Tyler Ennis’ play in U19s promising for Syracuse

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While much of the attention from the U19 World Championships over the last two weeks was heaped upon the Americans — Aaron Gordon, Montrezl Harrell, Jahlil Okafor, etc. — perhaps the most important player at the event suited up for our neighbors up north.

Tyler Ennis played his high school ball for St. Benedict’s in New Jersey and will be moving on to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse this coming season, but Ennis is one of the best players in a loaded class for Canadian hoopers.

He’s also a point guard, which Syracuse is in dire need of with Michael Carter-Williams turning pro the same year that Brandon Triche graduated. The Orange have a slew of talent once again — CJ Fair, Jerami Grant, Trevor Cooney and yet another loaded recruiting class, to name a few — but Ennis will be the only floor general on the roster.

Coming in with the reputation of being more of a facilitator than scorer — he’s described by ESPN as being “a great play maker that can also run the team” — how did Ennis do in Russia? Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News breaks it down:

In a quarterfinal matchup against the U.S., Ennis was overwhelmed by the constant pressure from a series of rotating American defenders. He was not alone; teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes, bound for Florida State, got the same treatment. Ennis shot 5-of-12 from the field and scored only 11 points.

Ennis led the tournament in scoring, though, in part because of a 42-point explosion against China in a classification game. He shot 15-of-32 from the field in that one, getting to the lane at will. That is his game. He is not an exceptional 3-point shooter yet, and the development of that part of his game will determine how greatly he succeeds.

Struggling against the Americans is a bit concerning, but his scoring is a good sign.

Syracuse is going to need Ennis to be aggressive offensively. While there are pieces around him, there aren’t many guys that are going to be able to consistently create their own shot. And outside of CJ Fair, their leading returning scorer is Rakeem Christmas, who averaged all of 5.1 points.

The Orange will need Ennis to be a scoring threat, and it looks like he’s capable of doing that when needed.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.