The Morning Mix

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It’s the last day of 2012. Heckuva year it was too. Luckily for us, college hoops is going out on a high note, finishing 2012 with a full slate of games. Plus we still have to get to what happened this weekend. Before you start prepping for your New Years Eve parties, get caught up on things with The Morning Mix.

Lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
12:00 p.m. – No. 8 Cincinnati @ No. 24 Pittsburgh
2:00 p.m. – No. 19 Michigan State @ No. 11 Minnesota
2:00 p.m. – South Dakota @ No. 25 Kansas State
2:00 p.m. – Bowling Green @ Temple
3:00 p.m. – Central Connecticut State @ Indiana
3:00 p.m. – Saint Joseph’s @ Drexel
4:00 p.m. – No. 5 Indiana @ Iowa
5:00 p.m – UNC-Greensboro @ No. 23 North Carolina State
6:00 p.m. – No. 13 Gonzaga @ No. 22 Oklahoma State
7:00 p.m. – Nevada @ Oregon
7:30 p.m. – New Mexico @ Saint Louis
8:00 p.m. – North Texas @ Middle Tennessee
8:00 p.m. – Harvard @ Saint Mary’s
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 4 Louisville outlasts Kentucky in foul-plagued rivalry rematch: Kansas survived Ohio State in last week’s Final Four rematch, but the tables were turned in Louisville’s 80-77 triumph over their in-state rivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

BYU’s Tyler Haws put up Jimmer-like numbers against Virginia Tech: No BYU fan will ever forget about Jimmer Fredette, but sophomore guard Tyler Haws made fans momentarily forget, as he scored 42 points in the Cougars’ 97-71 shellacking of Virginia Tech.

Mixed results for college hoops in the Bay Area on Saturday: Santa Clara put up a good fight against Duke, but Cal lost a tough one to Harvard at home. Stanford had trouble putting away Lafayette and an underrated San Francisco squad defeated Dominican U. of California (D-II).

Utah State coach Stew Morrill breaks convention with comments about departing player: Longtime Utah State head coach Stew Morrill has never been one to shy away in front of the media. But it was interesting to see what the Aggies’ head coach had to say about a departing player who was quitting the sport all together.

Big-Ten Conference Catchup: Indiana and Michigan headline a loaded league with Minnesota and Illinois heading in to conference play with big winning streaks. The Big Ten should feature the best conference season out of all the power conferences.

Big East Conference Catchup: Despite realignment, the Big East should remain competitive thanks to a collection of elite teams like Louisville, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and UConn.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– South Florida point guard Anthony Collins was taken off the court on a stretcher during the Bulls 61-57 win over George Mason. Head Coach Stan Heath revealed during the post game press conference that Victor Rudd Junior suffered a concussion in the second half. (The Dagger)

– Former-Louisville forward Angel Nunez has decided to transfer to Gonzaga, making his intentions clear via Instagram on Friday afternoon. (College Basketball Talk)

– Sophomore backup guard Brandan Kearney has decided to transfer out of Michigan State (Fox Sports Detroit)

– Tennessee State’s top scorer Robert Covington will miss the next 4-6 weeks due to surgery he had on Friday to repair a torn meniscus. (OVC Ball)

– Miami had a terrible trip to Hawaii and the Diamonhead Classic. Much of their troubles were due to the absence of center Reggie Johnson, who broke his left thumb during practice leading up to the event. The big-man is the key to the ‘Canes success but will be forced to miss the next 6-8 weeks. (Miami Sun-Sentinel)

– Pittsburgh back-up center Malcolm Gilbert has decided to transfer to Fairfield, where he will join his brother Marcus. (Cardiac Hill)

– Indiana freshman Jeremy Hollowell has been reinstated and will be in uniform tonight against Iowa. He had been suspended since after the Butler game. (Inside the Hall)

– Baylor center J’mison Morgan has been suspended indefinitely by the university and has been dismissed from the program because of an unspecified violation of university policy. Morgan redshirted last season after transferring from UCLA. He played in just one game this season, against College of Charleston. (Waco Tribune-Herald)

– Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie has been rewarded for his efforts with a new five-year, $7-million contract (ESPN)

– Following a three-game suspension in which his team went 3-0 under Associate head coach David Cox, Rutgers head coach Mike Rice returns to the sidelines and will coach his team when they take on Syracuse in their Big East opener on Wednesday. (New York Daily News)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– BYU’s Tyler Haws scored 42 points against Virginia Tech on Saturday, joining his father Marty Haws as 40-point scorers for the Cougars. Marty starred at BYU from 1986-1990. (The Dagger)

– Providence head coach Ed Cooley was not pleased with his team’s effort and hustle in thir upset loss to Brown on Friday. He called his squad “soft” and said they play with “no chemistry”. Sophomore LeDontae Henton did finish with 37 points. (Providence Journal)

– Gorgui Dieng made his triumphant return to the court on Saturday and helped Louisville defeat Kentucky 80-77. The game carried extra weight for the Senegalese center because his parents were in attendance to see him play for the first time ever. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

– What exactly is clutch, and can it be defined? The Big Ten Geeks tackle a great issue posed by statistical experts Ken Pomeroy and Dan Hanner. (Big Ten Network)

– In order for UNLV to impose their will as the dominant team in the Mountain West Conference, they will need senior guard Anthony Marshall to be the catalyst. (College ChalkTalk)

– Phil Pressey distributed a record 19 assists on Friday night for Missouri, but it came in an entertaining yet losing effort at UCLA. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Kansas’ Ben McLemore is getting all the recognition for the Jayhawks right now, and deservedly so. But the improved play of Naadir Tharpe has really helped to push the Jayhawks into the elite tier of teams. (Need I Say Moore)

– As the title indicates, Boston College as bad as we thought they were going to be. (Run The Floor)

– Led by scrappy guard Jake Odom, the Indiana State Sycamores are a team to watch out for in the ever-difficult Missouri Valley Conference. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Jeff Eisenberg looks ahead to today’s slate of games, which really is nothing short of phenomenal. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy looks ahead at the top games of the upcoming week. (The Sporting News)

– With Gonzaga headed into Stillwater tonight against a ranked Oklahoma State team, the spotlight is once again shining on Gallagher-Iba Arena. (The Oklahoman)

– A cute little list of early season under-the-radar freshman All-American candidates. High Point’s John Brown is a player to watch, for sure. (Hoopville)

 
 
Odds & Ends
– Indiana head coach Tom Crean isn’t just a good coach, he’s also an excellent civilian, as evidence by this recent story of him helping out a motorist that found themselves stuck in a ditch. (WDRB-41)

– Some nice tidbits on Bill Walton’s return to the mic, include the demons he has dealt with in his past. (Sports Illustrated)

– A creative sign featuring John Calipari and dollar bills was confiscated at the Yum! Center prior to tip-off of the Louisville vs. Kentucky game on Saturday. (Kentucky Sports Radio)

– Of course a guy proposed to their girlfriend at the Louisville vs. Kentucky game. She said yes. (WHAS-11)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
The King and Queen of the Cardinals celebrate Louisville’s victory over their rivals Kentucky (University of Louisville Athletics)

source:
Photo from University of Louisville Athletics

 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats pulled the “ol’ switcheroo” before free throw attempt during their loss to Louisville. (College Basketball Talk)


 
 

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Some fascinating ball work leads to one of the best dunks of the weekend. Josh Sharp exhibits total destruction, which is exactly what BYU did to Virginia Tech.
 

 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Friends, this is what we in the industry like to call “The Dagger”.
 

 
 
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Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.