Fairleigh Dickinson University

Fairleigh Dickinson adds one point guard, loses another

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Thursday proved to be a busy day for new Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Greg Herenda, as one point guard announced his intentions to join the program while another is expected to transfer.

FDU landed a commitment from 5-7 point guard Malachi Nix, who leaves Niles North (Ill.) High School as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Nix was offered by FDU while on an official visit Tuesday according to Danny Hazan of CSLInsider.com, and two days later he accepted his lone Division I offer.

“It meant the world to me,” said Nix, who is considering majoring in Sports Administration. “I’ve been working for this moment for a long time. I know my mom doesn’t have to pay for me to go to school now. That means a lot to me.

“I’ve wanted to play Division I since sixth grade and I’ve always been working on my craft, and working for that. There’s a new coach there, and it’s just a great coaching staff in general. My teammates were great, and it’s an awesome recruiting class coming in too. So I just felt like it was a perfect spot for me.”

While Nix joined the program Thursday, rising sophomore Sekou Harris has reportedly decided to transfer according to Ryan Peters of Big Apple Buckets. In 22 games for the Knights last season the Plainfield, N.J. native posted averages of 5.5 points and 2.4 assists per game in 17 minutes of action per contest.

Harris’ best outing came in an 84-70 win over Prairie View A&M on November 24, as he tallied career highs in points (24) and assists (eight). Harris’ departure leaves FDU with just two guards who played last season: senior Sidney Sanders Jr. and junior Mustafaa Jones.

Coach Herenda has quite the rebuilding project ahead of him, as the Knights finished the 2012-13 season with a 7-24 record (2-16 NEC).

One major issue for FDU was their play on the defensive end, with conference opponents averaging 78.2 points per contest (allowing a league-worst 1.14 points per possession). Also of note was their work on the boards, as FDU finished the season last in the NEC in both offensive (26.2%) and defensive (61.4%) rebounding percentage.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.