Late Afternoon Snacks: Philly Friday is 2-0 for city teams so far

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Game of the Day

No. 13 La Salle 63, No. 4 Kansas State 61: I’m a firm believer that there can only be one game of the day, and I chose this one because the Explorers were the biggest underdogs of the day, having started out in the First Four, and because they beat Kansas State in front of what was, essentially, a home crowd in Kansas City. The Explorers have found their way to the day’s other upset darlings, Ole Miss. They’ll meet Marshall Henderson and company in the round of 32.

Meaningful Results

No. 7 Creighton 67, No. 10 Cincinnati: This was a close game, but the higher-seeded team won in the end. The Bearcats had four players in double figures, but Creighton had Ethan Wragge bombing away from outside, where he hit 4-5 treys and left room inside for big Doug McDermott to operate. I highly suggest you click the link, because Rob Dauster thinks the Bluejays can take down Duke in the next round.

No. 9 Temple 76, No. 8 NC State 72: Rarely have we seen a team exhibit such defensive indifference (thanks for the phrase, Raph) in such an important game. The Wolfpack played the toreador defense and couldn’t win a close game because they lacked a matador when things got tough. Temple will need more than that against likely next-round foe Indiana, but a win is a win.

No. 12 Ole Miss 57, No. 5 Wisconsin 47: Marshall Henderson declared his intentions to go out and gain the attention of professional basketball scouts today, and he did. First, he did it in negative fashion, as he bombed his way to a 1-13 first half. The willing tourney villain recovered somewhat in the second half and ended up with 19 points as the Rebel Black Bears advanced to play the K-State/La Salle winner.

No. 2 Miami 78, No. 15 Pacific 49: The Hurricanes had on painfully-bright yellow and orange shoes in this one, but they blinded the Pacific Tigers with stellar play, not footwear. Durand Scott and Shane Larkin proved that they are one of the best backcourts in the tournament, and a true danger to make a long run.

No. 2 Duke 73, No. 15 Albany 61: The Dukies may not have dominated Albany, but they still showed they have all the pieces necessary to win a title. Duke advances to face Creighton.

Starred

Khalif Wyatt, Temple: Wyatt took his “Old Man Guard” game and advanced to the next round over the sleek, high-flying Wolfpack. Wyatt was good for 31 points and 5 boards in the win.

Seth Curry, Duke: Against the smaller Great Danes, Curry was able to use all of his arsenal, including some drives to the hoop. He even banked in a long three, which amused the pun-happy amongst us, since it happened in Wells Fargo Center. Curry ended up with 26 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and was remarkably efficient along the way. He hit 50 percent of his three-pointers and all of his free throws to help the Bluejays hold off Cincy.

Struggled

Roman Banks, Southern: The head coach of the Southern Jaguars was so proud of the effort his kids put in, that he couldn’t contain his emotions in the post-game press conference. We feel you, big guy.

NC State’s defense: The stats show that the Wolfpack didn’t put in much effort – the Owls had a high shooting percentage, and only lost five turnovers all game long – but you really had to watch the game to see just how thoroughly dis-interested NCSU seemed in the whole process of stopping opposing scorers.

Hofstra and Furman: Both programs said goodbye to head coaches, as Jeff Jackson resigned under pressure and Mo Cassara was outright fired after a terrible season on and off the court.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.