Forward Kelly Olynyk returning just in time for Gonzaga

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While No. 17 Gonzaga (3-0) hasn’t had much of an issue in any of their games to date, averaging 94.3 points per contest and winning by margins of 30+ points in each, it never hurts to add an experienced body to the rotation.

After redshirting last season and sitting out the first three games of this season due to suspension, 7-0 junior forward Kelly Olynyk is ready to see action for the first time since Gonzaga’s loss to BYU in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

And with the Bulldogs taking on a Clemson squad whose strength is up front (seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings lead the way), the Kamloops, British Columbia native will help from a depth standpoint.

“He’s going to help us a bunch,” GU coach Mark Few said. “He’s been a very good player for us in the preseason, one of our best so far in practice and all the workouts. He’s hungry to get back out there.”

Olynyk joins a rotation that already has Elias Harris, Sam Dower and freshman Przemek Karnowski, so it’s pretty clear that Mark Few isn’t lacking for answers in the paint. But if Olynyk is productive in whatever role he’s given Gonzaga becomes all the more formidable not only this weekend but for the remainder of the season as well.

Both Gonzaga and Clemson enter tonight’s game boasting offensive rebounding percentages above 40%, while the Bulldogs have been a slightly better team in regards to cleaning up their own glass (74.4% defensive rebounding percentage) and have five players averaging double figures.

Clemson plays at a slower tempo under head coach Brad Brownell, and they’ll look to combat their youth on the perimeter with the front court that also features wing K.J. McDaniels (9.9 ppg) alongside Booker and Jennings.

The Old Spice Classic tips off with West Virginia playing Marist and Vanderbilt taking on Davidson in the afternoon session, and Oklahoma plays UTEP in the first game of the evening session. The winner of the match-up between the Sooners and Miners will play the winner of Gonzaga/Clemson in one of Friday’s semifinals.

Photo credit: Gonzaga University

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

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.