The Morning Mix

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This week has been relatively light on hardwood action. There were only a small sampling of solid games on last night, and even fewer tonight. That being said, the flow of news and information has been as steady as ever, and with the unearthing of a bizarre idea to hold four college basketball games at the same time at “Jerry World”, well, we’ve got a lot to get to before the weekend gets here.

Lets hit the links.
 
Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Harvard @ Connecticut
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Iowa
9:00 p.m. – Virginia Commonwealth @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
 
 
Read of the Day:
Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts. Not exactly on the same level as Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. But then again, not very many columns are. Just read it, OK? (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Tweet of the Day:

Nothing says Grant Gibbs like 10 assists, 1 TO, and one scrum where he jumps in a pile and comes out with a loose ball. – @RobDauster

Tweet of the Day:

So this is likely to pick up steam here in the coming days…North Forest beat Lee 76-0 in girls basketball on Wednesday…. – @Ahverdejo

 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: There were not a bunch of great games on the tube last night. However, Xavier and Vanderbilt put on a spirited battle at the Cintas Center that extended into free basketball, plus Nebraska and Creighton met up and threw down in a non-conference rivalry game.

Mark Hollis has the right idea, but it needs some tweaks: The Michigan State athletic director wants to stage four college basketball games at once at Cowboys Stadium. There are a list of reasons why four games at once doesn’t and won’t work, but the concept itself isn’t that bad.

Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater: Yup. It’s exactly what you think it is. Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater. Priceless.

Pac-12 isn’t very good, but will get two NCAA tournament bids: For what seems like the tenth consecutive year, Pac-12 teams are struggling to meet expectations as a whole. That being said, Arizona and Colorado both appear to be penciled in to the NCAA tournament.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Two former-Detroit coaches claim they were wrongfully terminated in an effort by the university “to cover up the misconduct of others in the athletic department. (USA Today)

– Murray State basketball player Zay Jackson was indicted by a  grand jury yesterday on two charges related to a Sept. 9 incident in which he allegedly struck two people with his car. (WPDS Local)

– Creighton’s Josh Jones was hospitalized prior to last night’s game against Nebraska because he collapsed during pregame warm-ups. The guard had undergone heart surgery in 2007. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Highly touted Providence freshman Kris Dunn is expected to make his college debut before Christmas. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Fairfield head coach Sidney Johnson has agreed to an extension until 2019. (Big Apple Buckets)

– The status of UNLV forward Mike Moser remains day-to-day after MRI results on his injured hip came back negative. (Las Vegas Sun)

– Monmouth head coach King Rice has been issued a one game suspension by the university for his actions and comments critical of the officials during the Hawks game against Navy. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– This is good news for us basketball traditionalists: Final Four likely to return to arena venues within five years (SNY.tv)

– The new Big East television deal might actually be worth $40-million less than what the conference originally thought. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– I love this take from Jeff Eisenberg. He agrees that Kevin Ollie has done a great job, but wants to see more before the university commits to him long-term. (The Dagger)

– The great Ken Pomeroy explains why a team’s 3-point defense should not be defined by their opponent’s 3-point percentage. (KenPom Blog)

– A great read on the continued development of Charleston’s Adjehi Baru. Baru has an interesting back story and was a steal for Charleston. Now in his second year, the big man is making great strides to live up to the hype. (King Kresse)

– Michigan’s Trey Burke reminds ESPN recruiting expert Raggie Rankin of Chris Paul. (ESPN)

– Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is not a fan of conference realignment, in case you didn’t already know. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Many of the top recruiting experts in the country expect Jabari Parker, the top recruit in the nation, to choose Duke. (EPSN)

– Glenn Logan explains why point guard play isn’t the reason Kentucky is struggling, despite the popular opinion that it is in fact the issue. (A Sea of Blue)

– With early season success from Illinois-Chicago and Loyola (Ill.), it looks like Horizon League hoops is returning to relevancy in Chi-Town. (The Horizon League)
 
 
Lists & Rankings:
– John Gasaway does a brilliant job breaking down the top-25 best freshman in college hoops thus far. My only complaint is that Marcus Smart should be a bit higher than just No. 14. (ESPN Insider)

– An excellent breakdown of the best mid-major players in the month of November. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Jeff Goodman’s Good N’ Plenty column doesn’t have a lot of direction to it, but it’s a weekly must-read because of the information it provides. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The best and worst of the month from Big East newcomers. (Rush The Court)

– This is bound to create a small midwest frenzy: 10 reasons why Marquette has “Badger Envy” (Madtown Badgers)

– A mid-major power rankings update from Myron Medcalf. (ESPN)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Sir Charles and Dickie-V calling games together? It could happen. (Awful Announcing)

– An excellent read on the common misconception that everyone who wears BYU gear is Mormon. (Vanquish the Foe)

– A solid Q&A with UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who still sees big things ahead for the Bruins. (Sports Radio Interviews)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Detroit held a “Star Wars” night on Wednesday against Toledo. This is, in short, the single greatest promotional event in the history of collegiate athletics. #Fact. #LandoFTW. (Detroit Titans Athletics)
 
source:
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
This may the only time all season I get to reference the very athletic conference I played in at college. Widener and Albright representin’ The MAC! #D3MACtion. (That’s Mid-Atlantic Conference to you non D-III folks). Watch the fan reactions. Classic.
 

Fun fact about Albright College. In 2009, the Lions were fortunate enough to have the freshman/senior brother combination of Phil and Derek Hall. Phil, the senior, was 6-foot-11. Derek, the freshman, was 6-foot-10. Tell me the last time you saw that at the mid-major D-III level? Answer: NEVER.
 
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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.