herenda

The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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FDU is early king of New Jersey hardwood (Bergen Record)
With a new head coach in Greg Herenda, Fairleigh Dickinson entered the 2013-14 season having lost its final 15 games of the season prior. And without a win over a Division I opponent since January 2013, it was clear that Herenda has his work cut out for him. But in less than a week the Knights picked up wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall, which should be seen as progress for the once-struggling program.

Coaching in Calipari’s shadow, Pastner keeps Memphis among nation’s elite (USA Today)
Given their recent struggled in games against ranked opponents, Memphis’ win over then-No. 5 Oklahoma State on Sunday was an important step in the right direction for Josh Pastner’s program. But it isn’t as if Pastner hasn’t experienced success at Memphis, where in five-plus seasons he’s won 75% of his games.

Jim Boeheim’s November record is superb, but another ACC coach has fared better (Syracuse Post-Standard)
During his tenure at Syracuse, head coach Jim Boeheim has won 91.1% of his games in the month of November. That percentage ranks second amongst ACC coaches, and the leader isn’t Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski or North Carolina’s Roy Williams either.

Parker Van Dyke is living his Ute dream (Salt Lake Tribune)
Utah’s racked up six wins to start the 2013-14 season, but they’ve done so against competition that is nowhere near the level they’ll face in Pac-12 play. That changes on Tuesday night when the Utes visit Boise State, and one of the newcomers who has contributed thus far is freshman guard Parker Van Dyke. Originally planning to begin his two-year LDS mission this year, Van Dyke postponed if for a season to help out the program he’s supported forever.

Kevin Ollie making UConn his own (ESPN)
There’s likely nothing tougher in coaching than to be the man who follows a legendary figure, and that was the position Kevin Ollie found himself in last fall. But his Huskies rose to the challenge, resulting in the former UConn point guard being given a long-term contract. And while much of what Jim Calhoun established remains present, Ollie’s adding his own touch to a program that will be asked to carry the banner for the American Athletic Conference as the league establishes itself nationally.

Michigan State’s seniors deserve national attention, too (MLive.com)
With so much hoopla surrounding this season’s crop of freshmen, returnees have been overlooked in some instances. And there are a number of coaches who believe that the hype for the newcomers is overshadowing the performances of these veterans, with Michigan State having two seniors to rely on in Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.

Pittsburgh mayor tweets shots at police lieutenant who moonlights as an official (Pittsburgh Tribune)
During Pittsburgh’s win over Stanford last week one of the officials was Larry Scirotto, who is also a lieutenant in the Pittsburgh Police Department. Of course, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl took the opportunity to openly ask via Twitter how Scirotto has the time to do both jobs, claiming after the fact that no disrespect was meant.

Video of the Day: The return of “Trick Shot Titus”
The sweet-shooting Titus Ashby is back with a third video, one that includes cameos from actors Channing Tatum and Bradley Cooper, and a stop at Wichita State’s Charles Koch Arena.

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.