Iowa State v Notre Dame

Patrick Connaughton spending offseason pitching in the Cape Cod League

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Most college basketball players spend their springs and summers relaxing.

Yeah, they’re still going to be working out and training to get better. Some are going to be focusing on getting healthy and rehabbing nagging injuries. The best of the best get a chance to practice with Team USA and, if they’re good enough, head overseas to represent our country.

In short, the offseason is dedicated to making sure that they are better basketball players next season.

The same can’t be said for Notre Dame’s sophomore shooting guard Patrick Connaughton.

He spent his spring pitching for the Irish baseball team, starting 10 games and going 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA.

And this summer, he’s pitching for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League, a league dedicated to showcasing the country’s best collegiate baseball players. Think about that. He’s a starter on a team that will finish near the top of the ACC in hoops and one of the better pitchers in the country on the diamond.

That’s not an easy thing to do, even if he does fall in love with Jessica Biel while there.

“A lot of kids I know and have competed against say they also want to play two sports at school, but I tell them, you’ve got to be ready for it,” Connaughton told the Cape Cod Chronicle. “It’s a tough task if you want to excel at both. It’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that takes a lot of time and effort. You’ve got to treat your body right and stay on top of school work so that you’re not ineligible for one sport much less two. You have to spend more time in the weight room and really make your time count.”

Connaughton is a talent on the hardwood and a key cog for the Irish heading into the 2013-2014 season. He’s a big, physical guard that’s a knock-down three-point shooter, a leader and the team’s defensive stopper. He’s strong enough in the paint and on the glass that head coach Mike Brey should be able to play four guard lineups next season.

But here’s the thing: he’s probably got a brighter future as a pitcher. He’s got the size, he can hit mid-90s with his fastball and he’s got four other pitches in his arsenal. Those aren’t a dime-a-dozen.

Nobody does two-sport stars like Notre Dame. In recent years, both Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija have reached the pros, Tate in football and Samardzija in baseball, after starring in two sports for the Golden Domers.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.