Pregame Shootaround 12.14.12: Charlotte, LSU look to remain undefeated

Leave a comment

Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Charlotte at Miami (FL) (7 PM) 

Alan Major’s 49ers are a surprising 9-0 on the season, and they’ll encounter what could be their stiffest test to date as they take on the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Senior forward Chris Braswell (14.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads the way offensively for Charlotte and he’s one of just two (DeMario Mayfield) double figure scorers for this balanced group, as five other players are currently averaging between 7.0 and 9.7 points per game. Charlotte also has one of the best perimeter defenders around in Pierria Henry, who will undoubtedly be asked to slow down Shane Larkin at the point.

Miami has five players averaging double figures and guards Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney-Jones and Durand Scott can cause headaches for the opposition. But a key figure for Miami tonight may be Kenny Kadji, who when at his best combines with Reggie Johnson to make the Hurricanes tough to deal with inside. But if he’s not fully engaged in the action then there’s trouble.

Game of the Day, Part Deux: LSU at Boise State (9 PM)

Johnny Jones’ Tigers also enter Friday’s action undefeated but LSU must not overlook Boise State. Derrick Marks scored a career-high 35 points (28 in the second half) to lead the Broncos to an emphatic upset win at then-No. 11 Creighton a couple weeks ago, and with players such as Anthony Drmic and Mikey Thompson at Leon Rice’s disposal as well this is a dangerous game for LSU. Junior Shavon Coleman (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has proven to be one of the SEC’s best newcomers to this point in the season, and he’ll need to continue that if LSU is to win what is their first road game of the season.

Four Things to Watch

1) UCF visits Old Dominion in what’s a homecoming game of sorts for forward Tristan Spurlock (12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg). But the star to watch is Keith Clanton, who dropped 30 and 13 on Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night. And given the Monarchs’ (1-8) struggles, both Spurlock and Clanton could be in for big nights in Norfolk.

2) Army looks to remain undefeated at home tonight as they host Maine, who is 1-5 on the road this season. Senior forward Ella Ellis doesn’t get the pub that Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum or Bucknell’s Mike Muscala receive, but he’s a player who ranks among the best in the Patriot League with averages of 19.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

3) Ole Miss looks to rebound from its first loss of the season as East Tennessee State visits the “Tad Pad.” Murphy Holloway is the SEC’s leading rebounder (10.1 rpg), and in Marshall Henderson the Rebels have a guard capable of lighting it up at a moment’s notice.

4) Cal Poly (Eastern New Mexico) and Portland (Portland Bible College) both take on non-Division I members, and the Friday schedule features just seven games. Both should win comfortably, but after Anderson College beat College of Charleston last night you never know.

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

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

David Banks/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.