Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic - Notre Dame v Saint Joseph's

The ‘Toothless Wonder’ leads St. Joe’s to an OT win

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BROOKLYN – With five minutes left in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night, St. Joseph’s was down 63-57 to No. 20 Notre Dame when Langston Galloway went diving for a loose ball near the sideline. A member of the Fighting Irish landed on the back of his head as he was sprawled out on the floor, driving his face into the ground with enough force that it knocked out one of Galloway’s front teeth.

The game went to a timeout as Galloway laid on the floor. He was helped off with a towel over his face to stop the bleeding.

There were exactly five minutes left on the clock when he was taken out.

Just 23 seconds later, after Ronald Roberts made one of two free throws, Galloway was back on the floor, providing the Hawks with the spark they needed to make an 8-0 run to close out regulation and tie the game at 66. And Galloway not only scored four of the points in that run, he hit the game-tying bucket, a reverse lay-up off of a baseline drive, while providing the defensive effort that helped hold Notre Dame’s dynamic back court silent over the final four minutes of the game.

“Langston just worked on every single possession tonight defensively,” head coach Phil Martelli said after the game. The Irish didn’t get their first points in overtime until there was just 1:09 left, and at that point, St. Joe’s run had reached 13-0 over an eight minute stretch. They would go on to win 79-70.

The irony of it all?

Langston Galloway actually had an 0ff-night. In addition to losing a tooth, he finished with just 13 points and shot 5-13 from the floor. And while those are pretty good numbers, they aren’t when you consider that Galloway averaged 15.5 points last season while shooting 46.6% from beyond the arc and that the Hawks were playing without their leading scorer from last season, as Carl Jones won’t finish his suspension until tomorrow.

The key, however, was that Galloway played his best at the most important time, something that the Hawks weren’t known for last season. Of the 14 games they lost last year, they were winning in the second half in 11 of them. The only games they lost by double-digits came at Xavier, at Temple and at home against St. Louis. Talent wasn’t the issue for this group last year. Finishing was.

“We’ve been harping with the team about finishing possessions,” Martelli said. “Scores and stops. It’s not spurts in games like that. It’s do you score and do you stop. Our defense got better as the game got longer.”

One great sign for the Hawks is the ability of their big and athletic front court to defend a team that plays with three guards and a forward that spends the majority of his time on the perimeter. The versatility of that group — Ronald Roberts, CJ Aiken and Halil Kanocevic — is astounding, really.

Roberts, who finished with 21 points and 16 boards, was guarding Patrick Connaughton, who is a three-point sniper through and through. Kanocevic had 15 points, eight boards, three steals and three blocks while handing out a team high six assists and defending center Jack Cooley. Aiken was credited with three blocks — a number Martelli deemed too low by asking if the official scorekeeper was “a union worker? Did he have to be home by midnight?” — and probably had three more while helping keep the floor spread with his ability to shoot the three.

“We had to say ‘Ron, you have to be a perimeter defender,'” Martelli said. “We’re going this way. We’ll work the kinks out as we go with these three big guys. They’re three of our five best players.”

The play of Chris Wilson has to be noted as well. Filling in for Jones, Wilson finished with 19 points, three assists and just a single turnover, which has to be comforting for Martelli given that he had five players spend more than 40 minutes on the floor.

And while the cohesion of the Hawk’s front court and the emergence of Wilson is important, it would have all been moot if St. Joe’s had lost to Notre Dame.

“Last year we would have folded and lost that game,” Galloway said. “This year we came back and we won. It’s definitely big for our confidence, knowing that we have to finish this year, knowing that we have to step up to the plate every game. We might go through adversity every game, and that’s what we did, we fought through adversity and won.”

A win isn’t the only thing that Galloway took out of this game, however. He’s also got a memento to commemorate the win.

“I have the tooth,” he said. “They tried to put it back in, but it hurt to much.”

Are you going to start wearing a mouthguard now?

“Definitely. Every game.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

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.