NCAA Basketball Tournament - St Louis v Michigan State

The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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On first anniversary of his death, Billikens recall lasting legacy of Rick Majerus (Fox Sports Midwest)
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the passing of former Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus, and with that being the case former players and friends took time to discuss what they learned from him.

NU’s Scott Eatherton rebounds with new body (Boston Herald)
After sitting out last season following a transfer over from St. Francis (PA), Northeastern forward Scott Eatherton has been a valuable contributor for Bill Coen’s Huskies. Averaging 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, Eatherton has transformed his body in recent years according to his former high school coach.

Louisville’s Wayne Blackshear needs consistency (Louisville Courier-Journal)
With the loss of Peyton Siva from last year’s national champion squad, Louisville junior guard Wayne Blackshear will be required to do more for the Cardinals this season. The only problem is that he’s struggled with consistency, and that’s something that needs to change if Louisville’s to make a run at another title.

UK’s Cauley-Stein, block party of one (Lexington Herald-Leader)
For all the attention that Kentucky’s freshmen have received, they’re joined by a very good sophomore in center Willie Cauley-Stein. Against Providence on Sunday night the 7-foot-1 big man accounted for 15 points, eight rebounds and nine blocked shots, and he’ll be a key contributor as the Wildcats look to win the program’s second national title in three years.

Midseason form is a good look for Arizona basketball (USA Today)
Arizona earned the NIT Season Tip-Off title on Friday with a win over Duke on Friday, and the feeling is that Sean Miller has the pieces needed to make a run at the program’s second national title. One of the leaders is point guard T.J. McConnell, who like Miller is a native of western Pennsylvania and is playing his first season at Arizona after spending two years at Duquesne.

Calipari in town as a coach and a topic (New York Times)
Another source of attention in Kentucky’s win over Providence was the presence of head coach John Calipari, who at one time was the head coach of the franchise that now calls the Barclays Center home (the Nets were in New Jersey then). Of course there’s been plenty of discussion regarding a possible return to the NBA, chatter that Calipari has dismissed on multiple occasions.

What we learned from Butler’s second-straight narrow miss (Indianapolis Star)
Butler left the Old Spice Classic with just one win, but it very well could have been three and a title had they been more fortunate in close losses to Oklahoma State and LSU. The goal now is to apply the lessons learned with the start of Big East play less than a month away.

Newcomers yet to catch up for Lobos (Albuquerque Journal)
While the New Mexico “big three” of Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow has hit the ground running, the same can’t be said of Craig Neal’s newcomers. The players in their first season with the New Mexico program have struggled to pick things up on both ends of the floor, and that’s had an impact of the team’s depth.

Summitt and son taking poignant journey together (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
While Pat Summitt, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport, is no longer coaching there’s still a Summitt in women’s basketball. That would be her son Tyler, who’s now an assistant at Marquette. And as Tyler embarks on a career of his own, the two are making this voyage together.

The Sweet 16 of College Basketball Venues (Travel Channel)
It’s always interesting to see how observers rank the best arenas in college basketball, and in this slideshow the Travel Channel singles out 16 buildings. Rupp Arena, Allen Fieldhouse and The Palestra are among the 16 buildings discussed.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.