Billy Donovan

Florida shows off its interesting offseason training program (VIDEO)


The dog days of summer are when team camaraderie is shaped, with players attending summer classes on sparsely populated campuses and going through workouts with their teammates.

The summer is also an important period for strength and conditioning coaches across the country, thanks in part to NCAA rules limiting the amount of time basketball coaches can spend with their players. With this being the case, strength and conditioning staffers (in most cases) end up working with the players more than the basketball coaches do.

One program putting its players through the paces is the University of Florida, with the strength and conditioning staff using exercises made popular by those “World’s Strongest Man” competitions that tend to fill empty blocks of television time during the summer.

Having made three straight appearances in the Elite Eight the goal is a simple one for Billy Donovan’s program: take the next step and reach the Final Four for the first time since 2007.

The Gators lost three senior contributors from last season’s team (Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario), but the combination of returnees and newcomers has many expecting Florida to be one of the favorites (with Kentucky) to win the SEC.

Patric Young, who may be “pound for pound” the strongest man in college basketball, returns along with classmate Casey Prather and USA U-19 gold medalist Michael Frazier II. Florida adds one of the nation’s best freshmen in point guard Kasey Hill, and transfers Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Damontre Harris (South Carolina) give the Gators two interior contributors with prior Division I experience.

But for all of Florida’s talent there are some question marks.

What will the statuses of guard Scottie Wilbekin (suspension) and Will Yeguete (knee surgery) be when practices officially begin in October? Will the NCAA approve Rutgers transfer Eli Carter’s request to be granted immediate eligibility? And there’s also the unresolved status of freshman big man Chris Walker, who also arrives in Gainesville amidst high praise but has some academic issues to take care of as well.

If all four players are ready to go when practices begin, Florida will be more than capable of getting over the Elite Eight hurdle that’s tripped them up each of the last three seasons.

h/t Jeff Eisenberg 

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.