Late Night Snacks: Champions Classic does not disappoint

1 Comment

GAMES OF THE DAY: The Champions Classic 

The doubleheader in Chicago more than lived up to the advanced billing, with the Spartans and Jayhawks leaving the United Center with victories. In the first game Michigan State’s experience played a role in their 78-74 win over Kenutcky, with Keith Appling leading the charge with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. As for the nightcap, Kansas defeated Duke 94-83 despite a sensational first half from the Blue Devils’ Jabari Parker. Parker finished with 27 points while Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, and the performance of players such as Perry Ellis and Frank Mason bodes well for the Jayhawks.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) Xavier 67, Tennessee 63: This is one of those early season non-conference results that will be just as important in March as it is in November. Semaj Christon led three Xavier players in double figures with 18 points, allowing Xavier to hang on despite some impressive shot-making down the stretch from Tennessee’s Jordan McRae. Also of note for Xavier was the play of forward Matt Stainbrook, who finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds.

2) No. 20 Wisconsin 59, No. 11 Florida 53: The Badgers bounced back from a slow start to defeat the Gators in Madison, with Sam Dekker leading three players in double figures with 16 points. At this point in time Florida simply lacks the depth needed to win a game of this caliber, and that was evident during the stretch that saw Billy Donovan’s team go from 12 up to 11 down.

3) UMass 92, LSU 90: LSU very nearly won in Amherst despite losing Jarell Martin to an ankle injury in the first minute of the game and fighting off foul trouble for much of the game. Johnny Jones’ team can still take some positives away from the trip, while UMass now has wins over teams from the ACC (Boston College) and SEC to its credit.

STARRED: 

1) Jordan Clarkson of Missouri went off for 31 points (12-for-18 FG), five assists and two steals in the Tigers’ 72-59 win over Southern Illinois.

2) It was early down in Dunk City, but that didn’t slow down Chase Fieler, who went off for 30 points as Florida-Gulf Coast picked up another win while playing in the national spotlight.

3) Treveon Graham had 22 points, including the game-winning three-pointer, as No. 14 VCU knocked off No. 25 Virginia 59-56.

STRUGGLED:

1) UNLV lost to UC Santa Barbara by 21 points? What?

2) Denver was supposed to be one of the best mid-major programs in the country this season, but it didn’t look like in on Tuesday night, as the Pioneers got dropped by Cal, 77-50.

3) Free throw shooters. Baylor nearly lost because they went 22-43 from the line. Kentucky lost because they were 20-36. If Duke doesn’t miss three front-ends against Kansas, they may not have lost to the Jayhawks. Gotta hit those freebies.

LaVar Ball having ‘zero’ interaction with UCLA team bodes well for next season

Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
1 Comment

With the NBA Draft looming in less than a month, the biggest talking point has been just how much of an impact LaVar Ball is going to have on his son, Lonzo’s, NBA career.

It’s a question worth asking given the, ahem, outspoken nature of the eldest Ball.

But in the collegiate ranks, that’s a question that’s been asked about UCLA regarding next season. While Lonzo and LaMelo, who is finishing up his sophomore season in high school, are the stars that get the majority of the attention, there is another Ball brother that will be enrolling at UCLA next season: LiAngelo.

LaVar has already said that he expect Gelo to be a one-and-done player, which may not jibe with how good Gelo actually is. He’s not Lonzo and he’s not LaMelo. He’s not a dynamic athlete or a lead guard. He’s a 6-foot-5, 200 pound shooter with limitless range but limited upside. There’s a reason Rivals ranks him as a three-star prospect.

What’s going to happen when UCLA, a top 15 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25, doesn’t give Gelo Lonzo-esque minutes or shots next season? How will LaVar handle it if his second son is coming off the bench for the Bruins?

Steve Alford doesn’t seem concerned about it, telling a reporter from the LA Times that LaVar was “never at practice, never called me” and was around the team “zero.”

“I think all parents probably should know that moving on to the collegiate level anyway,” Alford said. “It’s not high school, it’s not AAU. Your son’s on scholarship; your son’s at UCLA getting an incredible opportunity academically and athletically.

“Playing time, shots, that kind of stuff — we don’t entertain some of those phone calls anyway. I never had any issues at all with LaVar.”

It will be interesting to see if that continues next season.

The Bruins have a chance to be pretty good. Maybe not quite as good as last season, maybe not a Pac-12 title favorite or even the best team in LA — USC is loaded — but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them end up as a top four seed in the NCAA tournament with Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh returning and Jaylen Hands headlining the recruiting class.

Will LaVar be able to handle UCLA’s success if it comes at the expense of his son’s?

NCAA: Former USF assistant provided extra benefits, lied to NCAA investigators

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
2 Comments

The NCAA has alleged that former South Florida assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided roughly $500 in impermissible benefits and initially lied to NCAA investigators about it, according to the Tampa Bay Times, who obtained the NCAA’s summary disposition report.

Oliver Antigua is the younger brother of Orlando Antigua, who was the head coach at USF until he was fired in January. Now an assistant on Brad Underwood’s staff at Oklahoma State, Orlando was not alleged to have committed an NCAA violation in the report.

Oliver is alleged to have provided the extra benefits to two student-athletes while they were being tutored by the sister-in-law of Gerald Gillion, a special assistant to Orlando who resigned last fall, four months after Oliver did. USF has already self-imposed a $5,000 and reduced their scholarships from 13 to 12, according to the report.

“The University of South Florida and the NCAA continue to work together to resolve the inquiry into violations of NCAA bylaws and university standards by a USF intercollegiate athletic program,” according to a statement released by the school. “USF anticipates having a final resolution with the NCAA sometime this fall. Until the process concludes and the matter is fully resolved, USF cannot provide further comment.”

Villanova lands four-star 2018 guard

Leave a comment

Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.

Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.

The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.

Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.

He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.

Comic-Con forces Providence to play at Alumni Hall for home opener

1 Comment

Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.

The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.

According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.

The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.

Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.

Jalen Coleman-Lands to transfer out of Illinois

Leave a comment

The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.

Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.

Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.

One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.

Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.