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The Morning Mix

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The Jets and Titans played on Monday Night Football last night. What does this have to do with hoops? it means there were probably more eyes on ESPN2 to watch Jim Boeheim earn his 900th career win.

There are 51 games on the docket tonight. Want to know how bad “Exam Week” was? The most games played on a single weekday night was 20. If there is one game you must watch tonight, it’s Stanford at No. 25 North Carolina State. Josh Huestis is having a breakout year and the Wolfpack are loaded with talent.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Winthrop @ No. 7 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – Richmond @ No.9 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – No. 20 Michigan State @ Bowling Green
7:00 p.m. – Western Kentucky @ Virginia Commonwealth (NBC Sports Network)
7:30 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Charleston
8:00 p.m. – Miami (FL) @ Central Florida
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 25 North Carolina State
9:00 p.m. – Oral Roberts @ No. 4 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – SMU @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Holy Cross @ San Francisco
11:00 p.m. – UC Santa Barbara @ California
11:00 p.m. – Long Beach State @ UCLA
 
 
Read(s) of the Day:
Brendan Prunty did a lot of great work detailing just how the seven Catholic members of the Big East decided to and executed their departure from the conference. Make sure you read it. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)
 
 
Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim gets win No. 900: Syracuse held of a late Titans run in order to seal up the 900th victory of Jim Boeheim’s lengthy career. All 900 of his wins have come at the same institution. He sits by just Mike Krzyzewski and Bobby Night on the all-time wins list.

Following his 900th win, Jim Boeheim addresses gun control: During the press conference following his 900th career win, Jim Boeheim spoke about gun control issues that have risen in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

December needs to be less “cupcake heavy”:Every team needs to pad their schedules during the non-conference portion of the season. But the trickle down effect that forms causes the entire non conference landscape to get saturated with way too many uneventful basketball games.

Providence’s Ed Cooley sounds off on the Big East exit: The second year Friars head coach is excited about the prospects of a new league where basketball is the primary focus.

Villanova’s Jay Wright believes “Catholic-7” could be best hoops conference in the country: The head coach of the Wildcats believes the new conference would be, “from top to bottom” the best. Does he forget that the bottom includes the likes of DePaul, Providence, South Florida, etc.?

UConn honors Newtown tragedy victims in pregame ceremony: On Monday night, UConn got their opportunity to honor their fallen in-state citizens as the men’s basketball team held a heart-felt memorial before their game with Maryland-Eastern Shore.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Wichita State big-man Carl Hall will miss the next month because of surgery he had to fix a broken thumb (Wichita Eagle)

– UConn scholarship honoring Newtown shooting victims gets $80,000 boost from Geno Auriemma (New Haven Register)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Jim Boeheim got his 900th career win last night as Syracuse defeated Detroit 72-68. But as Jeff Goodman reminds us, it was just over a year ago when we weren’t exactly sure if Boeheim would make it to No. 900. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Former coach Bruce Pearl provides his thoughts on Jim Boeheim’s 900 wins at Syracuse (ESPN)

– A phenomenal-read about the dwindling hoops culture at Wake Forest and the athletic department’s willingness to allow it to happen. (Blogger so Dear)

– Conference-USA is so bad (How bad are they?) that Jeff Goodman doesn’t even think the conference deserves to have any representatives in March Madness. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Jay Bilas and Chad Forde discuss the top-10 draft picks as of right now. (ESPN Insider)

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said that he should take the blame for the conference’s implosion. (ESPN)

– The media practice of critiquing weekly poll voters has become over saturated. I only read one a week, and it’s always Gary Parrish. I recommend you do the same. The “Poll Attacks” is the snarkiest weekly-read in college hoops. But that’s why it’s also one of the best. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Notre Dame seems to be weighing their options following the Big East fallout. The Irish announced their move to the ACC earlier in the Fall, but with the departure of the Catholic-7, Notre Dame could find a home for their basketball program and independent football program. (Sports Illustrated)

– Evansville’s athletic director reiterated that there has been no discussions with the Horizon League (Evansville Courier-Press)

– This has been said before, but it does need to be reiterated: Kyle Wiltjer needs to evolved past just a spot-up shooter (Rush The Court)

– LIU-Brookyln lost their best player, Julian Boyd, to a season-ending ACL injury. But despite the loss,l the Blackbirds are still the favorites to win the NEC. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Eastern Washington does their best Jack Taylor impression, attempts twice as many 3-pointers as they did field goals. (Big Sky BBall)

Only Casual Hoya could and would document all the crimes and misdemeanors that have taken place under Jim Boeheim’s watch at Syracuse (Casual Hoya)

– A litany of Kentucky-related dunk .gifs. The one at the top is the best. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Duke-transfer Michael Gbinijie might be the only person in the history of NCAA basketball to play for two 900-game winners. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
 Picture of the Day:
UTEP fans show their support for the families involved in the elementary school shootings in Newtown, CT during the Miners 62-60 loss at home against No.21 UNLV. (UTEP Athletics)

source:
UTEP Miner fans show support for those involved in the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT.

 
 
Dunks(s) of the Day:
Doug Anderson finished with 18 points in Detroit’s 62-60 loss to Syracuse last night. 12 of his 18 points came on dunks. Enjoy.
 

 
 
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VIDEO: Kentucky fan makes a hype video

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 11:  Isaiah Briscoe #13 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates in the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the quarterfinals of the SEC Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day weekend is typically a slow time for sports news, so over the weekend, the CBT crew has been discussing fan videos and songs.

If you’re not familiar, a lot of programs have fans that are so passionate, that they create something as tribute for their programs. This stuff tends to happen in the offseason.

Take this 12-minute video a Kentucky fan made that was posted by Kentucky Sports Radio’s Drew Franklin yesterday as an example:

Twelve minutes is a staggering amount for a video like this, but it captures multiple seasons and even goes into the future.

Not bad.

But it definitely doesn’t beat this Villanova song released by MRG after the Wildcats’ NCAA tournament run.

So now that we’ve seen the baseline for videos and songs, do any other fanbases have anything better in them this summer? There’s still a lot of time until college hoops begins next season and there are plenty of fans who can jump in with a submission.

Throughout the summer, we’ll post the best fan submissions on CBT (as long as they’re clean and original) and see which group of fans has the best at the end of it all.

Canisius finds a new head coach following Jim Baron’s retirement

Canisius head coach Jim Baron talks with players during college basketball practice in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, March 5, 2013. One year after Baron was fired at Rhode Island, the coach and his point guard son, Billy, have teamed up at Canisius to breath new life into a struggling program. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
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Canisius has found a new head coach following the retirement of Jim Baron, as the Griffins have hired former Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon, according to a report from Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News.

The 55-year-old Witherspoon was formerly the head coach at Buffalo from December 1999 until after the 2012-13 season and was recently an assistant coach at Alabama and Chattanooga the past two seasons.

During his time at Buffalo, Witherspoon went 197-225 while making four postseason appearances. He takes over a Canisius program that went 14-19 and 8-12 in the MAAC last season.

As a Buffalo native who has coached in the area as a high school, junior college and Division I head coach, Witherspoon should be familiar with the landscape of being a basketball coach in that city. It’s hard to say if Witherspoon can lead Canisius to prominence at this stage in his career, but he’ll certainly know the area enough to hit the ground running.

UNC’s Roy Williams recovering from knee replacement surgery

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts on the bench against the Harvard Crimson during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on March 19, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Roy Williams is recovering from knee replacement surgery.

In an email Friday, athletics spokesman Steve Kirschner says Williams is “resting comfortably” after the procedure on his right knee performed by Dr. Walt Beaver in Charlotte. Kirschner says there’s no exact recovery timetable but Williams is expected to be on the road for July recruiting “as usual.”

The 65-year-old Williams had procedures on both knees last year but experienced discomfort during the season as the Tar Heels won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles before losing in the NCAA title game on a last-second shot to Villanova.

A week later, Williams said he was considering surgery options for a “bone-on-bone” condition and noted: “I’ve got to be able to move around.”

Utah to play rival BYU in basketball again in 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 2: Nate Austin #33 of the Brigham Young Cougars and Jakob Poeltl #42 of the Utah Utes try for the ball in the second half of the Utes 83-75 win at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on December 2, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Utah will play rival BYU in basketball again in 2017 in a game that will end a “cooling off period” Utah demanded due to events at recent games.

Utah said in a news release Thursday that the two schools have agreed to play in 2017 at BYU. The school’s athletic directors are talking about scheduling future games.

The decision to cancel the rivalry upset BYU and ignited a controversy that lit up sports talk radio and triggered legislators to order a state audit of Utah athletics. The game had been played every year since 1909 except for during World War II.

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said in January that the rivalry had become a “venomous and toxic environment.” BYU guard Nick Emery was ejected from December’s game for punching Utah’s Brandon Taylor.

Looking Forward: Defense will help Arizona sort out loaded rotation

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs. 

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind let’s take a look at Arizona, an elite program that reloads with designs on erasing the bad memories of last year’s first round NCAA tournament exit. 

After going on a two-year run in which they went 67-9, won two Pac-12 regular season titles and made two Elite Eight appearances, Arizona took a step back in 2015-16. Sean Miller’s Wildcats saw their grip on the Pac-12 loosen, with Oregon taking advantage, and their NCAA tournament stay was a short one thanks to a tough Wichita State team. Many programs would sign up for a season that included 25 wins despite injuries to freshmen Ray Smith (torn ACL) and Allonzo Trier (broken hand).

But Arizona isn’t your “run of the mill” program, which is a testament not only to what the retired Lute Olson accomplished during his time in Tucson but to what Sean Miller’s managed to do as well. Since his arrival Miller’s pumped new life into the program, with Arizona racking up highly regarded recruiting classes and the wins to match.

All that’s missing from his time at Arizona is a trip to the Final Four, an accomplishment Arizona hasn’t been able to boast since 2001. And after last year’s disappointing finish, Arizona’s work on the recruiting trail in the spring has them in a position where they can get that done. There’s talent, depth and versatility on the roster heading into the 2016-17 season, with some key returnees being joined by one of the nation’s best recruiting classes.

And with that will come an important question for the Wildcats: how will they sort everything out from a rotation standpoint?

Competition within the ranks is hardly a bad thing; “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The same can be said for versatility, which will be another positive trait for Arizona in 2016-17. At first glance the roster has just two players seemingly locked into one specific position: Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard and Dusan Ristic at center. Outside of that, Arizona boasts a host of players capable of filling multiple spots based upon the desires of their head coach and the flow of the game.

The front court includes a mobile 7-footer in sophomore Chance Comanche, who managed to earn more consistent appearances down the stretch thanks to his activity on the defensive end of the floor. Newcomers in Lauri Markkanen and Keanu Pinder who can fill multiple roles in the front court, with Markannen’s ability to step out and hit perimeter shots being especially key, and the same can be said of the talented Smith provided there are no lingering effects from his second ACL tear in as many years.

With the injury and the time away from live action Smith will likely have some rust to shake off, but this is something Arizona can work through given their depth. There’s role versatility and this sets up to be a more mobile group defensively as well, which can only help the Wildcats moving forward.

The bigger area for Arizona from an options standpoint is on the perimeter, as they’re loaded with established returnees and high-caliber newcomers. And with the players available, how everything shakes out with regards to roles and minutes that come with them will be very interesting to watch. Trier’s back after a successful freshman season in which he averaged 14.6 points per game and shot 46.6 percent from the field, and with his ability to attack defenses off the dribble he’ll figure prominently in the Arizona rotation again in 2016-17.

Also returning are Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who shared the point guard duties with Allen getting the starting nod thanks in large part to his ability on the defensive end of the floor. Losing Gabe York, who was second on the team in scoring and Arizona’s best three-point shooter a season ago, can’t be overlooked. But with the additions to the program, Arizona can more than account for the production lost there.

Last year Trier was the Wildcat best capable of attacking defenses off the bounce, but even with the relative “lack” of such options Arizona still managed to average 80 points per game and shoot 48 percent from the field. Things will be a bit different in 2016-17, thanks to factors such as the loss of York and Ryan Anderson and the fact that they’ll have more players capable of breaking down opponents off the dribble. Freshmen Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Terrance Ferguson can all create shots via dribble penetration, with Ferguson also being one of the top shooters in the class of 2016.

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 30: Terrance Ferguson #6 of the East  team goes up for a dunk against the West team during the 2016 McDonalds's All American Game on March 30, 2016 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Terrance Ferguson (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

But could this turn out to be a case of having too much of a good thing? While considered a point guard, Simmons proved to be better at getting himself looks than doing so for others, and Alkins was also considered to be a “ball dominant” guard at the high school level. How will that change at the college level, and how will the pieces fit together within Arizona’s rotation?

These are important questions to address, and how Arizona can do that is on the defensive end of the floor.

After two straight seasons of producing defenses that ranked in the top three in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers (first in 2014, third in 2015), Arizona was ranked 41st in that category last season. After two consecutive seasons of limiting teams to less than 40 percent shooting from the field, Arizona allowed teams to shoot 41.3 percent in 2015-16. Also of concern was the turnover department, with teams committing an average of just 11.4 per game against the Wildcats last season.

By comparison, those two Elite Eight teams managed to force an average of 13.8 turnovers per game in 2013-14 and 12.4 per contest in 2014-15. The pack line defense isn’t one that people would necessarily categorize as a “pressure” system, but one of the strengths for Arizona during those two Elite Eight runs was having athletic options on the wings who can make life difficult for passers and the players looking to receive those passes. That wasn’t the case last season, but it may not be a problem in 2016-17 thanks to the roster additions.

Ferguson’s athleticism is noted above, and he’s also a long-armed player who more than holds his own defensively. Alkins also has the physical tools needed to cause trouble on the wing, which will give Arizona a good shot at playing defense at the level we grew accustomed to seeing them reach.

Physical tools aside, there’s always the “carrot” of playing time to dangle in front of the players. When discussing the adjustment process for freshmen many rush to the offensive end, and that’s understandable to a certain extent. But the biggest adjustment comes on the other end of the floor, and being able to prove that you can defend your position and carry out the team’s defensive game plan.

Arizona will certainly have offensive talent across the board next season. But the reason why they can rebound from last season and possibly reach the Final Four is the fact that some of that talent will make a difference defensively as well.