olivier

Redshirt freshman forward Chris Olivier leaves Northern Iowa program

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Having not seen action in a game following his 16 minutes in Northern Iowa’s season-opening victory over Wartburg, there were questions about the role that redshirt freshman forward Chris Olivier would have going forward.

There’s no further need for such inquiries, as it was announced by the school on Wednesday that Olivier has decided to leave the Panther program.

Olivier scored five points and grabbed four rebounds in the 103-50 win, but there were areas that head coach Ben Jacobson wanted the Chicago native to address.

With that in mind Olivier did not travel with the team to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving weekend, nor was he on road trips for games against George Mason, Iowa (neutral site game in Des Moines) or UNLV according to the Courier.

“Some things that Chris needs to do differently, better — in terms of his approach to some things. That’s the bottom line,” Jacobson said at the time. “Chris is still a member of our basketball team. It isn’t anything he’s done in terms of any sort of trouble of any kind. Nothing to do with any of that. We’re working on Chris making some better decisions and doing some things better.”

While Olivier looks for a new program to join in time for the spring semester, UNI moves forward in its preparation for the start of Missouri Valley Conference play.

The Panthers open with a trip to MVC contender Wichita State on Sunday afternoon, but with the Shockers entering league play without the services of Carl Hall (broken thumb), Ron Baker (stress fracture in his left foot) and Evan Wessel (broken pinky) the door could be open for UNI to grab an essential road victory.

But that’s easier said than done, and that was going to be the case whether or not Olivier remained a part of the program. But with his departure and Jake Koch being a senior, UNI will need to address their front court situation on the recruiting trail.

Photo credit: University of Northern Iowa Athletics

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

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.