La Salle v Ole Miss

The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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Stanley Johnson to announce college decision Friday (Scout)
The early signing period began on Wednesday, and Friday’s setting up to be a busy day on the recruiting trail. In addition to Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor , five-star guard Stanley Johnson will announce his decision as well. The three schools in the running for the Mater Dei HS (Calif.) product are Arizona, Kentucky and USC.

After tragedy, Andre Dawkins shares his personal journey (Sports Illustrated)
Duke senior guard Andre Dawkins returned to the program after spending the 2012-13 year away from the program as he dealt with the passing of his sister, taking the time to not only address that but his own bout with depression.

He’s back! Marshall Henderson to return to the court Saturday (Associated Press)
Ole Miss’ lone senior will make his season debut on Saturday against Coastal Carolina, with Henderson’s three-game suspension having run its course. Henderson helped lead the Rebels to an SEC tournament title last season, but he’ll have more heavy lifting to do with Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway no longer in the front court.

“Miscommunication” led to Dez Wells playing just five first-half minutes (CSN Washington)
Maryland struggled for the first 25 minutes or so of their 69-44 win over Abilene Christian, and as the first half wore on many wondered why Dez Wells remained on the bench. According to head coach Mark Turgeon Wells playing just five minutes in the first half was a result of “miscommunication,” but there will be no lingering issues regarding the matter.

New rules mean more zone for Pitt (Beaver County Times)
Pitt’s man-to-man defense has been a staple of the Jamie Dixon era (and Ben Howland before him), but with the new rules aiming to remove contact both on and off the ball adjustments need to be made. One of those for the Panthers: play more zone, with the defense proving to be a catalyst in their comfortable win over Fresno State.

Eastern Kentucky ties OVC record with 20 three-pointers (Louisville Courier-Journal)
A record nearly fell in the Colonels’ 114-45 win over Warren Wilson College, as EKU tied the OVC record for made three-pointers in a game with 20. EKU needed 39 attempts to do so, and they led 61-17 at the intermission.

Jones makes most of opportunity against VCU (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Virginia’s free throw shooting left something to be desired in their 59-56 loss to VCU, but one positive was the play of Teven Jones. With Evan Nolte out due to injury Jones took advantage of his nine minutes on the floor, and not sulking after receiving little playing time in the Cavaliers’ season-opening win over James Madison.

Jeff Walz to run up $5,000 beer tab (Louisville Courier-Journal)
In order to say “thanks” to fans who attend his team’s games, Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz is buying the first 2,500 (of age) fans a beer at the team’s Preseason NIT semifinal game against LSU on Thursday

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”