Rotnei Clarke, Ronald Roberts, Jr.

Rotnei Clarke to miss next two games


So much for Rotnei Clarke being taken to “another county” to miss Saturday’s game.

Butler announced Monday night that the Bulldogs’ leading scorer will miss the next two games with a sprained neck. He was taken off on a stretcher after crashing head-first in the basket support in a victory over Dayton on Saturday.

This comes on the heels of an earlier story that Conley Clarke, Rotnei’s father, said in order for Rotnei not to play Saturday against no. 9 Gonzaga “they going to have to take him to another county.”

This means Clarke, a fifth-year senior who is averaging 16.3 points per game, will miss Wednesday’s game against Richmond, the team’s Atlantic 10 Conference home opener, and Saturday’s game with the Zags, also at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

“Rotnei saw a spine specialist today and based on that visit and his previous examinations, we felt it was in his best interest to hold him out this week,” said Butler Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Galloy said in the release.  “He is making progress and we will continue to evaluate him.”

The release also states that Clarke “has not been cleared for full physical contact in practice and continues to be evaluated by Butler’s medical team.”

Well, credit to Butler for making this easier on the media-types. We love transparent and we love quick.

As far as the match-up, this is a huge blow in a game that could be a potential tournament resume sealer. A win against the Zags, paired with even a decent A-10 record, would make them a pretty solid bet to get an at-large bid to the Dance.

This means that Gonzaga doesn’t have to worry as much about the three, but it also is one less guard for Kevin Pangos to beat one-on-one. I said in an earlier post I wasn’t sure that Clarke could guard him, anyway. But the threat of Clarke was always somewhat of an x-factor. Now it’s going to be up to guys like Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham to pick up the slack.

It’ll also be worth watching to see if Butler gets Chase Stigall back into the mix. He’s been basically non-existent for about a month. Maybe this forces him into extended action.

David Harten is the editor and founder of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

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.