Jim Boeheim

10 tidbits to know: Cuse FT struggles, Bama’s youth movement

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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. As impressive as the Syracuse Orange are, free throw shooting is a major flaw with Jim Boeheim’s team.  At 64% they are one of the worst from the charity stripe in the Big East.  But that was not the case last night as they shot 17-18 from the line in the 72-66 win over Providence.  But I’m concerned that this weakness could bite them one game in March.  Remember their one loss this year vs Temple?  15 missed free throws.

2. How about the bounce back of Duke’s Quinn Cook this week.  A career high 27 points in the Blue Devils win over Clemson.  Cook went 0-11 from the field in the prior game against Wake Forest.

3. At only 8-6 right now it’s easy to not take notice of the Alabama Crimson Tide — but this team is going to scare some people by February.  They keep improving and Anthony Grant is in the middle of a serious youth movement.  Don’t schedule them next year.  Bama currently starts one junior, three sophomores and one freshman.

4. It was a tough 58-56 loss at Madison Square Garden for St. John’s last night by the hands of Rutgers.  But no time for the Red Storm to feel sorry for themselves.  They battle in less than 48 hours Saturday morning vs Georgetown at the Garden.  The Hoyas and St. John’s tip-off at 11:00 am.

5. If you Google efficient point guard, Pierre Jackson from Baylor should pop up — 19.8 ppg – 6.3 assists – 3.6 rebs – 44% from the field – 36% from 3 – 80% from FT Line.

6. Speaking of point guard play, Seton Hall is a team that has taken a lot of knocks this season for turning over the basketball so often. But Kevin Willard’s young guards can build off last night’s Louisville loss.  The Cardinals force turnovers better than any club in the nation.  Credit Pirates Tommy Maayan and Aaron Cosby for combining for only six turnovers in 54 combined minutes of play.

7. Did you realize that Steve Alford is only 47 years old and has 369 Division 1 wins already?  78 at Southwest Missouri, 152 at Iowa and 139 wins and counting at New Mexico.

8. Despite the disappointing 11 point home loss to Boston College, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green still leads the nation in scoring at 24.6 points per game.

9. Georgetown was not only ice cold offensively in their 73-45 home loss to Pitt, but they could not manufacture points either.  Two great ways to manufacture points are pounding the glass and causing turnovers.  The Hoyas only had 7 offensive rebounds and only 2 steals in the worst home loss of the John Thompson III era.

10. Here’s a great office pool for the rest of the season –  Who will lead the nation in blocked shots when it’s all over?  Jeff Withey from Kansas or Chris Obekpa from St. John’s?  They are both currently averaging 5.07 blocks per game.

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

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.