Mixed results for college hoops in the Bay Area on Saturday

Leave a comment

With four teams in action Saturday, California’s Bay Area shifted its attention away from the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford’s upcoming bowl game and over to college hoops, where fans got mixed results. Take a look at the recap below:

No. 1 Duke 90, Santa Clara 77

The Broncos kept it close early, trailing by only two at halftime, but Duke’s size buried Santa Clara in foul trouble in the second half. Senior Kevin Foster was impressive with 29 points on the afternoon, including 18 in the first half that almost single-handedly kept Santa Clara in the game.

Against the nation’s No. 1 team, an up-tempo style helped to minimize Duke’s size advantage in the first half and Foster’s hot shooting was key. But Foster picked up his third foul less than 10 seconds into the second half and the Blue Devils found a way to neutralize Santa Clara’s full-court game and grind it down to a half-court bout. Seth Curry’s hot shooting overextended the Santa Clara defense and pushed it out to the perimeter, opening up opportunities for center Mason Plumlee on the inside.

It was a valiant Santa Clara effort, but Duke proved to be too much. The tough loss showed that the Broncos are likely the fourth-best team in the WCC, trailing national power Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and BYU.

San Francisco 93, Dominican Cal 76

Cole Dickerson had a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Dons cruised to a win Saturday night by dominating in nearly every key statistical category. San Francisco shot 56 percent from the floor and outrebounded Dominican 42-25. It is a bounce-back win for the Dons after going 1-2 in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over the Christmas holiday.

They open conference play on Jan. 2 against Santa Clara.

Stanford 65, Lafayette 59

Stanford was never able to put Lafayette away, thanks in large part to 11-of-19 shooting from three-point range for the Leopards. Stanford’s zone defense had a difficult time rotating to shooters and was giving too much space on the perimeter, allowing a smaller Lafayette team to stay in the game.

Poor Cardinal shooting from the perimeter (3-of-19) only amplified the offensive problems, but a late-game push to get the ball inside to junior Dwight Powell exploited Stanford’s size advantage. Had the Cardinal not outrebounded Lafayette by such a large 42-24 margin, we likely would have had an upset at Maples Pavilion.

Keep an eye on Josh Huestis, who continues to be an impact player and a complement to Powell on the interior. He narrowly missed a double-double Saturday, scoring eight points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Harvard 67, California 62

Cal ran into many of the same problems against Harvard that Stanford did against Lafayette. Laurent Rivard and Wesley Saunders combined for 37 points, including 7-of-15 shooting from three-point range to extend the California defense and power an upset Saturday. Harvard was patient offensively and controlled the clock in the second half to dictate the pace and force the Bears into uncomfortable half-court sets.

Allen Crabbe turned in another high-scoring performance with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but a short Cal rotation hurt Mike Montgomery’s team down the stretch. Both Crabbe and Justin Cobbs had bouts with cramps late in the second half, likely a result of Harvard milking each offensive possession and forcing Cal to play 35 seconds of defense nearly every time down the floor.

The Crimson continue to get production from freshman point guard Siyani Chambers, if not as a scorer than as a facilitator. He shot just 2-of-15 from the floor Saturday, but had nine assists and just two turnovers.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wichita State to sell beer at Koch Arena

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Leave a comment

As if it wasn’t already hard enough to win games at Koch Arena.

Starting this season, Wichita State fans will be able to buy beer during games at their home arena, a fact that should ensure that the raucous home environs that have made the Shockers so difficult to beat in Wichita remains the same.

That’s not a bad thing to add to a home court advantage while making the move into a new conference, the American, for the 2017-18 season.

Once a rarity, beer at college sporting events in a growing trend. Minnesota, Florida and Texas, among a number of others have added alcohol sales in recent years. Given the money that would seem likely to be generated, it’s a trend that will probably become even more pervasive in college athletics.

Let’s just make sure that everyone partakes in moderation.

Blue Ribbon release college basketball preseason top 25, all-american teams

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Blue Ribbon, the college basketball bible, has released their top 25 and preseason all-american awards, the first publication to do so as far as I know.

Their top five — Arizona, Michigan State, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky — contains the same teams as my top five will, only in a different order. The only crazy ranking that I see in their top 25 comes with Miami checking in at No. 16. I have a feeling they are going to end up regretting that by the end of the season.

What is somewhat crazy, however, is Blue Ribbon’s all-american teams.

Bonzie Colson is their Preseason National Player of the Year. That’s not my pick, but it’s justifiable. But having Miles Bridges as a second-team preseason all-american? Angel Delgado as a fourth-team preseason all-american? I disagree with both of those picks.

But that will all play out during the season.

And, frankly, I haven’t exactly had the best track record predicting all-americans in recent years, not after I opted to rate Skal Labissiere as a first-team preseason all-american over Buddy Hield.

That was a miss.

It happens to the best of us.

But I feel pretty comfortable saying that Miles Bridges as a second-team preseason all-american will end up being a miss.

4-star center commits to Purdue

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.