With guard Keifer Sykes and big man Alec Brown leading the way, Brian Wardle’s Green Bay Phoenix are expected to contend for the Horizon League title this season. That fact meant that Tony Bennett’s return to his alma mater wasn’t going to be an easy one, with his Virginia Cavaliers looking to rebound from their worst offensive performance of the season in their loss to Wisconsin earlier in the week.
Virginia scored a much better clip than they did against the Badgers, but poor three-point shooting and 14 turnovers resulted in a 75-72 defeat. Sykes and Greg Mays led the way for the Phoenix, finishing with 21 and 24 points respectively. And as a team Green Bay shot 51% from the field and 50% from the field, finding quality looks against the Cavaliers’ pack line D for much of the contest.
Now that Virginia’s lost two straight games, should there be serious concerns with the start of ACC play less than a month away? Let’s not go that far just yet.
After not even shooting 25% against Wisconsin the Cavaliers made half of their field goal attempts against Green Bay, shooting 62.1% inside of the arc. But in the offensive system that Virginia runs it’s important that they be able to knock down three-pointers as well, and that didn’t happen as they shot 5-for-17 from deep. Add in 14 turnovers and Virginia found itself in trouble before making good use of the offensive glass and the painted area to eventually tie a game they trailed by as much as 11 at three different stages of the second half.
The biggest question to be asked moving forward focuses on senior guard Joe Harris: is he getting enough shots? Harris shot 5-for-9 (12 points) against Green Bay, and while that’s an improvement when compared to how he shot against Wisconsin (1-for-10) the Cavaliers will need him to get back to the level at which he scored last season. Harris’ scoring average (11.2 ppg) is down five points from last season (16.3), a year in which he earned first team All-ACC honors and entered 2013-14 as one of the frontrunners for ACC Player of the Year.
Last season Harris failed to score in double figures just four times, and he’s already matched that number in 2013-14. Virginia is 3-1 in such games and has multiple scoring options, and their five players in double figures against Green Bay is an indication of that. But if Virginia’s to hang with Duke, Syracuse and whoever else proves to be capable of making a run at the ACC title, they’re going to need Joe Harris to “turn back the clock.”
Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.
Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.
Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.
Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.
The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.
Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.
Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.
A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.
Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.
Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.
Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.
It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.
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He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:
UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.
This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.
It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.
There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:
– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.
– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:
UCLA needs to travel with more towels.