Marathon Madness Survival Guide

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Staying awake for 24 hours is a daunting task.

If you’ve ever attended college, then it’s likely you have at least one experience puling an all-nighter. Whether it’s memorizing all the bones that make up the human skull, a term paper on the Federalist papers, or watching Houston Baptist play Hawaii at 4:00 a.m., the human brain does not operate at normal capacity when the midnight oil is burning.

But with some trusty survival tips from our College Basketball Talk staff, this will be the year that you make it through all 24 hours of ESPN’s third annual Marathon Madness.

(NOTE: let us know what Marathon Madness survival tips you think are necessary by leaving a message in the comment section below)

Food & Beverage Tips:

– Stay away from the caffeine early. Given the fact that many of us are employed that coffee or Red Bull can look mighty seductive early. But no, leave that for the Tuesday afternoon games just before the stretch run. Go with water instead. (RJ)

– Put off the energy drinks and the coffee until the last possible minute. It’s only possible to survive on those for a certain amount of time, so waiting until the 4am Houston Baptist-Hawaii tip is your best bet. (RD)

– Snack on fresh fruits and veggies. Eating chips and pizza and what not will only tire you out. And stay away from any leftover Halloween candy. (RD)

– Light snacks. Chex Mix, or that handy 2 lb. bag of Sour Patch Kids (this is my go-to) keeps you active as opposed to that pizza you may be favoring, which can weigh you down quickly. (RJ)

– Don’t drink. That’s great for evenings when you have nothing to do, but this is basketball, it’s serious business. (EA)

– When digesting food, make sure to move around like Kobayashi. It won’t make you eat more, but it will help keep up your heart rate. (TM)

Viewing Tips:

– Halftimes are key, especially early on and late in the marathon. Use these for 20-minute power naps, taking the dog outside, and showering. Using halftime effectively significantly improves your chances of staying up for the entirety of the marathon. (DM)

– Multi-platform viewing allows you to be on the go and still keep up with games. Tablet computers, laptops, and smartphones all come in handy here. (DM)

– If you must nap, pause the DVR as soon as halftime begins, and set a 30 minute alarm. You’ll miss the talking heads, and be able to skip a few commercials when you wake up. (EA)

– Mix in some non-basketball related content at halftimes. Video games and social media are a way to keep the mind from going all zombie. Watching a marathon of college basketball is all, mental, anyway. (DH)

– Watch for telling moments. It was during the marathon a couple of years ago that I saw Gene Keady reach out and hook an index finger under the back collar of Steve Lavin’s shirt during a ref-induced tirade, essentially yoking his boss. It was a fascinating look into a complex relationship, and it happened in the blink of an eye. (EA)

– Prop bets keep things interesting. If you’re watching with friends or family, place $1 bets on small, seemingly inconsequential things. Which player throws down the game’s first dunk? At what point in the game will the TV cameras show the first shot of the student section or cheerleaders? (DM)

Staying Sane:

– Slow and steady wins the race. Pace yourself. Don’t try to live-blog every minute of every game or you will be cooked well before the 4:00 a.m. Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii tip. (TM)

– Talk to yourself. Talk to the screen. I’ve found myself waving players into position, questioning a coach’s sanity and asking myself if I’d like more pretzels “yes, yes I would, thank you.” (EA)

– Music. Falling asleep at the halfway point? Plug in the headphones and blast some heavy metal (or whatever you prefer) for a bit. (RJ)

– DON’T LAY DOWN ON YOUR COUCH! Sit up. You’re already conceding defeat if you go horizontal. Naps are fine for halftimes, but there’s no way anyone can be totally “comfortable” while watching 24 hours of college basketball. Nothing that is truly a “marathon” is comfortable. Stay committed. (DH)

– Late night exercise. If you live in a big apartment building, do sprints down the corridor. Toe-touches and trunk lifts are also effective. (TM)

– Be interactive. Chat with us scribes in-game via twitter and post comment sections. A lively conversation makes it so much easier to stay awake. (EA)

– Animals make for a great late-night companion. After all, who cares if you’re talking to a cat during the Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii game. (TM)

– Head over to sporcle.com and work your way through the basketball quizzes during commercial breaks. It keeps the mind sharp. (EA)

– Appreciate the ride. Name me one other sport that does a live 24-hour marathon of games? There isn’t one. Take in the first tip-off, the student sections from the 6 and 8 a.m. games and the weird fascination with a 4 a.m. EST live game in Hawaii each year. It’s unique. And as hoopheads, it’s ours. (DH)

Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.