Dr. Santa J. Ono

The Morning Mix


College hoops took a back seat last night.

Alabama destroyed Notre Dame en route to their third BCS National Championship in four years, The hapless Washington Wizards beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on a Bradley Beal game-winner and Carmelo Anthony waited outside the Celtics’s team bus in order to start a ruckus with Kevin Garnett.

Before we hit the links I wanted to make you all aware that the CBT Podcast is now available for iTunes subscription and download.

Speaking of the CBT Podcast, it will be back tomorrow afternoon. We are looking for some excellent podcast/mailbag questions, so drop us a line at @CBTonNBC.

But we do have some college hoops-related things to sort out, so lets hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Clemson @ No. 1 Duke
7:00 p.m. – Alabama @ No. 7 Missouri
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ Texas Tech
8:05 p.m. – Drake @ No. 13 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Pittsburgh @ No. 19 Georgetown
9:00 p.m. – No. 15 Ohio State @ Purdue
Read of the Day:
The foot injury suffered by Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum has raised this issue of the value of returning to school. McCollum’s draft stock was at an all-time high following the Mountain Hawks’ NCAA tournament upset victory over Duke. He could have left school and nobody would have blamed him. David Steele puts it best. Read it. (The Sporting News)

Read of the Day:
I don’t really know how to sum this story up, but trust me, it’s great. It has to do with Georgia State coach Ron Hunter, who is one of the most genuine people in college hoops. Read it. (Defiantly Dutch)
Top Stories:
Trey Burke: National Player of the Year? More likely than you think: Mason Plumlee and Doug McDermott may get all the PoY hype, but Michigan’s Burke is deserving of some love as well. in fact, if you look at the numbers, Burke should be the favorite if the season ended today.

One-on-one with Marcus Paige: how little things hurt the Heels: Our very own Eric Angevine put together a great Q&A session with North Carolina freshman guard Marcus Paige following the Tar Heels tough road loss at Virginia.

Maurice Creek could return soon for Indiana, what could he bring? Prior to Indiana’s road win at Penn State yesterday, the Hoosiers found out that redshirt junior Maurice Creek could return from a right foot injury in just one week. Creek has battled injuries his entire career, and has been on the shelf ever since the 19th of December.

Mountain West Conference catch-up: It’s entirely possible that the MWC is the best conference out west. It’s also entirely possible that the MWC gets four NCAA tournament bids thanks to the hot starts from New Mexico and Wyoming. The battle at the top between San Diego State and UNLV.

Southeastern Conference Catch-up: Outside of Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, the rest of the SEC doesn’t look too hot. Tennessee doesn’t have any firepower, Arkansas is still way too young, Alabama too banged up and Vanderbilt, the reigning SEC Tournament Champions, is just 6-6.

VIDEO: Grinnell gets POSTERIZED!!!: Grinnell College, the home of viral scoring legend Jack Taylor, is back in the news. Unfortunately, it not because somebody scored 138 points. Nope, the Fox Squirrels are back in the news because they were on the wrong end of a nasty posterization. Don’t try to
Hoops Housekeeping
– Because of the Saturday primetime playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco Giants, UW-Milwaukee has moved up the start time of their game against Illinois-Chicago from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. That’s smart work up in Green Bay. (UICflames.com)

– Marshall guard kelvin Amayo is leaving the program. Apparently the freshman was under the impression that he would be receiving a scholarship although he’s not currently receiving one. (SNY.tv)

– Akron’s Chauncey Gilliam will miss the next two weeks due to a meniscus tear (Hustle Belt)

– Florida forward Eric Murphy fractured a rib during practice last week and may be unable to play in the Gators’ SEC opener against Georgia on Wednesday (USA Today)
Observations & Insight:
– John Gasaway thinks Minnesota, Gonzaga and are darkhorse candidates to win the national championship. (ESPN Insider)

– Remember how good Anthony Davis was at blocking shots? Well according to the numbers, Jeff Withey is doing a better job than Davis through 13 games. (ESPN)

– Tom Izzo would be shocked if this season’s Big-Ten Champion emerges with only “one or two losses”. (Mlive.com)

– Danny Spewak of Rush The Court does a great job getting to the bottom of why Oklahoma senior Sam Grooms isn’t getting more playing time. (Rush The Court)

– It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for Gary Parrish’s “Poll Attacks”. (Eye on College Basketball)

– I really did enjoy this piece on assists and the types of shots that are most frequently assisted. (Run The Floor)

– Some how some way, Sacramento State managed to missed 26 free throws and still defeat Southern Utah. (Big Sky BBall)
Photo of the Day:
This is a photo of Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono, who got his head shaved after the Bearcats’ home loss to Notre Dame last night. Ono promised to shave his head if the Bearcats won 10 in a row, and they completed this task by defeating Marshall on December 15th. (Fox-19 Cincinnati)

source: AP

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Conference USA Preview: Look out for UAB this year

Georges Niang, William Lee
UAB's William Lee (AP Photo)
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Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Conference USA.

This version of Conference USA is not as strong as the Conference USA of old, the one that featured the likes of Marquette, Memphis, Cincinnati and Louisville, but while much of the league falls under the ‘mid-major’ label these days, there’s still enough talent at the top of the conference to throw a scare into some of the big boys.

Take, for example, UAB. The Blazers last season finished just a game above .500, but after a dreadful start to non-conference play, Jerod Haase’s group turned it on in the league. They went 12-6 in CUSA, won the league’s tournament title and knocked off Iowa State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Oh, and they return everyone from last year’s group, including leading scorer Robert Brown and William Lee, who will be one of this season’s break out stars.

A major reason for UAB’s late-season surge was Lee, who did not truly get healthy until late-January. A 6-foot-9 combo-forward, Lee can block shots, score around the rim and make plays on the perimeter. He’s got a chance to be a star this season, and he makes UAB a really dangerous mid-major.

But he may not even be the best player in the conference, as Old Dominion returns reigning CUSA Player of the Year Trey Freeman. Freeman was a major reason that the Monarchs were able to beat LSU, VCU, Richmond and Georgia State last year in addition to reaching the semifinals of the NIT. The Monarchs also return Aaron Bacote, and while they lose their starting front line, there will be some promising big bodies available. East Carolina transfer Brandon Stith could post double-double numbers while Denzell Taylor was sixth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage last season.

The consensus from those around the league is that UAB and ODU, in some order, will be the team to beat this season. But there are a number of teams that will have a shot at finishing in that No. 3 spot.

Middle Tennessee State returns the majority of their roster from a season ago. The team’s leading returning scorer is power forward Reggie Upshaw, but the name to watch out for is Perrin Buford. Buford, a JuCo transfer, scored in double-figures in 10 of his last 12 games and averaged 14.1 points over his final eight.

UTEP returns just one healthy player from their top six from last season — Earvin Morris — but it’s who they add that keeps Tim Floyd’s club in the mix for the top five. Oregon transfer Dominic Artis will likely take over point guard while top 100 freshman Brodericks Jones and JuCo addition Lee Moore will be counted on for big years.

If Aaron Cosby can return to being the player he was as a sophomore at Seton Hall, Western Kentucky should have a chance to finish in the top six. But that was three years and two teams ago. Louisiana Tech not only lost ‘Speedy’ Smith and Raheem Appleby, but head coach Mike White left for Florida as well. New head coach Eric Konkol will be relying heavily on Alex Hamilton this year.

The two x-factors will be Marshall and Rice. The Owls returns a veteran back court and adds a key transfer in Egor Koulechov as they will look to build on the momentum from a strong close to the season. Head coach Mike Rhoades is a Shaka Smart disciple.

The same can be said for the Thundering Herd, who started the year 2-15 against Division I opponents but, in league play, won seven out of ten at one point. Dan D’antoni, Mike’s brother, plays an uptempo, gun-slinging style, adds a number of shooters and brings back Ryan Taylor.

MORE: 2015-16 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule


  • Favorite: “Most will say UAB because they’re coming off of that tournament win, but I like Old Dominion, too. They have best guard group in the conference. Defensively, they’re really hard to score on and physically tough. Trey Freeman is the best point guard and leader in the league. It will come down to whether [Brandon Stith] can replace what they lost up front.”
  • Sleeper: “Rice. I think they have a chance to finish in the top couple spots. Marcus Jackson and Max Guercy are a veteran back court, and with the addition of Egor Koulechov from Arizona State, if he’s really good they’ve got a chance to be really good. Mike Rhoades has done a really good job, and last year they got better as the year went on. If they continue that momentum, look out.”
  • Star to watch: “UAB’s William Lee. He’s the best NBA prospect. The last month of the year, he was as good as anyone in the league. He’s a 6-foot-9 combo-forward that’s athletic and has three-point range. Given his versatility and his talent level, he could have a breakout year.”


Freeman was the best player in the conference last season, and after a full offseason of improvement, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be anything other than the same this year. Freeman is a scoring point guard that can breakdown a defense, but he’s also capable of making plays for his teammates. He’s the reason ODU has a real shot at unseating UAB at the top of the league.


  • William Lee, UAB: Lee, a 6-foot-9 combo-forward, averaged 11.9 points, 8.1 boards and 2.3 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from three over the last 12 games. He wasn’t healthy until February, either.
  • Robert Brown, UAB: Brown was UAB’s star in March, averaging 18.2 points in five postseason games. The fifth-year senior is the engine that makes their offense run.
  • Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: The lone returnee from last season’s dynamic back court, Hamilton should see an uptick in his total numbers this year.
  • Ryan Taylor, Marshall: Taylor averaged 14.1 points, 8.6 boards and 2.8 assists for the Thundering Herd last season playing the Draymond Green role in their uptempo offense.



1. UAB
2. Old Dominion
3. Middle Tennessee State
5. Western Kentucky
6. Louisiana Tech
7. Rice
8. Marshall
9. Florida Atlantic
10. Florida International
11. Charlotte
12. North Texas
13. UTSA
14. Southern Miss

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.