CJMcCollumDribble

10 tidbits to know: Louisville’s chemistry, McCollum can shoot and more

Leave a comment

Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.

1. For as good as Syracuse is, Louisville is the best team in the Big East right now. The chemistry on Rick Pitino’s team is off the charts and they play both ends of the floor as well as any team in the country. The two-headed attack of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith can be deadly and the 2-2-1 press, back to their match-up 2-3 zone, never allows teams to be comfortable on offense.

2. Not everyone nationally is sold on him yet but C.J. McCollum from Lehigh is the real deal. McCollum has scored over 30 four times this season — including opening the season at Baylor with a 36 point performance. McCollum is shooting 50% from the field, 53% from three point land and 84% from the free throw line.

3. Hard to get more automatic from the free throw line than Nik Cochran from Davidson. How’s shooting 95.7% from the line? The Davidson scorekeeper probably just hits the buttons on the scoreboard as soon as he gets fouled.

4. Hard to find a team that has played more games than Richmond. The Spiders are 10-5 and have a week off until they host Rhode Island. Richmond has struggled on the boards this season but have gotten by because they’ve shot the ball extremely well.

5. Many coaches preach tough non-conference scheduling but Tom Pecora from Fordham is one of the few who practices what he preaches. The Rams this season played at Pitt, at Harvard, at Lehigh, at St. John’s, at UConn and at Georgia Tech. And it’s not over — Fordham plays at Ole Miss tomorrow before A-10 play kicks into gear.

6. Jamaal Franklin and his No. 19 San Diego Aztecs are 12-2 overall and Franklin continues his terrific play. Franklin, the team’s leading scorer, went for 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks last night vs CS Bakersfield. San Diego State’s two losses are Syracuse and Arizona.

7. What a terrific job Gregg Marshall has done at Wichita State. Shockers are 13-1 after their last win at Drake. But should we really be surprised? When Marshall coached at Winthrop, his conference coaching record was 104-24.

8. You have to feel for Manhattan’s Steve Masiello. His Jaspers were picked #2 in the MAAC this year mostly because of preseason 1st team selection George Beamon. But because of injury, Beamon has only played in 4 games — and Manhattan is 3-9. The line is too fine at the mid-major level. Tough to win when your best player is not suiting up.

9. Not a good start to Big East play by DePaul. The Blue Demons lost their opener at home to Seton Hall 73-72. DePaul went 4-32 in conference play the last two seasons.

10. Even with 903 wins, I recently heard some criticism of Jim Boeheim because he’s only won one national championship at Syracuse. To criticize Boeheim makes about as much sense as standing in the cold for 6 hours on New Year’s Eve waiting for the ball to drop. Then again, a million people do it every year so what do I know.

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports. You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Leave a comment

Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.