Carl Hall

Wichita State’s Carl Hall chops off signature dreadlocks

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There’s no empirical evidence that ties the length of Carl Hall’s hair to the success of the Wichita State men’s basketball team, but it’s going to take some time to adjust to seeing the 6-8 senior with a buzz cut in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Hall unveiled the new look at a press conference Wednesday, trading what had become his signature dreadlocks for the much shorter buzz. But, Hall had his reasons.

“I just wanted to try something different. I wanted to get my hair cut to surprise the team,” Hall told Kansas.com. “They weren’t expecting me to cut it.”

In the video found here from Kansas.com, Hall tells a funny anecdote about going to a barber in Wichita to get the cut done. Hall says the barber recognized him and was tentative about following through with his request.

“He knew what I was asking, but he didn’t want to do it. He was like, ‘Carl I don’t want to cut your hair.’ He kept asking like, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do?’ He asked me like 10 times and I was like, ‘Yeah, man, just cut it.’

Hall does admit that he initially had second thoughts about the drastic change, but he’s now moving on with his team to face No. 8-seeded Pittsburgh Thursday in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament.

Wichita State will have to deal with one of the toughest defenses in the country when it squares off against Pittsburgh, combined with one of the least-turnover prone offenses. When the Shockers struggled part of the way through their conference schedule, it was because Hall and Cleanthony Early were unable to get heavily involved in the offense. Pittsburgh will try to eliminate them again Thursday.

The winner moves on to play the winner of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 16 Southern.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.