Jay Wright

Jay Wright: the Catholic 7 could be ‘best basketball conference’

3 Comments

The big news over the weekend was that the Catholic 7 — Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul — made the official announcement that they would be leaving the Big East.

It’s a crushing blow for folks that grew up on college hoops in the Northeast, but it’s something that we all saw coming miles away.

There are still plenty of legalities and logistics (someone call UPS!) to work out regarding the future of these seven schools — and of the programs that will be scooped up in an effort to get to ten or twelve teams — but the one thing that I thought we all could agree upon is that college hoops will forever be different in Big East country. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and this league isn’t destined to become the next Patriot League, but it certainly isn’t on par with what the Big East was as recently as 2009 (when they got three No. 1 seeds) or 2011 (when 11 teams made the tournament).

Apparently, no one told Jay Wright.

“I think it could be the best basketball conference in the country,” Wright told CSN Philly. “If you look at, top to bottom, who had got the best teams top to bottom, it could be the best.”

C’mon, bro.

I understand coachspeak and spin and all that, but there is simply no way that Jay Wright truly believes what he just said.

In the not-so-distant future, his Villanova program is headed for a conference where the majority of the progams — St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul — haven’t been relevant for at least a decade, maybe more. His Villanova team has been on a downswing since somewhere around January 2010, and losing the affiliation with the Big East isn’t exactly going to make Andrew Wiggins want to put the Wildcats on his list.

There are two healthy programs currently associated with the Catholic 7: Georgetown and Marquette. Marquette isn’t currently ranked in the top 25 and Georgetown had a three game stretch this season where they averaged 48.3 points.

That’s better than the ACC, which will eventually includes Duke, UNC, Syracuse and Louisville, among many other? Or the Big Ten, where Michigan State is a top 15 team and the sixth-best team in the league? That group may not even be a top eight conference, not with how strong the MWC, the WCC and the MVC are.

The reason that the Catholic 7 are targeting programs like Butler, Xavier, Creighton and VCU has less to do with filling out a full conference roster than it does adding quality programs to remain relevant nationally.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.57.22 PM
Leave a comment

Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.