Pat Skerry

10 tidbits to know: Great coaching in the state of Maryland

Leave a comment

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. Mark Turgeon has done an excellent job with this Maryland team. 14-3 overall, 2-2 start in ACC play and now a Top 25 win under his belt this year.  The Terrapins beat the Wolfpack with Alex Len as the leading scorer with 10 points.  Nine guys were in the scoring column last night for Turgeon.

2. Speaking of the state of Maryland: Can we talk about the job Pat Skerry is doing at Towson?  Skerry inherited a train wreck when he arrived.  Last season the Tigers had one victory.  Last night Towson beat Delaware, moved to 4-1 in CAA play and are 9-9 overall.

3. The bounce back win of the week has to be St. John’s.  Over the weekend the Red Storm were sleep walking through a blowout home loss to Georgetown.  Less than 3 days later, Steve Lavin’s team beats #20 Notre Dame at home.  After Louisville and Syracuse, the rest of the league’s match-ups are difficult to predict to say the least.

4. 6’2 senior guard Greg Gantt from Florida Atlantic is now 4th in the nation in scoring at 22.4 ppg.  Gantt became the Owls all-time leading scorer in their Dec. 27th win at Troy.

5. The only guard this year to dish out more total assists than Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse is D.J. Cooper from Ohio University.

6. David Imes had 5 three pointers for Hofstra as the Pride narrowly missed starting 3-1 in conference play.  Despite a well documented season of suspensions and injuries, Mo Cassara’s club is 2-2 in CAA play.  The Pride take on George Mason this weekend.

7. He ranks 6th nationally in terms of percentage, but 1st in my book for efficiency.  Jordan Hulls from Indiana has taken more 3 pointers than anyone else in the Top 10 for 3 pt shooting percentage by far. Hulls is 42-81 from downtown – good for 51.9% on the year.

8. Speaking of shooters, Sean Armand from Iona is simply one of the best shooters in the country.  When his career is all said and done, he will be one of the best shooters the MAAC has ever seen.  He is just the 2nd player in Iona history to make more than 200 career three pointers and he’s still a junior.  Armand has 17 three pointers in Iona’s last 4 games.

9. Memphis is 13-3 overall and is off to a strong 3-0 start in Conference USA play.  But do you know who’s coming into town this weekend to play at FedEx Forum?  Tommy Amaker’s Harvard team — the Crimson will play anyone, anytime, at any place.

10. This is an NBA nugget but I’ll leave you with a quote that every hoops junkie and coach will love.  It comes from Alan Stein, who is a professional strength & conditioning coach:

“The people at the Thunder repeatedly tell me that to this day, Kevin Durant still practices like a rookie on a 10-day contract.” – @AlanStein

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
3 Comments

Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
Leave a comment

Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

Leave a comment

Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Leave a comment

Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.