Mark Lyons

Late Night Snacks: The Diamond Head Classic matchup many expected is set

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Games of the Day

1. Northern Iowa 82, Saint Mary’s 75 
In a game that was scheduled to be played on Saturday but postponed due to inclement weather the Panthers picked up a good win for both themselves and the Missouri Valley Conference. Seth Tuttle led four UNI players in double figures with 18 points, and the Panthers scored 50 points in the second half on 56.5% shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from three. Jorden Page was the lone Gael in double figures with 26 points as the Panthers did a good job of neutralizing Matthew Dellavedova (nine points, 3-of-11 FG).

2. Ole Miss 85, San Francisco 78 
The Rebels got off to a slow start in the consolation bracket matchup at the Diamond Head Classic, but Andy Kennedy’s team played much better in the second half to hold off the Dons. Murphy Holloway led the way with 23 points and 13 rebounds and Nick Williams added 18 for Ole Miss, who will play host Hawaii on Tuesday afternoon. Cody Doolin paced USF with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

3. Portland 57, Bradley 55
The Braves had the final possession of the game but a solid defensive stand by the Pilots gave Eric Reveno’s team their seventh win of the season. Ryan Nicholas posted a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Derrick Rodgers and Oskars Reinfelds combined to score 22 points off the bench as Portland matched its win total from all of last season. Dyricus Simms-Edwards led Bradley with a game-high 15 points, but their poor shooting (31.5% FG) did in the Braves.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 4 Arizona 69, Miami 50
The absence of Reggie Johnson certainly didn’t help the Hurricanes on the boards as the Wildcats held a 44-19 edge in that department, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he were out there given how well Arizona played after a poor start. Mark Lyons (19 points) and Nick Johnson (12) led the way and Kevin Parrom added 11 points off the bench to push the Wildcats to 11-0 on the season. Kenny Kadji scored 19 as he was the lone Hurricane to give Arizona a great deal of trouble offensively, and as a team Miami shot 36.5% from the field. Durand Scott rolled his ankle in the first half but did return after a short stint on the bench, finishing with 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

2. Colorado State 88, Virginia Tech 52
The fact that the Rams won the title game of the Las Vegas Classic should surprise no one. But by 36 points? Larry Eustachy’s team had it rolling in the second half at the Orleans Arena, as they outscored the Hokies 55-25. Pierce Hornung tallied 18 points and ten rebounds, and three other CSU starters finished in double figures. Erick Green led Virginia Tech with 26 points, but both he (five turnovers) and the Hokies had problems dealing with the Colorado State defense (Virginia Tech finished with a total of four assists, with Green having three of them).

3. No. 18 San Diego State 62, Indiana State 55 
It wasn’t pretty but the Aztecs did enough in the second half to hold off the Sycamores, moving on to the title game of the Diamond Head Classic where they’ll play No. 4 Arizona. Jamaal Franklin finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds and SDSU forced 117 Indiana State turnovers, with the usually steady Jake Odum having five. San Diego State shot 4-of-17 from beyond the arc, a percentage that must improve if they’re to beat the Wildcats on Tuesday night.

Starred 

1. F Chris Gaston and G Branden Frazier (Fordham) 
Gaston tallied 25 points and eight rebounds while Frazier added 20 points, ten assists and six rebounds in the Rams’ 81-75 win over Siena.

2. G Parker Smith (North Florida) 
Smith scored 25 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the Ospreys’ 74-46 win over Georgia Southern.

3. F David Laury (Iona)
In his second game in an Iona uniform Laury put up 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the Gaels’ 100-72 win over Norfolk State. In his debut Laury dropped 21 and 14 in a loss at La Salle; keep an eye on him as he could be a difference maker in the MAAC race.

Struggled

1. New Hampshire
Bill Herrion’s Wildcats had a rough day shooting the basketball in their 72-45 loss at Penn State. For the game UNH shot 22.6% (12-of-53) from the field, and that includes a 5-of-29 first half.

2. G Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary’s) 
Ben Jacobson’s Panthers got the job done defensively on the reigning WCC Player of the Year, as Dellavedova shot 3-of-11 from the field (1-of-7 3PT) and scored nine points in the 82-75 loss.

3. F Julian Gamble and G Trey McKinney-Jones (Miami)
One day after combining to score 27 points in a win over Hawaii this duo struggled in the Hurricanes’ loss to No. 4 Arizona. Gamble and McKinney-Jones combined for three points (1-of-7 FG; all points scored by Gamble) and five rebounds, and with Reggie Johnson out Miami needed more from them to hang with a team the caliber of the Wildcats.

Three Facts

1. Pittsburgh’s 59-43 win over Kennesaw State was also the 250th for head coach Jamie Dixon. The Panthers shot 1-of-8 from three but grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, with Talib Zanna leading the way with 12 points and nine boards.

2. Six games were decided by 27 points or more, with Colorado State and Clemson (77-41 over South Carolina State) winning by the largest margin.

3. At halftime of their 68-52 win over Nebraska, UTEP retired Harry Flournoy’s number 44. Not familiar with the name? Flournoy was a key member of the Miners’ 1966 national title team, but played just six minutes in the win over Kentucky after twisting his knee. Flournoy ranks fourth in school history with 836 rebounds, and his average of 10.1 rebounds per game is third in the UTEP record book.

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

UNLV’s Menzies fills out staff with 3 hires

New UNLV men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies smiles during a news conference after the UNLV board of regents  approved his contract, Friday, April 22, 2016  in Las Vegas. The boards voted 12-1 on Friday to approve a five-year, $3.75 million deal for Menzies.  (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP) LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) New UNLV men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies has filled out his staff with three assistant coaches.

The school announced on Thursday the hiring of Andre LaFleur, Rob Jeter and Eric Brown.

Jeter was the head coach at Milwaukee for 11 seasons, winning 20 or more games five times. His record of 185-170 leaves him one short of the school record for most victories.

La Fleur spent the past five seasons as associate head coach at Providence under Ed Cooley after 10 years working for Jim Calhoun at Connecticut.

Brown has been an assistant coach at Long Beach State the last nine years.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.