The top 10 dunks of the college basketball season

Leave a comment

A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.

In case you’ve missed it, major media believes this is a down year in college hoops. There is no 2012 Kentucky Wildcats or 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. The NBA one-and-done rule is draining college hoops of all the major superstars.

Well guess what?

You don’t have to be Kevin Durant or LeBron James to throw down a highlight reel dunk.

The 2012-2013 college basketball season has been an exciting one, with comebacks, buzzer-beaters, and of course, huge dunks. The sport doesn’t need Carmelo Anthony or Anthony Davis in order to provide excitement, and the following videos are proof as to why.

Honorable Mention:
DJ Stephens – Memphis vs. VCU, 11/22/12
Archie Goodwin – Kentucky vs. Portland, 12/8/12
Elijah Pittman – Marshall vs. Cincinnati, 12/15/12
Victor Rudd Jr. – South Florida vs. Syracuse, 1/6/13 (Go to 1:17 mark)
Sam Thompson – Ohio State vs. Michigan, 1/13/13
Jared Berggren – Wisconsin vs. Indiana, 1/15/13
Nerlens Noel – Kentucky vs. Auburn, 1/19/13
John Daniels – Columbia vs. Cornell, 1/26/13
Alex Len – Maryland vs. Duke, 1/26/13
Akil Mitchell – Virginia vs. North Carolina State, 1/29/03
Adrien Payne – Michigan State vs. Illinois, 1/31/13
Victor Oladipo – Indiana vs. Michigan, 2/2/13
Kevin Young – Kansas vs. Oklahoma State, 2/2/13

Justin Glover – Winston Salem State vs. Elizabeth City State (D-II)

For all intents and purposes, this dunk should be in the top-5. Heck, it’s probably the best dunk of the season. But it took place in a D-II game, so it can’t crack the top-10. But HOLY MOLY, this is the craziest dunk of the year. And that’s saying something considering what our No. 1 dunk is.

Top-10 dunks of the college basketball season:

10. Chris Denson – Auburn vs. Tennessee Tech, 12/18/12

The SEC is not a good college basketball conference this season. True, Florida is dismantling teams left and right, but Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss are next in line and none of them ave inspired much confidence in the general public.

So if Ole Miss is 6-2 in conference play, and they aren’t as good as their record indicates, what does that say about Auburn, who sits at 8-13 overall and 2-6 in the SEC? The Tigers are not good, that’s what it says. But you wouldn’t think that based on this superb one-handed poster-dunk by 6-foot-2 guard Chris Denson.

9. Rodney Purvis – North Carolina State vs. Miami, 2/2/13

NC-State is one of the most puzzling teams in the country. They put together a 10-game winning streak which included a win over then-No.1 Duke. But since then, the Wolfpack have lost four of six, including losses to Virginia and Wake Forest.

Oh then there was also the recent issue of freshman Rodney Purvis re-tweeting a negative comment one of his former-teammates made about head coach Mark Gottfried. I think this sensational put-back dunk he had against Miami might be enough to get him out of the dog house.

8. Troy Huff – North Dakota vs. Idaho State, 2/2/13

There isn’t much you need to know about North Dakota or Idaho State. There are only two things you need to know about Troy Huff. First, he’s the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.1ppg. Second, the kid can fly.

This dunk cracks the top-10 because of Huff’s in-flight transition from a two-handed slam to a one-handed jam. The mid-air transition is such an underrated part of the dunk game. Huff makes it look easy.

Thank God there wasn’t a defender in Huff’s way. Things would have gotten ugly. This was one of the strongest dunks I’ve seen in a long time.

7. Doug Anderson – Detroit vs. St. John’s, 11/13/12

Doug Anderson is the best dunker in the country. Plain and simple. There is not a player in the country who dunks with as much vertical height, velocity and frequency as the Detroit freak-show. On any given night, he’s good for a handful of highlight reel plays. Scouting for Doug Anderson is not all that complicated. Simply box him out on every shot or he will make you pay.

6. Mason Plumlee – Duke vs. Maryland, 1/26/13

Mason Plumlee is on the short-list of National Player of the Year candidates and this incredibly difficult reverse putback dunk is just one of the many reasons why. Plumlee has improved in all facets of the game. There aren’t many big-man as athletic or as agile as Plumlee, and this dunk shows why. The degree of difficulty of this dunk is off-the-charts, and Plumlee almost makes it look easy. But trust me, this dunk was not easy at all.

5. Brandon Paul – Illinois vs. Minnesota, 1/9/13

When Illinois played Minnesota during the second week of conference play, both teams were ranked and were thought to be legitimate contenders in the Big-Ten. While a lot has changed since then, the Illini have lost five of six, nothing changes the fact that Brandon Paul’s poster-jam over Trevor Mbakwe is one of the most violent dunks of the season. When you look up the definition of #POSTERIZED in the dictionary, a .GIF of this dunk shows up next to the word.

4. Victor Oladipo – Indiana vs. Central Connecticut State, 12/8/12

Three months into the season and it’s Victor Oladipo, not Cody Zeller, who is the Hooiser’s best player and likely candidate for Player of the Year. The junior is one of the most athletic players in the country, has improved his jumper, and is one of the best lockdown defenders in the country. Did I mention he was athletic? Central Connecticut State had to find out the hard way.

3. Deonte Burton – Nevada vs. UNLV, 1/30/13

Watch the video. Now watch it again. And again. I’m still in shock.

Burton is one of the most electrifying players that nobody knows about. He’s only 6-foot-1 yet can explode like somebody 6-foot-7 and has hit clutch shot after clutch shot. But look at this dunk. Look at how he get’s his arm cocked back for full extension. Remember, Burton is just 6-FOOT-1! This is an incredible dunk.

2. Marcus Lewis – Eastern Kentucky vs. Southeast Missouri, 2/2/13

Remember how I just said that Deonte Burton’s out-of-bounds ally-oop was incredible? Well it was. But Marcus Lewis’ out-of-bounds ally-oop was incredible on steroids.

First he burns the poor defender who gets caught peeking at the in-bounds pass. Then he jumps up, uses a defenders face as a springboard and dunks all over the entire team. Like I said: incredible on steroids.

1. Jamaal Franklin – San Diego State vs. Fresno State, 1/10/13

This is why the kids call him “Circus Time”.

Only Jamaal Franklin would toss himself a 25-foot self-ally-oop off the backboard in while splitting a double team. Who does something like that? Jamaal Franklin. That’s who.

This is…I just…The thing about it is…A month later, and I’m still speechless.

Just shut it down already. Game over.

I can’t even begin to imagine what has to take place in order for this dunk to not still be No. 1 at season’s end.

Vanderbilt lands five-star forward Simi Shittu

Jon Lopez/Nike
Leave a comment

Vanderbilt continues to build a monster recruiting class under head coach Bryce Drew as five-star 2018 forward Simi Shittu pledged to the Commodores on Wednesday.

The second five-star commitment for Vanderbilt in the Class of 2018, Shittu joins top point guard prospect Darius Garland to form one of the best freshman combinations in the country for next season. The Commodores also have a top-150 forward in Aaron Nesmith.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Shittu is coming off of a monster summer in which he became a major problem and top-ten recruit. The No. 8 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2018 recruiting rankings, Shittu is a huge get and an instant starter for Vanderbilt next season.

By landing prospects like Garland and Shittu, Drew is also becoming a major player in a short amount of time as a high-major coach. Always a noted recruiter at the mid-major level at Valparaiso, now Vanderbilt is seeing Drew’s hiring workout as he’s bringing top talent to the program.

If Drew can continue to recruit like this then Vanderbilt could be in position to be in the top half of the SEC as the league has seen some of its rebuilds go poorly over the last few years.

Kansas still without freshman Billy Preston

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Kansas freshman Billy Preston has yet to make his debut for the Jayhawks and it appears he’ll have to wait a bit longer before that happens.

Head coach Bill Self met with media earlier this week to discuss the Preston situation, saying that nothing has changed about his status quite yet. Preston was previously suspended for violating a team rule when he missed the game against Tennessee State. Before Preston was set to debut against Kentucky in the Champions Classic he was also withheld from the contest after the revelation that Preston had been in a single-vehicle accident the previous weekend.

“I have actually been out, until I just pulled back in, so as of this morning, there was no movement. The last time you guys asked me was Friday and so you don’t work on Saturday or Sunday, so there is nothing new on that situation,” Self said.

“Sure, I’m worried,” Self also added. “I’m concerned and I do think that it can work itself, based on what I’ve been told. I also think that it obviously hadn’t happened yet.”

It’s uncertain when the next step in any of this will play out but Self doesn’t appear to be too concerned over it. Kansas has won without Preston so far but they could definitely use his size, scoring punch and overall depth to a team that isn’t very deep right now.

A matchup nightmare, Preston could help the Jayhawk offense while also giving Udoka Azubuike additional help on the glass and protecting the rim.

(H/t: Jesse Newell, Kansas City Star)

Brian Bowen not allowed to play at Louisville

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
2 Comments

Louisville announced on Wednesday that freshman wing Brian Bowen will not be allowed to play at the school. The former McDonald’s All-American will be allowed to remain on scholarship but he can’t participate in any team activities.

Bowen was tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball this fall as an adidas company executive is alleged to have been part of a scheme to deliver $100,000 to Bowen’s family, according to court documents.

Bowen hired attorney Jason Setchen to fight the case and seek reinstatement as Setchen had experience dealing with college basketball scandals before. When DeQuan Jones was suspended from Miami after the Nevin Shapiro case in 2011, Setchen helped Jones re-gain his eligibility as Miami.

With this case, Bowen was not allowed back at Louisville as the school has fired head coach Rick Pitino and most of his previous staff. Athletic Director Tom Jurich also lost his job, so the Cardinals are definitely cleaning house and trying to detach themselves from anyone involved.

It will be interesting to see what Bowen opts to do in light of this news. He’s talented enough that other schools could want him, if he’s eligible, but he’s also a former five-star prospect who could have pro aspirations. But since Bowen won’t be playing this season, he also hasn’t had a chance to spotlight his game to potential pro suitors.

 

President Trump fires back at LaVar Ball on Twitter

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
1 Comment

The never-ending war of words between President Donald Trump and LaVar Ball escalated to another level on Wednesday morning.

Starting his early-morning tweets with some messages aimed at Ball, President Trump continued to double down on his insistence that he helped play a role in the safe return of three UCLA players arrested in China for shoplifting. LiAngelo Ball, LaVar’s middle son, was one of the three players involved in the international incident as fellow Bruins Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were also arrested. The trio returned to the United States last week after UCLA left China without them following a win over Georgia Tech in the Pac-12 China Game.

ACTUAL HOOPS COVERAGE: Scott Drew’s coaching gem | Porter Jr. out | Toledo player’s Thanksgiving feast
MORE HOOPS COVERAGE: Player of the Year Power Rankings

LaVar has drawn the ire of President Trump for downplaying the President’s role in the return of the UCLA trio as Ball maintains that others had more to do with the release. All three UCLA players publicly thanked President Trump and the United States government during their return press conference on Nov. 15. The three players remain suspended indefinitely from all activities with the men’s basketball team.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week, LaVar was critical of Trump’s role in the whole ordeal while also questioning why the President would spend so much time bothering for a thank you from the father of one of those arrested.

No. 22 Baylor comes from 12 down to beat Creighton

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was another rough night for the Scott Drew Can’t Coach crowd.

No. 22 Baylor got 15 points apiece from Jo Lual-Acuil and Terry Maston and closed the game on a 37-19 run as they knocked off Creighton, 65-59, in the title game of the Hall Of Fame Classic in Kansas City.

King McClure led the way for the Bears with 19 points, picking up the pieces for Manu Lecomte, who struggled to deal with the defense of Khyri Thomas.

Creighton jumped out to a 33-24 lead at the break and extended it to 40-28 with 18 minutes left in the game, but that’s when Baylor turned the game around. A couple of tweaks to the way that they played their zone coupled with the Bluejays missing some shots that they were capable of making led to the comeback. Instead of simply writing another ‘See, I told you Scott Drew can coach’ column, I figured it would make more sense to show exactly what I mean when I say that.

Creighton had a smart, simple game-plan offensively on Tuesday night. Get the ball into the paint, whether it was via dribble penetration or finding one of their big guys near the foul line or at the short corner, and then find a shooter on the perimeter, a cutter going to the rim or, simply, score from 8-10 feet out. That’s the best way to beat a zone, especially a zone that has the amount of length and athleticism that Baylor’s does. Notice in the clip below how extended Baylor’s guards are and, as a result, the space it creates:

Once Baylor got down by 12, their game-plan changed. Instead of extending, their defense became more compact. What is usually something of a 1-1-3 zone turned into more of a 2-3, with the focus seemingly being cutting off penetration. Baylor dared Creighton to let Ronnie Harrell be the guy that beat them, and it worked. The result was that the open threes dried up, and the jumpers that Creighton shot in down the stretch were much more contested than the looks they were getting earlier in the game:

That’s coaching right there.

Game-planning is a part of coaching. Player development is, too, as is recruiting. But making in-game adjustments like that, figuring out how a team is beating you, devising a way to stop them from doing that and getting your players to execute those adjustments is arguably the most important part of being a coach.

Here’s another example of what I mean.

Khyri Thomas might be the best on-ball defender in college basketball, and I don’t say that lightly. He essentially eliminated Manu Lecomte from the game. He is to point guards what Darrelle Revis was to No. 1 receivers. Whoever he is guarding is on Khyri Island.

Lecomte is typically Baylor’s closer, but Drew ran actions that allowed Lecomte to be a facilitator and a decoy, taking Khyri out of the play and taking advantage of matchups he thought his guys could win. That involved running a double-high ball-screen, which confused Harrell and Martin Krampelj defensively a couple of times, and resulted in a high-low action between Maston and Lual-Acuil on a number of possessions down the stretch.

But then there was also this set he drew up, using McClure as the ball-handler in that double-high ball-screen and while putting Lecomte in the same side corner. McClure refused the ball-screen, drove straight at the gap where Thomas was not going to help off Lecomte and got a bucket out of it:

That’s coaching!

And I’m not trying to say McDermott got out-coached here. His game-plan worked. Drew’s adjustment turned out to be just a bit better.

But Creighton also has players that can make the tough shots that they were forced into in the second half. If two more of them go down – if the Bluejays shoot 37.5 percent from the floor instead of 34.4 percent, if they go 7-for-30 from three instead of 5-for-30 – then they probably win this game.

Sometimes that’s how basketball works.

It’s why you always hear coaches refer to it as a ‘make or miss game’.

The larger takeaway from this game should be this: Both Baylor and Creighton are good teams. Both landed good non-conference wins during this event. Both are likely headed to the NCAA tournament.

And both took part in a fun, tactical battle between head coaches on Tuesday night that one of them had to lose.