Josh Pastner

Late night snacks: What got you ready for the marathon

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This is the only night where Late Night Snacks serves as the primer for the college basketball day rather than the ending. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this and neither should you.

Games of the Night

1.) No. 1 Indiana 87, North Dakota State 61

There weren’t any nail-biters pre-marathon, so we’ll start with the top team in the land. Cody Zeller had 22 and nine rebounds. Remy Abell and Jeremy Hollowell chipped in 14 each and Hoosiers are living up to all the hype. Tom Crean has the team we all thought he had.

2.) No. 17 Memphis 81, North Florida 66

The curtain opened on what is supposed to be Josh Pastner’s best team since he took the job three years ago. They started off on the right foot. Joe Jackson had 14 points and six assists and the Tigers out-rebounded the Ospreys 45-30 in the victory.

3.) Virginia 54, Fairfield 45

The outcome was a win, but the Cavaliers should be doing better against a team that lost most of it’s talent off last season’s squad. Especially after blowing the season opener at home to George Mason. The loss of Tony Scott hurt, but this is a team that’s better than these scores. Or at least we all thought they were.

4.) Lafayette 98, LIU-Brooklyn 94 (OT)

Well, anyone want to figure these Blackbirds out? The got no bench play and allowed a guy no one saw coming to score 30 in the post against one of the best front lines in mid-(low?)-major college basketball. There’s going to be some major changes needed for Jack Perri’s team if they plan to contend for the NEC title.

Starred

Trey Burke, Michigan

A lot is riding on Burke this season. He hasn’t disappointed yet, including a team-high 22 points and nine assists with only three turnovers in a win over IUPUI. He’s an All-American candidate and he’s playing like it early on.

Dan Trist, Lafayette

You’ve got to love when a relative unknown gets his shine. He dropped 30 in a 98-94 victory over LIU-Brooklyn in overtime at home. Trist was 14-of-18 from the field overall, all twos. He’s teammate Seth Hinrichs chipped in 20 in the win.

Garrick Sherman, Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish will be looking for the compliment to Jack Cooley in the post. Maybe it’s Sherman. He poured in 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Notre Dame’s 84-57 rout of Monmouth. Sherman averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 boards for the Fighting Irish last season.

Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State

He was the dark horse for Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. He more than likely will have to settle for first team all-conference, but the senior made a compelling case early with 27 points and 10 boards in a 100-72 victory over UC-Santa Barbara.

Stunk

LIU-Brooklyn

The favorite in the Northeast Conference is now 0-2 after a loss at Lafayette. It’s tough to imagine this team isn’t 0-4 when the Barclay’s Center Classic concludes with games upcoming against Kentucky and Maryland.

North Texas

So, Tony Mitchell isn’t going to be enough? New coach Tony Benford has some serious work to do. The Mean Green lost to Division II Alabama-Huntsville tonight. The score doesn’t even matter. I don’t care if the Chargers (UAH’s mascot, GSC represent) win the DII national title, you can’t have problems with inferior teams when the games count.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State

You’ll find out more about the actual game, but one of the favorite’s for Horizon League Player of the Year turned in one of the biggest nights for any player across all facets of the game. Perry finished with 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals on the road. He’s going to be the catalyst for the Penguins and he’s playing like he knows it this season.

Fanbases That Can Take a Breath

UNLV

Some of those fans had to be talked off the ledge after the Runnin’ Rebels needed overtime to beat Division II Dixie State in an exhibition game. Monday night, UNLV beat Northern Arizona 92-54 in their season opener. Five players finished in double figures led by Anthony Bennett‘s 22 points.

Florida State

The Seminole Nation was flipping out after their team suffered a season-opening loss to South Alabama at home and All-American candidate Michael Snaer went 2-for-9 from the floor. They rebounded with a satisfying 95-68 home win over Buffalo and Snaer had 19 points and was 4-for-7 from three-point range.

Fanbase That Had The Breath Knocked Out of Them

Georgia

Some of us thought the Bulldogs would be a one-man team with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Some of us were right (so far). KCP was the lone player in double figures for UGA with 27 points in a 68-56 loss at home to Youngstown State. If that’s the case, this team can feel free to make plans for the CBI or CIT.

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

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.