Tarik Black

Memphis transfer Tarik Black is in demand, but be wary

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Outside of Andrew Wiggins, there may not be a more sought-after player in the country right now than Tarik Black.

How do I know that?

Well, on Tuesday night, Duke reportedly put the “full court press” on Black, trying to lure him to spend his final season of eligibility as a Blue Devil. That was followed up by a visit from Kansas head coach Bill Self on Wednesday night. If Duke wants you and Kansas wants you, than it’s safe to say you’re in fairly high demand.

It makes sense, too. Black is a veteran, having played at Memphis for Josh Pastner the past three years. He’s 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and athletic. Most importantly, he’s on track to graduate from Memphis this spring which means that Black will be eligible to play this fall for whichever schools he ends up deciding to transfer to.

Right now, Duke’s big man rotation consists of Josh Hairston, the surgically repaired Marshall Plumlee, and a trio of forwards — Jabari Parker, Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson — that are more perimeter oriented than bruisers in the paint. There’s not much physicality there, and adding a body like Black certainly seems ideal.

Kansas has Perry Ellis coming back and they bring in freshman Joel Embiid, but there isn’t really all that much quality depth on the Jayhawk front line. They could certainly use a bruiser as well.

But here’s the problem: the idea of Tarik Black works much better in theory than it does on the court.

Black has a ton of potential. He’s been hyped up for the last two seasons. He’s got enough talent that he should have been an all-conference player for the Tigers at least once in his career. And yet, he’s never averaged more than 10.7 points in his three seasons. He’s never grabbed more than 5.0 boards, and that came as a freshman. His production on the glass went down the last two seasons, and it was never that impressive to begin with.

Was that simply a disconnect that he had with Memphis and the coaching staff and the way that he was used? Was he too distracted playing in his hometown?

Or is this simply who Tarik Black is? A big, athletic center that can do little more than be a big, athletic center?

A change of scenery may help, but don’t count on Black being much more than a piece in a rotation wherever he ends up.

But here’s the thing: who couldn’t use a piece like that? Who couldn’t use an athletic, 6-foot-9, 260 lb senior that can step in and play minutes? At the end of the day, Black is big and he’s physical and he’s, quite simply, the best option available for teams that are in need of a big man.

When your next best option is Josh Hairston or Justin Wesley, it’s no wonder that Duke and Kansas, respectively, come calling when a guy like Tarik Black becomes available.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.