Shaquille Thomas, MIles Dixon

Horizon League Preview 2013-14: Wright State and Green Bay enter season as top two

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YSU Sports

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Green Bay and Wright State enter the 2013-14 season as the top two competitors in the Horizon League. The two were separated by a single point in the preseason Horizon League poll — with Green Bay coming out on top — but thanks to its experience from last season going from a predicted last place to conference tournament title game, Wright State gets the slight edge as the No. 1 team in NBCSports.com’s Horizon League preseason rankings.

Led by nine of their top 10 returning from last season’s team — plus the inclusion of Butler transfer Chrishawn Hopkins — the Raiders are deep and experienced and led by senior forward Cole Darling.

Green Bay, led by the talented duo of point guard Keifer Sykes and center Alec Brown, have arguably the deepest mid-major frontline in the country with the 7-foot-1 Brown, sophomore Jordan Fouse, junior Greg Mays and Eastern Illinois transfer Alfonzo McKinnie. All four can rebound and block shots and McKinnie is even versatile enough to play a bit on the wing.

Oakland could be in-line for a good year as the newcomer to the Horizon League. The Summit is typically more wide-open, but the Golden Grizzlies are battle-tested and led by one of college basketball’s premier shooters in senior Travis Bader. Bader averages 22 points a game and is 101 three-pointers short of J.J. Redick’s career record after knocking in 139 last season. Defense will be the big concern for Oakland, but they’ll score in bunches.

Cleveland State and Youngstown State both have pieces to compete in the fourth and fifth spots of the Horizon League.  Vikings sophomores Anton Grady and Bryn Forbes as a formidable inside-outside attack while Preseason Player of the Year Kendrick Perry can do a bit of everything for Youngstown State.

UIC and Valparaiso lose a lot of experience from postseason teams while Milwaukee and Detroit are in rebuilding mode.

REALIGNMENT MOVES

In:  Oakland (Summit)
Out: Loyola (Missouri Valley)

PRESEASON HORIZON LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State

The 6-foot guard had a monster junior year, putting up 17.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game.  In conference play he averaged 38 minutes a contest. He’s in-line for a big senior season.

FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:

  • Travis Bader, Oakland: Averaged 22 a game during his junior season in the Summit League.
  • Alec Brown, Green Bay: Senior is 7-foot-1 and averaged 14.1 points per game last season.
  • Cole Darling, Wright State: Wright State needs him to play at a high level this season if he’s healthy.
  • Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: The 5-foot-8 junior guard averaged 15.9 points per game and is as tough as any player in the conference.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @billpotter_HL

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Wright State
2. Green Bay
3. Oakland
4. Cleveland State
5. Youngstown State
6. UIC
7. Valparaiso
8. Milwaukee
9. Detroit

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.

Incoming Gator freshman ineligible for upcoming season

Mike White
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Florida will need to wait a year before seeing 6-foot-11 recruit Gorjok Gak playing games for the Gators.

The NCAA ruled that the incoming freshman will be able to enroll at Florida this year and practice with the team, but will be ineligible for games this season, the school announced Tuesday.

Should he meet all his progress marks during his freshman year, he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2017-18.

Gak’s eligibility issue centered on his playing games during his postgraduate year at Victory Rock Prep, according to his coach there.

“Following his graduate year from Australia, he was supposed to play from December to December,” Loren Jackson told the Gainesville Sun, “but instead played from December until the following May.”

Gak originally signed with Oklahoma State, but de-committed following Travis Ford’s firing in Stillwater this past spring. Gak averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds last season at Victory Rock in Bradenton, Fla.

Florida went 21-15 last season under first-year coach Mike White.

Video: Coach K talks Team USA with Dan Patrick

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Team USA has blown through its competition in its first two exhibition games ahead of next month’s Olympics in Rio De Janeiro with wins over Argentina and China by a combined a combined 96 points.

Tonight, they’ll have a rematch against China, which they defeated 106-57 on Sunday, but it will also serve as the unofficial debut of Kevin Durant in front of his new hometown fans with the game taking place at the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oracle Arena, in Oakland.

“Excited for Kevin tonight to make his debut in front of the Golden State fans,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “He got a great reception (Monday) at a function. He was, as he should be, warmly welcomed.”

The team has been together since July 18 in the run-up to its first Olympic contest on Aug. 6 against China. For Krzyzewski, a couple of players have made an impression already.

“You see these guys on TV,” the Duke coach said, “but I don’t get a chance to see them in person. (Clipper) DeAndre Jordan is such a good player. A great athlete, a great guy. To see him run, defend, holy mackerel. He’ s really good.

“I haven’t seen Paul George in two years when he had that horrific (leg) injury in Las Vegas at one of our camps, and he’s so darn good. On defense, tremendous.”

It’s on the defensive side of the floor that Coach K believes his team can really make its mark even with the incredible collection of offensive talent the roster has.

“We’re very athletic so defensively we could be a very good defensive team,” he said. “We’ve shown a willingness to want to do that in the first two games.”

As usual, Team USA is the prohibitive favorite to bring back gold for the third consecutive Olympics, which will be Coach K’s last at the helm after taking over after the 2004 bronze medal debacle.

“I’m excited about the team,” he said. “It’s a short time. to see our guys working so hard and they get along so well, I’m excited about the team we might be in Rio. We’ll use tonight to get a little bit better.

“I kind of have the blinders on. You only have a short time. It’s a little over a month, and we want to win the gold medal in Rio.”