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.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.