Brandon Davies

Weekend Preview: Five storylines to follow

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Five story lines to follow this weekend

The Diamond Head Classic: This weekend will give us one of the better in-season tournaments of the year, as we could end up seeing Miami and Arizona play in a semifinal and San Diego State take on the Wildcats in the finals. Here’s Saturday’s Diamond Head schedule:

Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Ole Miss at Indiana State (ESPNU)
Sat. 6:00 p.m.: No. 18 San Diego State at San Francisco (ESPNU)
Sat. 10:30 p.m.: No. 4 Arizona vs. ETSU (ESPNU)
Sun. 12:30 a.m.: Miami at Hawaii (ESPNU)

Great individual matchups: There are some terrific games this weekend, as we already laid out for you. But in addition to those games, we will also be treated to some great individual matchups:

  • BYU will take on Baylor on Friday night, pitting Brandon Davies up against Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers. It shoud also be fun to see Brady Heslip and Tyler Haws have a shooting contest.
  • When Evansville plays Butler on Saturday afternoon, keep an eye on Colt Ryan of the Purple Aces. Butler may have Rotnei Clarke, but Ryan might be the best scorer on the floor.
  • UCSB’s Alan Williams has been a revelation on a team that’s been struggling early on this year. He’ll be going toe-to-toe with Leonard Washington.
  • Dayton and Murray State might have their day ruined. Well, the Flyers, at least, if Kevin Dillard, their star point guard, doesn’t get back from the back spasms that ended his night against Illinois State early. Murray State has a stud point guard of their own. Some kid named Isaiah Canaan or something.

Injuries ruining games: Kevin Dillard’s back spasms aren’t the only injury that could end up ruining a good game this weekend. St. Louis is taking on Loyola Marymount on Saturday afternoon, but since Kwamaine Mitchell isn’t back from his foot injury yet, we won’t see him against Anthony Ireland of LMU. Western Kentucky got smoked by VCU in large part because they were without their starting back court of TJ Price and Jamal Crook. They may turn the ball over 32 times against Louisville without those two. Marshall may have had a shot to upset Kentucky if Deandre Kane hadn’t broken his hand.

Tracking eligibility status: There are also a couple of eligibility cases to keep an eye on this weekend. Texas thought they lost Myck Kabongo to a season-long suspension, but they appealed to try and get their star point guard immediately eligible on Thursday night. Might he be in the lineup on Saturday at Michigan State? It’s a long shot. At Marquette, Buzz Williams got the news on Thursday night that Todd Mayo, OJ’s brother, would be eligible for the second semester after getting his academic issues taken care of. Is he the answer for a Golden Eagle team that has sputtered a bit early on this season?

UCLA playing for Ben Howland’s job?: The Bruins will take on Fresno State at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, and while the Bulldogs do have some young talent on their roster, they shouldn’t be any match for UCLA. But who knows, because if there’s anything we’ve learned about UCLA through the first month and a half of the season, it’s that we never really know what’s going to happen with them.

The most intriguing part of this game, however, is the fact that a report came out claiming that Ben Howland’s job is in jeopardy. That’s not a surprise, but according to BruinReportOnline.com, there’s a chance that Howland may not make it through the season. Look at the faces of the UCLA team during games. Watch the end of their bench on a big play. You tell me if it looks like that team is having fun out there. Are they going to care if Howland does get fired? Will they rally around their coach like UConn has rallied around Kevin Ollie?

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win