Cody Zeller, Jared Swopshire

Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Indiana and No. 14 NC State avoid upsets

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Game of the Day: No. 14 NC State 66, Clemson 62 

Three days after losing by a point at Maryland the Wolfpack bounced back with a close home victory over the Tigers. T.J. Warren led NC State with 21 points off the bench and three starters scored 11 points apiece for the Wolfpack, who remain a game behind Miami in the loss column. Clemson’s Devin Booker led all scorers with a career-high 27 points on 13-of-18 shooting.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 2 Indiana 67, Northwestern 59 

Cody Zeller scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Jordan Hulls added 15 as the Hoosiers held off the Wildcats in Evanston. Northwestern’s Reggie Hearn led all scorers with 22 points but the Wildcats’ 30.4% shooting from the field in the first half proved to be too much to overcome. Northwestern’s reserves outscored Indiana’s 11-6, and with their recent production in mind should Indiana be concerned about the play of its bench? Click that link for more.

2. Rider 67, Iona 62 

Kevin Baggett’s Broncs are playing their best basketball of the season currently, as they pushed their win streak to five games with a five-point win over Iona. Leading scorer Nurideen Lindsey (concussion) was forced to sit out but Tommy Pereira came to the rescue, knocking down four three-pointers and scoring a team-high 14 points to go along with five rebounds. Lamont Jones (5-of-16 FG) led four Gaels in double figures with 20 points but Iona shot 5-of-24 from three, and that percentage proved costly. Rider’s win keeps them within a game of first-place Niagara in the MAAC standings.

3. Navy 59, Army 50 

Ed DeChellis’ Midshipmen went on a 28-8 run in the first half and hung on from there, snapping a 16-game Patriot League losing streak in the first of two meetings between the long-time rivals. Worth Smith scored 16 points and Kevin “Pookie” Alter added 14 off the bench for Navy, while Ella Ellis led three Black Knights in double figures with 15. Before Sunday Navy hadn’t won a conference game since beating Colgate 75-55 on February 26, 2011.

Starred

1. F/C Cody Zeller (Indiana)

21 points (6-of-11 FG), 13 rebounds and two steals in the Hoosiers’ 67-59 win at Northwestern.

2. F Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State) 

18 points (7-of-12 FG), 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in the Redbirds’ 70-56 win at Southern Illinois. The victory is Illinois State’s first conference win of the season (1-6 Missouri Valley).

3. Northern Iowa 

The Panthers have struggled offensively at times but that certainly wasn’t the case in their 85-55 win over Drake. As a team UNI shot 60% from the field and Deon Mitchell led four starters in double figures with 20 points.

Struggled 

1. Iona 

The Gaels struggled from the field and from three in their 67-62 loss at Rider on Sunday, shooting 33.9% (19-of-56) from the field and 5-of-24 from beyond the arc.

2. F Kayel Locke (UNC Greensboro) 

Locke had a rough afternoon in the Spartans’ 69-61 loss to Furman, shooting 1-of-10 from the field and fouling out in just 21 minutes of action.

3. Drake starters not named Jordan Clarke

Remove Clarke’s 5-of-7 afternoon and the other four starters shot a combined 4-of-20 from the field. Tough to win on the road (85-55 loss at Northern Iowa) when your starters struggle like that.

Super Bowl XLVII and college basketball 

The Super Bowl will have a connection to college basketball, as Indiana head coach Tom Crean is the brother (by marriage) of head coaches Jim (49ers) and John (Ravens) Harbaugh. With the Hoosiers hosting Michigan the night before Super Bowl XLVII will he be there? Yes.

Also, NC State head coach Mark Gottfried is a cousin of the two head coaches and their sister.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.

Washington State coach begins game on opponent’s bench

Ernie Kent
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In September, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Gala in Spokane, Washington, there was a live auction, which included the chance to be Idaho’s honorary coach for a regular season during the 2016-17 season.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent’s $2,000 bid more than tripled the next highest bid, according to the Spokesman Review.

On Wednesday night, during Washington State’s game against the Vandals, Kent sat next to his counterpart on the Idaho bench.

Kent returned to his side of the court following the game’s first possession.

Behind 16 points from Ike Iiroegbu, the Cougars defeated the Vandals, 61-48.

 

Given Washington’s struggles, just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

Lorenzo Romar
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
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We tried to warn you what was coming on Wednesday night.

We tried to tell you just how bad things were for Washington right now, that, according to a coach that had faced the Huskies this season, “they were so ******* bad defensively” that “they looked like they hadn’t been coached.”

That’s not a good look for anyone, let alone a head coach that has missed the NCAA tournament the last five seasons despite having five first round picks come through his program during that time.

Which is why you shouldn’t have been surprised that the Huskies were gutted by No. 8 Gonzaga, losing 98-71 in a game that was never competitive at any point. And, given that Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is on the Washington roster, it’s the nightmare scenario.

So.

We need to start talking about the elephant in the room, because there’s a lot to unpack here:

Just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

RELATED: What has gone wrong with Washington this season?

The simple answer? Scalding. Romar is one of just three Power 5 head coaches that have missed the NCAA tournament for five straight seasons without having to find new employment. You don’t get six tournament-less years and survive, not at this level.

But there’s more to the conversation that simply relaying the number of first round picks he’s failed to get to the Big Dance.

Four of those five first round picks played in two different seasons, meaning that in the other three seasons, Washington was led by C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in 2014, and Nigel Williams-Goss. In 2011-12, Washington had Terrence Ross, then a sophomore, and freshman Tony Wroten on the roster. They started slowly out of the gate, going 7-6 in non-conference play, before winning the Pac-12 regular season title outright. They missed out on the NCAA tournament in large part due to the fact that the conference as a whole went 1-29 against the RPI top 50; only two Pac-12 teams earned bids that season. Ross and Wroten both left after the season.

The other year that Washington had two first round picks was in 2015-16, which both Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray shocked everyone by becoming one-and-done talents. Both were drafted almost entirely on potential; Chriss was clueless defensively, fouling out of 15 of the 34 games he played, while Murray’s jumper left him a long way away from impacting an NBA game. The conversation about this Washington team would be totally different right now if Fultz had those two on the floor with him.

Part of the reason those two were able to leave early was because of Romar’s coaching style – he lets his most talented players play regardless of whether or not they’re making mistakes – and in part because the 2016 draft was bad.

Romar is, in part, a victim of circumstance, even if he dug himself into this whole in the first place.

RELATED: For Michael Porter Jr., Washington was all about family first

Washington is still paying Romar a relatively small amount. After the 2010 season, when he led the Huskies to his third Sweet 16, Romar got a 10-year contract extension worth $1.7 million annually. It runs three more years after this season and comes with a $3.2 million buyout, which isn’t massive but is expensive for an athletic department that projected to operate at a $15 million deficit in 2016. Then you have to consider what it would cost to hire an upgrade on Romar.

For comparison’s sake, Tubby Smith made $1.8 million in 2015-16 at Texas Tech and got a raise to more than $3 million-a-year for the next five years at Memphis despite the fact that he wasn’t the guy the school initially targeted. But Brad Underwood will make $1.2 million a year for five years at Oklahoma State, which makes him the lowest-paid coach in the conference.

If new Washington AD Jennifer Cohen wants to hire a new coach, she’d certainly be able to afford a replacement that we be, at the least, a respectable name, but there’s no guarantee that a replacement is going to have any kind of success there. Romar is far and away the most successful coach Washington has ever had. He’s been to six NCAA tournament and three Sweet 16s in his 15 seasons. The Huskies reached the Final Four in 1953, and in the nearly 50 years between that day and the day that Romar was hired, Washington reached just six NCAA tournaments and two Sweet 16s.

Romar is not having the same level of success that he had when guys like Brandon Roy and Isaiah Thomas were on his roster, but Washington is still somewhat relevant due to the pros that are coming through Seattle. There’s no guarantee that any replacement will make Washington more likely to get to the NCAA tournament, but at least Husky fans get Markelle Fultz this season and Michael Porter Jr., a top five prospect and the son of current U-Dub assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., next season.

That’s certainly more enjoyable than rooting for, say, Washington State.

And it’s certainly a factor that Cohen has to consider. Porter clearly picked Washington because Romar, his godfather, is part of the family.

“As we continue to look where we’re going and where we think we can go and what our plan is, then I’ll have more information about it,” Cohen said at her introductory press conference. “But absolutely, I’m 100 percent behind him right now.”

And if Washington can’t get back to the Big Dance?

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” she said. “So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

CBT Podcast: ESPN’s Dana O’Neil discusses her book about Villanova

Villanova head coach Jay Wright celebrates as he cuts down the net after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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On today’s podcast, I was joined by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, one of my personal favorite writers who has penned a book chronicling how Jay Wright was able to build the Villanova program into a national title winner.

Dana spent seven years as a beat-writer for the Wildcats before making the move to ESPN, and she has some great stories about how the book came together and, frankly, how that Villanova team came together.

It’s a little “Inside Baseball”, but it was a fun conversation about a book that you know is going to be really good.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: World War II Veteran play anthem on harmonica before Pearl Harbor Invitational

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Peter DuPre’, a veteran of World War II, opened last night’s Pearl Harbor Invitational between Seton Hall and California with a moving rendition of the National Anthem, which he played on his harmonica.