Pregame Shootaround 12.30.12: Mid-majors dominate Sunday’s action

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Illinois State vs. Indiana State (1:05 p.m. ET)

On a Sunday that doesn’t have much in the way of high-major marquee games, this might be the centerpiece. Illinois State scores a lot of points, much of that coming from the senior duo of Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown. Those two alone average close to 36 of Illinois State’s 81 points per game on the season.

Indiana State won’t be looking to keep pace that way, but had two impressive wins in the Diamond Head Classic over the Christmas holiday. The Sycamores beat Ole Miss in overtime, then beat Miami (though, it is to be noted, without Reggie Johnson) on a late-second shot. They’ll have to shoot the ball well and limit turnovers to get a win Sunday.

Who’s Getting Upset?: USC against Dayton (7:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Dayton is coming off a win over Isaiah Canaan’s Murray State squad, which gives them momentum against a Pac-12 opponent like USC. This is the perfect recipe for an upset: a down Pac-12 team against a mid-major on the upswing.

Dayton’s biggest concern Sunday will be to push the tempo and score points, forcing the Trojans to take bad shots and turn the ball over. USC shoots just 42 percent from the floor, so getting rebounds off those misses and getting out in transition will be at the center of the Flyers’ attack. Point guard Kevin Dillard won the duel with Canaan in his last time out, and now he’ll match up with another good point guard, Jio Fontan.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Canisius vs. Detroit (3:00 p.m. ET)

Keep an eye on the backcourt in this one. Detroit’s Ray McCallum has been a threat throughout his career with the Titans, while Billy Baron has become Canisius’ best weapon since following his dad from Rhode Island and being granted eligibility to play immediately. Detroit comes in at 7-5, but has losses to Syracuse, St. John’s, Pitt, and Miami.

Both teams like to push the pace and put points on the board, led by Baron and McCallum respectively, so don’t expect a defensive battle.

Five Things to Watch 

1. Virginia might be caught in a tough situation. The Cavaliers are coming off a loss to a previously 1-10 Old Dominion team and they meet a Wofford team Sunday that ground out a win over A-10 opponent Xavier. Does Virginia stumble again?

2. Indiana State made use of some late-game heroics to beat Miami in the Diamond Head Classic and now they travel back home to meet Jackie Carmichael and Illinois State. Missouri Valley play starts today.

3. There will be no rest for Northern Iowa. Fresh off a win over a good WCC opponent, St. Mary’s, the Panthers face an 11-1 Wichita State team on Sunday. Keeping the battle on the boards close will be key for UNI.

4. Canisius is an early-season upstart in the MAAC, already having beaten Temple. They travel to Detroit Sunday to face former McDonald’s All-American Ray McCallum. The Titans might be 7-5, but four of their losses have come to BCS-conference schools.

5. Memphis is one of the more notable teams in action Sunday. They take on Loyola (Md.), having won two straight.

Top  25 Games

No Top 25 games

Other Notable Games 

Alabama vs. Tulane (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Northern Iowa vs. Wichita State (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Canisius vs. Detroit (3:00 p.m. ET)

Eastern Kentucky vs. West Virginia (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Loyola (Md.) vs. Memphis (8:00 p.m. ET)

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

Three LSU players accused of shooting paintballs at pedestrian

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Three LSU basketball players were issued a summons earlier this month for allegedly shooting paintballs at a pedestrian, according to a report from the Daily Reveille.

The incident involving the three players, Galen Alexander, Wayde Sims and Mayan Kiir, occurred on June 16.

“I’m aware of the situation and we are dealing with the matter internally,” first-year Tigers coach Will Wade said in a statement, according to The Advocate. “I’m extremely disappointed in these players and the poor judgement they used. This is no way to represent LSU or our basketball program. They have a clear understanding of what our expectations are as a program both on and off the court.”

Alexander and Kiir are both freshmen while Sims is a sophomore who averaged 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19 minutes per game last season.

Grayson Allen is…funny?

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The last year led to a lot of people having opinions on Grayson Allen. The Duke star invited most of them thanks to his tripping and his outbursts, as well as the simple fact he plays for the Blue Devils, who always seem to attract plenty of hate from the masses.

While Allen is one of college basketball’s best players, he’s also one of its most ridiculed. More people than not probably have a poor opinion about the guy due to his bizarre tripping habit and the bench meltdown from last season. He’s an easy target that brought a lot of criticism on himself with his actions.

This summer, though, Allen has started to show another side to his personality through social media. It turns out he might actually be funny.

The world is full of surprises.

Here’s an example from today, with Allen not only some comedy chops, but some self-deprecation and self-awareness – two important traits for someone who might need some reputation rehab – as he pokes fun of the Internet’s suggestion that he’s a dead ringer for Texas senator Ted Cruz, as well as Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, apparently.

That was just the most recent example, though. Earlier this month, he ribbed maybe the Internet’s only more favorite villain, LaVar Ball.

And before that, he had some fun with the fact that he’ll almost assuredly be tabbed to our Perry Ellis All-Stars team for his final collegiate season this fall.

So, yeah, Grayson Allen’s rep took a bunch of hits last year for some bad behavior. Maybe there’s more there, though.

IUPUI to become Horizon League’s 10th member

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The Horizon League officially announced this week that IUPUI will be replacing Valparaiso as the league’s 10th member. Valpo left to replace Wichita State in the Missouri Valley.

“We are excited to welcome IUPUI to the Horizon League family,” Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone said. “The Jaguars bring us tremendous competitive potential, particularly in men’s basketball, along with an engaged and energized city. Their addition solidifies our broad community partnerships in Indianapolis and is the right school at the right time.”

IUPUI — which stands for Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis — has been a member of the Summit League, which will be left with eight teams now that the Jaguars have departed. They’ve made it to one NCAA tournament, back in 2003, and have been a full-fledged member of Division I for 19 years. That was the year before NBA point guard George Hill enrolled. Current head coach Jason Gardner has been there for three years but has yet to record a winning season; IUPUI has not been over .500 since 2011, when Ron Hunter was still the head coach.

“We are excited about engaging with the other Horizon League member institutions to enhance the overall competitiveness of the league,” said IUPUI Director of Athletics Dr. Roderick Perry. “As an institution and athletics department, our mission, vision, and core values align closely with the Horizon League. This is an important step forward in the life of our athletics department.”

Former Louisville standout Chris Jones shot in Memphis

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Former Louisville point guard Chris Jones was shot while playing basketball in his native Memphis on Tuesday night.

According to a report from FOX 13 in Memphis, shortly after 11 p.m. shots rang out on in Halle Park after an altercation on the court. Two people were taken to the hospital, one with a head injury stemming from a fight. The other was Jones, who was shot in the leg twice, according to the Courier-Journal. His injuries are not life-threatening and he has already been released from the hospital, according to Steve Forbes, his former Junior College coach.

Jones played at Melrose High in Memphis before spending two years at Northwest Florida Junior College and two more seasons at Louisville.

This past year, he spent time playing professionally in Greece and in France, although he played just a grand total of three games in the two leagues.

Perhaps the craziest part about this story is that Jones was shot on a court that is next to a police station. This is a screengrab from FOX 13’s live shot from the basketball courts, and you can see the police cars in the station’s parking lot in the back ground:

Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

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Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”