Duquesne v Butler

Five Thoughts: Why Butler and Missouri aren’t as different as you think

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How come there aren’t more people questioning Butler?: Butler lost to St. Louis in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday night. It was the second time that they have lost to the Billikens this season (the first was a blowout that came at Chaifetz Arena) and the second time in the span of nine days that they lost at home in league play. As we continue to watch Butler play less-than-dominating basketball throughout A-10 play, it raises the question: Just how good are the Bulldogs?

I’ve had no issue questioning whether or not Arizona is truly as good as their rankings indicates, and I’m certainly not the only one to do so. They’ve won a couple close games they probably didn’t deserve to win against some of the best competition in the country, and as a result, the Wildcats has seen their ranking get inflated. Couldn’t it be argued the same thing has happened with Butler?

Their three biggest wins of the season have all come on fluky — fascinating, thrilling and the epitome of “Butler Magic”, but fluky nonetheless — finishes. There was Rotnei Clarke’s running 25-footer to beat Marquette; There was Alex Barlow’s runner in the lane in overtime to beat Indiana; There was Roosevelt Jones’ steal and floater to beat Gonzaga.

If those three shots don’t go down, is Butler a bubble team? Should we be concerned about the fact that Butler’s Kenpom ranking is 52nd? Just how much stock can we put in “Butler Magic”? And yes, I do know that they’ve dealt with injuries to two key players during the season.

You bet against Brad Stevens at your own risk, but if this may be the year where betting on Butler losing early in the tournament could pay off.

Missouri’s Pressey-ing problem: There may not be five players in the country that are as important to their team’s success as Phil Pressey is to Missouri’s. With a roster that’s devoid of players capable of creating for themselves, Frank Haith has been forced into a situation where he has to rely on his star point guard to shoulder a massive burden as a creator.

The problem is Flip’s decision-making, especially late in games on the road. Missouri has five true road losses this season that came down to the final possession (I’m including their seven-point overtime loss to Kentucky on Saturday night in this conversation), and all five of those losses have one thing in common: a bad decision by Pressey costing the Tigers down the stretch.

Now think about that in context with what we just discussed regarding Butler. How much differently would we view them if three of those final possessions ended with a bucket instead of a turnover or a missed shot? Winning and executing in the clutch is a skill, so it’s not to be glossed over, but it is something worth thinking about.

Marshall Henderson, sixth-man?: Coming off of a loss at South Carolina, Ole Miss needed a change, and it looks like Andy Kennedy found exactly what he needed: a new sixth-man. Kennedy brought Henderson off the bench on Saturday, and it worked, as Henderson his eight threes and scored 28 points for the Rebels. Granted, that performance came in a blowout win over Auburn, but it was a much-needed hot-shooting night for the slumping sharpshooter.

Weirdest ending of the season: You missed it because CBS cut away from the ending of the South Carolina-Georgia game to air the start of Georgetown-Syracuse, but we saw our first do-over in college hoops in … well, ever? Here’s what happened:

There were 8.9 seconds left on the clock after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a 3 to tie the game at 54. That’s when it got crazy: The clock ran before South Carolina inbounded the ball, which officials didn’t notice until after South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington missed a 3 at the buzzer.

The officials then went to the video review, as both teams huddled up, figuring there would be overtime. After a lengthy review, the officials decided to put 4.5 seconds back on the clock, and give South Carolina the ball on its own baseline – 94 feet away from the basket it needed to score at.

South Carolina couldn’t score on the second try and ended up losing in overtime, but man, what a wacky way to end regulation.

Oh, Sam Thompson:

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

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)
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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
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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.