This just in: every move John Calipari makes pays recruiting dividends.
Hanging with Charlie Sheen? Money.
Posing with arch-nemesis Rick Pitino? Also gold.
Being chosen to drive the Kentucky Speedway pace car? Got his name in the papers.
Not getting to drive the pace car after all? Ditto.
Losing in his hometown in the first round of the NIT? OK, maybe I’m stretching the premise here.
But you have to admit, choosing to coach the Dominican National Team – a lesser light in international basketball circles – has paid off in a big way for Calipari. And it may be the gift that keeps on giving, according to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
John Calipari and Orlando Antigua coached [Karl] Towns for two summers with the Dominican national team. That relationship helped them land the 7-footer, who remains UK’s only commitment in the class of 2014.
Now another 2014 prospect with Dominican ties is emerging as an elite player in the class, and Kentucky’s coaching staff is in a prime position.
Angel Delgado — a Dominican native — came to the United States last year and has been steadily climbing the recruiting rankings.
Delgado is 6’9″ and reported to be a great rebounder with a motor that doesn’t quit. That may not be enough to jump him over the likes of Cliff Alexander and Trey Lyles on Coach Cal’s big board, but it wouldn’t exactly hurt the program to nab an athletic project who might stick around and be a glue guy for more than two semesters. Then again, Zagsblog.com says Delgado is coming on like gangbusters, so let’s not underestimate him.
One thing seems sure, Coach Cal has the first shot at Delgado if he wants him. All because he – and now his assistant Orlando Antigua – have put in some time coaching basketball for a small Caribbean nation.
All I can say to that is: Get on his level. The guy is in another time zone in terms of recruiting.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.
Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.
They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.
The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.
They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.
West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.
Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.
The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.
The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.
That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.
The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?
The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.
They were going to slip up eventually.
And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.