Team of the Week: St. Louis Billikens
The Billikens have not exactly had a smooth ride this season. At the start of practices, their star point guard Kwamain Mitchell broke his foot, which almost certainly made things more difficult for new head coach Jim Crews. Then, in early December, the man that had put this team together and built it into an Atlantic 10 favorite, Rick Majerus, passed away.
But since the death of Majerus, the Billikens have turned their season around. They haven’t lost since, winning all eight games they’ve played. That includes a 60-46 win over then-No. 20 New Mexico that wasn’t even that close. All of a sudden, the team that started out the year 3-3 and looked a long way from some of the powerhouses at the top of the A-10 is round into form. And while they have Mitchell back in the mix, he’s still a ways from being “Kwamain Mitchell”; through three games, he’s averaging just 7.3 points, shooting 25.0% from the floor and 9.1% from three and averaging a career-high 3.0 turnovers.
What happens when he finally gets healthy? If you take anything out of the win over the Lobos on New Year’s Eve, it’s that the A-10 needs to be forewarned.
Seven Teams Deserving a Shoutout
- Gonzaga: We’ve written plenty on the Zags over the last few days, but it is worth noting here that this group not only went into Gallagher-Iba and knocked off a good Oklahoma State team, they did the same to a Santa Clara team that was leading Duke midway through the second half in Cameron. And it’s only now that Kevin Pangos is starting to find his perimeter stroke. If this team ever figures out how to defend, watch out.
- Minnesota: I think it may be time to officially designate the Gophers as ‘for real’. I had my doubts heading into Big Ten play, as some of their big non-conference wins have gotten less and less impressive as the season has gone on. But with Trevor Mbakwe starting to look like pre-ACL Trevor Mbakwe and with the two Hollinses starting to play like all-Big Ten candidates, Tubby Smith has a team that will make quite a bit of noise in the Big Ten. Ask Michigan State, who watched the Gophers use a 22-4 Fatality (Finish him!) in their Big Ten opener.
- Marquette: For all the question marks that we had about the Golden Eagles after a less-than-stellar non-conference season, Buzz Williams’ crew has jumped out to 2-0 in the Big East with a pair of nail-biting wins over UConn and Georgetown. Marquette got a game-tying, buzzer-beating three from Junior Cadougan to force over time — where they benefited from an official brain-fart — against the Huskies, and survived when Greg Whittington missed a free throw with 2.3 seconds left against the Hoyas.
- Creighton: Not a bad start to league play for the Bluejays, as they knocked off Illinois State on the road on Wednesday and followed that up by beating Indiana State at home on Saturday. It looks like the MVC is going to once against be Creighton, Wichita State, and everybody else.
- Weber State: Damian Lillard may be gone, but that doesn’t mean that Weber State is finished as a program. Thanks to a 2-0 week, the Wildcats are 11-3 on the season and 4-0 in Big Sky play.
- Arizona State: It’s time to start paying attention to the Sun Devils. DePaul loss aside, this team is 13-2 on the season after defending their home court in the Pac-12’s first weekend with wins over Utah and Colorado.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.
The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.
Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.
The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.
Rules to participate are pretty simple:
- Drive around in your vehicle.
- Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
- Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
- Run back to your car and drive away.
Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:
Pretty simple, right?
The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.
Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.
And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.
While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.
I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.
Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.
The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.
Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.
On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.
Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.
Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.
Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.
The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.
Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.
A 3-point threat became a late addition to the transfer market earlier this week.
Appalachian State rising sophomore Patrick Good informed head coach Jim Fox on his intentions to leave the program. He was granted his release on Wednesday, according to Bret Strelow of the Winston-Salem Journal.
“I was pretty shocked when he came in to tell me he was leaving,” Fox told the Winston Salem-Journal. “He was a guy who had a very good freshman season, and we’re surprised to see him go.”
“I enjoyed being around the team and the experience that I got from the first year,” Good added. “I don’t think I would change that for anything. I just felt like moving forward, there is just so much more that I was capable of.”
Good appeared in 29 of 30 games, all of the bench, for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His biggest asset to his newest team will be in his ability to shoot from deep, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts during the 2016-17 season.
If Good plans to remain in at the Division I level, avoiding a year spent at a junior college, he will need to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.