Northern Michigan v Michigan Wolverines

Michigan commitment Austin Hatch cleared for practice

1 Comment

Some incredibly uplifting news out of the Michigan camp today.

Michigan recruit Austin Hatch has been cleared for to do some drills at practice at his high school. This is amazing news considering Hatch was involved in his second (SECOND!) plane crash. This one put him in intensive care and cost the lives of his father and stepmother.

The fact that Hatch even survived, when you read the details of the crash, is amazing. One would totally understand if he took a few years, or took off for good, from playing basketball. But this guy has been determined to not only get back to playing basketball, but getting back to living life. Bless this kid, because it can’t be anywhere near easy.

The second crash occurred on June 24, 2011 and it left Hatch, a 6-6, 210-pound small forward out of Fort Wayne, Ind., with a severe brain injury, broke ribs and a punctured lung. Recently, Hatch was granted an additional year of high school to help his recovery.

Hatch is finishing out his prep career at Canterbury High School.

I, for one, am totally rooting for Austin Hatch. He’s already been through more in the past few years than some people have been through in a lifetime.

If one thing is certain, John Beilein is getting one of the toughest, if not the toughest, kid in the country in his 2014 recruiting class.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.