Coming off of an all-american season as a freshman much was expected of Trey Burke this season and, amazingly enough, the Columbus, OH, native has lived up to expectations, averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 assists as the Wolverines have emerged as one of the best teams in the country. So when I tell you that Burke averaged 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 boards and 2.0 steals this week while shooting 71.4% from the floor and 50% from three with just a single turnover in 68 minutes of action, you should accept it as business as usual.
Here’s the thing that makes Burke so impressive: he understands that his role as a point guard is, first and foremost, distribution. Early on in games, he’ll focus on making sure that the rest of his team gets their shots and their points. He gets everyone involved, and it isn’t until his opponent makes a run or keeps things close in the second half that he takes over. Burke hasn’t been perfect this season — his play down the stretch against Arkansas bordered on selfishness, as he over-dribbled and forced a couple bad shots that allowed the Razorsbacks to stay in the game longer than necessary — but overall, Burke has turned himself into a legitimate Player of the Year candidate.
The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team:
G: Daniel Barnes, Illinois-Chicago: Barnes is a backcourt player for the Flames, and despite playing more than 30 minutes per game, Barnes has just six assists in ten games this season. That should tell you something: that Barnes is out there to score, and he did just that against Eastern Michigan on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 senior finished with 30 points on 10-18 while hitting six threes and, yes, handing out one assists as UIC moved to 9-1 on the season with a win over Eastern Michigan. It’s worth noting that Barnes transferred to UIC after spending a year at EMU.
G: Anthony Drmic, Boise State: The Broncos bounced back from an ugly loss at Utah two weeks ago with a 19 point win over LSU at home on Saturday. Drmic led the way for Leon Rose’s team, finishing with a career-high 34 points on 12-18 shooting. He also hit 6-10 from beyond the arc. Drmic is now averaging 16.4 points on the season and shooting 43.6% from three.
F: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa: Marble finished with 30 points on just 14 shots on Saturday as the Hawkeyes knocked off Northern Iowa in the Big Four Classic, a double-header featuring the four Division I schools in the Hawkeye State.
F: Greg Whittington, Georgetown: In his previous four games, Greg Whittington was 14-45 from the floor and 2-17 from three, averaging just 8.0 ppg as the Hoya’s offense had stalled. Prior to putting up 89 points in a win over Longwood, Georgetown’s previous three games saw them average 48.3 points — all wins, over Tennessee, Texas and Towson. But Whittington finished with 25 points and 11 boards in a win over Western Carolina on Saturday. Slumpbuster for the x-factor?
C: Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota: Mbakwe had surgery to repair a torn ACL a year ago, and early on this season it was evident that he hadn’t yet regained the same amount of explosiveness in that knee. Slowly but surely, however, he’s begun to look like he’s getting closer and closer to being back to the Mbakwe of old. Against North Dakota State, he finished with 14 points and 18 boards, including a pair of tip-dunks where he actually got fairly high off the ground. He’s now averaging 9.2 points and 7.4 boards on the season.
Bench: Chane Behanan (Louisville), Roosevelt Jones (Butler), Doug McDermott (Creighton)
After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.
“I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”
That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.
“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”
The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.
UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.
“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”
Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington
Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.
Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.
So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.
He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.
A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.
Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He was just 58 years old.
Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.
Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.
UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.
The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.
Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.
But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.
The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.