Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round

Iona senior Mike Poole granted immediate eligibility by NCAA

Leave a comment

One of the four players to make the decision to leave Rutgers in the aftermath of the Mike Rice controversy was 6-6 guard/forward Mike Poole, who played three seasons at the school prior to Rice being fired.

Ultimately the Rosedale, N.Y. native made the decision to transfer to Iona, with the hope that he would be granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA as opposed to having to sit out the 2013-14 campaign. On Wednesday Iona announced that Poole has received an NCAA Legislative Waiver, which makes him eligible to play immediately.

“I’m really excited to have a student-athlete of Mike’s caliber join us this season,” head coach Tim Cluess said in the release. “His leadership and toughness during summer workouts have been tremendous and he will be an integral part of our program.”

Poole wasn’t much of a scorer during his three seasons at Rutgers, posting averages of 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. But Poole’s value comes in the “little things,” as he’ll provide value to Iona in the areas that tend to be overlooked by many.

The Gaels, who made their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament last season, have to account for the departure of leading scorer and MAAC Player of the Year Momo Jones (22.6 ppg, 3.4 apg). But five of Iona’s top seven scorers from last season, most notably guard Sean Armand (16.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and forward David Laury III (13.1, 10.3) are back in New Rochelle.

Armand set a school record last season with 112 made three-pointers, and given the pace at which Iona plays (8th nationally in adjusted tempo per kenpom.com) the Gaels should once again rank among the highest scoring teams in the country.

Their competition within the MAAC will look a bit different, as Loyola’s left for the Patriot League and reigning regular season champion Niagara lost a lot of production in the aftermath of Joe Mihalich leaving to take over at Hofstra. Also of note are the additions of Monmouth and Quinnipiac, and Jimmy Patsos (formerly at Loyola) is now running the show at Siena.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
Leave a comment

The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Leave a comment

With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.