Kendall Williams, Wes Eikmeier

Player of the Week: Kendall Williams, New Mexico

Leave a comment

Player of the Week: Kendall Williams, New Mexico

A lot of players put up impressive performances this week, but there really wasn’t much of a discussion as to who the Player of the Week would be. Kendall Williams in a landslide. The junior point guard scored 46 points — shooting 12-16 from the floor and 10-13 from three — as the Lobos went into Moby Arena and knocked off Colorado State, 91-82.

The 26 points that Williams scored in the second half would have been a career-high. He scored 20 points after picking up his fourth foul midway through the second half. He hit three threes to cap off a game-winning, 14-2 run in the final five minutes. And, more importantly, he carried New Mexico to a win over the second-place team in the MWC despite the fact they were man-handled on the glass and gave up 82 points. The Lobos now have complete control over the conference race, taking a two-game lead with just four games remaining.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

G: Trey Burke, Michigan: The Wolverines bounced back from a stretch where they lost three out of four to beat both Penn State and Illinois this week. And while the youngsters on John Beilein’s roster continue to have their ups-and-downs in their first season as collegians, Trey Burke is still putting up huge numbers. He had 29 points and five assists in a win over Penn State, following that up with 26 points and eight assists to beat Illinois. On the week, he was 17-27 from the floor, 5-7 from three, 16-19 from the line and committed just a single turnover in 78 minutes.

G: Victor Oladipo, Indiana: Oladipo was, once again, the star for the Hoosiers as they went into East Lansing and knocked off Michigan State, taking over sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. He had 19 points, nine boards and five steals in the win, including six points in the final minute and what turned out to be the game-winning tip-in with just under a minute left in the game.

F: Chris Crawford, Memphis: Crawford finished with 19 points, four boards and four assists in a win over Southern Miss on Saturday, which came a game after he nearly notched a triple-double against Houston. Crawford had 11 points, 13 boards, nine assists and three blocks against the Cougars. Making things all the more frustrating? Crawford could have had the triple-double had Adonis Thomas been willing to make a layup in the final seconds after Houston had conceded. Good sportsmanship prevailed, however.

F: Otto Porter, Georgetown: Porter has been simply sensational over the last seven weeks or so, but on Saturday, he had his breakout game. Porter scored 33 of Georgetown’s 57 points as the Hoyas went into the Carrier Dome and knocked off Syracuse. He added eight boards, five steals and two assists while shooting 12-19 from the floor and 5-10 from three. The win also gave Georgetown sole possession of first place in the Big East and thrust Porter into the National Player of the Year discussion.

C: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Turns out that Kentucky’s season isn’t quite over yet, as the Wildcats beat both Vanderbilt and Missouri at home this week. Cauley-Stein had 20 points, seven boards and three blocks in the win over Vandy, following that up with 12 boards and seven blocks to help hold off the Tigers. He wasn’t the only Wildcats with a big week, but his emergence as a force in the paint helps to nullify the loss of Nerlens Noel.

Bench: Aaron Craft (Ohio State), Anthony Drmic (Boise State), Shabazz Napier (UConn), Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UConn duo returning to school

brimah
Leave a comment

Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

1 Comment

The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

GettyImages-468631066
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.

Illinois dismisses Kendrick Nunn

Illinois guard Kendrick Nunn (25) tries to go up for a basket against Indiana center Thomas Bryant (31) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at in Champaign, Ill., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Heather Coit)
(AP Photo/Heather Coit)
Leave a comment

Illinois announced on Tuesday that they have dismissed Kendrick Nunn from the basketball program.

Nunn was sentenced to community service after pleading guilty to a battery charge that stemmed from a domestic violence incident. He was alleged to have hit a woman in the head and pushed her to the ground before pouring water on her.

“We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men’s basketball team, effective immediately,” a statement put out by head coach John Groce and athletic director Josh Whitman read. “After extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior.”

Nunn averaged 15.5 points as a junior last season.