigler of the Union-Tribune. “D’s dream is to play in a Final Four. In order to do that, you have to play with a group of players and coach who has assembled something that allows you to do that. And that’s now in play for him.”

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

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.