Jerrelle Benimon, Nate Lubick

Towson, Jerrelle Benimon off to hot start in CAA play

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If you are a Georgetown fan, please, stop reading this now.

Just turn off your laptop and put away your iPhone. Trust me on this. Because after watching your Hoyas struggle to score 50 points for what seems like the 10th consecutive game in a 73-45 loss at home to Pitt, you probably don’t want to know that a former Hoya is well on his way to winning the CAA Player of the Year award.

That would be Jerrelle Benimon.

After going for 26 points, 12 boards, seven blocks, three assists and three steals in a double-overtime win over William & Mary last night, Benimon is now averaging 17.1 points, 11.7 boards and 2.3 blocks. He’s got 10 double-doubles on the season now.

But more importantly, he’s put Towson back on the map. The Tigers won just a single game last year. Seriously. One win. They were the worst team in Division I basketball. And while their rise this year has to do with Pat Skerry’s crop of transfers and incoming freshmen, it’s still as big of an improvement as you will find this season. The Tigers are now 3-0 in the CAA and sitting in first place in the conference. They’ve won four straight games, the first time that has happened for the program since 2000. They went into Corvallis and knocked off Oregon State.

Much of that improvement can be placed on the shoulders of Benimon.

You have to wonder.

How much would Benimon’s scoring ability have helped the Big East’s ugliest offensive this season?

You know what? For the sake of the good folks on the Hilltop, don’t answer that.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.