Greg Lewis, Jason Clark, Gilvydas Biruta

Rutgers sophomore forward Greg Lewis will redshirt this season

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One of the biggest issues for Mike Rice’s Rutgers Scarlet Knights last season besides their youth was the lack of depth in the front court.

Rutgers had just four players who averaged 11 minutes per game or more inside last season: Dane Miller (28.8 mpg), Gilvydas Biruta (25.5; transferred to Rhode Island), Austin Johnson (16.0) and Derrick Randall (11.3).

With the addition of Kansas State transfer Wally Judge, who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, and Kadeem Jack being healthy after playing just 18 games Rice doesn’t have the same depth issues inside in 2012-13.

That made it possible for Rutgers to go ahead and redshirt sophomore forward Greg Lewis, who has been slow to recover from a bone bruise in his knee according to Matt Sugam of SNY.tv.

According to Rice this is not a medical redshirt, and Lewis will have three years of eligibility remaining after this season. The bone bruise is the latest injury for Lewis, whose college career got off to a slow start due to an appendix issue.

The time off will give him time to both get healthy and fine-tune his game, something he was unable to do during the months before his freshman campaign.

“I think it’s good for both the program and himself,” Rice said. “He’s going to be so much more developed and mature. His skills and his body are just developing everyday. Two years down the line he’s going to be a monster so we’re really excited.”

Lewis didn’t see much playing time in the 18 games he was able to play last season, averaging just 5.6 minutes per game, and with the addition of Judge and Jack that was unlikely to change.

And with Lewis being in a similar situation to last season in regards to how little he was able to work on his game in the offseason, the move makes sense for both he and the program.

 “And again, with the complications in his knee and being uncomfortable, same thing with his appendix last year, he missed all of preseason and it’s the same thing.

He’s going to have to catch up and by the time he’s ready it’s late December, so he’s like ‘look, let me make sure I’m completely healthy, let me have time off and let me heal this thing properly and I’ll redshrit for the year.’”

Rutgers beat Holy Family on Sunday in their lone exhibition before the season opener against Saint Peter’s, 92-52. Three guards, Myles Mack (17 points), Jerome Seagears (16) and Eli Carter (14), led the way offensively and as a team the Scarlet Knights scored 48 points in the paint.

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

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.