Kenny Boynton

Five Thoughts: Florida nation’s best team, UVA and ‘Nova’s weird profiles

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Florida may not be the new No. 1, but they’re the best team in the country: The Gators probably aren’t going to be. Indiana was ranked one spot higher than Florida and they are coming off of a week where they knocked off No. 1 Michigan and beat a conference rival on the road by 37 points. That, combined with the fact that the Hoosiers were the preseason No. 1 team in the country and now have sole possession of first place in the toughest conference in the country, is an easy way to get yourself a No. 1 ranking.

But that doesn’t mean the ranking will be correct.

Because as of today, Florida is the best team in the country.

Think about it like this: Louisville’s defense is allowing 0.822 PPP (adjusted) right now, which is equivalent to the most efficiency defense that we’ve seen in the Kenpom era* — Kansas in 2007. Florida’s defensive efficiency is 0.803 PPP (adjusted) right now, a number that drops to 0.779 PPP through eight SEC games. In simpler terms, if the season ended today, Florida would be the best defensive team of the past decade, and they do it playing man, zone and pressing, depending on who they’re playing.

But Florida also happens to be the nation’s second-most powerful offense, sliding in between Michigan and Indiana.

In other words, Florida is what happens when you take Louisville’s defense and Michigan’s offense and put them onto the same team.

(*The Kenpom era dates back to 2003.)

Someone explain Virginia to me, please: The Cavaliers are going to be the toughest bubble team to place this year, because they have one of the strangest profiles I’ve ever seen. Virginia is 15-6 on the season and 5-3 in the ACC, which puts them a game behind Duke in third place in the league standings. They have won all three of their games against the RPI top 50, including a win at Wisconsin, and are 5-0 against the RPI top 100.

But Virginia is only 99th in the RPI, because they’ve lost six games to teams outside the RPI top 100. Three of those losses came on the road in ACC play — Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest — while the other three losses came to teams from the CAA. One of those losses was to Old Dominion, who is 2-18 this season and winless in league play. They’re 324th in the RPI, making that easily the worst loss suffered by a potential tournament team this season.

Villanova will be the second weirdest profile: The Wildcats have a pretty standard middle-of-the-pack power conference profile. They’re RPI is in the 70’s. They’ve got five top 100 wins but a handful of bad losses — they were swept by Providence and lost by 18 to Columbia at home. They’ve currently lost five of their last seven games.

Those two wins? Against top ten teams Syracuse and Louisville. Because that makes sense.

Wisconsin’s free throw shooting: I think we can all agree that Ohio State has one of the nation’s best perimeter defenses while Illinois does not. And all it took was a week where Wisconsin played both teams to prove that to us. The Badgers lost to Ohio State on Wednesday 58-49 and didn’t attempt a single free throw in the game. That’s the first time that’s happened in the Bo Ryan era. Against Illinois on Sunday, the Badgers shot 42 free throws.

That makes sense, too.

Jarred Shaw stepping up for Utah State: We have to give some love to Utah State big man Jarred Shaw. The Aggies lost both Kyisean Reed and Preston Medlin in the same half of the same game last month, which all but ended their chance at a WAC title this season. In the last three games, he’s averaging 21.7 points, 10.0 boards and 2.0 blocks while shooting 69.0% from the floor. USU is 2-1 in that stretch, with two road wins and a three point loss to league leader Louisiana Tech.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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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
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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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim makes TV appearance to talk Carmelo Anthony

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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has drawn attention for some recent comments about former Orange star Carmelo Anthony.

After Anthony captured his record third gold medal with USA Basketball, his former college coach told Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard that Anthony didn’t have a great chance at winning an NBA title.

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

Boeheim maintains that he was speaking of Melo’s legacy being about more than an NBA title and that he’s one of the game’s greats thanks to other accomplishments like the Syracuse title and gold medals. On SportsCenter, Boeheim made sure to stress where those comments were coming from, while also making sure his kids would stop being mad at him.

It’s much easier to understand where Boeheim is coming from in this instance and it clears up something that will probably go away now.