The Morning Mix

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There were a ton of great games last night. Thanks to a big night from the ACC, the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge ended in a 6-6 draw. Up next is the Big East/SEC Challenge which begins tonight. But let’s not rush to the couch just yet, we have a lot to cover before 7:00 p.m.

Let’s hit the links.

 

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – New Hampshire @ Connecticut
7:30 p.m. – South Carolina @ St. John’s
8:00 p.m. – No. 8 Kentucky @ Notre Dame
8:00 p.m. – Tennessee-Martin @ Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Marquette @ No. 7 Florida
9:30 p.m. – Seton Hall @ LSU
10:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ Loyola Marymount

 

Read of the Day:
Is it time to pull the plug on The Big East? Rumble In the Garden weighs the options in a read you need to make sure you get to. Read it. (Rumble In The Garden)

Read of the Day:
Eamonn Brennan looks back on the career of now “Former-UCLA Bruin” Josh Smith. Eamonn mixes in the expectations, comedy and sadness that made up the underwhelming career of the hefty big-man. Eamonn nailed this one, he really did. Read it. (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
Say hello to your newest D-I basketball program, Grand Canyon University. A Deadspin classic. Read it. (Deadspin)

 

Tweet of the Day:

@LMULions: Charlie Brown is a Lion. Go Lions! #LMULions pic.twitter.com/uxWgqYtr

 

Top Stories:
Duke’s comeback win adds to their resume, Plumlee becomes PoY candidate: The Blue Devils looks lethargic in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Ohio State last night. But a dominant performance by Mason Plumlee and a big second half from Quinn Cook carried to Blue Devils to yet another impressive victory.

Ohio State’s lack of balance will be their downfall: Coming in to the season, the question regarding Ohio State was “who would step up other than Craft and Thomas?”. It became clear last night that a month in to the season and we still don’t have an answer.

Creighton’s porous defense showed up again as Bluejays fall to Boise State: In order for Creighton to be considered truly elite this season, they had to get tougher on the defensive end. On Wednesday night, they were unable to get enough stops and couldn’t keep up with a surprisingly good Broncos team.

North Carolina State to honor Jimmy-V by wearing special uniforms: In arguably one of best tributes of the young season, the Wolfpack will honor their late coach and inspirational sports icon by wearing special “Don’t ever give up” jerseys for their game against UConn next Tuesday as part of The Jimmy-V Classic.

Miami got a marquee statement win over Michigan State: The Hurricanes looked like one of the ACC’s top teams last night as their veteran leadership and talent took over in a resounding 67-59 win over the Spartans. The fans stormed the floor as Jim Larranaga got his biggest win as head coach of the ‘canes.

Conference-USA is making moves following Tulane and East Carolina’s departure: Having lost several key members to the Big East, C-USA has reportedly added Middle Tennesee and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference. I’m seeing a trend here. Sun Belt to C-USA, C-USA to Big East, and Big East to ACC.

Just how good is Indiana? Erik Kuselias and Vin Parise from the NBC Sports Network discuss the Hoosiers potential for success this season.

 

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon will redshirt this season after to failing to recover in time from a foot injury. (Washington Post)

– South Carolina’s two-sport star Bruce Ellington will return to the basketball team until the football team resumes practices for their bowl game. (Garnet and Cocky)

– Stanford junior Anthony Brown will miss the rest of the season because of a hip injury. The guard has not played for the Cardinal since their game against Belmont on the 18th. (San Francisco Chronicle)

– Georgetown and Florida will not be making up their cancelled aircraft carrier game. (ESPN)

 

Observations & Insight:
– A lot of good quotes here from Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow, who has missed the last four games because of illness and family issues. The Wildcats head to Notre Dame tonight to take on the Fighting Irish in the Big East/SEC Showdown. (Courier-Journal)

– A stock report from day two of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Could the ACC Tournament be headed to Brooklyn? Louisville legend Darrell Griffith thinks so. (SNY.tv)

– Is Louisville actually a better fit that Maryland? Andrew Jones thinks the Cardinals rate much, much higher than the Terrapins. (Fox Sports Carolinas)

– What does the Big-XII need to do in order not get lost in the realignment shuffle? (Burnt Orange Nation)

– Loyola doesn’t just want to rule the MAAC this year, they want to take over the city of Baltimore, and wins over Towson, UMBC and Coppin State have helped to give the Greyhounds the title as “Kings of the City”. (Baltimore Sun)

– Another excellent read on the demise of the WAC. (Mile High Mids)

– Raphielle Johnson provides everything you need to know about the west coast hoops scene for the rest of the week. (NBE Basketball Report)

 

Odds & Ends
– There are three teams out there that just might end up losing every single game they play. (Run The Floor)

– Kirk Herbstreit was in attendance for tOSU vs. Duke last night at Cameron Indoor. Unfortunately, it looks like he couldn’t get tickets for his two boys. (Busted Coverage)

– Worst.Timing.Ever. Josh Smith quits team, appears on game program. (@BaxterHolmes)

– Don’t worry UConn fans, just because you were left out of the ACC doesn’t mean the World is over. (The UConn Blog)

 

Dunk of the Day:
“Mason Plumlee has is tall and can jump very high.” – Eamonn Brennan (The Mock Session)

 

 

Video(s) of the Day:
Our very own @RobDauster got a shout out on Around The Horn yesterday. But just to be clear, it’s “Dawster” not “Dowster”. Trust me, I feel for him. The first day of school was always rough for me too.

 

 

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

VIDEOS: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges puts on another show at local summer Pro-Am

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Watching Michigan State’s Miles Bridges throw down high-level dunks in local summer pro-ams has been a good way to pass the time the last few weeks.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges has been annihilating rims all summer as he had more ridiculous dunks on Tuesday night. Playing with former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine and some of his current Spartans teammates, Bridges had more crowd-pleasing plays to add to his summer reel.

Lansing State Journal reporter James Edwards III has been on the scene for Bridges’ games all summer as he has more dunks from the future lottery pick.

Minnesota keeps in-state three-star 2018 guard Gabe Kalscheur at home

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Minnesota is keeping a big-time shooter at home as Class of 2018 shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur pledged to the Golden Gophers on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 Kalscheur is the third in-state prospect to pledge to head coach Richard Pitino in the Class of 2018 as he joins three-star forward Jarvis Thomas and four-star big man Daniel Oturu. The three-star Kalscheur gives Minnesota a valuable floor spacer and a winner as he’s a three-time state champion at DeLaSalle. All three of these commitments also played together with Howard Pulley in the Nike EYBL.

During this spring and summer in the Nike EYBL, Kalscheur averaged 14.9 points and shot 39 percent from three-point range as he made 61 treys in 21 games.

Pitino has certainly done a nice job of keeping local players home as he’s hoping that trend continues with upcoming in-state five-star prospects like 2018 point guard Tre Jones and 2019 forward Matthew Hurt. The Golden Gophers will have to win national recruiting battles to keep those guys home, but they’ve done a nice job of getting the other guys that they need to keep home.

North Carolina and NCAA set August hearing

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North Carolina and the NCAA have released additional responses and set the dates for a future hearing on Tuesday amid an investigation into paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department.

The NCAA’s allegations center around UNC’s athletes — most notably members of football, men’s and women’s basketball teams — allegedly being guided to the fake classes in order to keep GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The fake classes typically had a high number of athletes enrolled each semester.

While North Carolina argued in May that this should be a school matter and not an NCAA matter, the NCAA responded to the matter in its belief that it has the right to investigate the classes. North Carolina is facing five top-level charges in the case with lack of institutional control among the charges.

A two-day hearing will be held with the NCAA in Nashville on August 16-17.

“The hearing is the next step in bringing closure to this longstanding issue by allowing us the opportunity to address the Committee on Infractions and present the facts,” said Joel Curran, vice chancellor of University communications. “The NCAA has requested certain individuals from the University attend the proceedings. It is standard practice for the current head coaches of programs referenced in a notice of allegations to attend. Therefore, Coaches Larry Fedora (football), Sylvia Hatchell (women’s basketball) and Roy Williams (men’s basketball) will accompany University representatives to the hearing.”

Potential top ten pick Robert Williams discusses decision to return to Texas A&M

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PHILADELPHIA — Robert Williams knew that his family could use the money that would come with being a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He also knew that he wasn’t ready — mentally, emotionally, skill-wise — to make the leap to the NBA, which is why all it took was one question from his mother, Tundra, to convince the 6-foot-9 19-year old to return to Texas A&M for his sophomore season.

“We haven’t been rich for 19 years,” Williams recalls Tundra, whom he describes as a “middle school cafeteria lady”, telling him. “What’s one more year?”

“That sealed the deal. If she’s good, I’m good,” Williams told NBC Sports as he nursed shin splints at the Under Armour All-American camp in Philadelphia last week. “My mom just wants to see me happy. I could quit basketball and go work at Burger King. If I’m happy, she’s happy.”


“Oil City made me, Vivian raised me.”


Williams may not be a household name the way that fellow members of his high school class — Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, etc. — were, but he was certainly a known quantity on basketball circles. Williams was a potential top 10 pick in last year’s draft, a 6-foot-9 big man with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and the kind of athleticism most of us can only dream about. He has elite physical tools, even by NBA standards, and his ability to protect the rim along with his versatility defensively and budding post-game makes him a tantalizing long-term project.

Casual college basketball fans aren’t going to be familiar with bigs averaging 11.9 points on a team that didn’t even get a trip to the NIT, but NBA front office personnel were well-versed in his ability.

Just a borderline top 50 prospect coming out of high school, Williams’ ranking had as much to do with where he’s from as what he can do. He was born in Oil City, Louisiana, a town of roughly a 1,000 people tucked in the Northwest corner of Louisiana, five miles from the Texas on the west side of town and 18 miles from Arkansas to the north. “There’s just really nothing there,” Williams said. Oil City was small enough that he had to move to Vivian, a town of 3,600 people nine miles away, in order to attend high school.

Glen Johnson, Texas A&M Athletics

He spent four years playing for North Caddo High, a 2A public school in Louisiana, which isn’t exactly the best high school basketball in the country, and his role on the Houston Hoops team he played with in the summer after his junior year was somewhat limited, to say the least; he was teammates with De’Aaron Fox, Jarred Vanderbilt (a top 15 player in the Class of 2017) and Carsen Edwards, who started at the point for Purdue as a freshman. Combine that with the 25 pounds of muscle that he added to his frame, and what you have is a player that went from being a pogo stick that got pushed around on a team full of studs to a grown man that did the pushing and proved himself capable of playing a role that has value in the NBA.

“I went to Nike Camp, but I wasn’t that high of a recruit,” Williams said. “I was like No. 60 I think. It’s weird because I’ve never had this much ‘fame’, I guess is the word.”

“People knew who I was [in Vivian], but just because I was a people person. I was also always bigger than everyone.”

There weren’t many that expected Williams to have the season that he had as a freshman, averaging 11.9 points, 8.2 boards and 2.6 blocks in just 25 minutes a night. Even fewer expected him to return to Texas A&M once he caught the eye of NBA scouts, but head coach Billy Kennedy wasn’t one of them.

“Only because he told us,” Kennedy said with a chuckle, as if he knew just how lucky he and his staff are to be getting a second season with a talent like this. “We felt that during the year. But you never know until the end. We wanted to see him go through the whole process, but the cool thing is the kid made a decision and he did what was best for him.”


“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”


For Williams, the decision to return was two-fold. He knew that he wasn’t yet the player that he wants to be, and getting drafted as a dunker, a shot-blocker and an athlete can get a player pigeon-holed. “In the NBA,” Williams reasoned, “once you get there, what you are is what you are. I don’t want to be stuck in that jumping, that dunking position. I’m not necessarily saying I want to be able to play the two or the three, but I want to expand and show that I can sometimes push it and make a jump shot.”

“Rebounding, jumping, dunking. That’s been my game. That’s gets you paid well. But I know I have more. I want to be able to knock down a corner three. I’m not saying that I need to be coming off of screens and pulling, but I want to be able to knock down that shot and prove I’m able to get a rebound and start a fast break.”

He knew that it would take a lot of hard work and time in the gym this offseason to get to that point, and that’s where the second part of this comes into the equation. Williams knew that he wasn’t ready to be a professional yet, that he wanted to be able to enjoy life and basketball as a college kid for another year.

“People don’t understand that once you get to that level, it’s a job. It’s a business,” Williams said. “It’s not high school, it’s not even college, you’re competing for your job every time you go play.”

“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”

Thomas Campbell, Texas A&M Athletics

That didn’t necessarily sit well with everyone in Williams’ circle — specifically, Williams says his father wanted him to go to the NBA — because they all know the risk. Blake Griffin, who went from being a projected top ten pick as a freshman to the No. 1 overall pick as a sophomore, is the outlier. The likes of Ivan Rabb, Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger tend to be the norm. When a player doesn’t take a step forward in his second season in college, the flaws are nitpicked instead of the potential being touted, and that’s to say nothing of the potential for devastating injury. For a player like Williams, who thrives on his athleticism, a torn ACL or a ruptured Achilles’ this season could be devastating to his earning power.

He knows all of that, and, Williams says, once he made his choice, the people closest to him rallied around him. There was some negativity, people calling his dumb for passing up on the guaranteed millions that come with being a first round pick, but for the most part, the feedback he heard was reassuring.

“You gotta grind now.”

“You made your decision, you made your bed, now you have to lay in it.”

“You know what you got to do.”

And that’s part of where being ready for the NBA comes into play.

Ask Williams what he needs to do to be successful at the next level, to prove that he can be more than just an athlete, and he’ll tell you that it’s developing his perimeter skills. Making corner threes and trail threes. Improving his handle and his footwork to the point that he is a threat as a face-up four. But if you ask Kennedy what the next step for Williams is, this is his answer: “Just getting to where he’s working out more, learning how to work at a higher level, and that’s something that he’s gotten better at.”

Williams didn’t need to work all that hard to dominate in high school, not with his physical gifts and not with the level of competition that he was facing. The same can mostly be said his his time as a freshman in the SEC. As Mike Schmitz, a scout working for Draft Express and ESPN, put it, Williams “is very much living off his elite physical tools.”

As the saying goes, you don’t know what hard work is until you see someone working harder than you, and there is no better role model for Williams than junior center Tyler Davis, who has streamlined what was once a 300 pound frame into a chiseled, 260-pound rock. He has “the best work ethic I’ve ever seen,” Williams says, and that’s rubbing off on him. Williams says he’s working out two or three times a day, doing conditioning with the team at 6 am before heading off to the gym at 8 am to work on his stroke — form-shooting, making 25 shots from each spot out to the foul line; step-in mid-range jumpers; trail threes — and closing the day with pickup or more skill-work in the afternoon.

The way he sees it, he can’t control injuries — although he has taken out an insurance policy on the off-chance he does something catastrophic — but he can control the work he puts in. Put another way, he is the one that will determine where he ends up. “My mindset,” Williams said, “is as long as you put in the work, results will come.”

And maybe those results will get him some notoriety on campus at a football school.

“Some people recognize me on campus, but it’s all football at A&M,” he said. “They say hi, ask for a picture, but people actually think I’m a mean guy. They don’t understand, I’m a people person! I like people!”

So say hi to Williams if you see him this year.

You won’t have a chance to do so much longer.

Texas A&M Athletics

VIDEO: Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval get in on #DriveByDunkChallenge

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Trevon Duval, the point guard that will finally replace Tyus Jones at Duke, and Grayson Allen added their flare on the #DriveByDunkChallenge, as Allen throws a picture perfect alley-oop through the sun-roof of the car Duval is driving:

This is solid work, but I still think Scott Cross has the best #DriveByDunkChallenge performance in the collegiate ranks. John Calipari’s effort is solid, but pretty awkward. He shouldn’t be running or jumping.