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

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
Leave a comment

Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
1 Comment

With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.