For those who attempted to stay up for much (if not all) of Tuesday’s 24-hour college basketball marathon, getting through Wednesday was quite the task. So consider what the Hartford Hawks were confronted with: at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday Hartford’s game at FGCU tipped off, and after holding their own for much of the contest the Hawks fell by the final score of 65-51.
From Fort Myers head coach John Gallagher’s team hopped on a plane, with a game on Wednesday night at Fairfield next on the schedule. A quick turnaround for most teams would represent a near-impossible task but that wasn’t the case for Hartford, who beat the Stags 63-53 with big men Yasin Kolo (20 points, six rebounds) and Mark Nwakamma (17 points, 11 rebounds) leading the way.
A ten-point edge at the foul line (16-6) and their work on the defensive end, limiting Fairfield to 37.0% shooting from the field (37.1% on two-point shots), made the difference for a Hartford team playing its second game in 36 hours. And it’s not like the two locations were in the same neighborhood, with Mapquest calculating the distance from Fort Myers, Fla. to Bridgeport, Conn. to be over 1,300 miles. Sure the Hawks didn’t have to make the trek via bus, but their ability to win in spite of the irregular travel schedule should be commended.
And the Hawks won’t have much time to celebrate Wednesday’s result either, as they host Fairleigh Dickinson in their home opener on Friday.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.