Billy Donovan head

Late Night Snacks: Kansas falls, Indiana triumphs, Florida continues to roll

1 Comment

Game of the Day: No. 3 Indiana 81, No. 1 Michigan 73

We came into the weekend knowing that this was the marquee matchup on the Saturday slate and it didn’t disappoint. It was a game of runs in the first half, but Indiana never seemed out of control at any one point. Victor Oladipo continued to show how important he is to the championship hopes of this Indiana team, scoring 15 points and affecting the game on the defensive end of the floor.

Point guard Trey Burke did everything he could for the Wolverines with 25 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, but there wasn’t enough offensive firepower in the end to topple Indiana and retain the No.1 overall spot. Glenn Robinson III was disrupted on the offensive end and never seemed comfortable. Tim Hardaway, Jr., picked up his third foul early in the second half and that got him out of his rhythm for a stretch.

Indiana now takes sole possession of the Big Ten, but that conference race is far from over.

Important Outcomes 

1. Oklahoma State 85, No. 2 Kansas 80

It’s not every day you see a team come into Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence and walk out with a win. The key to Oklahoma State’s ability to do so Saturday was the play of its backcourt, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. It is a signature win for Oklahoma State, which now finds itself right in the thick of the race in the Big 12. Kansas is still the overwhelming favorite, but coach Travis Ford’s team is building its postseason resume.

2. No. 4 Florida 78, No. 16 Ole Miss 64

The Gators continue to steamroll through the SEC schedule. In what is a down year for the conference, Florida has just Kentucky left to beat to prove that it undisputedly reigns supreme in the conference. The Gators continue to feed off their defense, holding Ole Miss to 38 percent shooting from the floor.

3. No. 14 Miami 78, No. 19 NC State 77

After trouncing then-No. 1 Duke, Miami continues to pick up steam in the ACC and is looking more and more like the team to beat. They needed a tip-in in the final seconds from Reggie Johnson to get a road win Saturday at NC State, but coach Jim Larranaga has the Hurricanes in business in the final month of the season.

Starred

1. Oklahoma State backcourt (Markel Brown 28 points | Marcus Smart 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals)

This one-two punch was the biggest reason that the Cowboys were able to get a big conference win on the road at Allen Fieldhouse over No. 2 Kansas on Saturday. Smart had nine points in the final 2:19 of regulation to help Oklahoma State score the upset.

2. Jack Cooley (26 points, 16 rebounds)

Cooley’s huge double-double helped Notre Dame avoid an upset loss on the road to DePaul. He was efficient, going 9-of-15 from the floor, and didn’t turn the ball over in the overtime victory.

3. Cody Zeller (19 points, 10 rebounds)

Rob Dauster calls him “the nation’s best role player“. Regardless of what his role was Saturday, he was a key to Indiana’s ability to outlast Michigan and get a key conference win. The Hoosiers are now in position to possibly regain the No. 1 overall spot that they held earlier in the season.

Also of Note: Trey Burke, Michigan (25 points, 8 assists) | R.J. Hunter, Georgia State (38 points, 12-of-18 FG, 10-of-15 3pt FG) | Mike Muscala, Bucknell (11 points, 19 rebounds) | Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (17 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (2 points, 1-of-6 FG)

Robinson III looked more like a true freshman than he has at perhaps any other point this season. He was never able to find his stride on the offensive end and had just one dunk in transition on the night. Without his production, Trey Burke was forced to shoulder more of the load offensively, along with Tim Hardaway, Jr.

2. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (2 points, 0-of-10 FG)

St. John’s came into the game hot, but Harrison was cold. Georgetown was able to disrupt him on the offensive end and take the biggest asset out of the game for the Red Storm.

3. Chase Tapley, San Diego State (2 points, 1-of-7 FG)

Tapley was shaken up early in San Diego State’s loss Air Force Saturday, which perhaps contributed to his poor shooting afternoon and his low production in 35 minutes on the floor. Without him, Jamaal Franklin and James Rahon combined for 30 shots in the loss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

White decides to return to Nebraska

AP Photo
Leave a comment

Nebraska’s second-leading scorer from last season will return for his senior season as Andrew White III announced Wednesday he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft.

“I felt good about the pre-draft process, White said in a statement released by Nebraska. “It was encouraging, and I gained as much ground as anyone throughout the process. I wanted one more year to fine tune my game and put myself in better position for the NBA next summer.  

“I want to thank the teams who invited me their in-house workouts, and Nebraska for supporting me during this process.  It has been very helpful in gathering information in preparation for my future Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress throughout the spring and being understanding and supportive, as I evaluated whether to turn pro or return for my senior year.”

White, a Kansas transfer, tallied 16.6 points per game last season while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range. He also pulled down 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We are excited to have Andrew remain with our program,” coach Tim Miles said. “This has been a valuable time for him, as he has tested his skills against some of the best competition and received very important insight from key NBA personnel.  

“We look forward to continuing to help Andrew’s development to improve his NBA profile even more than he already has done through this process.  I believe next year could be our most complete team with a great opportunity for success in the Big Ten and NCAA tournament, I’m happy Andrew will be with us to go out and prove it.”

The news is certainly welcome for the Cornhuskers and Miles, who will be under pressure to show improvement after back-to-back disappointing seasons following an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014. Shavon Shields, last year’s leading scorer, has exhausted his eligibility and the Huskers will need White to help fill the void.

Trimble coming back to Terps

Maryland guard Melo Trimble (AP Photo/Matt Hazlett)
Leave a comment

Melo Trimble is returning to Maryland.

The Terrapin guard will be back to for his junior season in College Park, according to multiple reports.

Trimble went from freshman first-rounder to question mark after a rough end to his sophomore season for Maryland in which his points per game, shooting percentage (both overall and from 3-point range) and rebounding dipped from his first season. Only his assists per game showed any sort of improvement. He waited until the last possible day to announce his intentions to return to school, but really his options were limited after seeing his production drop.

His decision to come back to school gives him a shot to restore his draft stock while Maryland gets its floor general back to help ease the transition from last year’s Sweet 16 squad that lost Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon and Jake Layman. The Terps might not be a sure-fire top-25 team with Trimble back, but their NCAA tournament chances are now significantly higher.

Nevada lands Martin twins

Caleb Martin, Jordan Roper
Leave a comment

Eric Musselman keeps adding reinforcements to his roster. For the 2017-18 season.

Musselman and Nevada received commitments from N.C. State transfers and twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin, according to multiple reports.

That brings Nevada’s sit-out transfer count for this upcoming season to four with Hallice Cooke (Iowa State) and Kendall Stephens (Purdue) already in the fold. Under NCAA transfer rules, the quartet will have to sit out the upcoming season before being eligible in 2017-18.

Caleb averaged 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 36 percent from deep while Cody put up 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The timing of having four sit-out transfers works well for the Wolf Pack given that two of the team’s three leading scorers from last year, D.J. Fenner (a senior) and Cameron Oliver (a sophomore), return while senior transfers Marcus Marshall (Missouri State) becomes eligible. Having those four experienced transfers begin playing in 2017-18 while all but two players from this upcoming team slated to return makes Nevada an interesting team, a year from now.

Louisville big man heading to NBA Draft

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a day of mixed messages, Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku finally made it official.

He’s staying in the NBA Draft.

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process,” Onuaku wrote in an Instagram post, “me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft.”

The day started out with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino telling multiple media outlets that the 6-foot-10 sophomore would remain in the draft after he declared last month without an agent and attended the draft combine. Onuaku, though, appeared to at least mildly refute that with an Instagram post that said his decision wouldn’t come until later Wednesday evening. Which it did, confirming Pitino’s words.

The confusion may have been frustrating for observers, but Onuaku’s social media presence no doubt has benefited from the bizarre day.

Onuaku averaged 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.6 assists in 24.6 minutes per game last season, making his per-40 numbers, a metric NBA teams like to take into consideration, nothing short of fantastic. He also shot a not-so-shabby 62.0 percent from the floor. His size, athleticism and ability to score around the basket (he’s taken one 3-pointer in two seasons) make him a potential first-round selection in next month’s draft.

The 19-year-old Onuaku underwent a procedure on his heart last week due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It has been described as a minor procedure that will not affect his ability to play long-term or work out with teams leading up to the draft.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, should be able to absorb Onuaku’s loss seemlessly as they return the bulk of last year’s team that went 23-8 and was ranked 10th in KenPom, but was banned from the postseason as a result of the Katina Powell bombshell. Newcomers Tony Hicks (Penn transfer) and V.J. King (consensus top-30 recruit) will also make for solid additions.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Leave a comment

Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.