Georges Niang

Preseason preparations include hot yoga sessions for Iowa State

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Fred Hoiberg’s Iowa State Cyclones were one Aaron Craft shot away from taking Ohio State to overtime in the NCAA tournament Round of 32 last season. Alas, Craft’s clutch shot fell and it was the Buckeyes, not Iowa State, who booked tickets to Los Angeles for the West regional semifinals as a result.

With four of their top six scorers gone from that team, the Cyclones do have some work to do when it comes to role allocation. But they won’t lack for talent, with forwards Melvin Ejim (11.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Georges Niang (12.1, 4.6) returning and Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane (15.1, 7.0 apg, 4.4 rpg) arrives to give Iowa State some much-needed firepower on the perimeter. With an eye towards the 2013-14 campaign Iowa State’s added an activity to its preseason workout routine: weekly hot yoga sessions.

Yoga can be very useful for athletes due to its effects on breathing techniques and flexibility, with the latter being an issue for some due to the weightlifting done in order to increase physical strength. Adding heat to the process, with the temperature in the studio reaching in upwards of 100 degrees, can act as a cleanser of sorts as noted in a story written by Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune.

“With the added heat, you sweat a lot more, which is great for caloric burn,” Emily Hampton, owner of Ignite Yoga and the team’s instructor, said. “But really most importantly you get rid of toxins. In yoga we squeeze a lot, release toxins, flush them with water and then get them out with our sweat. It’s kind of cleansing.

“The heat is really an important aspect in my opinion.”

The players were hesitant at first, which is understandable given the fact that hot yoga was a departure from their regular training regimen. But they’ve begun to notice the benefits, both mentally and physically, of hot yoga.

“I feel like it’s definitely built our mental toughness,” Niang said. “If you’re not used to doing something, just pushing your body to a new limit and having yourself know at the end of the day that you can do it when you went in to it thinking that you couldn’t.

“When Emily is telling you not to let up, this is all in your head, it’s so true,” he added. “It’s like when you’re down five with 30 seconds to go. You have to tell yourself you can do it and fight through.”

Whether it’s boot camps or yoga, teams will do some “unconventional” things during the offseason and it’s a good idea. It deviates from the standard routine, and the forced adaptation could ultimately benefit teams on the court in crucial moments. It’ll be interesting to see just how much of an impact the yoga sessions have on Iowa State’s production this season.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.