Will Artino

Late Night Snacks: Two tickets punched, two conference tournament upsets

Leave a comment

Tickets Punched: Liberty (Big South), Creighton (Missouri Valley) 

Game of the Day: No. 2 Indiana 72, No. 7 Michigan 71 

After taking some heat for cutting down the nets following a “Senior Night” loss to Ohio State on Tuesday, the Hoosiers clinched the outright Big Ten title in Ann Arbor. Cody Zeller’s layup with 13 seconds remaining proved to be the difference as two Michigan shots missed the mark. Michigan was out-rebounded 53-30, and while Indiana managed to score just 17 second-chance points this is an area the Wolverines need to address heading into the Big Ten tournament.

Important Outcomes

1. Creighton 68, Wichita State 65

Doug McDermott didn’t go off like he did in the regular season finale between the two Missouri Valley rivals, when he scored 41 points. But Ethan Wragge hit five three-pointers and Jahenns Manigat scored a team-high 16 points, which included a key jumper to give the Bluejays a 68-65 lead with 13 seconds remaining, to lead Creighton to its second consecutive MVC tournament crown. Malcolm Armstead scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Shockers, who will also hear their name called on Selection Sunday.

2. Florida International 61, Middle Tennessee 57

For the second consecutive season a Middle Tennessee team with 26 or more wins will have to wait a week to learn its NCAA tournament fate. The 28-5 Blue Raiders were upset in the Sun Belt semifinals, and the hope now is that their win total and non-conference strength of schedule (ranked 11th) is enough to get them into the field. FIU reaches the title game in Richard Pitino’s first season running the program, which is quite the achievement for this group.

3. Temple 84, No. 21 VCU 76

Temple struggled some with the VCU press early but once their seniors got things under control the Owls were good to go. Khalif Wyatt hit just one of his eight three-point attempts but still scored 30 points, Jake O’Brien added 19 and Will Cummings scored 13 points off the bench to lead Temple. The win likely seals an at-large bid for Temple, which will be the three-seed in next week’s Atlantic 10 tournament. VCU will be the two-seed, and their loss means that Saint Louis is the outright regular season champion.

Starred 

1. G C.J. Harris (Wake Forest) 

In his final home game Harris helped lead the Demon Deacons past Virginia Tech, scoring 29 points (6-of-6 3PT) and dishing out three assists in the 90-79 victory.

2. G Malcolm Armstead (Wichita State) 

Armstead was sensational in a losing effort for the Shockers, tallying 28 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists in the Shockers’ 68-65 loss to Creighton in the MVC title game.

3. F David Laury III (Iona)

Laury accounted for 20 points (7-of-12 FG), 17 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots in Iona’s 79-73 MAAC semifinal victory over top-seed Niagara.

Struggled

1. G Treveon Graham (VCU) 

Graham didn’t make a three-pointer (0-of-4) and shot just 5-of-16 in the Rams’ 84-76 loss at Temple.

2. G Devon Saddler and G Jarvis Threatt (Delaware) 

Saddler and Threatt struggled in the Blue Hens’ 58-57 loss to James Madison in the CAA semifinals, combining to score 16 points on 7-of-27 shooting. They also combined for eight turnovers, with Threatt committing five.

3. G Pe’Shon Howard (Maryland)

Howard struggled in the Terrapins’ 61-58 overtime loss at Virginia, going scoreless and accounting for just two assists and one rebound in 25 minutes of action.

Three Facts

1. Liberty became the first NCAA tournament team with 20 losses since Coppin State pulled off the feat in 2008. Dale Layer’s Flames began the season 1-10 due to injuries and other roster issues, but they got rolling at precisely the right time. Look for Liberty to play its next game in Dayton.

2. Stony Brook may not be in the same position as Middle Tennessee but the Seawolves’ hopes of an NCAA tournament bid came to a painful end. Albany’s Mike Black scored a layup in the final seconds to give the Great Danes a 61-59 win over the America East regular season champions.

3. Virginia’s work isn’t done in regards to getting back to the NCAA tournament but the Cavaliers avoided a loss they could not afford, beating Maryland 61-58 in overtime. Tony Bennett’s team earned a first-round by in next week’s ACC tournament with the victory.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

BYU adds commit for 2019

Dave Rose
Leave a comment

BYU added a commitment from a high school senior this week, but the Cougars won’t be seeing him on campus until 2019.

Kolby Lee, a 6-foot-9 forward from Idaho, pledged to BYU on Monday evening, but won’t suit up until after serving a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.

“I had a great feeling about BYU, and I prayed about it,” Lee told the paper. “I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It just seems right. It feels right.”

Lee chose BYU over offers from  Utah State, Boise State and UC Davis. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and three by Scout.

His decision to forego immediately joining BYU certainly isn’t a new wrinkle for the Cougars, who routinely see their players either delay their initial eligibility or pause it mid-career while serving on missions.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Leave a comment

Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.

 

ACC non-commital on HB2 stance

John Swofford
Leave a comment

With North Carolina unwilling to rescind their controversial so-called bathroom bill, the NBA has withdrawn its All-Star Game from the state this year and numerous high-profile music acts have canceled performances as a result.

The ACC is declining to join them with a hard-line, or really any, position.

“We don’t want to damage our league with any premature decisions,” commissioner John Swofford said on The David Glenn Show. “We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The ACC, of course, has quite the presence in the state with North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest all in the Tar Heel State. Swofford’s comments are sure to draw the interest of the LGBT community, which has roundly been critical of the bill, which requires people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and has recently been active in college athletics, opposing the Big 12’s potential inclusion of BYU in its expansion plans over concerns of the Church of Latter Day Saints school’s honor code.

North Carolina’s bill has also drawn the eye of the NCAA, which is requiring potential championship sights to provide information on local anti-discrimination laws.

One of the loudest voices in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has come out against the law.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Coach K said last month.

The Champions Classic renewed through 2019

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Champions Classic is back, baby!!!

On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years.

This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game.

The other game? Kentucky, the third consensus top three team nationally, going up against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who will be, at worst, a top 15 team in the preseason polls.

So yeah, we’re going to get a pair of sensational basketball games in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15th. MSG also just so happens to be the best arena to watch a great neutral site basketball game.

It’s going to be awesome.

There’s only one possible way to make it better: turn it into a two-day event, with the winners squaring off for the Champions Classic title the following night.

Make it happen.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Nov. 14, 2017 (United Center, Chicago)
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Michigan State

Nov. 13, 2018 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Kansas
Duke vs. Kentucky

Nov. 12, 2019 (Madison Square Garden, New York)
Kansas vs. Duke
Michigan State vs. Kentucky