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Vin Parise’s 30-second timeout: Five questions with Glenn Braica

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Vin Parise from CollegeBasketballTalk caught up with St. Francis Brooklyn head coach Glenn Braica. The Terriers are 2-2 with wins against Miami and Florida Atlantic.

CBT: Preseason you were picked 7th out of 10 in the NEC Coaches Poll. How big of a concern was your early non-conference slate?

Braica: I was definitely worried about our schedule early – I still am. 8 out of our first 9 are on the road and we’re obviously playing good competition. At this level, you have to teach through tough losses sometimes and still remain upbeat and positive. I’m happy with the way our kids have fought to be 2-2 overall.

CBT: You received a lot of attention early because you won at Miami 66-62 in OT and then took Syracuse down to the final minute at the Carrier Dome. What’s been going right?

Braica: Miami was without question a huge win for our team and a great night for our school. At Syracuse I actually feel we didn’t really get going until midway through the ballgame. We looked up at one point in the 2nd half and realized we had a shot at winning the game. I liked the way we made C.J. Fair work for everything and how we made some big shots. We have veterans that have been through it, and we have some talented guys who are learning on the fly.

CBT: What are the Terriers going to be known for this season?

Braica: We play extremely hard….really hard….and we really defend. We’re holding teams to 37% from the field – and 18% from 3 pointt land. Those are really good numbers and that’s what we’ll be all about. Our shooting and execution could be better; but we can be really good if your offense catches up to our defense.

CBT: Your thoughts on the Northeast Conference this year?

Braica: You have to show up every single night in this league. You can’t coast yourself to a win. The coaches in our league work extremely hard and they’re hungry which is great. Wagner is terrific, LIU is much better than people realize, Andy Toole is a great coach at Robert Morris and look at the talent at Bryant! I know I’m leaving teams out, but the point is that every league game this season is literally up for grabs.

CBT: You worked for Norm Roberts for six years. How often do you guys stay in touch?

Braica: I talk to Norm multiple times each week and we’ll always be close. He is a terrific coach and great man with integrity. I will never forget how he handled the adversity at St. John’s with such a great demeanor and positive attitude. While recruiting recently, I actually stopped by a Kansas practice and caught up with Norm, Bill Self and the rest of the staff. A lot of what we do here at St. Francis that has been successful, I learned from Norm Roberts.

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports Network and SportsNet New York. He is also a contributor & analyst for ESPN3, MSG Network, Cox Sports New England, Fox Sports 1, The Providence Coaches Show, St. John’s Radio & Iona College Radio. He coached 8 seasons at FDU, Rutgers & Iona. Follow Vin on Twitter: @VinParise

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.