The Morning Mix

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Non-conference rivalry week continues to roll on. Colorado got all they could handle from a resilient Colorado State team. Gonzaga traveled to Washington State and escaped with a win. Florida won the Sunshine State Showdown against Florida State in embarrassing fashion. We got a lot to get to today, so let;s get right to it.

Time to hit the links.

 

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Arkansas-Little Rock @ No. 11 Cincinnati
7:30 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Nebraska
8:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ No. 4 Syracuse
10:00 p.m. – UC-Santa Barbara @ No. 17 San Diego State

 

Picture of the Day:
This is what the history of the WAC looks like. I can’t keep up. (Mid-Major Madness)

source:
Read of the Day:
Eric Prisbell’s story on Gabreille Ludwig, born Robert John Ludwig, is worth your time. Enough said. Read it. (USA Today)

Read of the Day:
Luke Winn’s weekly power rankings. That is all. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Read of the Day:
Mike DeCourcy details why Creighton assistant coach Steve Merrifield, who led Hampton to a 2001 NCAA tournament upset victory over, needs to be given a second chance. (Sporting News)

 

Top Stories:
Is Florida an “elite” team? The Gators throttled the Seminoles last night. in fact they’ve throttled every and all teams they’ve faced this season. But should the Gators be mentioned in the same breath as Duke, Indiana, and Louisville?

Chicago State is leaving the Great West, joining the WAC: Conference realignment has hit the lowest level of Division I college hoops, as Chicago State will hope to help revive the WAC by leaving the upstart Great West Conference.

Utah honors Majerus and crushes Boise State: On the night they honored their late head coach, the Utah Ute put on their best performance of the season, defeating a very hot Boise State team.

Inaugural episode of the CBT Podcast: College Basketball Talk has joined the podcasting fray. Listen to host Troy Machir discuss the latest in college hoops with CBT writer Rob Dauster.

 

Hoops Housekeeping
– Danny Berger’s health condition continues to improve since collapsing at a Utah State practice on Tuesday. (CBS Sports)

– Siena players visited two student sin the hospital who had been in injured in a car crash heading home from the Siena vs. Albany game from earlier in the week. (Albany Times-Union)

– Rutgers in filing a lawsuit against the Big East in order to avoid paying the conference’s exit fee. (New York Daily News)

 

Observations & Insight:
– Jason King’s Kings Court is quickly becoming one of my favorite weekly reads. He packs a bunch if interesting insight and analysis into each one. Plus, it’s in list form. Who doesn’t love that? (ESPN)

– We all expected the West Virginia vs. Marshall game to be a physical one. But I don’t think any of us could have predicted the final outcome, that’s to a handful of late ejections. (Deadspin)

– Matt Norlander suggests that the programs once coached by Rick Majerus should get together on an annual basis to honor the late great coach (Eye on College Basketball)

– Florida’s absolute drubbing of Florida State won’t help the Seminoles land super recruit Andrew Wiggins. Luckily for FSU, the co-eds came out in full force to convince Wiggins to return to Tallahassee. (The Dagger)

– Here is how John Calipari’s Kentucky teams have fared through the first eight games of the season. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– The NBA Draft is months and months away. But if you were to ask the experts who the top choice for the No. 1 overall pick, you would get a lot of different answers. (CBS Sports)

– Raphielle Johnson’s Left Coast Layups post is a weekly must-read that will get you caught up to speed on every from the West Coast. (NBE Basketball Report)

– With ten days off in between games, UMass is hoping to stay focused during exam week. (Hoopville)

– Don’t look now, but the UIC Flames are 6-1 and are turning the corner under head coach Howard Moore thanks to a renewed focus. (ESPN Chicago)

– That is a very good question. What exactly have we learned about the ACC thus far? (College Chalktalk)

– Gary Parrish’s story about Memphis junior Geron Johnson is worth your time. (Eye on College Basketball)

 

Odds & Ends
–  A seat upgrade app that helps fans find empty seats in the lower bowl during games? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. (Washington Post)

– With the news that Utaha State’s Danny Berger collapsed at practice on Tuesday, it should be noted that a player at Red Bank High School in New Jersey died on Monday after collapsing during a scrimmage. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– Club Trillion founder Mark Titus provides his top-12 NCAA power rankings (Grantland)

 

Dunk of the Day:
Kansas’ Ben McLemore and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett are stealing all the freshman dunk headlines, by High Point’s John Brown should not be left out of the discussion.

Devontae Harper throws down a #SCtop10 play for IUPUI

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)

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.