Mountain West Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Wyoming v UNLV

UNLV freshmen Daquan Cook and Demetris Morant will be redshirted

Leave a comment

With the amount of talent at Dave Rice’s disposal this season, there were questions as to who would either lose minutes or have to redshirt with an eye towards the future at UNLV.

Those decisions have been made apparently, as the Las Vegas Sun reported on Saturday that freshmen Daquan Cook and Demetris Morant will sit out the 2012-13 campaign.

While this leaves UNLV with nine scholarship players until Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch becomes eligible at the end of the fall semester, both Cook and Morant were in positions where they’ll see a lot more playing time in the future than they would have this season.

Morant, with the logjam in the paint that includes veterans (Carlos Lopez-Sosa, Mike Moser, Quintrell Thomas) and newcomers (Birch, Anthony Bennett and combo Savon Goodman), was a player pegged by many to be a candidate to sit out this season so that isn’t much of a surprise.

But Cook’s decision could be seen as such, given the fact that the Runnin’ Rebels are lacking when it comes to depth at the point. Anthony Marshall will run the show there, and it was possible that Cook would have been able to help UNLV in regards to getting their senior an occasional breather.

“That was a hard decision to make because Daquan has improved as much as anyone since he got here,” Rice said. “He would play minutes for us this year, but he’ll play more minutes as a fifth-year senior than a freshman. … He needs to get older and stronger; everything else will come.”

Redshirt situations can change, but it will likely take a significant injury to a perimeter player for Cook play this season.

With the Baltimore native being just 17 years old, the extra year to practice and mature physically will be a valuable one. However as a result of the move UNLV fans may have to watch a few games with their fingers crossed, hoping that none of the team’s guards are lost for an extended length of time due to injury.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
Leave a comment

Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.