Leon Rice, Derrick Marks

2014 guard Chandler Hutchison commits to Boise State

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Boise State head coach Leon Rice has two of the best perimeter players in the Mountain West in Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks, two players some believe are capable of making the Broncos a contender for the conference title in 2013-14. What’s even better for Boise State fans is the fact that both are juniors, meaning that they’ve got another year of eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming campaign.

But with two guards being seniors (Thomas Bropleh and Jeff Elorriaga) the Broncos have room for some more talent on the perimeter. Saturday night the Boise State program received its first verbal commitment in the 2014 class, as 6-4 guard Chandler Hutchison made his pledge. Like more than a few of the players who have verbally committed to schools this month, Hutchison made his decision after taking his official visit to Boise State.

According to Dave Southorn of the Idaho Statesman, Hutchison chose Boise State over offers from UC Irvine, Santa Clara, San Diego and Saint Mary’s. Hutchison may not be the marksman that Drmic, Elorriaga and Marks have proven themselves to be, but his versatility could potentially be an asset to the program according to his AAU coach.

“Just a ton of upside to him,” said Hutchison’s AAU coach, Perry Webster. “He’s long, rangy and can defend multiple positions. He can really improve as a shooter, and the coaches at Boise State are a great fit for that.”

The good news for Boise State is that with Drmic, Marks and Mikey Thompson all having eligibility remaining when the 2014-15 season rolls around, they can afford to take their time with Hutchison. Boise State brings in freshman Dezmyn Trent this season, a 6-2 guard from Tacoma, Wash. who averaged nearly 27 points per game as a high school senior.

Reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time as a member of the Mountain West last season was an important step for the Boise State program. The question now is whether or not coach Rice’s program can build on that momentum and become a consistent conference contender.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the NBCSports.com Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.