Rick Barnes

Lone Star State results prove recruiting is only part of the puzzle

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Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard has done a mighty favor for all of us cheapskates. He used his ESPN Insider access to read Dave Telep’s paywalled article about which programs have landed the most top 100 recruits and then passed the info along out in the open.

Waters was, of course, focused on Syracuse, which came in seventh on the strength of twelve top 100 signees over the past five years. Not a bad showing, and the Orange had a Final Four appearance this past season to show for it. Kentucky was, of course, tops on the list, with a whopping 23 blue-chippers, with a huge dropoff to Arizona and UNC, who shared the No. 2 slot with 16 apiece. The likes of Kansas, Duke, UCLA, Memphis and Indiana made the list as well.

The two programs that stood out as disappointments both came from Texas. The Longhorns of Austin tied with Duke for the third slot, with each landing 14 top prospects apiece. Just below Syracuse at No. 8 was Baylor, which has reeled in eleven mega-talents in a half decade. The Bears have done well in the years they made the tournament, just missing the Final Four in 2010 and 2012. But they seem to be in a on-again, off-again pattern, missing the Dance entirely in alternating seasons.

The Longhorns, on the other hand, appear to falter more every season recently. Rick Barnes and his squad haven’t played on the tourney’s second weekend since 2008, and they stumbled to a losing record last season with only part-time contributions from the stellar Myck Kabongo.

So, is talent overrated? Not really. It’s a must for a team that wants to win consistently in a top league, and continue to win in the postseason. But clearly Scott Drew and Rick Barnes are running into deficiencies in other aspects of the game, despite the truly impressive recruiting hauls they are able to bring in. They’ve had stability at head coach (Barnes is the dean of Big 12 coaches with sixteen years under his belt), strong overall support from their athletic departments, and obviously some dominant talent. But they haven’t been able to establish consistency.

If you’re looking for one sign that these teams have what it takes to turn it around, the evidence lies at kenpom.com. A quick look at the defensive efficiency numbers for both Lone Star squads for the past five years shows that both Barnes and Drew have their teams playing grinding defense; always in the top half of the Big 12 standings, quite often in the top three. That’s not easy to do when you’re recruiting athletic one-and-dones.

This will be an interesting year to watch Baylor and Texas. Both continue to pull in talent, but underwhelm fans with their recent results. With Kansas and Oklahoma State holding presumptive title to the top of the Big 12, the Bears and Longhorns will need to find a way to marry the defense and firepower into something impressive, or risk being left behind in the league race for a good long while.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.